Holy, Holy, Holy

Today is Thursday, the seventh of October, 2021.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,219

Only five more days until our 36th anniversary. The gift arrived yesterday, and since it was too big to hide, it has already been unveiled.

A pair of “zero-gravity” lounge chairs with matching table. If our house didn’t face west (the back yard is on the east side), I would be sitting in one, right now, drinking my coffee. But the sun is shining out there, right now, and he and I are not friends. So perhaps I will sit out there and read some, this evening.

I got everything accomplished that I intended, yesterday. The laundry got folded, the groceries got bought, and the chicken stir-fry got cooked for dinner. Today, there is absolutely nothing on the agenda. I’m off work today.

C and I went for a walk, yesterday evening, right before dinner time. As we walked, we discussed the fact that I was retired, and I realized that I still haven’t quite “wrapped my head around” that fact. What does that even mean? I can’t wrap my head around anything!

Once my library work schedule settles down, I need to come up with some kind of . . . hang on a minute. Do I really, though?? Maybe it’s better to just “wing it.”

Let’s see. Baseball. The Dodgers won last night, 2-1, on a walk off home run in the bottom of the ninth. I suppose it doesn’t get much more exciting than that. I’m disappointed, though, that the Dodgers won. I don’t care that much, but I’m just not a fan. And now the Dodgers play the Giants in the ALDS. To me, that is terribly boring. But they were the two top teams in MLB for the season.

Today, the Other Sox and Astros play 3PM, CDT, and the Red Sox and Rays play at 7:00 CDT. I might watch the Red Sox game tonight.

Today is Frappe Day. I don’t know much about this, but it’s some kind of coffee drink, somehow related to the Frappuccino.

The word for today is pariah, a noun meaning, “any person or animal that is generally despised or avoided.”

Today’s quote is from Frederick Douglas, American author. “The soul that is within me no man can degrade.”

Significant birthdays on October 7:

Al Martino, American singer (Speak Softly Love), 1927-2009
Desmond Tutu, Anglican Archbishop of South Africa and 1984 Nobel Peace Prize winner, 1931 (90)
Dave Hope, American rock bassist (Kansas, A.D.), 1949 (72)
John Mellencamp, American rock singer/songwriter (Jack & Diane, Little Pink Houses), 1951 (70)
Yo-Yo Ma, Chinese-American cellist, 1955 (66)
Simon Cowell, English record executive and TV producer, 1959 (62)
Thom York, British musician (Radiohead), 1968 (53)

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

The Lord is faithful;
He will establish and guard;
We have confidence.
(2 Thessalonians 3)
Give thanks with a grateful heart
Give thanks to the Holy One
Give thanks because He's given
Jesus Christ, His Son

And now, let the weak say I am strong
Let the poor say I am rich
Because of what the Lord has done
For us
(Henry Smith, © 1978)

Today I am grateful:

1. that You have given me a thankful heart
2. for music; songs that I can sing to thank You and praise You
3. that I am rich because of what You have done for me; blessed beyond all imagination
4. for Your holiness
5. for the depths of Your splendor and majesty and beauty; indescribable!

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TWENTY – DAY FIVE

INVITATION

The LORD loves what is righteous and just; his constant love fills the earth.
(Psalms 33:5 GNB)

As I pause to reflect on Your constant love, I seek Your presence in this place. I know You are here, but I need to focus on Your presence and know it; I need to feel that You are here. As I sit with eyes closed, I sense Your presence in the room. It calms me; it strengthens my resolve and desire to know You more.

BIBLE SONG

Sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth.
Sing to the LORD, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day.
Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples.

For great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods.
For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the LORD made the heavens.
Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and glory are in his sanctuary.
(Psalms 96:1-6 NIV)

Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the sea resound, and all that is in it.
Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them; let all the trees of the forest sing for joy.
Let all creation rejoice before the LORD, for he comes, he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples in his faithfulness.
(Psalms 96:11-13 NIV)

BIBLE READING

In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army. They destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem.
One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful, and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, “She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.” Then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he slept with her. (Now she was purifying herself from her monthly uncleanness.) Then she went back home. The woman conceived and sent word to David, saying, “I am pregnant.”
(2 Samuel 11:1-5 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I read these passages, I seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance, that He might lead me in meditation and prayer, seeking truth in the words of Scripture.

Psalm 96 is a beautiful hymn of worship. It is the favorite psalm of one of our leaders. In fact, he wrote a song based on it, which we have sung at many nights of worship and Sunday morning worship services.

This another in the series of “orphan” psalms, so called because no author is attributed at the beginning. We don’t know who wrote them.

As Matthew Henry points out, we are called upon, three times in the first two verses, to sing. Not just to sing, but to “sing to the LORD!” Sing to Him; praise Him; proclaim His salvation; declare His glory and His marvelous deeds.

Why? Because He is great and worthy of praise! And He “is to be feared above all gods.” There’s that “gods” thing again. But, at least we have a bit of an explanation in this psalm. “The gods of the nations are idols” (verse 5). In other words, they are fake. Our God made the heavens; “splendor and majesty are before Him; strength and glory are in His sanctuary.”

Where is His sanctuary? I suppose there could be several answers. In one sense, His “sanctuary” is within me; within you, because He resides or dwells within us, in our spirits and souls. In another sense, though, His sanctuary is all creation. And I think the last three verses show this.

In a symphony of praise, the psalmist calls out for the heavens to rejoice, the earth be glad, the sea redound, the fields be jubilant, the trees of the forests sing for joy.

“Let all creation rejoice.”

Lord of heaven and earth, I join with all creation in singing Your praises, this morning. I pray for more new songs to be written, songs that proclaim Your goodness in all creation. You are holy, holy, holy! The universe declares Your majesty! Splendor and majesty go before You; strength and glory are in Your sanctuary! You are beautiful, so beautiful! There are not enough words to describe You. Hallelujah to the Lord of heaven and earth!

I pray for spiritual renewal, this morning. I pray that our spirits would be renewed every day, every time we think of You. Give us deep repentance, daily. Precious Lord, reveal Your heart to me! You are holy, holy, holy!

BLESSING

“Happy are those whose greatest desire is to do what God requires; God will satisfy them fully!
(Matthew 5:6 GNB)

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 4:12 NIV)

I’m going to do something, here, that I don’t think I’ve ever done. I’m going to quote an entire Daily Guideposts reading, this one by Jon M. Sweeney, author and editor-in-chief at Paraclete Press.

“I went to church the other day for a noontime service that’s designed for people on lunch hour. My church is in downtown Milwaukee, near many office buildings. There are usually twenty to thirty people there at noon.

“On this day, the service had begun and the gospel was being read, when a man carrying two large overstuffed bags of possessions burst in the door. He wasn’t trying to be quiet as he walked the center aisle toward the front of the church. At one point, he turned and gesticulated wildly with his arms, scowling at a few people, in a way that made it pretty clear he was drunk. But he kept walking toward the front. When he reached the first pew, he loudly tossed the bags down and took off his coat, tossing that down rather dramatically, too. Then he turned around and looked at everyone, saying something that was inarticulate but angrily expressed. We didn’t know what he would do next.

“He then entered the pew, pulled out the kneeler (we have those in our church), and got down on his knees. He began to pray. That’s all I have to say about him.

“About me, I’ll say this: I judged him way too easily.

“Forgive me, God, for how I judge everyone around me all the time. Change my heart, mind, and soul.”

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?
(Matthew 7:1-3 NIV)

Confession time: I can identify with brother Sweeney, there. I struggle so much with this. I know, in my heart, that I am no better than anyone else. Yet I catch myself judging people, right and left, daily. May God forgive me, and change my heart as Jon has prayed.

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!

O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, 
have mercy upon us.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
have mercy upon us.
O, Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
grant us Your peace.
(Agnus Dei)

Grace and peace, friends.

All Creation Sings

Today is Wednesday, the fifth of May, 2021, in the fifth week of Easter.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,064

Four days until Mother’s Day!

As previously mentioned, we will be spending the Mother’s Day weekend helping my mother do some things around her house. There are boxes that need to be pulled down from shelves in closets, and other assorted things like that, so we will be spending Saturday and Sunday at her house. It will be a good time. I think R & J may show up Saturday.

C is working from home today. No particular reason, that I know of. Just because she can. 🙂

That’s about all I’ve got, this morning, so on to the devotional.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

I Have Chosen You, by Daryl Madden

Stop all the seeking
And list of things to do
Pause now with a prayer
To hear this message true

I Am here knocking
Nothing to pursue
You did not choose me
But I have chosen you

Know this in your soul
Wisdom to believe
Open up the door
A blessing to receive

With heart of gratitude
This treasure to embrace
A joyful revelation
The primacy of grace

We thank you, O God! We give thanks because you are near. People everywhere tell of your wonderful deeds.
(Psalms 75:1 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

  • for Your nearness to me, this morning
  • for Your wonderful deeds, which we proclaim, daily
  • for joy, the pervasive sense of well-being, which circumstances cannot shatter
  • for Your splendor and majesty, strength and glory; may we do better at acknowledging these
  • that all creation sings

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

EASTER – DAY 32

INVITATION

Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. . . . The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.
(Psalms 126:2-3 NIV)

I pause, briefly and quietly, to reflect on those “great things” and “wonderful deeds” which the Lord has done.

BIBLE SONG

Sing to the LORD a new song;
sing to the LORD, all the earth.
Sing to the LORD, praise his name;
proclaim his salvation day after day.
Declare his glory among the nations,
his marvelous deeds among all peoples.

For great is the LORD and most worthy of praise;
he is to be feared above all gods.
For all the gods of the nations are idols,
but the LORD made the heavens.
Splendor and majesty are before him;
strength and glory are in his sanctuary.
(Psalms 96:1-6 NIV)

Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad;
let the sea resound, and all that is in it.
Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them;
let all the trees of the forest sing for joy.
Let all creation rejoice before the LORD, for he comes,
he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness
and the peoples in his faithfulness.
(Psalms 96:11-13 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.
As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For in Scripture it says:
“See, I lay a stone in Zion,
a chosen and precious cornerstone,
and the one who trusts in him
will never be put to shame.”
Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe,
“The stone the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone,”
and,
“A stone that causes people to stumble
and a rock that makes them fall.”
They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for.
(1 Peter 2:2-8 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I remind myself that I am in God’s presence, this morning, I linger over these passages, allowing the Holy Spirit (hopefully) to direct my thoughts and meditations.

I am initially drawn to the thought that I don’t sing enough. That word, “sing,” is repeated three times in the first two verses. I’ve always been taught that when something is repeated in Scripture, that means it is really important. If it is repeated three times, that intensifies the importance.

Peter denied Christ three times. Three times, Jesus asked Peter “Do you love me?” There were three crucifixions the day Jesus died. I’m not sure of the significance of this, but it just came to my mind. He was in the grave three days and three nights.

“Three is a magic number,” Schoolhouse Rock told us.

But I digress . . . Here, the unnamed psalmist tells us to sing, three times. I’m not singing enough. Oddly enough, I can feel it in my voice, when I do sing. It gets tired more quickly than it used to, because it is out of practice.

Lord, help me fix this.

I am also drawn to the idea of “splendor and majesty” being before Him; “strength and glory” in His sanctuary.

I believe that modern Christianity has lost this sense of the splendor and majesty of God. We treat Him like our friendly grandfather who always gives us gifts. Yes, God is friendly; true, He is ancient, like our grandfathers; and it is also true that He gives us gifts.

But He is majestic and owns splendor; His “sanctuary” is filled with strength and glory and honor. If He is a grandfather, He is a grandfather before which we should humbly bow and worship.

Because, look at the last few verses in the psalm.

Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad;
let the sea resound, and all that is in it.
Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them;
let all the trees of the forest sing for joy.
Let all creation rejoice before the LORD, for he comes,
he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness
and the peoples in his faithfulness.
(Psalms 96:11-13 NIV)

I’m going to try something, this morning. As I drive to work, I’m going to try to consider and picture the heavens rejoicing, the earth being glad. I don’t have any sea around me, but there are a couple of large ponds that I drive by. I’m going to consider that they are resounding with the praise of God, and any creatures that might be around them. I’m going to imagine the fields being jubilant and the trees singing for joy.

All creation sings.

So should we.

Father, help me to sing more. Help us to sing more. Not just because it makes us feel good, which it does. But because the forests and seas do it; because the fields and creatures do it. And if we don’t, the rocks will. Help me to sing a new song to You, every day. Teach us to worship You again, in Your splendor and majesty, in Your strength and glory. You are good, and benevolent, but You are also powerful and majestic, and a bit scary, if we are looking at You correctly. Help us to see You as You truly are, not as we wish You were, or as some weak theology has told us. Teach us Yourself, Lord! Show us Your mighty face; Your beautiful, terrible face!

“You are beautiful; a terrible, terrible sight,” said Terry Scott Taylor I believe he nailed it.

Most High God,
you take ordinary people and anoint them into service in your temple.
May I be a living stone in your church today,
so that my every word and thought and action may be a sacrifice of praise to you.
Amen.
(Heidelberg Catechism 32)

BLESSING

Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.
(Jude 1:21 NIV)

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.
(Ephesians 6:18 NIV)

Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. 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 5:14-16 NIV)

Father, this might come as a surprise to some who know me, but I need You to teach me to pray better. My prayers need to be more consistent; more focused. Help me to pray throughout the day, especially when I least feel like it. When the troubles of the day come pouring in, and they will, minutes after I arrive at work, may Your Holy Spirit direct me to prayer, rather than frustration. And help me pray “all kinds of prayers,” as the above Scripture says. Calming and centering prayers, intercessory prayers, prayers of supplication and thanksgiving; and prayers of petition. Teach me to pray!

Lord, I lift up our communities, both locally and national. May Your presence be felt in them; may Your safety and protection be upon them. I pray for the continent of Europe, today. May it be filled with Your blessing, and may they see You as You are. I also lift up all who might be trapped in the industry of sex work. May You liberate them and bring justice to them.

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!

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.

Grace and peace, friends.