What A Friend . . .

Today is Monday, the twenty-seventh of June, 2022, in the thirteenth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ be with you today!

Day 23,482

C and I had a good time at the show, yesterday, but I don’t think either one of us was crazy about the production. There were some great moments, and some not-so-great moments. Ironically, my great moments were probably C’s not-so-great moments. But that’s the way it goes. I will say this much. Anything that we didn’t care for was solely on the production, not the talent. The performers were marvelous.

As previously stated, I have jury duty today. Normally, I would have had to be there in about twenty-five minutes, but last week, I received an email with a court assignment and revised reporting time of 10:30, so I don’t have to leave as early. Parking might be more tricky, though. For our courthouses, though, there is a free off-site parking lot with free shuttle bus service from 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM, so I should be okay.

The Texas Rangers lost again (and lost the series) to the Nationals, yesterday, 6-4. It was actually worse than it looks, as the Rangers’ last three runs weren’t scored until the bottom of the ninth, too little, too late. They are now 34-37 for the year, but still in second place, a game ahead of the Angels, 10.5 out of first place, and 5.5 out of the Wild Card race. Tonight, they begin a series with the KC Royals, another terrible team.

The Boston Red Sox, on the other hand, swept the Cleveland Guardians, beating them 8-3, yesterday. They are 42-31 for the season, and also in second place, but 11 games out of first. They are, however, in sole possession of the first Wild Card spot. Tonight, they begin a series with the fourth place Blue Jays.

Of course, the Yankees still have the best MLB record, at 53-20. The Athletics continue to be the worst, at 25-49. The Red Sox continue to streak, having won seven consecutive games, now. The Guardians, thanks to the Red Sox, now have the longest losing streak, currently at four games. The Yankees still have the best run differential, at +144, and the Nationals, in spite of having just embarrassed the Texas Rangers, have the worst, at -111. Texas is at +3, and Boston is at +65, only two behind the NY Mets. The next team up is roughly double that. But, the run differential column isn’t the most important. The “W” column is what really matters.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord God, help us to be holy as you are holy, and free us from all the earthly things that try to torment us. Grant us your Spirit so that we do what is right. May we always hold your hand confidently. Protect your children everywhere on earth, and help them do what is right even if the whole world does what is wrong. Help us, so that all we do becomes holy and pleasing in your sight. Let your grace grow among us and among the nations, and let your hand be strong to bring in your day, your day when everything is made new. May your name be kept holy, your kingdom come, and your will be done on earth as in heaven. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”
(1 Peter 1:15-16 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the holiness of God, and the desire to imitate that
2. for the heart that God has given me
3. that Jesus calls me "friend"
4. for a morning of silence and solitude, directing my heart to God
5. for shelter over my head, with protection from the heat outside
6. that "forever and ever His heart is my home" (Matt Maher)

And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul?
(Mark 8:34-37 ESV)


Today’s word, from Pray a Word a Day, is heart.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”
(Matthew 5:8 ESV)

When we speak of “heart,” we are usually speaking of what is considered, at least in Western culture, the seat of the emotion, the center of the person. It is very close to, and similar to, the notion of “soul.” I’m not going to go into a lengthy exposition on this, though.

We also know that the heart is what God looks at, when He is judging a person. And when we consider actions, the heart is akin to the motivation behind an action. A person could do all the right things for all the wrong reasons. Remember Jesus’s words in Matthew 6. “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them.” And then He immediately applied that to prayer, as well. Don’t pray just so other people can hear you pray. Don’t “heap up empty phrases” or “vain repetitions.”

What is in your heart when you give to the poor? What is in your heart when you pray for someone? For that matter, why do we dress up so fancy to go to church? Who are we trying to impress?

For many years, I have loved this passage in Ezekiel:

And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God. But as for those whose heart goes after their detestable things and their abominations, I will bring their deeds upon their own heads, declares the Lord GOD.”
(Ezekiel 11:19-21 ESV)

The last verse there reminds me of Jesus’s warning, also in Matthew 6, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (verse 21).

Father, direct my heart toward You. May my heart be a “heart of flesh” rather than a “heart of stone.” I believe that it is, as You have given me the desire to be generous with the blessings with which You have blessed me. You have given me the desire to do my best to follow the commands of Jesus and to try to do the things that He mentions in His parable of the sheep and the goats. But I know that I can do better, and that I can do more. I pray for Your Spirit to direct me to people who need the help, that I might do what I am able to help them. I pray this for Your whole Body, that we might be more in tune with the needs around us, and less concerned with our opinions and causes.


Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.
(John 15:13-15 ESV)

"What a friend we have in Jesus,
all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
everything to God in prayer!

Can we find a friend so faithful
who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness;
take it to the Lord in prayer!"
(Joseph Medicott Scriven, 1855)
"I've found a friend, O such a friend!
He loved me ere I knew Him;
He drew me with the cords of love,
And thus He bound me to Him;
And round my heart still closely twine
Those ties which naught can sever,
For I am His, and He is mine,
Forever and forever.

I’ve found a Friend, O such a Friend!
He bled, He died to save me;
And not alone the gift of life,
But His own self He gave me.
Naught that I have mine own I call,
I’ll hold it for the giver;
My heart, my strength, my life, my all
Are His, and His forever.

I’ve found a Friend, O such a Friend!
So kind and true and tender,
So wise a counsellor and guide,
So mighty a defender!
From Him who loves me now so well,
What power my soul shall sever?
Shall life or death, shall earth or hell?
No! I am His forever."
(James G. Small, 1866)

Thank You, Jesus, for calling me “friend.”


Father, this morning, I pray for the fire in Palo Pinto County to be extinguished. Please send rain, or otherwise intervene, that no more damage would be done. Please protect all the firefighters who are involved in attempts to contain this fire. Please protect the homes of those nearby, who might be in the path of it.

I know of several who have recently lost loved ones, Father. I pray for peace and comfort for them and their families. I also lift up my mother’s good friend, who is having some physical issues. Please bring healing there.

Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus!


That piano playing!!!

“Forever and ever His heart is my home!”

Grace and peace, friends!