You Say Goodbye, and I Say Hello

Today is Thursday, the fourteenth of April, 2022, in the sixth week of Lent, Holy Week. Maundy Thursday.

May the peace of Christ be with you and within you.

Day 23,408

According to a couple of sources, “Maundy” comes from the latin word for “command,” and Maundy Thursday commemorates the command that Jesus gave His disciples, at the Last Supper, to love and serve each other. I did not know this until today. Or at least if I did, I had forgotten, which is entirely possible.

I’m pretty sure my brain is full, so that now, whenever I learn something new, I forget something old. I wonder what I just forgot?

Today will be my second Thursday in the computer center at the library. If it is anything like last Thursday, it will go by fairly quickly, as it was pretty busy, at least busier than my normal Fridays were.

I’ve started another chicken soup (not Italian, but that one was very delicious) in the crock pot for tonight’s dinner. I will have my bowl after I get home, around 8:30.

The library is closed tomorrow, for Good Friday, which, from what I hear, is normal. So I suppose it is a good thing that I switched to Thursdays, so I won’t miss any hours. C is also off tomorrow, but it will be somewhat busy. We are attending a funeral tomorrow afternoon, of the father of one of her coworkers. And then, tomorrow evening, I plan on attending a Good Friday service at the Lutheran church that we went to a few weeks ago. As for Sunday, I’m still not sure what is happening with our house church.

The Texas Rangers had yesterday off. The Boston Red Sox evened up their record, beating the Detroit Tigers 9-7. At 3-3 for the season, they are in third place in the AL East, tied with the Yankees. Today, the Rangers will face Ohtani and the Angels. Dunning will start for the Rangers.

While most of us haven’t been paying attention, the Cleveland Guardians have scored 45 runs, 44 of those in the last four games. In one game, they beat the KC Royals 17-3. They play the Giants tomorrow, so we’ll find out, then, if they are “for real.”

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

I have two poems to share, this morning, both really good.

Going Before You,” by S. Michaels, LightWriters

I AM
levelling
mountains

©2022 S. Michaels
Into the Light
(Prophetic Promises Haiku 2-3-2)

This is so true. God goes before us, sometimes levelling mountains we can’t even see before we get to them.

Where God Lives,” by Daryl Madden

And where God lives
We find beauty
His Word of peace
Flows joyfully

And where God dwells
A binding be
So intimate
Of unity

And where God grows
So peacefully
In nourishing
Community

And where God shares
His grace for free
His gift of love
Abundantly

We enter through
Humility
My prayer this day
Come live in me

Yes, Lord, please come live and dwell in me, today. Please show your support to both of these artists by visiting their websites at the links provided.

“Come now, let’s settle this,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool.”
(Isaiah 1:18 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the prospect of a beautiful day, based on the weather forecast
2. that wherever God lives, I find beauty
3. that God shares His grace with us, freely and abundantly
4. for God's grace and forgiveness that completely erase our past sins
5. for the ability to repent (say goodbye) and follow in the steps of Jesus (say hello)

And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.
(Acts 4:31 ESV)

Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.
(Acts 4:32-35 ESV)

The prayer word for today is “goodbye.” At first glance, I thought it was speaking of saying “goodbye” to a person. But this is not the case.

I won’t share the opening quote for multiple reasons, but it says something about the difficulty of saying “goodbye,” especially succinctly.

There are times in our lives when we need to say “goodbye,” not to people, but to either circumstances or parts of our lives, from which we have moved on, or need to move on. And I think therein lies the crux. There are times when we truly need to move on, but we hesitate, not unlike Lot’s wife, as they fled Sodom and Gomorrah. We look back longingly at something, and, oddly, sometimes that something might even be an illness or condition we have suffered from for a long time. It’s like we get attached to that, even though it may have caused us much pain.

For myself, it’s usually more the need to move on and say goodbye to attitudes or ways of responding to certain life situations. My biggest struggle, which I have, I believe, been fairly open about, here, is moving on from being judgmental toward people. And I think more people struggle with that than are willing to admit.

So, perhaps I will spend some time, today, thinking about what I need to say “goodbye” to.

(From Pray a Word a Day)

There is another word for this concept. It is “repent.” I used to think that “repent” meant to turn away from sin with great sorrow. That’s not what it means (even though the dictionary indicates that). The word literally means, in Hebrew, to turn back or turn around; retreat. In the New Testament Greek, it means to think differently or reconsider. So, essentially, “repent” means to change the way one thinks about something. Sorrow and regret may or may not be involved.

Simon Peter exclaimed, “Then wash my hands and head as well, Lord, not just my feet!”
(John 13:9 NLT)

Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
(Psalms 51:7 NLT)

“Come now, let’s settle this,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool.”
(Isaiah 1:18 NLT)

When we “repent,” or say “goodbye” to certain things in our lives, and truly let them go, as previously stated, it is like turning around and changing direction. And then, if we were to turn back and look at where we had been, by the grace of God, we can no longer see those tracks.

It’s like walking through a patch of snow and then turning around to see your tracks erased by newly fallen snow. That’s what the grace of God and His forgiveness are like. When we repent, when we change our way of thinking, our past sins are erased. They are not just covered, but it is as though they never happened. And in some, almost “magical” way, it is absolutely true that they never happened. I believe that, while consequences for some actions may always be with us, God can change our past. That is what the blood of Christ does for us, as it washes us “whiter than snow.”

(Gratitude to Logan Eliasen, in Daily Guideposts 2022)

In a reading called “On Religion and Faith,” Eugene H. Peterson addresses the difference between religion and faith. And I find this to be relevant to the discussion on repentance and saying “goodbye.”

“But when the Son of Man returns, how many will he find on the earth who have faith?”
(Luke 18:8 NLT)

“Surely he will find religion (institutions, creeds, documents, artifacts, and the like), but he may not find faith. Faith is deeply personal, dynamic, and ultimate. Religion, however, is faith’s expression. For example, religion is concerned about institutions (churches), documents, statements of belief (Bible and theology), and our convictions and moral codes. Religion is important but not ultimately important.

“Religion is a means, not an end. Faith is the only end.”

(From On Living Well, by Eugene H. Peterson)

And repentance happens by faith, not by religion. You can quote creeds and attend institutions and proclaim moral codes all day long, but until you follow Jesus Christ by faith, you accomplish nothing at all. Well, that’s not entirely true. You make life more difficult and miserable for people around you.

Father, we need a fresh revelation on the difference between religion and faith. There is a lot of religion in our world, right now, and many people are running away from the “church” (institution) because of it, in an attempt to actually find faith. Help us to focus more on deeply personal and dynamic faith, and follow in the steps of Jesus. Help us to say “goodbye” to bigotry and prejudice and judgment, and to turn around, repent, and say “hello” to grace and forgiveness.

Thank You for the grace and forgiveness that washes us clean, like freshly fallen snow, and makes it appear that our past sins have been erased. Truly it is said that You cast our sins as far as the east is from the west, which, if considered in a straight line, is infinity. Perhaps we do not consider that enough. Perhaps Resurrection Sunday is a good time for that.

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.

Ordinary People; Extraordinary Jesus

Today is Monday, the eleventh of April, 2022, in the sixth week of Lent, Holy Week.

May the peace of Christ fill your soul today!

Day 23,405

We had another wonderful day, yesterday. The trip to Mineral Wells and back went very well, with no delays or incidents on the road. We made it to FBC just in time to get seated for the worship service, which was a wonderful time of celebrating Jesus, and looking forward to Resurrection Sunday. The music included several choir soloists, as well as the handbell choir which played during the Lord’s Supper. I was also glad to get to take the Supper with the saints at FBC.

We picked up burgers and sundaes at Braum’s and took them to Mama’s house for lunch. Then we grabbed as much as we could squeeze into the car and headed back home, listening to the Texas Rangers trounce all over the Blue Jays, 12-6. That was good fun.

The Red Sox also managed to get their first win, beating the Yankees 4-3. In other scores, the Cleveland Guardians (now that’s going to take some getting used to . . . doesn’t sound like a baseball team name at all) jumped all over the KC Royals, 17-3.

After one weekend of play, one team remains undefeated, the Tampa Bay Rays. The Rangers are in third place in the AL West, and the Red Sox are in fourth in the AL East. Houston leads the West, Tampa the East, and the Other Sox lead the Central. Mets, Cubs, and Padres lead the NL divisions. Chicago has two first place teams.

Today will mostly be a resting day as I get ready for one of my alternating “heavier” weeks at the library (working 3.5 shifts, this week). Couple loads of laundry to fold, and dinner to cook. Later, this afternoon, there will be groceries to put away. And I will probably do some practicing, as we are getting ready to have another Night of Worship on April 23. Oh, and I almost forgot, we have the Texas Rangers’ home opener this afternoon.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Days of Wonder,” by S. Michaels, LightWriters

I Am
remaking
all things

©2022 S. Michaels
Into the Light
(Prophetic Promises Haiku 2-3-2)

The hope of this promise is one of the things that keeps me going through this life. Please check out the beautiful poetry and lovely images that accompany it, at the link provided above.

For the LORD takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with salvation.
(Psalms 149:4 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the most wonderful day we had yesterday
2. for the truth that the Lord takes pleasure in His people
3. for the knowledge of God's presence
4. that God works in the "ordinary"
5. that God expects us to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly in His presence (Micah 6:8)

You shall not pervert justice. You shall not show partiality, and you shall not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and subverts the cause of the righteous. Justice, and only justice, you shall follow, that you may live and inherit the land that the LORD your God is giving you.
(Deuteronomy 16:19-20 ESV)

“The most extraordinary feature of the gospel is its ordinariness. The fact that the Word that created the heavens and arranges the seasons enters ordinary lives and fashions eternal life in them is truly extraordinary.”

There is so much truth to this proclamation. Even when the miracle of new birth occurs in someone, to all external appearances, they are the same, ordinary people as they were the day before. Yet Scriptures says that if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.

Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it!
(2 Corinthians 5:17 MSG)

What does all this mean? Is there a “secret ingredient?”

“One of the extraordinary things about Jesus was that he unassumingly took his place among the ordinary men and women around him.” Consider this scene after the resurrection:

But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. They said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping?" 
She said to them, "They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him." 
Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?" 
Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, "Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away." 
Jesus said to her, "Mary." 
She turned and said to him in Aramaic, "Rabboni!" (which means Teacher). 
Jesus said to her, "Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, 'I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'" 
Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, "I have seen the Lord"—and that he had said these things to her.
(John 20:11-18 ESV)

The resurrected Christ appeared so ordinary that Mary thought He was a gardener.

Then we have the account of the two disciples on the Emmaus road.

So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther, but they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?”
(Luke 24:28-32 ESV)

These two travelers just thought Jesus was another pilgrim on the road.

Even the disciples, having gone fishing after the resurrection, didn’t recognize Jesus when He called out to them from the shore.

After this Jesus revealed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias, and he revealed himself in this way. Simon Peter, Thomas (called the Twin), Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples were together. Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus.
(John 21:1-4 ESV)

Until, of course, He did that thing where He told them where to cast their nets and they couldn’t pull the net in, as it was so heavy with fish.

Is Jesus trying to hide Himself from us? “He didn’t make it easy for us to see God in him.” Except, of course, when He was baptized, and then, again, at the Transfiguration.

I have to confess that this puzzles me a little bit. Because I don’t see it as Jesus intentionally making it difficult for us to see God in Him. Rather, I think He tries to make us feel comfortable in His presence.

There is something about the Transfiguration which I had not considered until a few weeks ago, when I heard what was probably the best sermon I’ve ever heard on the subject. The pastor who was preaching that morning, at Living Word Lutheran Church, in Grapevine, TX, wondered if maybe what the three disciples saw when Jesus was transfigured, that which caused them to be “terrified” (Mark 9:6), was the same vision of Christ that John the Revelator saw.

Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength.
(Revelation 1:12-16 ESV)

Here were these three ordinary fishermen, who had been walking with this “ordinary” guy for a little while, and suddenly, they see this?

Yeah, I’d be terrified, too. And maybe, just maybe, that’s why Jesus appeared to Mary as looking like an ordinary gardener, and He appeared to those two travelers as just another person on a journey. If we saw Jesus in all of His glory, the way John the Revelator did, we, too, I’m sure, would fall “at his feet as though dead” (Revelation 1:17).

So, in between the appearances of Jesus in the New Testament, and His appearance that “every eye will see,” at the end of days (I’m not including the “Rapture” because I do not believe in that as a separate event from the Second Coming), we see Jesus walking in around in you and me. Ordinary people carrying around a miracle in our “jars of clay,” so that, hopefully, other ordinary people will see Him and take note of this great salvation that we have.

But there’s a catch. It’s that pesky bit about “love.” Unfortunately, people aren’t seeing a lot of Jesus in those who are supposed to be carrying Him around, because the hate that they are spewing is louder than the Gospel.

That just needs to stop. Period.

(From On Living Well, by Eugene H. Peterson)

Father, I thank You for all of the “ordinary” that we see in Scripture, especially surrounding the life and ministry of Jesus. Certainly, He did many extraordinary things, things that drew attention to Him and showed Your might power in this world. But He also appeared so very ordinary, as evidenced by the Scripture passages above. So ordinary that people didn’t realize who He was until He spoke or acted.

I pray for Your children today. We are walking around in our world, supposedly carrying the truth of the Gospel in our “jars of clay,” so that it is evident that we are nothing special, but the message we are carrying is so very special. But that message is getting obscured by a lack of love and compassion in those who are making the most noise.

I pray for them to be either silenced or have a severe, drastic change of heart. And, lest I be misunderstood, by “silenced” I am not praying for You to smite anyone. I’m simply praying for their voices to be drowned out by the prevalent voice of Your love and compassion and mercy coming from the rest of us.

I pray for Your truth to be known. I don’t claim to understand all of Your ways, and know that I will not understand them until the day that I stand in Your presence (or fall on my face, which is more likely). So, in that case, I choose to err on the side of love and mercy, rather than on the side of legalism and judgment. Hopefully, I am not erring at all.

May Your grace and mercy be known in all the world, and may the earth be filled with the knowledge of You as the waters fill the seas. I think that’s a hymn somewhere.

Give us glimpses of extraordinary Jesus, our Savior, as we walk through this ordinary world in our ordinary mortal coils.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.
(2 Corinthians 4:7-10 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Hosanna!

Today is Sunday, the twenty-eighth of March, 2021. Palm Sunday.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,026

Seven days until Resurrection Sunday. Holy Week begins today.

I will begin with my weekly WW report. I lost another .6 yesterday. Just a tad under what I was hoping for, but a loss is a loss. I am 64.2 pounds away from my goal weight. At the rate I’m going, It will be 2023 before I get there. Hahaha!! But you know what? There is absolutely no rush, is there? There is no deadline.

My current step goal is to get below 200 pounds. That could happen this year, but I’ll have to average better than .8 of a pound per month. But I’ve lost 10.4 pounds so far, this year. That’s an average of 3.5 pounds a month. If I keep that up, I will make it this year, maybe around November.

So, yesterday, C picked up a couple of sirloin steaks when she went to get groceries. I got this new sous vide cooker with my reward points from work (I hit a ten year anniversary last November), and was wanting to try it on steak. We cooked some chicken with it a week or so back, and that didn’t turn out great. Rookie mistakes, though, I think. Steak looked simple.

There were two steaks, weighing in at roughly a pound, total. About an inch and a half thick. I put them in a Ziploc bag (we don’t have a vacuum sealer . . . yet) and got as much air out as I could. I also found four frozen corn on the cobs, covered them with “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter” spray, and put them in another Ziploc. Oh, I also sprayed the steaks with ICBINB and put “Seven” seasoning (from Saltgrass), as well as some onion powder and garlic powder on them.

I got this nifty plastic box for the sous vide . . . holds twelve quarts of water, and it came with a nice rack to put the food in, to keep it from floating. I put all of that in the box, which promptly overflowed because I had put too much water in it. It’s a learning process, you know. Based on the instructions that came with the cooking box, I set the sous vide for 129 degrees for medium rare, for one hour, and let it do its magic.

After an hour, I put the steaks in a hot pan, with just a tad of olive oil in it, and seared each side for a minute or two. Here is what I got.

Do I even need to tell you how delicious this was? Even the corn was cooked perfectly (although it could have been warmer). It was, quite literally, the best steak I have ever cooked. We already have plans to do this again, next Saturday.

Speaking of plans, we are starting to try to figure out what we are going to do for our anniversary vacation, this year. We thought about Cancun, we even thought about Hawaii (someday), but we have decided to do something drivable, this year, and put off anything involving flying until at least next year.

So Galveston is looking good, again. We’ve started looking at some beach houses, down there, and are finding some nice ones. Plus, I need to go back to Murdoch’s and get some Hawaiian shirts, since I can wear them again!

We have our Zoom church gathering in a little while, at 10:15. We’ll be starting with Psalm 20, this morning. So I guess I should get on with things. I’m sure we will have Applebee’s for lunch, and, since we had steak last night, I will make the traditional weekend burgers for S and me this evening.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

This new day You give to me
From Your great eternity
This new day now enfold
Me in Your loving hold

You are the star of the morn
You are the day newly born
You are the light of our night
You are the Savior by Your might

God be in me this day
God ever with me stay
God be in the night
Keep us by Thy light
God be in my heart
God abide, never depart.
(David Adam)

Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you! Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you judge the peoples with equity and guide the nations upon earth. Selah.
(Psalms 67:3-4 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

  • for my coffee
  • for the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world
  • for the King who comes in the name of the Lord
  • for the way Your Word is fresh and new every day
  • for the way music stirs my soul

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

PALM SUNDAY

INVITATION

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!
(John 1:29 NIV)

I’m pausing a moment to quietly reflect on the amazing truth that my sin has been taken away by the Lamb of God.

BIBLE SONG

For the director of music. To the tune of “The Doe of the Morning.” A psalm of David.

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish?
My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, but I find no rest.
Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the one Israel praises.
In you our ancestors put their trust; they trusted and you delivered them.
To you they cried out and were saved; in you they trusted and were not put to shame.
But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by everyone, despised by the people.
All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads.
“He trusts in the LORD,” they say, “let the LORD rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him.”

(Psalms 22:1-8 NIV)

BIBLE READING

After Jesus had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. As he approached Bethphage and Bethany at the hill called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ say, ‘The Lord needs it.'”
Those who were sent ahead went and found it just as he had told them. As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, “Why are you untying the colt?”
They replied, “The Lord needs it.”
They brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks on the colt and put Jesus on it. As he went along, people spread their cloaks on the road.
When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen:
“Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”
Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!”
“I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”
(Luke 19:28-40 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I remind myself that I am in the presence of the Lord, I read through these passages again, allowing the Spirit to direct me to particular words or phrases that move my soul.

On the day that Jesus was crucified, at around noon, the sky went dark. It was, at the same time, the darkest time in human history, and the brightest. For while God incarnate was dying, hope for humanity was being born. Jesus, in an unthinkable moment, felt the presence of the Father being ripped from him. I can only imagine . . . actually, no I can’t . . . what that felt like. His cry, at the moment, only gives us a hint.

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

There have been a few times, maybe just a couple, when I felt forsaken by God, but only for a moment, and that moment didn’t last very long. But it was the worst feeling I have ever experienced.

At that moment, on that dark afternoon, Jesus was utterly alone. And somehow, David was inspired to write that in a psalm several hundred years before it happened.

And just a few days earlier, crowds had lined the streets of Jerusalem, laid down palm branches in the road and shouted “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” Those same voices would, just days later, shout “Crucify Him!”

Despised and rejected. Forsaken by God; forsaken by His own people.

Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.

Father, while I rejoice at the effects of that day, my heart fills with shame at my own treatment of the Son of God, the Lamb of God. For, while He took away my sins along with the sins of the world, somehow, I manage to continue to pile them on. Nevertheless, You keep forgiving, and I am grateful for this. My shame is turned into joy, as Your mercies appear, new every morning. Great is Your faithfulness, Lord, unto me! “As Thou hast been, Thou forever wilt be.”

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Your Name. May Your kingdom come, and Your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; for Yours are the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

Mighty God,
we look for salvation and security in many different places.
We confess we're tempted to seek out a pumped-up Savior of power who would flex rippling muscles.
Prepare our hearts to welcome our humble servant-King,
Jesus,
finding in him all we need for our salvation.
Amen.
(Heidelberg Catechism 30)

BLESSING

In a loud voice they were saying: “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!”
(Revelation 5:12 NIV)

And those who went before and those who followed were shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!
(Mark 11:9 ESV)

Marci Alborghetti has this to say in this morning’s reading from Daily Guideposts 2021:

“When He entered Jerusalem on that first Palm Sunday, almost everyone in that adoring crowd would soon need His forgiveness. Peter, who gleefully helped Him onto the donkey, would deny Him three times. Judas, part of the parade, would betray Him. The apostles, basking in His glory, would abandon Him. The crowds would ignore Him, some even screaming for His crucifixion.

“But . . . Jesus had done nothing to hurt those who would need His forgiveness. Quite the opposite: He’d done everything to save them, us. Yet He rode on, greeting them, knowing they’d turn on Him, knowing we’d continue to sin against each other and Him, already forgiving, always forgiving.”

This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying,
“Say to the daughter of Zion,
‘Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.'”
The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them. Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road.
And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting,
“Hosanna to the Son of David!
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!”
And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, “Who is this?” And the crowds said, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.”

And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. He said to them,
“It is written,
‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.”
And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them. But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying out in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant, and they said to him, “Do you hear what these are saying?”
And Jesus said to them, “Yes; have you never read, “‘Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise’?” And leaving them, he went out of the city to Bethany and lodged there.
(Matthew 21:4-17 ESV)

One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment.
Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.”
And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.”
And he answered, “Say it, Teacher.”
“A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?”
Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.”
And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.”
Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”
Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
(Luke 7:36-50 ESV)

“And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write: ‘The words of the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and whose feet are like burnished bronze.”
(Revelation 2:18 ESV)

This is how Christ is introduced to the congregation at Thyatira in their portion of John’s letters to the churches.

“The eyes like a flame of fire burn as they penetrate. This is no casual survey.”

Jesus really sees into us as His burning eyes survey us.

The feet, like burnished bronze, “are solid and strong. They will not crumble under opposition.” Interestingly, bronze, an alloy made from copper and tin, has a higher melting point than either, thus being able to withstand the heat from the burning eyes of flame.

“He sees through all facades, evasions, masks, and fogginess – sees into contradiction, opposition, hostility, and indifference.”

While our initial response may be to run and hide, we need not do this. “There is mercy and generosity in the honest, unflinching gaze of our Lord. If his look burns, it is the fire of love, and it burns so that it may warm us.”

(From This Hallelujah Banquet, by Eugene H. Peterson)

My Jesus, I praise You for the way Your burning eyes of flame see into the depths of my soul. The initial reaction is to shy away, to try to hide, but we cannot hide, so there is no point in that. I humble submit to the examination of Your holy eyes, that You may see what needs to be cleansed within me, each day. I praise You for Your mercy and generosity, Jesus!

May I experience, today, and every day this week, Lord, fellowship with the risen King Jesus. May everyone experience spiritual renewal and refreshment this coming week.

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!

You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
(Psalms 16:11 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Let Not Your Hearts Be Troubled

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.
(John 14:1 ESV)

Today is Maundy Thursday, April 9, 2020. Peace be with you.

Day 22,673

Three days until Resurrection Sunday.

And it suddenly hit me, this morning, that there will be no Easter egg hunts, Sunday. If everyone follows the rules, that is. At least none that involve more than a few people who live in the same house. That literally brought tears to my eyes. And I don’t even like them that much.

Another thing bringing tears to my eyes is that we decided, last night, to cancel our Glen Rose trip for next week. We just decided that it would be the best thing to do. I suppose it would be in violation of the stay-at-home orders, even though we would be completely isolated at the cabin. We are, however, going to go ahead and take the days off from work, since they are already planned and scheduled. So we will just have an extended weekend of, well, staying at home.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

A Song of Ascents.
Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever. As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the LORD surrounds his people, from this time forth and forevermore.

(Psalms 125:1-2 ESV)

Today I am grateful:
1. That You surround us, so that we cannot be moved or shaken.
2. That Your promises give me life (Psalm 119.50).
3. For the Joyner family and their heart to serve You and Your Church!
4. For the marvelous, infinite, matchless grace that You have shown Your people!
5. That You have gone to prepare a place for us and will soon come back to bring us there.

Make me understand the way of your precepts, and I will meditate on your wondrous works.
(Psalms 119:27 ESV)

Zayin
Remember your word to your servant, in which you have made me hope. This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life.

(Psalms 119:49-50 ESV)

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.”
(John 14:1 ESV)

Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.” For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “Not all of you are clean.”
When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.

(John 13:1-15 ESV)

A Maskil of Asaph.
Give ear, O my people, to my teaching; incline your ears to the words of my mouth! I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings from of old, things that we have heard and known, that our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the LORD, and his might, and the wonders that he has done. He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children, that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children, so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments; and that they should not be like their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation whose heart was not steadfast, whose spirit was not faithful to God.

(Psalms 78:1-8 ESV)

Evening and morning and at noon I utter my complaint and moan, and he hears my voice.
(Psalms 55:17 ESV)

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Your Name. May Your kingdom come, and Your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; for Yours are the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

“Almighty God, who through your only-begotten Son Jesus Christ overcame death and opened to us the gate of everlasting life: Grant that I, who celebrate with joy the day of the Lord’s resurrection, may be raised from the death of sin by your life-giving Spirit; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.”
(The Divine Hours, The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

“Look down, O Lord, I pray, on all of us, Your Family for whom our Lord Jesus Christ was content to be betrayed and to be delivered into the hands of wicked men, and to suffer the torment of the Cross. Amen.”
(The Divine Hours, The Concluding Prayer of the Church)

“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 didn’t quench Thomas’s doubt by explaining where He was taking them. He simply assured His disciples that He was the way there. And that was enough.

“We too have questions about our future. None of us know the details of what lies ahead. Life is full of twists we don’t coming. That’s okay. It’s enough to know Jesus, who is ‘the way and the truth and the life’ (v. 6).

“Jesus knows what’s next. He only asks that we walk close to Him.”
(Mike Wittmer, Our Daily Bread)

There could hardly be a better word for today than this.

That passage reminds me of this song by Rich Mullins, with added vocals by a number of “ragamuffins.”

Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.”
(Matthew 26:26 ESV)

From the fruit of a man’s mouth his stomach is satisfied; he is satisfied by the yield of his lips.
(Proverbs 18:20 ESV)

A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
(Proverbs 18:24 ESV)

(From The Songs of Jesus, by Timothy and Kathy Keller)

He chose our inheritance for us, the pride of Jacob, whom he loved. God has ascended amid shouts of joy, the LORD amid the sounding of trumpets. Sing praises to God, sing praises; sing praises to our King, sing praises. For God is the King of all the earth; sing to him a psalm of praise. God reigns over the nations; God is seated on his holy throne. The nobles of the nations assemble as the people of the God of Abraham, for the kings of the earth belong to God; he is greatly exalted.
(Psalms 47:4-9 NIV)

“The song of the nations someday will be about how God saved the world through his grace.” He chose us because he loves us, not because there is anything special about us, or because we have great wisdom. We are “special” because He chose us.

Consequently, “as we speak to others about God, there is no place for condescension or superiority. Every last one of us has been saved by grace alone, and so shall all his people be.”

Look at the astonishing vision of that last verse. “The nobles of the nations assemble as the people of the God of Abraham, for the kings of the earth belong to God; he is greatly exalted.”

Prayer: Lord, I often look at some people and think, ‘That type of person would never believe the Christian faith’–but to think that is to forget that no one is a Christian ‘type.’ The only reason I believe or anyone believes is because of a miracle of your grace. So let me tell the gospel to all with confidence and hope. Amen.”

Father, these readings, this morning, have stirred my heart more than I can say. I have spent more than half of this time with tears in my eyes. And it all started with Easter egg hunts! Father, as we approach Resurrection Sunday, I ask You to continue to work in my heart. Forgive me for the times I have had thoughts of superiority to anyone else because of my faith. You chose me because You love me. There is nothing else about me that causes me to deserve the grace that You have lavished on me and my family. That’s why it’s “grace.” Help me to show the same grace to others.
Lord, please shorten these days. Protect our families; protect our church families; protect our nation, and protect our world. We pray for this disease to end. And may we be quick to learn a valuable lesson from these days. Much of what we thought we needed, we truly don’t need. Teach us grace.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Wrapped In Peace

“He wraps us in peace and woos us with priceless and persistent love.” (Xochitl Dixon, Our Daily Bread)

Today is Wednesday of Holy Week, April 8, 2020. Peace be with you!

Day 22,672

Four days until Resurrection Sunday.

Today is my mother’s birthday. Happy birthday! It’s sad that we cannot be with her to celebrate. But there are certainly people worse off than we are, who have family in rest homes and hospitals, and are unable to visit them. These are hard, dark times.

I had a “senior moment” yesterday. I don’t know what else to call it. So, we have been doing WW (formerly Weight Watchers) for two months, now, with great success. Yesterday, at lunch, I realized I had forgotten to pack a canned drink, always diet. So I went to our vending area, which is an open area, not unlike a convenience store. The drinks are all in a sliding door refrigerator. I picked one out and bought it. I was only able to finish half of the 16-ounce bottle at lunch, so I put it in the employee fridge with my lunchbox. Break time came, so I grabbed it and began finishing it off with my snack. There was about a half-inch of soda left, when I looked at the label on the bottle. “Cherry Coke.” Period. There was no “ZERO” at the end. I had just drank a 16-ounce bottle of regular Cherry Coke!! Egad!! So I did the responsible thing. I scanned the bar code and tracked it on the WW app.

SIXTEEN Smart Points, people! SIXTEEN!!!

To give a little perspective, I’m allowed 41 Smart Points per day. So that’s over a third of my daily allowance.

Needless to say, the rest of my food for the day came from the overflow “Weekly Points” that we get.

Next time, I’m just going to drink my water, if I forget my soda again!

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting! And let all the people say, “Amen!” Praise the LORD!
(Psalms 106:48 ESV)

Today I am grateful:
1. For Your Word, that helps me stay strong, and helps me rebound when I am weak.
2. That I can see Your hand at work, if I look in the right places.
3. That You are worth far more than anything I could ever give up or lose.
4 That, no matter how dark it gets, we can be sure that brighter days are coming.
5. That Your rule over our hearts produces joy!

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

Let them know that this is your hand; you, O LORD, have done it!
(Psalms 109:27 ESV)

Summon your power, O God, the power, O God, by which you have worked for us.
(Psalms 68:28 ESV)

It was now two days before the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. And the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to arrest him by stealth and kill him, for they said, “Not during the feast, lest there be an uproar from the people.”
And while he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he was reclining at table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his head. There were some who said to themselves indignantly, “Why was the ointment wasted like that? For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.” And they scolded her. But Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. But you will not always have me. She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial. And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.”
Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went to the chief priests in order to betray him to them. And when they heard it, they were glad and promised to give him money. And he sought an opportunity to betray him.

(Mark 14:1-11 ESV)

The floods have lifted up, O LORD, the floods have lifted up their voice; the floods lift up their roaring. Mightier than the thunders of many waters, mightier than the waves of the sea, the LORD on high is mighty! Your decrees are very trustworthy; holiness befits your house, O LORD, forevermore.
(Psalms 93:3-5 ESV)

Glory be to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, so it is now and so it shall ever be, world without end. Alleluia. Amen.

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Your Name. May Your kingdom come, and Your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; for Yours are the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

“Almighty God, who through your only-begotten Son Jesus Christ overcame death and opened to us the gate of everlasting life: Grant that I, who celebrate with joy the day of the Lord’s resurrection, may be raised from the death of sin by your life-giving Spirit; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.”
(The Divine Hours, The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.'” And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” And the disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how difficult it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.” Peter began to say to him, “See, we have left everything and followed you.”

(Mark 10:17-28 ESV)

“It’s not easy surrendering the things or people we think we can count on more than God (vv. 23-25). But the value of what we give up or lose in this world will never exceed the gift of eternal life with Jesus. Our loving God willingly sacrificed Himself to save all people. He wraps us in peace and woos us with priceless and persistent love.”
(Xochitl Dixon, Our Daily Bread)

And throwing down the pieces of silver into the temple, he departed, and he went and hanged himself.
(Matthew 27:5 ESV)

One thing we can learn from Judas (not exactly deeply theological) is to “be wary of impulsive decisions. How quickly life can turn around, if I am patient. In as little as a day, a week, a month, everything can look very different.” Things may be dark, but “brighter days are coming soon.”
(Daniel Schantz, Daily Guideposts)

My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning.
(Psalms 130:6 ESV)

Better is the end of a thing than its beginning, and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.
(Ecclesiastes 7:8 ESV)

(From The Songs of Jesus, by Timothy and Kathy Keller)

For the director of music. Of the Sons of Korah. A psalm.
Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy. For the LORD Most High is awesome, the great King over all the earth. He subdued nations under us, peoples under our feet.

(Psalms 47:1-3 NIV)

When God subdues us, because He is the rightful King over all the earth, “the result of his conquest of [our] hearts is joy.” We applaud His rule over us! “God is the fuel that our souls were designed to run on.”

“Christians should be so overflowing with the joy of our salvation that we feel the privilege of singing his praises to those who do not know him.”

Prayer: Lord, ‘sharing my faith’ feels like a threatening duty, but it should not be that. If I urge people to believe in you, I am summoning them into joy. I should not do such a thing with a long face. Open my lips, that my mouth can speak your praise and winsomeness. Amen.”

Father, I do believe; help my unbelief! Teach me to be joyful in Your awesome presence, so much so that people notice. Inhabit my praises today, and loosen my lips, that I might praise Your holy name! Help me (and all of us) to know the peace in which You have wrapped us!
Lord, please shorten these days. Protect our families; protect our church families; protect our nation, and protect our world. We pray for this disease to end. And may we be quick to learn a valuable lesson from these days. Much of what we thought we needed, we truly don’t need. Teach us peace.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. Hebrews 13.20-21

Grace and peace, friends.

Be Still

“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)

Today is Tuesday in Holy Week, April 7, 2020. Peace be with you!

Day 22,671 (in case anyone is not aware, this is how many days I’ve been alive)

Five days until Resurrection Sunday.

I’ve literally nothing to report, this morning, so on to the devotional.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

God has gone up with a shout, the LORD with the sound of a trumpet. Sing praises to God, sing praises! Sing praises to our King, sing praises! For God is the King of all the earth; sing praises with a psalm! God reigns over the nations; God sits on his holy throne.
(Psalms 47:5-8 ESV)

Today I am grateful:
1. That God sits on his holy throne.
2. That Your enemies will perish and all workers of iniquity will be scattered (Psalm 92.9).
3. That with You is the fountain of life, and in Your light do we see light (Psalm 36.9).
4. That You are the Alpha and the Omega, the one who is, who was, and who is to come, the Almighty (Revelation 1.8)!
5. That You daily calm the storm in our lives.
6. That You are the vine, my source of nourishment.

I rise before dawn and cry for help; I hope in your words.
(Psalms 119:147 ESV)

Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!
(Psalms 115:1 ESV)

For behold, your enemies, O LORD, for behold, your enemies shall perish; all evildoers shall be scattered.
(Psalms 92:9 ESV)

And they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. And he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. And he was teaching them and saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.” And the chief priests and the scribes heard it and were seeking a way to destroy him, for they feared him, because all the crowd was astonished at his teaching. And when evening came they went out of the city.
(Mark 11:15-19 ESV)

Your steadfast love, O LORD, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds. Your righteousness is like the mountains of God; your judgments are like the great deep; man and beast you save, O LORD. How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights. For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light. Oh, continue your steadfast love to those who know you, and your righteousness to the upright of heart!
(Psalms 36:5-10 ESV)

“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”
(Revelation 1:8 ESV)

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Your Name. May Your kingdom come, and Your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; for Yours are the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

“Almighty God, who through your only-begotten Son Jesus Christ overcame death and opened to us the gate of everlasting life: Grant that I, who celebrate with joy the day of the Lord’s resurrection, may be raised from the death of sin by your life-giving Spirit; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.”
(The Divine Hours, The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

“Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought me in safety to this new day: Preserve me with your mighty power, that I may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all I do direct me to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen.”
(The Divine Hours, The Concluding Prayer of the Church)

Immediately he made his disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. And after he had taken leave of them, he went up on the mountain to pray. And when evening came, the boat was out on the sea, and he was alone on the land. And he saw that they were making headway painfully, for the wind was against them. And about the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. He meant to pass by them, but when they saw him walking on the sea they thought it was a ghost, and cried out, for they all saw him and were terrified. But immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” And he got into the boat with them, and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded, for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.
When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and moored to the shore. And when they got out of the boat, the people immediately recognized him and ran about the whole region and began to bring the sick people on their beds to wherever they heard he was. And wherever he came, in villages, cities, or countryside, they laid the sick in the marketplaces and implored him that they might touch even the fringe of his garment. And as many as touched it were made well.

(Mark 6:45-56 ESV)

“As we experience Jesus and His power over the storms of our lives, we gain a more complete picture of who He is. And we’re amazed.”
(Lisa M. Samra, Our Daily Bread)

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.
(John 15:4 ESV)

Whoever trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will flourish like a green leaf.
(Proverbs 11:28 ESV)

Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered.
(Proverbs 28:26 ESV)

(From The Songs of Jesus, by Timothy and Kathy Keller)

Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts. The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Come and see what the LORD has done, the desolations he has brought on the earth. He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth. He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire. He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.
(Psalms 46:6-11 NIV)

“Nothing is truly solid, trustworthy, and lasting but God.” (My, but aren’t we learning that right now?) Nothing can deter our God from His purposes, either. “Even the rage and assaults of others against God and his people and his cause will only be ultimately used by him for redemptive purposes (Acts 4:24-28).” Regardless of how bad things look, “the city of God–the heavenly community and reality–cannot be harmed but can only triumph.”

A Song. A Psalm of the Sons of Korah.
Great is the LORD and greatly to be praised in the city of our God! His holy mountain, beautiful in elevation, is the joy of all the earth, Mount Zion, in the far north, the city of the great King.

(Psalms 48:1-2 ESV)

Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia; she corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother. For it is written, “Rejoice, O barren one who does not bear; break forth and cry aloud, you who are not in labor! For the children of the desolate one will be more than those of the one who has a husband.” Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise. But just as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so also it is now.
(Galatians 4:25-29 ESV)

For you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest and the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them. For they could not endure the order that was given, “If even a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned.” Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I tremble with fear.” But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
(Hebrews 12:18-24 ESV)

The reason that this reality cannot be harmed is that it exists in God Himself (Psalm 46.7). “There is no more proper response to really seeing God as he is–transcendent beyond all imagination–than to be still and adore.”

“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)

Prayer: Lord, to ‘be still’ means not to be anxious or fretting or complaining or boasting. So show me who you are–your absolute power and infinite love for me–until I am still. Amen.”

Father, I confess . . . when I began this time, today, I was down, despondent, and struggled with finding points of gratitude. You, in Your inimitable way, used Your Word to pull me out of that pit and show me truth. I praise You, because I am now at a point where I can “be still and know” that You are God Almighty, and that You are my refuge and fortress, and shall not be shaken. Thank you, Father. Praises to You!
Lord, please shorten these days. Protect our families; protect our church families; protect our nation, and protect our world. We pray for this disease to end. And may we be quick to learn a valuable lesson from these days. Much of what we thought we needed, we truly don’t need. Teach us to be still.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

“As for me, I would seek God, and to God would I commit my cause, who does great things and unsearchable, marvelous things without number.” Job 5.8-9

Grace and peace, friends.

Unshakable

Today is Monday of Holy Week, April 6, 2012. Peace be with you.

Day 22,670.

Six days until Resurrection Sunday.

How did Monday get back around so fast?

We had a good church “meeting” yesterday morning. As always, it was good to see faces and hear voices of people we love. Everyone seems to be doing okay. We had some good discussion and prayer, and I led us in a song at the beginning. Well, at least I sang a song. I don’t really know if anyone else sang along or not. It was “The Wonderful Cross,” Chris Tomlin’s re-imagining of “When I Survey the Wonderful Cross,” one of my favorite hymns.

I talked to Mama again, last night, and she’s okay. She gets lonely, of course, and this month is not going to be easy. Her birthday is Wednesday (the 8th). That is the day, five years ago, when my father fell and hit his head, which, along with his Inclusion Body Myositis, resulted in his passing twelve days after. Of course, it will be compounded, this year, by the fact that we cannot visit her. These are difficult times, indeed.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

My mouth is filled with your praise, and with your glory all the day. Do not cast me off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength is spent.
(Psalms 71:8-9 ESV)

Today I am grateful:
1. That You will not cast me off in my old age, nor forsake me when my strength is spent.
2. That salvation and deliverance belong to You.
3. That You guide and help us through any suffering or unpleasant circumstances (Matthew 5.10-12)
4. For Your help and strength in temptation.
5. That You, O Lord, are unshakable!

A Song. A Psalm of the Sons of Korah. To the choirmaster: according to Mahalath Leannoth. A Maskil of Heman the Ezrahite.
O LORD, God of my salvation; I cry out day and night before you. Let my prayer come before you; incline your ear to my cry!

(Psalms 88:1-2 ESV)

Make me to know your ways, O LORD; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.
(Psalms 25:4-5 ESV)

Salvation belongs to the LORD; your blessing be on your people! Selah.
(Psalms 3:8 ESV)

When he drew near to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount that is called Olivet, he sent two of the disciples, saying, “Go into the village in front of you, where on entering you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever yet sat. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ you shall say this: ‘The Lord has need of it.'” So those who were sent went away and found it just as he had told them. And as they were untying the colt, its owners said to them, “Why are you untying the colt?” And they said, “The Lord has need of it.” And they brought it to Jesus, and throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. And as he rode along, they spread their cloaks on the road. As he was drawing near—already on the way down the Mount of Olives—the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.”
(Luke 19:29-40 ESV)

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you.
(Psalms 51:10-13 ESV)

Glory be to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, so it is now and so it shall ever be, world without end. Alleluia. Amen.

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Your Name. May Your kingdom come, and Your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; for Yours are the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

“Almighty God, who through your only-begotten Son Jesus Christ overcame death and opened to us the gate of everlasting life: Grant that I, who celebrate with joy the day of the Lord’s resurrection, may be raised from the death of sin by your life-giving Spirit; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.”
(The Divine Hours, The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him.
And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

(Matthew 5:1-12 ESV)

“When we walk with God, no matter our circumstances, we too can experience His peace. He is with us.”
(Alyson Kieda, Our Daily Bread)

In the morning, as he was returning to the city, he became hungry. And seeing a fig tree by the wayside, he went to it and found nothing on it but only leaves. And he said to it, “May no fruit ever come from you again!” And the fig tree withered at once.
(Matthew 21:18-19 ESV)

Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
(Matthew 7:19 ESV)

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser.”
(John 15:1 ESV)

Today’s reading in Daily Guideposts gives a good reason to fight against temptation. Of course, the obvious reason is that we would not disappoint our Savior. But the writer, Daniel Schantz, remembers the first two lines of this hymn by Howard A. Walter and Samuel R. Harlow.

I would be true, for there are those who trust me;
I would be pure, for there are those who care;
I would be strong, for there is much to suffer;
I would be brave, for there is much to dare.

I would be friend of all—the foe, the friendless;
I would be giving, and forget the gift;
I would be humble, for I know my weakness;
I would look up, and laugh, and love, and lift.

I would be faithful through each passing moment;
I would be constantly in touch with God;
I would be strong to follow where He leads me;
I would have faith to keep the path Christ trod.

Who is so low that I am not his brother?
Who is so high that I’ve no path to him?
Who is so poor I may not feel his hunger?
Who is so rich I may not pity him?

Who is so hurt I may not know his heartache?
Who sings for joy my heart may never share?
Who in God’s heav’n has passed beyond my vision?
Who to hell’s depths where I may never fare?

May none, then, call on me for understanding,
May none, then, turn to me for help in pain,
And drain alone his bitter cup of sorrow,
Or find he knocks upon my heart in vain.

(From The Songs of Jesus, by Timothy and Kathy Keller)

For the director of music. Of the Sons of Korah. According to alamoth. A song.
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.

(Psalms 46:1-5 NIV)

One need only look at some modern films to see the imagined ways that the earth could be destroyed. “But if you have this God as your God, you can face even such cataclysms without any fear.” Note that this psalm does not say that God will help you if you get into a refuge or stronghold. “It says he is that refuge. God is a stronghold or city that cannot be bombed or destroyed.” Even in the event of earthquakes, tsunamis, or the collapsing of civilizations, God’s rule is unshakable! “If God is with you, even the worst thing that happens to you–death–only makes you infinitely happier and greater.”

Prayer: Lord, I feel so vulnerable–to disease and injury, to financial loss, to political betrayal, to professional failure. But in this psalm, you say that even earthquakes and mountains melting can’t take away my inheritance of infinite love, resurrection, new heavens, and new earth. As I praise you for this, my anxiety ebbs. Thank you. Amen.”

Father, some of these cause me worry, and some of them don’t. But as I grow in You, I find that fewer things make me worry. And that is a testimony of Your strength to save to the uttermost. Now please help me to identify other things that cause me worry and anxiety, and cast those cares on You, as well, knowing that You are unshakable, and that, if I remain in You, I, too, am unshakable.
Lord, please shorten these days. Protect our families; protect our church families; protect our nation, and protect our world. We pray for this disease to end. And may we be quick to learn a valuable lesson from these days. Much of what we thought we needed, we truly don’t need. Teach us to trust You.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
(Psalms 23:4 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Here Comes the Bride

Today is Sunday, April 5, 2020. It is Palm Sunday of Holy Week. Peace be with you!

Day 22,669

Seven days until Resurrection Sunday.

My “official” weigh-in for WW, yesterday, had me down another 3.4 pounds for a total loss of 23.4 since we started WW, this time. Of course, we are weighing on our home scales, due to the COVID-19 regulations, so there might be a slight change when we finally get back to the studio. At this point, though, that will not be until at least May.

After consulting with the owners of the cabins in Glen Rose, we have decided that, unless more strict regulations are enacted, and unless one of us comes down with the virus, we will go down there for our weekend, later this month. The only people we will see will be the cabin owners and possible any restaurant attendants we choose to visit for take out. And that may, more than likely, be limited to Subway. There are currently no cases reported in Somervell county.

In just over an hour, we will have another church “gathering” of The Church at Brandon and Kristin’s, via the Zoom app. I believe we will be looking at Scripture passages around the crucifixion today. Next week, of course, is Resurrection Sunday!

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you! Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you judge the peoples with equity and guide the nations upon earth. Selah. Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you!
(Psalms 67:3-5 ESV)

Today I am grateful:
1. For the opportunity to use technology to “gather” with my brothers and sisters in Christ.
2. That You have answered me and have become my salvation (Psalm 118.21).
3. For the love that Christ, our King, has for His Bride, the Church.
4. That I am part of that Church, by His grace and mercy.
5. That there is coming a day when the King and His Church will be united forever.

Hear my voice according to your steadfast love; O LORD, according to your justice give me life.
(Psalms 119:149 ESV)

Save us, we pray, O LORD! O LORD, we pray, give us success! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD! We bless you from the house of the LORD.
(Psalms 118:25-26 ESV)

The LORD is God, and he has made his light to shine upon us. Bind the festal sacrifice with cords, up to the horns of the altar!
(Psalms 118:27 ESV)

Now when they drew near to Jerusalem, to Bethphage and Bethany, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately as you enter it you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat. Untie it and bring it. If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord has need of it and will send it back here immediately.'” And they went away and found a colt tied at a door outside in the street, and they untied it. And some of those standing there said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” And they told them what Jesus had said, and they let them go. And they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it, and he sat on it. And many spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut from the fields. And those who went before and those who followed were shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!”
And he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple. And when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.

(Mark 11:1-11 ESV)

Open to me the gates of righteousness, that I may enter through them and give thanks to the LORD. This is the gate of the LORD; the righteous shall enter through it. I thank you that you have answered me and have become my salvation. The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. This is the LORD’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. Save us, we pray, O LORD! O LORD, we pray, give us success! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD! We bless you from the house of the LORD. The LORD is God, and he has made his light to shine upon us. Bind the festal sacrifice with cords, up to the horns of the altar! You are my God, and I will give thanks to you; you are my God; I will extol you. Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!
(Psalms 118:19-29 ESV)

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Your Name. May Your kingdom come, and Your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; for Yours are the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

“Assist me mercifully with your help, O Lord God of our salvation, that I may enter with joy upon the contemplation of those mighty acts, whereby you have given us life and immortality; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
(The Divine Hours, The Prayer Appointed for the Day)

“Almighty and everliving God, in your tender love for the human race you sent your Son our Savior Jesus Christ to take upon him our nature, and to suffer death upon the cross, giving us the example of his great humility: Mercifully grant that I may walk in the way of his suffering, and also share in his resurrection; through Jesus Christ my Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”
(The Divine Hours, The Concluding Prayer of the Church)

The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written,
“Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt!”
His disciples did not understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about him and had been done to him. The crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to bear witness. The reason why the crowd went to meet him was that they heard he had done this sign.

(John 12:12-18 ESV)

“While the crowd in John 12 anticipated an earthly king to save them from Rome, Jesus was much more. He was King of Kings and our sacrifice–God in the flesh, willingly embracing the cross to save us from our sins–a purpose prophesied centuries earlier.”
(James Banks, Our Daily Bread)

The righteous flourish like the palm tree and grow like a cedar in Lebanon.
(Psalms 92:12 ESV)

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands,
(Revelation 7:9 ESV)

(From The Songs of Jesus, by Timothy and Kathy Keller)

Listen, daughter, and pay careful attention: Forget your people and your father’s house. Let the king be enthralled by your beauty; honor him, for he is your lord. The city of Tyre will come with a gift, people of wealth will seek your favor. All glorious is the princess within her chamber; her gown is interwoven with gold. In embroidered garments she is led to the king; her virgin companions follow her— those brought to be with her. Led in with joy and gladness, they enter the palace of the king. Your sons will take the place of your fathers; you will make them princes throughout the land. I will perpetuate your memory through all generations; therefore the nations will praise you for ever and ever.
(Psalms 45:10-17 NIV)

In this passage, which is the description of a wedding, the bride is led to the king. The king represents Jesus, and we, the Church, are the bride. And the King is enthralled by the beauty of the bride (verse 11)! But we seen in Ephesians 5.25-27 that Jesus doesn’t love the Church because of her beauty. he loves her to make us beautiful!

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.
(Ephesians 5:25-27 ESV)

At the last day, we, the Church, will be united with the King, “in love forever.” Our own, human, marriages, display a little bit of the joy that will be ours on that day. But we must be careful that our marriages “reveal Christ, not replace Christ.” In Him, we “have the only spousal love that will truly fulfill.” And if you are one of those blessed with a “spousal love” that you believe has fulfilled you, then consider that the “marriage” of the Church to Jesus, our King, will be even better.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, you look on us as a spouse and lover, with passionate love and delight. I praise you that you can love like that, but confess that I do not live like someone who is loved like that. Make it a truth that controls how I act every day. Amen.”

It’s true, Father, that I don’t act like someone who is loved the way Jesus loves us. At least not consistently, I don’t. Help me move into this Holy Week with a better understanding of the love Christ has for us, and a heart to work that out into the life that I live in front of the world. Give me a better picture of that wedding day, Lord.
Lord, please shorten these days. Protect our families; protect our church families; protect our nation, and protect our world. We pray for this disease to end. And may we be quick to learn a valuable lesson from these days. Much of what we thought we needed, we truly don’t need. Teach us to love.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

“As for me, I would seek God, and to God would I commit my cause, who does great things and unsearchable, marvelous things without number.” Job 5.8-9

Grace and peace, friends.