The Springs of Joy

Today is Sunday, the twenty-sixth of September, 2021

Shalom Aleichem!

There are only four more days left in September!

Day 23,208

Sixteen days until our 36th anniversary!

Yesterday was a pretty unremarkable, restful day. I did finally make myself get on the treadmill and walk for a little over twenty minutes. I followed a guide on a forest path that ended at a beautiful waterfall. We have iFit videos available on our treadmill. Technology is wonderful when it works.

This morning, we have our worship gathering at 10:15. Apparently, the hosts have decided to open up their home if anyone wants to be in person. C and I will be on Zoom. When we are still, as a country, having almost 150,000 new cases every day and around two thousand deaths every day, we aren’t quite ready to get close to people, if it is avoidable. Plus, I don’t think C is ready to go sit for an hour-plus in unfamiliar chairs.

Today is Rivers Day, which is interesting, considering that the Bible verses from Psalm speak of “fountains” or “springs.”

The word for today is perfidy, a noun that means, “deliberate breach of faith or trust; faithlessness; treachery.”

Today’s quote is from Finley Peter Dunne, an American journalist. “The past always looks better than it was. It’s only pleasant because it isn’t here.”

Significant birthdays on September 26:

St. Francis of Assissi, Italian founder of the Franciscan Order, 1181-1226
Johnny Appleseed (John Chapman), legendary American planter of trees, 1774-1845
T.S. Eliot, American poet (Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats), 1888-1965
Martin Heidegger, German philosopher, 1889-1976
George Gershwin, American composer (Rhapsody in Blue), 1898-1937
Jack LaLanne, American fitness icon, 1914-2011
Marty Robbins, American country singer (El Paso, Big Iron, Streets of Laredo), 1925-1982
Bryan Ferry, British singer-songwriter (Love Is the Drug), 1945 (76)
Lynn Anderson, American country singer (Rose Garden), 1947-2015
Olivia Newton-John, British-Australian singer (Hopelessly Devoted to You, I Honestly Love You), 1948 (73)
Linda Hamilton, American actress (Terminator), 1956 (65)

I slept until 8:00 AM, today, which is remarkable. I have certainly been sleeping better since I got away from my old job. Imagine that. At any rate, I’d best get into the devotional because I just have an hour until our gathering begins.

Right after I get another cup of coffee.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

What Love Can Do, by Daryl Madden

Beginning with the Word
The light comes pouring through
Forming all creation
Look what love can do

It was just a seed
That birthed our life anew
Grace of multiplying
See what love can do

Displayed upon the cross
Poured out for me and you
Even death was conquered
Know what love can do

With a simple prayer
Of faith beyond our view
Never underestimate
Just what love can do

“Never underestimate just what love can do.” Such an important message for our time.

You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.
(Jeremiah 29:13 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that You are much easier to find than people believe
2. that Your plans for me, and Your love for me go far beyond anything I could ask or imagine
3. that, though the mountains be shaken and the hills removed, Your steadfast love for us will not be shaken, nor will Your covenant of peace be removed
4. that my salvation is not based on any "good things" that I have done, but completely and utterly based on You and the work of Christ
5. that, because You are for us, none can be against us, when we are walking in obedience to Your Word - there is none who can condemn us, because Jesus Christ intercedes for us

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK NINETEEN – DAY ONE

INVITATION

Shout for joy to God,
all the earth!
Sing the glory of his name;
make his praise glorious.
(Psalms 66:1-2 NIV)

I pause during this quiet moment to remind my soul of Your constant presence, that You surround me, and that You dwell within me.

BIBLE SONG

Of the Sons of Korah. A psalm. A song.

He has founded his city on the holy mountain.
The LORD loves the gates of Zion more than all the other dwellings of Jacob.

Glorious things are said of you, city of God:
“I will record Rahab and Babylon among those who acknowledge me— Philistia too, and Tyre, along with Cush— and will say, ‘This one was born in Zion.'”
Indeed, of Zion it will be said, “This one and that one were born in her, and the Most High himself will establish her.”
The LORD will write in the register of the peoples: “This one was born in Zion.”

As they make music they will sing, “All my fountains are in you.”
(Psalms 87:1-7 NIV)

BIBLE READING

The LORD said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and be on your way; I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king.”
But Samuel said, “How can I go? If Saul hears about it, he will kill me.”
The LORD said, “Take a heifer with you and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the LORD.’ Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what to do. You are to anoint for me the one I indicate.”
Jesse had seven of his sons pass before Samuel, but Samuel said to him, “The LORD has not chosen these.” So he asked Jesse, “Are these all the sons you have?”
“There is still the youngest,” Jesse answered. “He is tending the sheep.”
Samuel said, “Send for him; we will not sit down until he arrives.”
So he sent for him and had him brought in. He was glowing with health and had a fine appearance and handsome features.
Then the LORD said, “Rise and anoint him; this is the one.”
So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the LORD came powerfully upon David. Samuel then went to Ramah.
(1 Samuel 16:10-13 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

I quietly read these passages again. What catches my eye? What moves me? What will I pray to the Lord because of what I have seen, this morning?

My heart is drawn to verse 2 of the psalm. “The LORD loves the gates of Zion more than all the other dwellings of Jacob.” I like, as well, the way Eugene Peterson paraphrases this verse in The Message: “and oh, how GOD loves his home! Loves it far better than all the homes of Jacob put together!”

Is it fair to equate this with the Church, the Bride of Christ? I believe that it is. We, the people of God, are those who comprise the Church, and the Lord dwells within us, via the Holy Spirit, which makes us His Home.

Isn’t that ironic? (I may or may not be using that word correctly.) We are His Home, yet, we are longing for our Home, which will be in Him. And what, exactly, is the “new Jerusalem” of which Revelation 21 speaks? It is written that the new Jerusalem descends from heaven, “prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” That bride is none other than the Church.

The message, today, I believe, is that we need to never forget that God loves the Church. I’m speaking of the larger body, here. When I speak of local bodies of believer, it will always be “church” with a lower-case “c.” When I write “Church,” with an upper-case “C,” it refers to the body of Christ, His bride, made up of believers from all over the world, people from First Baptist Church of whatever city you live in, the Methodist church down the street, the Presbyterian church that I went to for a while, and all of those alleged “non-denominational” churches. And the church that meets at Brandon and Kristin’s house. All together, we make up The Church, and God loves The Church!

I have believed for many years, and will continue to do so, that one cannot claim to love Jesus and not love the Church. Yes, she is a mess, right now, and probably always has been. But that is because She still resides on earth. Someday, She will be purified, and on that day, there will be a wedding. I have no idea what that will look like. Revelation only offers us a “through a glass darkly” picture of it, entrenched in symbolic language. But rest assured that it will be the most beautiful thing we have ever witnessed.

And what glory it will be to see your name listed among those who were “born” in her.

As they make music they will sing, “All my fountains are in you.”
(Psalms 87:7 NIV)

I’m not going to pretend to be wise enough to completely understand verse 7, but I can sense that it is joyful. “All my fountains are in you,” shout the singers and dancers, as they make music. I will defer to the words of Matthew Henry, regarding this verse. “The springs of the joy of a carnal worldling lie in wealth and pleasure; but the springs of the joy of a gracious soul lie in the word of God and prayer. Christ is the true temple; all our springs are in him, and from him all our streams flow.”

Mr. Henry also makes mention of Isaiah 54:10.

Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you.”
(Isaiah 54:10 NIV)

Father, I am so grateful to be a part of Your Church! I have loved the Church for as long as I can remember. When I was but a young boy, I loved “going to church.” I loved being in Sunday School, learning about and reading Your Word. After six decades, my love for Your Word has not waned. Yes, there have been periods of my life where it has been stronger and more vivid than other periods (and truthfully, I believe that this current “period” is one of those where it is quite strong), but I have always loved Your Word and Your Church. Thank You for keeping that love within me strong. I pray for Your Church, today. I can’t speak for other nations, but in this one, there is great and sorrowful division within the Body of Christ, sowed by Your enemy. I pray for unity. I pray that all people within Your Church would focus their allegiance and worship toward Jesus Christ, not toward any human being, government party, or set of policies. Let Your Word be our only “policy,” Lord! I praise You that Your love for us will never depart, nor Your peace be removed. May we focus on this, Father, and prepare ourselves for the wedding day!

May the risen Christ dwell in our hearts, Father, and may we all experience spiritual refreshing and renewal.

"King of kings,
in Your anointing is a new life.
Drenched with Your baptizing and anointing Spirit,
called by my new name,
I rise up with Jesus,
not a marginal pew warmer but a member of Christ,
a prophet,
priest,
and king.
Alive to Christ,
let me live out my true identity today.
Amen."

BLESSING

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
(Matthew 5:5 NIV)

But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.
(Titus 3:4-7 NIV)

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.
(Romans 8:31-34 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!

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.