Today is Saturday, the 11th of March, 2023, in the second week of Lent.
May the peace of Christ fill your hearts and minds, today.
Yesterday was a nice, quiet day in the computer center. In fact, I think it was pretty quiet in the whole library. With the exception of the Magic: The Gathering club meeting at 4:30, I don’t think there were any other programs going on. I’m pretty sure we didn’t have more than 20-25 people in the computer center, all day. I never saw more than four or five people in the room at one time, and that one time, three of them were together.
We had a nice evening, after, watching the first of the latest three episodes of Daisy Jones and the Six on Prime Video. I’m glad they are releasing three at a time, so we don’t have to wait a whole week between episodes. I reckon we’ll watch episode five tonight. It’s such a great show. They have done an awesome job with it.
Today, seeing as it is my “birthday weekend,” I have decided that I want to have IHOP for brunch. I’ve already decided that I want to go to Hoffbrau Steakhouse for lunch on Monday, the actual “big day.” C has taken the day off, and we are planning pedicures, as well. And, rather than cook my usual burgers for dinner tonight, I believe we are going to try In N Out tonight. I tried them long ago, right after they appeared in this area, and wasn’t impressed. But when three out of twelve world-renowned chefs like their double cheeseburgers (animal style) better than any other fast food burger, I guess I should give them another shot.
By the way, the first chef mentioned, Nick Dixon, says his favorite is the McD’s double quarterpounder with cheese, and I have to say I agree. That has been my favorite fast food burger for a long time. I know it’s “heresy” in Texas, but it is so much better than Whataburger, which, in recent years, especially is highly overrated.
Anyway, enough of that. I don’t know what else I want to do today. Tomorrow, we are going to Mineral Wells for S (I hope she appreciates my willingness to do this on my birthday weekend), so she can have her outing at the pastor’s house, with his horse, donkey (mule? I can’t remember) and other animals. We will be attending the worship service at FBC, then having lunch somewhere. I’ve been trying to decide where. Earlier, I totally forgot about Natty Flats BBQ, and that may wind up being my choice.
So, let’s get on with the devotional. We slept until 9:00 this morning, which was wonderful!
TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
I cry to you; save me, that I may observe your decrees. (Psalms 119:146 NRSV)
Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart to revere your name. (Psalms 86:11 NRSV)
See, Hear, Feel, Know, by Daryl Madden
We see our God Past our disguise To gaze on Him Closing our eyes We hear our God Past human sense To listen to HIm Within silence We feel our God Beyond our will With longing soul In being still We know our God With bread we share In love, divine Incarnate here
I thought this to be a particularly lovely poem, expressing this truth that we can, in fact, see, hear, feel, and know God. Please visit Daryl’s site at the link provided, to see more of his inspirational poetry.
Dear Father in heaven, grant that we may share in the community of your Holy Spirit. In community with you our earthly troubles fall away and we remain in your peace in spite of all our failures and shortcomings, in spite of all the toil we must gladly take upon ourselves. Watch over us. Keep our hearts unshaken, clear, and steady. Keep us in the certainty that your kingdom is coming, is already beginning and can be plainly seen, so that all people can receive the good you have planned for them. Be with us this night. Amen.
Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God.
(Romans 5:1-2 NRSV)
Today I am grateful:
- for the hope of a fun day today, with family
- for justification by faith, which gives us peace with God
- for the grace in which we stand
- that in community with God, all of our earthly troubles fall away
- that my life is for others; it does not belong to me
Give ear to my words, O LORD; give heed to my sighing. Listen to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for to you I pray. O LORD, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I plead my case to you, and watch. (Psalms 5:1-3 NRSV)
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer. (Psalms 19:14 NRSV)
O LORD, who may abide in your tent? Who may dwell on your holy hill? Those who walk blamelessly, and do what is right, and speak the truth from their heart; who do not slander with their tongue, and do no evil to their friends, nor take up a reproach against their neighbors; in whose eyes the wicked are despised, but who honor those who fear the LORD; who stand by their oath even to their hurt; who do not lend money at interest, and do not take a bribe against the innocent. Those who do these things shall never be moved. (Psalms 15:1-5 NRSV)
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness— on them light has shined. (Isaiah 9:2 NRSV)
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.
"O God, who before the passion of your only-begotten Son revealed his glory upon the holy mountain: Grant that I, beholding by faith the light of his countenance, may be strengthened to bear my cross, and be changed into his likeness from glory to glory; through Jesus Christ my Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen." (The Divine Hours - The Prayer Appointed for the Week)
The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul. He leads me in right paths for his name's sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff—they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD my whole life long. (Psalms 23:1-6 NRSV)
Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
(Hebrews 4:16 NRSV)
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who are being protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1:3-5 NRSV)
Carrying out this social relief work involves far more than helping meet the bare needs of poor Christians. It also produces abundant and bountiful thanksgivings to God. This relief offering is a prod to live at your very best, showing your gratitude to God by being openly obedient to the plain meaning of the Message of Christ. You show your gratitude through your generous offerings to your needy brothers and sisters, and really toward everyone.
(2 Corinthians 9:12-13 MSG)
“Our life is for others,” says Eugene H. Peterson, in Run with the Horses, quoted in God’s Message for Each Day.
But before we get to that, I want to briefly discuss something else that comes up in several of today’s readings.
Grace. The Romans passage speaks of this grace, in which we now stand. The Hebrews passage speaks of approaching the “throne of grace,” so that we might receive grace (and mercy).
What is grace?
There have been cutesy acrostics that people have come up with. “God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.” It typically eschew such things. I think they cheapen the reality of what grace is. Plus that particular one doesn’t acknowledge our own inability to do anything for ourselves.
I kind of like the definition that includes mercy, and differentiates between the two. Grace is getting what we don’t deserve, and mercy is not getting what we do deserve. I think that still oversimplifies things a bit.
I also like Dallas Willard’s definition of grace (no surprise there, right?). He says that it is God doing for us what we cannot do for ourselves. I think that one nails it. Because we cannot do anything for ourselves, when it comes to our relationship with God. Even our ability to choose Him is a gift from Him.
And we stand in this grace, for it is the only place we are able to stand. If I step outside of that grace and begin to try to do things for myself, I quickly fall.
And it is because of this grace (and mercy) that we find the truth of Peterson’s statement, above. He says, also in that book, that we are at our best when we are giving. Giving is what we do best, he says. Now, to the untrained eye, that might not seem to be the case. Especially in the twenty-first century “evangelical church.” Over the last four or five years, the attitude of many people who claim to be Christ-followers has been anything but giving.
But that should be our attitude. I love Peterson’s statement. “Our life is for others.” We are not our own, Paul said in 1 Corinthians. We need to (I need to) get that truth embedded deeply in our minds and hearts. I do not belong to myself. First and foremost, I belong to God. I was bought with a price, says the same verse in 1 Corinthians.
I belong to the Body of Christ, because it is Christ who has paid the price for me. And that is why my life is for others. Just as Christ’s life was for us, we are to live as though our lives are for others.
Remember that “new command” that Jesus gave?
“I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.”
(John 13:34 NRSV)
We are to love one another as Christ loved us. And He loved us by giving Himself up for us. Therefore, that is how we are to love one another.
Father, help us to get this. Please help us to get it. Help me to embrace this truth, and to live as though my life is not my own. This works itself out in prayers and actions. I long to be found worthy of this grace, even though I cannot be worthy of it. Who shall dwell in Your tabernacle? The list of qualifications that follows that question is an impossible list. But, in Christ, all things are possible for us. In Christ, we have righteousness, and we are able to live and love one another as He has loved us.
Keep that in the front of our minds, Father, and soften our hearts. Help us to remember Jesus’s parable of the sheep and the goats, and that bit about “the least of these.” Help us to remember that this is what following Jesus looks like.
Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!
Grace and peace, friends.