Today is Thursday, the eleventh of February, 2021.
Peace be with you!
Only six more days until Ash Wednesday, beginning of Lent
As expected, it is twenty-four degrees outside, this morning. When I looked outside, right after waking up, there was nothing on the cars or roads. However, there is a light snow falling, at this moment. Hopefully, this will not affect my morning drive.
Based on the severity of the forecast, and that we are looking at not being above freezing from late Friday night until sometime Wednesday afternoon, C decided, as she was already awake, to head to our local Winco and stock up on groceries. The current climate (not speaking weather, here) of sensationalism and over-reactionism would lead us to believe that grocery stores shelve might be looking sparse by the end of the week (if not already).
A stretch of freezing weather/potential snow like this, in the DFW area, has not been seen for many years. We don’t react well to “real” winter. I’m already thinking I might not be going to work at least one day, next week. But I’m also praying that the snow misses us.
Speaking of praying . . .
TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
This new day You give to me From Your great eternity This new day now enfold Me in Your loving hold You are the star of the morn You are the day newly born You are the light of our night You are the Savior by Your might God be in me this day God ever with me stay God be in the night Keep us by Thy light God be in my heart God abide, never depart. (David Adam)
Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.
(Psalms 55:22 ESV)
Today I am grateful:
- For people who help my mother with things like furnace fans going out
- For my health, thus far
- That with You, there is no “point of no return”
- For my decades long relationship with the Holy Trinity
- That You are my Source and my Destination
Scriptures and Prayers from Seeking God’s Face: Praying with the Bible through the Year
EPIPHANY – DAY 37
Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens. Our God is a God who saves; from the Sovereign LORD comes escape from death.
(Psalms 68:19-20 NIV)
For the director of music. For Jeduthun. A psalm of David.
I said, “I will watch my ways and keep my tongue from sin; I will put a muzzle on my mouth while in the presence of the wicked.”
So I remained utterly silent, not even saying anything good. But my anguish increased; my heart grew hot within me. While I meditated, the fire burned; then I spoke with my tongue:
“Show me, LORD, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting my life is. You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Everyone is but a breath, even those who seem secure.
“Surely everyone goes around like a mere phantom; in vain they rush about, heaping up wealth without knowing whose it will finally be.
“But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you.
(Psalms 39:1-7 NIV)
Now John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting. Some people came and asked Jesus, “How is it that John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees are fasting, but yours are not?”
Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? They cannot, so long as they have him with them. But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them, and on that day they will fast.
“No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. Otherwise, the new piece will pull away from the old, making the tear worse. And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins.”
(Mark 2:18-22 NIV)
DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION
I’ve always grappled with the last part of this passage in Mark. What did Jesus mean with all of this talk about wine and wineskins?
I consulted Matthew Henry on this, this morning, and he gave me some insight. Jesus’s disciples had been with Him but a short time, possibly not even a year. In face, He had not yet even appointed the Twelve, if we can assume that Mark’s gospel is written in chronological order.
The point is, these were, if you will, “new converts.” They were new wineskins, “unshrunk cloth.” To try to fit them into the mold of the “old garment” would be disruptive, and might even drive them away.
Growing up Baptist, I saw a lot of this kind of thing happen. People would join the church, get “saved,” but then would immediately get hit with all of these rules and requirements. Many would not last, they would fade away and drop out.
Personally, I’m “old cloth.” I’ve been a part of this scene for nigh on sixty years. I was baptized when I was nine years old, but was in church, I’m pretty sure, as soon as my mother could get me there. I was on the “cradle roll.” I’m a “lifer.”
That being said, I’ve been reading/studying the Bible since I was old enough to read. The Bible has been my favorite book for as long as I can remember. I have always had a love for God’s Word.
But nobody tried to get me to fast when I was a child. That would be kind of ridiculous.
In the same way, Jesus defended the fact that His disciples were not fasting. In fact, they may have been doing the opposite. Henry assumes that this question came while Jesus was partying at Levi’s (Matthew) house, with other tax collectors and “sinners.” Judging from the way Mark wrote, I’m not sure that this is necessarily so, but it would certainly fit.
The teaching for us, I believe, is that we should not lay things to heavily on the backs of new believers. Let’s not try to get new converts to fast right away. Let’s not try to teach them Lectio Divina during their first week of Christianity. Let them learn the basics. And let them enjoy their newfound faith and relationship with their Savior.
Father, I thank You for my relationship with You over these decades. Certainly, it has not been a smooth ride. I have strayed from the path, many times, sometimes almost to the point of no return. However, with You, there is no “point of no return,” and for that I am also grateful, eternally grateful. I pray that You would keep us, Your Church, mindful of the tenderness and vulnerability of new believers, that we would allow them to bask for a bit in their new-found faith, and enjoy themselves with great joy, before we start laying things like Spiritual Disciplines on them.
"Spotless Savior, I worship you because I have no righteousness but yours. I am complete in you because of your merits; I have the full acceptance of the Father because of all you have done for me in the cross, taking my place. Grow in me a deep faith where I'm kept in close communion with you, always aware of my true identity in you. Amen." (Belgic Confession 22)
The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.”
(Jeremiah 31:3 NIV)
For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.
(2 Timothy 1:7 NLT)
And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.” And he also said, “It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega—the Beginning and the End. To all who are thirsty I will give freely from the springs of the water of life. All who are victorious will inherit all these blessings, and I will be their God, and they will be my children.
(Revelation 21:5-7 NLT)
All of this talk about “new.” But, in a sense, none of this is new at all. “It is the same new thing that God did at the beginning when he said, ‘Let there be light’ (Genesis 1:3).”
It’s the same new thing that happened when the Spirit came over Saul the King and gave him a new heart, or when people exclaimed about Jesus, “What is this? A new teaching!” (Mark 1:27).
Likewise, when Jesus told Nicodemus, “You must be born again (anew; from above).”
By “new,” we do not mean “the latest fashion, fad, or novel.”
What we do mean is “essential life, our encounter with God, the receiving of grace so that our lives can finally be lived without guilt and with steady purpose.” This is new. “It is that which can never be antiquated. It is that which puts into obsolescence all other experience and knowledge.”
Through this, we become the new creation of which Paul speaks in 2 Corinthians 5:17. And that new is perpetually new. Remember, in our Revelation passage, God speaks in present tense. He is still making all things new!
He identifies Himself as Alpha and Omega, Beginning and End. Alpha and Omega (but you surely know this) are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. In our language (American English), it would be “A and Z.”
But “Beginning and End” does not necessarily limit itself to “first and last.” It is true that God “got things started and he will be around at the finish.”
But we should look at “beginning” as more like the “source and origin – the basic substratum underlying all things. . . . God is that out of which everything proceeds and exists.” He is also at the “end,” meaning that “he is the destination of all things.” That is the actual meaning of the Greek word, telos, which is the word we see as “end.” “His being is the fulfilled purpose for which all things exist.”
(From This Hallelujah Banquet, by Eugene H. Peterson)
In Matthew 14, Jesus fed five thousand-plus people with five loaves of bread and a couple of fish. How did He accomplish this? The answer is in verse 19.
And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people.
(Matthew 14:19 NIV)
He gave thanks. “Giving thanks is crucial to a life of fullness and blessing. On top of that, it also gives you the power to perform the miracle of multiplication.
“You don’t look at how little you have or how big your problem is or how impossible the situation is. You don’t panic, you don’t complain [ouch], and you don’t get discouraged over not having enough. You take the little you have, whatever good there is, no matter how small or inadequate it is, and you do what Messiah did. You lift it up to the Lord and you give thanks for it. And the blessings you have will multiply, if not in the world, then in your heart. The more you give thanks, the less you will hunger, and the more full and blessed your life will be.”
“The Mission: Stop seeking more and stop living in the realm of ‘not enough.’ Today, practice giving thanks for everything. Perform the act of multiplication.”
When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick. As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.” Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.” “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered. “Bring them here to me,” he said. And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.
(Matthew 14:14-21 NIV)
give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
(1 Thessalonians 5:18 NIV)
(From The Book of Mysteries, by Jonathan Cahn)
Father, I praise You that, so long ago, You led me to begin my daily gratitude. I do believe that I have seen this principle of “multiplication” take place as I have practiced this discipline. And I will continue to do so. Some days, like today, it is easier than other days. Some days, I have to think harder to come up with even five things for which I am grateful. Yet I do manage to do it. I am grateful for everything that You have given me, no matter how small or how big. Keep my heart grateful, Lord, and should it begin to take things for granted, go ahead and smack me.
I am also thankful for this thought that You are my Source and my Destination. These are ideas that don’t come naturally to us, and I am grateful to Eugene Peterson for pointing out these deeper meanings of “beginning and end.” All glory to You, Lord!
I praise You and thank You, this morning, for the beauty that I experience with all of my senses; for colors, for music, for the beauty of creation, for things that I can touch, smell, and taste. Help me to always be grateful for these blessings, savoring them, and not taking them for granted.
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!
Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
(Romans 12:12 ESV)
Grace and peace, friends.