Rewards of Obedience

Today is Monday, the thirtieth of August, 2021.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,181

Seven days until Labor Day

Today will be my first Monday at the library. How is Monday different than the other days? I guess I’ll find out. I know one thing that will be different. I believe that somewhere around 10:30, story time happens for all the children that come. That won’t necessarily affect me, since I will likely still be working in circulation. Unless all those children decide they want to check out books when it’s over.

I work from 9:15-6:15 today, opening to closing. Actually, the library doesn’t open until 10:00, but we show up early to get everything prepared. The biggest task for Monday morning (I’m not sure since I haven’t worked one, yet) will probably be unloading the outside book drop, all of the books that were returned between closing Saturday and this morning.

I do like how they work the schedule in circulation, though. Working an eight-hour shift doesn’t mean sitting at the front desk all day. We rotate from there to other tasks, such as processing new patron hold requests, clearing the inside book drop, and other things.

I didn’t sleep well at all last night. I felt anxiety, probably for the first time since my new job started. I don’t think the anxiety was about the job, as I still consider it to be the best job I’ve ever had. More likely, it all revolves around everything going on this week, the biggest thing being C’s back surgery on Thursday. There is also the uncertainty of not knowing which day she will be released from the surgery center, and we won’t know that until they see how she is progressing.

I’ve also put on a few pounds since retirement started. Not a huge amount, but enough that my new pants were tight last Wednesday, which scared me a little bit. So part of my anxiety may have been about that. But the good news is that I am about three or four pounds down from last Monday morning, And I’m about two pounds down from last Wednesday.

Anxiety is foolish, it’s true. Worry does no good, whatsoever. In fact, it only does the opposite of good. But it is what it is. And it is difficult to overcome. The thing to remember about everything that is going on this week is, “this, too, shall pass.”

Today is Grief Awareness Day. For those of us who grieve, and honestly, that should be most people, we find that the saying that “time heals all wounds” is a lie. Some of those wounds will never heal. If you have lost a loved one, a parent, or even worse, a child (I say that’s worse, because children should never pass before their parents), or, perhaps, a sibling or best friend, you know that the grief can hit you, without warning, on any day, during any circumstance. During my life, I’ve lost all of my grandparents, my father, and a best friend. I miss my grandparents, but the worst grief, of course, is for my dad. But then there’s the grief that will creep up out of nowhere for that friend who took his own life back in 1975.

People who suffer grief do not need clever, pithy sayings. Nor do they need advice. What they need is someone to simply be there for them, give them a hug when the grief strikes, or just listen to them talk about the memories they have with that person (or even a beloved pet, perhaps).

The word for today is nostrum, a noun, meaning, “a scheme, theory, device, etc., especially one to remedy social or political ills; panacea.” “The party was pushing the nostrum of corporate tax reduction, as if that would undo decades of industrial job loss.” It seems that that is the second definition, the first being, “a medicine sold with false or exaggerated claims and with no demonstrable value; quack medicine.”

Today’s quote is from Eric Hoffer (American moral and social philosopher): “It is easier to love humanity as a whole than to love one’s neighbor.” I believe he has a good point, there.

I’m changing the way I “celebrate” birthdays. It takes too long the way I’ve been doing it, so I’m only going to highlight one or two (maybe three or four) that I’m actually quite familiar with or fond of. The link remains the same every day, as I get my information from On This Day. Remember that the link will give you the birthdays on whatever day you happen to be clicking on it, not necessarily the date I am looking at.

Author Mary Shelley (Frankenstein): 1797-1851
Actress Joan Blondell: 1906-1979 (my second grade teacher may or may not have been related to her)
Ted Williams, possibly the greatest hitter to have ever played baseball: 1918-2002
Ernie Ball (guitar strings): 1930-2004
Ted Williams’s last day at Fenway Park.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Sacred Soaking, by Daryl Madden (My desire every morning)

Graced within Your Presence
Such mysteries we find
In the sacred soaking
Of Your light divine

Heaven flows within us
Of permeating prayer
For every breath we draw
Is of holy air

One of contemplation
Love within so freeing
And in this becoming
We’re a blessed being

In this transformation
Of gifting to prepare
To go into this world
With His Word to share

I will sacrifice a voluntary offering to you; I will praise your name, O LORD, for it is good. For you have rescued me from my troubles and helped me to triumph over my enemies.
(Psalms 54:6-7 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the holy air that is in my lungs, for every breath that I draw comes from You
2. that You will get us through this week
3. that with You (and only You) we can be victorious over our enemies (which are spiritual, not human)
4. for Your help in teaching me to love You and love people
5. for Jesus; for everything He is, everything He provides, and everything He teaches; may I follow Him with all my heart
6. that You hear our voices when we cry out to You

Scriptures and Prayers from Seeking God’s Face: Praying with the Bible through the Year

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK FIFTEEN – DAY TWO

INVITATION

I will thank you, Lord, among all the people. I will sing your praises among the nations. For your unfailing love is as high as the heavens. Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.
(Psalms 57:9-10 NLT)

The house is quiet, the room peaceful. I contemplate Your help in life, as You rescue me from troubles and help me to triumph over my “enemies.” I remember that my enemies are not flesh and blood, but things like apathy, anger, lust, and envy.

BIBLE SONG

For the director of music. To the tune of “The Lily of the Covenant.” A miktam of David. For teaching. When he fought Aram Naharaim and Aram Zobah, and when Joab returned and struck down twelve thousand Edomites in the Valley of Salt.

You have rejected us, God, and burst upon us; you have been angry—now restore us! You have shaken the land and torn it open; mend its fractures, for it is quaking. You have shown your people desperate times; you have given us wine that makes us stagger. But for those who fear you, you have raised a banner to be unfurled against the bow.

Is it not you, God, you who have now rejected us and no longer go out with our armies? Give us aid against the enemy, for human help is worthless. With God we will gain the victory, and he will trample down our enemies.
(Psalms 60:1-4, 10-12 NIV)

BIBLE READING

“‘Do not make idols or set up an image or a sacred stone for yourselves, and do not place a carved stone in your land to bow down before it. I am the LORD your God.
“‘Observe my Sabbaths and have reverence for my sanctuary. I am the LORD.
“‘If you follow my decrees and are careful to obey my commands, I will send you rain in its season, and the ground will yield its crops and the trees their fruit. Your threshing will continue until grape harvest and the grape harvest will continue until planting, and you will eat all the food you want and live in safety in your land.
“‘I will put my dwelling place among you, and I will not abhor you. I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be my people. I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt so that you would no longer be slaves to the Egyptians; I broke the bars of your yoke and enabled you to walk with heads held high.'”
(Leviticus 26:1-5,11-13 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

“Read again, perhaps out loud . . . how has God’s Word moved you? Ponder and meditate what has connected with your heart or mind . . . pray to God what it is that has moved you today . . . turn your thoughts to God and quietly enjoy being with Him.”

In spite of the circumstances, it is the banner of God “unfurled against the bow” that gives us hope and confidence. Even if we are in a situation where we feel like God has not gone out with us, or has rejected us . . . even in the most hopeless of situations, we recognize that “human help is worthless!” We have the utmost confidence that “with God we will gain the victory.”

Once again, I declare that my “enemies” are not flesh and blood. This is a mistake that is being made all over our nation, right now. Brothers and sisters in Christ, fighting with one another, as if they are each other’s enemies! God have mercy. “Human help is worthless!” We must stop depending on humans to help us. Only God can provide the victory, because our enemies are spiritual and require spiritual intervention.

The rewards of following God’s commands in the Leviticus passage are magnificent. Rain will fall; crops will be plentiful; His people will have their fill to eat and live in safety. Even better, He says, “I will put my dwelling place among you . . . I will walk among you and be your God.”

And what are His commands, today? Some may insist that nothing has changed and that we are to follow the Big Ten. But we must remember . . . Jesus summarized those with two commands.

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
(Matthew 22:37-40 NIV)

Love God; love people.

He did add that third one, a little later, specifically to His disciples.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
(John 13:34-35 NIV)

Father, I look at my own life and see that I don’t do a great job obeying these commands. I feel like I do better than I used to do, but still, there is much room for improvement, especially in that part about loving people. And that quote from that philosopher up there is spot on. It is much easier to “love humanity” than it is to love my neighbor. Because loving my neighbor requires me to get down and dirty with him. It requires real interaction, and with someone I might not otherwise get along with. Help me to remember that these commands are not negotiable, and that my opinions about things are not part of the job description. I ask You, Father, to give me true love for all people, those closest to me, and those farthest away from me; those I like, and those I don’t like so much. And as for my brothers and sisters in Christ, help me to love them deeply they way You have loved us, sacrificially and selflessly.

"Generous God,
I sometimes don't know how to handle the rewards You offer.
Dare me to believe that like a parent moved by the loving obedience of a child,
You give rewards out of delight in a life changed by grace.
And like a child,
help me to simply open my hands and receive Your goodness.
Amen."

BLESSING

For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.
(2 Timothy 1:7 NLT)

I love the LORD, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy.
(Psalms 116:1 NIV)

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.
(Romans 12:1 NIV)

Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.
(Ephesians 5:1-2 NLT)

Thank You, God, for hearing my cry for mercy. Teach me to offer myself as a “living sacrifice,” that I might be holy and pleasing to You. Help me to imitate You, today, and to live a life filled with love, following the example of Jesus.

I pray for peace in our nation, peace in our world. I pray for racial injustice to end, and I pray for the pandemic to be over. Above all else, though, I pray for Your will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven. For Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.
(Isaiah 41:10 NLT)

Grace and peace, friends.

What Worship Does

Today is Wednesday, August 30, 2017. Day 21,720. Five more days until our Labor Day holiday!

Ted Williams, who was born on this date in 1918 (died in 2005), said, “They invented the All-Star game for Willie Mays.”
BrainyQuote

Word of the Day

Interstice ~ “a space that intervenes between things; especially : one between closely spaced things.”

Today is Grief Awareness Day. All around us, there are people who are grieving. This week, especially, there are, quite possibly a million or more that are grieving loss of family or property in southeast Texas. We could all stand to be more aware of people around us and what they are going through, showing compassion and giving a shoulder to lean on.

Reports are saying that Harvey has, once again, made landfall, just west of Cameron, Louisiana. Houston may finally see a break in the rain today, but other areas are still being hit with the massive rain. Looking at the forecast, I see only a ten percent chance of rain tomorrow, which will be a very welcome relief for those people. How long it will take for the floods to go down, I have no idea.

The Rangers trounced the Astros at the Juice Box in Tampa, last night, 12-2. Unfortunately for the Rangers, the Twins also won, so they remain three games out of the second wild card spot.

The Red Sox had a good game against the Boo Jays, winning 3-0, behind the solid pitching of Chris Sale. The Yankees didn’t play (rained out?), so the Sox gained a half game, and are, once again, four games up in the AL East.

The Dodgers have lost three in a row. That may be the first time all season this has happened.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

(From The Divine Hours)

Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
Psalm 34:8
Gladden the soul of your servant, for to you, O Lord, do I lift up my soul.
Psalm 86:4
With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments!
Psalm 119:10
I will give to the LORD the thanks due to his righteousness, and I will sing praise to the name of the LORD, the Most High.
Psalm 7:18

(From Living the Message)

Here is what worship does for us. It’s not just us giving to God, but God giving to us, as well.

“The work of worship gathers everything in our common lives that has been dispersed by sin and brings it to our attention before God; at the same time it gathers everything in God’s revelation that has been forgotten in our distracted hurrying and puts it before us so that we can offer it up in praise and obedience. All of this does not take place merely in a single hour of worship. But, faithfully repeated, week after week, year after year, there is an accumulation to wholeness.” (Eugene H. Peterson)

The Throne of God and of the Lamb is at the center. His servants will offer God service—worshiping, they’ll look on his face, their foreheads mirroring God. Never again will there be any night.
Revelation 22:3b-5a (The Message)

Father, once again, I ask you to draw my heart, my soul, back into solid worship. Gather all of these things that have been scattered by distraction and hurry, and place them back in front of me. Show me, teach me, what is important in this life.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

Grace and peace, friends.