His Love Endures Forever

Good morning. Today is Saturday, the twentieth of November, 2021.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,263

Five days until Thanksgiving.

Of course, we will be having a sort of “Thanksgiving” today, with R & J, up here in Indy.

This is our last full day in Indy, as we must fly home tomorrow. Our flight tomorrow leaves at around 2:20 PM, I think.

Yesterday was a great day, as well. Even with it being interrupted by having to exchange our rental car.

We had a great breakfast at Lincoln Square, in the Irvington community of Indy. The food was delicious. The coffee was only okay. But the food was amazing. I’m going to lobby for having breakfast there again, tomorrow, before we head back to the airport.

After breakfast, we walked around the area for a bit, and wound up looking at a couple of shops. Both were just an assortment of stuff, gift shops, I suppose. S found a journal that she wanted in the first one. The second one was much more “local,” and had a lot of neat stuff in it. We found a nice gift for Mama in there, and I bought a little rock. Yes, a rock. I like having a small stone in my pocket. The last one I had, which I found up in Broken Bow, OK, fell on the floor at my last job, and broke in half. This one is a small Lapis Lazuli stone.

Stones such as this are said to have special properties or “powers.” I don’t know about that, but Lapis is supposed to increase creativity, so I figured, why not, right? Plus they are pretty. It’s also supposed to connect me with “cosmic wisdom,” whatever that is.

After that, we ventured back through the back part of that store, where we found a charming little book/record store. It’s a good thing we are flying on this trip, not driving. I probably would have wound up with at least a handful of used records.

The exchange of the rental car was relatively painless. We were helped by a couple of very friendly folks, though, who made it good for us. I wish I had gotten their names. I will say that we rented from Dollar, and were helped at a counter where Dollar, Thrifty, and Hertz were all represented. We even got an upgrade for our inconvenience. We are now driving a Toyota Highlander, a full-size SUV. And it has more of the features that my personal car has, including push-button start and automatic headlights. Plus, it seats seven, so we can pick up R & J, this morning, and all fit comfortably.

Our meetup with our old friends, Mike and Kay, went great, last night! We met at Edwards’ Drive-In, and had a nice dinner. I had the grilled pork tenderloin, because I hear that you must have one of those when you visit Indy. It was okay, and the fries were okay. C said her burger was good, but felt like her quarter pounder at Mickey D’s was better. I had some of their chili which, not surprisingly, had spaghetti on the bottom. Yes, they do that up in these parts. The best part, for me, was the root beer in the frosty mug. Yum. Actually, the best part was catching up with people we haven’t seen in thirty-plus years. It was wonderful to see them, and didn’t seem awkward at all.

Today, we are returning to Yats for lunch. We will be picking up R & J and heading over there at noon, when they open for lunch. Incidentally, Mike and Kay both agreed that that was an excellent choice. I plan to have the Chili Cheese Etouffee again, along with, hopefully, the Chipotle Alexio, which they were out of Wednesday night.

Not sure what is happening after that. There is talk of a Children’s Museum in the area that is nice and fun. Then, for dinner, we plan to have City BBQ deliver food to R’s house. That’s what we are calling “Thanksgiving.” I’m not sure what we will order, but I’m thinking the thing they call “The Motherload” would be sufficient. Another option might be several of the City Samplers, which include four meats and a couple of sides. The Motherload has pretty much all the meats and six sides, and some bread. But we will decide all that later.

It has been a wonderful time, and I will be leaving Indianapolis with some good feelings about my first visit, and no hesitations about returning, as we will, no doubt do, probably at least once a year.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

"O Lord,
you have mercy on all.
Take away my sins,
and mercifully kindle in me
the fire of your Holy Spirit.
Take away my heart of stone
and give me a heart of flesh,
a heart to love and adore you,
a heart to delight in you,
to follow and to enjoy you, for Christ’s sake.
Amen."
(Prayer for A Renewed Heart, St. Ambrose)

The LORD is my strength and my song,
and he has become my salvation;
this is my God,
and I will praise him,
my father’s God,
and I will exalt him.
(Exodus 15:2 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that You are my God, the God of my father and mother, and of my ancestors, and that You have placed it in my heart to praise You
2. for the privilege and responsibility of prayer; may I be faithful in that
3. for Jesus Christ, the Way, the Truth, and the Life
4. that Your love endures forever
5. that it has pleased You to bless my household

to the praise of his glorious grace,
with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.
(Ephesians 1:6 ESV)

And whatever you do,
in word or deed,
do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus,
giving thanks to God the Father through him.
(Colossians 3:17 ESV)

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TWENTY-SIX – DAY SEVEN

INVITATION

Your righteousness also, God,
reaches to the heavens;
you have done great things.
God, who is like you?
(Psalms 71:19 WEB)

As I pause during this quiet moment, I consider the truth that there is no one like You, God. No one, nothing, You are completely and utterly unique; You are “Other.” I am, at my most base essence, completely unworthy and unable to interact with You. I give You thanks for the gift of Jesus, which makes me worthy and able.

BIBLE SONG

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords:
His love endures forever.
to him who alone does great wonders,
His love endures forever.
(Psalms 136:1-4 NIV)

He remembered us in our low estate
His love endures forever.
and freed us from our enemies.
His love endures forever.
He gives food to every creature.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of heaven.
His love endures forever.
(Psalms 136:23-26 NIV)

BIBLE READING

“The days are coming,” declares the LORD,
“when I will make a new covenant
with the people of Israel
and with the people of Judah.
It will not be like the covenant
I made with their ancestors
when I took them by the hand
to lead them out of Egypt,
because they broke my covenant,
though I was a husband to them,”
declares the LORD.
“This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the LORD.
“I will put my law in their minds
and write it on their hearts.
I will be their God,
and they will be my people.
No longer will they teach their neighbor,
or say to one another, ‘Know the LORD,’
because they will all know me,
from the least of them to the greatest,”
declares the LORD.
“For I will forgive their wickedness
and will remember their sins no more.”
(Jeremiah 31:31-34 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I read these passages again, slowly, I look for words or phrases that catch my eye or move my heart. I linger over those, repeating them, and I pray my thoughts and meditations to the Father, enjoying his presence in this place.

There is an evident theme to the antiphonal Psalm 136. At least it appears to be of an antiphonal nature, what we called “responsive readings” when I was a child, growing up in a Southern Baptist church. I always liked when we did those readings, and still feel like they weren’t often enough.

In this one, the theme, the repeated line, is “His love endures forever.” Is it strange that we need to be so constantly reminded of this truth? But here, we have it repeated twenty-six times (if you read the entire psalm).

His love endures forever.

This truth is further established by the covenant made between the Lord and His people. We see a bit of this in Jeremiah. The Lord establishes a “new covenant” with the people of Israel. “I will put my law within them—write it on their hearts!—and be their God. And they will be my people. They will no longer go around setting up schools to teach each other about GOD. They’ll know me firsthand, the dull and the bright, the smart and the slow. I’ll wipe the slate clean for each of them. I’ll forget they ever sinned!” (vv. 33-34, The Message)

His love endures foverer.

Just like the most-often-repeated “command” in Scripture, which is a variety of “do not fear,” we see this truth repeated often, as well. The more something is repeated, the more important it is, the more sure it is.

His love endures forever. We cannot escape His love; we cannot lose His love; we cannot increase or decrease His love. It is steadfast, it is sure; it endures forever.

Father, I cannot adequately express my gratitude for Your love. Beyond the fact that it endures forever, it is strong and powerful. I cannot even begin to comprehend it. As the psalmist said in Psalm 139, such knowledge is too wonderful for me, I cannot attain it. Your love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens, Your faithfulness stretches to the skies, Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, and Your justice rolls like the ocean’s tide. As Third Day, sang, “I will lift my voice to worship You, my King.” I will celebrate Your love, that endures forever, and nothing can take this away from me. I praise You that there is nothing that I can do to either increase or decrease Your love for me, and I most certainly cannot lose this love. May it rain down on me today, and may it permeate everything I do today.

I pray, Lord, that Your Church would experience unity and holiness, and that this enduring-forever love would flow between us all, shutting out all competing entities.

"Covenanting God,
You are my God and I belong to You,
bound to You through the grace of Jesus.
Set me free in Jesus Christ to live in grateful obedience,
not from threat of punishment or persistent nagging but because Your will is imprinted on my heart.
Lord,
You have my heart;
I am Yours because You have given Yourself to me.
Amen."

BLESSING

Now therefore let it please you to bless the house of your servant,
that it may continue forever before you;
for you, Lord Yahweh,
have spoken it.
Let the house of your servant be blessed forever with your blessing.”
(2 Samuel 7:29 WEB)


Father, during these days, I am torn between remaining ignorant of current events, and struggling to be aware of them and dealing with the vitriol that is spewed from both sides of every issue. Give me wisdom, as I navigate these times, and help me above all, to show love to all, as much as is possible, and as much as it is up to me.

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.

Transformation

Today is Tuesday, the sixteenth of November, 2021.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,259

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

Tomorrow, we fly to Indianapolis!

We have firmed up some plans for the week. Thursday, we are all going to the Nine Lives Cat Café, where we will partake in libations in the presence of vibrating, furry creatures. They have such things as an Apple Crisp Latte, Salted Caramel Truffle Latte, and Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate. I’m thinking that we will definitely be having some hot chocolate weather up there while we are there. They have a thing called “Ed’s Daily Special,” which consists of “Medium roast cat-sized pourover coffee and a blueberry muffin.”

I’m pretty sure I don’t need a “cat-sized” coffee. They also have breakfast burritos, cupcakes, macarons, salted chocolate chip cookies, peanut butter chocolate chip cookies . . . oh, my. I also see this thing called “Café Meow,” which is described as a “honey & cinnamon latte.” I’m really looking forward to this.

After that, we plan to go to an escape room (we will be dropping S off back at one of our houses before that), where we will, hopefully escape. We had to sign waivers, in case we don’t, I guess. I’m not sure what the theme of this escape will be.

We plan to have a Thanksgiving-ish meal on Friday or Saturday, and maybe go to the zoo on whichever day we don’t do the meal. And then, we plan a brunch on Sunday, before heading back to the airport to come home.

We have some good friends who will be watching over our vibrating creatures while we are gone. I think they know something is up (they always do), because Rocky won’t stay off of my study desk, this morning. We haven’t even brought in a suitcase, yet.

After I finish this, I will be going back up to Kohl’s (I went there yesterday and got me some “Cuddl Duds” PJs, which are very comfy, and some towels) to exchange the towels because the color doesn’t quite match our bathroom. I got some that appeared to be burgundy, but at home, in the bathroom, they appear more purple. C likes the color, but they simply do not match the color scheme of the bathroom, which is two shades of green and brown. The store did not have stock of towels in the dark green, and I didn’t think to look for brown. So I will be looking for dark brown, or perhaps, an other shade of green. And C wants some Cuddl Duds, as well, so I will be looking for those in the women’s area.

C is not working from home, today. There is a meeting that she needs to attend in person. I will be picking up Subway for lunch, for me and S, and C asked me to get her a salad for dinner, to put in the fridge. I will be working at the library this evening, 4:15-8:15.

As for blog entries, the rest of the week, I’m taking a laptop and my devotional books with me on the trip. Tomorrow, I’ll have to make sure and get up early, because we will need to be at the airport by around 8:30, as our flight leaves at around 10:30.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

And they sang a new song, saying,
“Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals,
for you were slain,
and by your blood you ransomed people for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation,
and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God,
and they shall reign on the earth.”
(Revelation 5:9-10 ESV)

And after he had taken leave of them,
he went up on the mountain to pray.
(Mark 6:46 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the examples we have of Jesus praying
2. for the "new song" sung in Revelation
3. for the reality of true transformation, by the power of Your Spirit
4. for the reality of You dwelling among us
5. that You are equipping us with everything good, that we might do Your will

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TWENTY-SIX – DAY THREE

INVITATION

Your righteousness, O God,
reaches the high heavens.
You who have done great things, O God,
who is like you?
(Psalms 71:19 ESV)

I pause for a moment, during the quietness of this hour, to consider the prayer habits of our Savior, with hopes and desires of mimicking His example.

BIBLE SONG

He swore an oath to the LORD,
he made a vow to the Mighty One of Jacob:
“I will not enter my house or go to my bed,
I will allow no sleep to my eyes or slumber to my eyelids,
till I find a place for the LORD,
a dwelling for the Mighty One of Jacob.”
(Psalms 132:2-5 NIV)

For the LORD has chosen Zion,
he has desired it for his dwelling, saying,
“This is my resting place for ever and ever;
here I will sit enthroned, for I have desired it.
I will bless her with abundant provisions;
her poor I will satisfy with food.
I will clothe her priests with salvation,
and her faithful people will ever sing for joy.”
(Psalms 132:13-16 NIV)

BIBLE READING

What will you say when the LORD sets over you
those you cultivated as your special allies?
Will not pain grip you
like that of a woman in labor?
And if you ask yourself,
“Why has this happened to me?”—
it is because of your many sins
that your skirts have been torn off
and your body mistreated.
Can an Ethiopian change his skin
or a leopard its spots?
Neither can you do good
who are accustomed to doing evil.

“I will scatter you like chaff
driven by the desert wind.
This is your lot,
the portion I have decreed for you,”
declares the LORD,
“because you have forgotten me
and trusted in false gods.
(Jeremiah 13:21-25 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I leisurely read these passages again, I seek words or phrases that stir within me. I linger over them, giving them my full (hopefully) attention. Perhaps there is something within that I need to ask the Lord, seeking what application there is to my life today.

While not written by David, Psalm 132, one of the longest of the songs of ascents, is about David. It is declared that Zion will be the resting place of the Almighty. Zion is known as the “city of God,” and is, throughout Scripture, Jerusalem. At some point in Revelation, the “new Jerusalem” is seen coming down from the heavens to be established on the “new earth.”

I’ll be totally honest, here. I am not nearly wise enough to be able to comprehend all of this and make all the necessary connections. But I do know that the Lord promises provision and blessing for all the inhabitants of His Holy City. And that’s enough for me.

As I reread the Jeremiah passage, I note how important it is to get the words in the right order! Truthfully, the first couple of times I read this, my brain saw, “What will you say when the LORD sets you over those . . .” Silly brain. That’s not right, at all. It says, “when the LORD sets over you those . . .” NOW it makes sense!

*facepalm*

Unpleasant things happen when we trust in false gods. That’s a very simplistic version of what is said in Jeremiah. Even to the point that allies become rulers. There may not even be any hostility involved, but it is said that this is what happens, and it’s because of your sin.

Verse 23 is key, here. A leopard can’t change its spots. We cannot (at least not naturally) change the color of our skin. And even if we can change the exterior color of our skin (some of us can get really dark tans), it doesn’t change the essence of who we are. The point is continued in the second half of the verse. “Neither can you do good who are accustomed to doing evil.”

People don’t change. People CAN’T change. Nowhere is this truth more clear than in cases of domestic abuse.

Only Jesus, by the Holy Spirit can change people. One of the key things that Dallas Willard said was that true transformation IS possible. But we cannot do it alone, nor can we do it in our own strength. I’m still the same person I was forty years ago. But within me, the power of the Gospel, via the Holy Spirit, has wrought a measure of transformation. It is not complete yet, and sometimes, the old me still surfaces, way more than I would like it to. The transformation will be complete when I step over to the other side, into another plane of existence, to meet my Savior face to face.

Until then, though, I must grapple with this mortal coil, this body of flesh, about which Paul the Apostle cries,

What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?
(Romans 7:24 NIV)

Of course, Paul also immediately gives the answer, which I have already given:

Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!
(Romans 7:25 NIV)

Father, I praise You for the possibility and reality of transformation in Jesus Christ. I recognize that I cannot change anything on my own. We don’t change. Left to our own devices, we will remain as we are . . . perhaps getting worse and worse over time. The phrase, “there, but for the grace of God, go I” is an accurate assessment of our lives. I see and hear about violent and horrible crimes and, unlike a lot of people who think they are better than they really are, I recognize that, yes, I am capable of such heinous deeds. Without You, I would be evil; I would be hedonistic. If I did not believe in You, I would live life for every possible pleasure I could find, and frankly, I wonder why anyone who considers themselves and atheist does not do the same. If it were not for You, what would there be to live for? Why do anything good or helpful for anyone? But I do believe in You, even though I may not always act like it. I trust in You, as I trust in Christ for my life and the Holy Spirit for my sanctification and godliness.

You say Your dwelling is in Zion forever more. You also say that Your dwelling will be with people, and that You will dwell within us, via Your Holy Spirit. This causes questions in my mind, which I don’t want to get into right this minute, but You know them, and You know that they will be going through my mind more, during this day and going forward. Help me to understand Your Word, and what it means. Some of these things are deeper than others, and I know that, when the time is right, You will reveal them to me, even if that time doesn’t come until I see Your Face. All glory to You, through the Son and by the Spirit.

"Confronting God,
things are far worse than I dare imagine:
I have traded honor for a curse,
lent my ear to the word of the devil instead of listening to Your Word of life.
Light has turned to dark because I have put my heart's confidence in counterfeit gods and forgotten You. 
In Your mercy, 
because of Jesus Christ,
remember my sin no more.
Amen."

And while there is truth in that prayer, it is also wise to remember that things are also far better than we ever imagined, within the kingdom of our Father.

BLESSING

Now therefore may it please you to bless
the house of your servant,
so that it may continue forever before you.
For you, O Lord GOD,
have spoken,
and with your blessing shall the house of your servant
be blessed forever.”
(2 Samuel 7:29 ESV)


You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat.
(Romans 14:10 NIV)

No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.
(1 Corinthians 10:24 NIV)

Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister or judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?
(James 4:11-12 NIV)

Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. For, “Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech. They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”
(1 Peter 3:8-12 NIV)

We cannot possibly overemphasize the truths in the above Scriptures. I, along with all the saints, simply must heed these commands.


Father, please work within the spirits of Your people, all of us, that we might stop the judging; that we might stop seeking our own good and begin (or continue, in some cases) to seek the good of all people around us, within the parameters, of course, of Your Word and Your commands. Help us to love one another; help us to love our neighbors; and, above all, help us to truly love You.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.
(Hebrews 13:20-21 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

The Ancient Paths

Good morning. Today is Monday, the fifteenth of November, 2021.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,258

Two days until we fly to Indianapolis!

C and I had a nice time, yesterday afternoon. Right after our church gathering, we headed out to go to Macy’s to see if we could find the two shirts that never made it home Saturday. We did not find the actual shirts, but they were kind enough to allow us to get two more of the same kind, to replace them. While we were there, we also bought me a nice Levi’s jacket, black jean material with fleece lining, as well as a nice set of sheets for our bed. The jacket was about twenty dollars off, while the sheets were seventy-five percent off! Heck of a deal, there. We got $140 sheets for a little over thirty dollars. In addition, since C used her Macy’s card, she got another thirty dollars of “bonus money” that she can spend before December 14.

Today, November 15, is my father’s birthday. He would have been 84 years old, today. He passed away in April of 2015, from Inclusion Body Myositis, a rare muscular degenerative disease, related to Muscular Dystrophy (I think). My enjoyment of baseball has not been the same, since.

It feels like I have a lot to do, today, but I really don’t. Monday is one of my two days that I am always off work, so there are things that I like to get done on Monday. Today, I will make a quick trip to a grocery store, mainly to pick up some ground turkey for our chili tonight. Of course, we need bananas and grapes, too, but I won’t buy too many of those, because we are “leaving on a jet plane” on Wednesday morning. So I just need enough to get us through a couple days.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord, I dedicate this day to You.
May my feet walk only where You want them to walk.
May my eyes see only what You want them to see.
May my ears hear only what You want them to hear.
May my mouth say only what You want it to say.
May my mind think only what You want it to think.

And the twenty-four elders who sit on their thrones before God fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying,
“We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty,
who is and who was,
for you have taken your great power and begun to reign.
The nations raged,
but your wrath came,
and the time for the dead to be judged,
and for rewarding your servants,
the prophets and saints,
and those who fear your name,
both small and great,
and for destroying the destroyers of the earth.”
(Revelation 11:16-18 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. the hope of our eternal reward
2. for the ancient paths; help us to rediscover and walk in them
3. for the calmness in the soul of contentment, as a weaned child with its mother
4. for the memories of life with my father
5. that You work to transform my heart and mind to conform to Your ways
6. that Your blessings are eternal
7. that Jesus has overcome the world; help us to follow Him

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TWENTY-SIX – DAY TWO

INVITATION

Your righteousness, O God,
reaches to the highest heavens.
You have done such wonderful things.
Who can compare with you, O God?
(Psalms 71:19 NLT)

As I pause, during this chilly, quiet morning, I meditate on the promise of reward in eternity, however great or small that reward might be. All of the wonderful things that God has done add up to those final verses in the Bible, that wonderful picture of Home. I pray for endurance, going forward.

BIBLE SONG

A song of ascents. Of David.

My heart is not proud, LORD,
my eyes are not haughty;
I do not concern myself with great matters
or things too wonderful for me.
But I have calmed and quieted myself,
I am like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child I am content.
Israel, put your hope in the LORD
both now and forevermore.
(Psalms 131:1-3 NIV)

BIBLE READING

To whom can I speak and give warning?
Who will listen to me?
Their ears are closed
so they cannot hear.
The word of the LORD is offensive to them;
they find no pleasure in it.
(Jeremiah 6:10 NIV)

“From the least to the greatest,
all are greedy for gain;
prophets and priests alike,
all practice deceit.
They dress the wound of my people
as though it were not serious.
‘Peace, peace,’ they say,
when there is no peace.
Are they ashamed of their detestable conduct?
No, they have no shame at all;
they do not even know how to blush.
So they will fall among the fallen;
they will be brought down when I punish them,”
says the LORD.

This is what the LORD says:
“Stand at the crossroads and look;
ask for the ancient paths,
ask where the good way is, and walk in it,
and you will find rest for your souls.
But you said, ‘We will not walk in it.’
I appointed watchmen over you and said,
‘Listen to the sound of the trumpet!’
But you said, ‘We will not listen.’
(Jeremiah 6:13-17 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I read these passages again, slowly, I look for words or phrases that catch my eye or move my heart. I mull over those, repeating them over in my spirit, and pray my thoughts and meditations, my desires and needs and feelings, to the Lord. I rest and enjoy His presence.

There seriously needs to be more of the attitude expressed in Psalm 131. This one, attributed to David, speaks of not being haughty or proud, not being concerned with matters too great or wonderful for me. Perhaps that is one of our biggest flaws as humans, especially in the West. We tend to be overly concerned with things that are too great and wonderful for us to comprehend. We tend to be overly haughty and arrogant.

We need to be more like that “weaned child with its mother.” We need more contentment. And we need, as the “new Israel,” the Church, to put our hope in the Lord (and only in Him), “both now and forevermore.”

We read verses like Jeremiah 6:10 and immediately thing we know who that’s talking about. It’s those other people, that’s who. Those guys over there. It’s not talking about me, or my friends!

We shouldn’t be so quick to assume.

Are we all greedy for gain? Greed has been, and continues to be, a huge problem in this culture. Prices for things have gone up, recently, and people seem too quick to blame the wrong people or groups. The bottom line is greed. And our culture’s systems promote greed.

But when the “prophets and priests” participate in this, it is that much more deplorable. We put Band-Aids on problems and say, “peace, peace,” when their truly is no peace. There is no shame.

The verse that jumps out the most, to me, today is verse 16. And this is where we, the Church, have failed, over the past decades.

GOD’s Message yet again: “Go stand at the crossroads and look around. Ask for directions to the old road, The tried and true road. Then take it. Discover the right route for your souls. But they said, ‘Nothing doing. We aren’t going that way.’
(Jeremiah 6:16 MSG)

I like Peterson’s paraphrase, there. But I also like the NIV, that uses the phrase “the ancient paths.” That’s what one of the books I am currently reading is about. In The Divine Embrace, Robert E. Webber is examining the ancient paths of the spiritual life and comparing them to the way spirituality has “progressed” over the centuries. The Lord, through the prophet Jeremiah, called for the people to look back to the “ancient paths,” find them, and walk in them.

But the people of that day, just as the people of today, said, “Nothing doing. We aren’t going that way.” We seem to think we have a better way.

But, again, we all seem to have this problem thinking that all of these warnings apply to the “other guys,” not us. Humility is needed. And trust me, I point back at myself, too.

Father, as I enjoy and rest in Your presence, this morning, I take heed of the words of Scripture. As I go forward in my life, I seek out these “ancient paths,” with the intention of walking in them, seeking Your face and the best form of spirituality that will benefit both me, and everyone else. As Psalm 86:11 says, “Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name.” That has truly been the prayer of my life for many years, now, and it still is. I am still seeking this truth and this way, all the while acknowledging that Jesus Christ, Your Son, is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. There is no way to get to You except by Him. Help me to find and walk in these ancient ways and paths, that I might truly know You and worship You and serve You.

Help us to see You in all things, wherever we are, wherever we look. Help us to listen to You, as well, however You choose to speak to us.

"Speak,
Lord,
because Your words are life.
Clear out my ears, 
deaf to Your Word because of the din of the world,
and forgive my foolish heart,
too quickly convinced of being the authority on what is right and best.
Let me yield my life to Your Word and walk in Your good way;
transform my mind and conform me to the likeness of the Word, 
Jesus.
Amen."

BLESSING

And now,
may it please you to bless the house of your servant,
so that it may continue forever before you.
For you have spoken,
and when you grant a blessing to your servant,
O Sovereign LORD,
it is an eternal blessing!”
(2 Samuel 7:29 NLT)


The LORD loves righteousness and justice;
the earth is full of his unfailing love.
(Psalms 33:5 NIV)

Arise, O LORD;
O God, lift up your hand;
forget not the afflicted.
Why does the wicked renounce God and say in his heart,
“You will not call to account”?
(Psalms 10:12-13 ESV)

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
(Lamentations 3:22-23 ESV)

I have said these things to you,
that in me you may have peace.
In the world you will have tribulation.
But take heart;
I have overcome the world.”
(John 16:33 ESV)

Arise, O Lord! Show Your mighty arm in our world, today. Let not the wicked continue to have their way among us. I’m not wise enough to be able to weed out “the wicked.” We all have our ideas as to who makes up “the wicked,” Father. Many short-sighted people believe that everyone in a particular political party is wicked. Give us wisdom beyond that, Lord. And help us to remember that it is Your job, along with Your holy angels, to remove the weeds from the harvest, but not until harvest time. We were told, according to Jesus, to not try to do that, lest we damage the harvest at the same time. It is my opinion, Father, that the harvest is being damaged by some foolish people. Help us, Lord! Rise up! Show Your power and strength and might! And give us Your wisdom!

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

I have said to you,
that in me you may have peace;
I have overcome.

Grace and peace, friends.

Out of the Depths

Good morning! Today is Sunday, the fourteenth of November, 2021.

May the peace of God reign in your life today!

Day 23,257

Three days until we fly to Indianapolis!

We’re trying to make some plans around our trip, you know, things to do while we are up there. One thing we’re definitely going to try to do is this Cat Cafe they have, where you can drink coffee and sit with cats. We may try an escape room, and they have a zoo up there. Outdoor activities may not work, though, as it looks like it’s going to be pretty chilly. Friday morning’s low is predicted to be 25 degrees. But it’s supposed to get up to 44 that day. Sounds like good hot chocolate weather!

Yesterday was another great day at the library. There was very little, if any, anxiety. I helped a fourteen-year-old girl get a library card, which was fun. She was very excited about reading, which made me feel all warm and fuzzy. When minors get library cards, their parents have to be there to sign off on it. And then later on, a young family was in with their child, and they checked out Are You My Mother? and I told them how much I loved that book.

“You are not my mother! You are a Snort!”

Working at the library is so much fun and so rewarding. Oh, and later in the afternoon, a guy checked out the “Firefly” series, along with some other DVDs he was getting. He had not seen it, and we had a conversation about science fiction shows/books, mostly about The Expanse, which is an Amazon Prime Video series based on some books. I have not yet read any of the books, but they are on my TBR list. (That stands for “To Be Read,” in case you don’t know.)

While I was at work, C went shopping. Unfortunately, it appears that she didn’t get out of the store with a couple of her purchases, so she will go back this afternoon to try to get that resolved. She said that the young man who was waiting on her was having some serious problems. I’m not sure what all she got for herself, but for me, she got some black jeans and a new belt. I asked for some jeans that are not blue, because we can wear those to work on non-weekend days. I’m not sure why they’re okay if they aren’t blue, but that’s the rule. So now I have some jeans I can wear to work if I don’t feel like wearing slacks. She got me some t-shirts to wear under some flannel shirts, but it’s the flannel shirts that didn’t make it home. She has the receipt, so should be able to get it all cleared up.

Today, we don’t have much on the schedule. We have our church gathering at 10:15, which will be on Zoom again, today. I’m sure there will be Applebee’s for lunch, and C will go back up to Macy’s to try to get those shirts. I may or may not go with her. Who knows?

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

"God of grace and truth,
make me whole,
a person of integrity who heals and makes peace.
I pray for eyes that see what's best in others,
a graceful and candid mouth,
hands that never twist but hold up truth,
a heart that aims to encourage,
and feet that pursue my neighbor's best.
Amen."

And the four living creatures,
each of them with six wings,
are full of eyes all around and within,
and day and night they never cease to say,

“Holy, holy, holy,
is the Lord God Almighty,
who was and is and is to come!”

And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne,
who lives forever and ever,
the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever.
They cast their crowns before the throne,
saying,

“Worthy are you,
our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will they existed and were created.”
(Revelation 4:8-11 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for this incredible vision of worship
2. for the feeling of peace that I have
3. for Your righteousness, that reaches to the heavens
4. that with You is unfailing love and full redemption
5. for the grace in which I stand, and the fact that, because of that grace, I CAN stand

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TWENTY-SIX – DAY ONE

INVITATION

Your righteousness,
God,
reaches to the heavens,
you who have done great things.
Who is like you,
God?
(Psalms 71:19 NIV)

As I pause during this peaceful morning, I consider Your righteousness, infinitely higher than mine, infinitely higher than the “best Christian” I can think of. I consider Your infinite worthiness to receive glory and honor and power and worship! Thank You, Father!!

BIBLE SONG

A song of ascents.

Out of the depths I cry to you, LORD;
Lord, hear my voice.
Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy.

If you, LORD, kept a record of sins,
Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness,
so that we can, with reverence, serve you.

I wait for the LORD, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope.
I wait for the Lord
more than watchmen wait for the morning,
more than watchmen wait for the morning.

Israel, put your hope in the LORD,
for with the LORD is unfailing love
and with him is full redemption.
He himself will redeem Israel
from all their sins.
(Psalms 130:1-8 NIV)

BIBLE READING

The word of the LORD came to me, saying,
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
before you were born I set you apart;
I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”
“Alas, Sovereign LORD,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am too young.”
But the LORD said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am too young.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the LORD.
Then the LORD reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “I have put my words in your mouth. See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.”
(Jeremiah 1:4-10 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

I remind myself that I am in Your presence. I read these passages through again, at least once more, trying to notice how You might be speaking to me through them. I dwell on any words or phrases that jump out at me, allowing my heart to respond to You in prayer. I receive refreshment in Your presence!

In this psalm, another of the songs of ascents, the psalmist speaks of crying out to the Lord “out of the depths.” As I consider this, I think that the only place we can cry out to Him is “out of the depths,” because, in comparison to Him, that is where we are. Consider my meditation above the Scripture readings. His righteousness and holiness is infinitely higher than ours. It’s not enough to simply say that God is holier than I or more righteous than I. It is immeasurable! Therefore, when I cry out to Him, it is most certainly “out of the depths.”

When I read verse 3 and 4, what I get is that it is impossible to serve the Lord without forgiveness. And sometimes, we have to wait. I don’t believe we have to wait for forgiveness. There is sometimes an errant idea that we have to wait until we “get holy” to serve Him. And while there are passages that encourage/admonish us to “be holy, even as the Lord is holy,” this particular passage speaks of a qualification of service being that of forgiveness.

Forgiveness, I believe, is instant. I do not believe that forgiveness is a “process,” like some things are. Sanctification is a process; consecration is a process. But forgiveness and salvation, I believe, are instant and permanent. Just as I believe that you cannot lose your salvation, I also believe that you cannot lose or even tarnish your forgiveness.

We can sin again, yes. That has an effect on sanctification; it has an effect on the growth of our relationship with the Father. But it does not make us unsaved or unforgiven.

So what is the psalmist waiting for in verse 5? He is waiting for the morning to come (verse 6). He is waiting for the night to be over. Perhaps he is experiencing that long, dark night of the soul, of which St. John of the Cross spoke. We’ve all had those, right? And we wait. Not only do we wait, but we hope. For if we are not hoping and trusting in His Word, then the waiting is fruitless. But the psalmist, here is waiting and putting his trust in the Word of God.

Then he calls on his entire nation, his people to put their hope in Him, because with Him “is unfailing love and with Him is full redemption” (emphasis mine).

The passage from Jeremiah is tricky and, perhaps, tough, because it is the account of the calling of the Lord on Jeremiah. It is words spoken by God directly to Jeremiah and applies solely to Jeremiah.

There are phrases in the passage that I believe can be applied to me, personally. “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you.” I believe this is true for me, as well as for everyone else that has ever been “formed . . . in the womb.” I do believe that I was also set apart before I was born. Not to be a prophet though, so the application ends there.

“Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” says the Lord (verse 8). That can apply to any of us, in our current circumstances. God is with us, we have nothing to fear.

And, while there may be times for all of us when the Lord puts words in our mouths, that’s pretty much the end of the application for anyone besides Jeremiah, in my opinion. God has most definitely appointed me over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant. I daresay He has also not appointed you to do these things. Jeremiah was appointed for those tasks. Not me.

So why is this here? Illustration, I believe, that we might see the origins of the authority of the man who writes the rest of the words in this book of prophecy. It is good to see why we need to listen to what Jeremiah had to say to the people of Israel (or whoever else he was sent to). He had the authority of the Lord behind his words.

We may also have the authority of the Lord behind our words, sometimes, but we had best be careful when we assert that. And that’s all I’m going to say about that.

Father, I thank You for the lessons from the psalm, this morning. I know that, when I cry out to You, I am crying out from “out of the depths,” because that is the only place I can be in comparison to You. You are infinitely higher than I; You are infinitely holier than I; You are infinitely more righteous than I. Therefore, when I cry out to You, it is from the depths. I thank You for the forgiveness that was won for me by my Savior. I thank You that it is this forgiveness that enables me to serve You, because it completely erased the record of my sins. I You had kept that record of sin, I would be unable to stand before You. As it is, I can barely stand, because of Your infinite righteousness and holiness. But, because Jesus fills in the gaps of my unrighteousness, I can stand. It is by Your grace, I stand. I praise You and thank You for this grace. All glory to You, through the Son and by the Spirit.

May resurrection hope and joy fill my life today. May I have desire and opportunity to share the gospel of Christ with someone this week.

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.

"Searching God,
Your knowledge of me is both soothing and strange.
I'm comforted knowing Your eyes of love have seen me long before I even thought to look for You;
but it's also an unsettling reminder that I'm not in control.
Quiet me now in the grace of Your loving heart that has known and chosen me for Yourself from before time.
Amen."

BLESSING

Now be pleased to bless the house of your servant,
that it may continue forever in your sight;
for you,
Sovereign LORD,
have spoken,
and with your blessing the house of your servant will be blessed forever.”
(2 Samuel 7:29 NIV)


Oh, the depth of the
riches
and wisdom
and knowledge
of God!
How unsearchable are his judgments
and how inscrutable his ways!
(Romans 11:33 ESV)

Behold,
these are but the outskirts of his ways,
and how small a whisper do we hear of him!
But the thunder of his power who can understand?”
(Job 26:14 ESV)

Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay.
(Matthew 10:8 ESV)

Father, Your ways and judgments are, indeed, unsearchable and inscrutable. I proclaim, along with Paul, “Oh, the depths of Your riches and wisdom and knowledge!” And, as Job said, we are only on the outskirts of Your ways, and what we hear from You is merely a whisper of all that You are! If You were to speak in Your full “thunder,” we would surely perish. Help us to do all the things that You are enabling us to do. May we exhibit the attitude that Jesus gives us, as we have, indeed received without paying, so let us give without expecting anything in return.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.
(John 15:9 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

New

Today is Saturday, the thirteenth of November, 2021.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,256

Four days until we fly to Indianapolis!

As usual, yesterday was a great day at the library. The computer center was not terribly busy, but had a few stretches where it was fairly busy. In the meantime, I had some good conversations with the manager, about various things.

Today, I work 9:30-6:15, in circulation. One piece of good news that we received, yesterday, is that the Hurst City Council approved the library to finally be “fine free.” This will be retroactive, as well as on-going. All existing fines will be forgiven, except those related to lost books. We will still charge patrons if they lose or destroy a book. But they will no longer be charged for overdue books. This is a trend that has been occurring nationwide, in recent years. Fort Worth went fine-free a number of years ago, and, most recently, the New York Public Library declared that it was now fine-free.

I suppose C had a nice birthday. She had to work, but was working from home. S and I gave her a small gift before I left for work, yesterday, along with our birthday cards, which she appreciated. During the day, C decided she did not want to go out after work, so I picked up Subway on the way home, so C did not have to cook pizza.

Today, C is still in bed, so good for her. It’s currently 7:25, and I have been up about an hour. I’m probably about to go get my second cup of coffee.

We’re scheduled to depart DFW to IND, next Wednesday morning, at 10:29. I need to pay closer attention. I thought we were leaving in the afternoon. Our return flight is Sunday afternoon at 2:22. That must be where I was getting the afternoon departure. Oddly, both flights have the same flight number. I don’t recall that ever happening before. I do hope that there are no delays/cancellations, as it is getting close to Thanksgiving. There are multiple reasons for planning this trip the week before Thanksgiving, though.

Speaking of Indianapolis, I’m taking my heavy coat. Weather forecast shows a low of 26 degrees on Friday morning. Brrr . . .

I’m still currently reading The Divine Embrace, by Robert E. Webber, and Humpty Dumpty, by Carolyn McCray and Ben Hopkin. I haven’t made much progress in The Divine Embrace, lately, but managed to get a few chapters of Humpty Dumpty read, yesterday. The plot is enjoyable, and the character development is growing on me.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Of Being Real, by Daryl Madden

In Presence be
Of offered prayer
An entrance to
Surrender here

Take me deep
Deeper still
Past my thoughts
Beyond my will

To the place
Here to reveal
One of the soul
Of being real

To drift, to dwell
To simply be
Of grace and peace
In love with Thee

Such a beautiful prayer. “Take me deep, Deeper still . . .” Yes, Lord!

Rejoice always,
pray without ceasing,
give thanks in all circumstances;
for this is the will of God
in Christ Jesus for you.
(1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for weather that actually feels like Autumn
2. for my coffee
3. for a good night's rest
4. the preview of the "new heavens" and "new earth" given in Isaiah 65
5. for the hope of the end of all violence, oppression, and injustice

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TWENTY-FIVE – DAY SEVEN

INVITATION

“Come to me, all you who labor and are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest.”
(Matthew 11:28 WEB)

As I briefly pause, this morning, the entire house is quiet. In this peaceful moment, I consider the command to rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and give thanks in all circumstances. It is declared to be God’s will. Not to be thankful for all circumstances, but to be thankful in them. Big difference.

BIBLE SONG

A song of ascents.

“They have greatly oppressed me from my youth,” let Israel say;
“they have greatly oppressed me from my youth,
but they have not gained the victory over me.
Plowmen have plowed my back
and made their furrows long.
But the LORD is righteous;
he has cut me free from the cords of the wicked.”
(Psalms 129:1-4 NIV)

BIBLE READING

“See, I will create
new heavens and a new earth.
The former things will not be remembered,
nor will they come to mind.”
(Isaiah 65:17 NIV)

“Never again will there be in it
an infant who lives but a few days,
or an old man who does not live out his years;
the one who dies at a hundred
will be thought a mere child;
the one who fails to reach a hundred
will be considered accursed.
They will build houses and dwell in them;
they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit.”
(Isaiah 65:20-21 NIV)

They will not labor in vain,
nor will they bear children doomed to misfortune;
for they will be a people blessed by the LORD,
they and their descendants with them.
Before they call I will answer;
while they are still speaking I will hear.
The wolf and the lamb will feed together,
and the lion will eat straw like the ox,
and dust will be the serpent’s food.
They will neither harm nor destroy
on all my holy mountain,”
says the LORD.
(Isaiah 65:23-25 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I read these passages again, perhaps out loud, I look for ways in which God’s Word has moved me. I ponder and meditate on what has connected with my heart and mind. I pray to God what has moved me, turning my thoughts and meditations to Him and peacefully enjoying His presence.

These are interesting passages, and beautiful, as well. I can’t really identify with the psalm, as I do not feel as if I have ever been “oppressed.” Sadly, there are people groups in the U.S. who, historically and presently, have been oppressed. I am not part of any of those. I am a white, upper-middle-class male. We’ve traditionally had it pretty good in this country. Unfortunately, there are many of us who do not want to acknowledge the oppression of others that has occurred.

But that’s not a direction I want to take, this morning. I focus, rather, on the deliverance of the Lord. Verse 4 o the psalm declares the righteousness of the Lord, and that He has cut the oppressed free from the “cords of the wicked.” As part of my prayer, I do wonder why, if that is true, we still see such oppression in our world, especially in the “land of the free.” At the same time, I celebrate my own deliverance from the cord of the wicked, but that being a spiritual deliverance from spiritual cords of wickedness.

I do believe that God desires us to be active in seeking justice and deliverance for those who are oppressed.

The end result of all of this can be seen in Isaiah’s beautiful passage. While there are parts of it that still present questions for me, over all, it is one of the more comforting passages in the entire Bible.

First we see the creation of “new heavens and a new earth.” I’m intrigued by what the second half of that verse means, “The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind.” I’m not going to try to tackle the theology of that statement, but do believe that it has to do with the promise that all of our tears will be dried up. It also leads me down the path that disagrees with people who believe that their ancestors are “looking down on them,” from “heaven.” But again . . . that’s not a topic for today.

I have all kinds of questions for verses 20-21. I’ve looked at Matthew Henry’s commentary on it, and it doesn’t address my questions at all. I wonder about this talk of “dying” in the new heavens and new earth. I have to assume that this is figurative language, because we believe in eternal life, and in the new heavens and new earth, there will be no death at all. So perhaps the thought that “the one who dies at a hundred will be thought a mere child,” is hyperbole.

Actually, the NIV seems to be quite different from the KJV.

There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed.
(Isaiah 65:20 KJV)

So I’m moving on. The description of this life continues in verses 23-25, and it is unimaginable, frankly. Considering the times we have lived in and through, and the times that have gone before us. There will be no vain labor (it does appear that there will be “labor,” but perhaps it will look more like any work that Adam and Eve did pre-fall); the children will have no misfortune. Again . . . more questions. Will there be “new children” in this time? I have no answer to these questions.

But the presence of the Lord will be so strong and so prevalent that He will answer before the words leave our lips. And there will be no violence of any kind. Even the animals who were previously predator and prey will live peacefully together.

Father, this is a wonderfully beautiful picture of what we can expect in our future. As I’ve written, questions have arisen in my mind, but they are not, in my opinion, terribly important questions. They are not vital to my faith. They are peripheral, at best. I can only imagine, as the song says, what this will look like. I can only imagine how I will react and live in this world that Isaiah has presented. The idea of a world without sickness or death or violence or oppression or crime . . . this is so foreign to me. But I long for it, and am so grateful that You have given us this preview of what it will be like. The last line of this passage, “They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain,” gives me something to long for and hope for. I trust in Your promises, Father. They help me get through the difficult times in this life. But my “difficult” times are nothing compared to those who truly face oppression and injustice. I pray, Father, that You would help me see ways to work for justice and the cessation of oppression.

I pray, Father, that Your Church would work to this end, for the common good and benefit of all people. May we experience deep care, bold love, and rich community within the “walls” of the Church.

"God of every square inch,
thank You for the promise of Your coming kingdom,
the hope that everything wrecked will be completely renovated.
Renew in me the vision that faith in You has everything to do with construction safety and agricultural practices,
labor laws and justice seeking,
flourishing cities and thriving people.
Let Your kingdom come.
Amen."

BLESSING

Let your loving kindness also come to me, Yahweh, your salvation, according to your word.
(Psalms 119:41 WEB)


A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
(John 13:34-35 ESV)

Love from the center of who you are;
don’t fake it.
Run for dear life from evil;
hold on for dear life to good.
Be good friends who love deeply;
practice playing second fiddle.
Don’t burn out;
keep yourselves fueled and aflame.
Be alert servants of the Master,
cheerfully expectant.
Don’t quit in hard times;
pray all the harder.
Help needy Christians;
be inventive in hospitality.
(Romans 12:9-13 MSG)

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
(Ephesians 5:1-2 ESV)

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
(1 John 4:7-11 ESV)


I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
(Galatians 2:20 ESV)

Is it possible to live as though we have already died?

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!

May the LORD answer you when you are in distress; may the name of the God of Jacob protect you.
(Psalms 20:1 NIV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Great, Glorious, and Majestic Works (and maybe Dragons)

Today is Friday, the twenty-second of October, 2021

Peace be with you!

Day 23,234

Sixteen days until Daylight Saving Time ends

The weekend is nigh, for whom weekends are a thing, any more. I’m still struggling to keep up with what day it is. I keep having to look at my “When 2 Work” app to double check what days I’m supposed to be working. I have also added work days to my computer calendar, and written them on our wall calendar in the kitchen. That actually helps C to know what days I’m working, as well.

Since it is Friday, that means I’m working. Since the new schedule change on October 1, I will always be working a full day on Friday. This means, of course, that I won’t ever have a Friday and Saturday off together, unless I request it, which I have done for the weekend in November when we will travel to Indianapolis to visit R & J.

I am not working tomorrow, though. Next week is my four-day week.

I feel like I got a lot accomplished yesterday. Did some laundry, swept the floors, did some cleaning in S’s bathroom (aka the “guest bathroom”) because C has a friend coming over to visit on Saturday, a friend from back in her high school days. And I cooked dinner! I’m just a regular “house-husband,” right?? Dinner was Pecan-crusted Buttermilk Chicken, by the way. So there are leftovers for lunch. It may have been the best batch I’ve ever made, too..

The Red Sox play the Astros tonight, back in Houston, Game Six. Astros lead 3-2. The Dodgers whooped up on the Braves, last night, to avoid elimination in their NLCS. The Braves lead 3-2. Their Game Six will be tomorrow.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Love You Here, by Daryl Madden

The church door is locked
I can’t get in there
A voice whispers, still
I can love you here

If I am honest
And acknowledge my fears
A voice of comfort
I can love you here

With our deepest wounds
Of sorrow to share
A voice of compassion
I can love you here

When I’m feeling lonely
And burdens to bear
A voice of love speaks
I can love you here

Wherever I am
Let’s be fully aware
To listen to the One
Who always loves us here

Teach me your way, O LORD,
that I may walk in your truth;
unite my heart to fear your name.
I give thanks to you, O Lord my God,
with my whole heart,
and I will glorify your name forever.
(Psalms 86:11-12 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that Your love for us transcends place and time
2. for times when I am able to express gratitude "with my whole heart"
3. that You are always kind (Psalm 66:20 CEV)
4. for Your great, glorious, and majestic works
5. for the daily reminders You send me of those works, that I might ponder them in humility

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TWENTY-TWO – DAY SIX

INVITATION

Let’s praise God! He listened when I prayed, and he is always kind.
(Psalms 66:20 CEV)

During this quiet moment, I ponder the kindness of the Lord, and that He always loves me “here,” wherever “here” happens to be.

BIBLE SONG

Praise the LORD.

I will extol the LORD with all my heart in the council of the upright and in the assembly.

Great are the works of the LORD; they are pondered by all who delight in them.
Glorious and majestic are his deeds, and his righteousness endures forever.
He has caused his wonders to be remembered; the LORD is gracious and compassionate.
He provides food for those who fear him; he remembers his covenant forever.
(Psalms 111:1-5 NIV)

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise.
(Psalms 111:10 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Then the LORD spoke to Job out of the storm. He said:
“Who is this that obscures my plans with words without knowledge?
Brace yourself like a man;
I will question you, and you shall answer me.

“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?
Tell me, if you understand.
Who marked off its dimensions?
Surely you know!
Who stretched a measuring line across it?
On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone—
while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?”
(Job 38:1-7 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I linger over these passages, I ask the Holy Spirit to direct me to words and thoughts that would teach me and move me into a more intense and intimate walk with God.

The psalm is extolling the great works of the Lord. “Extol” means “praise enthusiastically.” It could be said to be a synonym of “praise,” but with added emphasis. I like what the psalmist says in verse 2, regarding God’s works. “They are pondered by all who delight in them.” I dare say that it is safe to assume that people who claim to be believers, who do not ponder His works, do not, in fact, delight in His works. And if one does not delight in the works of the Lord, His great, glorious, and majestic works, how can one be said to be a “believer??”

Yet, He is gracious and compassionate, and He causes His wonders to be remembered. If we are paying attention, nearly everywhere we look we can see reminders of the glorious and majestic works of the Lord, even if we live in the midst of a bustling city.

Verse 10 brings it all together, in my thoughts. “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.” That is not the only place this is stated in Scripture. We find it most in Proverbs. And here, the Word flat-out states that, if we follow His commands, His precepts, His Word, we have “good understanding.” What are His commands? We always come back to this. They are summed up in the two greatest commands, as stated by Jesus. Love the Lord with all your being, and love people as you love yourself.

We’ve skipped over the bulk of Job, right into the time when God speaks. He has remained silent through all of the posturing by Job’s friends, and now He responds, mostly to Job. Did you ever think you would see God being sarcastic? If anyone has a right to be that way, it is Him.

I like the way the New Living Translation renders verse 2. “Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorant words?” Truly, all of our words are “ignorant” when compared with the Him! Then God tells Job to brace himself. It’s time for God to ask questions. And He does!

“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Who marked off its dimensions? Who stretched a measuring line across it? Surely you know!!”

This continues on for several chapters. I wish I could see Job’s face during all of this.

We will see Job’s response tomorrow.

Side note: It is in the middle of this lengthy monologue by the Lord where I find the wonderful possibility that dragons, in fact, actually existed. I jest, in part, of course, but am somewhat serious. If dragons did exist, they were far from “wonderful,” but, rather, the most terrifying creature to ever grace the planet. Bear with me, if you will. It is named “Leviathan.”

“I will not fail to speak of Leviathan’s limbs, its strength and its graceful form. Who can strip off its outer coat? Who can penetrate its double coat of armor? Who dares open the doors of its mouth, ringed about with fearsome teeth? Its back has rows of shields tightly sealed together; each is so close to the next that no air can pass between. They are joined fast to one another; they cling together and cannot be parted. Its snorting throws out flashes of light; its eyes are like the rays of dawn. Flames stream from its mouth; sparks of fire shoot out. Smoke pours from its nostrils as from a boiling pot over burning reeds. Its breath sets coals ablaze, and flames dart from its mouth. Strength resides in its neck; dismay goes before it. The folds of its flesh are tightly joined; they are firm and immovable. Its chest is hard as rock, hard as a lower millstone. When it rises up, the mighty are terrified; they retreat before its thrashing. The sword that reaches it has no effect, nor does the spear or the dart or the javelin. Iron it treats like straw and bronze like rotten wood. Arrows do not make it flee; slingstones are like chaff to it. A club seems to it but a piece of straw; it laughs at the rattling of the lance. Its undersides are jagged potsherds, leaving a trail in the mud like a threshing sledge. It makes the depths churn like a boiling caldron and stirs up the sea like a pot of ointment. It leaves a glistening wake behind it; one would think the deep had white hair. Nothing on earth is its equal— a creature without fear. It looks down on all that are haughty; it is king over all that are proud.”
(Job 41:12-34 NIV)

Tell me that’s not a dragon!! Or at least something very much like our modern day representation of such.

But I digress.

To me, the point of this speech from God is that we know nothing, when it comes to Him. We do have, of course, the revelation of Jesus Christ, the things that He revealed to us about His Father, our Father. But do we know enough to speak boldly? Job’s “friends” made some pretty ignorant statements about Him. We, if we are not careful, will do the same. How often have you heard someone proclaim, “God does not _____ (fill in the blank)” or “God does _______”?

If Scripture does not explicitly say it, we had best couch those expressions in humility, and, at best, as opinions. We can only say, with certainty, the things that the Bible explicitly tells us.

And one of those things, hearkening back to the psalm, is that His works are great, glorious, and majestic. And we would do well to remember those works, ponder them, and extol them.

Father, I praise You for Your mighty works. I thank You for daily reminders of those works, both as I travel to and fro, and as I see photographs that others present, of Your marvelous creation, around the world. We need those reminders, lest we get so caught up in our own sense of “importance” that we forget to praise You and forget to ponder those works. It is for our own benefit that we consider Your creation of the world in which we live; that we ponder how it was that You marked out its dimensions and laid out the boundaries of the seas; that we consider how You laid the foundations of our world (and the universe in which it exists). Give us humility when we speak about You, Lord, and help us to never make statements about You out of ignorance, the way Job and his friends did.

Give us great wonder at the sacrifice of Christ, Your Son. Help us have the capacity to deny ourselves and suffer alongside others.

"Infinite God,
Your power and goodness are terribly great,
above and beyond my capacity to grasp.
What You do transcends my understanding;
so much is hidden from me.
I bow in humility and reverence before You,
content to be Christ's disciple,
trusting Your Word and resting in Your promises.
Amen."

BLESSING

God blesses those people whose hearts are pure. They will see him!
(Matthew 5:8 CEV)


When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
(John 8:12 NIV)

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
(John 1:5 NIV)

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
(1 John 1:5-7 NIV)

The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
(Psalms 18:2 ESV)

Father, You are my God. You are the God of Jeff. You are the God of my existence, my life; You are the God of my past, the God of my needs, the God of my wounds, the God of my heart, and the God of my entire future, into eternity. You are the God of me and all that I am. In these ways, I know You in ways that no one else can know You (this is also true of everyone who calls Your Name). Help me to grasp this truth today, as I ponder Your great works and mighty deeds.

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 are light and truth;
In You is no darkness at all;
I will walk in Light.

Grace and peace, friends.

When You Pray

Today is Wednesday, the thirteenth of October, 2021.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,225

Twenty-five days until Daylight Saving Time ends in the U.S.

Whoa, look at the time! It’s already 10:00! Not sure how that happened.

I had a nice evening at “work,” last night. My manager went over tomorrow night’s festivities with me. Since I’m working the Showcase, I’m off today. Things will get back to “normal,” as far as my schedule goes, next week. Oh. Wait. No they won’t. Next week is the city’s annual conference, to which we are encouraged to go. So I will be “working” all day, next Tuesday, from 8:30 to 4:30, attending the conference. I will also get an extra four hours that week, because of that. But I’m only on schedule Tuesday and Friday, next week, so it will still be an easy week.

Heck. All the weeks are “easy,” now.

So it will be the week of October 24 when things finally settle into a “normal” routine. I have asked for Friday, November 19, off. I don’t work Wednesday or Saturday, that week, so we are looking at traveling up to Indianapolis to visit R & J. I’m not sure, yet if we will fly or drive. That seems to be the best option, though, and likely the only opportunity we would have to see them during the holiday season. I guess that means we’d better get some Christmas presents, eh? Haha.

Our lunch at Sweetie Pie’s Ribeyes, yesterday, was quite good. We were definitely not disappointed. It’s pricy, but good. C got a ten ounce ribeye (her favorite steak) and I got the blackened red snapper, along with a bowl of ribeye chili. The chili was very good, but maybe not as good as Hoffbrau’s. That was the only thing that wasn’t as good as Hoffbrau, though. C’s steak was near perfection, and my red snapper was, well, “very tasty.” (Bonus points to anyone who gets that reference.) Even my green beans were quite delicious. And the rolls? Wow.

We picked up a bowl of chili and a side of mac n cheese for S, to take home to her. All of that added up to $95 and some change, before tipping. So we won’t be doing that very often. But it was definitely good, and we will, more than likely, return for some other “special occasion.”

C is working from home again, today, although she keeps saying that she probably shouldn’t be. When I ask her, “Why?” she doesn’t really have a good answer, though. It’s just her character and personality. She’s a “go-getter,” kind of like the way Alexander Hamilton is described in the last song of Act One, “Non-Stop.”

The Astros and the Braves both obtained their spot in their respective championship series, yesterday, but the Dodgers tied up the Giants, forcing game five in their NLDS. Since today is a travel day, that game will take place tomorrow. And the ALCS, between the Red Sox and the Astros will begin on Friday, in Houston. Lots of eyes on the spectacular Kiké Hernandez, for Boston. Potential playoff MVP material, there.

Today is Bring Your Teddy Bear to Work & School Day. Well, I’m not going to work or school today, so I can’t do that.

The word for today is empyrean. It’s a noun that means, “the highest heaven, supposed by the ancients to contain the pure element of fire.”

Today’s quote is from Jack Welch, American businessman. “Change before you have to.”

Significant birthdays on October 13:

Jane Grey, Queen of England for nine days, 1537-1554
Rube Waddell, American Hall of Fame pitcher, 1876-1914
Lenny Bruce, American comedian, 1925-1966
Margaret Thatcher, British Prime Minister, 1925-2013
Eddie Mathews, American Hall of Fame baseball player, born in Texarkana, TX, 1931-2001
Paul Simon, American singer/songwriter (Graceland, Simon & Garfunkel), 1941 (80)
Robert Lamm, American keyboardist and songwriter (Chicago), 1944 (77)
Sammy Hagar, American rocker, the "Red Rocker," (I Can't Drive 55), 1947 (74)
John Ford Coley, American musician (England Dan & John Ford Coley), born in Dallas, Texas 1948 (73)
Marie Osmond, American pop singer (Donnie & Marie), 1959 (62)
Nancy Kerrigan, American ice skater (I believe I had her down yesterday, too?), 1969 (52)
Bobby Lamm singing

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

A Moment Of, by Daryl Madden

A moment of sunrise
Of stunning beauty
A thousand words
Could not describe thee

A moment of silence
Of stillness to claim
A thousand songs
Could not sing the same

A moment of prayer
Completely adored
A thousand sweethearts
Could not love me more

A moment of Presence
With our God to be
With gift of one Word
Of eternity

The best line, for me, in that poem is in the third stanza. “A thousand sweethearts could not love me more” than the love of God. Sure, those words about draining the ocean of ink and filling the sky made of parchment are pretty awesome words, but this . . . this brings it down to a level that the average person can understand. Almost everyone has known the love of a sweetheart. And there are a handful of people who have known the love of more than one. But a thousand? Can you even imagine that much love? Well . . . God loves you even more than that.

I could stop right there. But I’ve gotta get in some Scripture reading, right?

The LORD is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.
(Psalms 28:7 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that You are my strength and shield
2. for the amazing love with which You love us; infinite; never-ending; never-failing
3. for the feeling of Your presence in this moment of silence
4. for the gift of Your Word
5. that Elijah, powerful as He was, was just a man, just like me

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TWENTY-ONE – DAY FOUR

INVITATION

I waited and waited and waited for GOD.
At last he looked;
finally he listened.
He lifted me out of the ditch,
pulled me from deep mud.
He stood me up on a solid rock to make sure I wouldn’t slip.
(Psalms 40:1-2 MSG)

I pause in this moment of silence, silence designed to shut out the noise of the world. All of the praise songs in the world could not hold the same feeling as a moment of silence in Your presence.

BIBLE SONG

Let this be written for a future generation, that a people not yet created may praise the LORD:
“The LORD looked down from his sanctuary on high, from heaven he viewed the earth,
to hear the groans of the prisoners and release those condemned to death.”
So the name of the LORD will be declared in Zion and his praise in Jerusalem
when the peoples and the kingdoms assemble to worship the LORD.
(Psalms 102:18-22 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come here to me.” They came to him, and he repaired the altar of the LORD, which had been torn down. Elijah took twelve stones, one for each of the tribes descended from Jacob, to whom the word of the LORD had come, saying, “Your name shall be Israel.” With the stones he built an altar in the name of the LORD, and he dug a trench around it large enough to hold two seahs of seed. He arranged the wood, cut the bull into pieces and laid it on the wood. Then he said to them, “Fill four large jars with water and pour it on the offering and on the wood.”
“Do it again,” he said, and they did it again.
“Do it a third time,” he ordered, and they did it the third time. The water ran down around the altar and even filled the trench.
At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: “LORD, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. Answer me, LORD, answer me, so these people will know that you, LORD, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.”
Then the fire of the LORD fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench.
When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, “The LORD—he is God! The LORD—he is God!”
(1 Kings 18:30-39 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

I have already been made aware of the loving presence of our God, this morning, and am transfixed with wonder at His mighty love. As I sit in that love, I let it influence my reading of His Word.

One of the purposes of God’s Word comes out in Psalm 102. Verse 18: “Let this be written for a future generation, that a people not yet created may praise the LORD.” Sure, this refers to a specific passage, the verses that come immediately afterward. But surely, we can apply this to the entirety of the Word of God, which has been handed down to us, from generation to generation, that we, who were not yet created when it was written, might praise His Name.

I do so love this story of Elijah v. the prophets of Baal, in 1 Kings 18. I’m somewhat grateful that we skipped the part where he taunts them. I know it’s in the Bible, so it must be okay, but that just seems like “poor sportsmanship” to me. And it reminds me too much of the bulk of my generation that seems to have nothing better to do than mock generations that come after us, especially “Millennials.”

But we pick up a little bit after we left off, yesterday. The Baal-worshipers have had their chance, and their “god” did not respond. Elijah, in his confidence, after repairing the altar of Yahweh, has them drench it with water. Three times. There was so much water that it even filled the trench around the altar.

Then Elijah prayed.

The motivation behind the prayer is very important. “So these people will know that you, LORD, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.”

Elijah did not pray in an attitude of vengeance. He did not seek recognition for himself (he even asked that they might know that he was God’s servant). He did not ask God to “smite” them. He simply asked God to let Himself be known to these people.

And God answered.

His fire fell; the sacrifice was consumed; the wood, stones, and soil around the sacrifice was consumed; even the water in the trench was consumed.

Have you ever experienced answered prayer like that?

I’ve had God answer prayers. But never quite like that. And before you cry, “Yeah, but that was Elijah!” I’m going to throw this at you.

Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years.
(James 5:17 NIV)

Yes, that was Elijah. But Elijah was just a man, just like me. If he had worn pants, it could be said that he put his pant legs on one leg at a time, just like I do. (I had a coach in Junior High who liked to use that analogy when we were intimated by someone bigger and stronger than us.)

So why do I not experience that kind of prayer result?

I think our initial, go-to answer is that we lack faith. But Jesus tells us that we don’t need that much faith, doesn’t he? “The faith of a mustard seed,” He says. Have you ever seen a mustard seed?

It might very well be that we simply don’t believe enough. And I think that is different from faith. I don’t think I can adequately explain that, but it’s what I believe. The way I sometimes word it is that I most certainly believe that God can do something. That, to me, is faith. I believe that He exists, otherwise I would not pray. So faith is involved in every prayer.

But do I believe that He will do it? There’s the rub. I pray for things, doubting the whole time, whether God wants to do what I’m praying for. But I keep praying, just in case He does want to, or maybe I can convince Him.

There is also the small matter of sin. I’m still a sinner, and there are still things that occupy more of my brain space than God and His Word. Not necessarily “idols,” per se, as I don’t think I worship them. Just distractions.

The important thing is that I don’t give up. I don’t read this story of Elijah and sit back and think, “I could never accomplish that.” First of all, Elijah accomplished nothing! All he did was say words.

It is God who did the accomplishing!

“So, Father, I pray that You would work more strength into my prayers. Not that I might “pray better,” but that my life, between the prayers, would be more conducive to having prayers answered. This gets tricky. It’s not about “works,” because that is not how You save us. Nevertheless, there does seem to be plenty of indication that You do reward us for “works.” The “reward” I seek is that my prayers, offered up on behalf of other saints (and not so saintly folks), would be answered, that they might know that You are the Lord and I am Your servant.

Today, I lift up all governments and leaders in this world, along with the various needs of the world. That’s a lot . . . but You are bigger than all of them combined.

"Consuming fire,
all the teaching and urging and striving in the world won't do;
only Your powerful work can renew my life.
I offer my life as a sacrifice,
but only You can send the fire.
Ignite my life with Your Holy Spirit,
and keep me and Your whole church bright and beautiful,
passionately alive for You.
Amen."

BLESSING

“You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘carefull,’ you find yourselves cared for.”
(Matthew 5:7 MSG)


“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.”
(Matthew 6:5 NIV)

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
(James 5:16 NIV)

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!

Manifested flesh;
"Mystery of godliness;"
Jesus, Son of God.

Grace and peace, friends