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.


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



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.


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)


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)


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.

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, 


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.

The Futility of Anxiety

Well, I guess mtsweat is happy this morning. I seem to recall you being a Cardinals fan, right? 8) But that’s a subject for the Other Blog, should I ever have time to update it again.

Good news with Stephanie. She had a really good psychiatrist’s visit yesterday. He has been insisting for some time that the school environment simply won’t work with her. And honestly, I must admit that her struggles have been getting progressively worse ever since she started changing classes (somewhere around intermediate school). His suggestion, which we are going to attempt to work out with the school is either 1) going “homebound,” which means the school has to send a teacher to our house, or 2) dropping out. So, at this point, we are pursuing the hombebound option. Stephanie is almost giddy. Her entire countenance changed yesterday afternoon. She’s completely like a different person. It may not work out…we’ve had difficulties before with Keller ISD cooperating, so we will see. Christi and I have agreed that it’s not a disaster if Stephanie doesn’t graduate. Even if she does, it’s pretty meaningless…she won’t have a 12th grade education, anyway.

Tonight we have our lifehouse group meeting. So I won’t get to watch much of the World Series game. But some things are more important. Life, for instance…

Today’s Bible readings:
2 Thessalonians 2; Jeremiah 21-22; Proverbs 22:9-16

Paul feels the need to begin chapter 2 with encouragement concerning the “day of the Lord.” It seems that some are saying that it has already happened. …not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. (v. 2) Paul says “the rebellion” must come first and the “man of lawlessness” must be revealed. (v. 3) “Lawlessness” is rendered “sin” in some manuscripts. This man will set himself up as God, according to verse 4. He chastises them gently in verse 5: Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? Then he gives some words that are actually kind of difficult to understand. And you know what is restraining him now so that he may be revealed in his time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. Only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way. (vv. 6-7) Unfortunately, we who read this now don’t know what the 2 Thessalonians knew, because it is not self-evident “what is restraining him now.” The only thing we know for sure is that God is behind the power that is restraining this “man of lawlessness.” We do know, however, thanks to verse 8, that Jesus will make short work of this man when he returns. Take note of the activities, though, in verses 9-12. The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. Also take note of who sends the “strong delusion!” It is God! It is very important to realize who is in control of all things. The Lord is in control of everything.
Paul then gives thanks for the Thessalonians, though, and encourages them to stand firm. Then he shoots out a short prayer for them. Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word. (vv. 16-17)

In Jeremiah 21, the king sent the priest, Pashhur, to Jeremiah to ask him about the impending invasion by Babylon. Jeremiah told him that the Lord said that he would fight against Jerusalem. But then he gave an interesting prophecy. “And to this people you shall say: ‘Thus says the LORD: Behold, I set before you the way of life and the way of death. He who stays in this city shall die by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence, but he who goes out and surrenders to the Chaldeans who are besieging you shall live and shall have his life as a prize of war. For I have set my face against this city for harm and not for good, declares the LORD: it shall be given into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall burn it with fire.’ (vv. 8-10) So they were told that if they went willingly with their attackers, they would be spared.
In chapter 22, the Lord declares his desire for justice. Thus says the LORD: “Go down to the house of the king of Judah and speak there this word, and say, ‘Hear the word of the LORD, O king of Judah, who sits on the throne of David, you, and your servants, and your people who enter these gates. Thus says the LORD: Do justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor him who has been robbed. And do no wrong or violence to the resident alien, the fatherless, and the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place. For if you will indeed obey this word, then there shall enter the gates of this house kings who sit on the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, they and their servants and their people. But if you will not obey these words, I swear by myself, declares the LORD, that this house shall become a desolation. (vv. 1-5) God has always cared deeply for the oppressed, the widows, and the fatherless. If a nation refuses to care for these, that nation is doomed.

Today’s reading in Grace For the Moment, by Max Lucado, is called “Fretting Is Futile.” The Scripture reference is Matthew 6:27. And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? Another word for “being anxious” is a word that we are all too familiar with…”worry.” “The biblical word for worry (merimnao) is a compound of two Greek words, merizo (“to divide”) and nous (“the mind”). Anxiety splits our energy between today’s priorities and tomorrow’s problems. Part of our mind is on the now; the rest is on the not yet. The result is half-minded living.” Wow. That’s pretty amazing. And very accurate, I think. But there’s more.
Worry, though not a disease, is responsible for other diseases. Anxiety has been connected to “high blood pressure, heart trouble, blindness, migraine headaches, thyroid malfunctions, and a host of stomach disorders.”
Know what the really sad thing about all this is? Worry accomplishes absolutely nothing. Zilch. Nada. Zero. It is totally futile. “Worry has never brightened a day, solved a problem, or cured a disease.”
My mother used to tell me, “Don’t borrow trouble.” Is faith the opposite of worry? I don’t know. But it is certainly the cure for it.

Father, please teach us how to not worry. Teach me how to have faith that preempts worry. Anxiety is useless. Yet I find myself directly disobeying Scripture by indulging in it. Do I enjoy worry? Is it fun? No. Yet I find that I lack faith and tend toward worry anyway. Thank you for this definition that shows me that my mind is divided when I worry. There is not point in being focused on the “not yet.” It is completely useless and a total waste of time. Not to mention that it’s a sin, as well. I truly believe that, Father. So forgive me for my sins of worry. And make me more faithful and obedient.

I pray for the church, Lord, as the end draws closer. Obviously, none of us knows when it will happen. It may not happen in our lifetime. Many are convinced that it will; that times are so much worse than ever. But are they really? All you ask of us is to be prepared. That we stay alert, and be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks us about our faith. I pray that I will have that answer, should that time arise. Keep me alert, Lord.

I thank you for a good doctor visit yesterday with Stephanie. I thank you for the change in her when the decision was made to try to change her circumstances. I pray for her mind, Father. I pray that you would work to change it and heal it.

I pray for this work day for me and Christi. Help us to get things accomplished that need to be done. I pray for our lifehouse meeting tonight. And I begin praying for our worship celebration on Sunday. I pray for our pastor as he prepares a message for this week. Give him great faith and peace as he prepares, and open his mouth to speak exactly what you would have him speak.

Worrying never solved anything.

Grace and peace, friends.

Train Up A Child…

It’s Wednesday morning, October 19. First off, I would like to ask WordPress to please stop changing something every blessed week! It seems like at least once a week, when I log in, I have to look around to find what I need to do, when I just figured out where the buttons were from the LAST change! Are you secretly owned by Facebook? (If you’re not a Facebook user, you won’t understand that…if you are, I’m sure no explanation is needed.) Okay. I’m done with that rant.

Are things better with Stephanie? Well, sort of. We didn’t fight last night. But she’s still not going to school. However, we have an “emergency” appointment with her psychiatrist this afternoon. We’ll see what he recommends.

Today’s Bible readings:
2 Thessalonians 1; Jeremiah 19-20; Proverbs 22:1-8

As Paul begins his second letter to the Thessalonians, he speaks highly of their faith and growth. In fact, he states that he is even boasting to other churches about their “steadfastness and faith in all [their] persecutions and in the afflictions that [they] are enduring.” (v. 4) Paul also gives a little picture of the fate that awaits those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. (v. 8 ) They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed. (vv. 9-10) So we do have some Biblical evidence for something that we call “hell.” Oddly enough, there are even Christians who believe that this will not happen, that God is so loving that he will eventually save everyone. Paul seems to indicate otherwise, here.

In Jeremiah 19, the Lord says that he is going to bring a huge disaster on Judah and Jerusalem. Behold, I am bringing such disaster upon this place that the ears of everyone who hears of it will tingle. (v. 3) Why? Because the people have forsaken me and have profaned this place by making offerings in it to other gods whom neither they nor their fathers nor the kings of Judah have known; and because they have filled this place with the blood of innocents, and have built the high places of Baal to burn their sons in the fire as burnt offerings to Baal, which I did not command or decree, nor did it come into my mind… That’s why. The Lord had Jeremiah go and buy an earthenware flask, then break the flask in the presence of the people to say, “So will I break this people and this city…” At the beginning of chapter 20, a priest named Pashhur, who heard these prophecies, beats Jeremiah and puts him in stocks. When he finally releases him, Jeremiah says this to him: “The LORD does not call your name Pashhur, but Terror On Every Side. For thus says the LORD: Behold, I will make you a terror to yourself and to all your friends. They shall fall by the sword of their enemies while you look on. And I will give all Judah into the hand of the king of Babylon. He shall carry them captive to Babylon, and shall strike them down with the sword. Moreover, I will give all the wealth of the city, all its gains, all its prized belongings, and all the treasures of the kings of Judah into the hand of their enemies, who shall plunder them and seize them and carry them to Babylon. And you, Pashhur, and all who dwell in your house, shall go into captivity. To Babylon you shall go, and there you shall die, and there you shall be buried, you and all your friends, to whom you have prophesied falsely.” (vv. 3b-6) The rest of chapter 20 is a prayer of complaint to the Lord. Jeremiah is not exactly happy about his job or his message.

Proverbs 22:6 is a favorite among parents and those who counsel parents. Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. Personally, I take great comfort in this and see it as a promise. I pray daily that this verse will hold true in the lives of both of our children.

Father, I thank you for our children, and the joy that they have brought to our lives. Yes, I can say “joy,” because, even in the midst of these trials, I can see the joy that we have received from raising our two daughters. I pray that both of them will stay connected to you, through their faith in Jesus, as they grow older. I especially pray for Stephanie this morning, Lord. I pray that we might get some kind of clue from the doctor this afternoon. I pray that you would bring her back to a place of stability so that she can finish her senior year without any more issues. I also pray for Rachel, as she continues her education and moves toward a career. I pray that she will be successful in whatever she puts her hands and mind to.

I pray that our church might be the kind of church that Paul felt comfortable boasting about in 2 Thessalonians. I thank you for getting us connected with a body of believers so that we can grow in our faith. I know that we cannot be “lone Ranger” Christians. It’s just not possible to have a fruitful life that way. I thank you for the “Lifehouse” that we are connected with and pray that we will all continue to grow closer together as well as closer to you as we interact together.

I pray for this day at work for Christi and for me. Let it go smoothly.

Some say that they have raised their children the best they know how, and, now that they are 18, it’s in God’s hands. I disagree. It’s been in God’s hands all along.

Grace and peace, friends.

God Will Do What He Says He Will Do

A good Sunday morning to all. It rained quite a bit last night, and is actually still raining! It’s a beautiful sight! It was only slightly annoying last night during the Rangers/Tigers game. There were two rain delays, totaling over 100 minutes, as the Rangers beat the Tigers 3-2 in the first round of the ALCS. It is my opinion that it would have been 3-1 had Rangers management not decided to bring CJ Wilson back in after the first rain delay. But…they won, so that’s irrelevant. The game lasted until shortly after midnight. I think. I was watching, but not totally sure on the time. By that time, I was the only one up in our house.

Today, after the worship celebration, we will go to the membership class for The Exchange. I assume that, after the class, we will be official members. Unless they want us to commit to something really, really weird. But so far, I’ve seen no evidence of weirdness at the church. Other than Joel Engle, the pastor. He’s kind of weird. In a really lovable way, though. Which is probably why I love him so much.

After the class, we will be heading out to the blooming metropolis of Pirtle, Texas. Never heard of it? I can’t say I’m surprised. My wonderful Grandmama used to live there, when she was alive. We’re going to her old house, which will soon be sold, to see what we want to bring back home with us (talking about furniture and stuff). We’re renting a small truck in Kilgore (the closest actual town), and driving back with it tomorrow. Then Tuesday, we will take said truck to Mineral Wells and unload some of the stuff at my parents’ house. I think I mentioned before that this trip will be bittersweet. I miss the old place, and it will, no doubt be the last time to see it.

Enough of that…on to the Bible readings.

Today’s Bible readings:
Colossians 2:6-23; Jeremiah 1; Proverbs 19:8-14

In the Colossians passage, Paul begins by encouraging the reader to walk in Christ, just as he was received. We are encouraged to be rooted and built up in him and established in the faith. (v. 7) This is a process. We begin by being rooted in Christ, then we build ourselves up (or allow the Holy Spirit to do the building) and eventually become established in the faith. Not that we ever stop growing…that takes an entire life.
There are warnings against being taken aptive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. (v. 8 ) This is a very real danger for Christians. I have seen many Christians get shanghaied by “philosophy and empty deceit.” I have seen people’s theology get taken off track by worldly thoughts that, although they sound good on the surface, really water down the gospel. Sadly, I have heard these same empty philosophies preached from some pulpits, some in very large churches. You see, when preachers preach, people listen. Even when what is being preached is not 100% true. Because that’s just the way people are. Many people just take whatever their pastor says as truth and don’t bother to check out what the Bible says. I don’t believe, in most cases, that the pastor sets out to deceive the people. I believe that they mean well. But they get sidetracked. They get enticed by the power of having a large congregation, so they do whatever it takes to increase the size of that congregation, whether it’s Biblical truth or not. Enough of that soapbox. Paul simply warns us against these things.
Next, Paul once again affirms the deity of Christ. For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily. (v. 9) Verse 13 affirms who it was that made us alive in Christ. God has made us alive. And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. (vv. 13-14) Isn’t that beautiful? The record of our sin and debt is postponed, right? NO! It is CANCELED!! It has, along with Jesus, been nailed to the cross! Several times in my life, I have sat in a Bible study class where we wrote down sins that troubled us. Then the leader drew a cross on a piece of paper on a bulletin board. We all went up and “nailed” our sins to that cross. It’s symbolic of what God did for us in Christ. It’s a cleansing exercise, because it reminds us of what we so often forget, which is our debt is canceled! Hallelujah!
So what does Paul say next? Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. Wow! I’ve actually heard a brother say that he could never worship with someone if he ever saw them drink alcohol. REALLY?? Is that what Paul says, here? NO! We are not to judge each other on things like that. These things are not important. They are shadows. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. (v. 17) The next few verses are, actually, astounding. Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God. If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations–“Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” (referring to things that all perish as they are used)–according to human precepts and teachings? These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh. (vv. 18-23) Does Paul mean we are free to do whatever we want to do? I believe Paul would answer, as he did several times in Romans, “God forbid!” What he is saying though, is that we are not to establish man-made rules and regulations as “religion and asceticism.” I don’t know how many people understand what “asceticism” is. It is a practice of extreme religious activity that usually causes severe pain to the body. Centuries ago, there were people who would whip themselves in efforts to weaken the flesh. One person was even known to roll around naked in a bramble bush. Paul insists that these things (along with the man-made rules of what we can eat or drink) only have an appearance of wisdom. In fact, they “are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.” How, then do we stop this indulgence? The answer is in chapter 3, which I will read tomorrow. CLIFFHANGER!!

The prophet Jeremiah begins by stating his call. “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” (v. 5) Jeremiah’s status as a prophet was determined before he was born. But he objected. Then I said, “Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth.” (v. 6) God dealt with his objection thusly: But the LORD said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’; for to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, declares the LORD.” Then the LORD put out his hand and touched my mouth. And the LORD said to me, “Behold, I have put my words in your mouth. See, I have set you this day over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.” Further, the Lord says, in verse 12 that he is watching over his word to perform it. God will do what he said he will do!

Father, I thank you that you are faithful and that you are watching over your word to perform it. The fact that you always do what you say you will do is very comforting to us, your children. Thank you for making me alive in Christ. I praise you for canceling the debt of sin that I have worked up in my life. I continue to add to that debt, as time goes by, for I still sin. But even that debt is canceled! I praise you for that, Father. I also thank you that we don’t have to worry about abiding by the rules of men, when it comes to “religion.” Let us not be guilty of creating formulas for being good enough or forms of asceticism to weaken our flesh. If we simply focus on you by keeping our minds on Jesus, the Holy Spirit will empower us to live and walk in Christ, just as we have received him. This will also give us the ability to be built up in him and become established in our faith. However, following man-made rules about what to drink, eat, or touch will not accomplish anything, so let us not be sidetracked by these things. I also pray that our minds be clear when it comes to our theology. Let us not get sidetracked by empty philosophy and deceitful thoughts. Let us not fall into the trap of watering down the gospel to make more appealing to people. Let us speak the truth, as shown us in Scripture. If that is not enough to draw people to you, then so be it. It is not up to us to draw them. Jesus, you said yourself that, if you be lifted up, YOU would draw men to you. Let us depend on you to do what you say you will do.

Thank you for the rain! It is beautiful and refreshing! I pray that we will be safe as we drive to east Texas today, since the rain will probably continue. I pray that we will be able to accomplish what we are going for on this trip. I pray for good memories as we take a last look at Grandmama’s place. I also pray for safety as we move around in a house that has been empty for a long time.

I pray for our worship celebration this morning. Let it be pleasing to you as we lift our voices and hearts to you in praise. I lift up Greg Foster as he leads us, along with the rest of the band, and I lift up Joel as he brings your message to us. I pray for him, that words would be given to him as he opens his mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel. Strengthen him in Christ this morning.

God is faithful. That is one of the most important things that we can remember. He will do what he said he will do.

Grace and peace, friends.