He Is For You

Good morning. Today is Friday, December 31, 2021. New Year’s Eve, the last day of 2021, and the seventh day of Christmas.

May the peace of Christ be with you.

Day 23,304

I wonder if there are “reverse friggatriskaphobics” who are afraid of Friday the 31st . . .

One more day until 2022! Which is slightly redundant, given my statement in the first paragraph. And, technically, not even a full day. Seventeen hours and twenty-nine minutes, as of the exact time I am typing this paragraph.

Will we be staying up to welcome 2022? I might still be up, but it won’t be for that specific reason. In the grand scheme of things, this is just another day. Nevertheless, I do wish everyone who reads this a blessed, peaceful, and prosperous 2022.

Either later today, or tomorrow, I will share a complete list of my reading accomplishments for 2021. That may actually happen in my other blog, as well. I’m up early, this morning, because I have get to work today. I wanted to make sure I had plenty of time to get my blog done and not be rushing out the door at 9:00.

Today is my day in the computer center, so it should be a pretty good day. Who am I kidding? It would take a major catastrophe to not have a good day, working at the library.

Oh! I almost forgot to say something about our sushi experience, last night. As previously mentioned, we met with some church friends for dinner last night, at Goldfish Sushi, next door to the Hoffbrau Steakhouse in Haltom City. It was amazing! We all go the $22.99 all you can eat deal, so we were all able to share all of the appetizers and sushi. We got an appetizer called “Honeymoon,” which was, essentially, stuffed jalapenos, tempura-fried. They were delicious. Then, we had a variety of sushi rolls, including Crunch Orleans Roll (Crispy crabmeat, Avocado, Crawfish with 4 season sauce), Rainbow Roll (California roll over tuna, salmon, w/tuna, shrimp and Redsnapper, raw fish), Crunch Roll (Crabmeat, Cream cheese, Avocado Crispy crunch with spicy mayo, Eel sauce), Hawaiian Roll (California roll topped Fresh Tuna, raw fish), Spicy Tuna Roll, Watauga Roll (Shrimp tempura, cream cheese, avocado roll over crab stake spicy mayo, wasabi, eel sauce and crunch), Volcano Roll (California roll topped w/ scallop, crabmeat baked special volcano sauce), and I swear there was one called King Tiger Roll, but I can’t find that on their menu online. There is one called White Tiger that is “Spicy crab, cucumber, avocado roll, top seared white tuna, scallion masago, spicy ponzu sauce.” I’m not sure if that is it or not. Then there was a dessert that was very simple, a small orange (maybe a “cutie” or “clementine”) cut into four pieces with chocolate sauce drizzled on top.

It was all quite delicious. My favorite was the Crunch Orleans Roll and the Honeymoon appetizer, which may only be available on the all you can eat menu, as I do not see that listed as an appetizer on the online menu. The service was also wonderful and friendly. Our friends are regular customers, so that probably helped. Hahaha. I feel pretty certain that we will be back.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Who will roll away
the stone from the entrance of
the tomb of our lives?
(based on Mark 16:3)
He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. 
Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the LORD. 
Blessed is the man who makes the LORD his trust, 
who does not turn to the proud, 
to those who go astray after a lie! 
(Psalms 40:3-4 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the "new song" that God has put in my heart and in my mouth
2. that He has caused me to put my trust in Him
3. that the steadfast love and mercies of the Lord, which are "new every morning," actually no nothing of boundaries such as days, hours, weeks, and years
4. for twenty-three thousand three hundred and four days of life (so far)
5. for the hope of wisdom
6. for the hope of the love of God and loving my neighbor as myself

“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”
(Revelation 22:13 ESV)

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
(2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV)

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
(Jeremiah 29:11 ESV)

Good verses with which to end a year. And while I realize, contextually, that Jeremiah 29:11 is specifically a prophecy to Israel, how can it not be applicable to us who are the “new Israel?” God certainly does not have plans for evil for us. He has a future and a hope planned for all of us who are in Christ Jesus. Hallelujah!


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

CHRISTMAS – DAY SEVEN

INVITATION

Shout for joy to Yahweh, all you lands! 
Serve Yahweh with gladness. 
Come before his presence with singing. 
(Psalms 100:1-2 WEB)

I pause, at this moment, to reflect on the grace of God throughout the past year, as well as the promise of hope and His grace into the next. Truly, December 31 is just a day, and January 1 is just another day. The grace and steadfast love of the Lord knows no boundaries such as days, hours, weeks, and years. I am grateful for this.

BIBLE SONG

A prayer of Moses the man of God.

 Lord, you have been our dwelling place 
throughout all generations. 
Before the mountains were born 
or you brought forth the whole world, 
from everlasting to everlasting you are God. 

You turn people back to dust, 
saying, "Return to dust, you mortals." 
A thousand years in your sight 
are like a day that has just gone by, 
or like a watch in the night. 
Yet you sweep people away in the sleep of death— 
they are like the new grass of the morning: 
In the morning it springs up new, 
but by evening it is dry and withered.

 Teach us to number our days, 
that we may gain a heart of wisdom. 

May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; 
establish the work of our hands for us— 
yes, establish the work of our hands.
(Psalms 90:1-6, 12, 17 NIV)

BIBLE READING

The LORD said to Moses, "Tell Aaron and his sons, 'This is how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them: 
"'"The LORD bless you and keep you; 
the LORD make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; 
the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace."' 
"So they will put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them."
(Numbers 6:22-27 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I remind myself that I am in God’s presence, I mull over these passages, reading them again. I pray the prayer of Moses back to God, verbatim, reflecting on its appropriateness for the last day of a year, humanly speaking.

I also take note of that bit about a thousand years being like a day to Him. See the comments in my earlier reflection between the invitation and the bible song. “From everlasting to everlasting You are God.” From eternity past to eternity future, God is the Lord; His majesty is never-ending and His rule will remain, while we will turn to dust. However, it is only our bodies that will return to dust while our souls live on, with those new, glorified bodies that we have yet to even imagine.

Verse 12 is literally the reason that every blog entry begins with how many days I have been alive. Trivial? Perhaps. And, while I confess that I began that with tongue firmly planted in cheek, I still take it somewhat seriously. I have been around a lot of days, but those twenty-three thousand three hundred and four days (it seems larger when it’s typed out) have gone by in a flash. It seems like only yesterday that my family was moving from a rental house to the house where my mother still lives. But it wasn’t yesterday. Ironically, it was November 22, 1963.

Yes, that’s right. The day that C. S. Lewis and Aldous Huxley died.

I’ll bet that’s not what you expected to see. Of course, we all know what date that is. And those two deaths were overshadowed by the more famous death of JFK.

But I digress.

What is the point, here? Sometimes, I’m not sure. But I think, for me, today, it’s this: God is God from everlasting to everlasting. We are dust; from dust we came, to dust we shall return, and our puny little existence is nothing more than a mote of dust in comparison to eternity. We would do well to consider this. Not so that we feel badly about ourselves, but maybe, just maybe, so we don’t get so cocky. Because mankind has gotten quite cocky, especially in the USA.

And that’s all I’m going to say about that.

I also think it highly appropriate to end the year with the Aaronic blessing from Numbers.

Father, I pray for wisdom for us. I pray that as we all “number our days,” that we may truly “gain a heart of wisdom.” Wisdom seems to be in short supply in our land, these days. And lest I point any unnecessary fingers, may it start with me. Give me wisdom. Give me the wisdom to know what opinions matter and what opinions don’t. Give me wisdom, today, tomorrow, and for 2022, to know how to love You and love my neighbor as myself. Give me wisdom to know how to love my brothers and sisters in Christ, just as He loved us, and gave His life for us!

I pray for the blessing to be on all who read this blog today (or whenever they read it . . . even if it’s way into next year, may all who read this be blessed with Your richest blessings).

Father, I pray for spiritual renewal for all of Your children. May we know You as never before. May we realize that knowing You is the absolute most important thing we can do; more important than any human-invented “cause,” and infinitely more important than my opinion about anything! May You lead us into repentance as we look back on the past year. May we fully know the knowledge and experience of Your forgiveness.

"Covenant-keeping God,
at the end of another year I thank You for keeping me connected and at home in You through the Holy Spirit by Your free,
unchanging love and by the strong intercession of Jesus.
In Your faithfulness,
continue to preserve and keep me and all Your people from the power of evil throughout the coming year.
In Jesus's name,
amen."

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

"May His presence go before you
and behind you,
and beside you,
all around you,
and within you,
He is with you,
He is with you,
In the morning, 
in the evening,
in your coming,
and your going,
in your weeping,
and rejoicing,
He is for you!"

Grace and peace, friends.

Your Name Alone

Good morning. Today is Thursday, the thirtieth of December, 2021, the sixth day of Christmas.

May the peace of Christ be with you today.

Day 23,303

Only two more days until 2022!!

Temperatures continue to be unseasonably warm (albeit comfortable) as we have a projected high of 76 in DFW today. However, the weekend looks like it will be, how you say, “brisk.” No, let’s don’t mess around. It’s going to be freakin’ cold Sunday and Monday mornings. We’re talking in the twenties, and low twenties, at that. In fact, Saturday’s temps will go from a high of 73 to a low Sunday morning of 20! At least the temperature is supposed to get above freezing Sunday afternoon before dropping back down to 24 Monday morning. And both days are slated to be “sunny.”

Not a lot happened, yesterday. I got a package returned to Amazon, via the UPS store, and picked up Sonic drinks while out. There seems to be a growing shortage of Sprite Zero at the Sonics, so C had to drink Diet Coke. We got our grocery delivery from Albertsons and everything was good on that, except they were out of Dr. Pepper Zero Sugar products. No worries. If we run out, we have plenty of Coke Zero. And if we run out of that, we have plenty of water.

C has a prescription ready to pick up at CVS, and I tried to get it yesterday, but the line was wrapped around the building, and she said she didn’t have to have it until Friday. So I will try again today.

We made chili for dinner last night, the first meal we’ve cooked since Christmas. We don’t normally have chili on Wednesday, so that was a departure from our normal schedule. Which is fine, because the “schedule” has been anything but normal this week. So much so that I’m still having trouble remembering what day it is. I do know that tomorrow is Friday, and I am supposed to work. So I will need to get to bed at a more decent time tonight, and get up before 9:00, because I’m supposed to be at work by 9:15. And I don’t want to have to rush through the last blog of the year, right?

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord, I dedicate this day to You.
May my feet walk only where You want them to walk.
May my eyes see only what You want them to see.
May my ears hear only what You want them to hear.
May my mouth say only what You want it to say.
May my mind think only what You want it to think.
Shout for joy in the LORD, O you righteous!
 Praise befits the upright. 
Give thanks to the LORD with the lyre; 
make melody to him with the harp of ten strings! 
Sing to him a new song; 
play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts. 
For the word of the LORD is upright, 
and all his work is done in faithfulness. 
(Psalms 33:1-4 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the ability and skill to "make melody to Him," and to sing new songs to the Lord
2. for the steadfast love of the Lord, which endures forever (see Psalm 136)
3. for the promise of Home
4. that only the name of the Lord is worthy to be exalted
5. for the many names of God and what they all mean for us

Your love, LORD, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies.
(Psalms 36:5 NIV)

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, 
"I am the light of the world. 
Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, 
but will have the light of life." 
(John 8:12 ESV)

They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.
(John 17:16 ESV)

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, 
the holy habitation of the Most High. 
God is in the midst of her;
 she shall not be moved; 
God will help her when morning dawns. 
(Psalms 46:4-5 ESV)

For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come.
(Hebrews 13:14 ESV)

"Let not your hearts be troubled. 
Believe in God; believe also in me. 
In my Father's house are many rooms. 
If it were not so, would I have told you 
that I go to prepare a place for you? 
And if I go and prepare a place for you, 
I will come again and will take you to myself, 
that where I am you may be also."
(John 14:1-3 ESV)
He will come again,
and will take us to Himself;
I long to be Home.

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

CHRISTMAS – DAY SIX

INVITATION

Shout praises to the LORD,
 everyone on this earth. 
Be joyful and sing as you come in to worship the LORD! 
(Psalms 100:1-2 CEV)

As I pause, this morning, I’m reflecting on Home. While there is nothing I can do to hasten my arrival there (it is God’s purpose that keeps me here), I can express my desire to be there, and, hopefully, prepare myself for the eventual transition. Dallas Willard once opined that some people’s transition from this life to the next might be so smooth that they don’t even realize that they “died.”

BIBLE SONG

Praise the LORD. 

Praise the LORD from the heavens; 
praise him in the heights above. 
Praise him, all his angels; 
praise him, all his heavenly hosts. 
Praise him, sun and moon; 
praise him, all you shining stars. 
Praise him, you highest heavens 
and you waters above the skies. 

Let them praise the name of the LORD, 
for his name alone is exalted; 
his splendor is above the earth and the heavens.  
And he has raised up for his people a horn, 
the praise of all his faithful servants, 
of Israel, the people close to his heart. 

Praise the LORD.
(Psalms 148:1-4, 13-14 NIV)

BIBLE READING

There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem. 
When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth. And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was on him. 
(Luke 2:36-40 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I read these passages again, I look for words or ideas that stir within me, lingering over them, giving them my attention. I pray my life to God, resting in His presence.

In the midst of Psalm 148, such a great panoply of praise, one phrase catches my attention, today. It comes in verse 13: “His name alone is exalted.”

We “praise” a lot of things and people in this world. WE speak fondly of our favorite places, people, foods, books, songs, games, and so on. But there is only One who deserves to truly be worshiped.

He goes by many names. 
YHWH (Yahweh or Jehovah) - I AM
El Shaddai - God Almighty
Adonai
Elohim
El Elyon
El Olam

There are many suffixes to the name, Jehovah. 

Jehovah Shalom - The Lord is Peace
Jehovah Jireh - The Lord will Provide
Jehovah Tsidkenu - The Lord our Righteousness
Jehovah Nissi - The Lord is my Banner
Jehovah Sabbaoth - The Lord of Hosts
Jehovah Maccaddeshcem (M'Kaddesh) - The Lord who Sanctifies
Jehovah Rohi - The Lord my Shepherd
Jehovah Shammah - The Lord is there
Jehovah Rapha - The Lord who Heals

I’m sure I have not exhausted the list . . . these are just some of the “bigger” ones, or more well-known names of God.

Consider today . . . who do you need God to be in your life today? Call on the Name of God that you need the most today. Do you need peace? Do you have physical needs of provision? Do you need protection? Do you need healing? Or do you just need to know that He is there? Call on Him, and He will answer. If you seek Him with all your heart, He will hear you and He will make Himself known to you.

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
(Jeremiah 29:13 NIV)

Father, I don’t know if I can truthfully say that I have ever sought You with “all my heart.” For surely, there is always a piece of my heart that longs for the things of this world. Otherwise, I would have ceased chasing after anything sinful, long ago. So I need You to do what Psalm 86:11 asks for. Unite my heart to fear Your Name. Teach me Your way, that I may walk in Your truth. My heart’s desire is to be whole-hearted toward You, so that I might truly know You and see Your face. I know that, someday, I will see what can be seen of You, in glory, and I truly long for that day, because I grow weary of the fight in this world. Yet I know that I am still here for a purpose, and I want to fulfill that purpose for You. So keep drawing me closer, and keep showing me Yourself, that I might come closer to calling on You with my whole heart.

Your Name, alone, is to be exalted and worshiped. Help me to worship You more faithfully, Father. And for anyone who stumbles across this, today, Lord, I pray that one of those many names of Yours will inspire them to call upon You for whatever they need in Your life. Show Yourself, faithfully, to all who call upon You, that Your name may be glorified, on earth as it is in heaven. I seek no recognition, as I am only a channel of the words that Your Holy Spirit puts in my brain and on my heart. I pray that I am “hearing” correctly, though. Let me never say or do anything that brings dishonor to Your Holy Name!

Father, please give Your children the commitment to do justice and love mercy. I pray for the rights and protection of children in our land and around the world. And, for anyone who is lonely, today, may You, Jehovah Shammah, show Yourself to them as their faithful companion.

BLESSING

Praise the Lord, the God of Israel! He has come to save his people.
(Luke 1:68 CEV)


Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
(Kyrie)

Grace and peace, friends.

The Gift; The Wonder

Good morning! Today is Friday, the twenty-fourth of December, 2021. It is Christmas Eve!

May the peace of Christ be with you!

Day 23,297

One day until Christmas!

C is already busy cooking. She has cut up the fudge that was made last night. It is delicious! She is currently putting together a couple of crescent roll pull-apart Christmas trees. One has garlic and herb soft cheese inside, and the other will have cream cheese, powdered sugar, and chocolate chips inside. We have never tried the chocolate chip one before.

C’s sister, brother-in-law, niece, and niece’s boyfriend will be coming over, this evening. I believe they plan to bring a deep-fried turkey, something we have yet to try. We will be preparing our usual fare for holidays. Ham, green bean casserole, corn casserole, and mashed potatoes. And some of those “Parker House” style rolls. We also still have most of the bundt cake that I bought at Nothing Bundt Cakes. C gave in and cut into that a couple days ago. I’m not sure how much is left.

Tomorrow, after we have our Christmas celebrating, we will load up more food and gifts and head to Mineral Wells, where we will celebrate some more, along with some Facetiming with R & J, up in Indy.

I wish everyone who reads this a joyous Christmas, if that is what you celebrate. For the rest, I will say, gladly, “Happy Holidays,” in whatever your celebration of choice is. I’m not one of those grumpy folks who insist that everyone say “Merry Christmas.” That’s just silly. And quite disrespectful, in my opinion.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

All Is Calm, by S. Michaels (LightWriters)

All peace,
all joy, what
great love

©2021 S. Michaels
All Things Bright
(Haiku 2-3-2)

I pray for peace and joy for all people. Please check out this poet’s site at the link provided above.

"But I say to you who hear,
 Love your enemies, 
do good to those who hate you, 
bless those who curse you, 
pray for those who abuse you. . . .  
And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. . . .  
Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful."
(Luke 6:27-28, 31, 36 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the gift of Christmas, the love of God coming down to mankind in the Christ-child
2. that our Father is merciful, even to those who are "ungrateful and evil" (Luke 6:35)
3. that Jesus is our Good Shepherd, who lays down His life for His sheep
4. that I am one of those sheep, and my salvation is secure (John 10:28-30)
5. for the wonder and miracle of Jesus, God's ultimate gift

Neglect not the gift that is in thee . . .
(1 Timothy 4:14)
If you then, who are evil, 
know how to give good gifts to your children, 
how much more will your Father who is in heaven 
give good things to those who ask him! 
(Matthew 7:11 ESV)
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, 
coming down from the Father of lights 
with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. 
(James 1:17 ESV)

Okay, so right off the bat, I will acknowledge that some of this is taken out of context. So sue me.

Nevertheless, here is my takeaway from these, this morning. The older I have gotten, the more joy I get from giving gifts than receiving them. When we are children (and sometimes beyond), we love to receive gifts. Countless Christmas Eve nights are spent in sleepless suspense (see what I did there?), waiting for parents to get up and indicate that it is finally time to see what Santa has put under the tree. Or, if we have grown beyond the Santa phase, what the parents have put under the tree.

But now, for me, at least, the joy is in the giving. Our Father in heaven takes great joy in giving. Jesus Christ gave His life “for the joy set before Him” (Hebrews 12:2). “Every good and every perfect gift is from above.” So, to me, that means that, if my gift to you is “good” and “perfect,” then it came from God. Because any gift that I could possibly give is flawed.

And look at that verse from Matthew. I am, as human, inherently “evil.” That’s not a topic for today’s discussion, just go with it. And if I, being “evil,” can give “good” gifts to my children, my family, my friends, “HOW MUCH MORE” is our Father able to give REALLY GOOD gifts to us??

So, over the next day or so, take a look at the gifts you receive (hopefully you are receiving some), and if you really like them . . . if they seem “perfect,” consider how much better God’s gifts are!

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; 
and the government shall be upon his shoulder, 
and his name shall be called 
Wonderful 
Counselor, 
Mighty God, 
Everlasting Father, 
Prince of Peace. 
(Isaiah 9:6 ESV)
"Who is like you, O LORD, among the gods? 
Who is like you, 
majestic in holiness, 
awesome in glorious deeds, 
doing wonders?"
(Exodus 15:11 ESV)
And awe came upon every soul, 
and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 
(Acts 2:43 ESV)

An interesting thing that I have learned, this morning. The word translated “wonderful” in Isaiah 9:6 is the same as the word translated “wonders” in Exodus 15:11. The Hebrew word is pele (pronounced “peh’-leh”) and means “a miracle, a marvelous thing.” Taking that into consideration, we see that the gift of Jesus, the son that is given, is the ultimate wonder of God, the ultimate miracle. In Jesus, the miracle and wonder of God’s love is displayed, and the miracle and wonder of our salvation is accomplished.


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

CHRISTMAS EVE

INVITATION

Restore us, O God; 
make your face shine on us, 
that we may be saved. 
(Psalms 80:3 NIV)

As I pause, this morning, I continue to ponder the wonder of the Gift.

BIBLE SONG

Sing to the LORD a new song; 
sing to the LORD, all the earth. 
Sing to the LORD, praise his name; 
proclaim his salvation day after day. 
Declare his glory among the nations,
 his marvelous deeds among all peoples. 

Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; 
let the sea resound, and all that is in it. 
Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them; 
let all the trees of the forest sing for joy. 
Let all creation rejoice before the LORD, for he comes, 
he comes to judge the earth. 
He will judge the world in righteousness 
and the peoples in his faithfulness. 
(Psalms 96:1-3, 11-13 NIV)

BIBLE READING

This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. 
But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." 
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: "The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel" (which means "God with us"). 
When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus. 
(Matthew 1:18-25 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I read these passages again, slowly, I look for words or phrases that catch my eye or move my heart. I pray my thoughts and desires and needs and feelings to God, reflecting on things that I have already read, this morning, as well, enjoying His presence.

Father, I praise You for this gift, this miracle, this wonder of Jesus Christ. I pray that, today and tomorrow, and days after, that people all around the world will know the peace and joy that comes from participating in this life, this wonder, this miracle. He has saved us from our sins, indeed. Because of this, I will sing to You a new song, and I cannot wait until that day when I sing a brand new song in Your presence, along with everyone else from every tribe and nation and tongue and people on this planet. What a day, glorious day, that will be! In the meantime, let the fields be jubilant; let the rocks cry out; let the rivers clap their hands; let the heavens rejoice; let the earth be glad; let the sea resound; let all the trees of the forest sing for joy!

Thank You for Your perfect Gift!

"God with us,
quiet me before the Christ-child,
filled with wonder that in this tiny child,
You have come near.
Amen."

BLESSING

"May the tender mercy of our God,
by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven,
shine on those living in darkness and guide our feet into the path of peace."
(based on Luke 1:78-79)

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
(Ephesians 3:16-21 NIV).

Grace and peace, friends.

He Will Deliver . . .

Good morning. It is Monday, the thirteenth of November, 2021, the third Monday of Advent.

Peace of Christ be with you!

Day 23,286

Only twelve more days until Christmas!

We had a lovely day, yesterday, in Mineral Wells. Yesterday’s Christmas worship, at First Baptist Church, was very good. I love what their worship leader does. Rather than present a “canned” musical, he curates a set of music, himself, which incorporates the children’s groups, as well as the congregation, in the singing. In other words, it is not a “performance,” as much as it is simply worship.

Afterward, we had a great lunch from Natty Flats BBQ. I had sliced brisket and sausage, along with their “baked tater salad,” and some “Natty Flats BBQ beans,” as well as a side of their delicious chili. We also had some banana pudding for dessert.

After a few hours of visiting with Mama, we headed home, but not before having to extricate a neighborhood cat from her house. He (or she?) sneaked into the front door while we were saying our goodbyes. Fortunately, S saw it happen, so I was able to get the cat out with little effort. It was quite funny.

Today is a standard day off for me. Laundry is already started, and a trip to one or more grocery stores will be in the near future. Not a big trip. We actually don’t do much of that, anymore, since I can easily go on either Monday or Thursday of any week, not to mention Tuesday morning or early afternoon.

I finished reading The Black Echo, by Michael Connelly, on Saturday night. I’m going to focus on trying to finish The Divine Embrace, by Robert E. Webber, this week. I need to take a glimpse at what I’ve already read, just to refresh my memory. I’m on page eighty-five of a little more than two hundred. I have no idea what will be next.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

The Lord is strength and song;
He has become salvation;
I will praise my God.
(Exodus 15:2)
But let all who take refuge in you 
rejoice;
let them ever sing for 
joy, 
and spread your protection over them, 
that those who love your name may exult in you. 
(Psalms 5:11 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that we have enough; food, clothing, shelter, and more
2. that our hearts are drawn toward helping those who do not have enough
3. for Christmas music
4. for Your care for the needy and weak
5. for Your rescue for the oppressed

And he called his disciples to him and said to them,
"Truly, I say to you, 
this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. 
For they all contributed out of their abundance, 
but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, 
all she had to live on." 
(Mark 12:43-44 ESV)
The righteous flourish like the palm tree 
and grow like a cedar in Lebanon. 
They are planted in the house of the LORD; 
they flourish in the courts of our God. 
They still bear fruit in old age; 
they are ever full of sap and green, 
to declare that the LORD is upright; 
he is my rock, 
and there is no unrighteousness in him. 
(Psalms 92:12-15 ESV)
The glory of young men is their strength,
 but the splendor of old men is their gray hair.
(Proverbs 20:29 ESV)

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

ADVENT – DAY SIXTEEN

INVITATION

How beautiful on the mountains 
are the feet of the messenger 
who brings good news, 
the good news of peace and salvation,
the news that the God of Israel reigns! 
(Isaiah 52:7 NLT)

I pause, this morning, in the silence of the hour, to reflect on the beauty of the message, and on the joy that comes from knowing Jesus.

BIBLE SONG

Endow the king with your justice, O God, 
the royal son with your righteousness. 
May he judge your people in righteousness, 
your afflicted ones with justice.  

For he will deliver the needy who cry out, 
the afflicted who have no one to help.
 He will take pity on the weak and the needy 
and save the needy from death. 
He will rescue them from oppression and violence, 
for precious is their blood in his sight. 
(Psalms 72:1-2, 12-14 NIV)

BIBLE READING

John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, 
"You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 
Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. 
And do not begin to say to yourselves, 
'We have Abraham as our father.' 
For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. 
The ax is already at the root of the trees, 
and every tree that does not produce good fruit 
will be cut down and thrown into the fire." 
(Luke 3:7-9 NIV)
The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Messiah. 
John answered them all, 
"I baptize you with water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire." 
(Luke 3:15-17 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I remind myself that I am in the presence of the Lord, I read these passages again, attempting to notice how God might be speaking to me through His Word. I dwell on any words or phrases that catch my eye or move my heart, allowing my heart to respond to the Lord in prayer. I take refreshment in His presence.

Father, I see again, the emphasis placed on the needy, the afflicted, the weak, those who need to be rescued from oppression and violence. I see that their blood is precious in Your sight. This causes me anxiety, as I look around me, because I see so much of all of it. So much, in fact, that I am virtually paralyzed because I don’t see how I can help. Yet You move my heart toward generosity, and I pray for direction. I have, we have, resources with which You have blessed us. Guide our hearts and our hands, Father, to know where to direct those resources, that they might provide the most relief for the most people. Help us to do the work of Jesus on this earth. I pray that more of Your people would care more for those whom Scripture clearly tells us that You care about, deeply.

Let us not get complacent or over-confident, either, Lord. We have the example of Israel, who was exiled because of their sin. While it is true that they were allowed to return to their land, and they produced the salvation of the world in Jesus Christ, yet they continue in their unbelief. Being of Israel will do them no good if they continue to deny the truth of the Messiah. Likewise, if we do not follow Jesus and obey Him, we will be lost. I do not believe that we can become lost, once we have begun to follow Him. However, I fear that there may be many who believe they are following Him, who are truly not. Give us clarity of vision, Father, and weed out all false teachers, that the message of the Gospel not be muddled. We leave that to You and Your angels, though, as Your disciples were instructed to not try to remove the weeds from the true grain.

May I not be chaff, Father, that becomes burned with “unquenchable fire.” Sometimes, my enemy foments doubt in my heart. Keep me confident . . . make me struggle with my sin, and not give in to temptation. Increase my joy, that overwhelming sense of well-being, that comes from knowing You through Christ.

"Holy God,
lead me to repentance that brings life.
Not the groveling show that's more about convincing You I'm worthy of Your forgiveness,
but the cut-to-the-heart kind of repentance that is grieved at my sin because of Your holiness and glory.
Move me by Your mercy and lead me to a life of joyful obedience.
Amen."

BLESSING

“Praise the Lord, 
the God of Israel, 
because he has visited 
and redeemed his people."
(Luke 1:68 NLT)

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

And the Glory of the Lord . . .

Today is Saturday, the eleventh of December, 2021, the second Saturday of Advent.

Peace of Christ be with you!

Day 23,284

Fourteen days until Christmas!

It currently doesn’t look or feel like Christmas around here (DFW, TX), but it definitely looks and feels better than last February. It’s unseasonable warm, for the most part, around here. I hear that the reason for it is that the jet stream is stuck in Canada. That’s the easy, oversimplified version, because that’s the version I understand.

We are expecting a low of right at or just below freezing tomorrow morning, but it’s supposed to get up to 61 tomorrow, so it should be a beautiful day.

Speaking of tomorrow, we are going back to Mineral Wells, tomorrow, to attend FBC’s Christmas music presentation. S wants to do that, so we can do that for her. Hopefully, Mama will be able to attend with us. We will probably have lunch from Natty Flats BBQ afterward. That seems to be our new “go to” place for lunch in Mineral Wells.

This is my Saturday to work, so I will be at the library from 9:30-6:15, today. Several of us are bringing food to share today. I’m not sure what the others are bringing, so I will also bring something for lunch, just in case. I’m bringing this:

Crescent Christmas Tree Pull Apart

It has a whopping four ingredients. Pillsbury crescent rolls, Boursin Gournay Garlic & Herb cheese, butter, and parsley flakes (that’s the green stuff on top). Easy to make, and comes out very pretty. Also delicious.

I have also agreed to work in place of one of my associates, next Saturday. He has something he needs to do, so I agreed to work his shift next Saturday. Not that I care that much, but it will help to make up for the sixteen hours I will miss on Christmas weekend. We are closed Friday and Saturday, for Christmas, both days on which I was scheduled to work. We are also closed New Year’s Day, but I would have already been off that Saturday, anyway.

There has been a flurry of Christmas present buying, lately. We are almost finished. We still have a few things to come up with, though.

Please continue to pray for Benjamin’s wife, over at Brother’s Campfire. They could use some miracles.

Today’s header photo is courtesy of Paul Militaru. Please check out his other lovely photographs at the link provided.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Awaiting, by S. Michaels (LightWriters)

Believe…
miracles
happen…

 
©2021 S. Michaels
All Things Bright
(Haiku 2-3-2)

Indeed, miracles happen, sometimes whether we believe or not. Please check out her other poetry in the link provided above. You will also see some lovely images for each poem.

Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. 
The Lord is at hand; 
do not be anxious about anything, 
but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving 
let your requests be made known to God. 
And the peace of God, 
which surpasses all understanding, 
will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, 
whatever is honorable, 
whatever is just, 
whatever is pure, 
whatever is lovely, 
whatever is commendable, 
if there is any excellence,
 if there is anything worthy of praise, 
think about these things. 
What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—
practice these things, 
and the God of peace will be with you.
(Philippians 4:5-9 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the glorious truth of these verses
2. that every good and perfect gift comes from You
3. for Your peace, which, when I allow it, floods my soul like a river
4. that Your glory shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together
5. that Your mouth has spoken these things

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
(Luke 10:41-42 NIV)

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, 
and I will give you rest. 
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, 
for I am gentle and humble in heart, 
and you will find rest for your souls. 
For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." 
(Matthew 11:28-30 NIV)

It is good to note that rest isn’t necessarily related to activity or the lack thereof. Rest can be a state of mind, as we allow ourselves to be immersed in and embraced by the love of God in Christ Jesus. I could be running a marathon (actually, no, I could not be running a marathon, but this is just for illustration) and be “resting” at the same time. Likewise, I could be sitting on my rump in an easy chair and not be resting at all.

The best rest comes when we walk in the easy yoke with Jesus, who bears the brunt of the labor in our lives, willingly and easily.


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

ADVENT – DAY FOURTEEN

INVITATION

Yahweh is my light and my salvation. 
Whom shall I fear? 
(Psalms 27:1 WEB)

I pause during the quietness of this morning to reflect on the peace of God, the theme of this second week of Advent. I allow His peace to move over me, covering me like a fleece blanket.

BIBLE SONG

I will praise the LORD all my life; 
I will sing praise to my God as long as I live. 

He is the Maker of heaven and earth, 
the sea, and everything in them— 
he remains faithful forever. 
He upholds the cause of the oppressed 
and gives food to the hungry. 
The LORD sets prisoners free,
 the LORD gives sight to the blind, 
the LORD lifts up those who are bowed down, 
the LORD loves the righteous.
 The LORD watches over the foreigner 
and sustains the fatherless and the widow, 
but he frustrates the ways of the wicked. 

Praise the LORD. 
(Psalms 146:2, 6-10 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Comfort, comfort my people, 
says your God. 
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, 
and proclaim to her 
that her hard service has been completed, 
that her sin has been paid for, 
that she has received from the LORD's hand 
double for all her sins.

 A voice of one calling: 
"In the wilderness prepare the way for the LORD; 
make straight in the desert a highway for our God. 
Every valley shall be raised up, 
every mountain and hill made low; 
the rough ground shall become level, 
the rugged places a plain. 
And the glory of the LORD will be revealed, 
and all people will see it together. 
For the mouth of the LORD has spoken." 
(Isaiah 40:1-5 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I leisurely read these passages again, I look for words and ideas that stir within me. I linger over them and give them my attention. Is there something I need to ask God about, to pray to Him? I pray my life to the Lord, resting in His presence.

Because You have ordained it, and made it possible, my God, my Father, I will praise Your Name for as long as I live, which will be for eternity in Your presence. “I can only imagine,” as the song says, “what it will be like” to be in Your presence for eternity. I know what Your presence feels like now. The very thought of how powerful it will be when I am Home nearly makes my heart burst.

You, the creator of heaven and earth, have condescended to interact with us. You care for the oppressed, the hungry, the prisoner, the widow, and the fatherless. Over and over, throughout Scripture, You tell us these things. And then that bit where Jesus talks about “the least of these,” and how that applies directly back to Him . . . it would do us well to heed these words and act accordingly. When we are blind, Father, please restore our sight. We become “blind” when we look too long at the wrong things. Return our sight to the things that matter to You. Help us to take up the cause of the oppressed, the hungry, the prisoner, the widow, the fatherless, and the foreigner, while somehow managing to avoid the traps of the wicked.

Make the desert road straight;
raise up the valleys;
make low the mountains and hills;
level out the rough ground;
make plains out of the rugged lands.
Reveal Your glory to us, O Lord!
For Your mouth has spoken it!

I pray, Father, for servant leadership in Your Church. Give us “kingdom vision, godly stewardship, and effective organization.” May we have a deep identity with the mission You have given us. I pray for unity in the midst of the chaos.

"Satisfying God,
it sometimes hurts to hope,
and so I settle for less.
I confess that I've often given my heart to impostors and counterfeits that can never deliver.
Nurture in me a desire for Your generous reward -
a glory I can hardly begin to imagine -
and a longing for that great day when I will fully enjoy Your promises in Jesus Christ,
our Lord.
Amen."

BLESSING

Wait for Yahweh. 
Be strong, 
and let your heart take courage. 
Yes, wait for Yahweh. 
(Psalms 27:14 WEB)

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.

Be Strong and Courageous

Today is Thursday, the ninth of December, 2021, the second Thursday of Advent.

Peace of Christ be with you!

Day 23,282

Sixteen days until Christmas!

Yesterday’s work day was a treat. The Christmas party/luncheon was great fun. The food was okay, but everything else overshadowed that. The desserts were way better than the catered food.

The gift exchange was probably the best part, at least for me. I was up to open a gift, I think, third (somewhere like that . . . I had drawn number six, but there were some numbers not represented). I opened a box that was long and skinny (could have been a bottle of wine or something), and it turned out to be a lava lamp. The next person up stole my lava lamp. So I opened a new one, and it was a cowl-neck sweater, size XXXL. Pink stripes. S probably could have worn it. But someone else stole that one, a bit later. I still didn’t steal another person’s gift, even though there were some that were tempting. This time, I opened a bluetooth speaker. Looked like a pretty nice one, medium sized. Another flurry of gift-stealing resulted in my speaker being stolen.

This time, I took someone else’s gift. In fact, I took it from the person who originally stole my lava lamp, which had since been stolen from her and, subsequently, “frozen.” This gift, I wound up keeping. It is a cute coffee cup, with a cat on one side and “meow” on the other, along with a box of Hickory Farms sausage and cheese snacks.

In addition, yesterday was our second Secret Santa day. I received this from my secret Santa.

I didn’t try any of it, yesterday, but plan to have some today. I am a fan of this new-ish “biltong” style beef snack. It’s better than jerky, because it has no sugar.

Today is my other day off, this week, and I will be working tomorrow and Saturday, all day. I’m planning to take a savory snack to work on Saturday.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

All God's fullness dwelled
in Christ to reconcile us;
stable and steadfast.
(Colossians 1:19-23)

Behold, the Lord GOD comes with might, and his arm rules for him; behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense before him. He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.
(Isaiah 40:10-11 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the great group of people with whom I work
2. for this season of hope, peace, love, and joy
3. for the promise of Your presence, always
4. that Your love stands firm forever
5. for songs of praise, to sing of Your great love forever

And behold, I am with you always, 
to the end of the age."
(Matthew 28:20 ESV)
"Be strong and courageous. 
Do not fear or be in dread of them, 
for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. 
He will not leave you or forsake you."
(Deuteronomy 31:6 ESV)
"Have I not commanded you? 
Be strong and courageous. 
Do not be frightened, 
and do not be dismayed, 
for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go."
(Joshua 1:9 ESV)
For I am sure that neither death nor life, 
nor angels nor rulers, 
nor things present nor things to come, 
nor powers, 
nor height nor depth, 
nor anything else in all creation, 
will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Romans 8:38-39 ESV)

Father, I could easily stop right here, and not read any more. These Scriptures are enough to fuel me for the rest of the day. I confess, I was struggling a little, before I got to these . . . mostly feeling like I was wandering with no direction in life. This is still part of the process of working through this whole retirement business, I suspect. Thank You for the promises of Your presence in my life. Help me to stay faithful to You by giving You my devotion, attention, and worship.


Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses,
 let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, 
and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 
looking to Jesus, 
the founder and perfecter of our faith, 
who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, 
despising the shame, 
and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
(Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV)

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

ADVENT – DAY TWELVE

INVITATION

The LORD is my light and my salvation;
 I will fear no one. 
(Psalms 27:1 GNB)

As I pause, during the quietness of this morning, I meditate on the comforting presence of the Lord, through the Son and by the Spirit.

BIBLE SONG

I will sing of the LORD's great love forever; 
with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known 
through all generations. 
I will declare that your love stands firm forever, 
that you have established your faithfulness in heaven itself. 
You said, "I have made a covenant with my chosen one,
 I have sworn to David my servant, 
'I will establish your line forever 
and make your throne firm through all generations.'"
(Psalms 89:1-4 NIV)
I have found David my servant; 
with my sacred oil I have anointed him.
 My hand will sustain him;
 surely my arm will strengthen him. 
The enemy will not get the better of him; 
the wicked will not oppress him. 
I will crush his foes before him 
and strike down his adversaries. 
My faithful love will be with him, 
and through my name his horn will be exalted.
(Psalms 89:20-24 NIV)

BIBLE READING

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 
Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. 
(Romans 15:5-7 NIV)

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
(Romans 15:13 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I remind myself that I am in God’s presence, I read these passages again, trying to weed out the distractions of the day. I attempt to notice how God might be speaking to me through His Word, allowing my heart to respond in prayer.

Father, I truly will sing of Your great love forever, and Your great faithfulness, “known through all generations.” The truth that Your love stands firm forever gives me great comfort and hope, most especially when I feel that my strength and faith are waning. I trust that Your faithful love will be with me, just as it was with Your servant David.

Lord Jesus, Isaiah prophesied that You would lead Your flock like a shepherd. Lead us, O Lord, lead us. Lead us through these treacherous times, when we are so easily distracted. Give us endurance and encouragement, and give us “the same attitude of mind toward each other that Jesus Christ had.” Help us to, with one mind and one voice, to glorify You through Jesus Christ. May we all accept one another, especially through all of our faults and shortcomings. May we truly accept one another, as brothers and sisters in Christ, even when (and especially when) we do not agree on things.

May You fill us all with joy and peace as we trust in You, and may we overflow with hope by the power of Your Holy Spirit.

Give us all spiritual renewal and more yearning to know You. May You strengthen our prayers for family members and friends who do not know You. I also pray, still, for racial reconciliation, both in our land, as well as the rest of the world. It is most disheartening to see this continuing to be such a serious problem in our day and age.

"God of hope,
fill me with edge-of-the-seat anticipation as I wait for that unimaginable day when I will be crowned with glory and honor,
hear You call out my name,
and have You wipe away every tear from my eyes.
May my hope for that good future temper the tragedy and mess of today.
In Christ's name,
amen."

BLESSING

Trust in the LORD. 
Have faith, do not despair. 
Trust in the LORD. 
(Psalms 27:14 GNB)

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, 
have mercy upon us.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
have mercy upon us.
O, Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
grant us Your peace.
(Agnus Dei)

Grace and peace, friends.

Like A Thief

Today is Tuesday, December seventh, 2021, the second Tuesday of Advent.

The peace of Christ be with you!

Day 23,280

Eighteen days until Christmas.

I got a lot of Christmas presents ordered, yesterday. Our presents for R & J, we will have delivered directly to their house. I guess they’re on an honor system to wait until Christmas to open them. Hahaha! I don’t have a list from C, yet, and I certainly don’t know what to put on my own Christmas list. I’ve reached that stage of life where I don’t need anything. I don’t even want much.

Today is my evening work day, my four hour shift from 4:15-8:15. Then, tomorrow, we have our staff Christmas Luncheon, I think from 12:00-2:00. That gives everyone ample opportunity to attend and still have stations covered. I’m not sure when the gift exchange piece of that will be happening, though.

I don’t have much else going on, so on to the devotional.

Except that I was just reminded that today is the anniversary of C’s and my first date. December 7, 1984. We went to a midnight Laser Magic show at the Noble Planetarium at the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History. It was most definitely magic.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Parousia, by S. Michaels (LightWriters)

Stillness,
the presence
of peace

 
©2021 S. Michaels
All Things Bright
(Haiku 2-3-2)
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; 
and the government shall be upon his shoulder, 
and his name shall be called 
Wonderful Counselor, 
Mighty God, 
Everlasting Father, 
Prince of Peace. 
Of the increase of his government
 and of peace 
there will be no end, 
on the throne of David and over his kingdom, 
to establish it and to uphold it with justice 
and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. 
The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this. 
(Isaiah 9:6-7 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the presence of peace
2. for the child, born to us, Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Prince of Peace
3. for Your great patience, as a thousand years are like a day to You, and vice versa
4. for the hope and promise of a new heaven and new earth, "where righteousness dwells"
5. for Your Church, the bride of Christ, broken down as She is; revive us, O Lord!

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

ADVENT – DAY TEN

INVITATION

The LORD is my light and my salvation; 
whom shall I fear?  
(Psalms 27:1 ESV)

I pause in the quiet to consider the peace of His presence, to celebrate the Prince of Peace, both in His first arrival and the hope of His return.

BIBLE SONG

For the director of music. To the tune of "The Lilies of the Covenant." Of Asaph. A psalm. 

Hear us, Shepherd of Israel, 
you who lead Joseph like a flock. 
You who sit enthroned between the cherubim, 
shine forth before Ephraim, Benjamin and Manasseh. 
Awaken your might;
 come and save us. 
(Psalms 80:1-2 NIV)
You transplanted a vine from Egypt; 
you drove out the nations and planted it. 
You cleared the ground for it, 
and it took root and filled the land. 
The mountains were covered with its shade, 
the mighty cedars with its branches. 
Its branches reached as far as the Sea, 
its shoots as far as the River. 

Why have you broken down its walls 
so that all who pass by pick its grapes? 
Boars from the forest ravage it, 
and insects from the fields feed on it. 
Return to us, God Almighty! 
Look down from heaven and see! 
Watch over this vine, 
the root your right hand has planted, 
the son you have raised up for yourself.
(Psalms 80:8-15 NIV)

BIBLE READING

But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 
But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare. 
Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.
(2 Peter 3:8-13 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I leisurely read these passages over again, I look for words or ideas that stir within me. I linger over them, giving them my full attention. I pray my life to God, through these meditations, and rest in His presence.

Father, I struggle with interpreting some of these Psalms. Today’s looks, on the surface to be mainly about Israel, but I can see elements of Christ within it. Yet Jesus does not have walls that are broken down, and has not been ravaged by boars and insects. At the same time, though, I can see similarities between Israel and Your Church in today’s world.

We, the Church, are a sort of “transplant,” made possible by the infusion of the righteousness of Christ. And it does seem as though the walls of the Church are being ravaged by “boars” and “insects.” I pray for restoration, that we might put the entirety of our faith and trust in Jesus, our Redeemer.

We wait, Lord. We wait for the revelation and return of our glorified Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. We have waited for thousands of years. And we continue to wait. Some are waiting more patiently than others. I’m more patient some days than I am other days. Sometimes, the news gets to me, and I wish You would hurry up. But then I read this passage from 2 Peter again, which tells me that these last couple thousand years were, in effect, equivalent to a couple days to You. The point is not a correlation of days to years, though. The point is that You exist outside of time, and that You are in no hurry, partially because the plan is already in place, and You are working it, according to how You want to.

It’s times like these that I am reminded of this verse:

Our God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him.
(Psalms 115:3 NIV)

And, Peter tells us, You aren’t being slow, You’re being patient. And we should be most thankful for that, because it gives us time to get our act together, right? You don’t want anyone to perish, but desire all to come to repentance. So You are patient, waiting for the “fulness of the Gentiles” to happen. Yet, at the same time, I realize that “waiting” is not a concept that You are involved in, because, once again, You exist outside time. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, I cannot attain it. I can’t grasp this, it makes my head hurt.

Help me to be ready and watchful, knowing that Your return could happen as a thief in the night. It will be obvious when it happens; obvious, and, apparently, loud. Help me to live a holy and godly life, as though by doing so, I could “speed its coming.” And, as Peter said, I will be “looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.”

May You equip us to serve in unique ways in the communities and public in which You have placed us. Give us the capacity and desire to serve the common good, as much as it is possible for us to do so.

"Cleansing Lord,
when You come again as a judge of the living and the dead,
You will be like a furnace of judgment that will consume everything evil and ungodly.
But You will be a refining fire too,
with a glowing,
purified creation coming from the flames.
Make this world beautiful for You and fitted for Your kingdom;
purify my heart so that I may envision that coming day.
Amen."

BLESSING

Wait for the LORD;
 be strong, 
and let your heart take courage;
 wait for the LORD!
(Psalms 27:14 ESV)

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, 
have mercy upon us.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
have mercy upon us.
O, Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
grant us Your peace.
(Agnus Dei)

Grace and peace, friends.

Soon

Good morning. Today is Wednesday, December 1, 2021, the first Wednesday of Advent.

Welcome to December.

Peace be with you.

Day 23,274

Twenty-four days until Christmas.

This afternoon, we will travel to east Texas, Henderson, to be exact, for the visitation/viewing for my Uncle Buddy, who passed away Monday morning. The funeral is tomorrow afternoon at 1:00 PM.

Uncle Buddy lived 30,551 days.

We plan to leave here between 2:00 and 2:30 PM, this afternoon, and will return tomorrow evening, after the graveside service is concluded.

I don’t really have any other news/happenings to report. C is working from home, today, instead of yesterday. She had already planned to go to the office yesterday, for some reason, and work from home today, so that makes it easier for us to be ready to leave, this afternoon. I’ll be making a quick trip to the grocery store, immediately following the completion of this blog, just to get a couple of things. Primarily, we are out of cat litter. And grapes.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Man is a shadow.
In vain does he heap up wealth.
My hope is in You!
(Based on Psalm 39:6-7)

Is not your fear of God your confidence,
and the integrity of your ways your hope?
(Job 4:6 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the hope that I have in You, through all things, whether "good" or "bad"
2. for the love and support of family and friends
3. for the promise of straight paths, when I trust in You
4. for Your Word, living and active, discerning my thoughts and the intentions of my heart
5. for the hope of Your return; we all say, "Come, Lord!"

Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.
(Proverbs 3:5-6 ESV)

For the word of God is living and active,
sharper than any two-edged sword,
piercing to the division
of soul
and of spirit,
of joints
and of marrow,
and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
(Hebrews 4:12 ESV)


The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad;
the desert shall rejoice and blossom like the crocus;
it shall blossom abundantly and rejoice with joy and singing.
The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it,
the majesty of Carmel and Sharon.
They shall see the glory of the LORD,
the majesty of our God.
(Isaiah 35:1-2 ESV)

Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
and the ears of the deaf unstopped;
then shall the lame man leap like a deer,
and the tongue of the mute sing for joy.
For waters break forth in the wilderness,
and streams in the desert;
the burning sand shall become a pool,
and the thirsty ground springs of water;
in the haunt of jackals,
where they lie down,
the grass shall become reeds and rushes.
(Isaiah 35:5-7 ESV)

Behold, I am doing a new thing;
now it springs forth,
do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert.
(Isaiah 43:19 ESV)

For I will pour water on the thirsty land,
and streams on the dry ground;
I will pour my Spirit upon your offspring,
and my blessing on your descendants.
They shall spring up among the grass like willows by flowing streams.
(Isaiah 44:3-4 ESV)

No matter how dry and barren you feel, there is hope for “streams in the desert.” Our lives are waiting for the rain of God’s Spirit to come down on us; then we will “spring up among the grass like willows by flowing streams.”

Hope is the theme for the first week of Advent. There is always hope.


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

FIRST WEEK OF ADVENT – DAY FOUR

INVITATION

I pray to GOD—
my life a prayer—
and wait for what he’ll say and do.
(Psalms 130:5 MSG)

I pause during the quietness of this morning to reflect on the hope that dwells in my heart; hope that is based on the faith and trust that is a gift from God, my Father in heaven.

BIBLE SONG

For the director of music. Of the Sons of Korah. A psalm.

You, LORD, showed favor to your land;
you restored the fortunes of Jacob.
You forgave the iniquity of your people
and covered all their sins.
(Psalms 85:1-2 NIV)

I will listen to what God the LORD says;
he promises peace to his people, his faithful servants—
but let them not turn to folly.
Surely his salvation is near those who fear him,
that his glory may dwell in our land.

Love and faithfulness meet together;
righteousness and peace kiss each other.
Faithfulness springs forth from the earth,
and righteousness looks down from heaven.
The LORD will indeed give what is good,
and our land will yield its harvest.
Righteousness goes before him
and prepares the way for his steps.
(Psalms 85:8-13 NIV)

BIBLE READING

“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with their assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch.
“Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!'”
(Mark 13:32-37 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I remind myself of the Lord’s presence, I read these passages again, trying to take notice of how He might be speaking to me through His Word. I allow my heart to respond in prayer, taking refreshment in His presence.

God, You have shown us favor. You have forgiven our iniquity and covered our sins! You promise peace to us, Your servants. And that peace, You deliver, even when we do slip up and turn to folly. Help me to listen to what You say to me, to us.

I pray that Your glory would dwell in our land, and by “land,” I mean the entire world where Your Church exists. Anywhere there is a piece of Your Church, I pray that Your glory dwells. May love and faithfulness, righteousness and peace, all come together in that place where Your glory dwells. May faithfulness spring up from the earth, and righteousness rain down from the heavens. Give us what is good; give us only what is good, so that Your Church will yield its harvest in this world. May righteousness always go before You, as You walk among us.

Father, we know not when Jesus will return again. This, along with hope, is a recurring theme, this week. Our hope is in You, and our hope is strongly based on the promises of the return of our Savior, coming to set things right and usher in the new heavens and the new earth. Help us to be alert, to be on guard, to be watching faithfully, and waiting with great anticipation. May we not be found to be “asleep.” But may we also carry on our normal activities, doing the things that You have tasked us with, while we live our lives on this earth. Jesus stated that His return will be similar to when the floods came in the days of Noah, and people will be doing the things that they normally do. Keep us faithful and watchful, Father!

"Unexpected Savior,
You are coming again,
but this date,
already marked down by the Father,
isn't for me to know.
But I'm curious,
Lord,
desiring a timeline or diagram,
wanting to nail down a future that's out of my hands.
In place of my faithless need to control,
give me a watchful heart full of expectation and wonder.
Amen."

BLESSING

He who testifies to all these things says it again:
“I’m on my way!
I’ll be there soon!”
Yes! Come, Master Jesus!
The grace of the Master Jesus be with all of you.
Oh, Yes!
(Revelation 22:20-21 MSG)

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.

Restore Us, O God

Today is Tuesday, the thirtieth of November, 2021. First Tuesday of Advent. Last day of November.

May God’s peace be with you, today.

Day 23,273

Twenty-five days until the twenty-fifth of December.

“On December five and twenty . . .”

I was rudely awakened, this morning, but the sound of things crashing and breaking. C came running out of the bathroom, and I jumped out of bed. I thought it came from the kitchen and had visions of broken dishes all over the floor. But then I looked in the study and this is what I saw.

Luna checks out the mayhem

At the top of the pic, you can see the shelf that fell off of the wall. My creepy clown frame was broken, but I saved the picture. The black box is a speaker, which is probably okay, although I haven’t tested it out, yet. The only other things on the shelves were some notebooks that contained family genealogy stuff and some music lyric charts. The bowling ball was not on the shelf. It was already on the floor.

We’ll probably work on getting the shelf back up this weekend. I don’t anticipate taking the time before then. It’s not an urgent matter.

I got details of arrangements for my uncle’s service, last night. The visitation will be tomorrow evening, from 5:00-7:00 PM. The service will be Thursday afternoon at 1:00 PM. So, at this point, the plan is to head to Henderson (everything will be happening at Rader Funeral Home) tomorrow afternoon, probably leaving around 2:00 PM. We have a room booked at a hotel that is just down the road from the funeral home. Then we will head back to Fort Worth Thursday evening, after the service. The only work I will miss is the extra shift that I had agreed to work on Thursday afternoon.

Mama will not be making the trip. Fortunately, everyone seems to be quite understanding, and my cousins were already not expecting to see her.

I’ve been asked to lead some worship music during the service, which will likely be an old hymn or something. I think it’s up to me to choose, actually. I told my cousin that I would be honored to do so.

We also just ordered flowers to be sent to the visitation.

I don’t really have any other news to share, this morning.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

At Ease, by S. Michaels (LightWriters)

We must
simply trust
and wait
 

©2021 S. Michaels
All Things Bright
(Haiku 2-3-2)

Please check out her other beautiful poetry at the above link.

And they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God,
and the song of the Lamb, saying,
“Great and amazing are your deeds,
O Lord God the Almighty!
Just and true are your ways,
O King of the nations!
(Revelation 15:3 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for Your great and amazing deeds, O Lord God Almighty
2. that Your ways are just and true
3. that we lack no spiritual gift as we wait for the return of our Savior
4. that You will keep us firm, standing firm until the end
5. that You, who have called us into fellowship with Your Son, are faithful

. . . men ought always to pray . . .
(Luke 18:1 KJV)

At dusk, dawn, and noon I sigh deep sighs—he hears, he rescues.
(Psalms 55:17 MSG)

The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
(James 5:16 ESV)

It is not possible to overstate the value of prayer in our lives.


If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.
(1 John 4:20-21 ESV)


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

FIRST WEEK OF ADVENT – DAY THREE

INVITATION

I wait for the LORD,
my soul waits,
and in his word I hope;
(Psalms 130:5 ESV)

I pause during this quiet moment to consider the immense value of prayer and waiting. Truly it is in Him and His Word that I do hope.

BIBLE SONG

For the director of music. To the tune of “The Lilies of the Covenant.” Of Asaph. A psalm.

Hear us, Shepherd of Israel,
you who lead Joseph like a flock.
You who sit enthroned between the cherubim,
shine forth before Ephraim, Benjamin and Manasseh.
Awaken your might;
come and save us.

Restore us, O God;
make your face shine on us,
that we may be saved.
(Psalms 80:1-3 NIV)

Let your hand rest on the man at your right hand,
the son of man you have raised up for yourself.
Then we will not turn away from you;
revive us, and we will call on your name.

Restore us, LORD God Almighty;
make your face shine on us,
that we may be saved.
(Psalms 80:17-19 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. For in him you have been enriched in every way—with all kinds of speech and with all knowledge— God thus confirming our testimony about Christ among you. Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
(1 Corinthians 1:3-9 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I read these passages again, perhaps reading aloud, I look for ways that God’s Word has moved me, pondering and meditating on what has connected with my heart and soul. I pray these things to the Lord, lifting up my life to Him, and quietly enjoying His presence.

The Psalm is a simple prayer for revival, for restoration. “Restore us, O God; make Your face shine on us, that we may be saved,” he says, not once, but twice, in today’s selected passage. He actually says it again in verse 7, between the two groups of verses in today’s reading.

Who is “us?” For Asaph, “us” was Israel. If I am praying this prayer today, though, “us” could very well mean the Church. I don’t apply it to a nation, I don’t pray this for the USA. Doesn’t mean I don’t pray for my country and its leaders; I certainly do (albeit not enough, I will confess). But, as I’ve stated before in this blog, I do not believe that God deals with nations, in this era, as He did with Israel. If there is a “nation” to be considered, it is the “new Israel,” which is the Church.

So when I pray prayers for revival, I have the Church, the Bride of Christ, in mind, not a country. And I do pray for restoration/revival in the Church. May God restore us and make His face to shine upon us.

As we move through this Advent season, this is our hope, that we see Jesus, and that the face of our Father shines upon us. As the Corinthians passage tells us, we truly do not lack any spiritual gift, as we “eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed.”

But wait. Wasn’t He already revealed? What on earth is Paul talking about? As previously mentioned, this refers to the second coming, the return of Christ, as he comes back to restore everything to its rightful condition. This is one of the themes of Advent. We celebrate the first revelation, or coming, Jesus, but we also anticipate the second revelation, when He will return.

In the Corinthians passage, we also have this hope that He will keep us firm to the end. The reason for this is stated in verse 9 of 1 Corinthians 1.

God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
(1 Corinthians 1:9 NIV).

Yes, God is faithful, and if He has called us into this fellowship with His Son, He will keep us. This truth is stated multiple times in Scripture, in several different ways. But it is stated. Growing up Baptist, I used to hear it said, “Once saved, always saved.” Perhaps that is a bit overly simplistic; but it’s true. If I am saved, I am saved by the grace of Jesus Christ, through faith that is a gift from God. The gifts and calling of God are irrevocable. No man can snatch me out of His hands. My salvation is secure.

Period.

In this I rejoice, my Father! Thank You for the preservation of my soul in Christ. I thank You for Your faithfulness, even when I am not faithful. I thank You for Your great love for us, love that was exemplified in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I give You praise that You have confirmed Your testimony about Jesus in various ways throughout the history of Your people. I pray, alongside Asaph, for the restoration of Your Church. Revive is, O Lord, make Your face to shine upon us, that we may be saved. All glory and praise to You, through the Son and by the Spirit.

I pray for the consistent call to follow Jesus as disciples in this world. Give us eyes to see and ears to hear. Give us love for and commitment to the communities in which You have placed us.

"Everlasting God,
it's Advent once again.
We've eagerly waited for change,
but it appears little has happened.
Expand in me the great hope that one day I will be raised from this broken earth -
changed in the blink of an eye -
and that everything bent and bruised,
curdled and corrupted,
in me and this world,
will be transformed into lasting goodness,
righteousness,
and truth.
In Jesus' name,
amen."

BLESSING

He who testifies to these things says,
“Surely I am coming soon.”
Amen.
Come, Lord Jesus!
The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all.
Amen.
(Revelation 22:20-21 ESV)


Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Restore us, O God of hosts; let your face shine, that we may be saved!
(Psalms 80:7 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Forever Faithful

Good morning. Today is Tuesday, the twenty-third of November, 2021.

Peace be with you!

Today’s header photo is courtesy of Paul Militaru. Please check out his photo blog!

Day 23,266

Two days until Thanksgiving!

Yesterday was largely a day of rest and recuperation. At least for me. C was a “busy bee” for a good part of the day. Not being content with just sitting around, she put up most of the Christmas decorations in the house, as well as some of the outside decorations. The tree is up, but not decorated. We will probably put the ornaments on tomorrow night after I get home from work at the library.

We plan to put up the outside house lights after I finish blogging, this morning. So I will try to get finished this “morning.” Some are aware that there are some days where it is not posted until noon or later.

There will also be another trip to the grocery store today, to get some things that we either forgot or didn’t know we needed, yesterday. And I’m thinking we will probably have Subway for lunch.

Today is my half-day at the library, 4:15-8:15 PM.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

“Enter, Lord Christ–
I have joy in Your coming.
You have given me life;
and I welcome Your coming.
I turn now to face You,
I lift up my eyes.
Be blessing my face, Lord;
be blessing my eyes.
May all my eye looks on
be blessed and be bright,
my neighbors, my loved ones
be blessed in Your sight.
You have given me life
and I welcome Your coming.
Be with me, Lord,
I have joy, I have joy.”
(Celtic Daily Prayer)

And now we thank you, our God,
and praise your glorious name.
(1 Chronicles 29:13 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for Your presence here, this morning
2. for Your glorious name, worthy of all our praise
3. for Jesus, the Way, Truth, and Life
4. that You remain faithful forever
5. that You alone satisfy my every longing

“Let not your hearts be troubled.
Believe in God; believe also in me.
In my Father’s house are many rooms.
If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?
And if I go and prepare a place for you,
I will come again and will take you to myself,
that where I am you may be also.
And you know the way to where I am going.”

Thomas said to him,
“Lord, we do not know where you are going.
How can we know the way?”

Jesus said to him,
“I am the way,
and the truth,
and the life.
No one comes to the Father except through me.
If you had known me,
you would have known my Father also.
From now on you do know him and have seen him.”
(John 14:1-7 ESV)

Jesus said to him,
"I am the Way, Truth, and Life.
If you had known me . . ."

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

LAST WEEK OF ORDINARY TIME – DAY THREE

INVITATION

“Be still,
and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!”
(Psalms 46:10 ESV)

As I pause during this quiet moment, also enjoying the affection of a favorite cat, I enjoy the presence of God. I am still, and know that He is God.

BIBLE SONG

I will praise the LORD all my life;
I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.
(Psalms 146:2 NIV)

He is the Maker of heaven and earth,
the sea, and everything in them—
he remains faithful forever.
He upholds the cause of the oppressed
and gives food to the hungry.
The LORD sets prisoners free,
the LORD gives sight to the blind,
the LORD lifts up those who are bowed down,
the LORD loves the righteous.
The LORD watches over the foreigner
and sustains the fatherless and the widow,
but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.

The LORD reigns forever,
your God, O Zion, for all generations.

Praise the LORD.
(Psalms 146:6-10 NIV)

BIBLE READING

“In that day,” declares the Sovereign LORD,
“I will make the sun go down at noon
and darken the earth in broad daylight.
I will turn your religious festivals into mourning
and all your singing into weeping.
I will make all of you wear sackcloth
and shave your heads.
I will make that time like mourning for an only son
and the end of it like a bitter day.

“The days are coming,” declares the Sovereign LORD,
“when I will send a famine through the land—
not a famine of food or a thirst for water,
but a famine of hearing the words of the LORD.
People will stagger from sea to sea
and wander from north to east,
searching for the word of the LORD,
but they will not find it.”
(Amos 8:9-12 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I read these passages again, slowly, I look for words or phrases that catch my eye or move my heart. I slowly mull over those words and phrases, and pray my thoughts, meditations, and desires, and feelings back to the Lord, enjoying His presence.

One word in Psalm 146, that catches my attention, is the word “faithful.” Verse 6 declares that the Lord “remains faithful forever.”

Forever. Infinitely. Never-changing. Faithful.

And in that faithfulness, the Lord does some things.

He upholds the cause of the oppressed
He gives food to the hungry
He sets prisoners free
He gives sight to the blind
He lifts up those who have bowed down
He loves the righteous
He watches over the foreigner
He sustains the fatherless and widows
He frustrates the ways of the wicked

In the middle of all of that are two words that I believe may be misunderstood by some.

Righteous and wicked.

It is my opinion (and I believe that opinion to be based on wisdom from the Word of God) that “righteous” defines people who do the same things as God does. In other words, if a person is “righteous,” he upholds the cause of the oppressed, gives food to the hungry, sets prisoners free, gives sight to the blind, lifts up those who are bowed down, watches over the foreigners, and sustains the widows and orphans.

It is also my opinion that the word “wicked” defines people who do the opposite of what God does. They are the oppressors, they withhold food from the hungry, imprison people, blind people, force people to bow down, ignore the foreigners (or worse), and do not care for the widows and fatherless.

The “righteous” may also be involved in frustrating the ways of the “wicked,” but I think that is largely the job of the Lord.

And here’s the thing. Do I consider myself “righteous?” With as much honesty and transparency as I can muster, I would say it depends on what day it is. There are days when I try really hard to do all of those things as much as it is up to me. I may not be directly involved in all of them, but my prayers are toward those objectives, and if I have resources to share (which I do), I try to send them out in those directions.

But truthfully, there are, no doubt, days when I lean more toward the “wicked” side. And that is where the biggest truth of this passage comes into play.

God remains faithful forever.

Praise the Lord.

I’m not going to speak much about the Amos passage. It is, as far as I can tell, explicitly directed toward Israel. It speaks of a dire need and lack of any word from the Lord, which is something that was fulfilled in the period between the end of the Old Testament and the coming of Jesus Christ. Today, my focus is on the forever faithfulness of our Lord God Almighty.

Father, You are faithful forever. Your faithfulness never changes; it never wanes; it never fails. Our brand of faithfulness is fickle, at best. Some days it is nonexistent. I pray that my faithfulness will more closely resemble yours. But I’m real enough to acknowledge that it likely will not, at least most days. I pray for more of a heart that will work to uphold the cause of the oppressed, to give food to the hungry, to set prisoners free, to give sight to the blind, to lift up the bowed down, to watch over the foreigner, and to sustain the fatherless and the widow. If, in working toward all of those, the plans of the wicked are frustrated, all the better. But mostly, I want to be more like You, in Your righteousness and Your faithfulness.

I pray for the ability to follow Your calling to walk with Jesus in our neighborhoods and work places. I pray for the peace and well-being of our communities.

"God Almighty,
I am hungry for You and famished for life.
When I'm tempted to gorge on spiritual junk food,
work up my appetite for Your nourishing word,
more than enough to fill me up.
Thank You for Your words,
but also for the Word,
Jesus,
who alone can satisfy my deepest hungers.
Amen."

BLESSING

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial,
for when he has stood the test
he will receive the crown of life,
which God has promised to those who love him.
(James 1:12 ESV)


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!

Grace and peace, friends.