Soon

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

Welcome to December.

Peace be with you.

Day 23,274

Twenty-four days until Christmas.

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

Uncle Buddy lived 30,551 days.

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

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

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

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

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

Today I am grateful:

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

FIRST WEEK OF ADVENT – DAY FOUR

INVITATION

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

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

BIBLE SONG

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

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

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

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

BIBLE READING

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

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

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

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

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

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

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

BLESSING

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

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.

Are You Ready?

Good morning. Today is Monday, the twenty-ninth of November, 2021. First Monday of Advent.

Day 23,272

Twenty-six days until Christmas.

I have received unpleasant news, this morning, news which will have an impact on Christmas and Thanksgiving celebrations for years to come. My Uncle “Buddy,” Robert Vinson, has passed away, this morning. He was my mother’s twin brother. At this point, I don’t know of any arrangements, but there will likely be a funeral later this week, which may mean that I miss a day at the library. Unless they decide on Saturday.

Brother Daryl Madden has shared a couple of poems with me, this morning. You who are regular readers are familiar with him and his inspirational/comforting poetry. Here are a couple which he has shared with me today.

Still You

Still raw is your passing

You’re in a better place
Your hope in gift of faith
Is answered by His grace

Still here is our sorrow

In random burst of tears
Drifting in our loss
Your emptiness felt here

Still in life’s reflection

The love to us you shared
We see your shadow cast
In many ways, you cared

Still we walk our path

With joy and sorrow, feeling
In prayer, we’ll be with You
A new way you’ll be healing


Still we’ll remember you

Etched within our heart
For now, your closer still
Through love that you’ll impart

Death is Nothing

Death is nothing. Nothing at all

It does not count. There is no wall

I’ve only slipped. In the room next

Nothing’s happened. Be not perplexed

As is the same. As was it be

You are you. And I am me

The old life lived. Together in love

Remains untouched. Unchanged above

Whatever we were. To each other

That we are still. And not another

Why should I be. Out of your mind
Just because. The eye is blind


As I am. I wait for you

So very near. Round corners view

All is well. Nothing is hurt

Nothing is lost. This truth assert

In moment brief. And all will be

As was before. Our joy to see

How we shall laugh. In embrace so sweet

When very soon. Again we’ll meet!

Thank you so much, Daryl!

We had a nice, restful day, yesterday. I spent about an hour at a local tire shop, though, getting tires rotated and air pressure checked. What prompted that was when the tire pressure light came on in my car, on the way back from Mineral Wells, Thursday evening. I checked the pressure on Friday, during the day, and all the tires had about the same pressure. The two fronts were exactly the same, and the two rears were almost exactly the same. This indicated that I likely didn’t have a leak.

I was planning to take care of it Saturday evening, after work, but it was raining, so I decided, since my car was long overdue for tire rotation, to take it to the tire shop that is open on Sundays and have them take care of it. So for $15, I got a tire rotation and all four tires checked and aired up.

Most of today will be spent getting caught up on various chores, such as laundry and grocery shopping and sweeping the floor. It’s good to be back to a regular schedule.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Catch A Breath, by Daryl Madden

Before our day begins
Time to start performing
Take a step outside and
Catch a breath of morning

For a seed of beauty
A gift of the spawning
To dwell within the light
Catch a glimpse of dawning

Let it settle in
Worldly time to cease
In silence of the soul
Draw a taste of peace

Know that loves abounding
Blessings our God shares
With gratitude to offer
A whisper of prayer

Please check out Daryl’s other inspirational poems at the link above.

I wait for the LORD,
my soul waits,
and in his word I hope;
my soul waits for the Lord
more than watchmen for the morning,
more than watchmen for the morning.
(Psalms 130:5-6 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the hope that comes in waiting for You
2. for many good memories with my uncle
3. that Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path
4. that I am one of the sheep of Your pasture, that You have made me, and I am Yours
5. that You are making us ready; may we walk in the hope and expectation that You have granted us

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
(Psalms 119:105 ESV)

A Psalm for giving thanks.

Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth!
Serve the LORD with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!
Know that the LORD, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!
For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.
(Psalms 100:1-5 ESV)


Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”
And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden,
but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.'”

But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die.
For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.
Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.
And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.
But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?”
And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.”
He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?”
The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.”
Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

The LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life.
I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”
(Genesis 3:1-15 ESV)

You might wonder why we are reading the account of the fall of man during our Advent celebration. It all comes down to verse 15, where we get the first glimpse of Jesus Christ and His Gospel. The first glimmer of hope, the one who would “bruise the head” of our enemy. Jesus will come and undo the work of Satan, but not without great cost. Therein lies our hope, and hope is one of the central messages of Advent.

I thank You, God, that You are generous and the giver of all good things. I thank You that You have always had a plan for us and for the world, that You revealed this plan to us through Your prophets, and that this plan finds its fulfillment in Jesus Christ.



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

FIRST WEEK OF ADVENT – DAY TWO

INVITATION

I am counting on the LORD;
yes, I am counting on him.
I have put my hope in his word.
(Psalms 130:5 NLT)

As I pause in the quiet, this morning, I am pondering life, itself, and its brevity. Eighty-three years may seem like a long time, but my sixty-three seems so very brief, as I look back. Life is fragile, but we have hope in Christ Jesus, hope of life eternal. Sixty or eighty years is merely a grain of sand in comparison.

BIBLE SONG

Of Solomon.

Endow the king with your justice, O God,
the royal son with your righteousness.
May he judge your people in righteousness,
your afflicted ones with justice.
May the mountains bring prosperity to the people,
the hills the fruit of righteousness.
May he defend the afflicted among the people
and save the children of the needy;
may he crush the oppressor.
May he endure as long as the sun,
as long as the moon, through all generations.
May he be like rain falling on a mown field,
like showers watering the earth.
In his days may the righteous flourish
and prosperity abound till the moon is no more.
(Psalms 72:1-7 NIV)

BIBLE READING

“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.
“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.”
(Matthew 24:36-42 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I leisurely read these passages again, I look for words or ideas that stir within me. I linger over them, meditating on them and giving them my full attention. Is there something for me to ask God about? I pray my life to Him, and rest in His presence.

Psalm 72 is one of those that, on the surface, appears to be about an earthly king. Solomon appears to be voicing a prayer/song for himself, in third person. However, I believe it is also valid to attribute this to Jesus, based on the language it contains.

We do want Jesus to judge His people in righteousness, and His afflicted ones with justice. We desire prosperity for His people. We hope for the defense of the afflicted, and that the children of the needy will be saved. We also pray for all oppressors to be crushed. We believe that Jesus will endure longer than the sun and moon and all the stars, beyond all generations.

But then we shift gears a little bit, as the passage from Matthew 24 concerns the second coming of Jesus. We know this, because it is Jesus, Himself, voicing the words.

We hear that no one knows the hour or the day that Jesus will return. In fact, it would appear that even Jesus, Himself, does not know, but only the Father knows. We read that life will be going on, business as usual, when the Son appears. Just like in the days of Noah, the people “knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away.” And, He says, this is exactly how His second coming will be.

That is somewhat unnerving, I think. We won’t see it coming until it does. So all of this guessing and predicting, all of the books that have been written, trying to predict when it will happen, all useless. I find it interesting and enlightening that, even though Jesus gives all these signs before He says that, He still, at the end says that no one will know when it’s going to happen.

His main advice? “Keep watch.” “Be ready.” We get the same advice from Luke 12:40.

You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”
(Luke 12:40 NIV)

Father, help us to be ready. And while we are getting ready, may we not focus on the things that we cannot know. May we not waste time and energy trying to figure out what Jesus, Himself, doesn’t even know! Just let us be ready. What does being ready mean? It means simply keeping watch. Yes, Jesus gives us signs, and we can watch for them. But trying to predict when it’s going to happen is pointless. May our eyes be fixed on You; may our attention be on Your Word and on those who need it; may we focus on doing the things that Psalm 72 prays that Jesus, our King, will do, which is helping in the deliverance of the needy and afflicted, and crushing the oppressors.

Help us to see You in all things, as we walk in Your creation, and as we look around us.

I thank You for the life of my Uncle Buddy. I pray for my mother, Aunt Barbara, and for Johnny, Jayne, and Joan, my cousins. I also pray for their children and grandchildren, as they all grieve the loss of husband, brother, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather.

"Coming Savior,
You are the Word,
the wisdom,
and the very image of the Father.
Ready my ears to hear Your word of truth,
my heart to learn the ways of Your wisdom,
and my eyes to see the beauty of Your likeness.
Amen."

BLESSING

He who is the faithful witness
to all these things says,
“Yes, I am coming soon!”
Amen!
Come, Lord Jesus!
May the grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s holy people.
(Revelation 22:20-21 NLT)


Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

Ascension Day

Today is Thursday (pre-Friday), the thirteenth of May, 2021, in the sixth week of Easter.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,072

Today, the Church recognizes Ascension Day, the day Jesus ascended into heaven, in the presence of His disciples.

Seven days until our Glen Rose trip!

Today is “Friday” for me, because I’m taking PTO tomorrow. It’s the one-year anniversary of S’s cat, Honey, passing away, and I just thought I would take the day off to be around for her.

We have hot water! C found someone that could come fix it yesterday evening, and they had it fixed and were gone before I got home from work. So I had a hot shower before going to bed, last night. And there’s a little less anxiety in my life, this morning. Actually, the hot water heater problem wasn’t causing that much anxiety. But I won’t deny that there was a little bit, and now that is resolved.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

"I cannot produce joy.
I cannot produce peace.
I cannot produce love.

This doesn't mean I have no hope --
just no hope in myself.
Transferring the hope to our Lord --
these are gifts from our Father.

I can turn to God.
I can place my requests at Jesus' feet.
I can submit my will.
I can acknowledge and be grateful for these gifts.

And I can share
his joy,
his peace,
his love,
and his hope."
(Daryl Madden, On a Bench of Wood: Reflections of God's Grace)

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.
(Psalms 118:1 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

  • for joy, peace, love, and hope, all of which I get from You
  • for Your faithful love that endures forever, even (and especially) when I turn my face away from You and toward my problems
  • for singing and music
  • for the ascension of Jesus Christ
  • for the coming of the Holy Spirit

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

EASTER – DAY 40

INVITATION

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.
(Psalms 47:5-7 NIV)

I pause, briefly, in this quiet moment, to reflect on joy, peace, love, and hope.

BIBLE SONG

May the glory of the LORD endure forever; may the LORD rejoice in his works— he who looks at the earth, and it trembles, who touches the mountains, and they smoke. I will sing to the LORD all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live. May my meditation be pleasing to him, as I rejoice in the LORD. But may sinners vanish from the earth and the wicked be no more. Praise the LORD, my soul. Praise the LORD.
(Psalms 104:31-35 NIV)

BIBLE READING

After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”
He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.
They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”
(Acts 1:3-11 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I remind myself that I am in the presence of God, I read these passages slowly, lingering on words and phrases phrases that catch my attention. I pray these, along with other things in my life, back to God.

Do I believe that the Lord still rejoices in His works? Why wouldn’t He? I mean, sure His major work, us, has truly fouled things up in this world. But there is still a lot of beauty to behold, and still a lot of good, even in the midst of mankind, the primary “fouler-upper.”

My job, here, is to sing. To sing to the Lord all my life, to sing praises to Him as long as I live. I’ve been working on that a little bit more, lately, as I am fully persuaded that these psalms and Scriptures are not coming into my days by accident. The Holy Spirit is inviting me to sing! So I’m trying to sing more. Hopefully, perhaps I will “sing a new song,” eventually.

I’m also working on the meditation piece a little more, too, hoping that my meditations will be pleasing to Him, as the Psalms consistently hope. This morning meditation is a good start, and I fall asleep meditating on His Word, at night. But there are quite a few hours between those two events, and, truthfully, meditation is lost during a lot of that.

As mentioned yesterday, and above, today is Ascension Day, in the Church. Growing up Southern Baptist, I never even heard of this until I was an “adult,” if that’s what you want to call someone in college. In latter years, I have grown to embrace the various portions of the Church calendar, finding great joy and fulfillment in recognizing some of the special days, especially some of the more-neglected ones, like today.

Why is Ascension Day important? For one thing, had Jesus not Ascended, the Holy Spirit would not have come down. He had to go up so the Spirit could come down. Why? Heck if I know. I’m not God. I just know that this is what Scripture seems to indicate.

So Jesus reigns on high, from what I understand, still in bodily form, maybe even with holes in his hands and side. He sits “at the right hand of the Father,” waiting for that time when He will be sent back to collect His brothers and sisters and take them to the mansions that He is preparing for us.

In the meantime, the Holy Spirit is here, dwelling within each of us, empowering and enabling us to do the ministry that He has given to each of us, according to Ephesians 2:10. What does Acts 1:8 say? We will receive POWER! “Power, power, wonder-working power.” And that’s exactly what those first disciples did in the days and years following that great Pentecost in the second chapter of Acts.

Is it possible for us to do some of those same powerful works? I would like to think it is, and I ponder why we seem unable to do so.

Father, as I walk through this day, may my meditations be pleasing to You. May I sing, from the depths of my soul, let me sing! Let me sing; make me sing; sing for all the days of the rest of my life, however long that may be. And, should it be Your will, give me a new song to sing! And then, Father, empower us! May Your Holy Spirit have His way with and in us! Today and every day, show us Your power anew. Show us Your mighty works; perhaps we have become too complacent and too comfortable in things. Dare I ask for You to shake us up a little?

Most High God,
like the disciples,
I'm left staring at the sky,
mouth wide open in wonder to think that someone like me--
a real human being--
now sits at your right hand,
in glory.
In his physical absence,
comfort me with the knowledge that Jesus has ascended for my good,
governing all things from the heavenly throne.
Amen.
(Heidelberg Catechism 46)

BLESSING

Go and make disciples of all nations. . . . And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
(Matthew 28:19-20 NIV)


He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
(Psalms 147:3 NIV)

The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. The righteous person may have many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all;
(Psalms 34:17-19 NIV)

Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words.
(1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 NIV)


Lord, I pray for those who are grieving, today, both for recent loss, and for loss from either the recent or distant past. Everyone has experienced loss of some kind. May You bind the wounds of the brokenhearted today, and ease their grieving hearts. Help us all to grieve in a healthy way, promoting healing to our hearts. May we not stifle our emotions, but embrace them and walk in them, lifting them all up to You in the process.

Lord, I pray, today, for a deeper grasp and understanding of the Gospel. May it permeate every inch of my being, today, and every day. May my experience as an adopted son of Yours be full, today; may I realize every benefit of being Your son. Make my prayer life more passionate, Father, as I pray for people daily. May my love for those for whom I pray be limitless.

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!

Let nothing disturb you,
let nothing frighten you,
all things will pass away.
God never changes;
patience obtains all things,
whoever has God lacks nothing.
God alone suffices.

Amen.
(St. Teresa of Avila)

Grace and peace, friends!

Fear, Holiness and His Presence

Today is Thursday (pre-Friday), the fifteenth of April, 2021, in the second week of Easter.

Peace be with you.

Day 23,044

35 days until our Glen Rose weekend

Under normal circumstances, today would be “Tax Day,” in the US, the deadline for filing one’s income tax return. Not this year, though. The deadline has been extended to, I believe, May 17.

I had a large plate of “humble pie” handed to me, yesterday. In the spirit of transparency, vulnerability, and what I mean for this blog to be, I will share my experience.

I was dealing with a difficult person who works for our client. He’s not mean-spirited or rude, it just seems that he struggles with understanding, at times. We were both getting frustrated, and, unfortunately, wound up in a phone conversation about the issue.

I would rather get a root canal than talk on the phone.

That may be a slight exaggeration. But we have Skype and email, and usually, problems can be resolved through those avenues.

At the end of it all, we had both made mistakes. The supplier started the mess. The person to whom I was talking made an error. But guess what! So did I! My error was in not catching his error, and, in continuing the process, received some material on the wrong line item, which actually caused it to be received, inspected, and almost stocked as the wrong material.

I was not only humbled, but embarrassed.

It was a good lesson for me.

The Texas Rangers won their game with the Rays, last night, 5-1, improving their record to 5-7. Kohei Arihara (1-1) got the win, with 5.2 solid innings pitched. That is two consecutive wins for them, and they are tied with Oakland for last place in the AL West, but at this stage of the season, only two games behind first place. They will play again tonight, in the Juice Box, at 6:10 CDT, with Jordan Lyles (1-0) taking the mound for Texas.

The Boston Red Sox continue to make their own little bit of history. They won both games of a double header with the Twins, yesterday, no doubt making things even worse for the good people of Minneapolis. The first game was 3-2 with Nathan Eovaldi (2-1) getting the win, and the second was 7-1, with Eduardo Rodriguez (2-0) getting the win. The Sox have now won nine consecutive games. They sit alone at the top of the AL East, three games ahead of the second place Blue Jays. The Yankees, with the same record as Texas, are tied for the bottom, with Tampa Bay. Hah! My two least favorite teams, tied for last place. How fun is that?

The Sox will play the Twins again today, at 12:10 EDT, in Minneapolis. Garrett Richards (0-1) will take the mound for Boston.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Praise God from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, you heavenly hosts;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
(Traditional Doxology)

We thank you, O God! We give thanks because you are near. People everywhere tell of your wonderful deeds.
(Psalms 75:1 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

  • that You grabbed my attention, yesterday afternoon, humbling me; putting me in my place
  • for the peace I feel this morning
  • that You, alone, are to be feared . . . there is nothing on this earth that I should fear, when I am walking with You
  • for Your Church, which consists of people and souls, not buildings
  • for the great hope to be revealed at Christ’s return

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

EASTER – DAY 12

INVITATION

But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
(1 Corinthians 15:57 NIV)

I pause briefly to reflect on the nearness of God to His people.

BIBLE SONG

For the director of music. With stringed instruments. A psalm of Asaph. A song.

God is renowned in Judah; in Israel his name is great.
His tent is in Salem, his dwelling place in Zion.
There he broke the flashing arrows, the shields and the swords, the weapons of war.
(Psalms 76:1-3 NIV)

It is you alone who are to be feared.
Who can stand before you when you are angry?
From heaven you pronounced judgment, and the land feared and was quiet—
when you, God, rose up to judge, to save all the afflicted of the land.
Surely your wrath against mankind brings you praise, and the survivors of your wrath are restrained.
Make vows to the LORD your God and fulfill them;
let all the neighboring lands bring gifts to the One to be feared.
He breaks the spirit of rulers;
he is feared by the kings of the earth.
(Psalms 76:7-12 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of the Messiah and the glories that would follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things.
Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 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 1:10-16 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I remind myself that I am in God’s presence (why must I always be having to remind myself of this truth?), I read these passages again. I invite the Holy Spirit to point me toward words or phrases that speak what I need to hear today.

Seriously, though . . . I’m drawn back to this idea that I have to remind myself that I am in God’s presence. Why? Why am I not aware of this glorious truth every minute of every day? This is definitely something to ponder, and something to work on. It reminds me of Frank Laubach’s “The Game with Minutes,” wherein he teaches the idea of consciously directing our thoughts toward God at least once, every minute.

It is God, alone, who is to be feared. Truly, when I am walking with Him (I wasn’t walking very well, yesterday), I have nothing at all to fear. Once again, I point to the words of Dallas Willard, who opined that “this world is a perfectly safe place for us to be.” God, Himself, told us, in Isaiah 41:10, “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.” I have also heard it said (I have not counted it myself) that some form of “fear not” is the most-commanded thing in Scripture.

Only God is to be feared. I have nothing else to fear, and I certainly should not be afraid of death. More truth to ponder, and, perhaps, to act upon.

Instead of fear, my stance should be hope. “Hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming,” says Peter. In that hope, we should not conform to our evil desires, but, rather, “be holy, because [God is] holy.” “Holy” is from the Greek hagios, which means, “sacred (physically pure, morally blameless, or religious, ceremonially consecrated),” “holy,” or “saint.”

Father, thank You for the lessons learned (I hope, at least) yesterday. Thank You for directing my thoughts, this morning, to Your presence, Your very precious and near to us presence. Help me to consider this presence frequently throughout this day, rather than blindly trudging through another day without noticing You. I thank You that You are all that I have to fear, and even that “fear” is not the same as, say the fear of a train derailing while I’m sitting first at the crossing. May my fear of You translate into the hope of the grace that Christ will bring when He returns. May it translate into love for all people, and my Your Spirit flow through me and out of me as I walk through this day. May peace and love be my mantra, today.

Missionary God,
thank you for sending people to speak your timely message of salvation.
I pray for all those who communicate your good news -
empower them to speak gracefully and effectively.
Raise up new messengers to bring your gospel to all people and places in clear and compelling ways.
And I ask that you send and empower me to be a timely witness of the glory of the resurrection.
In the risen Savior's name,
amen.
(Canons of Dort 1.3)

BLESSING

Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
(John 20:29 NIV)


Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?
(1 Corinthians 3:16 KJV)

In today’s reading from Daily Guideposts 2021, Gail Thorell Schilling reminds us of another important truth.

“It’s time to remind myself that the church is – and always has been – a community of believers, not a building. Jesus Himself taught outdoors and in homes; worship within dedicated structures came much later. And though the buildings provide shelter, often exquisitely beautiful and inspiring, the heart of a church beats in its living members’ hearts, not in the stained glass and stones. Even as I mourn the destruction of sacred spaces, I sense that God – who cannot be contained – is very near.”

However, the Most High doesn’t live in temples made by human hands.
(Acts 7:48 NLT)

No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us.
(1 John 4:12 NLT)


For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.
(Jeremiah 29:11-13 NLT)


Father, this morning I have paused to seek Your face. I believe I have encountered You in this time. I pray for Your presence to be known throughout this day. Thank You for Your Church and all that it means to me. Thank You for the reminder that Jesus taught outdoors and in homes, not in expansive, exquisite structures. Thank You for the reminder that the plans You have for us are for good, and that, if we seek You with our whole hearts, we will certainly find You.

Lord, please grow me in holiness, today. May I know more fully Your forgiveness, and, in knowing this, be more willing to extend the same grace to others in my path. May the gifts of Your Holy Spirit flourish within Your Church.

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.

The Eleventh Day of Christmas – Hope

Today is Monday, January 4, 2021, the eleventh day of Christmas.

Peace be with you.

Day 22,943

Today, we are finally back to a “normal” work schedule. And, while I have most certainly enjoyed the time off, I find myself a little glad to be back on schedule. The challenge is going to be found as I continue to work with my new devotional materials for the new year. I’m still working to nail down the timing.

I’m still mentally dealing with yesterday’s challenge from The Book of Mysteries, by Jonathan Cahn. He calls them “missions.” It was to step out of old ways, old habits in this new year. I haven’t quite done that, yet. Perhaps an actual plan might be in order.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

I want to begin today’s prayers by sharing a poem from fellow blogger Daryl Madden. I have been following his blog for a bit, and find his poems to be quite deep and inspiring. This one, from yesterday morning, is called “Settle Now.” It is my opening prayer for this morning. Shared with permission.

Settle now in stilling
Focus be of here
Emptiness outpouring
In silence, be aware

Settle now in Presence
Focus of the light
Covering so precious
Grace of Your insight

Settle now in dwelling
Focus of the deep
Savor the sweet fragrance
Letting Spirit seep

Rooted now in love
Enwrapped in sacred prayer
Holiness of being
One of soul to share

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

CHRISTMAS – DAY 11

INVITATION

Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.
Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.
(Psalms 100:1-2 NIV)

BIBLE SONG – PSALM 3

A psalm of David. When he fled from his son Absalom.
LORD, how many are my foes! How many rise up against me!
Many are saying of me, “God will not deliver him.”
But you, LORD, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high.
I call out to the LORD, and he answers me from his holy mountain.
I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the LORD sustains me.
I will not fear though tens of thousands assail me on every side.
Arise, LORD! Deliver me, my God! Strike all my enemies on the jaw; break the teeth of the wicked.
From the LORD comes deliverance. May your blessing be on your people.

BIBLE READING – TITUS 3:4-7

But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

There are a number of words that hit me in this brief passage. “Kindness,” “love,” “mercy,” “grace.” All characteristics of God and/or things He lavishes upon us. And the, at the end, “hope.”

It is very clear here, as well as plenty other places in Scripture, that our salvation is not because of anything we have done. It might even be implied that it is in spite of unrighteous things that we have done.

The Holy Trinity is represented quite sell in this passage. The Father saved us, through the “washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior.”

Through all of this, we are justified by His grace, becoming heirs (remember, we read about being heirs a couple days ago), and we have hope!

“Hope” is not just wishful thinking. We use the word differently, in our language. We “hope” we get to go on a trip this year, somewhere. We “hope” for that raise from our employer. But in this case, “hope” is more of an assurance that something is going to happen. One of the definitions of hope is “grounds for believing that something good may happen.” I would replace “may” with “will.”

We have it on good authority, solid ground for believing, that we will experience and possess our inheritance of eternal life. This is true hope!

Father, there are so many words in this passage that thrill me and fill my soul. I will walk away from this session today with that hope, solid in my soul, of eternal life, and the inheritance that awaits me in my eternal Home. I long for that Home, Father, that place where there will never again be pain, tears, loneliness, or sorrow. That place where “evil” will not be allowed to dwell, in any of its forms. I thank You for Your kindness and love, Your grace, Your mercy, and for providing us with this hope.

"God of mercy,
whenever I lose sight of you and my faith falters,
whenever I'm tempted to doubt your heart
or misconstrue your motives,
turn me again to the clearest sign of your generous mercy:
your only Son, Jesus.
Remind me, too, of the sign of my baptism into Jesus,
that I am washed clean and reborn through Christ;
grow me up into all of its promises and blessings.
Amen."
(Westminster Larger Catechism 167)

BLESSING

“Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come to his people and redeemed them.”
(Luke 1:68 NIV)


Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”
(Luke 5:5 NIV)

Then Jesus said to them, “Suppose you have a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have no food to offer him.’ And suppose the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity he will surely get up and give you as much as you need.
(Luke 11:5-8 NIV)

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
(Romans 5:1-5 NIV)


While [Peter] was going on like this, babbling, a light-radiant cloud enveloped them, and sounding from deep in the cloud a voice: “This is my Son, marked by my love, focus of my delight. Listen to him.”
(Matthew 17:5 MSG)


One of the ways that Holy Spirit is described in Scripture is with the word “wind.” There is a Hebrew word for that, Ruach. As a simple illustration, if you go outside and walk against a strong wind, it is difficult to make progress, and you get weary faster.

But if you turn around and walk with the wind, progress is much easier, and the wind actually helps you move.

So it is with walking in the Spirit. If we walk in the same direction the Spirit is moving, we will find it much easier to make progress, and we will not get weary. In a way of speaking, when we walk in the Spirit, or with the Spirit, we have the wind at our back.

“The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
(John 3:8 ESV)

And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.
(Acts 2:2 ESV)

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.
(Galatians 5:16-17 ESV)

The Mission: “What part of your life is against the direction of the Spirit? Today, turn it around and start walking with the Wind at your back.”


Father, help me to walk in and with the Holy Spirit today. The Spirit is Holy, so the direction He is moving is toward holiness. Mold my heart and spirit today toward holiness.

Father, I pray for humanity’s role as caretaker of Your creation. May we see You in our world around us, as we go about, doing whatever it is that You have given us to do. Give us eyes to see You and to see Your beauty everywhere we look. I also pray that we would be better stewards of the creation that You have given us.

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!


Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!
(Psalms 100:4 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. For the first work day of a new year
  2. For the hope that I have within me, which is the result of Your kindness, love, grace, and mercy
  3. Once again, that You have made me an heir, with an assured inheritance which includes eternal life
  4. For consistency in prayer
  5. For the Wind of the Holy Spirit

May your joys be as bright as the morning,
And your sorrows merely be shadows that fade in the sunlight of love.
May you have…
Enough happiness to keep you sweet,
Enough trials to keep you strong,
Enough sorrow to keep you human,
And enough hope to keep you happy.
(An Irish New Year's Blessing)

Grace and peace, friends.

He Will Finish What He Started

Today is Friday, November 29, 2019. Peace be with you!

Day 22,541

26 days until Christmas! (You knew that was coming, right?)

Yesterday was a most wonderful day. We had an awesome lunch that C mostly prepared, with a little help from Mama. I stirred a pot for a few minutes. Does that count? R & J brought a pumpkin pie and a couple of peanut butter pies, one of which they left with us. We had turkey (also provided by R & J, as they got a free one from Albertson’s), ham, mashed potatoes, dressing (not “stuffing,” because it was not “stuffed”), corn casserole, green bean casserole, rolls . . . I think that’s all. The only thing missing was the cranberry sauce, which I forgot about until this very minute. Oh, well. It was so good.

Today, C’s niece will be coming over around noon, I believe. We will continue our Thanksgiving celebration with them, and, hopefully, eat up most of the leftovers. There will probably be turkey and ham for another week, but the other things should mostly be gone after today. That’s okay, though, because I love to snack on cold turkey (no pun intended) and ham.

Today is Buy Nothing Day. I’m actually quite fond of that concept. “Black Friday,” in my opinion, is a blight on our society. Too many viral videos of shameless people beating on each other in mob fashion, just so they can get an Elmo doll, or some other ridiculous thing. Besides that, most stores have already had Black Friday prices going on for a week or so. In the spirit of full disclosure, however, I will confess that I have bought several items this morning. All from the comfort of my study chair. But they were, more or less, necessities. First, I bought some printer cartridges, because my black ink cartridge appears to be completely empty. Then I bought some iPhone lightning cables, because C’s car charger has quit working.

Today is also Chocolates Day. That should be a national Federal holiday, in my opinion. I love pretty much anything chocolate, and I am obviously not alone.

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

Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually!
Psalm 105.4

Today I am grateful:
1. That I don’t “celebrate” Black Friday.
2. For family and the wonderful time we had together, yesterday.
3. For the rain we are getting today.
4. For the atonement for sin.
5. That he who began a good work in me will bring it to completion (Philippians 1.6)!

“O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, have mercy upon me.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, have mercy upon me.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, grant me your peace.”
(Agnus Dei)
O God, you know my folly; the wrongs I have done are not hidden from you.
Psalm 69.5
When iniquities prevail against me, you atone for our transgressions.
Psalm 65.3
He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, 
but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. 
So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. 
And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?’ 
He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ So the servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ 
But he said, ‘No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. 
Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.'”

Matthew 13.24-30
You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your presence. 
For all our days pass away under your wrath; we bring our years to an end like a sigh. 
The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away. 
Who considers the power of your anger, and your wrath according to the fear of you? 
So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.

Psalm 90.8-12

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 and everlasting God, whose will it is to restore all things in your well-beloved Son, the King of kings and Lord of lords: Mercifully grant that the peoples of the earth, divided and enslaved by sin, may be freed and brought together under his most gracious rule; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.”
(The Divine Hours)

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
Philippians 1.6

These are such great comforting and encouraging words! To know that the work that has been begun in me will be completed, gives me that pervasive sense of well-being that Dallas Willard calls “joy.” I’m not perfect. I’m not even close. In fact, sometimes, it seems that there has been little to no progress in my spiritual development. Nevertheless, I have this encouragement from Paul. I know he was writing to the Church in Philippi. But why would this not be applicable to me, as well?

Jesus began a good work in me before the foundations of the earth! Before I was born, before my parents were born, before any of my ancestors were born, Jesus Christ began a good work in me. And he will finish that good work! I believe this with all my heart, and that is what keeps me going.

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
2 Corinthians 3.18

We are being transformed, all of us who call the name of and follow Jesus. Gradually, from “one degree of glory to another,” we are being changed into the perfect image of the Lord. We are being sanctified by him who called us out of darkness into life.

So take heart, today. No matter what circumstance you find yourself in, even if you have stumbled and fallen horribly, Jesus Christ is working in your life to transform you into his perfect image. He started it, he will finish it.

Father, I thank you for this truth, today, this encouragement. In your time, you will perfect all things. Please give me patience as I wait for you to complete me and everything else, and as we wait for the return of the Lord.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

The Full Assurance of Hope

Good morning. It is Saturday, March 7, 2015. 30 more days until Opening Day!! Five more days until Paluxy River Bed Cabins! Six more days until I start another year of living.

Today’s word of the day is church ale. Only in England could they come up with something like this! It sure wouldn’t work traditional American Baptist culture! Anyway, here’s the definition. “A festivity during which ale is drunk, held by or in connection with a church esp. to raise money for church repair, the poor, etc. Also: the ale drunk at such a festivity.” Right. “Let’s all get together and drink ale to raise money for the poor!”

Today is Be Heard Day. Now, lest you think this is a day for you to go out and loudly voice your opinion, let me explain. That’s not what this means. It is a day for small businesses to have better means of competing against the larger corporate giants.

The drive to work yesterday morning was pretty uneventful, outside of the parking lot that invaded Hwy 114/121 in Grapevine. There were very few patches of leftover ice, and the roads were mostly clear. But, for some reason, traffic was horrid. So much so that I got to the time clock two minutes past the acceptable punch-in time. Oh, well. Another half-point. And I had already blown my “perfect attendance” for March when I left work early last Friday (not to mention coming in late on Wednesday). The day went pretty well, and I stayed an extra hour to try to help out in receiving, so that the person working today wouldn’t have as bad a day.

Christi wound up spending the entire evening with her mother. Her step-dad is in rehab, now, after spending a little over a week in the hospital. So Christi took her mother up there to see him, last night, and didn’t get home until around 11:00 PM. So Stephanie and I ordered Chinese food, and I caught up on The Walking Dead, and watched The Purge. Very disturbing movie, that one! I kind of like the way it played out, though.

Today will be a pretty normal Saturday. We have our usual Anchor prayer gathering, this afternoon at 4:45, followed by our worship gathering at 5:45. Christi will go do the grocery shopping in a bit, and I will stay here and help out with laundry and stuff. As of now, we have no plans for after our church time. Tomorrow, I think Rachel and Justin are coming over for lunch.

It was on this date in 1965 that a group of civil rights marchers was forcefully broken up in Selma, Alabama. The marchers were crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge, and found their way blocked by Alabama State Troopers, who demanded that they turn around. When they refused to turn around, the troopers shot tear gas into the crowd, and went through the group of non-violent protesters, beating them with billy clubs. Over fifty people were hospitalized. The event is now known as “Bloody Sunday.”

Today’s birthdays include Nicephore Niepce (inventor of photography), Maurice Ravel (composer), James Broderick (actor/Matthew’s father), Willard Scott (TV broadcaster), Michael Eisner (ex-Disney CEO), Tammy Fay Bakker (crook televangelist), Townes Van Zandt (singer/songwriter), John Heard (actor), Peter Wolf (J Geils Band), Matthew Fisher (Procol Harum), Ernie Isley (The Isley Brothers), Bryan Cranston (actor), Donna Murphy (singer/actress), Ivan Lendl (tennis player), Wanda Sykes (comedienne/actress), Rachel Weisz (actress), Peter Sarsgaard (actor), Jenna Fischer (actress), TJ Thyne (actor), Laura Prepon (actress), and Abigail and Brittany Hensel (conjoined twins).

Townes van Zandt was an American singer/songwriter, born on this date in 1944. He is probably most famous for his song, “Pancho and Lefty,” which was released on his 1792 album, The Late Great Townes van Zandt. The song was later recorded by Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard, and became a huge hit for them. Van Zandt passed away on January 1, 1997, following some strange and sketchy circumstances that began when he fell down the concrete steps outside his home and injured himself. According to wikipedia, his death came “forty-four years to the day after Hank Williams, one of his main songwriting influences.”

Here is Townes van Zandt, performing “Pancho and Lefty.”

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David. May the LORD answer you in the day of trouble! May the name of the God of Jacob protect you!
May he send you help from the sanctuary and give you support from Zion!
May he remember all your offerings and regard with favor your burnt sacrifices! Selah.
May he grant you your heart’s desire and fulfill all your plans!
May we shout for joy over your salvation, and in the name of our God set up our banners! May the LORD fulfill all your petitions!
Now I know that the LORD saves his anointed; he will answer him from his holy heaven with the saving might of his right hand.
Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.
They collapse and fall, but we rise and stand upright.
O LORD, save the king! May he answer us when we call.

Psalm 20

(From Solid Joys)

Today’s reading is “How Can I Be Filled With the Spirit?”

For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
Romans 15:4

Here is a verse that gives us an answer to the question in the title. Romans 15:4 gives us at least a partial reason of why the Scriptures exist; that through their encouragement, we might have hope. That is how Paul kept his heart full of hope. And, by meditating on those Scriptures, we can be filled with the full assurance of God.

“The full assurance of hope comes from meditating on the promises of God’s Word.” This doesn’t contradict what Paul says in Romans 15:13 (which happens to be my verse for 2015), which says, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” You see, we believe that the Holy Spirit is the author of all Scripture. So the way he fills us with hope is by “filling us with his own word of promise.”

“Hope is not some vague emotion that comes out of nowhere, like a stomachache.” This is true. We throw the word hope around so much that it loses its real meaning. “I hope I get that new joy.” “I hope that girl or boy will go out with me.” “I hope the Red Sox win the World Series this year.” “I hope the Yankees lose every game this year.”

Sorry . . . got side-tracked. (Forgive me, Cayman.)

Real hope is confidence. It is confidence that the life promised us by God, through the Word of the Spirit, will come to pass! “The way to have the power of the Spirit is to believe the promises of his Word.

“For it is the word of promise that fills us with hope, and hope fills us with joy, and joy overflows in the power and freedom to love our neighbor. And that is the fullness of the Holy Spirit.”

Thank you for your Word, Father, that you gave to us through the authorship of the Holy Spirit. I pray that you would cause me to devote more time to meditating on your Word, that I might be filled with hope through the power of the Spirit. Help to believe the promises of your Word. “I do believe! Help my unbelief!” Teach me your way, that I may walk in your truth. Unite my heart to fear your name! I pray for all of my brothers and sisters in Christ, that they, also, may be made to believe in your most precious promises, that we may all be filled with hope.

I pray for this day, that we would get everything done that needs to be done. I pray for Christi, as she continues to try to help her mother and step-dad through this trying time. I pray for their future, as they try to make decisions on how they need to live their lives. I pray for wisdom for all involved. I pray for Stephanie, as she is concerned about a very close friend of hers. May you intervene in this situation, for the best of all concerned. Also, I pray for wisdom and understanding for her, and that you would show your great love for her. Help us to all be more loving and less judgmental.

I pray for our prayer and worship gatherings this evening. May your kingdom come and your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. May your name be lifted high and glorified, as we continue to look into Colossians.

I pray for Brandon, as he apparently has been afflicted with gall stones.

Your grace is sufficient.

Are you short on hope today? Are you looking for the fullness of the Spirit? Try meditating on the promises that he has given us through his Word.

Grace and peace, friends.

Faith, Hope, and Love

Good morning. It is pre-Friday, May 1, 2014.

Today is School Principals’ Day. The principal is one of those roles that is often under-appreciated. After all, they always have to play the “bad cop” role, don’t they. Well, for all of the Schneiders in the world, happy Principals’ Day!


I’m going in to work at 7:00 this morning, so I don’t have a lot of time. I’m trying to knock this out in a short amount of time, so it may not be very deep.

Christi’s interview with BNSF went really well, yesterday. They are trying to get somebody in the position really fast (NOW they’re in a hurry?), so they even said that, if they do decided to hire her, they might want her to come in as a contract-to-hire position, so she can start sooner. They would do all the background and drug test and all that stuff during that period of time. She should know something pretty soon, based on what was said to her.

The interview with Etherios is this afternoon.


TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

(From The Divine Hours)

Know that the LORD, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Psalm 100:3
For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him.
Psalm 62:5
Your decrees are very trustworthy; holiness befits your house, O LORD, forevermore.
Psalm 93:5
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD! We bless you from the house of the LORD.
Psalm 118:26


Today’s reading in Reflections for Ragamuffins is “The Crucial Question.”

“‘What think you of Christ, whose son is he?’ is the crucial question of the gospel.” The answer is the purpose of the New Testament.

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
John 20:30-31

Jesus demanded faith, hope, and love in himself. He demanded faith when the disciples’ boat was storm-tossed. And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. (Matthew 8:26) He demanded hope in Mathew 11:28. Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. And he demanded that his disciples love him even more than their fathers and mothers! Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. (Matthew 10:37)

Whoever has my commandments and keeps them,
he it is who loves me.
And he who loves me will be loved by my Father,
and I will love him and manifest myself to him.

John 14:21


Father, I pray that, as I continue to grow in discipleship, that I will find myself having the basic faith, hope, and love in Christ Jesus. I pray that, though I love my wife dearly, I will not love her more than I love Jesus. May I not love anything more than him! Increase my faith; increase my hope; increase my love!

I pray for this day. I pray that Christi’s interview with Etherios will go well. But I pray even more that the BNSF opportunity would come through. There is a possibility that she could be working as soon as Monday! We are trying not to hope to much on this, but it is hard not to. I pray that everything will work out on this, but only if it is your will. That trumps everything. May your will come to pass, on earth as it is in heaven. I pray for Stephanie today, that she would be drawn closer to your heart and deeper into your love. Please give her wisdom and understanding. May my work day go smoothly today, and may we get caught up on the work, as we have been short-handed.

Your grace is sufficient.


Faith, hope, and love. Three words that figure heavily in 1 Corinthians 13. But also three things that our Savior demands from us.

Grace and peace, friends.

The Steadfast Love of the Lord

Good morning. It is Tuesday, July 3. Tomorrow, we stay home!! Huzzah!! Wow…today’s “holidays” are rather lame, in my opinion. We have a choice of “Eat Beans Day,” which probably isn’t going to happen, or “National Compliment Your Mirror Day.” “Hello, mirror! You’re doing a great job of reflecting!” No. I don’t think so. And I’m certainly not going to stand in front of the mirror admiring what I see in it. While I realize that I’ve made great progress in the last 5.5 months, I’m simply not that vain.

On this date in 1863, the Battle of Gettysburg ended. On this date in 1981, “Back to the Future” was released. And that photo that made the rounds last week, stating that June 27, 2012 was the date set in the time-traveling DeLorean was a hoax. Check out this article. On this date in 1969, Rolling stones Guitarist Brian Jones was found dead from accidental drowning. On this same date in 1971, Jim Morrison died of heart failure in a Paris bathtub. Both of them were 27 when they died. What’s with rock stars and 27?


Christi thinks she is feeling a little better this morning, but is still very weak-feeling. She’s up and getting ready for work. Prayers for her day would be greatly appreciated. We are definitely looking forward to tomorrow, an oasis of non-work in the middle of the week. Also, if you’re a praying person, please lift up the youth group from our church, The Exchange, as they are in Falls Creek, Oklahoma, for youth camp.


Father, I pray for some vision of you this morning that will keep me focused during this day.


Today, I’m reading Psalm 33. This one begins with a shout of praise.
Shout for joy in the LORD, O you righteous!
Praise befits the upright.
Give thanks to the LORD with the lyre;
make melody to him with the harp of ten strings!
Sing to him a new song;
play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts.
(1-3)

If I live to be 199, I will never comprehend how anyone can read that and not think we should use instruments in the worship of the Lord.

For the word of the LORD is upright, and all his work is done in faithfulness.
He loves righteousness and justice;
the earth is full of the steadfast love of the LORD.
(4-5)

Evil as it seems, the earth is full of God’s love. One only has to have eyes to see it.
The Psalm closes out with hope.
Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear him,
on those who hope in his steadfast love,
that he may deliver their soul from death and keep them alive in famine.
Our soul waits for the LORD;
he is our help and our shield.
For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name.
Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us,
even as we hope in you.
(18-22)


My Utmost For His Highest

And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” Isaiah 6:5

When I get into the presence of God, I realize more than just the fact that I am a sinner. When I am in the presence of God, I sense the concentration of my sin in a certain area. “There is never any vague sense of sin, but the concentration of sin in some personal particular.” He will convict us, by the Spirit, of the one thing that is fixed in our mind, in our heart, that sin which “clings so closely” (Hebrews 12:1). For Isaiah, he immediately focused on his “unclean lips.” What did God do? He sent one of the cherubim to lay a burning hot coal on Isaiah’s lips to purge his sin. “The cleansing had to be applied where the sin had been concentrated.”
Dare we pray for this revelation? I promise you…it’s painful. Can you imagine the pain of a searing hot coal placed on your lips? I believe that God tells us through this that we will not be cleansed without some hurt. He will show us the sin, but it will not be pleasant. At first we will want to resist, because the flesh is strong! But if we allow the Spirit to have free reign, God will cleans, and then we can move on to the next thing.

This is important to me in the matter of prayer. If I am to be a “prayer warrior” (which I am still not), then I must come to grips with any sin that God reveals to me. I must walk in the Spirit; allow the Spirit to have free reign in my life. This is my heart’s desire.


Father, it is my desire to worship you with my whole heart. I want to be obedient to the command that Jesus said was the most important, to love you with all of my heart, soul, mind, and strength. And then I want to be able to turn this outward to love my neighbor as myself. Yet I find that I am tripped up daily in both endeavors. Though I am officially a “saint,” by the blood of the Lamb and the power of your Spirit, I am also a sinner. I pray that you would, by your Spirit, show me my sin, before it happens! I would ask that you would prevent me from sin, Lord. Prevent me by reminding me, convicting me, beforehand. Cleanse my mind from evil thoughts. Cleanse my heart so that all I care about is serving you. This does not mean that I will not care about doing my job or loving my family, because doing both of these things well serves you in the highest way possible. These are the things that you have given me to do in my life.
Lord, you have placed me where you have placed me for a reason. It is not necessary that I know all the reasons. It is only necessary that I acknowledge that I am right where you want me, and that I must follow your leadership. You are leading me down a path of prayer, specifically of intercessory prayer. I stumble at every step, it seems. Just yesterday, I had every intention of praying for our youth at 11am on the dot, because that’s when they were leaving for camp. It wasn’t until I was on my way home from work that I realized that I had forgotten to do this. I take that back…I was actually on the way to the gym with Stephanie when I remembered. But at that point, Steph and I joined hands (I kept one on the wheel) and prayed for the youth, hoping that they had arrived safely to the camp. My heart still has a long way to go for this ministry, Lord, but I pray that your Spirit will keep chiseling away at the impurities that clutter me. Yes it’s painful; yes it hurts, but I don’t care! I am nothing. As I’ve noted before, I am not second, I am last. This is not self-deprecation; this is reality; this is being completely comfortable with and acknowledging my place in your work, in your kingdom. Without you, I am nothing.

I see that the earth is full of your steadfast love, Father! It is so easy to see all the negative, and I have been very guilty of this for a long time. I believe that it is possible to acknowledge the failures of society and the wickedness of men, but see your love in the earth at the same time. I have been too cynical for too long. Turn me around, Lord. Make me a blessing!

I pray for this day, Lord. I pray that Christi will feel better today. I pray for your healing hand to rest upon her today, as you empower her with your Spirit that resides within her. Make her aware of your presence today, teaching her to draw on your infinite supply of grace and mercy during her work day. She is a blessing, Lord, both to me and others around her. I pray you heal her today from this infection. I also pray for Stephanie today, that you would make her aware of your presence and love in her life. I pray that you would inspire her to read some from your Word today and to draw from your grace. You have blessed me at work these last few days. I pray that this would continue. I also pray that you would make me a blessing to the people I encounter today.

I will continue to pray for Bart and Summer as they continue to recover from their surgeries. May you bring them back to full health quickly. I pray that this surgery that Bart had has fixed his issue completely, that it will not return again. I also continue to pray for Jeremy and his job situation, that you would intervene, both in his heart and in the heart of his boss. I also continue to pray for our friend, Susie, in her health and fitness goals. Help her to stay focused and committed to them.

I pray for our youth today. I pray that their week at camp will be marked by how much they feel your presence in their spirits. Yes, I pray that they have fun. But more importantly, I pray that they see you and see you in power and glory. I pray that they will experience you in such a way that will change their lives forever. I don’t pray that they will all be called to be pastors or missionaries. What you want to do with them is your business. What I do pray is that, in whatever you give them to do with their lives, you lead them and inspire them to do it to your glory, with all of their might, looking to your face to live, and drawing from that eternal fountain of grace that dwells within you. I also lift up Zach Schroeder and any others who have gone with him to be sponsors and counselors at this camp. Fill them with your spirit, Lord!

I pray for the leadership at The Exchange. Guide them by your Spirit, Lord, showing them the direction that you want the church to go. I pray that you would give our church a building to call home. While that may not be our most important need, I believe that it would give us a better face in the community.

Your grace is sufficient, Lord.


May the steadfast love of the Lord shine on your life today.

Grace and peace, friends.

Jars of Clay

It’s going to be a busy Saturday, I think. The first thing we have to do this morning is go look at the proofs from Stephanie’s senior pictures that were taken a couple weeks ago. It could be expensive. Or not, because if she keeps acting the way she woke up this morning, I’m not going to buy ANY of them.

Yesterday was a tiring day, but we got through it. Christi worked more at her mother’s new place, along with Stephanie and Jennifer (Jennifer is Christi’s niece). Christi got home a little earlier then previous nights, but she could hardly walk, so we just had food delivered to us, and watched both of this week’s episodes of “So You Think You Can Dance.”

In baseball yesterday, it was another pretty good day. The Red Sox pounded the O’s again, both in the score and on the field. It seems that O’s pitcher, Gregg, said something rude to Big Papi, which caused him to charge the mound, as he did the obligatory trot to first base, after hitting a pop fly. Gregg had already been ejected from the game before Papi got to him. A bench-clearing brawl ensued. My initial opinion is that Gregg is an idiot. The O’s are a horrible team this year, and they just need to get over it. Gregg had already thrown three straight pitches that almost hit Ortiz. Sox won 10-3. The Rangers also won, beating the A’s 8-5. The Grumpy Old Men got rained out in New York, so the Sox gained another half game on them, to be a full game in first place. Kevin Youkillis did not hit a home run yesterday. Today, I’ll try Adrian Beltre. Beltre, of course, hit a home run yesterday. Which counts as a hit, so my hit streak is now up to five! I’ll just go ahead and keep him for today, too.

Today’s album that I’m ripping to digital is:

More eighties Christian pop. Not surprisingly, I don’t remember a single track off of this one.

On to the Bible readings…



Today’s Bible readings from Discovering the Bible:
2 Corinthians 4
1 Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. 2 But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. 3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing. 4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

This is interesting. Verse 2 is sobering. I find it very disturbing that many of our modern churches have gone directly against this verse by practicing “cunning” or tampering with God’s word. Instead of using “the open statement of the truth,” they have devised clever, man-made schemes to get people to attend their churches. Not, mind you, to bring them to salvation. Rather, to get their numbers up! Call my cynical if you want, but I have observed so many marketing schemes put on by churches that I am sickened by them. Paul has told us in Romans that the GOSPEL is the power of God for salvation. You want to see people saved? All you have to do is preach the plain and simple GOSPEL! You don’t have to use cunning. You don’t have to use trickery. And you certainly don’t need to try to look just like the world!
Note the reason for the gospel not being understood. In verse four, Paul says that the “god of this world” has blinded the eyes of those who already don’t believe, so that they cannot see the truth of the gospel. Now, if Satan (that’s who the “god of this world” is) has blinded your eyes, the only one who can “unblind” them is God, by the power of the Holy Spirit. Why did those of us who believe become believers? Verse 6 tells us. Because God “shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” That is the only reason! Hallelujah!!

7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. 8 We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. 11 For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 12 So death is at work in us, but life in you.
13 Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, “I believed, and so I spoke,” we also believe, and so we also speak, 14 knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. 15 For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.
16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

This passage is full of hope, though it might not seem so at first. Paul begins by telling us that we have this “treasure” (what is the treasure? It is the gospel..the light of Jesus Christ) in “jars of clay.” That means that this light we hold, this truth of Jesus Christ, is housed in frail flesh that is slowly decaying over time. My body is a “jar of clay.” The reason for this is so that we can clearly see that the glory belongs to God and not to us! In the next few verses, Paul describes some afflictions, but declares that they do not have ultimate power over us! We have hope, because we know that, even though this body is decaying, and will die, the Lord, who raised Jesus from the dead, will also raise us! Our flesh is dying, but our spirit is being renewed, daily. More Hallelujahs!

Hosea 1-3
Well, that’s a jump…from 2 Chronicles 24 to Hosea…

In chapter 1, God tells Hosea to “Go, take to yourself a wife of whoredom and have children of whoredom, for the land commits great whoredom by forsaking the LORD.” (v. 2) I think it’s hilarious when people like Addington try to rationalize this and say that “Although several possibilities can explain this relationship, the most likely is that Gomer was not adulterous when they were married.” Really, Gordon??? Because that’s NOT what the Bible says! It disgusts me when people try to re-write the Scriptures because God’s commands don’t fit into their nice, neat little boxes. Once again I will quote Joel Engle, who said multiple times in a message, “DON’T PUT GOD IN A BOX!!” God was trying to prove a point here. To illustrate the extreme unfaithfulness of Israel, he had Hosea go marry a prostitute. She didn’t become a prostitute LATER! Bottom line…plain and simple…God told Hosea to marry a WHORE! What we have to remember is something that was stated in one of the Psalms I read a couple days ago. God does whatever he pleases. We stupid humans have to accept that. When we get all “high and mighty” and decide for ourselves what God can and can’t do, or what God will and won’t do, we come dangerously close to committing heresy.
Chapter 2 is filled with prophecy about Israel and her unfaithfulness. One greatly abused verse is verse 6, which says, Therefore I will hedge up her way with thorns, and I will build a wall against her, so that she cannot find her paths. Time and time again, I have heard Christians pray a “hedge of protection” around a loved one. That’s all well and good, but there are some implications there that aren’t pretty. This “hedge” was placed by God to keep Israel from prostituting herself. It’s very dangerous to take a verse out of context, so before you go praying a “hedge of protection” around someone…are they getting ready to start playing the whore?
God’s redemption of Israel (and of us, for that matter) is beautifully illustrated in this book. In chapter 3, Hosea actually has to go BUY his wife. He pays for her. Is that not what God has done for us? I truly believe that to try to explain away the ugliness of this story cheapens the work that God did in our lives.

Psalm 137
1 By the waters of Babylon, there we sat down and wept, when we remembered Zion.
2 On the willows there we hung up our lyres.
3 For there our captors required of us songs, and our tormentors, mirth, saying, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”
4 How shall we sing the LORD’s song in a foreign land?
5 If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its skill!
6 Let my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth, if I do not remember you, if I do not set Jerusalem above my highest joy!
7 Remember, O LORD, against the Edomites the day of Jerusalem, how they said, “Lay it bare, lay it bare, down to its foundations!”
8 O daughter of Babylon, doomed to be destroyed, blessed shall he be who repays you with what you have done to us!
9 Blessed shall he be who takes your little ones and dashes them against the rock!

Yes, this Psalm is rather depressing. The only true hope in this one is the determination to remember Jerusalem, no matter how bad the circumstances got.


Lord, may I never forget you, even if I am someday taken captive and drug off to a foreign land. Even in the most adverse circumstances, may I not forget you or my home land, which is not here, but heaven.

Lord, I have not allowed myself sufficient time this morning to pray enough. Forgive me this, as I have to go do things now. I pray that this day will get better than it started. Let us have a good day today, without stress, and let us get things accomplished that need doing.


Remember the hope. These bodies are perishing, but our spirits will live!

Grace and peace, friends!