In Wonder, Now

It is Tuesday, the twelfth of April, 2022, in the sixth week of Lent, Holy Week.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,406

It was a pretty lazy day, yesterday, but I did manage to get a few things done. I never left the house, though, except for going to get the mail and retrieving the trash/recycling bins from the curb. Today, I will be going out to get lunch and dinner for everyone. Our tradition Tuesday meals are Subway, since I work late on Tuesdays. I get enough food for C, Mama, and S to have something for dinner while I am at work.

Tomorrow, we are going to try something new in the crockpot. I found this recipe for Slow Cooker Creamy Italian Chicken Soup at Emily Bites. We have found a few good recipes there, and they are all WW friendly. This one will cook while I am at work on Wednesday. And, since I am also working Thursday, now, I’ll make sure the crockpot is clean Wednesday night so I can cook our other chicken soup dish Thursday.

The Texas Rangers lost their home opener, yesterday, thanks to a couple of errors by Cory Seager, and a really horrible review call from the folks at MLB in NYC that ended the game. The current regime of “leadership” in MLB is ruining the game, in my not so humble opinion. And that’s all I’m going to say about that. The final score was 6-4 in ten innings. The Red Sox lost their game to the Tigers, 3-1, so both the Rangers and the Red Sox are at 1-3 on the season. The Rangers sit in last place in the AL West, a position they have gotten far too comfortable with, and the Red Sox are also in last place in the AL East.

The Tampa Bay Rays lost, yesterday, so after only four games, there are no undefeated teams in MLB. Houston, Tampa, and Chicago continue to lead the AL, while Philadelphia, Chicago, and San Diego lead the NL. The Rangers play the Rockies again tonight, at 7:05 CDT. The Red Sox play the Tigers in an afternoon game, in Detroit, at 12:10 CDT.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

The Sense Of,” by Daryl Madden

A sense of the morning
Of what is to be
To draw a new breath
Of possibilities

A sense in life daily
Past stress and of fear
A whisper of calling
To pause and draw near

A sense in the sunset
Of grace here to flow
Regrets of the should done
And letting it go

The sense of the Spirit
To foster and grow
With a prayer of moment
To let God’s love flow

I love the end of the third stanza, “Regrets of the should done And letting it go.” Please check out more of Daryl’s inspirational poetry at the link provided above.

Some Pharisees from the crowd told him, “Teacher, get your disciples under control!” But he said, “If they kept quiet, the stones would do it for them, shouting praise.”
(Luke 19:39-40 MSG)

That’s why I’m thanking you, GOD, all over the world. That’s why I’m singing songs that rhyme your name.
(2 Samuel 22:50 MSG)

Today I am grateful:

1. for chocolate covered toffee, such as Heath bars
2. for "now," the only time that we truly have; may God help us stop worrying about the past and the future and focus on the now
3. for the beauty, majesty, and glory of God's creation, and how He has revealed Himself to us
4. for unexpected encounters with God
5. for the faith that helps me always be ready to give an answer

Today’s prayer word is “now.”

God reminds us, I heard your call in the nick of time; The day you needed me, I was there to help. Well, now is the right time to listen, the day to be helped.
(2 Corinthians 6:2 MSG)

How much time do we spend rehashing the past or worrying about the future? Both activities create much unnecessary stress in our lives. “Eac removes us from the present and cheats us of the full blessing of this life, this day, this moment – this ‘now.'”

I love the way that “Bob” words this next part. “The single, simple word now can be a way of awakening yourself to the beauty of your own life, a way of fully breathing in and breathing out the blessing of being alive . . . now.”

The past is gone, nothing can be done about it. The future is not yet, and while you may be able to do something to have an effect on it, worrying or stressing about it is strictly forbidden by our Lord. Praying “now,” that simple word, may be a way to focus on the only time that we can call our own, this very moment.

(From Pray a Word a Day)

Some Pharisees from the crowd told him, “Teacher, get your disciples under control!” But he said, “If they kept quiet, the stones would do it for them, shouting praise.”
(Luke 19:39-40 MSG)

“‘How can anyone see mountains and not know there is a God?'”

That’s why I’m thanking you, GOD, all over the world. That’s why I’m singing songs that rhyme your name.
(2 Samuel 22:50 MSG)

Sing to GOD, everyone and everything! Get out his salvation news every day! 
Publish his glory among the godless nations, his wonders to all races and religions. 
And why? Because GOD is great—well worth praising! No god or goddess comes close in honor. 
All the popular gods are stuff and nonsense, but GOD made the cosmos! 
Splendor and majesty flow out of him, strength and joy fill his place. 
Shout Bravo! to GOD, families of the peoples, in awe of the Glory, in awe of the Strength: Bravo! 
Shout Bravo! to his famous Name, lift high an offering and enter his presence! Stand resplendent in his robes of holiness! 
God is serious business, take him seriously; he's put the earth in place and it's not moving. 
So let heaven rejoice, let earth be jubilant, and pass the word among the nations, "GOD reigns!" 
(1 Chronicles 16:23-31 MSG)

(From Daily Guideposts 2022)

It was just a normal average weekday when the “woman at the well” found herself discovering God in her life, as she did a normal average task that she had done countless times before, drawing a bucket of water.

“This kind of thing happens all the time. And it happens to all of us. We meet God when we least expect it in places that we never would have guessed. In the middle of routines, a sudden longing is released and comes out into the open. While passing the time of day, we hear God’s Word spoken and life is changed.”

As we go about our daily, ordinary lives, as ordinary people, we mistakenly think that God is a million miles away, but then Jesus engages us in some conversation, out of the blue, and changes our lives. “There is no style of life that exempts us from these meetings, there is no day of the week on which it may not happen, and there is no work that may not provide the scene for an encounter.”

(From On Living Well, by Eugene H. Peterson)

On the other side of that coin (the rest of this is my thoughts), there is no place that makes it more likely to happen, no day of the week that makes it more likely to happen, and no vocation that makes it more likely to happen. Sunday isn’t special. It’s just another day of the week. It is not the “sabbath.” It’s just Sunday, and God can interact with us just as well on Thursday as He can on Sunday. (I originally typed Wednesday, but then remember that a lot of Baptists still have meetings on Wednesday evenings.)

I have met God listening to Pink Floyd on the radio in my car. I have had encounters with God on what appeared to be prank, random phone calls.

The woman in John 4 thought she was just going to the well to get a bucket of water. Not only was her life changed, but the lives of everyone she knew were changed, as well.

Another thought. This reading seems to be pointing in the direction of being the woman, who has the unexpected encounter with Jesus. We who follow Christ should also be prepared to be Jesus in that scenario. We should be ready to have an unexpected encounter (I realize that Jesus never had an “unexpected encounter”) with a “woman at the well.” This is why, I believe, that Peter admonishes us to always be ready to give an answer.

Through thick and thin, keep your hearts at attention, in adoration before Christ, your Master. Be ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks why you’re living the way you are, and always with the utmost courtesy.
(1 Peter 3:15 MSG)

Father, help me to always be ready to give an answer, to explain the reason for the way I live, the way I am, for the joy that overflows my soul, most of the time. I’m not joyful all the time, I confess that. I don’t know very many people who are. Also help me to always be ready for that unexpected encounter with either You or with someone else who needs an unexpected encounter with You. Help me to be that channel of Your grace, Your steadfast love and mercy, Your compassion. Let me never get so caught up in the “ordinary” that I forget to look for You.

Thank You for opening up my heart, my eyes, my soul, to wonder. I know the truth of “I see the stars; I hear the rolling thunder, Thy power throughout the universe displayed.” My soul has, many times, sung “How great Thou art,” as I look around me. I, too, wonder how anyone can look at a scene like the one pictured above and not believe that You exist. I don’t get it. But I do know that it is true, and will go to my grave proclaiming Your glory and majesty.

And, finally, I thank You for “now.” I am one who spends way too much time rehashing the past (“I should have said”) or worrying about the future (“What if??”). I still beat myself up over that day, in seminary, at the Thanksgiving chapel, when I didn’t do what I felt Your Spirit urging me to do! There is no point in that, though. I can’t change the past, and there’s not an awful lot I can do about the future, either. Even preparations for the future can be derailed by unexpected encounters! So help me focus on “now,” help me “know You in the now.”

All glory to You, through the Son, and by the Spirit!

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

“And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you.”
(Psalms 39:7 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Looking for the Good Stuff

Good morning. Today is Saturday, the ninth of April, 2022, in the fifth week of Lent.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,403

Yesterday was a pretty good day, over all. There was a period of tenseness, at one point, because I made a bad decision about when to go pick up Freebirds for dinner. I foolishly decided to go between 4:30 and 5:00. Not only was the restaurant behind, but traffic was horrible, as I tried to get home. Lesson learned.

Otherwise, the day was great. Well, hold on. The Texas Rangers and Boston Red Sox both lost their opening day games. The Sox went extra innings to lose to the Yankees, and the Rangers’ bullpen blew a 7-0 lead against the Blue Jays. It’s just one game, though. One out of 162.

The cake was very delicious. Did I mention that C made a strawberry cake?

The cats want to eat the flowers

Those are the flowers that I went out and bought before I even started my morning routine, yesterday. And that’s Rocky on the left and Luna on the right.

Fortunately, in spite of the difficulty in obtaining it, the food from Freebirds was delicious. And we enjoyed watching the Rangers game together.

Today, we plan to go out for lunch in a little while, and then head over to a gift shop in Keller, where a relative of mine is autographing copies of her newest children’s book. She’s the sister of my aunt-by-marriage, so I’m not sure what you call that. I suppose she’s sort of my aunt, as well, but only by marriage . . . there is no blood relation. So far, the Internet has been no help in answering that question.

Tomorrow, we will be heading back to Minerals Wells, to FBC, for their Easter music presentation, as it is Palm Sunday. We plan to pick up something and have lunch at the home place, and Mama will probably pick out a few more things to bring back to Fort Worth. At some point, there’s set of chairs and a table on the back deck, that we want to bring over and put on our back porch. But I don’t think we will be able to fit that tomorrow.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

The Answer Is Yes,” by Daryl Madden

The question from our God
Of our life to bless
Will you accept my love?
Let our answer be yes!

The precious gift of grace
A humble soul, confess
Will you receive my mercy?
Let our answer be yes!

With your gifts bestowed
Our purpose to profess
Will you live my calling?
Let our answer be yes!

Of our life’s unknowns
In times of fear and stress
Will you trust in Me?
Let our answer be yes!

For life is a practice
So, we don’t have to guess
With Me to dwell, forever?
With joy, we answer, yes!
"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?
(Micah 6:6-8 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for another day to celebrate with my family
2. for the ability to sing praises to God
3. for the therapeutic value of humming a happy tune
4. to be a sheep of Jesus Christ
5. that the "good stuff" is found far beyond "the crowd"

“And if you will indeed obey my commandments that I command you today, to love the LORD your God, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul, he will give the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the later rain, that you may gather in your grain and your wine and your oil. And he will give grass in your fields for your livestock, and you shall eat and be full. Take care lest your heart be deceived, and you turn aside and serve other gods and worship them; then the anger of the LORD will be kindled against you, and he will shut up the heavens, so that there will be no rain, and the land will yield no fruit, and you will perish quickly off the good land that the LORD is giving you.”
(Deuteronomy 11:13-17 ESV)

Today’s prayer word is interesting. It is “hum.” You know, as in when you don’t know the words, you just hum?

“There’s no better way to calm your mind and boost your spirits than by humming a happy tune.” ~ Psychology Today

The Bible, especially the Psalms, is full of exhortation to sing praises to God. But what if you can’t sing? I know people who couldn’t carry a tune in an iron-clad safe! What are they supposed to do? Well, I know . . . the Bible also says, “Make a joyful noise.”

Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises!
(Psalms 98:4 ESV)

I once knew a man who would whistle during the hymns at church.

Jennie, today’s writer, brings up the idea of kazoos. If there is anyone out there who does not know what that is (and I’m not talking about the little green guy that troubled Fred Flintstone), it’s a musical instrument through which sound is created by humming! There is a mouthpiece, followed by a piece of thin paper of some kind, a membrane that vibrates when you hum through it, making a buzzing noise.

Of course, if you can’t really sing in tune, I don’t know that you could hum in tune, either.

In all seriousness, though, our writer for today has a good point. Even if one has a decent singing voice (I’ve been told that I do), humming can be therapeutic, and even cathartic.

It can also annoy people, though, so discretion is advised.

(From Pray a Word a Day)

And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you obey the voice of the LORD your God.
(Deuteronomy 28:2 ESV)

Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out.
(Deuteronomy 28:6 ESV)

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.
(Psalms 32:8 ESV)

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.
(John 10:27 ESV)

These are some good verses. Especially the bit in John 10, which is one of my favorite chapters.

Daily Guideposts 2022 writer, Tia McCollors, uses her son’s Easter egg hunt experience to illustrate a great concept, that of not going along with, or going beyond, “the crowd.” I would like to think that I fall into that category.

You see, I’ve always been a bit of a loner. I am an only child. No brothers and sisters to play with. One would think that this would cause me to grow up not knowing how to share. I don’t think that is true. I like to think I’m pretty generous, these days.

And, while I did have friends, it never bothered me to play alone. And it still doesn’t. In fact, I struggle, sometimes, with playing with others. The phrase “does not play well with others” comes to mind.

I even wrote a song, once upon a time, in honor of my mother (it was called “Mama Won’t You Hold Me Just A Little Longer”) that talked about being left out a lot. The bridge went something like this:

I'm still the one who gets left out 
because I don't like to play their games.
But now I run to a different One
Because my Mama taught me well
To the One who knows all my pain
To Him my sorrows I can tell

There are actually a couple of lines up there that I can’t remember, and the song lyrics, sadly, have been lost, I’m afraid. There may be a recording of it somewhere, but it’s likely on a cassette. Also, the last chorus shifts from “Mama, won’t you hold me” to “Jesus, won’t You hold me.” I thought it was clever.

The point is, though, that I don’t tend to “follow the crowd.” Yet, I would gladly consider myself a “sheep” for Jesus’s sake. I am one of His sheep. I like to think I know His voice, and follow Him. And it is exactly those truths that make me tend to not follow even the “religious” crowd.

Like Tia McCollors’s son in the Easter egg hunt, I realize that all the “good stuff” is beyond where the crowd tends to be.

Continuing to speak of Jesus, Eugene Peterson reminds us that His parables often make us look beyond what we call our “real world.” We tend to reduce His words to make them fit into our own preconceived ideas about what life should be like.

But, says Peterson, “Jesus’s words bring us the news of an expanded world, a bright world, a full-dimensional world – a world in which God rules, mercy is a common experience, and love is the daily working agenda, not an occasional romantic interlude. Jesus’s words orient us to the world that is changed from the inside out by his arrival and rule.”

That is the world I want to be part of. I don’t want to be part of a world where people who claim to be following Jesus spew hatred and meanness to anyone who looks different from them or thinks different from them. And that’s why I look beyond the crowd for the “good stuff.”

That is not “Christianity.” That is a cult.

(From On Living Well, by Eugene H. Peterson)

Father, first, I thank You for the ability to sing Your praises. You have blessed me with that ability, and I strive to use it for Your praise and glory. I am also grateful for the concept of humming. Sometimes it makes one feel better just to hum a happy tune.

I am also grateful to be considered one of Your sheep. Some people use the term derogatorily, but it doesn’t offend me. I’m glad to know Your voice, at least I hope I do, and follow Jesus as He leads.

Help me to always be looking for the “good stuff,” far beyond the crowd. Help me to never try to water down Your words by trying to make them fit into our concept of what reality is. I know that reality is what I bump into when I am wrong about something, or when I make a bad decision. Reality doesn’t always fit where I want it to be. But You are the true Reality and Jesus is the Truth and the Life, and my Way to reach You.

All glory to You, through the Son and by the Spirit.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.

The Final Word

Today is Sunday, the twenty-seventh of June, 2021.

Shalom Aleichem!

Day 23,117 (the number of days I have existed on this planet).

Seven days until July 4th!

I’ve got my second cup of coffee, and I’m ready to roll!

It’s Sunday morning, so we have our worship gathering at 10:15. I believe we are going to be reading Psalm 33 and beyond (hopefully), this morning. We have started singing again, and will be singing Pat Barrett’s “God Is So Good,” along with “Great Are You Lord.” There will likely be one other song, but Brandon has yet to let us know.

Psalm 33 is a good place to start, this morning, too, as it starts out talking about singing and music played on stringed instruments.

Yesterday was a good day. It was a little strange, but good. As we were unloading our grocery order from WNM (Walmart Neighborhood Market), we realized that they had given us “seeded” grapes instead of “seedless” grapes. Yuck. So while I put groceries away, C drove back to Walmart to switch those out, which turned out to be a much more tedious task than you would expect, especially considering that it was their mistake.

It appears that they even confused themselves, because, while they gave C a gift card for the amount of the grapes (just under $20), I also got an email telling me that a refund had been issued to our debit card. So they may have refunded them twice. I’m not sure how to handle that one. I’m all about honesty, and all, but some mistakes are hard to fix. We had a similar mistake with Albertson’s a couple weeks ago.

I had ordered eight pints (my standard order) of Nick’s Triple Choklad ice cream. They called me to tell me that they only had four, and asked if I would like to get a different kind. I chose their Mint Choklad and another flavor to fill out the eight pints.

I was charged for those two flavors, but the four pints of Triple Choklad did not appear on the receipt, even though we received them in the delivery.

Things that make you go “hmmm.”

C also went out and got her oil changed and returned some library books, and then got started on her latest kitchen project, the aforementioned painting of the kitchen cabinets. She took all the doors off and took them to the garage where she sanded and primed them. Then she sanded and primed the surfaces in the kitchen. She has already gotten an early start and has applied the first coat to the parts in the kitchen (only on the side next to the refrigerator), and will probably get the doors painted after church.

I’m sure we will have Applebee’s for lunch today. I’m planning on having that Bourbon Street Chicken and Shrimp again. That was delicious! And well worth the 17 points.

Speaking of points, I gained a pound at WW yesterday. I was prepared for it, though, as I do check my weight throughout the week. It’s frustrating, but I keep reminding myself of several things. First, I have lost 120 pounds since February of 2020. So when one number has a + next to it instead of a -, I focus on the other number.

The other thing is that I have had multiple mediation changes over the last month, which has to have some effect on my body. Oh, and another thing. Plateaus happen. Just like back at the end of last year when I was trying so hard to hit that 100 pound loss mark. It took me almost a month to lose that last pound! So here I am again, roller-coastering around a plateau, which I will get past. In fact, this morning, I am at the lowest weight so far, on this journey, so that’s encouraging.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

From ibelieve.com

Sing to him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy.
(Psalms 33:3 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the joy that is in my soul, this morning, that pervasive sense of well-being.
2. for an opportunity to worship together with brothers and sisters in Christ, along with the community of saints, world wide.
3. that Jesus is Your "final word."
4. that, in Jesus Christ, all the fulness of You lives in bodily form.
5. that You are a stronghold for the oppressed and downtrodden.

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK SIX – DAY ONE

INVITATION

“Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are his.
(Daniel 2:20 NIV)

I pause, briefly, in Your presence, to praise Your Name; all wisdom and power belong to You. Cleanse me, daily, from my sinfulness and teach me new songs that I might truly shout for joy, both in Your presence, and in the presence of the saints.

BIBLE SONG

Praise the LORD.

Praise the LORD from the heavens;
praise him in the heights above.
Praise him, all his angels;
praise him, all his heavenly hosts.
Praise him, sun and moon;
praise him, all you shining stars.
Praise him, you highest heavens
and you waters above the skies.
(Psalms 148:1-4 NIV)

Let them praise the name of the LORD,
for his name alone is exalted;
his splendor is above the earth and the heavens.
And he has raised up for his people a horn,
the praise of all his faithful servants,
of Israel, the people close to his heart.

Praise the LORD.
(Psalms 148:13-14 NIV)

BIBLE READING

In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs.
(Hebrews 1:1-4 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I remind myself that I am in the presence of the Lord, I read these passages again, asking the Spirit to guide me to truth, to something that I can carry with me, into this day, and beyond.

As we continue to approach the end of the Psalms, the them continues to be praise, purely praise. Each psalm begins and ends with a hallelujah. This reinforces, to me, the idea that praise should be the central theme of my life. It goes hand in hand with joy, which is, once again, a pervasive sense of well-being, that cannot be sullied by circumstance.

Walking in the Kingdom of God, where everything is much better than I could possibly imagine, praise and joy should be natural. Doesn’t mean I’m always happy, mind you. Joy and happiness are not the same thing. I can have joy and still be sad. I can even have joy and be angry about something, but that’s a little trickier, because my anger is usually sinful.

Likewise, I can praise God in any situation. Know this, though. If I can praise the Lord through a rough or bad situation, it does not mean that I am praising Him for that situation! People who try to do that are tricking themselves, which is never good. And it doesn’t work, either. True joy and praise will be evident in a person’s life.

What the Hebrews passage does is, in a sense, solidify God’s “final word.” Of course, this reminds me of a song, and if you are familiar with Michael Card, you already know which one I am thinking of.

God used to speak through prophets and in other “various ways.” But, according to Hebrews, which is Scriptural truth, “in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son.”

Prophets are “in the past.” Do I believe that there are no more “prophets?” I think I do. I believe that there are no more “prophets,” not in the biblical sense, as I believe that there are no more “apostles.” There are a lot of people out there who call themselves “prophet” and “apostle.” Actually, there are more who consider themselves “apostle.” The woman who spoke at my mother-in-law’s funeral service called herself an apostle. I follow another WordPress sight, on which one of the writers calls himself “apostle.”

I’m not going to argue with you if you think you are an apostle. I just don’t believe that you really are.

Because God speaks through Jesus, now. Jesus is His Final Word. In fact, Jesus is THE Word, just as He is The Way, The Truth, and The Life.

Jesus is everything.

The universe was created through Him, according to the author of Hebrews (reminder . . . we don’t know who that is). I’m not at all sure how that worked, but I believe it because it is what the Bible says.

And verse 3 is perhaps one of the most powerful verses in the New Testament.

The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.
(Hebrews 1:3 NIV)

Compare that to Paul’s statement in Colossians 2:9.

For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body.
(Colossians 2:9 NLT)

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.

Father, it is so easy for me to praise You when I am reading these truths. Thank You for Jesus! I take great comfort in knowing that He is Your final word! This doesn’t mean that I don’t need to read the words written by Your prophets of old, as they are also Your words. What it does mean is that we need to stop looking for other words. I might be wrong about there not being any more apostles or prophets. I fully admit that. And I will leave it to You to change my mind, if I am. But no human will change my mind. We are so arrogant, Father, to presume that we might be either one, apostle or prophet. I would never make that presumption. I’m just another man, trying to do my best to live in Your Kingdom and walk in the teachings and steps of Jesus, Your final word. Help me to show Him to this world in everything that I do, think, and say.

Creator and sustainer of all things,
scientists seek the mysteries that hold the universe together,
a theory that explains everything.
But you already have a name for that reality.
It's Jesus,
who upholds heaven and earth and everything in it.
He is the still point in the universe,
the clearest expression of your mind,
the sustaining word that holds everything together.
In the name of him who holds and keeps my life,
amen.
(Heidelberg Catechism 27)

BLESSING

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ.
(Philippians 1:9-10 NIV)

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
(Philippians 2:4 ESV)

The LORD is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.
(Psalms 9:9 ESV)

Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.
(Proverbs 11:25 ESV)

Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will repay him for his deed.
(Proverbs 19:17 ESV)

There are some serious sermons in these verses. If we know (and believe) that the Lord is a “stronghold for the oppressed,” it should terrify us to think that we were not doing the same. If my God cares for the oppressed, I had better be doing the same. Not only that, I had darned sure better not be doing the opposite!

Remember my previous discussions on what constitutes wickedness? People who do not care for the oppressed (or who might even be doing the oppressing) are, most definitely “wicked.”

And just look at the truths presented in Proverbs. I don’t believe these are technically “promises,” as some would say. I think they are just facts. If you bring blessings to people, you will be “enriched.” That is a consequence of your blessing. If you water someone else, you, yourself, will be watered. And if you are generous to the poor, the Lord will repay you, in some way, as though you were lending to Him. I know this truth from experience.

Father, I thank You that You have placed generosity in my heart. However, let me not get too comfortable, thinking that, just because I have been generous to the poor and needy in the past, that I’m all good. There is still much to be done, in this world, to care for the oppressed, the rejected, the poor, the widows and orphans, all the people about which You care greatly. So let me care about them, as well. Keep putting these thoughts in my head and in my heart, that I might use the resources with which You have blessed me to turn around and bless, or “water,” someone else. May my motivations be pure, at all times, never seeking just my own interests, but looking out for the interests and well-being of others, as well. All glory to You, through the Son and by the Spirit.

Lord, may we know Your resurrection hope and joy, this morning, as we worship You together. Give us power and willingness to share the gospel in our lives, as we walk through each day, showing this world a living Christ. Please give strength and hope to all persecuted Christians around the world today.

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.