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!

Benefits

Today is Wednesday, the twelfth of never May, 2021, in the sixth week of Easter.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,071

Eight days until our Glen Rose weekend!

We had an unfortunate occurrence, yesterday evening. I got home from work and went to take my shower. I had recently been kind of vacillating between morning and evening showers. It’s a good thing, in retrospect, that I chose to shower yesterday evening.

Because I discovered that our hot water heater was leaking. My shower never got very warm at all. There was barely enough warm water to make it bearable. C got home while I was investigating, and we managed to get the water supply to the tank turned off, so it would stop leaking, and then she vacuumed up the water around the area where the tank is.

We also made sure to clear an accessible path to the thing, so that when we finally get someone scheduled to replace it, they will be able to get to it. Yes, we are those kind of people. The garage doesn’t hold cars, it holds junk. Go ahead and judge, I don’t care.

C is already planning to work from home tomorrow, because the pool guy is scheduled to come start work on our pool equipment, so she will try to set something up for the hot water heater tomorrow, as well. The expense will not hurt us, it’s just a minor inconvenience to deal with. I don’t see this being related to Snovid-21, as the heater is gas, so it was working the entire time the electricity was off, back in February. More than likely, it is related to the fact that it is the original hot water heater for this house, which was built in 1999. So it’s almost 22 years old.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

O, my Jesus, help me.

Thank you for your humbleness;
help me be humble.
Thank you for your forgiveness;
help me forgive.
Thank you for your mercy;
help me be merciful.
Thank you for your compassion;
help me be compassionate.
Thank you for your kindness;
help me be kind.
Thank you for your joy;
help me be joyful.
Thank you for your love;
help me love.
(Daryl Madden, On a Bench of Wood: Reflections of God's Grace)

But I will give repeated thanks to the LORD, praising him to everyone. For he stands beside the needy, ready to save them from those who condemn them.
(Psalms 109:30-31 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

  • for Your ability to make me humble, forgiving, merciful, compassionate, kind, joyful, and loving
  • for Your Holy Spirit, and the promise of filling
  • for all Your benefits; bless the Lord, O my soul!
  • for Your great care for us, and the constant encouragement to be not afraid
  • for the Gospel, that Your Kingdom is here, now

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

EASTER – DAY 39

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, now, to quietly consider humility, forgiveness, mercy, compassion, kindness, joy, and love. O, Jesus, fill me today.

BIBLE SONG

Of David.

Praise the LORD, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the LORD, my soul, and forget not all his benefits— who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
(Psalms 103:1-5 NIV)

The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.
(Psalms 103:8 NIV)

As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him;
(Psalms 103:13 NIV)

BIBLE READING

He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”
Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”
When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.
(Luke 24:44-53 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I read these passages again, I linger over any words or phrases to which the Spirit draws me, pondering and meditating on what connects with my soul.

Psalm 103 is a favorite of many, especially those early verses. The benefits of God . . . we are encouraged to not forget them. Also, there is the thought of speaking to my own soul. “Bless the Lord, my soul!”

There is a current trend of positive self-talk; speaking positive things to oneself. But it is, as we can see here, not new at all. The writer of Ecclesiastes tells us that there is nothing new under the sun. And David encouraged us, centuries ago, to speak to our own souls and tell our souls to remember the benefits of God. He then proceeds to list some of them.

I think it is no mistake that David lists forgiveness of sins first. If we didn’t have that, nothing else would matter, right? But he goes on. He heals our diseases, redeems our lives from the pit, and satisfies our desires, but with what? GOOD THINGS!

The other two verses from today’s segment speak of the Lord’s compassion on us, which is something definitely worthy of our meditation. If not for His compassion, we would surely perish.

After this psalm, we are treated to a glorious picture of Jesus’s ascension, which is too often neglected in our evangelical churches. I just looked it up, and Ascension Day just happens to be tomorrow. So we will talk a bit more about that tomorrow. Unless, of course, I forget.

I think it is noteworthy, though, that, after watching Him ascend, Jesus’s followers returned to Jerusalem “with great joy,” and “stayed continually at the temple, praising God.”

Father, thank You for all Your benefits to my soul and body. Help me to remember and reflect on those benefits, today. Also keep those characteristics mentioned at the top in the front of my mind and spirit today: humility, forgiveness, mercy, compassion, kindness, joy, and love. Fill me with all of those things today, as I walk through this day in Your Kingdom.

Sending God,
how can I possibly represent you to a watching world?
Let me start right here,
on my knees,
seeking the power that comes from on high.
May your Spirit move me toward the world you love.
Amen.
Heidelberg Catechism 117)

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)

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.”
(Matthew 10:29 NIV)

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

“That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?”
(Matthew 6:25-27 NLT)

Dear brothers and sisters, be patient as you wait for the Lord’s return. Consider the farmers who patiently wait for the rains in the fall and in the spring. They eagerly look for the valuable harvest to ripen. You, too, must be patient. Take courage, for the coming of the Lord is near.
(James 5:7-8 NLT)

Good advice from Scripture, this morning. And I believe that we handled last night’s “disaster” quite well. We didn’t panic. We didn’t, and are not, this morning, stress out. It’s just a thing. Remember?

“Footstool problems.”

The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is upon me, for the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed.
(Isaiah 61:1 NLT)

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

Lord, make my feet beautiful today. Help me to bring good news to the poor, comfort to the brokenhearted, and to proclaim the deliverance of captives and prisoners. Thank You for Your care and compassion for us, and remind me of this throughout the day, especially when I begin to get stressed over work issues, because that will certainly happen. All glory to You, Lord!

Today, Lord, I lift up all governments, world leaders, and the many, many needs of our world. Taken all together, they are overwhelming to me, but not to You. I also pray specifically for the continent of Australia, today, that Your presence, grace, and mercy would be felt there. May You also be close to those suffering from HIV/AIDS, today, bringing Your healing presence to their bodies and souls.

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)

Hasad veshlom, friends!