Good morning. It’s Saturday, July 7. We got to sleep in again today. Nothing much to do today.
Oh, my. Today is “Chocolate Day.” That is certainly worthy of celebration!
On this date in 1930, the building of the Hoover Dam began. On this date in 1865, Mary Surratt became the first woman executed by the Federal Government, because of her alleged involvement in the conspiracy to assassinate President Lincoln. On this date in 1900, Wyatt Earp was killed in an Arizona saloon.
Last night, I learned that my Great-Aunt Peace, passed away. She was my Grandmama’s sister-in-law, sister of my Grandfather that I never knew, as he passed when my Dad was a boy. She was the last one living of those brothers and sisters, as far as I know. I wasn’t real close with her, and hadn’t seen her in a long while. However, I am Facebook friends with a few of her family members, a niece, a great-niece, and a great-granddaughter, I believe. These were closer to her than I was. Prayers would be appreciated for their comfort during this time. She was in her nineties, I believe, and had not been well for a while.
Father, I pray that you will show me something of yourself this morning.
Today, I’m reading Psalm 37. This one is another gem, full of great verses.
Trust in the LORD, and do good;
dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. [“Befriend faithfulness” could also be rendered “feed on faithfulness” or “find safe pasture.”]
Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart (3-4)
That is one of my favorite verses in all of Scripture. Not because I believe it promises that God will give me whatever I want, because I don’t believe that. I believe that it tells me that if I delight myself in him, then he will shape the desires of my heart to match his desires. And that is what I desire.
A large part of this Psalm is counseling the reader to not let the prosperity of the wicked bother him.
Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him;
fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!
Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath!
Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.
For the evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for the LORD shall inherit the land.
In just a little while, the wicked will be no more;
though you look carefully at his place, he will not be there.
But the meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace. (7-11)
Wait…patiently…words that we don’t like in our modern society.
And here’s one that gives me great comfort.
The steps of a man are established by the LORD, when he delights in his way;
though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the LORD upholds his hand. (23-24)
I will stumble, and even fall, but the Lord keeps hold of my hand.
The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom, and his tongue speaks justice.
The law of his God is in his heart;
his steps do not slip. (30-31)
There is a major goal of mine. If the law of God is in my heart, my steps will not slip. While it is true that this is a good justification for Scripture memorization, it is more than just memorizing. A lot of people seem to think that just memorizing Bible verses will help them in their quest for holiness or whatever it is that they are after. But we must remember…memorization is nothing more than head knowledge. This verse says that the law of the Lord is in his heart! We must learn it! This goes back to my verse for this year, which I have not visited lately. Joshua 1:8 says this: This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. It’s more than just knowing the words…we must meditate on it. Chew it up. Spend time thinking about it, pondering it, and allowing the Spirit to work it into our very being.
David closes this Psalm with these words:
The salvation of the righteous is from the LORD;
he is their stronghold in the time of trouble.
The LORD helps them and delivers them;
he delivers them from the wicked and saves them,
because they take refuge in him. (39-40)
There are so many good concepts in this Psalm that we can learn. But they take a lifetime to master. Especially that waiting patiently part.
My Utmost For His Highest
Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. Matthew 7:13-14
“If we are going to live as disciples of Jesus, we have to remember that all noble things are difficult.” What? But the person who led me to Christ promised me that life would be easy now! Are we guilty of this? Do we lie to people to try to get them to receive Christ? “Come to Jesus, and all your problems will be over!” But, as Chambers says, here, “The Christian life is gloriously difficult…” Our pastor, Joel Engle goes beyond that. He says, “The Christian life is not difficult; it’s impossible!” The KJV in the above verse is translated, Enter ye in at the strait gate. There are several definitions of “strait.” A more archaic definition is “strict, rigorous.” That could certainly fit, couldn’t it? But it also means “closely fitting; restricted, or tight.” The ESV and other versions render it “narrow.” Is that too simple? Here’s how Eugene Peterson translates these verses in The Message: “Don’t look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easy-going formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don’t fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. The way to life–to God!–is vigorous and requires total attention.” Wow. How many of us are trying to life this life in our “spare time?” That cuts right to the quick, doesn’t it? Chambers asks, “Do we so appreciate the marvelous salvation of Jesus Christ that we are our utmost for His highest?” Do we? I fear that I do not!
I am saved by the sovereign grace of God, through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I did nothing to earn that. But I must work that salvation out “in practical living.” This takes practice. This means that we need to be about learning those precepts (not just memorizing them), meditating on those verses. “If we obey the Spirit of God and practice in our physical life what God has put in us by His Spirit, then when the crisis comes, we shall find that our own nature as well as the grace of God will stand by us.” We can’t just live our lives, tending to God in our spare time, and then blame him when the crisis comes and we fail! Look at The Message translation again: “The way to life–to God!–is vigorous and requires total attention.” (Emphasis mine)
“Thank God He does give us difficult things to do! … God’s grace turns out men and women with a strong family likeness to Jesus Christ, not milksops.” (An ineffective, indecisive person.) This life is impossible. We cannot do it without God; without the indwelling Holy Spirit. “It takes a tremendous amount of discipline to live the noble life of a disciple of Jesus in actual things.” It is “vigorous and requires total attention.” It’s not a part time job.
Father, I confess that it is only your grace in my life that keeps me from throwing my hands up in the air and giving up. Yes, this life is hard. I have failed you so many times, but you keep bringing me along. As I have read these Scriptures and this reading from Chambers this morning, I realize how far I still have to go. I was cruising along thinking that I was doing okay. But I’m still treating your grace, this life, like a “part-time” thing! I am not “meditating” on these Scriptures, on these precepts. Lord, I pray for the influence of the Holy Spirit in my life, to cause me to remember these things. To make me remember during my days that I need to be pondering your words. I read them in the morning…I even pray on the way to work. Ooh… But then what? Do I remember during my work day to lift up prayers? Not very often! It’s time to get serious. I’m going to be working on memorizing some verses over the next few weeks. But I pray that they not just be memorized. As I memorize verses and learn precepts, may they get transferred from my head to my heart. Yes, Lord, this life is beyond difficult! It is impossible. But with you, all things are possible!
Enough beating myself up. Time to get moving.
I pray for this day, Lord. I pray for Christi’s health, that today, as she gets some rest (she even slept until 10am!) that she will begin to feel much better. Place your healing hand on her, Lord, that she will get over whatever is afflicting her. I pray for all of us, as we continue this journey to better health. Give us success and motivation to continue working out and eating better. Let us not slip back into unhealthy habits. I also pray for Susie, as she works on some health goals. We celebrate with her as she met her goal for last month. Give her the grace, courage, and strength to make her next goals. Thank you for making us an inspiration to others.
I pray for Nansii, Lord, a friend, who was to have her gall bladder out yesterday (that’s two friends in two weeks). I have not heard an update, so I don’t know how it went. I pray, though, that this surgery took care of the problems that she was having. I pray for comfort and strength for her husband, Bryan.
I pray for the leadership of our church, Father, that they will be constantly sensitive to the Spirit, in knowing how to direct our fellowship. This morning, I pray for Jeremy Edgar, the director of our worship ministries. He is busy every Sunday morning, running around making sure everything is working right. I pray that you give him wisdom as he leads us all in the worship ministries, and I pray that you would give me peace and help him find time to actually worship during the worship celebration time. I thank you for his leadership and the heart that he has for leading and inspiring people.
I pray earnestly that all of us, your people, will live holy lives by the power of Jesus Christ. May you help us all, by the power of the Spirit to work out our salvation with fear and trembling, and help us to all make living for you a full time occupation, not just a part time job.
Your grace us sufficient.
Give your all to Christ. Don’t be a milksop.
Grace and peace, friends.