The First Day of Christmas

Today is Friday, Christmas day, December 25, 2020, the first day of Christmas.

Peace be with you!

Day 22,933

Seven days until 2021!

What a wonderful time it has been!! It would be all too easy to bemoan the inconveniences of this season, but we have chosen not to do that.

Divine providence worked things out so that we could all be together, yesterday, at my mother’s house in Mineral Wells. At least that is how we are looking at it.

R was supposed to have to work yesterday, and was planning to make driving trips to our house and Grandma’s house, today. Then she got word that they would be allowed to log off early on Christmas Eve, and began planning to make those drives yesterday.

And then, yesterday morning, there was a power outage at her work location, and they were subsequently given the day off, as they could not do anything, even though working remotely. So she and J met us at at Grandma’s house, where we were able to sit safely outside and exchange our gifts. It was a joyous time!

After the gift exchange and much conversation, they left, and C, S, and I (yes, S went, as she has discovered that there is a certain kind of mask that she can tolerate), had our lunch and chatted a while longer. We headed back to Fort Worth about 5:00 PM.

This morning, we got up and exchanged our own gifts here. It was a lovely time, after which I cooked up some eggs, toast, and accessories for breakfast. Around mid-afternoon, we will start cooking our dinner, which will consist of our favorite Pecan-crusted Buttermilk Chicken, along with the corn casserole we discovered before Thanksgiving, and some green beans. No healthified green bean casserole. That just didn’t cut it.

It’s been a wonderful time, though, and a most joyous Christmas.

A few of my gifts will be incorporated into my daily routine. One of those is called Seeking God’s Face: Praying with the Bible through the Year, by Philip F. Reinders. It actually starts with Advent, moves on to Christmas, and then through the rest of the Church calendar. Since today is Christmas, I will begin using that devotional/prayer book today! It will likely replace The Divine Hours in my morning routine.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

“The twelve-day Christmas season, beginning on Christmas Day, may be the healing remedy needed to reclaim this holiday from merchants and marketers. After all the annoying ads and repetitive jingles fade, when everyone else is burned out on Christmas or has moved on to year-end reviews or gym memberships, now the follower of Jesus can focus on the meaning of the Christmas miracle.

“It’s a season of light in darkness, where we are taken deeper into the growing light of the Word made flesh. Reflecting on the birth of Jesus, we have time to delight in the how of incarnation as we’re also led into the deeper wonder of its meaning for our world.”

(Excerpt from the Introduction to the Christmas season in Seeking God’s Face: Praying with the Bible through the Year)

The format for Seeking God’s Face is as follows: He begins with an Invitation, which looks like it may be the same for all twelve days of Christmas. Following the invitation, a time of quiet is called for. After that is a “Bible Song,” which will be a passage from the Psalms. Following the Bible Song is a Bible Reading, from the New or Old Testament. Another period of quiet is after that. Then there is a segment called “Dwelling,” in which we are called to read the Bible reading again, in the style of Lectio Divina. Then there is a time of “Free Prayer,” and suggestions are provided, but not required. We may, at that point, pray whatever is on our hearts. After the Free Prayer, there is a written prayer, taken from such sources as the Heidelberg Confession, Westminster Confession, and so on. The time is concluded with a blessing.

There is no set time for this, as it can be done at any time of day that we choose. However, it is recommended that it be done at roughly the same time every day. There is also no specified time limit, as it can take as long as we need it to. One thing to consider is that, just as when using The Divine Hours, it is entirely possible that others are also praying in the same way, along with us.

Also, fear not, for my gratitude will come at the end, from now on, I think.

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

Psalms 97:1-6 NIV
(1) The LORD reigns, let the earth be glad; let the distant shores rejoice.
(2) Clouds and thick darkness surround him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.
(3) Fire goes before him and consumes his foes on every side.
(4) His lightning lights up the world; the earth sees and trembles.
(5) The mountains melt like wax before the LORD, before the Lord of all the earth.
(6) The heavens proclaim his righteousness, and all peoples see his glory.

Luke 2:1-14 NIV
(1) In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world.
(2) (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.)
(3) And everyone went to their own town to register.

(4) So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David.
(5) He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.
(6) While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born,
(7) and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

(8) And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.
(9) An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.
(10) But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.
(11) Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.
(12) This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

(13) Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

(14) “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

One thing that I am dwelling on, this morning, is that bit in verses 13 and 14. This “great company of the heavenly host . . .” What did that look like? If the initial angel who brought the Good News to the shepherds had to calm them down by saying “Do not be afraid,” when he appeared by himself, can you even imagine the reaction of the shepherds when a “great company of the heavenly host” appeared??

And was this great company also angels? We’ve always assumed that, but it does not say that. What did they look like? What did they sound like? Were they singing? Because we also assume that they were singing. Was it all in unison, or was there a myriad of beings all shouting that phrase, seemingly randomly?

I won’t get answers to these questions until I meet my Savior face-to-face, and by then, odds are I won’t care at all. These are not theological questions. They are simply curiosity brought on by the reading and pondering of the Word.

The words that stick out to me, this morning, are “joy” and “peace,” because those are what I have in my heart today!

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.

Jesus Christ, our newborn King:
we rejoice that you came among us in all your glory,
taking on our life so that we might share in yours.
In your conception and birth you've come to remove our sin -
ours since we were first conceived -
delivering us to the hope of new life.
Make your home among us today and always.
Amen.
(Heidelberg Confession 36)

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

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

Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!
(2 Corinthians 9:15 ESV)

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.
(Isaiah 9:6-7 ESV)

Praise the LORD. Praise the LORD, my soul.
I will praise the LORD all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.
Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings, who cannot save.
When their spirit departs, they return to the ground; on that very day their plans come to nothing.
Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD their God.
He is the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them— he remains faithful forever.
He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets prisoners free,
the LORD gives sight to the blind, the LORD lifts up those who are bowed down, the LORD loves the righteous.
The LORD watches over the foreigner and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.
The LORD reigns forever, your God, O Zion, for all generations. Praise the LORD.
(Psalms 146:1-10 NIV)

“It may take a long time or a lifetime, but all prayer that engages God and the world as they truly are will eventually end in praise.”

(From The Songs of Jesus, by Timothy and Kathy Keller)

As I read that Psalm to close out today’s devotional it is fitting. This psalm praises God for justice. Not personal justice, mind you. Justice for the oppressed, the hungry, the prisoner, the blind, the “bowed down,” the fatherless, the foreigner, and the widow.

He cared enough for all of these that the events described earlier in the entry occurred a couple thousand years ago; events which culminated in a great company of the heavenly host appearing to a rag-tag group of Bethlehem shepherds, and shouting (or singing), “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

Father, I praise You for this event! I praise You for the birth of our Savior, inconspicuous as it was, in the little town of Bethlehem. I praise You for the great company of heavenly host that announced this to the most insignificant of people. Your grace and mercy in this event is stunning, almost beyond comprehension. And the really great thing is that I don’t have to comprehend it. I need only believe it and embrace it. And embrace it, I do! Thank You, O great heavenly Father, for Your inexpressible, indescribable gift!

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!

Today I am grateful:

  1. For the wonderful time we had at Mama’s house, yesterday
  2. For the joyful Christmas morning we had today
  3. For Your inexpressible, indescribable gift
  4. For new tools to engage in Your Word each day
  5. For the justice You provide for the oppressed, the hungry, the prisoner, the blind, the “bowed down,” the fatherless, the foreigner, and the widow (Psalm 146)

Grace and peace, friends.

Not Wishful Thinking

Today is Thursday, December 17, 2020, in the third week of Advent.

Peace be with you.

Day 22,925

Eight days until Christmas!

It’s a PTO day, as is tomorrow, as C and I will be heading down to Paluxy River Bed Cabins, later today, a Christmas gift to each other. In terms of pandemic safety, I dare say we will be much more safe than we were in Oklahoma, and more isolated than a typical day. We don’t plan to leave the cabin very much, and when we do, we will be seeking places to walk, preferably away from anyone else. We won’t be eating in at any restaurants, and we may not even visit the beloved Pie Peddlers shop. That is still a bit undecided, at the moment, but leaning toward not.

This is a pure relaxation, self-care trip, to get away from everything, and spend a lot of time in the hot tub. I’ve got plenty of books to take, some paperback, many electronic. My Kindle is loaded up. I’ll be taking the iPad along, from which I can also read Kindle books.

There may also be Geocaching.

We still haven’t figure out what Christmas is going to look like, this year. We badly want to see family, and we will have gifts for all. But we haven’t sussed it out, yet. (My browser spellchecker does not like “sussed.” I suppose I could go to the trouble to add it to my dictionary.)

I have my therapy session in a little bit, and will likely have to interrupt my writing for it. After that, between 11:00 and 12:00, we have a small grocery order to pick up, a few things S requested, as well as some more grapes to take with us, and eggs and bread for our breakfasts in the cabin. C may make a quick trip to the library to grab a few books. Then, this afternoon, we will be on our way.

Oh. I’m not sure if there will be a blog entry for the next three days. I always take my devotional materials with me, and I will have the iPad, which is more conducive to blog writing than an iPhone. If I do, it will look different, as I won’t have the same tools available that I have on my home computer.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

He Himself is my contemplation;
He is my delight.
Him for His own sake
I seek above me;
from Him Himself I feed within me.
He is the field in which I labour.
He is the fruit for which I labour.
He is my cause;
He is my effect.
He is my beginning;
He is my end without end.
He is, for me, eternity.
(Isaac of Stella)

Scriptures and Prayers from The Divine Hours

Psalms 51:15 ESV
(15) O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise.

Today I am grateful:

  1. For some time away, to relax and refresh, to take our minds off of things
  2. To hopefully use said time for spiritual refreshing, as well
  3. That You calm us with Your love and delight us with Your songs (Zephaniah 3:17)
  4. For Your provision, as You cause rain to fall on the earth, and food to grow
  5. That our faithful prayers can have an impact on the world around us

Psalms 86:1-2 ESV
(1) Incline your ear, O LORD, and answer me, for I am poor and needy.
(2) Preserve my life, for I am godly; save your servant, who trusts in you—you are my God.

Psalms 90:1-2 ESV
(1) Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations.
(2) Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.

Psalms 85:9 ESV
(9) Surely his salvation is near to those who fear him, that glory may dwell in our land.

Mark 1:1-4 ESV
(1) The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
(2) As it is written in Isaiah the prophet,

“Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way,
(3) the voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,'”

(4) John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

Psalms 66:5 ESV
(5) Come and see what God has done: he is awesome in his deeds toward the children of man.

Psalms 66:7-9 ESV
(7) who rules by his might forever, whose eyes keep watch on the nations— let not the rebellious exalt themselves. Selah.
(8) Bless our God, O peoples; let the sound of his praise be heard,
(9) who has kept our soul among the living and has not let our feet slip.

“Be, Lord, my helper and forsake me not.
Do not despise me, O God, my savior.”
(The Short Breviary)

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.

"Stir up your power, O Lord,
and with great might come among us;
and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins,
let your bountiful grace and mercy
speedily help and deliver us;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit,
be honor and glory now and for ever.
Amen."
(The Divine Hours, The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

Advent: Prepare For The Coming Of The Word

Day Nineteen

Zephaniah 3:14-18 ESV
(14) Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem!
(15) The LORD has taken away the judgments against you; he has cleared away your enemies. The King of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst; you shall never again fear evil.
(16) On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem: “Fear not, O Zion; let not your hands grow weak.
(17) The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.
(18) I will gather those of you who mourn for the festival, so that you will no longer suffer reproach.

Luke 1:39-45 ESV
(39) In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah,
(40) and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth.
(41) And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit,
(42) and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!
(43) And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
(44) For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.
(45) And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”

Leviticus 23:22 ESV
(22) “And when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, nor shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the LORD your God.”

Psalms 147:8 ESV
(8) He covers the heavens with clouds; he prepares rain for the earth; he makes grass grow on the hills.

Isaiah 55:10-11 ESV
(10) “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
(11) so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

Acts 14:17 ESV
(17) “Yet he did not leave himself without witness, for he did good by giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.”

Psalms 140:1-13 ESV
(1) To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.

Deliver me, O LORD, from evil men; preserve me from violent men,
(2) who plan evil things in their heart and stir up wars continually.
(3) They make their tongue sharp as a serpent’s, and under their lips is the venom of asps. Selah.
(4) Guard me, O LORD, from the hands of the wicked; preserve me from violent men, who have planned to trip up my feet.
(5) The arrogant have hidden a trap for me, and with cords they have spread a net; beside the way they have set snares for me. Selah.
(6) I say to the LORD, You are my God; give ear to the voice of my pleas for mercy, O LORD!
(7) O LORD, my Lord, the strength of my salvation, you have covered my head in the day of battle.
(8) Grant not, O LORD, the desires of the wicked; do not further their evil plot, or they will be exalted! Selah.
(9) As for the head of those who surround me, let the mischief of their lips overwhelm them!
(10) Let burning coals fall upon them! Let them be cast into fire, into miry pits, no more to rise!
(11) Let not the slanderer be established in the land; let evil hunt down the violent man speedily!
(12) I know that the LORD will maintain the cause of the afflicted, and will execute justice for the needy.
(13) Surely the righteous shall give thanks to your name; the upright shall dwell in your presence.

There’s a theme that I see flowing through this morning’s Scriptures. The passage read in Our Daily Bread finishes with the verse in Leviticus, in which the Lord told His people to leave the corners of the field unharvested, so that the poor could come along behind and gather food for themselves. This was known as “gleaning,” and it is what Ruth was doing in the fields of Boaz.

This kind of practice would be unheard of in today’s culture of greed and “me, first.” The idea of not collecting every single possible penny of profit and leaving something behind for the poor would be considered a terrible business practice.

Yet, it is what our Lord expects from us. Generosity. Hand open, not closed. Compassion for the poor and needy, the widows and orphans, these are things the Lord desires from us.

And, in order to help us along in that regard, the verses from Daily Guideposts 2020 remind us of His provision in our lives. God blesses us with rain and crops, with food, that we might have enough for ourselves, but that we might also have enough to share.

I don’t grow crops or animals. Jolly good thing, too, because we would starve if we had to rely on that. Nevertheless, the Lord has provided for us by making it “rain” in different ways. We have plenty. We have excess. And He has given us generous hearts and open hands that we might share that with others, graciously and willingly.

I don’t keep track of the times when we help people. I believe that would be wrong. I think God does, though, and His “book” would be more accurate than mine, anyway. I dare say there will be entries in that book that would surprise me. That kind word I shared with someone who was discouraged. The challenging questions I asked someone to make them think about their beliefs, to solidify them in their hearts. There is more than just economical and physical generosity.

But we have, figuratively speaking, not harvested our corners.

The last piece is from Psalm 140, which doesn’t seem, at first glance to go along. However, if you look more closely at the latter verses of the psalm, you see the proclamation that the Lord maintains “the cause of the afflicted and will execute justice for the needy.”

This goes hand in hand with attitudes of generosity. In addition, there are some prayers in the middle of the psalm that say a great deal about our attitudes in our culture.

We should pray, along with David, that the desires of the wicked not be granted. Unfortunately, many of us have different ideas about who those “wicked” might be. I’m not going into that, today. Except to say that, for me, the “wicked” are those who would deny the poor, needy, and afflicted what they need.

“David prays to change the world. He prays that the plans of the exploitative and violent will not succeed and that the poor and downtrodden will be lifted up – and we should pray for the same thing. Affecting world events through prayer is not wishful thinking; we influence the course of current events through appealing to our Father in heaven to intervene.”

(From The Songs of Jesus, by Timothy and Kathy Keller)

Father, help me to be more faithful to pray in these ways. Cause me to be more ready to pray for my world to change. I do pretty well, or so I think, at praying for those things that people ask me to pray. But there are things that I don’t pray intensely or frequently enough. And one of those things is for the desires of the wicked to fail, and that my world be changed toward more generosity and care for the afflicted and needy, those to whom Your heart leans.

Thank You for Your bountiful provision in our lives. Thank you that our jobs continue to hold up and that we have money coming in. Thank You that You have turned our hearts toward generosity. When I boast about this, I boast in You, Lord, because I have done nothing other than to do what You command, to love You, and to love others.

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!

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
(Micah 6:8 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Justice

Good morning. It is Wednesday, November 6, 2013.

Today is “Stress Awareness Day.” Take a moment to relieve that stress today. You know, squeeze one of those rubber stress thingies.


It rained, softly, throughout most of yesterday, and supposedly was raining, still, at around 5:30 this morning. We are due for more morning showers (I’ll take one, myself, in a few minutes), and then, the temperature is not supposed to rise very much today. The high today is barely going to hit 60, with lows tonight somewhere around 40. Love this time of year.

We had a good Huddle meeting last night. This group seems to be bonding very well. It’s interesting how some of us come up with the same answers on some of the “homework.” One other guy and I, particularly, seemed to have come up with the same kind of thoughts on a particular assignment. But, in general, on this one particular assignment, out of the ten people in our Huddle, there were only about three unique answers. We continue to examine a matrix that deals with the importance of “invitation” and “challenge” in our lives. There are four quadrants in the matrix, from “low invitation/low challenge” to “high invitation/high challenge.” During the past week, we were all supposed to identify times in our lives that fit into each of the four quadrants. Very interesting. For the coming week, we are supposed to examine the core values of the church and see where each of them fits into the matrix.


Today’s birthdays are Suleiman I (the Magnificent), 1494, Charles Dow, 1851, John Phillip Sousa, 1854, Walter Johnson, 1887, Jim Jordan (Fibber Mcgee), 1896, Jonathan Harris, 1914, Ray Conniff, 1914, Sally Field, 1946, Glenn Frey, 1948, Maria Shriver, 1955, and Peter DeLuise, 1966.

Most people think of “Stars and Stripes Forever” when they think of Sousa. Not me. I think of this march:

Wink, wink, nudge, nudge, say no more. . . 😉


TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

Sing praises to the LORD with the lyre, with the lyre and the sound of melody!
With trumpets and the sound of the horn make a joyful noise before the King, the LORD!
Psalm 98:5-6
Our soul waits for the LORD; he is our help and our shield.
For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name.
Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us, even as we hope in you.
Psalm 33:20-22
How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them!
If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you.
Psalm 139:17-18
Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:29-31

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.


Today’s reading in A Year With God is called “Do Justice.” The scripture reading is Micah 6:6-8.

“With what shall I come before the LORD, and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old?
Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?”
He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

These are probably the most well-known words from the prophet Micah. “The Lord despises empty religious rituals.” To please the Lord requires the proper treatment of the poor and downtrodden, the widows and orphans, “to do justice, and to love kindness.” It also requires close communion with God, “to walk humbly” with him. “Christian spiritual formation ought not and, indeed, cannot be divorced from compassionate social engagement.”

One way to practice the discipline of sacrifice is to put the needs of our neighbors before our own, practicing justice and kindness in our own lives.


Father, I pray that you would melt my heart with this message. I know that there is not a lot that a single person can do to ease the pain of millions in this world that are poor and downtrodden. And we do a little with what we have. But you have blessed us tremendously. What will we sacrifice to do your will? Teach us to sacrifice even more, Lord. Show us what we should do, while at the same time teaching us to “to walk humbly” with you. May we not be guilty of empty religious rituals. I pray that the worship in which we engage will be true worship, laying down our hearts before you, that you might take us and mold us into the shapes that you desire for us to be.

Father, as I pray for this day, I pray that Christi and I will have a successful work day, meeting all challenges with the faith and power given us by the Spirit. Draw Stephanie closer to you and teach her of your lovingkindness.

Your grace is sufficient.


Grace and peace, friends.