Sing, Make Music, Ponder, Walk

Today is Monday, the tenth of May, 2021, in the sixth week of Easter (there are seven, in case you’re wondering).

Peace be with you!

Day 23,069

Only ten days until our much-anticipated Glen Rose weekend.

The weekend was busy, but it was good. After checking out of our Days Inn room in Mineral Wells, we swung by Subway on the way to my mother’s house, to pick up lunch. After eating lunch, we got busy again.

This time, while C put designated items back in the closet, I got some dishes down from the highest shelves in the kitchen. After Mama decided which ones she wanted to keep down, the rest were put back, along with a few from other places.

C made another trip to Walmart to pick up some jeans for my mother, and she also fixed the mailbox numbers at the house. We carried a bunch of stuff out to the car to bring home with us, some of which went directly into our recycling bin at the house. There were about a dozen record album price books that we brought home for recycling, as they would have been too heavy to put in the trash at her house.

I also brought home my dad’s old reel-to-reel tape recorder, which I plan to check out to see if it still works. My mother found a stack of old tapes, some of which were recordings of me and my father, made by my step-grandfather, many, many years ago.

There were few more pictures found.

1984 seminary graduation–Mama, me, and Daddy. We think C took the picture. C and Mama say that was the first time they met.
My father in front of the car, my Uncle Jamie next to it.
C, me, and Mama. March of 1985 at Grandmama’s house. The old well is barely visible behind us.

Well, enough of that. Need to get moving. Back to work, this morning.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

"Thanks be to you, our Lord Jesus Christ,
for all the benefits which you have given us,
for all the pains and insults which you have borne for us.
Most merciful Redeemer, Friend and Brother,
may we know you more clearly,
love you more dearly,
and follow you more nearly,
day by day.
Amen."
(The prayer of St. Richard of Chichester)

Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!
Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom he has redeemed from trouble
and gathered in from the lands, from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south.
(Psalms 107:1-3 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

  • for a wonderful Mother’s Day weekend
  • that you have redeemed us from trouble
  • for singing and music
  • for Your steadfast love, which endures forever
  • for the possibility of abiding in You, that we may bear fruit

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

EASTER – DAY 37

INVITATION

God has ascended amid shouts of joy, the LORD amid the sounding of trumpets.
Sing praises to God, sing praises; sing praises to our King, sing praises.
For God is the King of all the earth; sing to him a psalm of praise.
(Psalms 47:5-7 NIV)

I pause to consider the steadfast love of the Lord, which endures forever. My spirit sings a psalm of praise in the quiet of the morning.

BIBLE SONG

A Psalm of David.

I will sing of steadfast love and justice; to you, O LORD, I will make music.
I will ponder the way that is blameless. Oh when will you come to me? I will walk with integrity of heart within my house;
I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless. I hate the work of those who fall away; it shall not cling to me.
(Psalms 101:1-3 ESV)

I will look with favor on the faithful in the land, that they may dwell with me; he who walks in the way that is blameless shall minister to me.
No one who practices deceit shall dwell in my house; no one who utters lies shall continue before my eyes.
Morning by morning I will destroy all the wicked in the land, cutting off all the evildoers from the city of the LORD.
(Psalms 101:6-8 ESV)

BIBLE READING

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.
I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.
(John 15:1-8 ESV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I quietly enjoy the presence of the Lord, I linger over these passages, asking His Spirit to direct my thoughts and meditations.

Once again, singing is emphasized. “I will sing . . . I will make music . . . I will ponder . . . I will walk.”

This seems like a good order of worship, doesn’t it? I remember classes on music and worship from seminary (see graduation pic above). They always pointed to Isaiah 6 as a good “order of worship” example. I don’t disagree with that. But here . . . this psalm begins with singing and music, moves to meditation, which requires reading and teaching on God’s Word, and then finishes with activity. “I will walk with integrity.”

In a sense, the classic evangelical worship service pretty much follows this. When I was growing up, we had a few hymns, followed by Scripture reading and a sermon, and then we left to “walk” in what we had hopefully learned during the sermon/teaching.

I’ve been a student of worship most of my adult life, and it’s one of those things that is simple, yet complex. And sometimes we make it more complex than it needs to be. But too often, we fall into the trap of believing that it is just the music, just the singing. Yet, if we examine Scripture, we find passages such as this:

And Moses quickly bowed his head toward the earth and worshiped.
(Exodus 34:8 ESV)

By faith Jacob, when dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, bowing in worship over the head of his staff.
(Hebrews 11:21 ESV)

There is certainly no mention of music or singing, here.

When I am walking in integrity, walking in the “easy yoke” of Jesus Christ, in His Kingdom, my entire life can, and should, be worship.

Segue to the John passage. This is also known as “abiding.” Without abiding in Christ, we can do nothing. We certainly cannot bear good fruit without abiding in Him. There is, in my mind, a great similarity between abiding and worship. Worship is certainly part of abiding, and abiding part of worship. And then there is that famous verse, John 15:7.

If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.
(John 15:7 ESV)

Father, my prayer today is simple. Help me to abide; help me to worship You today, all day, through everything that happens. May I sing, make music, ponder Your way, and walk in integrity.

Creator God,
garden my life -
turn it over,
cultivate it,
and make it ready for gospel seeds to take root.
And in quiet darkness let the gospel do its work,
slow but powerful, 
stirring up life in my heart,
increasing joy,
strengthening all your graces until shouts of new life rise and good fruit bursts forth on the branches of my life,
a life beautiful for you and a blessing to others.
Amen.
(Westminster Larger Catechism 75)

BLESSING

Go and make disciples of all nations. . . . And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
(Matthew 28:19-20 NIV)

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.
(Psalms 139:13-16 ESV)

Father, thank You for these truths. Thank You for the great diversity within the unity of Your Church. We are same, yet we are different. And we are all “fearfully and wonderfully made.” Thank You for the life that You formed for me; may I continue to be what You have designed me to be. And may I draw even closer to You as the days go by.

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.

Grateful Praise

Today is Sunday, the ninth of May, 2021, the sixth Sunday of Easter.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,068

Today is Mother’s Day in the US

Eleven days until our weekend in Glen Rose.

I wish my mother and wife a Happy Mother’s Day, today, as well as all other mothers who might read this. To the women who struggle with this dI’m ay, as many do, I wish you God’s comfort and peace, that He might rain down grace and mercy upon you today.

I’m sitting in a room at the Days Inn in Mineral Wells, TX, this morning. It’s actually a very nice room. We have hesitated to stay at Days Inn since our miserable experience in Florida, many years ago. But when I saw that this one had the Wyndham name attached to it, I felt better about booking it, and it has turned out to be fine.

We did find out, yesterday evening, why there are very few available rooms in MW, this weekend. There are baseball tournaments going on. There is a particular group, Rocker B baseball, out of Graford, TX, that has tournaments almost every weekend. There are no hotels in Graford, TX, and Mineral Wells is the closest town to them that has any. The Days Inn has a contract with Rocker B, so they all stay here when they have events.

The very kind lady at the check in desk advised us, for future reference, to book well in advance, should we wish to stay here again during baseball season,. We anticipated noise during the night, you know, when the players arrived back at the hotel, but they were, apparently, very well-behaved, as I was never disturbed at all. We slept quite well, as a matter of fact.

We had a wonderful day, yesterday, as R & J showed up, and we shared lunch from a different BBQ place, this time. Usually we go to Mesquite Pit, but decided to try Smokin’ Barrel, a new place that took over the old Pastafina building. It was okay, but, in my opinion, forgettable. Mama had a pulled pork sandwich, which enjoyed immensely, but C’s blackened chicken resembled shoe leather (including the thickness of it, as it appeared to have been mercilessly hammered down to an eighth of an inch). She said it tasted fine, but was very tough. My “Red Snapper Lafayette” was decent, but parts of the fish were overcooked. Also, R did not get the grilled veggies that she asked for with her ribs.

I made it to the Crazy Water store, yesterday, picking up two cases of #4 for me and one for Mama. It became apparent, during this outing, the pandemic is over in Mineral Wells, as there are virtually no masks to be seen. I was the only person wearing a mask at the Crazy Water store, including staff, and C and I were the only mask wearers at the Smokin’ Barrel when we picked up our food.

Sigh.

But enough about that. Later, this morning, we will head back over to Mama’s house, probably grabbing Subway for lunch, as I figure I blew about half of my weekly WW points for lunch, yesterday. (I forgot to mention that we got an order of brisket nachos to share, and they were actually quite delicious.) We emptied out all high shelves in one closet, yesterday, stacking boxes around the living room for Mama to examine. She will let us know today, which ones to put back and which ones to designate for donation or disposal.

There is an old reel-to-reel tape recorder that I will be taking home with me today, to see if it still works. I rather hope it does. I found one reel of tape that was labeled “Ken and Jeff.” (That’s Daddy and me.) I would really like to hear what is on there.

I also found pictures. Here is one from 1973.

Yeah. That’s me. In my HS band uniform. Don’t I look serious, though??

Then there was this one. Me and my cousins, also from 1973.

That’s me on the right. The beautiful girl on the left is my favorite cousin. I love them all, deeply, and we are still in contact with each other, mostly through social media, but we have had opportunities to see each other in recent years.

Today, we have another closet to work on, and we need to get Mama’s new laptop set up. We got her a new one for Mother’s Day, as the old one was beyond its last leg.

So I’ll get on with the devotional, now.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

“One Simple,” by Daryl Madden

One simple morning
Of one simple day
Of one simple lifetime
Blesses the way

Of the sights and sounds
And feeling within
The senses are full
Here, soak it all in

Gift of receiving
Grace moving here
One simple stirring
Of divinity, share

One simple action
Of being to know
One act of love
Let the ripples now flow

Praise the LORD! Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!
Who can utter the mighty deeds of the LORD, or declare all his praise?
Blessed are they who observe justice, who do righteousness at all times!
(Psalms 106:1-3 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

  • for the wonderful weekend we have had, so far; it was so good to all be together, yesterday (except for S, and we wish she were here)
  • for those who observe justice and do righteousness
  • for the peace that Jesus gives, unlike the world’s “peace”
  • for the work of the Holy Spirit in my life
  • for the sheer beauty of God
  • for Your precious and very great promises
  • for my mother, and her righteous life

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

EASTER – DAY 36

INVITATION

God has ascended amid shouts of joy, the LORD amid the sounding of trumpets.
Sing praises to God, sing praises; sing praises to our King, sing praises.
For God is the King of all the earth; sing to him a psalm of praise.
(Psalms 47:5-7 NIV)

I pause, briefly, to consider the admonition to sing praises to God, and, to meditate on how often this is coming up, lately.

BIBLE SONG

A psalm. For giving grateful praise.

Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.
Worship the LORD with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the LORD is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the LORD is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.
(Psalms 100:1-5 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.
“All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
“You heard me say, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe.
(John 14:23-29 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

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

I’m immediately drawn to the heading for Psalm 100. “A psalm. For giving grateful praise.” I’m especially drawn to the word “grateful.” Now, I have heard, many times, during my life, that, although our works of righteousness, should we dare to call them that, do not procure our salvation, we should obey out of gratitude. I categorically reject that thought, because it gives the impression that my obedience is a sort of “repayment” to God for His great mercy. It is impossible to repay God for what He has done for us. Not only is it impossible, He does not wish it.

However, this does not, in any way, negate my gratitude for His great deeds in my life. And when I praise Him, my praise should reflect my gratitude. I almost wonder if it is even possible to praise God without gratitude. In my mind, as I consider this, praise and gratitude are inseparable.

The text of the psalm is exuberant. “Shout for joy.” “Worship . . . with gladness.” “Come before him with joyful songs.” “Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise.” “Give thanks . . . praise his name.”

Here is the same psalm from The Message.

A thanksgiving psalm.

On your feet now—applaud GOD!
Bring a gift of laughter, sing yourselves into his presence.
Know this: GOD is God, and God, GOD.
He made us; we didn’t make him.
We’re his people, his well-tended sheep.
Enter with the password: “Thank you!”
Make yourselves at home, talking praise.
Thank him.
Worship him.
For GOD is sheer beauty, all-generous in love, loyal always and ever.
(Psalms 100:1-5 MSG)

This line, “sing yourselves into his presence . . .” I have done this! I have experienced the transformation brought about by singing His praise, and changing my attitude and perspective just by the simple act of singing.

No wonder this has been coming up so often, lately. And I still insist that I need to do more.

What draws me in, in the John passage is two promises. First, Jesus promises the Holy Spirit, who will teach us and remind us of what Jesus has taught us. Second, Jesus promises peace, unlike any peace we have ever experienced. I have known this peace. And, even though my heart is frequently troubled, when I remember these things, sing His grateful praise, and ponder the ministry of the Holy Spirit in my life, my heart ceases to be troubled, and I am not afraid.

For this world is, indeed, a perfectly safe place for me to be.

Father, I sing grateful praises to You! I shout for joy, and sing songs of gladness to You. I worship You with joy and peace in my heart, this morning, come what may. I am grateful to be one of Your sheep. Let me enter Your gates with thanksgiving and Your courts with praise. I would rather be a doorkeeper in Your house than dwell in tents of wickedness. Thank You for Your faithfulness that continues through all generations. Thank You for Your sheer beauty.

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.

Jesus,
Word of God:
thank you for the parting gift of a resident teacher,
the Holy Spirit, 
who makes your teaching plain.
While I can read the printed words in the Bible,
at times they seem no more than ink,
nor do they jump off the page into  my life.
I ask for the inward illumination and personal tutoring of the Holy Spirit to help me understand your teaching and live your word well in all the complexities of my life  today.
Amen.
(Westminster Confession 1.6)

BLESSING

Go and make disciples of all nations. . . . And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
(Matthew 28:19-20 NIV)

We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.
(1 Thessalonians 1:2-3 ESV)

I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your wonders of old.
(Psalms 77:11 ESV)

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.”
(John 14:1 ESV)

For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.
(2 Corinthians 1:20 ESV)

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.
(2 Peter 1:3-4 ESV)

Father, thank You for Your precious and very great promises, by which we may be partakers in Your very nature and escape the corruption that is in the world. Help us, by Your Spirit to avail ourselves of these promises, to walk in Your Kingdom, in the “easy yoke” of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Thank You for the life of my mother, the example that she has been to me, and all the good memories to go with it. May they never fade.

Lord, may we experience resurrection hope and joy today. Please give us greater capacity for sharing Your kingdom and making disciples in our world.

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!

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.

The Circle of Love

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

Peace be with you.

Day 23,060

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day

The weekend is finally here. C and I had a nice evening, last night, enjoying another Subway salad, while watching an episode of an Amazon original series, “The Wilds.” In this tale, a group of teen girls who get stranded on a deserted island after a plane crash. Or so it would appear. As the story progresses, each survivor is being interviewed by some men who appear to be some kind of government officials, in a facility that looks a lot like a prison. But things are not always as they appear. The girls are unaware (except for the ones that are “operatives”) that they are part of a twisted social experiment.

The show is quite enjoyable, and reminds me of a sort of girl version of Lord of the Flies. That was one of my required reading books from back in high school, and one of the ones that I actually enjoyed. It was William Golding’s first novel, written in 1954.

As previously stated, probably more than once, we will be heading to Mineral Wells in a little while, to spend the weekend with my mother. R & J, I believe, will be joining us at some point, today. This visit, however, is more of a work visit than a social visit, although I’m sure there will be plenty of that. S will be staying at home, and we got her extra Subway sandwiches for the weekend. I do plan to carry my laptop with me, so there will be a blog entry tomorrow morning.

We placed our grocery order with Albertson’s, last night, and C will be picking that up around 9:00 this morning. Hopefully, they have all the Nick’s ice cream we ordered.

And with that, I’ll move on into the devotional for the day.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

“Jesus is a God of the moment. He saw who we would become. He knew our purpose was in building the kingdom of God. He didn’t hold the shame of the past over our heads.

“He is present for us now. How much better my life would be if I let go of my baggage and lived in the present of Jesus.”

Oh to live in the spiritual moment of now,
where memory bears no grudges,
wants bear no need,
time knows no rush,
acceptance is given,
joy is spread,
love is now.
(Daryl Madden, On a Bench of Wood)

Oh give thanks to the LORD; call upon his name;
make known his deeds among the peoples!
Sing to him, sing praises to him; tell of all his wondrous works!
Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice!
Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually!
(Psalms 105:1-4 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

  • for now; this moment in time, for it is all we have
  • that we love because You first loved us
  • for the love that we experience from You when we obey Your commands
  • for new life brought into the world, this week
  • that, in You, I can do all things

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

EASTER – DAY 35

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 in the quiet, to reflect on this moment, and the grace that has brought me to this place in my life.

BIBLE SONG

The LORD reigns, let the nations tremble;
he sits enthroned between the cherubim, let the earth shake.
Great is the LORD in Zion; he is exalted over all the nations.
Let them praise your great and awesome name—
he is holy.

The King is mighty, he loves justice— you have established equity; in Jacob you have done what is just and right.
Exalt the LORD our God and worship at his footstool;
he is holy.

Moses and Aaron were among his priests, Samuel was among those who called on his name; they called on the LORD and he answered them.
He spoke to them from the pillar of cloud; they kept his statutes and the decrees he gave them.

LORD our God, you answered them; you were to Israel a forgiving God, though you punished their misdeeds.
Exalt the LORD our God and worship at his holy mountain, for the LORD our God is holy.
(Psalms 99:1-9 NIV)

BIBLE READING

“If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”
(John 14:15-21 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I quietly enjoy this moment with God, I ponder and meditate on what has connected with my spirit in these passages.

The word “holy” comes up several times in the psalm. What is “holy?” What does that mean?

Webster’s has several definitions, as they do. “Exalted or worthy of complete devotion as one perfect in goodness and righteousness.” “Divine,” or, “having a divine quality.” There are others, as well. “Sacred” appears in one of the definitions. You could easily fall down a rabbit-hole of looking up other definitions. What is “sacred?” What is “divine?”

When I see the word “holy,” I think “set apart,” or, perhaps, “other.” I think the word “consecrated” may have appeared in another definition from another source. “Consecrated” means, I believe, “set apart.”

I also think of the word “unique.” That word indicates that there is only one. If something is unique, it is the only one like it. In some ways, each of us is unique, but in a lot of ways, we are not unique.

God, on the other hand, is supremely unique. There is truly none like Him. He is utterly and completely “other.” He is, in the purest sense of the word, “holy.”

The two words that are closely associated with “holy” in that psalm are “praise” and “worship.” We say that God, alone, is worthy of our worship and praise. He, alone, is worthy of the glory and honor that we attribute to Him.

In light of these truths, how amazing is it that He has condescended to live among us? In the John passage, Jesus speaks of love. At first, it is our love for Him, demonstrated by the fact that we keep His commands.

What are those commands?

“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
(Mark 12:29-31 NIV)

And then, this “new” one.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
(John 13:34-35 NIV)

I am fully persuaded that, when Jesus speaks of obeying or keeping His commands, these are the three we should be focusing on. And what is the central theme of these three commands?

Love.

And, it’s really pretty simple, at least to understand. Love God; love your neighbor; love one another (meaning the Church, other followers of Jesus).

Simple to understand; not so simple to do.

The result of keeping those commands follows, in Jesus’s statement.

Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”
(John 14:21 NIV)

It is almost a circuitous thing. I am reminded of this passage from 1 John.

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.
(1 John 4:7-21 NIV)

We love because He first loved us. Our love feeds off of His love, but then it results in more love from God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Father, I thank You for this love that You have for us, displayed in the actions of Your Son, and the ministry of the Holy Spirit. No man can comprehend the true nature of the love that exists between You, the Son, and the Spirit. We can only imagine it, and what we imagine cannot fully grasp this love. However, we know this love, experientially, and in it, we love others, we love You, and, in turn, experience even more love from You. So help us to follow these commands, loving You with all of our being, loving our neighbors, and loving the fellowship of believers as You have loved us.

Abba,
Father,
thank you for making me your cherished child.
Train my heart so that I experience and enjoy this status.
Send your Spirit to me today,
taking this sweet truth that I am embraced as your adopted child and making it believable to my heart,
and electric reality in my living that governs my thoughts,
feelings,
and actions.
Amen.
(Westminster Shorter Catechism 34)

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)

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
(Hebrews 4:16 ESV)

But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
(Psalms 13:5 ESV)

Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act.
(Psalms 37:5 ESV)

Father, I thank You that, in Your Spirit, we are enabled to do all that we need to be able to do. In Christ, we truly can do “all things.” All glory to You, Lord. Help us to commit our way to You and then trust You. Then let us just sit back and watch the glory happen.

Lord, I pray that Your church would flourish around the world, in all of the various circumstances in which she finds herself. I pray that our worship would glorify You, and that it would gather, unite, and bless Your people. I especially lift up those in our church who have recently experienced the joy of the birth of a new child.

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.

THE

(Yes, you read the title correctly. I did not leave anything out. The title is “THE.” You will understand.)

Today is Friday (Friyay?), the seventh of May, 2021, in the fifth week of Easter.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,066

Two days until Mother’s Day!

I haven’t been paying real close attention, but the Texas Rangers appear to have won six out of their last eight games! They took three out of four from Boston, last weekend, then took three out of four from the Twins, this week. They are only one game below .500, going into a tough weekend series with the Mariners. They won yesterday’s game 4-3, scoring a run in the top of the tenth inning. They are in fourth place, three games behind the Athletics, and 1.5 ahead of the Angels, who are on a five-game losing streak. I’m not unhappy about that.

Boston is still holding first place in the AL East, 1.5 up on Tampa Bay. They are beginning a weekend series in Baltimore tonight.

C and I will not be attending the WW Workshop tomorrow, as we will be heading to Mineral Wells for the weekend, to stay at my mother’s house and help her get some things done. We’ll be staying at a local Day’s Inn Saturday night, and S is staying home.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Let nothing disturb you,
let nothing frighten you,
all things will pass away.
God never changes;
patience obtains all things,
whoever has God lacks nothing.
God alone suffices.

Amen.
(St. Teresa of Avila)

A psalm. For giving grateful praise.

Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.
Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the LORD is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.
(Psalms 100:1-5 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

  • that I am part of Your people, the sheep of Your pasture
  • that You are good and Your love endures forever
  • that You have done great things for us, and we are filled with joy
  • for Your promised presence throughout this day
  • that You, Jesus, are the way, the truth, and the life

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

EASTER – DAY 34

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 for a moment to simply rest in the gratitude that I am experiencing right now.

BIBLE SONG

A psalm.

Sing to the LORD a new song, for he has done marvelous things;
his right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him.
The LORD has made his salvation known and revealed his righteousness to the nations.
He has remembered his love and his faithfulness to Israel;
all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.
(Psalms 98:1-3 NIV)

Let the sea resound, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.
Let the rivers clap their hands, let the mountains sing together for joy;
let them sing before the LORD, for he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples with equity.
(Psalms 98:7-9 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”
Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”
Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves.
(John 14:5-11 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I rest in God’s presence, pausing before the busyness of this day ahead, I linger over these passages, trying to allow the Holy Spirit to direct my thoughts and meditations.

It seems that, once again, I am directed to consider the seas singing out, the rivers clapping their “hands,” the mountains singing for joy. What a glorious picture! I’ve heard the oceans resounding, yes. It may not sound like “singing” to some, but I believe it does. To me, there is nothing more relaxing than the constant roar of the waves pounding against the shore. And if you listen closely, the sound of a river does sound a little bit like applause.

I dare say you have to be in a much more meditative state of mind to hear mountains singing, but I believe it possible. Once again, we are given the beautiful image of all creation singing. I love this. And if all creation sings, so should I.

There’s a song by Hillsongs, called “So Will I (100 Billion X).” I’ll confess it is not one of my favorite worship songs to sing, but it has some good lyrics. There is one section that goes like this:

If the stars were made to worship, so will I
If the mountains bow in reverence, so will I
If the oceans roar Your greatness, so will I
For if everything exists to lift You high, so will I
If the wind goes where You send it, so will I
If the rocks cry out in silence, so will I
If the sum of all our praises still falls shy
Then we'll sing again a hundred billion times

Here. I’ll let you listen, if you want to.

And this is the way I feel, this morning. If all creation sings to You, so will I! If the oceans roar Your praise, so will I! If the stars were made to worship, so will I! All praise to You, Lord!

In the passage from John, Jesus gives us some very important information. He makes a bold claim. One of those claims that causes people like C.S. Lewis to say things like this:

“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Jesus says, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

The way.

The truth.

The life.

The only way to God the Father.

Father, this morning, I celebrate the truth about Jesus, as I fully embrace His life, His death, His resurrection, and His words, as well as the path that He walked. I try, daily, to walk in that path, to heed those words, and to live by them. I also fail, daily. Some days more miserably than others. I love You, Jesus, even though my actions may not always agree with that. But You know my heart, as Peter said. You know that I love You. I believe; help my unbelief! As I go through this day, help me to dismiss the thoughts and temptations that would cause me to stray from Your path. Keep my feet on solid ground. Lord, life me up and let me stand, by faith on Heaven’s tableland. All is grace, Lord! Nothing is left but this grace by which I stand.

Hallelujah!

Jesus our Savior,
you don't give us detached morality,
depersonalized dogma,
or a tidy set of life principles.
You won't allow for that because you've made it all personal -
you are the way,
the truth,
and the life.
Help me to reorient my whole life around you;
show me all the ways you are all that I need and seek.
Amen.
(Belgic Confession 26)

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)

I wait for the LORD, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope.
(Psalms 130:5 NIV)

Out of the depths I cry to you, LORD; Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy.
(Psalms 130:1-2 NIV)

I wait for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning.
(Psalms 130:6 NIV)

Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
(Isaiah 40:30-31 NIV)

I cannot help but think of my father when I read Isaiah 40:31. He hoped in the Lord; he waited patiently. And now? I promise you, he is soaring on wings like eagles; he is running and not growing weary; he is walking and not being faint. Someday, I will be Home with him. I literally don’t know what that will look like, but I believe it will be.

You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
(Matthew 5:48 ESV)

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
(Ephesians 2:10 ESV)

Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you.
(Philippians 3:13-15 ESV)

Father, it is another morning when I do not want to leave this place. But I must; work beckons me; responsibilities beckon me. And since I have at least a semblance of work ethic and responsibility, I must go. I console myself with the knowledge that You do not remain in this room; You go with me. You will be in the car, as I travel, and You will go with me into that weary place of work. And You will strengthen me and help me, as You promise in Isaiah 41:10. Help me to walk in that which is already perfect and complete; in those “good works” that You have prepared for me in advance.

Lord, will You show us clearly the Cross of Christ today? Let it be in front of my mind and eyes all throughout this day. Give us the capacity to suffer with others, rather than ignoring their suffering as we go our merry way about our entitled lives. I lift up those who are lonely today, Lord. May You lead me to one of those, that I may give them comfort.

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!

Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.
(Jude 1:24-25 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

The Lord Reigns

Today is Thursday (pre-Friday), the sixth of May, 2021, in the fifth week of Easter.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,065

Three days until Mother’s Day. We’ve got cards and gifts.

I have neglected (fancy for “forgotten”) to mention that May is a bit of a special month in my family. It has two somewhat easy to remember birthdays. My grandmother’s (maternal) birthday was May 1. My grandmama’s (paternal) birthday was may 31. In addition, my parents’ wedding anniversary is May 25.

So May is one of those “mixed blessing” months. Good memories, but bittersweet to think about, as all of my grandparents, as well as my father, have passed on to their eternal home.

Not jealous at all. Nope.

Speaking of singing . . . oh, wait, I wasn’t, was I? But I was, yesterday. So go back and read yesterday’s, if you haven’t.

For once, I followed my own advice. I sang. Quite a bit. Not loudly, mind you, and a good bit “under my breath,” as they say. But I sang. Mostly, I sang “What A Beautiful Name.” A James Taylor song might have wormed its way in there, too.

I want to let you know that it made a difference in my day. A huge difference. I skated through yesterday with a great attitude. I don’t even remember getting annoyed at anyone. Not much, anyway. I figure it was mostly the Jesus song that helped, but who knows? Just the act of singing helps. So I’m going to try that again today.

But first I have to get through the morning devotion, and as usual, I’m already behind. So roll on . . .

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

In the turmoil of the sea, I find safety on my rock.
In the winds of the storm, I find shelter by my rock.
In the heat of the fire, I climb upon my rock.
In the threat of the enemy, I hide under my rock.
In the dark of the night, I find comfort in my rock.

I cling to my rock.
Letting go, I realize my rock is clinging to me.
And having persevered, I am able to share my rock.
(Daryl Madden, in On a Bench of Wood: Reflections of God's Grace)

It is good to praise the LORD and make music to your name, O Most High,
proclaiming your love in the morning and your faithfulness at night,
to the music of the ten-stringed lyre and the melody of the harp.
(Psalms 92:1-3 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

  • for my Twisted Pine Mocha Mint coffee; it tastes especially good, this morning
  • for my Rock, upon which I find safety, shelter, protection, and comfort
  • for singing
  • that You reign
  • that there are blessings and harvests that I have yet to realize, and I will thank You and celebrate those before they appear

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

EASTER – DAY 33

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 to contemplate the joy that filled my soul, yesterday, and encourage the same behavior today.

BIBLE SONG

The LORD reigns, let the earth be glad;
let the distant shores rejoice.
Clouds and thick darkness surround him;
righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.
Fire goes before him
and consumes his foes on every side.
His lightning lights up the world;
the earth sees and trembles.
The mountains melt like wax before the LORD,
before the Lord of all the earth.
The heavens proclaim his righteousness,
and all peoples see his glory.
(Psalms 97:1-6 NIV)

Let those who love the LORD hate evil,
for he guards the lives of his faithful ones
and delivers them from the hand of the wicked.
Light shines on the righteous
and joy on the upright in heart.
Rejoice in the LORD, you who are righteous,
and praise his holy name.
(Psalms 97:10-12 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
(Matthew 28:16-20 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I linger over these passages, this morning, I strive to enjoy the presence of God. Sometimes, this means simply sitting for a moment, doing nothing else but acknowledging His presence. Breathing slowly. Centering myself on Him. Allowing the Holy Spirit to dwell and point my thoughts in the right direction.

“The LORD reigns, let the earth be glad; let the distant shores rejoice.”

This hearkens back to yesterday morning, as I envisioned the trees and fields rejoicing, yesterday, on my drive to work. I really did that. I plan to try that again, this morning.

I truly believe that God reigns. I believe that all creation sings over this truth, and rejoices in it. I wish that I could hear it. I would believe it would be the most “beautiful noise” I have ever heard in my life.

One thing I am looking forward to, in my longing for Home, is that scene in Revelation 7:

After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying: “Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!”
(Revelation 7:9-12 NIV)

I know it says that they “cried out.” But is it too much of a stretch to think that they are singing? In fact, in the NLT, Revelation 5:12 does use the word “sang.”

And they sang in a mighty chorus: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slaughtered—to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing.”
(Revelation 5:12 NLT)

I am fully persuaded that it will sound even better than this, and this gives me the biggest chill bumps ever. Go ahead . . . take ten minutes to listen to this. You won’t be disappointed.

This is a far as I’m getting, this morning. I realize there is much more Scripture to look at, but I am stuck on singing and the Lord reigning. So sing I will, celebrating the reign of our Lord and Father, and our Savior Jesus Christ, and the power of the Holy Spirit.

Holy Trinity, One and Three at the same time. More love between the three in one than any one of us has ever experienced in our lives. May He share that love in us today!

Father, praises be to Your Name, this morning. I will sing more. I will sing now, and I will sing again. I will celebrate Your reign; Your blessing and honor, glory and power be unto You, for ever and ever. Amen!

Lord, give me more of a yearning to know You and help me seek Your face more consistently, each day. May I and all around me know the joy of Your great salvation, today! I pray for any of my friends and family who have not yet found faith in You. May I be a channel of blessing in their lives today.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
(Jeremiah 29:11 NIV)

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
(1 John 4:18 NIV)

Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.
(Mark 11:24 NIV)

One quick thing before I go. Jonathan Cahn, in The Book of Mysteries, reminds us that we should celebrate our blessings before they come. So, remember that today. As you sing about the Lord reigning, consider the blessings that have yet to appear, the harvests that you have not realized, yet, and give thanks for 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!

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)

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.

God Is Love

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

Peace be with you!

Day 23,063

Five days until Mother’s Day!

Today is Star Wars Day (May the fourth be with you?)

It’s also the day that two of our good friends are going to have their new baby, Charlie! Charley? Not sure on that. She is scheduled for a C-section at 7:30 this morning. All of you who pray, please pray for everything to go well and all to be healthy.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

“The world bombards us with negative thoughts, but any thought that derails us from the knowledge that God does love us is from the evil one, so it’s a constant effort to remind ourselves of the truth.

“Just be present for God – be available for him. Just sit in his presence and be with him to develop the practice of letting you be loved. Once we set our foot on that path, everything else can grow out of it.”
(Daryl Madden, On A Bench of Wood)

Sing joyfully to the LORD, you righteous;
it is fitting for the upright to praise him.
Praise the LORD with the harp;
make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre.
Sing to him a new song;
play skillfully, and shout for joy.
For the word of the LORD is right and true;
he is faithful in all he does.
(Psalms 33:1-4 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

  • for Your presence, as You let me know that I am loved
  • that You are faithful in all that You do
  • that You are love
  • for new life being brought into the world, this morning
  • that You are present in our grief, our pain, our suffering, our injustices

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

EASTER – DAY 31

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 for a moment to consider laughter and joy, trying to allow the Holy Spirit to fill my soul with joy.

BIBLE SONG

Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD;
let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before him with thanksgiving
and extol him with music and song.

For the LORD is the great God,
the great King above all gods.
In his hand are the depths of the earth,
and the mountain peaks belong to him.
The sea is his, for he made it,
and his hands formed the dry land.

Come, let us bow down in worship,
let us kneel before the LORD our Maker;
for he is our God
and we are the people of his pasture,
the flock under his care.
(Psalms 95:1-7 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.
(1 John 4:7-16 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I turn my thoughts toward God, this morning, I reflect on these passages, on places within them that have connected with my soul.

The idea of worship always connects with my soul. I have been a big proponent of worship for decades, now. And while worship is more than just music, and music really isn’t essential to have worship, one of the things I miss the most, both through the pandemic, as well as in our current church model, is the singing of songs together, by the congregation.

“Let us sing for joy to the LORD; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.” Not a command. More of an invitation. Let us sing and shout; let us worship Him.

The passage from John has some great stuff and some scary stuff. Great in that the description of love and definition of love comes from God. Love, itself comes from God (verse 7). The scary parts are those parts that say that if we do not love, we do not know God. I know some people who claim to be Christians who have been really short on love for the last year.

I, myself, have struggled with it, from time to time, mostly at work, in work situations. If we’re honest, I would bet we all struggle with love for some people.

“Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” (verse 11)

It’s that simple. But, yet, it is oh so hard.

God help us! Father, teach us to love better. Help me to love my brothers and sisters better. Help me to love those whom I find to be a challenge to love. Let me find no one to be “unlovable,” as all are created in Your image, and You love all people. Help me to love what You love. Teach me Your way, that I may walk in Your truth; unite my heart to fear Your name. Break my heart, Lord, and then remake it, whole and complete, full of You and Your Spirit.

Lord God,
plunge me into your love so that I can love you with all that I am.
I know I'm asking you for the very thing I'll give right back to you,
but my heart feels small and shrunken;
I struggle to love well or even love at all.
Immerse me in your love so that my heart,
soul,
strength,
and mind find their true home,
and I find the room in my heart to love my neighbor.
Amen.
(Westminster Shorter Catechism, 42)

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)

Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love.
(Lamentations 3:32 NIV)

The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.
(Isaiah 61:1-3 NIV)

Father, for all who grieve today, I pray for mercy and grace. For all who are in pain today, I pray for mercy and healing. For all who are suffering in poverty and/or injustice, I pray for provision, justice, and mercy. Father, show us Your love, that we may, in turn, love others! Because You have loved us, let us love one another! You are love!

Lord, I pray, this morning, for the calling to follow You into my workplace and my neighborhood. May You bring about shalom peace in our neighborhoods and communities. I pray for all who work in business and industry today; may we all know Your grace and mercy and love as we work 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!

Praise Him, praise Him, all ye little children,
God is love; God is love.
Praise Him, praise Him, all ye little children,
God is love; God is love.

Grace and peace, friends.

Our Futile Plans

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

Peace be with you!

Day 23,062

Six days until Mother’s Day!

How is it Monday morning already? That weekend seems to have flown by. But, sadly, it is, so back to work we go.

C is feeling better this morning. It turns out that (as far as I know) she didn’t really have to work very much yesterday, and things seem to be humming along pretty well at the Open Championship. She will be there, in person, around mid-June, but will be bowling with a team.

We have our next Glen Rose weekend coming up in just over fifteen days. We wanted to try to get a “behind-the-scenes” tour at Fossil Rim, but the only thing they are offering right now, besides the standard drive-thru tour, is a private group tour, which costs $500, regardless of the size of your group, up to ten people. Since we won’t have any other people we want to go with, we won’t try that. We are, however, considering trying to get in a round of golf at the local golf course. They weren’t booking tee times out that far, when I checked their web site, so I’ll need to check again when we get closer to the time.

I haven’t been writing about it, but the Texas Rangers took three out of four games from the Boston Red Sox over the weekend. Naturally, I have mixed feelings about that, but my allegiance is slightly favoring the Rangers, now, and has been for several years. So I’m happy to see that.

Even losing those three games, the Red Sox still hold first place in the AL East, with a 17-12 record, 1.5 ahead of Toronto. The Rangers are still in last place, with a 13-16 record. They are four games behind the Athletics, who seem to have cooled down a bit after winning thirteen consecutive games.

Speaking of cooling down, the LA Dodgers are no longer the best team in MLB. That spot currently belongs to the KC Royals, with a 16-10 record, and a .615 percentage. There are several teams who have won 17 games, but, ranked by percentage, the Royals have the lead. The Brewers and Giants are right up there with them, at .607. The Detroit Tigers are at the bottom, having not even won ten games, yet, at 8-21. They also have the dubious distinction of being the only team who has already lost twenty games.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Let nothing disturb you,
let nothing frighten you,
all things will pass away.
God never changes;
patience obtains all things,
whoever has God lacks nothing.
God alone suffices.

Amen.
(St. Teresa of Avila)

I’m kind of stuck on this prayer, because of recent discussions on “enough.” God is enough. In our “never enough” culture, I most definitely have enough, and will fly that in the face of anyone who tries to convince me otherwise.

You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;
you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness,
that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent.
O LORD my God, I will give thanks to you forever!
(Psalms 30:11-12 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

  • for a new work week, full of opportunities to serve You and people; Holy Spirit remind me . . .
  • that Your house has many rooms
  • that Jesus is preparing a place for us
  • that one day, He will return and take us Home, that where He is, there we may also be
  • that when I call on You, in my distress, You answer me

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

EASTER – DAY 30

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 for a moment, giving praise and thanksgiving to the Lord, primarily for the joy in my life, regardless of circumstances.

BIBLE SONG

The LORD is a God who avenges.
O God who avenges, shine forth.
Rise up, Judge of the earth;
pay back to the proud what they deserve.
How long, LORD, will the wicked,
how long will the wicked be jubilant?
(Psalms 94:1-3 NIV)

Take notice, you senseless ones among the people;
you fools, when will you become wise?
Does he who fashioned the ear not hear?
Does he who formed the eye not see?
Does he who disciplines nations not punish?
Does he who teaches mankind lack knowledge?
The LORD knows all human plans;
he knows that they are futile.
(Psalms 94:8-11 NIV)

Who will rise up for me against the wicked?
Who will take a stand for me against evildoers?
Unless the LORD had given me help,
I would soon have dwelt in the silence of death.
When I said, “My foot is slipping,”
your unfailing love, LORD, supported me.
When anxiety was great within me,
your consolation brought me joy.
(Psalms 94:16-19 NIV)

BIBLE READING

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”
(John 14:1-4 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I rest in God’s presence, this morning, I read these passages again, lingering where the Holy Spirit would have me linger.

We are advised in the passage from Psalm 94, that the Lord knows our plans. Most human plans are futile, and most certainly they are if they go against God’s plans.

How do we rise up against evildoers? This is tricky, because the human definition of “evildoer” is, sometimes, far different from God’s definition. Wisdom is required, here, as is honesty. Note the psalmist’s honesty when he says, “My foot is slipping.” When he acknowledges this, the unfailing love of the Lord upheld him. I have known this joy. There have been times when all I needed to do was say, “Jesus, help me!” And He did.

There’s a book I want to read someday. It’s called Help! Thanks! Wow! The Three Essential Prayers. And prayer can truly be that simple.

The John passage is simply one of the most encouraging places in all of Scripture. I believe we read something similar from a different gospel a few days ago. Maybe not, but I do remember reading this, recently. I believe it goes along with the psalm, as well. “Do not let your hearts be troubled.” Jesus has gone to prepare a place for us, and one day, He will return to take us there, so that, where He is, there we will also be.

Father, I rejoice in Your unfailing love. All I have to do is acknowledge to You when my foot is slipping, or when I have anxiety or fear, and Your unfailing love will uphold me. The truth of Isaiah 41:10 will fill my soul. Thank You, Lord. I praise You that Jesus is preparing a place for us, and my soul longs for the day when He will return to take us there. “O Lord, haste the day when the faith shall be sight!”

Father in heaven,
the hope of my eternal home with you offers visions of a goodness and glory that no eye has seen,
no ear has heard,
no heart has ever imagined,
but yes I was made for.
Give me a faith-filled imagination that finds ways to loop the hope of heaven back into today,
living more of your life hear and now.
Amen.
(Heidelberg Confession 58)

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)

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”
(Matthew 7:7 NIV)

but God has surely listened and has heard my prayer. Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me!
(Psalms 66:19-20 NIV)

I call on the LORD in my distress, and he answers me.
(Psalms 120:1 NIV)

Father, I thank You for these promises, and I wonder how many prayers You have answered, and I have not realized it. Help me keep my eyes open today, looking not only for opportunities to serve, but evidence of answered prayer.

Lord, I pray, this morning, for a wider appreciation, a deeper respect, for Your creation. Help us to do better at caring for it, and give grace to those who work in that care.

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.

Two Roads Before You

Today is Saturday, the first of May, 2021, in the fourth week of Easter.

Day 23,060

Eight days until Mother’s Day

It seems like this past week was longer than usual. Which, of course, is silly, because it was the same length as any other week. But perception is everything, isn’t it? The stress and anxiety levels seemed higher, and I may have been, to a degree, piggy-backing off of C’s incredible stress levels, as well. Hers was much more than mine, and continues this morning.

In fact, she will not be accompanying me to our WW workshop, as she needs to be available for work. Hopefully, they won’t need her.

She stopped by the grocery store on the way home, yesterday, and picked up most of our groceries for the coming week. I’m taking a truncated list of things that she wasn’t able to get, and will stop by Albertson’s on the way home from WW. Why Albertson’s? Because they carry Nick’s ice cream, that because why. On a possible discouraging note, C noted that all of the Halo Top ice cream was on clearance at the WM Neighborhood Market, yesterday evening. I hope that doesn’t mean it is going away. It’s one of our favorite treats (second to Nick’s, of course).

Nothing much else is planned today, especially since C has to remain available for work. So I will spend my time, this afternoon and evening, playing games and/or music and/or reading. I’m very close to finishing Brené Brown’s Daring Greatly. In fact, I’m done with the actual text of the book and into an Appendix. I have no idea what I’m reading next.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Let nothing disturb you,
let nothing frighten you,
all things will pass away.
God never changes;
patience obtains all things,
whoever has God lacks nothing.
God alone suffices.

Amen.
(St. Teresa of Avila)

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children.
(Revelation 21:3-7 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

  • for the promises and hope in the above passage
  • for the weekend to rest and refresh for the upcoming week
  • that You are making everything new
  • for the making of music to proclaim Your great love
  • that You chose me and put me on the path of life

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

EASTER – DAY 28

INVITATION

“Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”
(Ephesians 5:14 NIV)

I’m pausing for a moment to reflect on the hope of future grace, as we look toward the day when we will be Home.

BIBLE SONG

A psalm. A song. For the Sabbath day.

It is good to praise the LORD and make music to your name, O Most High, proclaiming your love in the morning and your faithfulness at night, to the music of the ten-stringed lyre and the melody of the harp.
For you make me glad by your deeds, LORD; I sing for joy at what your hands have done.
How great are your works, LORD, how profound your thoughts!
(Psalms 92:1-5 NIV)

The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the LORD, they will flourish in the courts of our God.
(Psalms 92:12-13 NIV)

BIBLE READING

“‘For this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them. As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness. I will bring them out from the nations and gather them from the countries, and I will bring them into their own land. I will pasture them on the mountains of Israel, in the ravines and in all the settlements in the land. I will tend them in a good pasture, and the mountain heights of Israel will be their grazing land. There they will lie down in good grazing land, and there they will feed in a rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down, declares the Sovereign LORD. I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy. I will shepherd the flock with justice.”
(Ezekiel 34:11-16 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I remind myself that I am in God’s presence, I linger over these passages, inviting the Holy Spirit to speak truth into my soul.

It is, indeed, good to sing and make music, proclaiming the praises of the Lord. I confess that I have missed this aspect of traditional “church” life. While I do like the model we are using for our gatherings, there are some aspects of the traditional church gathering that I do miss, and the singing of worship songs together is one of those. I think I just said the same thing twice. Oh, well.

But the unidentified psalmist goes beyond that, even. He (or she?) may be speaking of solo worship, right? There is no mention of a congregation joining in. He simply speaks of making music, proclaiming God’s love in the morning and at night, using different types of instruments. I have no “ten-stringed lyre” or a “harp.” But I have a guitar, a piano (not exactly working very well), and an electronic keyboard. There is nothing preventing me from making music to the Lord in the morning and the night. I can come up with excuses, but that is truly all they are.

I want to flourish like the palm tree, abiding in the presence of the Lord. Oh, Lord, let me be planted in Your “house.”

The Ezekiel passage, of which I am not as familiar as some other passages, speaks hope and promise into my soul. These are comforting words as the Lord lets us know of His great love for His sheep, and what He will do to rescue them, gather them, and protect them with His justice. What great rest is promised!

Father, I thank You for these comforting words, this morning. My soul has been troubled, during this past week. It has been agitated. These words calm my spirit. They speak peace to my soul. Thank You for being our Shepherd and making us lie down. Praise to You for searching for the lost, bringing back the strays, binding up the injured, and strengthening the weak. Thank You for shepherding Your flock with justice.

Thank You for the music, Lord. My gratitude for Your putting this music into my soul cannot be adequately expressed. I confess that I have lost touch with it, recently, and I’m endeavoring to regain it. Help me to remember; help me to remember the value of praising You, proclaiming Your great love in the morning and at night. Intensify the desire of my heart to worship You with music, Lord. “O Thou who changest not, abide with me!”

Sovereign God,
we need true leaders,
not pompous windbags or self-appointed religious experts.
We need human leaders who have your heart and know your ways,
called servants in whom I see your wisdom,
justice,
and compassion.
For these shepherds I pray.
Amen.
(Belgic Confession 31)

BLESSING

Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
(Hebrews 13:20-21 NIV)

“And to this people you shall say: ‘Thus says the LORD: Behold, I set before you the way of life and the way of death.'”
(Jeremiah 21:8 ESV)

Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.”
(John 5:24 ESV)

There are two paths in front of each of us, every day. There is a path of life, and there is a path of death. Those of us who are believers in Jesus have already chosen the path of life, and, while we may make wrong decisions along the way, we are secure in that path. There are others who still travel the path of death. However, in the words of Led Zeppelin (I bet you never expected to see that name in a Gospel message), “Yes, there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run, there’s still time to change the road you’re on.”

Choose the path of life today.

He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.
(Psalms 1:3 ESV)

Whoever is wicked covets the spoil of evildoers, but the root of the righteous bears fruit.
(Proverbs 12:12 ESV)

Father, strengthen my roots today. I want to grow in You; I want to yield fruit in season; I want my leaf to not wither. I’m not so concerned with prospering, at least not physically. I do desire to prosper, spiritually, though, in Your eyes. Teach me Your way, that I may walk in Your truth; unite my heart to fear Your Name. Help me to stay on the path of life.

Lord, please unify Your Church and make her holy; may we know Your holiness in our lives and seek righteousness in Your Kingdom. I lift up the people in our little church community; Brandon and Kristen and Ava; Terry and Summer; Colby, Jayden, Caylee, and Brent; Lori; Lydia and Elisha; Bliss and Jared (and Charlie, scheduled to be born three days from now!); Jacob; Brandy, Lee, Jacob, John, Alison, and Melvin; S and C. May Your grace and peace rain down on all of these beautiful people today. I lift up a special prayer for all who are either newly married or about to be married. May Your Holy Spirit strengthen their unions.

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!

Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.
(Colossians 2:6-7 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

If God Is For Us . . .

Today is Friday (Friyay?), the thirtieth of April, 2021, in the fourth week of Easter.

The last day of April.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,059

Nine days until Mother’s Day

Not a whole lot to write about, this morning. It continues to rain, here, but not heavy, today. The temperatures are very spring-like, remaining in the low to mid sixties all day. A rather nice day, unless you have to be driving to and from work in it. Even then, if you take it easy, it’s not bad.

I’ll move on to the important things.

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)

The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
(Psalms 27:1 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

  • that You are my light and my salvation, and that I truly have nothing to fear
  • that I am learning to live my life from the standpoint of “enough;” You are enough, all that I need; in You, I am enough for anything that comes my way
  • that, when I live in Your shelter, I find rest in Your shadow
  • for the great multitude singing praises before the Lamb, from every nation, tribe, people, and language
  • that You will not allow my foot to slip

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

EASTER – DAY 27

INVITATION

“Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”
(Ephesians 5:14 NIV)

I pause briefly to meditate on Psalm 27:1, that the Lord is my light and my salvation, and I have nothing/no one to fear.

BIBLE SONG

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”

Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
(Psalms 91:1-4 NIV)

BIBLE READING

After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice:
“Salvation belongs to our God,
who sits on the throne,
and to the Lamb.”
All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying:
“Amen!
Praise and glory
and wisdom and thanks and honor
and power and strength
be to our God for ever and ever.
Amen!”
(Revelation 7:9-12 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I turn my thoughts more toward God and His Word, and enjoy His presence, I read these passages again, maybe even out loud, allowing the Holy Spirit to direct my thoughts.

There are two great passages today, and I have not the time to do them total justice. I will attempt, however, to relay my thoughts. In Psalm 91, I am drawn to the word “dwells.” Mostly, we know what “dwell” means, but I looked it up, anyway. It means “live in or at a specified place.” For my purpose, this morning, I would shorten that to “live in.”

If we live in the shelter of the Most High, we will enjoy rest in His shadow. Scripture has also used the word “abide” in a similar context. Jesus spoke of abiding in Him. That has a similar meaning to “dwell.” We need to be, literally (and when I say “literally,” I mean “literally,” not “figuratively”), living in Christ, in God.

God is my refuge, my fortress, in whom I trust. That’s me talking. I know that’s what the psalmist said, but I echo that. Anyone who knows me knows how much I love the psalms that speak of God in that way. Words like “refuge, fortress, shelter, hiding place . . .” all of those words help me to know how secure I am when I am dwelling in Him, in His shelter.

When I run out of that shelter and cease, temporarily, to abide, things get rough. I might have a little “fun,” but it doesn’t last long before it gets really frightening, and I run back. And the really great thing about our Father is that He never shuts that door when I leave His shelter. It is always wide open when I return, welcoming me back in; back in to His shelter, where I can return to really living and resting.

He is faithful, even when I’m not.

The thing that I am drawn to in the Revelation passage, this morning, is the same thing that has drawn me in the past. The great multitude before the throne consists of people “from every nation, tribe, people and language,” all wearing white robes and holding palm branches, all crying out “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”

“Every nation, tribe, people and language.”

I have heard it said that the ground is level at the foot of the cross. It wasn’t, literally, because Jesus was crucified on a hill. But the gist of the statement is true. Before Christ, we are all equal. Man, woman, child, adult, red, yellow, black, and white, as the old Sunday School says. We are all precious in His sight.

Father, I praise You for Your great faithfulness and mercy, which is new every morning. I thank You that I can always run back to You for shelter and refuge, but I thank You even more for the times when I am sensible and don’t run out from under Your shelter. Keep me there, Lord. Let Your Holy Spirit have sway over me, preventing me from straying out from under that shelter, that I might find rest in Your shadow. You are my refuge and fortress, my shield and rampart, and in You do I fully trust.

I praise You for the all-inclusive nature of Your salvation. You chose to make this great salvation available to all nations, when You very well could have kept it to one nation and condemned the lot of us. All praise and glory to You for Your great love and compassion for the people of this world. I pray that we, Your Church, would show the same love and compassion, showing mercy when called for, doing justice whenever possible, and walking humbly before You.

Wise God,
your salvation is no hastily thrown-together plan.
The universe-altering accomplishment of the cross and resurrection was part of your good plan from the beginning.
I pray that you keep working out your effective and generous purposes,
gathering a countless crowd from every nation before Jesus.
Amen.
(Canons of Dort 2.8)

BLESSING

Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
(Hebrews 13:20-21 NIV)

A song of ascents.

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip— he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
The LORD watches over you—
the LORD is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.
The LORD will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life; the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.
(Psalms 121:1-8 NIV)

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
(Romans 8:31 NIV)

Father, I thank You that I can look to You for help when I am threatened from “the mountains.” My help comes from You, the Maker of heaven and earth. I thank You that You will not allow my foot to slip, and that You, while watching over us, neither slumber nor sleep. You are for us . . . who, then, can be against us? All praise and glory to You, Lord!

Lord, may You give us a richer understanding of the cross and sacrifice of Jesus, today. May You show mercy on those living in poverty and injustice; show us how to help and make us willing to help, whenever we can. And for all who struggle in their work, today, Lord, give strength.

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!

Grace and peace, friends.