Keep Your Eyes On the Son

Good morning. Today is Thursday, the third of February, 2022, in the fourth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ be with you, today.

Day 23,338

It was a fairly busy day at the library, yesterday, as people came in to get books in preparation for today’s winter storm. We have a subscription service that was initiated during the time that the library was closed in 2020. Those who sign up get three books a month, personally curated by a library staff member, based on the patron’s likes and preferences. A bookmark is provided with each book, that gives an opportunity for the patron to respond to the choice, indicating if the library staff person made a good choice for them. I see a lot of those come back through, some with good comments on them, but some with nothing at all, which is not at all helpful for the next month’s bag of books. I have thought about signing up for that myself.

Anyway, I handed out no less than seven of those bags, yesterday, which is, by far, a record for me. I handed out five during my first hour at the circ desk, and I don’t think I had ever given out that many in a whole day before.

The library, along with all city services (other than emergency of course), is closed today. I can’t speak for the rest of the area, but at my house, we pretty much only got sleet/freezing rain all night, and have had very little snow. Snow would be better, because sleet is ice, which means the roads are covered in ice. I don’t know what will happen tomorrow, regarding my library shift, because it won’t get above freezing today. In fact, the projected high is only 23.

Our power went out for about an hour, last night, at around 1:30. At first, I was angry. I will confess that, in the spirit of transparency. I always want to hold myself accountable for the things I “preach” here, and show that I am not, in fact, perfect, and have a long way to go. I was angry at our governor and the farcical board that controls electricity in the state of Texas, since a few years back (many of us had no idea that our government had even done this) when the state decided to foolishly remove itself from the federal power grid. This is why we were without power for over thirty hours last February (some people for even five whole days). And no improvements at all were made in the last year, because our government caters to capitalistic greed and will not hold power resource companies accountable to their actions.

However, in the midst of my anger, it was as if the Holy Spirit were speaking peace into my soul, reminding me that my trust and hope is not in human beings, but in the Lord. The power was restored in less time than predicted by the power company. It took me a while to calm down and go back to sleep, which may not have happened at all, had it not been for that peace received from the Spirit. I was wrong to be angry, yes. My thoughts were not wrong, and someone in power still should be held accountable, and hopefully in this year’s election, that will happen. But I was wrong to be angry, because my hope is not in princes, kings, presidents, or governors. My hope is in the Lord God Almighty, and He is my strength and shield.

Today is my normal day off, anyway, so the library closing really means nothing to me. However, I am glad that my beloved library friends won’t have to try to get to work in this weather. Hopefully, they are all safe and warm. One of them said she was going skiing. Hahaha! The only thing on my “plate,” today (besides the chocolate cake I ate for breakfast), is likely a few loads of laundry. There should be some reading and gaming done, as well. And probably chicken stir-fry for dinner.

And here is my Wordle score for the day. As one of my Facebook friends says, I had a “fortuitous” second guess.

Wordle 229 3/6*

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TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

"Open, Lord, my eyes that I may see.
Open, Lord, my ears that I may hear.
Open, Lord, my heart and my mind that I may understand.
So shall I turn to You and be healed."
(Traditional)
I sought the LORD, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. 
Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed. 
This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him and saved him out of all his troubles. 
The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them. 
Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! 
(Psalms 34:4-8 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that I have tasted and seen that the Lord is good
2. that He has delivered me from all my fears (so far)
3. that my hope and trust is not in any human being, but only in the Lord God Almighty
4. for Nathan Buchanan and his ministry to FBC Mineral Wells
5. for angels
6. for the light and warmth of the sun (as well as the Son)

“Let the heart of those who seek the Lord rejoice; seek the Lord and be strengthened, seek his face always. Entering into prayer today, I too am seeking the Lord, seeking his face, looking for the signs of his presence in my life, gently guiding me in truth and peace and love.”

When David's time to die drew near, 
he commanded Solomon his son, saying, 
"I am about to go the way of all the earth. 
Be strong, and show yourself a man, 
and keep the charge of the LORD your God, 
walking in his ways and keeping his statutes, 
his commandments, his rules, and his testimonies, 
as it is written in the Law of Moses, 
that you may prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn, 
that the LORD may establish his word 
that he spoke concerning me, saying, 
'If your sons pay close attention to their way, 
to walk before me in faithfulness 
with all their heart and with all their soul, 
you shall not lack a man on the throne of Israel.'" 
Then David slept with his fathers 
and was buried in the city of David.  
So Solomon sat on the throne of David his father, 
and his kingdom was firmly established.
(1 Kings 2:1-4, 10, 12 ESV)

In today’s reading, we see the final words of King David to his son, Solomon. David tells Solomon to “keep the charge of the LORD your God, walking in his ways and keeping his statutes.” Perhaps there is not a lot of agreement on what it means to walk in the ways of the Lord, keeping His statutes. It seems to mean different things to different people.

I will tell you what it means to me. It means paying close attention to the words and actions of Jesus. The Bible tells us that Jesus is the “radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of His nature” (Hebrews 1:3). Therefore, if I am to walk in the ways of God, then Jesus is where I need to look. Of course, it is wise and helpful to read and meditate on the Law of the Old Testament. But that should not ever take precedence over the words and steps of Christ. And even if it does, we have the words of Micah, who said, “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?”

And Jesus boiled all of the commands of the Law and Prophets into two commands. If you’ve read my blog before, you know what is coming. Love the Lord your God with all of your being and love your neighbor as yourself. Everything is covered in those two commands.

The question is asked, do I know a leader who carries great responsibility. I do, as a matter of fact, one whom I respect greatly. His name is Nathan Buchanan, and he pastors my mother’s church, FBC Mineral Wells. Over the years, I have grown to appreciate him very much (as well as the worship leader, Mel Kincaid). Pastor Nathan is bearing quite a load, right now, as his wife is quite ill. I believe that he is striving to walk in the ways of the Lord, as made evident by Jesus Christ. And I pray for him, that he might have “wisdom, kindness, strength, and courage” and everything else that he needs in order to successfully minister to the people of Mineral Wells, Texas.

Glory be to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, so it is now and so it shall ever be, world without end. Alleluia. Amen.

(From Pray As You Go)

Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?
(Hebrews 1:14 NIV)

Today’s prayer word is “sun.” This could mean a lot of things to a lot of people. It could also be read phonetically to be “Son.” Helen Keller is quoted as saying, “Keep your face to the sun and you will never see the shadows.”

If you’re like me, and you are, sometimes, you might be a cat owner. Dog owners might experience this, as well, but I’ve seen more cats do it. And that is laying on the floor, stretched out in a streak of sunlight that is shining through a window somewhere. Sometimes that streak is really narrow, yet the cat always finds a way to fit inside it, basking in the warmth.

“Like the sun, the warmth of Jesus’s presence does the same for me. When life feels wild, His faithful love leaves me feeling sated and calm. In light of His mercy, anxiety and anger fade away. There is no darkness in Jesus. His Holy Word is a lamp for my feet, guiding my way. His face shines upon me, bringing peace. Like the sun, Jesus brings light and life. I have all I need.” (Susanna, in Pray a Word a Day)

I’ve written a few songs, in my lifetime. One of my favorites is called “Keep Your Eyes on the Son.” It begins like this:

Have you ever looked at the sun, my friend?
If you have, then you know, when you look away again,
All you can see is a big yellow ball;
When you look at the sun, you can't see anything else at all.
Some people say, "If you look at the sun, then blind you'll be,"
But I'm here to tell you, it's the only way to see.

Keep your eyes on the Son . . .

We started out, this morning, talking about walking in the ways of the Lord (the version read in Pray As You Go had the word “faithfully” after “walk”), and walking faithfully. As we conclude, we see that the best way to walk faithfully in the ways of the Lord is to keep our eyes on the Son. The physical sun provides light and warmth to our physical bodies. The Son of God provides light and warmth to our spiritual selves.

Father, I have many things to pray, this morning. I lift up Your servant Nathan to You, asking that You would provide all the wisdom, kindness, strength, and courage that he needs in order to do Your work. I also pray for healing for his dear wife. May You bless them richly, especially for the kindness that they have shown my family.

I pray for my friend Robert’s granddaughter, Addison, who is struggling with breathing, in the hospital. Father, breathe life into this child and fill her lungs with oxygen.

Keep teaching us, Father, how to walk in Your ways, how to walk in Your kingdom. Help us to know the ways of Jesus, how to keep our eyes on Him as we walk in this world. The older I get, the more distracting life is. There are so many things that threaten to take our eyes off of Jesus, and successfully, all too often. Help us to stay focused; help us to walk correctly. Help us to do those things that are mentioned in Micah, things that please You.

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.

Called By Name

Today is Friday, the twenty-first of January, 2022, in the first week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ be with you, today!

Day 23,325

Only two more days until Hamilton!

Yesterday’s grocery order from Amazon Fresh was fine. Delivered on time and they had everything that I ordered. The young man even put them in the garage, which surprised me. Still, it won’t be my “go-to” source, as they don’t provide some of our favorite things, such as Nick’s Ice Cream. I noticed that they also do not have Halo Top Sea Salt Caramel, which is one of C’s favorites.

Not much else was accomplished, yesterday. C’s foot doctor appointment went well, and her broken toe has finally healed to a point where the doctor is not concerned about her re-breaking it. Still, she is supposed to wear the boot if she does any major walking or exercising. And she was advised to keep exercising to an elliptical or recumbent bike.

Being Friday, it is my day to work a full eight hour shift in the computer center at the library. I anticipate the computers to get busier as the year progresses, especially as it approaches tax season. But I haven’t been there through a tax season, yet, so I really don’t know.

In news, one of the first things that I saw this morning was that Michael Lee Aday, the singer known as Meatloaf, has passed away at the age of 75. While I wasn’t a huge fan, I do like some of his songs, probably my favorite being “Paradise By the Dashboard Light.” His death is not really a surprise, as his health has not been good for a number of years.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord, I dedicate this day to You.
May my feet walk only where You want them to walk.
May my eyes see only what You want them to see.
May my ears hear only what You want them to hear.
May my mouth say only what You want it to say.
May my mind think only what You want it to think.
I will give to the LORD the thanks due to his righteousness, 
and I will sing praise to the name of the LORD, the Most High. 
(Psalms 7:17 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for central heating and a roof over my head
2. for a hot cup of coffee
3. that we don't have any ice and snow on the roads
4. that God called me by name and chose me to be His child
5. for the message of love that I have to share

I’ve been beginning each morning’s devotional time with a reading plan from the YouVersion app on my phone. The one I’m reading is one that takes me through the whole Bible in a year. I haven’t done that in a while, so I thought I would try it this year. I noticed a couple things in the reading this morning.

First, in Luke 16, I caught this statement of Jesus.

And he said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.”
(Luke 16:15 ESV)

Specifically, the last sentence. I’m going to be spending some time meditating on and pondering that sentence. “What is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.” Consider that this could cover an awful lot of things.

The next thing I noticed was in Genesis 28. Jacob has had his “ladder” encounter with God, and God has promised him blessing. Here is part of Jacob’s response.

Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and clothing to wear, so that I come again to my father’s house in peace, then the LORD shall be my God, and this stone, which I have set up for a pillar, shall be God’s house. And of all that you give me I will give a full tenth to you.”
(Genesis 28:20-22 ESV)

The italics were added by me. Jacob’s “vow” was conditional. It’s like he was making a “deal” with God. Seriously, God just appeared to him in this vision and made all these great promises to him, and his response is to say that, okay, if You’ll do all of these things, then You will be my God.

I’m not impressed by Jacob’s “devotion.” I prefer the attitude of Job, in this case. “Though he slay me, I will hope in him.” (Job 13:15) That is the attitude I try to maintain. God is my God, regardless.

“‘I have chosen you out of the world, so that you might go out and bear fruit, fruit that will last.”

“As I listen to this chant, I remind myself that God calls me, calls me by my name. However unsuitable or unworthy I may think I am, God has chosen me.”

And he went up on the mountain and called to him those whom he desired, and they came to him. 
And he appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) so that they might be with him and he might send them out to preach 
and have authority to cast out demons. 
He appointed the twelve: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter); 
James the son of Zebedee and John the brother of James (to whom he gave the name Boanerges, that is, Sons of Thunder); 
Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Zealot, 
and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him. 
Then he went home.
(Mark 3:13-20A ESV)

I am asked to look at the names and nicknames of these twelve whom Jesus called. I only notice “nicknames” of three of them. Four, counting Simon “the Zealot,” but I don’t think Jesus gave him that nickname. We know that Peter comes from a Greek word meaning “rock” or “stone,” and that Jesus said, at one point, “on this rock I will build my Church.” Of course, it is possible that the “rock” to which Jesus was referring was Peter’s declaration, not Peter, himself.

The other nickname is for James and John. “Sons of Thunder.” It’s easy to see why, too, if we read more about them in Scripture.

What were these twelve called to do? They were called to “preach” or share the message, proclaim the Word, the Good News of the Gospel, and to have authority to cast out demons.

Does Jesus have a name for me? Good question. He knows me by my name. Jeffrey. I believe that He only calls me positive names. He might call me “child,” He might call me “brother.” I am both of those. But He might also call me “overcomer,” even though I don’t feel like I overcome very often.

What has He called me to do? I believe Jesus has called me to love. He has given me a “message” to share. I am not an “evangelist,” per se. I have a treasure in this “jar of clay,” though, and that treasure is the love of God. It is my job to love Him and to love people, without judging.

I have run out of time, now, and must get ready for work.

Father, I pray for this message of love to be spread through me. I am Your child, I know this and believe it. I am honored and humbled by Your choosing of me, and while I may not (most definitely) have a place as important as those initial twelve, You have chosen me and called me by name. Thank You, Father, for this choosing. Help me to be faithful to do the loving that I am called to do, and may it be without judgment toward anyone.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
(Psalms 16:11 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.