A Pattern for Abiding

Today is Tuesday, the thirteenth of September, 2022, in the 24th week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ unite us all in harmony and love!

Day 23,560

There are only nine more days until my favorite season begins. The Autumnal Equinox is on September 22, this year. And soon, it will be my favorite month, the month of October. Our wedding anniversary falls in October, and C and I have a weekend planned, back in Glen Rose at our favorite cabin on the Paluxy River. We will be there, October 7-10.

The temperature reached 85, yesterday afternoon, a degree shy of the predicted 86. There was no rain, and there is none predicted over the next ten days. The highs are all 90 or above (none higher than 93), until September 22, when the predicted high is only 87. The record high for today’s date is 105, back in 2011.

The Texas Rangers split the double-header with Miami, yesterday. They won the first game 3-2, but lost the second 10-6. That makes them 61-80 on the season, and it got them in a tie with LA for third place. They are 30 games out of first place (eliminated from division contention), and 18 out of the Wild Card race (WCE# is 5). Today, they are back home to play the Athletics, at 7:05 CDT. Cole Ragans, who threw three innings of no-hit ball last time, will start. The Rangers have 21 games remaining.

The Boston Red Sox did not play, yesterday, and will begin a series with the Yankees tonight, in Boston, at 7:10 PM EDT. The Red Sox are 69-72 on the season, 16 games out of first place (E# 6), and ten games out of the Wild Card race (WCE# 13). They also have 21 games remaining.

The Dodgers, at 97-43 (MLB leading), are still the only team to have mathematically clinched a playoff berth. They have not clinched the division, yet, but the E# for San Diego, the second place team, is only 2. The Nationals are at 49-92, trailing MLB, but only two games behind the Athletics. The Cleveland Guardians have a four-game win streak going, while the Nationals, Braves (uh-oh), Rays (YAY!), Twins, and Reds all have three-game losing streaks. The Dodgers lead the run differential column, with +316, while the Pirates still have the bottom, with -211. The Rangers dropped to -17 with that second game, yesterday, and the Red Sox remain at -33.

Today being Tuesday, I will be at the library, shelving, from 4:15-8:15, this evening. This is also my “busy” week, so I will be working eight hours in circulation both tomorrow and Saturday. My Computer Center day is now Friday, every week.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, we know that we are your children, and in this certainty we gather in your presence as a community. Grant us your Spirit, the Spirit who works in us and frees us from the many evils that still torment us. Be with us and let the power of your great grace and mercy be in our hearts so that we may gain the victory and lead joyful lives on earth in spite of our many shortcomings, blunders, and sins. For your grace is great, much greater than all our failings. You are our God and Father, and we want to keep our consciences clear today and always through your grace. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
For it is by his grace you are saved, through trusting him; it is not your own doing. It is God's gift, not a reward for work done. There is nothing for anyone to boast of. 
(Ephesians 2:8–9 NEB)

Today I am grateful:

  1. for the power of God’s great grace and mercy in my life, that I might lead a joyful life here on earth, in spite of my imperfections
  2. for God’s gift of grace, by which I am saved
  3. for the unspeakable love that invites me to come and converse freely with God
  4. for the privilege of abiding in Christ
  5. that His power is made perfect in my weakness, about which I will gladly boast

"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. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. 
"This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you."
(John 15:4-14 ESV)

Restore us, O God of hosts; let your face shine, that we may be saved!
(Psalms 80:7 ESV)

So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
(2 Corinthians 12:7-10 ESV)

Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
(Psalms 37:4 ESV)

The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the LORD. All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the spirit. Commit your work to the LORD, and your plans will be established.
(Proverbs 16:1-3 ESV)

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
(1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 ESV)

But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
(Matthew 6:6 ESV)


“Abide in me,” says Jesus. I’ve discussed what “abide” means, in previous entries. It means to dwell, or live, in something, usually for an extended period of time. The NIV translates it “remain,” which isn’t a bad rendering of the word, either. The idea is to stay, to remain, to dwell, for a long time, in this case, preferably, permanently.

What joy it is to abide! What a privilege to be invited to do so! “As you enter a time of private prayer, let your first focus be to give thanks to God for the unspeakable love that invites you to come to Him and to converse freely with Him.” (Andrew Murray)

What I am attempting to do, every morning, here, is exactly that; to abide. My ritual remains relatively constant, although the appearance in this forum may change, from time to time. I begin with a prayer. Then I enter into a time of Bible reading/study. I seldom do any literal “study,” these days, as I have come to believe that that isn’t as important as I used to think. I realize that may sound like heresy to some . . . “study to show thyself approved,” and so on.

I rather enjoy the closing words of Ecclesiastes:

Besides being wise, the Preacher also taught the people knowledge, weighing and studying and arranging many proverbs with great care. The Preacher sought to find words of delight, and uprightly he wrote words of truth. The words of the wise are like goads, and like nails firmly fixed are the collected sayings; they are given by one Shepherd. My son, beware of anything beyond these. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh. The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.
(Ecclesiastes 12:9-14 ESV)

I will also point out that the word translated “study” in 2 Timothy 2:15, is only rendered so in the KJV. Both the NIV and the ESV say “Do your best.” The NLT says “work hard,” and the MSG says “concentrate.” All of these are acceptable translations, based on what I can tell from the Greek word in the text.

What I believe is that meditation and contemplation are as good as or better than literal “study,” whatever that means. Most people, when they speak of “study,” think it means to sit down and look at a passage of Scripture and read tons of commentaries about it and try to learn everything about it that they can. I suppose there is nothing wrong with this. However, I know one person who has studied very hard and probably knows the Bible better than anyone that I know. His heart, however, does not reflect intimate knowledge of the Trinity. He is not a very nice person. That, to me, is tragic, and it is why I believe that meditating on the Scriptures is at least as helpful, if not more so, than “study.” And you can work hard at meditation and contemplation, too.

Here’s what Murray says:

“Prepare yourself for prayer by Bible study. Read a few verses. Take what you readily understand and apply it. Then ask the Father to enlighten all of the passage to your heart and make it applicable.” (Emphasis added)

What he calls “Bible study” sounds a lot like meditation and contemplation to me.

And that’s what I try to do, here. After reading the Scripture passages that I quote above, I then spend a few moments sussing them out, generally typing while I’m thinking. Sometimes I use material from the various devotional books, but, lately, outside of those quote from Murray, it’s my own thinking emerging from my fingertips.

That may or may not be a good thing. But I tend to look at it as a form of meditation.

Then, I turn to prayer. The prayers that I type in here are generally related to what I have contemplated. There are also prayers from individuals that I lift up, as they have requested. I should probably do more of the bit where Murray suggests that we “Remember His greatness, holiness, and love.” He also recommends that prayers be specific. I try to do that, as well. “Let your prayer be specific, originating either from the Word you have just read or from spiritual needs that you are sensing at the time.”

One thing that is important, though. This prayer that begins in the private place should be carried out into the world. This does not, in my opinion, contradict the words of Jesus. Remember, in context, Jesus is warning His disciples against praying for show, as “the hypocrites” do. When we take the spirit of prayer out into the world, we are doing what Paul tells us at the end of 1 Thessalonians, praying “without ceasing.” We begin here, in the private room. But we don’t leave it there; we don’t stop there.


Father, it is truly a joy to be able to do this; to abide (help me to be more consistent at this), to pray (help me, there, also), to meditate on Your Word and to consider the greatness of Your mercy, love, and grace. When I consider all of these things, along with the moon, the stars, the magnificent heavens, along with the mountains and oceans that dwarf us on earth, I sing, along with the psalmist, “What is man that You are mindful of him?”

It is truly amazing that You, the Creator of all things, condescend to fellowship with us, Your creation. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too high; I cannot attain it.

I thank You that You have placed it in my heart to desire to delight in You. And this desire for delight is not totally driven by the desire to get whatever I want. Sure, I would love for my prayers to be effective, to be answered the way I pray them, so that everyone who gives me a prayer request gets what they want.

But that is not the driving force behind my abiding. You are. Christ is. The Holy Spirit is. It is a sincere desire to know You as fully as I can. Help me to abide better. Help me to pray better, to pray without ceasing, and to take this spirit of prayer out of this room with me. Let that color and influence everything that I do in my life.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!


"Have the patience and courage to begin again anew each day, and trust in God’s help; his mercy is new every morning. Then you will understand that life is always a matter of becoming or growing, and that you must always look forward to the greater things. Even though you stand in battle with dark powers, the victory will be yours, since in Christ every evil is overcome."
(Eberhard Arnold, Daily Dig from Plough.com)

Grace and peace, friends.

Utterly Meaningless

Today is Sunday, the thirty-first of October, 2021. It is Halloween.

Day 23,243 (the number of days since I was born)

Seven days until Daylight Saving Time ends (fall back . . . you can’t say you weren’t warned!)

There are a number of reasons that today is significant. As already mentioned, it is Halloween. I really enjoy this “holiday” (I don’t really consider it a holiday, because we don’t get the day off from work, if it falls on a work day.), and the celebrations have been going on for a few days, already. I saw some very cool costumes at the library yesterday, as we had a family event yesterday afternoon. My favorite was the son of one of the other library aides (who, next week, will no longer be an aide, but a part time assistant librarian!) who came dressed as a dalek from Dr. Who.

That’s not his costume, of course . . . that’s just an image to show you what a dalek looks like.

Another reason this day is significant is that, 504 years ago, Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the church at Wittenberg, thus beginning the Protestant Reformation. Therefore, today is deemed “Reformation Day.”

But, for us, today is the most special because, twelve years ago, today, our oldest daughter, R, got married to J. So we wish them a “Happy Hallowversary” every year on this day!

I think I already mentioned that our church group is not gathering this morning. At this point, I don’t have any plans to attend elsewhere. We will also not be home to hand out candy, this evening, which is probably a good thing, because it means we did not buy any candy, and the last thing we need is overflow Halloween candy laying around our house. Those bite-sized candy bars find a way of always falling in my mouth, you know. Yesterday, at the library, I “accidentally” ate three giant Lemonheads.

We will be going to a friend’s house for “Halloween chili” tonight. That’s one of our favorite events of the year. I think S might even be planning to dress up as a kitten. I might wear my “wizard costume,” which consists of a black trench coat, a felt hat, and a walking stick. Impressive, eh?

There are no other plans for today. And my next shift at the library is Tuesday evening. Did I mention that I got my Covid booster last Thursday? I can’t remember if I did. But I was really tired all day yesterday, and felt a little icky Friday night. But at one point Friday night, I finally got up and took some Advil, so I felt pretty normal yesterday, but just really tired. My left arm is still marginally sore, but not too bad.

The Braves won again, last night, to take a 3-1 lead over the Astros, in the World Series. I’m hoping they can put it away tonight. I suppose I should be more interested in it, if I’m truly a fan of baseball. But I’m not, and it is what it is, right?

I may have forgotten this, yesterday, but I’m still reading The Haunting of Hill House, by Shirley Jackson. I’m close to finishing and should finish it this afternoon.

On to what’s truly important.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Finding Light, by S. Michaels (LightWriters)

October ending
seasons come and go,
the River winds on
 
Selah (Psalm 19:8)
©2021 S. Michaels
Strong Tower(Haiku/5-5-5 & Psalms/Proverbs Faith Notes)

I will give thanks to you,
O LORD,
among the peoples;
I will sing praises to you among the nations.
(Psalms 108:3 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that, though seasons come and go, Your love remains steadfast and sure
2. for the love of family and friends
3. that You are my God and will be my guide, "even to the end" (Psalm 48:14)
4. that the earth is filled with Your love; remind me to look for it every day
5. that I'm not stuck living in the past, but am freely moving forward with You; all praise to You, through the Son and by the Spirit

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TWENTY-FOUR – DAY ONE

INVITATION

For this God is our God for ever and ever; he will be our guide even to the end.
(Psalms 48:14 NIV)

I pause, during this quiet moment, to reflect on my life. It is filled with love, both Yours, and that of family and friends. When I forget about that love, and focus on self and negativity, please remind me of the love.

BIBLE SONG

You are my portion, LORD;
I have promised to obey your words.
I have sought your face with all my heart;
be gracious to me according to your promise.
I have considered my ways
and have turned my steps to your statutes.
I will hasten and not delay
to obey your commands.
Though the wicked bind me with ropes,
I will not forget your law.
At midnight I rise to give you thanks
for your righteous laws.
I am a friend to all who fear you,
to all who follow your precepts.
The earth is filled with your love, LORD;
teach me your decrees.
(Psalms 119:57-64 NIV)

BIBLE READING

“Meaningless! Meaningless!”
says the Teacher.
“Utterly meaningless!
Everything is meaningless.”

What do people gain from all their labors
at which they toil under the sun?
Generations come and generations go,
but the earth remains forever.
The sun rises and the sun sets,
and hurries back to where it rises.
(Ecclesiastes 1:2-5 NIV)

What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.
(Ecclesiastes 1:9 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I read these passages over again, I look for words or phrases that stir my heart. I either silently, or possibly out loud, repeat them, meditating, forming prayers in my spirit.

I do love Psalm 119, as long as I am not expected to read the entire chapter (176 verses!) in one sitting. Almost every verse in the psalm mentions, in some form or fashion, the Word of God. It is a symphony of praise, and epic poem, to God’s Word. If you have a version in which the chapter is broken up into groups of eight verses, you see a Hebrew letter designated at the beginning of each group.

If you could read Hebrew (I can’t), you would notice that each verse of that group of eight verses begins with that Hebrew letter that is at the top of the section or stanza. Oddly, we do not know who wrote this psalm.

In the section I’m reading today, although the NIV does not feature this, the Hebrew letter is Heth. The KJV shows it as CHETH, which may be more accurate, because each of the verses begins with a word that starts with ch.

I love the thought of God as my “portion” (v. 57). To me, this indicates that God is enough. He is all I need.

I don’t know that I could ever honestly say that I have actually sought the face of the Lord “with all my heart” (v. 58). It is most definitely something to which I aspire, though.

Verses 63 and 64 also speak to me. I consider anyone who fears the Lord and follows His precepts to be my friend. That does not mean that everyone who claims to be “Christian” will be my friend. There are many who use that label who obviously do not either fear God or follow His precepts. And the statement that the earth is filled with God’s love is something that we all need to be reminded of, frequently. I make mention of this in the prayer following today’s invitation.

I always love getting into Ecclesiastes. It’s a fun book to read, even if it is a bit confusing, sometimes. While its authorship is commonly attributed to Solomon, I am not 100% convinced that this is the case. To me, it is not clear who wrote it, and I have no guesses at all as to who else it might have been, other than Solomon.

And you know what? I really don’t care who wrote it. “The Teacher” wrote it. Some (the respectable Matthew Henry included) would argue that the fact that it says “Son of David,” and “king in Jerusalem” prove that it is Solomon, as he fits both of those descriptions. However, the words “king in Jerusalem,” may describe David, not “the Teacher.”

If read in the wrong spirit, one might immediately find Ecclesiastes to be an exercise in futility, and somewhat depressing. I mean, the thought that “everything is meaningless” can be somewhat discouraging, right?

Some translations, such as KJV and ESV, use the word “vanity,” rather than “meaningless.” The Message uses the word “smoke.” I rather like that. The Hebrew word literally means “emptiness” or “vanity,” so those translations are pretty much correct. But another word could be “unsatisfactory.” I like that, too. It could even be said to mean “transitory.”

Why does the Preacher/Teacher say this? He gives examples. We go to work every day. What gain do we get from this? In our modern day, we get paid with the currency of the land. What do we do with that? We pay bills, we buy things. But, ultimately, it is nothing. In fact, in these days, it’s all pretty much pretend money, anyway. I hardly ever see cash, and the only think I use it for, any more, is to tip my Sonic carhop when I’m at one of the few Sonics that won’t turn on mobile tipping.

We have reached an era that, for many of us, cash is “meaningless” or “vanity.” That scares a lot of people who take Revelation way more literally than they should.

The Teacher looks at generations that come and go, while the earth just keeps on turning. I am alive today. I have lived twenty-three thousand, two hundred and forty-three days (it looks a lot longer when I type it). That’s a lot of days. Or is it?

If you take the creation story literally (which I both do and do not . . . don’t hurt yourself trying to figure that out), the earth has been in existence for somewhere between six and eight thousand years. If you believe some scientists, it has been in existence for billions of years.

I’m just going to go with the six thousand number. If that is correct, and it would be the minimum time that the earth and universe have been in existence, that is more than two million days.

That kind of makes my 23,243 pretty petty, doesn’t it?

So I’m alive today. I might live another twenty or thirty years. Or less or more. Only God knows. But then I will be gone. No one knew me before 1958. And very few will remember me after I’m gone. A handful, likely. And when they’re gone, no one will remember me.

Meaningless. Vanity. Everything is utterly meaningless.

The sun comes up; the sun goes down, and then it runs back around so it can come up again. It’s a meaningless cycle.

“Time keeps on slipping, slipping, slipping . . . into the future.”

And then, the Teacher nails the coffin shut by telling us that there is, quite literally, “nothing new under the sun.”

Hah! He never got to see iPhones, right?

See?? Are you depressed yet??

I’m not, actually. Because I kind of understand where he is coming from and where he is going. But you have to read it all in context, and, frankly, it’s rather unhealthy, mentally, to read only the few verses that are highlighted today, and just stop. That really does leave us in a dark, dark place.

If I look only at these things, then, yes, it can be very depressing. But I do not only look at these things. I can honestly, and happily, in fact, look at all the devices of this world, both physical and not, and proclaim, along with this Teacher, that they are “utterly meaningless,” nothing but “smoke” and mirrors.

In the grand scheme of things, in the broad picture of eternity, everything in this room, where I am sitting, that I can see with my eyes . . . all meaningless. “It’s all gonna burn!” Perhaps these words that I am typing are even meaningless.

Unless, one day, someone happens to stumble across this blog, and it miraculously leads them into a faith relationship with Jesus Christ. At that point, it will mean everything in the world to one person.

And that’s kind of why I’m doing it. One of the reasons that I keep it up. That, and my mother enjoys reading it.

So, while we don’t come up with any firm purpose from today’s reading, we must know that knowing God and His wisdom is what provides the only real meaning in life. What is the meaning of life? As much as I like to say it, it is not, in fact, “42.” It is to know God, and to fear Him. To spread His love to everyone . . . to “pass it on.” It is to follow Jesus Christ into territories that make us uncomfortable, and to set aside many of these things that truly are meaningless and vanity, that we might walk in His Kingdom and follow in His steps.

Father, I praise You, even for the meaninglessness of the material world around me. I do thank You for many of these material things; things which can, in fact, be used to provide meaning to an otherwise meaningless existence. But let us not get too attached to these things, which will not survive us for very long. Some of these things may outlast me, physically, but as we live with You for eternity, they will, in fact perish. May we use them wisely and “hold on loosely” to them, always being aware that someone else may need them more than we. Keep me aware of any needs that I might be able to provide with the resources You have provided us. And let us not think to heavily on the thoughts that all is vanity or utterly meaningless, as we might truly find ourselves in a dark place, mentally and emotionally. There is really no reason for us to go there, in light of the fact that our world, our universe, is filled with Your love!

May we, Your people, be filled with resurrection hope and joy. May we all be equipped to share the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, whenever opportunities arise.

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.

"God of heaven and earth,
what is the purpose of it all?
The endless cycle of life brings with it questions that don't find answers in the available light under the sun.
With You,
however,
I get the larger view beyond this world.
I trust You,
God in heaven,
for everything I need for life under the sun -
including intellectually satisfying answers to my biggest questions.
Amen."

BLESSING

Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
(Matthew 5:10 NIV)

Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.
(John 17:17 NIV)

But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.
(John 16:13 NIV)

Then he released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, delivered him to be crucified.
(Matthew 27:26 ESV)

“Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven;”
(Luke 6:37 ESV)

When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said to her, “Woman, you are freed from your disability.”
(Luke 13:12 ESV)

There’s a common word in these three verse, at least in the Greek text. The word that is translated “released,” “forgive/forgiven,” and “freed,” is all one Greek word, “apoluo.” Literally, it means, “to free fully, relieve, release, dismiss.”

So from this fact, we can get the following truth.

“If you don’t forgive, you won’t be released. You’ll stay bound and imprisoned.” But the same word speaks of healing. So forgiveness is linked to healing and the lack of forgiveness to the lack of healing. Those who cannot forgive cripple themselves. And the same word speaks of moving on and being sent forth for the purposes of God. If you don’t forgive, you won’t be able to move on or to let go of the old. Nor will you be able to be sent forth and fulfill God’s calling for your life.”

(From The Book of Mysteries, by Jonathan Cahn)

I read those words, and I think of the many people that are close to my age who do nothing on social media other than moan and complain about how things used to be. They are constantly mocking younger generations, thinking themselves to be superior because they know how to write in cursive and can drive a stick shift.

These folks need to wake up! They are stuck in the past, unable to move on, to let go of things that simply don’t matter any more! And they appear so very hateful and angry all the time, with no hint of forgiveness or release. I pity them; my heart hurts for them. I am so very grateful to God that He has allowed me to not get stuck in that mode. I frequently skip over a lot of those “Who remembers _______?” posts that I see on Facebook. Yeah. I remember. But I don’t live there any more. I live in 2021, where nobody needs to know how write in cursive any more. Where the only reason to drive a stick shift is if you have a fancy sports car.

And just to prove I’m not stuck in the past, here is some really nice music that I discovered, this morning. I’m not one of the “old guys” who are constantly saying that all of today’s music is “crap.” Thanks to Derri Daugherty of The Choir, for the recommendation.

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.

Humility Trending

Today is Thursday, the twenty-eighth of October, 2021.

May the peace of God reign in your life, today.

Day 23,240

Ten days until Daylight Saving Time ends.

My day started out dubiously, as I made a cup of coffee. Without putting a cup under the drip. Oops. Hopefully, that’s the worst thing that happens today. And it could have been a much worse mess. The drip tray caught most of it.

This afternoon, we are finally supposed to close on our mortgage refi. It was supposed to be Tuesday morning, but then they realized that there were some forms that I had to sign and send back. Then, last night, there were even more places that I needed to sign and send back. Makes me wonder if these people really know what they are doing.

Yesterday was a good day at the library. It wasn’t terribly busy, it seems, at the circulation desk, so there were side jobs/tasks that got accomplished. I’m still not perfect, though. I was, however, complimented on humility, by one of the assistant librarians who always seems to enjoy working with me. I think she likes that I don’t get all huffy when she points out my mistakes.

And yes, I still make mistakes. Please reference above comment about not being perfect. The thing is, the way the schedule works, since I’m the lone “floater” (which I like being, by the way), I go a whole week at a time without working in circulation, followed by a week where I work two shifts in that department. So there is a lack of continuity, which makes for less consistency, so that makes me more apt to forget little details. The main aspects are easy to remember. But I tend to forget to fill in certain pieces of the information for new patrons. The most common is the birthday field. In my opinion, it’s in a weird place in the system, which makes it easier to forget.

The thing is, though, that the birth date is probably the most important piece to put in, because that is the demographic we use first, to check if someone already has a library account. The other thing I tend to forget is the alternate ID, which would be their driver’s license or other photo ID number.

In my previous job, forms like that, on the computer, had markers on fields that had to be completed. In fact, the software would not allow us toe save the work unless those fields had been filled in. But, in this case, I just need to work on memory. The thing that hurts is that, as previously referenced, I don’t do these tasks on a daily basis.

They don’t seem to be upset about it, though, so that’s good. I keep getting compliments, and people seem to like working with me.

I’m off work today, and have a couple of things I want to get done. There is some laundry to fold, and I think I’ll make a trip to a grocery store. We need bananas. I have already started our dinner, which will be our Chicken Taco Crockpot Soup, tonight.

I am currently reading The Haunting of Hill House, by Shirley Jackson.

Today is Plush Animal Lover’s Day. So is it the animal or the animal lover that is “plush?”

The word for today is sanguivorous. Hah! My spellchecker’s got nothing on that one! It means, “feeding on blood, as a bat or insect.” Or vampire?

Today’s quote is from R. Buckminster Fuller, American inventor. “Humanity is acquiring all the right technology for all the wrong reasons.” This guy died in 1983, and he said that prior to that. Prophet, maybe?

Significant birthdays on October 28:

Desiderius Erasmus, Dutch humanist and theologian, 1466-1536
John Laurens, American soldier, diplomat, and abolitionist, and good friend of Alexander Hamilton, 1754-1782
Elsa Lanchester, British actress (Bride of Frankenstein), 1902-1986
Jonas Salk, American scientist (polio vaccine), 1914-1995
Bowie Kuhn, American lawyer, MLB commissioner 1969-1984, 1926-2007
Dame Joan Plowright, British actress (Dennis the Menace, 101 Dalmatians), 1929 (92)
Charlie Daniels, American country-rock guitarist and fiddler (Devil Went Down to Georgia), 1936-2020
Annie Potts, American actress (Designing Women, Ghostbusters), 1952 (69) (I've always thought she is really cute)
Bill Gates, American businessman, founder of Microsoft, 1955 (66)
Julia Roberts, American actress (Mystic Pizza, Pretty Woman), 1967 (54)
Joaquin Phoenix, American actor (Walk the Line, Joker), 1974 (47)

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Spirit Invoking, by Daryl Madden

A prayer of presence
The Spirit invoking
Drenched in Your love
A sacred soaking

The Spirit igniting
The word to devour
In time of beyond
A Holy hour

With soul of surrender
A finding so freeing
The Spirit infuses
A blessed being

Within this new wineskin
The Spirit is swelling
One of becoming
A divine dwelling

Save us,
O LORD our God,
and gather us from among the nations,
that we may give thanks to your holy name
and glory in your praise.
(Psalms 106:47 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for reminders of the necessity of humility
2. for the indwelling of Your Spirit
3. for You teaching me humility
4. for Your great love toward us, and Your faithfulness that endures forever
5. for Your heart for the poor and needy, and that You have embedded that care in my heart, as well

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TWENTY-THREE – DAY FIVE

INVITATION

One day spent in your Temple is better than a thousand anywhere else; I would rather stand at the gate of the house of my God than live in the homes of the wicked.
(Psalms 84:10 GNB)

As I pause, during this quiet moment, I reflect on the reality of the Holy Spirit dwelling within us, providing us with strength and wisdom for this life. I pray for the knowledge of His presence.

BIBLE SONG

Praise the LORD, all you nations;
extol him, all you peoples.
For great is his love toward us,
and the faithfulness of the LORD endures forever.

Praise the LORD.
(Psalms 117:1-2 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the LORD,
and he will reward them for what they have done.

Discipline your children, for in that there is hope;
do not be a willing party to their death.

A hot-tempered person must pay the penalty;
rescue them, and you will have to do it again.

Listen to advice and accept discipline,
and at the end you will be counted among the wise.

Many are the plans in a person’s heart,
but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.

What a person desires is unfailing love;
better to be poor than a liar.

The fear of the LORD leads to life;
then one rests content, untouched by trouble.
(Proverbs 19:17-23 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I continue in the presence of the Lord, I mull over these passages, looking for truth and wisdom for my life. I pray for the Holy Spirit to guide me through the meditations and prayers.

Psalm 117 is short and simple, the shortest chapter in the Bible, and very close to the exact middle of the text of the Bible. There is nothing in it that has not already been said. However, that doesn’t make it any less important. The message is clear and plain. We should be praising God because His love for us is great, and His faithfulness endures forever. It is not possible to overstate those truths.

There are several ideas in this passage from Proverbs that bear looking at. The first, in verse 17, is the idea that Jesus promoted when He made his sheep and goats speech. Remember what He said:

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'”
(Matthew 25:40 NIV)

This is part of his lengthy teaching on the end of the age, that begins with the somewhat cryptic chapter 24. But Proverbs 19:17 restates this truth. When we are kind to the poor, we “lend” to the Lord. And we will be rewarded. Now, personally, I think it better to be kind to the poor simply because we have a kind heart. But if we do it for the reward, we are still doing something good, even if the motivation is less pure. The point is, we must note that God has a heart for the poor, the neglected, the oppressed. And, since we know this to be true, then we should also strive to have that same heart.

Verse 19 is interesting, because it seems to support the idea of not enabling people. In other words, don’t keep helping someone who will just fall right back into the same trouble. You’ll just have to do it again. Great wisdom and discernment is required, here.

Verse 20 assures us that, if we listen to good advice and accept discipline, we will be considered wise. Notice that our job performance is not mentioned. Where this gives me comfort is in thinking about my work at the library. I listen to advice. I accept discipline, willingly, with a noticeable heart to correct my errors. And yesterday, I was complimented on being humble. Believe me when I say that I am always shocked when someone calls me “humble.”

Verse 21 does not forbid the making of plans. Some might read it that way, but I don’t. What it does do, for me, is remind me that, yes, I can make plans, but it is God’s ultimate plan that will be worked out. If my plans don’t get in the way or are even in agreement with God’s plans, it’s all good. If my plans don’t figure into God’s plans, I had better be willing to change.

That idea reminds me of a preacher story.

In the darkest part of the night, a ships captain cautiously piloted his warship through the fog-shrouded waters. With straining eyes he scanned the hazy darkness, searching for dangers lurking just out of sight. 

Then His worst fears were realised when he saw a bright light straight ahead. It appeared to be a vessel on a collision course with his ship. To avert disaster he quickly radioed the oncoming vessel.

“This is Captain Jeremiah Smith,” his voice crackled over the radio. “Please alter your course 10 degrees south! Over.”

To the captains amazement, the foggy image did not move. Instead, he heard back on the radio, “Captain Smith. This is Private Thomas Johnson. please alter your course 10 degrees north! Over.”

Appalled at the audacity of the message, the captain shouted back over the radio, “Private Johnson, this is Captain Smith, and I order you to immediately alter your course 10 degree south! Over.”

A second time the oncoming light did not budge. “With all due respect Captain Smith,” came the privates voice again, “I order you to alter your course immediately 10 degrees north! Over.”

Angered and frustrated that this impudent sailor would endanger the lives of his men and crew, the captain growled back over the radio, “Private Johnson. I can have you court-marshalled for this! For the last time, I command you on the authority of the United States government to alter your course 10 degrees to the South! I am a battleship!”

The privates final transmission was chilling: “Captain Smith, sir. Once again with all due respect, I command you to alter your course 10 degrees to the North! I am a lighthouse!”

https://yfcillustrations.blogspot.com/

God is the lighthouse. He is not going to change course. I may be a battleship, or I may be a dinghy. I’ve always thought I was a little dingy.

Sorry.

Either way, when my purposes/plans run into the reality of God’s plans, I’m the one who must alter my course.

Today’s reading ends with verse 23 which, once again, stresses the idea of the fear of the Lord, and the impact it has on our lives. And, yes, it is true that the Hebrew word translated “fear” in this instance, can also be translated as “reverence.” Out of all of the translations I look at, though, only one translates the word as something other than “fear.” Just imagine how you would react if you came face to face with Him. Consider if you lived in a country with a King and you wound up somehow meeting him. That is the kind of “fear” we are referring to.

And, in this case, this fear leads to life. It leads to a life of restful contentment, “untouched by trouble.” I don’t see that as a “promise,” per se. I tend to not look at Proverbs as promises. It’s more, I believe, a statement of fact, of consequence. If you do this, then this will happen. If you live with a healthy fear of the Lord, you will have a life of restful contentment and be untouched by trouble.

Does this mean I won’t see trouble? No, no, a thousand times no! But it won’t “touch” me. The KJV, in this verse, says that the person who fears God will not be “visited with evil.” The word “visited,” translated “touched” in the NIV, also has a meaning of oversight, as an overseer. So it means that, if I live my life in the fear of the Lord (which is the beginning of wisdom, as previously stated), trouble will not have any mastery over me. It won’t rule my life.

Father, I am grateful for these truths, presented in Your Word today. I thank You for Your great love for us and Your faithfulness that endures forever. I thank You for the heart You have given me, a heart that cares for the poor and is kind to them, which, in turn, equals “lending” to You. I believe I have reached a point where my kindness is not motivated by the promise of reward. Please give me wisdom to know when it is good to help someone and when giving help will only lead to them repeating the action that got them in trouble in the first place. Thank You for teaching me humility. I don’t run around claiming to be humble, of course, because I don’t necessarily think that I am. And I praise You that You have instilled a measure of fear for You in my heart. All glory to You, Lord, through the Son and by the Spirit.

I pray for growth in these areas to continue in my life, especially in humility and holiness. I pray that You would continually uncover idols in my heart. I pray, as well, for Your continued forgiveness, and that You would enable me to extend that same forgiveness to those who have wronged me in some way.

"Self-giving God,
in the interconnected economy of grace You graciously pay off my debt of sin,
so now I owe my neighbor a debt of love.
Yet in making payments of kindness to my neighbor I'm lending to You,
loans that You pay back,
with interest.
It's a generous cycle of grace that I never want to step out of.
In Jesus' Name,
Amen."

BLESSING

“Happy are those who work for peace; God will call them his children!
(Matthew 5:9 GNB)

The end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride.
(Ecclesiastes 7:8 NIV)

If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.
(Matthew 5:41 NIV)

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
(Philippians 2:3-4 NIV)

Interesting . . . more about humility.

Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
(Matthew 6:10 ESV)

And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
(Matthew 16:18 ESV)

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

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called,
(Ephesians 4:1 ESV)

There’s a concept being worked out, here, and it is the idea of “living from the future.” This is an interesting thought to me. Here’s what Jonathan Cahn has to say about it:

“Every problem you have will be answered, either in heaven or before. So the secret is to live not from the problem, but from the problem solved, from the answer, before the answer. You must choose to live not from your present crisis, but from its future overcoming, not from your present obstacle, but from its future breakthrough. You’re in a battle. In the future that battle will be won. [I would have worded that differently. In the future the battle IS won, not ‘will be.’] So don’t live from the battle. Live from its future victory. As it is written, when you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and in your asking, give thanks to God. Live from heaven, from the kingdom yet to come, from the life yet to be, even from the you you are yet to become. Fight the won battle, run the run race, accomplish the finished work, start from the finish line, begin from the victory, rejoice now from the joy at the end. Live now from what will one day be, and you’ll live a life of blessing, and victory, on earth as it is in heaven.”

I will be pondering this more throughout this day.

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!

May the LORD richly bless both you and your children. May you be blessed by the LORD, who made heaven and earth.
(Psalms 115:14-15 NLT)

Grace and peace, friends.

Just Love

Good morning! Today is Wednesday, the twenty-seventh of October, 2021

Peace be with you!

Day 23,239

Eleven days until Daylight Saving Time ends (in the U.S., at least).

I am currently reading The Haunting of Hill House, by Shirley Jackson. This was an impulse, because I had not planned on reading this book next, and hadn’t even thought about it. But it was on a cart of books to be shelved, last night, at the library. I am currently watching a Netflix series by the same name (although, from what I remember, it is only loosely based on the book), and decided to go ahead and read it again. Or maybe I’m reading it for the first time?? Oddly enough, I can’t find it on my reading list anywhere. I could have sworn that I had read it. Oh, well. There is only one book on my whole list with the word “haunting” in it, and it’s not this one.

C is working from home, today. I think she may have overdone it on a walk, yesterday evening. I haven’t had a lot of time to talk to her, yet, as she got up after I did. I didn’t sleep real well, myself, for some reason. I fell asleep fine, but woke up shortly before 2:00 AM and had a real hard time falling back asleep. I even cranked up my Kindle for a little bit. I need to come up with a better plan for eating dinner on Tuesday nights, especially when I am working on Wednesday morning. And I realized, this morning, that this is actually the first week, since the schedule changed, that I am actually working Wednesday after Tuesday night.

The Braves won game one of the World Series, 6-2. Game two is at 7:00 tonight.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

By goodness, kindness,
According to His mercy,
We have been redeemed.
(Titus 3)

Praise the LORD!
Oh give thanks to the LORD,
for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever!
(Psalms 106:1 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. to be alive and breathing
2. to be in Your presence
3. that You are gracious and righteous, and full of compassion (Psalm 116)
4. for the easy yoke of Jesus Christ
5. for the two greatest commands: Love You and love people

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TWENTY-THREE – DAY FOUR

INVITATION

One day spent in your house, this beautiful place of worship, beats thousands spent on Greek island beaches. I’d rather scrub floors in the house of my God than be honored as a guest in the palace of sin.
(Psalms 84:10 MSG)

As I pause, during the quietness of this morning, I ponder the Message version of that verse. How many of us would truly rather scrub floors than be an honored guest?

BIBLE SONG

I love the LORD, for he heard my voice;
he heard my cry for mercy.
Because he turned his ear to me,
I will call on him as long as I live.

The cords of death entangled me,
the anguish of the grave came over me;
I was overcome by distress and sorrow.
Then I called on the name of the LORD:
“LORD, save me!”

The LORD is gracious and righteous;
our God is full of compassion.
The LORD protects the unwary;
when I was brought low, he saved me.

Return to your rest, my soul,
for the LORD has been good to you.
(Psalms 116:1-7 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Better a dry crust with peace and quiet
than a house full of feasting, with strife.

A prudent servant will rule over a disgraceful son
and will share the inheritance as one of the family.

The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold,
but the LORD tests the heart.

A wicked person listens to deceitful lips;
a liar pays attention to a destructive tongue.

Whoever mocks the poor shows contempt for their Maker;
whoever gloats over disaster will not go unpunished.

Children’s children are a crown to the aged,
and parents are the pride of their children.
(Proverbs 17:1-6 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I read these passages again, I seek wisdom from the Holy Spirit. I pray for guidance as I meditate and pray over these Scriptures.

I really like verse 7 of the psalm. “Return to your rest . . .” The word translated “rest” means “quiet” or “a settled spot.” There might be some thinking that it means our final rest. I’m not leaning in that direction, but thinking in terms of, well, how I have been feeling, this morning; somewhat unsettled. The psalmist speaks to his own soul, telling it to return to that “settled spot,” because the Lord has been good to him.

How unsettled does one have to be to mock the poor and gloat over disaster? This is the verse from the Proverbs passage that screams out to me. It doesn’t just stand out; it jumps up and down and shouts.

“Whoever mocks the poor shows contempt for their Maker.” Oh, what a need for today’s Church to repent! At least half of it, anyway. For there are those who would turn a cold shoulder and deaf ear to the desperation of the immigrants. And gloating over a disaster? Our God declares that such a person will be punished.

I remember a certain “evangelical celebrity” who opined that a disaster that happened in a third world country was what they deserved.

How dare we!

And in full confession I will admit that there were times in my life, many years ago, when I might have actually wished that “bad things” would happen to people. I’m still tempted to be that way, but the Spirit has lifted me above such attitudes. Jesus says to love those who hate us and do good to our “enemies.” We are never given permission to pray or hope for bad things to happen to anyone.

I realize that there are prayers by David (or other psalmists), asking for the babies of enemies to be crushed on the rocks. And I will confess that I’m still not quite sure how to deal with those “imprecatory” psalms. But I certainly don’t feel comfortable praying such things.

This all boils down to (and you know I’m going to say this) those two commands that Jesus pointed out; those two “jobs” that we are given. If we are loving God and loving people, AND we are abiding by that “Golden Rule,” we most certainly would not be gloating over disasters or mocking the poor.

“Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets.”
(Matthew 7:12 NLT)

Just like those two commands that Jesus gave us, this, also, sums up the law and the prophets. And note that in both the Golden Rule, and the second greatest command, we are given permission consider ourselves. Jesus never tells us to love our neighbor in exclusion to ourselves, or even above ourselves (although we are instructed in some of Paul’s writings to consider others as more significant than ourselves). We are to treat others like we want to be treated.

So I can only surmise that there are a lot of “Christians” out there who want to be in poverty, being mocked by a group of people who think they are better than everyone else, and want others to gloat over them when “bad things” happen to them.

I saw a quote, this morning, that is attributed to John Lennon. It says: “It matters not who you love, where you love, why you love, when you love or how you love, it matters only that you love.” It’s a nice thought, but I don’t quite agree with it. I think all of those things actually do matter.

It matters “who you love,” because we are supposed to love everyone. It matters where I love, because I should be loving everywhere. It matters why I love, because, as the Biblical John said, “We love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). It matters when we love, because we should be loving always. Maybe the only one that really doesn’t matter is how I love, as long as I am loving. All that being said, I do understand the sentiment behind the statement, regardless if Lennon said it or someone else said it. And the sentiment, I can get behind. Just love.

Father, help us to do a better job of loving. I just can’t get away from this topic, can I? I do believe, though, that it is Your Spirit directing these thoughts. I’ll confess that I did sort of “wake up on the wrong side of the bed” this morning. But Your Spirit worked to calm my soul, especially as I read that beautiful passage from Psalms. But these thoughts of gloating over disaster and mocking the poor . . . Father, I simply cannot understand what is wrong with someone who would do such things! It flies in the face of Your commands to us, as well as the great and unimaginable mercy You have sown us! Forgive us, Lord! Grant us repentance! Help us to do better! The eyes of the world are on Your children, more than ever, right now.

In light of these things, Lord, I offer up prayers for accessible housing and shelter for all who are homeless and living in poverty right now.

"Our Father,
being an honoring child is a demanding call,
as is being an honorable parent.
I pray for relationships in my family and with others to be marked by warm respect,
committed love,
and fierce loyalty.
May my family be pleasing to You,
a proud legacy in my life,
and a beautiful witness to You.
Amen."

BLESSING

“You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.”
(Matthew 5:9 MSG)

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.
(1 John 4:7-8 ESV)

Father, please remind me, today, that everyone with whom I come in contact is worthy of Your love, and, therefore, my love.

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!

May the LORD richly bless both you and your children. May you be blessed by the LORD, who made heaven and earth.
(Psalms 115:14-15 NLT)

Grace and peace, friends.

Refreshed and Refreshing

Good morning! Today is Tuesday, the twenty-sixth of October, 2021.

May the peace of God reign in your life today!

Day 23,238

Twelve more days until Daylight Saving Time ends.

Hard to believe that there are only five more days until November! But Halloween is this coming Sunday night. For the record, we have not purchased any Halloween candy. We do not plan to be home for at least part of the night, Sunday night. I will discuss with C (we haven’t even talked about it) whether we want to get any. If we do, and have some left over, I’m sure I will take it to the Library next Tuesday evening.

Speaking of library, I work today, from 4:15-8:15 PM, doing shelving. Easy shift, and I enjoy shelving (not that I don’t enjoy any of my duties). Tuesday night shelving is the time when I am pretty much alone for the whole shift, working, more or less, in the shadows. Peaceful and serene. Plus, surrounded by, you know, books.

The Tuesday shift is kind of strange, still. It’s like I have a whole day off, but still have a shift at work.

I didn’t leave the house, yesterday, other than to check the mail and bring the trash bins back up from the street, after the garbage pickup. Today, I will probably go out around noon. We need a few things from the grocery store (I may start planning grocery trips on either Monday or Tuesday, and Thursday, going forward), and I’ll probably pick up lunch for all of us, since C is working from home today.

The World Series begins tonight, at 7:00 (ish) PM, broadcast, of course, on Fox. Which means, if you watch, you have to listen to Joe Buck. That’s one good reason not to watch. I doubt I will watch, anyway (I’ll be at work when it starts), but I do want the Braves to win.

As recognized every year on October 26, today is Howl at the Moon Day. But the moon isn’t full, it is only “waning gibbous,” whatever that means.

The word for today is revenant. In the context of the season, it means, “a person who returns as a spirit after death; ghost.” So that’s what that means! And here I thought it had something to do with bears!

Today’s quote is from Henry Ward Beecher, American clergyman. “I never knew how to worship until I knew how to love.”

Significant birthdays on October 26:

C.W. Post, American manufacturer of breakfast cereal, 1854-1914
Mahalia Jackson, American gospel singer, 1911-1972
Jackie Coogan, American actor (Uncle Fester on The Addams Family), 1914-1984
Bob Hoskins, English actor (Smee in Hook), 1942-2014
Hillary Clinton, U.S. 1st Lady, Senator, Secretary of State, 1947 (74)
Bootsy Collins, American guitarist and singer (Parliament, Funkadelic), 1951, (70)
Lauren Tewes, American actress (Julie on Love Boat), 1953 (68)
Cary Elwes, English actor (Princess Bride), 1962 (59)
Natalie Merchant, American singer/songwriter (10,000 Maniacs), 1963 (58)
Keith Urban, New Zealand-Australian country singer, still married to Nicole Kidman, 1967 (54)
Seth MacFarlane, American animator (Family Guy), 1973 (48)
Jon Heder, American actor (Napoleon Dynamite), 1977 (44)
Cary Elwes in his best role (my opinion)
Jon Heder

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Grace of God appeared,
Bringing salvation for all;
We wait for our Hope.
(Titus 2)

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:

1. for all of Your wondrous works; may I faithfully make them known among the peoples
2. for the gift of music, with which I can sing praises to You
3. that You have caused my heart to seek You and rejoice
4. that You have given me/us a generous heart, eager to share with others and refresh them
5. for the stark realization that life is not a competition; I am not out to "beat" anyone

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TWENTY-THREE – DAY THREE

INVITATION

For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness.
(Psalms 84:10 ESV)

As I pause in the quietness of this moment, I reflect on the presence of the Lord and the strength He provides in my life. Imperfect as I am, I can only imagine how life would be without Him in it.

BIBLE SONG

The LORD remembers us and will bless us:
He will bless his people Israel,
he will bless the house of Aaron,
he will bless those who fear the LORD—
small and great alike.

May the LORD cause you to flourish,
both you and your children.
May you be blessed by the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.

The highest heavens belong to the LORD,
but the earth he has given to mankind.
It is not the dead who praise the LORD,
those who go down to the place of silence;
it is we who extol the LORD,
both now and forevermore.
Praise the LORD.
(Psalms 115:12-18 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Be sure of this: The wicked will not go unpunished,
but those who are righteous will go free.

Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout
is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion.

The desire of the righteous ends only in good,
but the hope of the wicked only in wrath.

One person gives freely, yet gains even more;
another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.

A generous person will prosper;
whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.
(Proverbs 11:21-25 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I read these passages over again, I look for words and/or phrases that speak to me. I pray for the Holy Spirit to guide my meditations and prayers, as I seek the Lord and His strength, this morning.

The passage from Psalms contains encouragement, as well as a good prayer to be prayed for just about anyone. First, we get the encouragement that the Lord remembers and blesses those who fear Him. At first, it is specific to the Israel, even down to the house of Aaron. But verse 13 is more general, directed toward all who fear His name, both “small and great alike.”

The prayer of verses 14 and 15 is a wonderful blessing to pray over someone. I plan to incorporate that into my own prayers.

In Proverbs, we see some comparisons between the wicked and righteous, the generous and stingy, with the humor of verse 22 thrown in.

We are assured that the “wicked will not go unpunished.” We may not live to see the ultimate punishment of the wicked, and I’m not sure I would want to, anyway. I’ve discussed that, previously.

Also of interest is the verse about the desire of the righteous (verse 23). Note that all of our desires, if we are righteous, end only in good. It doesn’t say that our desires are necessarily good, nor does it say that we will get everything we desire. It says that our desires will end only in good. This reminds me of a popularly quoted verse, Romans 8:28. Many people are familiar with it. The Lord works all things for good. It does not say that everything that happens is “good,” but that He works it out for good.

Then we get a couple of comparisons between the generous and stingy. The generous give, yet keep getting more. I can say from experience that this is true. God has blessed my family. By many standards, we are wealthy. We aren’t millionaires, but we have more than enough. We are eager and quick to share those blessings, and, as a result, God continues to bless. I boasted about Him and His provision, at the start of my retirement, just the other day.

When you share God’s resources and blessings with others, you are, as worded in verse 25, “refreshing” them. By doing so, God will, in turn, “refresh” you. Just for kicks, I looked up “refresh.” This is what I found: “give new strength or energy to; reinvigorate.” Think of this in terms of poverty or need. If you give something to someone who is in desperate need, you give them “new strength or energy;” You “reinvigorate” them. You can be sure that God will then do the same for you.

Father, as I read these passages from Your Word, I am encouraged. My prayer life receives new direction and purpose as I make plans to pray more blessing over people I know and love. I am also encouraged to continue to seek You and Your strength daily, as well as sing more praises to You. My heart is full as I consider Your blessings in my life, especially in light of how You have also made me more generous, holding on loosely, as it were, with open hands. You are amazing, and Your grace is, frequently, unbelievable, incomprehensible. May I continue to share those blessings with other; may I continue to be generous. All praise and glory to You, through the Son and by the Spirit!

May You give us the strength to follow the call of the Gospel into our communities and workplaces. May You provide peace in our communities.

"Wise God,
people name this wisdom of the ages differently -
karma,
the law of attraction,
the golden rule -
but it all comes from You.
Thank You for Your refreshing grace that jumpstarts the flow of grace to others,
Your attractive goodness that enables me to do good to my neighbor,
and Your generosity that moves me to share with those in need.
In Jesus' name,
amen."

BLESSING

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
(Matthew 5:9 ESV)

“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
(Matthew 6:34 ESV)

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
(2 Timothy 4:7 ESV)

but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
(Isaiah 40:31 ESV)

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.
(1 John 2:15-17 ESV)

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!

May the LORD richly bless both you and your children. May you be blessed by the LORD, who made heaven and earth.
(Psalms 115:14-15 NLT)

Grace and peace, friends.

The Path of Love

Good morning! Today is Monday, the twenty-fifth of October, 2021.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,237

Only thirteen days until Daylight Saving Time ends.

We had a great time, yesterday morning, with our church group. While we had the gathering over Zoom, this time, due to some folks being unavailable for in person gathering, it was a great discussion over 1 John chapter 5. We had actually read that passage the week before, but we had spent so much of our time catching up on each other and “fellowshipping” that we only managed to discuss a couple of verses. So we read it again and discussed more verses that caught our attention. I think we all left feeling like we had made some significant progress in understanding some of the more difficult verses of that chapter. It was awesome.

After church, we had our usual Applebee’s lunch. C and I watched the first episode of a Hulu original, called “Only Murders in the Building.” It features Steve Martin, Martin Short, and Selena Gomez, who all play characters who live in an apartment building in New York City. All three are obsessed with the same true crime podcast (which featured Tina Fey). When a murder happens in their building, the all become quite interested in it, and decide to start their own podcast.

We got a new “cat tree” yesterday evening, delivered by Amazon. C really liked that it came yesterday evening, and had to be assembled. It gave her something to do that felt productive. We put it where the old one was, and moved the old one over by the back door, at least for the time being. So far, they have laid on the old one by the back door. Haha! I have yet to catch one of them in the new one. However, C told me that at least two of them were inside one of the compartments of the new one while she was trying to put it together. Helping, you know.

Nothing much on the agenda for today. That’s something I still need to work on . . . planning my days around my work schedule. There is some laundry to be folded, and dinner to be cooked later, after C alerts me that she is on her way home.

Earlier, this morning, I decided to have my coffee out on the back deck, in one of our new lounge chairs that I got C for our anniversary. It was very nice out there. Borderline too cool, but not quite. I drank my coffee and read a few chapters of the book I am currently reading. Which reminds me . . . I believe I have decided to share that each day. What I am reading, currently, I mean. So, for today it is this:

The World Series begins tomorrow night, Braves v. Astros in Houston. My attitude about it has changed a bit, as I discovered, yesterday, that Ron Washington, former favorite coach for the Texas Rangers, is third base coach for the Atlanta Braves. This actually gives me a bit of a reason to care. So I will be actively cheering for the Braves, this year. Doesn’t mean I’ll watch a lot, but who knows?

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

When We Look at the Cross, by Daryl Madden

When we look at the cross the truth to sink in
In wounds that He bears we see our sin

When we look at the cross what do we see?
Our sins swallowed up by His great mercy

When we look at the cross our treasure in store
Of eternal life for death is no more

When we look at the cross we are drawn above
For we are consumed in His passion of love

A Psalm for giving thanks.

Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth!
Serve the LORD with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!
Know that the LORD, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him;
bless his name!
For the LORD is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.
(Psalms 100:1-5 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that You are good, Your steadfast love enduring forever, and Your faithfulness to all generations
2. that we are Your people, the sheep of Your pasture
3. that You can turn our "hard rocks into springs of water" (Psalm 114)
4. that if we obey the commands of Jesus (love God and love people), we won't have to worry about those seven things that God detests in Proverbs 6:16-19
5. for all of Your creation, living things, both great and small
6. that my cup overflows
7. for Your blessings on the peacemakers

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TWENTY-THREE – DAY TWO

INVITATION

A single day in your courts is better than a thousand anywhere else! I would rather be a gatekeeper in the house of my God than live the good life in the homes of the wicked.
(Psalms 84:10 NLT)

I take a moment, during this peaceful morning, to contemplate what I see when I look at the cross of Jesus. Do I see my sins in His wounds, swallowed up by His mercy? Do I see the treasure of eternal life, promised by our Father? Am I drawn above, consumed in His passion?

BIBLE SONG

When Israel came out of Egypt,
Jacob from a people of foreign tongue,
Judah became God’s sanctuary,
Israel his dominion.

The sea looked and fled,
the Jordan turned back;
the mountains leaped like rams,
the hills like lambs.

Why was it, sea, that you fled?
Why, Jordan, did you turn back?
Why, mountains, did you leap like rams,
you hills, like lambs?
Tremble, earth, at the presence of the Lord,
at the presence of the God of Jacob,
who turned the rock into a pool,
the hard rock into springs of water.
(Psalms 114:1-8 NIV)

BIBLE READING

There are six things the LORD hates,
seven that are detestable to him:
haughty eyes,
a lying tongue,
hands that shed innocent blood,
a heart that devises wicked schemes,
feet that are quick to rush into evil,
a false witness who pours out lies
and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.
(Proverbs 6:16-19 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I remind myself that I am in the presence of God, indwelt by His Spirit, I linger over these passages, seeking inspiration for meditation and prayer. I ask the Spirit to guide me in His truth, that I might walk effectively in His Kingdom.

Psalm 114 presents interesting visual imagery. This is all about celebrating Israel’s deliverance from slavery in Egypt. Oddly enough, the division between Israel and Judah is years in the future. Yet there is a distinction made in this psalm. Both are considered dwelling places of the Lord, though, Israel His “dominion” and Judah His “sanctuary.”

It is easy to envision the events in verse 3. We can easily see the Red Sea “fleeing,” as it parted for Israel to walk through on dry ground. We can also see the Jordan “turning back,” as it was also divided so that the people of Israel could cross over into the Promised Land.

Verse 4 is a little more difficult, at least for me, to picture. I don’t remember anything significant happening to mountains and hills in the journey of Israel. Maybe someone can assist me, here?

Verse 7 calls for the earth to tremble at the presence of the Lord. Would that there was more of this that happened. Maybe that’s what happened to the mountains and hills. Perhaps they trembled in His presence. For He did, indeed, turn the rock into springs of water, to provide sustenance and refreshment for His people.

The Proverb selection presents an interesting literary device. And if you read more of Proverbs, you will see this used several times. It begins saying that there are six things that God hates, and then amends it to say “seven that are detestable to Him.” There are some who say that this means that the seventh is the more detestable of the group. And Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase might actually provide a little support to that idea.

Here are six things GOD hates, and one more that he loathes with a passion:
eyes that are arrogant,
a tongue that lies,
hands that murder the innocent,
a heart that hatches evil plots,
feet that race down a wicked track,
a mouth that lies under oath,
a troublemaker in the family.
(Proverbs 6:16-19 MSG)

Let’s look at them.

First, in the NIV, “haughty eyes.” The Message says “eyes that are arrogant,” and the KJV says “a proud look.” I think that’s pretty self-explanatory, but I might add that, in my opinion, I get the idea that it means looking down on someone, thinking that we are better than they are.

Second, NIV says, “a lying tongue.” MSG says “a tongue that lies,” and KJV says “a lying tongue.” Again, self-explanatory. God doesn’t like lies. Elsewhere, the Bible says that a lie is an abomination in the eyes of God (Proverbs 12:22). However, it is worth noting that the Hebrew midwives lied, as did Rahab the harlot. Both were rewarded for their deceitfulness. So the motivation behind the lie is important. Corrie ten Boom’s family was deceitful when they hid Jews in their crawlspace.

Third, NIV says, “hands that shed innocent blood.” All of the other main translations are very similar, if not exactly the same. I think it safe to say that “murder” is the operative idea, here. And God is very clear about this in His laws.

Fourth, NIV says, “a heart that devises wicked schemes.” Again, the other translations are very similar. I get the idea of plotting to harm someone, or to steal from them. Perhaps scamming them. There are many hearts out there who are constantly devising “wicked schemes.” I mean, who among us has not received a phone call about extending our automobile warranty?? My mother even gets those, and she has never owned a car! There’s also the ones about lowering your credit card’s interest rate. And let’s not forget the emails about package tracking numbers on things we have not ordered.

And let me say this. These types of schemes prey on the “elderly,” especially those who may not be quite so tech-savvy. They are not stupid by any stretch of the imagination. But they might fall more easily for such scams, at least until they are more aware of what they are.

Personally, when I’m feeling a little bit snarky (and less Christlike, admittedly), I might answer the phone (I don’t normally answer if I don’t recognize the number) and mess with whoever is on the other end. I have succeeded in getting cussed out be several of them, which makes me laugh.

The fifth thing is “feet that are quick to rush into evil.” Now this one might sting a little bit more. At least, hopefully, when we are tempted to sin, we drag our feet a little, at least trying to resist. But I’ll be honest . . . there have been times in my life when there was little to no hesitation. The idea came into my head, and my feet said, “Let’s go!” According to the author of Proverbs (presumably Solomon), God hates this.

The sixth thing is “a false witness who pours out lies.” That’s the NIV. The Message says “a mouth that lies under oath,” and the KJV is similar to the NIV, as is ESV and NLT. This is more than just lying, as this has already been covered with number 2, “a lying tongue.” This has more to do, I think with the idea behind number four. Lying under oath is an attempt to subjugate (boy that’s a hard one to spell) the truth. It probably has a close relationship to number four, though, as it likely involves a “wicked scheme.” Now, I have, for many years, associated the commandment that says “you shall not bear false witness against your neighbor” as being more associated with gossip than lying under oath.

And that brings us to number seven, which, according to some, God loathes with even more passion than the other six. “A person who stirs up conflict in the community.” Peterson renders this “a troublemaker in the family.” But the ESV and KJV may nail this one even better. “One who sows discord among brothers.” I have no trouble believing that this, in God’s eyes, is the most detestable item in this list of seven things. The “community,” the “family,” the “brothers,” is what makes up the Church. And I believe it safe to rest assured that God Almighty loathes any sowing of discord among the brothers and sisters that make up the Church.

Occasionally, in reading Paul’s letters, you might run across some names at the end, names of people who do just that. At one point, he even speaks of handing someone over to Satan. There is no love lost over people like that in Scripture. And I believe that some serious retrospection is always good, in that regard. Have I sowed discord among brothers? With a heavy heart, I have to confess that, at various times in my past, this may have happened. But I don’t think it was planned or schemed.

And this is where this all comes together. There are people in this world whose main purpose in life is to cause trouble and steal the joy of other people. And the person who lives with that goal in mind is one who pretty much sums up all seven of these things that the Lord hates. Are these people true believers, Christians? I am not wise enough to answer that question, and only God knows the answer to this. That’s kind of like wondering if Judas was saved. Far be it from me to try to guess that answer, although Jesus did opine that it would have been better for him if he had never been born.

And the positive answer to all seven of these things is summed up in one command that Jesus gave us. Love your neighbor as yourself.

Consider it, for a moment. If you are successfully loving your neighbor, you won’t look down on them, thinking that you are better; you won’t lie to them (at least not maliciously); you certainly won’t murder them; you won’t devise wicked schemes to relieve them of their money or property; you won’t rush into evil deeds (this may or may not involve another person); you won’t bear false witness against them or gossip about them, and you won’t try to cause trouble in the family or the community.

If we love God and love people, the way Jesus instructed us, commanded us, none of these seven things will be an issue for us.

Father, thank You for bringing these things to mind, today. I always need reminders about such things, as well as reminders of how I’m doing at loving You and loving others. For the most part, I seem to be having a better time of it, lately. Your Holy Spirit has been guiding me down the path of love. This, of course, makes me think of an old song by The Cowsills. But, God, You have the means and desire to make us follow this path, and I pray for all of humanity, especially in my own country, that You would lead us down this path. I can’t expect a whole lot from those who are unbelievers, although I dare say that some of them are doing a better job of loving others than Your Church is. Or maybe it’s those who are pretending to be Your Church. You alone can make that distinction, as You are the one who is responsible for pulling the weeds. We aren’t wise enough to do that. Above all, Father, please help us to avoid, like the plague, any hint of stirring up discord among Your Church.

Help us, Lord, to see Your work in the world around us. Give us eyes to see, ears to hear.

"God of grace and truth,
make me whole,
a person of integrity who heals and makes peace.
I pray for eyes that see what's best in others,
a graceful and candid mouth,
hands that never twist but hold up truth,
a heart that aims to encourage,
and feet that pursue my neighbor's best.
Amen."

That’s a really good prayer, and I’m going to save it for later use.

BLESSING

God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God.
(Matthew 5:9 NLT)

O LORD, how manifold are your works!
In wisdom have you made them all;
the earth is full of your creatures.
Here is the sea,
great and wide,
which teems with creatures innumerable,
living things both small and great.
(Psalms 104:24-25 ESV)

A Psalm of David.

The LORD is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
(Psalms 23:1-6 ESV)

So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered.”
(Genesis 32:30 ESV)

The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.
(Numbers 6:24-26 ESV)

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
(Matthew 5:8 ESV)

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
(2 Corinthians 3:18 ESV)

Father, please show me Your face. And help me to be Your face to someone else today.

Come on, everybody together; Come on, let me show you the way; Come on, we can do much better; Follow down the path of love.

Grace and peace, friends.

A Reputation for Living Well

Good morning! Today is Sunday, the twenty-fourth of October, 2021.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,236

Fourteen days until Daylight Saving Time Ends. And nineteen days until C’s birthday!

C had a great time with her friend, yesterday. They had some lunch together, and sat and talked about old times, and got caught up a little bit on things since. I believe they do plan to get together again, maybe even next Saturday. Her friend even brought flowers!

I didn’t do a whole lot, yesterday, at least not much that was productive. I did pick up groceries, as well as lunch for S and me, along with, of course, Sonic drinks. The rest of the day was spent reading and playing games. Oh, and I watched a couple of TV shows on the Internet. One episode of Game of Thrones (I’m in season 5, now), and re-started The Haunting of Hill House on Netflix. I enjoyed Midnight Mass very much, and Hill House is by the same director and has a bunch of the same people in it. I also never finished it, so better to re-start than try to remember what had happened up to the point where I stopped.

Our church gathering is on Zoom, this morning. I won’t be finished with this by 10:15, as we both slept until after 8:00 AM (how crazy is that??). I’m not leading, so I can quietly work on it during the Zoom meeting. Shh. Don’t tell.

The World Series is set. Braves v. Astros. As previously stated, I couldn’t possibly care less about it. As I told one friend on Facebook, I don’t want Houston to win, but I don’t want that badly enough to watch any of it.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

One day in Your courts
is better than a thousand
in tents of wicked.
(Psalm 84:10)

Light is sown for the righteous,
and joy for the upright in heart.
Rejoice in the LORD,
O you righteous,
and give thanks to his holy name!
(Psalms 97:11-12 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for light and joy, sown in my heart each day
2. that a day with You is better than a thousand elsewhere
3. that You "stoop down" to look at us, to care for us (Psalm 113(
4. that You raise the poor from the dust and lift the needy from the ash heap
5. that, when I trust in You, and lean not on my own understanding, You make my paths straight

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TWENTY-THREE – DAY ONE

INVITATION

Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.
(Psalms 84:10 NIV)

I pause during this quiet moment to consider the benefits of being in Your presence; of life with You.

BIBLE SONG

Praise the LORD.

Praise the LORD, you his servants; praise the name of the LORD.
Let the name of the LORD be praised, both now and forevermore.
From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the LORD is to be praised.

The LORD is exalted over all the nations, his glory above the heavens.
Who is like the LORD our God, the One who sits enthroned on high,
who stoops down to look on the heavens and the earth?

He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap;
he seats them with princes, with the princes of his people.
He settles the childless woman in her home as a happy mother of children. Praise the LORD.
(Psalms 113:1-9 NIV)

BIBLE READING

My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you peace and prosperity.

Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
(Proverbs 3:1-6 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I continue to rest in His presence, I look for things in these passages that stir my spirit, that draw me in for deeper meditation and prayerr.

Psalm 113 is another of the “orphan psalms” that is a pure psalm of praise. There is no lamenting or complaining in this one, and no petition. It is all praise, declarative of the nature and character of our Father in heaven.

I like the imagery of verses 2 and 3, that call for the Lord’s name to be praised “from the rising of the sun to the place where it sets.” From east to west, all around the world, let the name of the Lord be praised.

The question asked in verse 5 has only one answer, and I seriously doubt that one is expected. But the answer, of course, is no one. The picture that comes then is beautiful. There’s a word that describes what the Lord does, and that word is “condescend.” That is usually used in a negative context, but here, it is not. Because any interaction that the Lord Almighty has with us humans is condescension. He is so much higher, infinitely higher than we, that he must “stoop down” to look at us.

But He doesn’t just look, does He? “He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap.” He seats us with princes.

In the Proverbs passage, we get some wisdom. That’s what Proverbs is mostly about, right? Wisdom from God’s Word. It is stated, at the beginning, that keeping the commands of the Lord prolong life, as well as bringing peace and prosperity. Let it be known that the idea of “prosperity” is not in the original text. None of the other main translations include that word. Here are a few examples.

My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments, for length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you.
(Proverbs 3:1-2 ESV)

My child, never forget the things I have taught you. Store my commands in your heart. If you do this, you will live many years, and your life will be satisfying.
(Proverbs 3:1-2 NLT)

Good friend, don’t forget all I’ve taught you; take to heart my commands. They’ll help you live a long, long time, a long life lived full and well.
(Proverbs 3:1-2 MSG)

The only reason I point that out is so that we are not tempted to take that verse as saying that God wants us to be monetarily rich. But I do like the NLT translation that says our life will be “satisfying.” That could mean a lot of different things. If I am satisfied with less, then my level of “prosperity” is different, isn’t it?

Verse 4 is one that tends to get ignored. Lots of people love to quote verses 5 and 6. But I noticed verse 4, this morning. Actually, it starts with verse 3.

Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.
(Proverbs 3:3-4 NIV)

Here is is from The Message:

Don’t lose your grip on Love and Loyalty. Tie them around your neck; carve their initials on your heart. Earn a reputation for living well in God’s eyes and the eyes of the people.
(Proverbs 3:3-4 MSG)

If we practice love and faithfulness (loyalty), we will have a reputation for “living well,” both in the eyes of God and the eyes of other people. I don’t take this as a recommendation to try to please people with our lives, but rather a consequence of “living well,” of living in love and faithfulness.

Father, I pray, this morning, for this love and loyalty to be the foundations of my life in Christ. Help me to love You and love others, and may my faithfulness be exemplary, that I may gain this reputation for living well in Your eyes. I’m not terribly concerned with my reputation in the world’s eyes, but I do want to be known as one who believes in You, loves You, follows You, and prays to You constantly. Help me to tie love and faithfulness around my neck, that they might be visible to others. Again, not so that they see how “great” I am, but, rather, how great You are! All glory to You, through the Son and by the Spirit.

I ask, Father, that the risen Christ dwell in my heart, daily. Please provide spiritual renewal and refreshment for Your children.

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.

"Purposeful God,
there is a definite grain to the universe,
a way this world works,
a holy and common wisdom that shines in what You have created and how You continue to handle it.
Give me the good sense to pay attention to it -
to observe,
enjoy,
learn from,
and live it.
Amen."

BLESSING

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
(Matthew 5:9 NIV)

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
(Galatians 6:9 NIV)

The wicked earns deceptive wages, but one who sows righteousness gets a sure reward.
(Proverbs 11:18 ESV)

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.
(1 Corinthians 15:58 ESV)

As for you, brothers, do not grow weary in doing good.
(2 Thessalonians 3:13 ESV)

These are perfect examples of love and faithfulness (loyalty).

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.

Fear and Delight

Good morning! Today is Saturday, the twenty-third of October, 2021.

May the peace of God reign in your life today!

Today’s header photo is courtesy of photographer Paul Militaru. Please check out his photography blog.

Day 23,235

Fifteen days until Daylight Saving Time ends.

And it’s only twenty-five days until we fly to Indianapolis! We need to find someone to check up on or stay with our kitties while we’re gone, though.

I had a great day at the library, yesterday. It wasn’t super-busy, and others have said that Friday was usually the slowest day of the week, even pre-pandemic. The computer center had people in it for most of the day, though, and there was a bit of an influx between 5:00 and closing time, at 6:00. The manager says that’s fairly normal, and I figure maybe people have just gotten off work and run over to the library to do whatever they need to do. I’m starting to notice “repeat customers,” too.

When I got to work, yesterday, there were three “candygrams” in my mailbox. One from my manager, one from the assistant director, and one from the Community Services manager who is our director’s boss. That was very nice.

My interlibrary loan book has been extended for another week, so I now have until next Friday to finish it. I might finish over this weekend, but at least my anxiety level about it has been decreased significantly.

Another anxiety decrease/elimination occurred last night when the Red Sox failed to score a run in Game Six of the ALCS, sending the Astros to the World Series. Again. Sigh. In the spirit of the current culture of our nation, I have to assume that, since my team didn’t win, the other team cheated. That’s how we think, now, right?

I’m joking, of course. But there is something awful fishy about how the Red Sox bats just quit working for the last three games. That almost reeks more of game-fixing than cheating on either team’s part. But, in the words of one of the songs from Hamilton, “that’s one less thing to worry about.” I doubt that I will watch any of the World Series, as I couldn’t possibly care less who wins. I guess I could root for Mookie Betts, but that would require me to root for the Dodgers, and I don’t want to do that.

There’s always next year.

C has an old friend from high school coming over today, so I will be hiding away in the study for most of the day. I have a grocery order to pick up at Kroger between 1:00 and 2:00 PM, and might pick up some lunch for S and me, during that time. Otherwise, I have no significant plans for the day.

There are a lot of “holidays” to choose from today. I choose Make A Difference Day. What can you and I do today, to make a difference in someone’s life?

The word for today is verst. “a Russian measure of distance equivalent to 3,500 feet, or 0.6629 mile (1.067 kilometers).”

Today’s quote is from Peter Drucker, American businessman, and I 100% agree with it. “Most of what we call management consists of making it difficult for people to get their work done.”

Significant birthdays on October 23:

Emmanuel, marquis de Grouchy, French general and marshal (only because I like his name), 1766-1847
Milton "Gummo" Marx, American actor and comedian, 1892-1977
Frank Sutton, American actor (Gomer Pyle, Sgt Carter), 1923-1974
Johnny Carson, American comedian and TV host (The Tonight Show), 1925-2005
Ellie Greenwich, American singer/songwriter (Da Doo Ron Ron, Leader of the Pack), 1940-2009
Pele, Brazilian football player, Player of the Century, 1940 (81)
Michael Crichton, American author (Jurassic Park, The Andromeda Strain), 1942-2008
Alfred "Weird Al Yankovic" Matthew, American comedian and parody singer, 1959 (62)
Sam Raimi, American filmmaker (Spiderman, Evil Dead), 1959 (62)
Cat Deeley, English TV presenter (So You Think You Can Dance), 1976 (45)
Ryan Reynolds, Canadian actor and comedian (Deadpool, Van Wilder), 1976 (45)
Emelia Clarke, English actress (Game of Thrones, Daenerys Targaryen), 1986 (35)
Ellie Greenwich co-wrote this song
My favorite Weird Al song

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Can Be A Prayer, by Daryl Madden

A simple intention
With a heart to care
Feeding the birds
Can be a prayer

A moment of dawning
Of light to appear
Watching the sunrise
Can be a prayer

Feeling so grateful
For food we prepare
Making our breakfast
Can be a prayer

A time of blessing
With God that we share
Any moment we live
Can be a prayer

Isn’t that a beautiful poem?? And so true! Any activity we do can be a prayer, with the right mindset behind it. I believe it may have been Brother Lawrence who said that the most non-spiritual tasks, such as washing the dishes, can be prayer.

It is good to give thanks to the LORD, to sing praises to your name, O Most High;
to declare your steadfast love in the morning, and your faithfulness by night,
to the music of the lute and the harp, to the melody of the lyre.
(Psalms 92:1-3 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that any activity we do can be a prayer
2. for Your steadfast love in the morning, and Your faithfulness by night
3. for the music You have placed in my soul, that I might sing Your praises
4. that, because I fear You and delight in Your commands, I do not fear bad news
5. that, in You, I will never be shaken

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TWENTY-TWO – DAY SEVEN

INVITATION

Blessed be God, who has not turned away my prayer, nor his loving kindness from me.
(Psalms 66:20 WEB)

I pause, this morning, to give thanks to the Lord for my life and all its blessings. His grace is overwhelming.

BIBLE SONG

Praise the LORD.

Blessed are those who fear the LORD, who find great delight in his commands.

Their children will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed.
Wealth and riches are in their houses, and their righteousness endures forever.
Even in darkness light dawns for the upright, for those who are gracious and compassionate and righteous.
Good will come to those who are generous and lend freely, who conduct their affairs with justice.

Surely the righteous will never be shaken; they will be remembered forever.
They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the LORD.
Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear; in the end they will look in triumph on their foes.
(Psalms 112:1-8 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Then Job replied to the LORD:
“I know that you can do all things;
no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’
Surely I spoke of things I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me to know.

“You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak;
I will question you,
and you shall answer me.’
My ears had heard of you
but now my eyes have seen you.
Therefore I despise myself
and repent in dust and ashes.”
(Job 42:1-6 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I grow more aware of God’s presence with me, I read these passages over again. What speaks to me? What stirs my spirit within me?

The psalm is simply beautiful. It is so stirring. Ironically, if asked to list favorite Psalms, 112 would not come to mind. It should, though.

I do believe that I have a healthy fear of the Lord, and that I delight in His commands. Especially when those commands are boiled down to what Jesus said summed up the law and the prophets. And I also consider myself “blessed.” That is not a boast of my circumstances. Rather, it is a boast of my God. Yes, my circumstances are, for the most part, wonderful. But a lot of that is in my spirit, in my perspective. There are things that could certainly be better. C could be healing better/faster. We could have a better life going for S, with her autism, considering her future.

But here’s the thing. Verse 3: “Wealth and riches are in their house.” This is not, in my opinion, just about money and material goods. The Hebrew word translated “wealth” implies “enough.” And we most certainly have enough. Even with my retirement and going to a part time job, we have enough. We have not had to dip into our savings yet! And that’s with me having to pay over $500 a month for COBRA insurance, until January 1, when I will get on C’s health insurance.

Verse 4: “Even in darkness light dawns for the upright, for those who are gracious and compassionate and righteous.” And verse 5 speaks loudly to me: “Good will come to those who are generous and lend freely, who conduct their affairs with justice.” This is huge, to me. We have, for many years, now, been generous (C probably thinks I am overly-generous, sometimes) with the blessings we have been given. As stated in the above paragraph, we have enough, more, even, than enough. So, when the opportunities arise, we share that bounty. We tip generously, when we go to restaurants. I try to tip, when I have cash available, grocery pickup/delivery people. They don’t make a lot of money.

Again, I am not boasting of my works. It sounds like I am, but I am only attempting to illustrate the principals being taught. I am boasting in my God and His faithfulness. He keeps His promises. He blesses those who fear Him. And, even when things turn dark, we can see the light, if we focus on Him, rather than on those circumstances. As Job said, a few days ago, “shall we receive good from God, and not trouble?” (I’m sure that’s a terrible paraphrase.)

“Surely,” says verse 6, “the righteous will NEVER be shaken!” (emphasis mine) I don’t know about that part about being remembered forever. Not on earth, at least. But that’s why “story” is so important. I wish I had more stories from my parents and grandparents. That’s one reason to write things down. That’s one reason to pass things down to our children and their children. But we will not be shaken. Not ultimately, not permanently.

Sure, things will happen that shake me, momentarily. But I will bounce back, quickly, eyes on my Father, not my circumstances. And then I will give thanks and sing praises to His name. And because of these things, I can say, confidently, as in verse 7, that I don’t fear bad news. Note: It does not say that I won’t get bad news! It says that we will have no fear of it. There’s a difference.

Remember the words of Dallas Willard. If we are in Christ; if we fear the Lord, and delight in His commands, “this world is a perfectly safe place for us to be.” God won’t keep bad things from happening to us, as Tish Harrison Warren observed in Prayer in the Night. He didn’t even keep bad things from happening to Himself! But, in Him, the world is a safe place to be.

I love Job’s response to the Lord in the final chapter of the book. He is humble, as we need to practice. “Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know,” he said. What would this world look like if more of us were that honest? I don’t know if we need to go as far as despising ourselves, but a measure of repentance would certainly be helpful.

If you keep reading beyond the featured passage, you see that the Lord chastises Job’s “friends.” He says to Eliphaz, “I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has.” (emphasis mine) Oddly, He does not mention Elihu, the younger of the group, who waited until last to speak.

You will also see, at the end, that all of Job’s fortunes were restored, and then some. Because, throughout all of this testing, Job never waivered in his faith. He questioned, yes. He questioned the reasons that all of these terrible things were happening to him, and requested audience with the Almighty. But never once did he, as his former wife suggested, “curse God and die.”

When we fear God and delight in His commands, we are blessed. Wealth and riches will fill our houses. Good will come to us (when we are generous). We will never be shaken. We will have no fear of bad news.

Father, I praise You with all my being, this morning, for these truths. We all know that “bad” things (by our own definitions) will come in our lives. But if we know You, fear You, and delight in Your commands, those “bad” things will be turned around for good. We will not be, ultimately, shaken. Your grace, Your mercy, Your steadfast love and faithfulness . . . there aren’t enough words for me to thank You and praise You enough. I will sing to You as long as I have breath (and beyond, for I don’t believe I will need breath in heaven). Thank for Your blessings, and I also thank You that You have brought us to a place where we focus on the blessings we have, not on those we don’t have.

Father, I pray for unity and holiness within Your Church. Heal us, O Lord!

"Saving God,
before my very eyes,
visibly portray Jesus Christ crucified.
Humbled before the cross,
seeing Your suffering,
may I die to myself and come alive to You.
As I find life in Your death,
let me taste Your joy in my sorrow.
Amen."

BLESSING

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
(Matthew 5:8 WEB)

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
(1 Thessalonians 5:11 NIV)

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
(Matthew 25:40 NIV)

Blessed are those who
fear the Lord and find delight
in His commandments.
(Psalm 112:1)

Grace and peace, friends.

Great, Glorious, and Majestic Works (and maybe Dragons)

Today is Friday, the twenty-second of October, 2021

Peace be with you!

Day 23,234

Sixteen days until Daylight Saving Time ends

The weekend is nigh, for whom weekends are a thing, any more. I’m still struggling to keep up with what day it is. I keep having to look at my “When 2 Work” app to double check what days I’m supposed to be working. I have also added work days to my computer calendar, and written them on our wall calendar in the kitchen. That actually helps C to know what days I’m working, as well.

Since it is Friday, that means I’m working. Since the new schedule change on October 1, I will always be working a full day on Friday. This means, of course, that I won’t ever have a Friday and Saturday off together, unless I request it, which I have done for the weekend in November when we will travel to Indianapolis to visit R & J.

I am not working tomorrow, though. Next week is my four-day week.

I feel like I got a lot accomplished yesterday. Did some laundry, swept the floors, did some cleaning in S’s bathroom (aka the “guest bathroom”) because C has a friend coming over to visit on Saturday, a friend from back in her high school days. And I cooked dinner! I’m just a regular “house-husband,” right?? Dinner was Pecan-crusted Buttermilk Chicken, by the way. So there are leftovers for lunch. It may have been the best batch I’ve ever made, too..

The Red Sox play the Astros tonight, back in Houston, Game Six. Astros lead 3-2. The Dodgers whooped up on the Braves, last night, to avoid elimination in their NLCS. The Braves lead 3-2. Their Game Six will be tomorrow.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Love You Here, by Daryl Madden

The church door is locked
I can’t get in there
A voice whispers, still
I can love you here

If I am honest
And acknowledge my fears
A voice of comfort
I can love you here

With our deepest wounds
Of sorrow to share
A voice of compassion
I can love you here

When I’m feeling lonely
And burdens to bear
A voice of love speaks
I can love you here

Wherever I am
Let’s be fully aware
To listen to the One
Who always loves us here

Teach me your way, O LORD,
that I may walk in your truth;
unite my heart to fear your name.
I give thanks to you, O Lord my God,
with my whole heart,
and I will glorify your name forever.
(Psalms 86:11-12 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that Your love for us transcends place and time
2. for times when I am able to express gratitude "with my whole heart"
3. that You are always kind (Psalm 66:20 CEV)
4. for Your great, glorious, and majestic works
5. for the daily reminders You send me of those works, that I might ponder them in humility

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TWENTY-TWO – DAY SIX

INVITATION

Let’s praise God! He listened when I prayed, and he is always kind.
(Psalms 66:20 CEV)

During this quiet moment, I ponder the kindness of the Lord, and that He always loves me “here,” wherever “here” happens to be.

BIBLE SONG

Praise the LORD.

I will extol the LORD with all my heart in the council of the upright and in the assembly.

Great are the works of the LORD; they are pondered by all who delight in them.
Glorious and majestic are his deeds, and his righteousness endures forever.
He has caused his wonders to be remembered; the LORD is gracious and compassionate.
He provides food for those who fear him; he remembers his covenant forever.
(Psalms 111:1-5 NIV)

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise.
(Psalms 111:10 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Then the LORD spoke to Job out of the storm. He said:
“Who is this that obscures my plans with words without knowledge?
Brace yourself like a man;
I will question you, and you shall answer me.

“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?
Tell me, if you understand.
Who marked off its dimensions?
Surely you know!
Who stretched a measuring line across it?
On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone—
while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?”
(Job 38:1-7 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I linger over these passages, I ask the Holy Spirit to direct me to words and thoughts that would teach me and move me into a more intense and intimate walk with God.

The psalm is extolling the great works of the Lord. “Extol” means “praise enthusiastically.” It could be said to be a synonym of “praise,” but with added emphasis. I like what the psalmist says in verse 2, regarding God’s works. “They are pondered by all who delight in them.” I dare say that it is safe to assume that people who claim to be believers, who do not ponder His works, do not, in fact, delight in His works. And if one does not delight in the works of the Lord, His great, glorious, and majestic works, how can one be said to be a “believer??”

Yet, He is gracious and compassionate, and He causes His wonders to be remembered. If we are paying attention, nearly everywhere we look we can see reminders of the glorious and majestic works of the Lord, even if we live in the midst of a bustling city.

Verse 10 brings it all together, in my thoughts. “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.” That is not the only place this is stated in Scripture. We find it most in Proverbs. And here, the Word flat-out states that, if we follow His commands, His precepts, His Word, we have “good understanding.” What are His commands? We always come back to this. They are summed up in the two greatest commands, as stated by Jesus. Love the Lord with all your being, and love people as you love yourself.

We’ve skipped over the bulk of Job, right into the time when God speaks. He has remained silent through all of the posturing by Job’s friends, and now He responds, mostly to Job. Did you ever think you would see God being sarcastic? If anyone has a right to be that way, it is Him.

I like the way the New Living Translation renders verse 2. “Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorant words?” Truly, all of our words are “ignorant” when compared with the Him! Then God tells Job to brace himself. It’s time for God to ask questions. And He does!

“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Who marked off its dimensions? Who stretched a measuring line across it? Surely you know!!”

This continues on for several chapters. I wish I could see Job’s face during all of this.

We will see Job’s response tomorrow.

Side note: It is in the middle of this lengthy monologue by the Lord where I find the wonderful possibility that dragons, in fact, actually existed. I jest, in part, of course, but am somewhat serious. If dragons did exist, they were far from “wonderful,” but, rather, the most terrifying creature to ever grace the planet. Bear with me, if you will. It is named “Leviathan.”

“I will not fail to speak of Leviathan’s limbs, its strength and its graceful form. Who can strip off its outer coat? Who can penetrate its double coat of armor? Who dares open the doors of its mouth, ringed about with fearsome teeth? Its back has rows of shields tightly sealed together; each is so close to the next that no air can pass between. They are joined fast to one another; they cling together and cannot be parted. Its snorting throws out flashes of light; its eyes are like the rays of dawn. Flames stream from its mouth; sparks of fire shoot out. Smoke pours from its nostrils as from a boiling pot over burning reeds. Its breath sets coals ablaze, and flames dart from its mouth. Strength resides in its neck; dismay goes before it. The folds of its flesh are tightly joined; they are firm and immovable. Its chest is hard as rock, hard as a lower millstone. When it rises up, the mighty are terrified; they retreat before its thrashing. The sword that reaches it has no effect, nor does the spear or the dart or the javelin. Iron it treats like straw and bronze like rotten wood. Arrows do not make it flee; slingstones are like chaff to it. A club seems to it but a piece of straw; it laughs at the rattling of the lance. Its undersides are jagged potsherds, leaving a trail in the mud like a threshing sledge. It makes the depths churn like a boiling caldron and stirs up the sea like a pot of ointment. It leaves a glistening wake behind it; one would think the deep had white hair. Nothing on earth is its equal— a creature without fear. It looks down on all that are haughty; it is king over all that are proud.”
(Job 41:12-34 NIV)

Tell me that’s not a dragon!! Or at least something very much like our modern day representation of such.

But I digress.

To me, the point of this speech from God is that we know nothing, when it comes to Him. We do have, of course, the revelation of Jesus Christ, the things that He revealed to us about His Father, our Father. But do we know enough to speak boldly? Job’s “friends” made some pretty ignorant statements about Him. We, if we are not careful, will do the same. How often have you heard someone proclaim, “God does not _____ (fill in the blank)” or “God does _______”?

If Scripture does not explicitly say it, we had best couch those expressions in humility, and, at best, as opinions. We can only say, with certainty, the things that the Bible explicitly tells us.

And one of those things, hearkening back to the psalm, is that His works are great, glorious, and majestic. And we would do well to remember those works, ponder them, and extol them.

Father, I praise You for Your mighty works. I thank You for daily reminders of those works, both as I travel to and fro, and as I see photographs that others present, of Your marvelous creation, around the world. We need those reminders, lest we get so caught up in our own sense of “importance” that we forget to praise You and forget to ponder those works. It is for our own benefit that we consider Your creation of the world in which we live; that we ponder how it was that You marked out its dimensions and laid out the boundaries of the seas; that we consider how You laid the foundations of our world (and the universe in which it exists). Give us humility when we speak about You, Lord, and help us to never make statements about You out of ignorance, the way Job and his friends did.

Give us great wonder at the sacrifice of Christ, Your Son. Help us have the capacity to deny ourselves and suffer alongside others.

"Infinite God,
Your power and goodness are terribly great,
above and beyond my capacity to grasp.
What You do transcends my understanding;
so much is hidden from me.
I bow in humility and reverence before You,
content to be Christ's disciple,
trusting Your Word and resting in Your promises.
Amen."

BLESSING

God blesses those people whose hearts are pure. They will see him!
(Matthew 5:8 CEV)

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
(John 8:12 NIV)

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
(John 1:5 NIV)

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
(1 John 1:5-7 NIV)

The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
(Psalms 18:2 ESV)

Father, You are my God. You are the God of Jeff. You are the God of my existence, my life; You are the God of my past, the God of my needs, the God of my wounds, the God of my heart, and the God of my entire future, into eternity. You are the God of me and all that I am. In these ways, I know You in ways that no one else can know You (this is also true of everyone who calls Your Name). Help me to grasp this truth today, as I ponder Your great works and mighty deeds.

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 are light and truth;
In You is no darkness at all;
I will walk in Light.

Grace and peace, friends.

Good and Trouble

Today is Thursday, the twenty-first of October, 2021

May the peace of God reign in your lives

Day 23,233

Seventeen days until Daylight Saving Time ends

As is pretty typical on or around Thursdays, I don’t have a whole lot to write about, this morning. I did some grocery shopping, yesterday, and not much else. I’m doing a few other household chores today, and hope to get a good deal of reading done. The library book I am reading is due tomorrow, and I’m not sure I’m going to get it finished.

The Red Sox are heading back to Houston, down 3-2, after another lackluster performance, yesterday. The sad thing is that Chris Sale actually put on a stellar performance from the mound, only giving up one run on a home run, early in the game. Unfortunately, the Houston pitcher was perfect through five innings, something that has never happened at Fenway Park. And then, as if they weren’t behind enough, Alex Cora showed that he doesn’t learn from his mistakes and put Martin Perez in, again, in the ninth, to hand the Astros two more runs. Red Sox lose 9-1. Oh, well. It will be one less thing to worry about.

I have neglected to mention . . . we will be closing on the refinancing of our mortgage next Tuesday. We will be paying off both car loans after the refi, and we plan to channel the money we have been paying on the cars into the mortgage payment, and theoretically could have the house paid off in less than ten years. The main reason was to get a lower interest rate, but we will take advantage of the opportunity to pay off the cars early. I don’t foresee either of us entering into a new car loan any time soon. Both of our cars are less than five years old. I think mine is a 2019, and C’s is likely only the year before that.

Today is Reptile Awareness Day. Lizards, anyone?

Today’s word is shivaree. “A mock serenade with kettles, pans, horns, and other noisemakers given for a newly married couple; charivari.”

Today’s quote is from Jonas Salk, American scientist. “The reward for work well done is the opportunity to do more.” Reminds me of one that I don’t know who originally said it, “No good deed goes unpunished.”

Significant birthdays on October 21:

Samuel Taylor Coleridge, English poet (Rime of the Ancient Mariner), 1772-1834
Sir Georg Solti, Hungarian conductor (Chicago Symphony), 1911-1994
John Birks "Dizzy" Gillespie, American jazz trumpeter, 1917-1993
Whitey Ford, American HoF baseball pitcher, 1928-2020
Ursula K. Le Guin, American Science Fiction author (The Lathe of Heaven), 1929-2018
Manfred Mann, British rock musician (The Mighty Quinn, Blinded By the Light), 1940 (81)
Elvin Bishop, American rock guitar player (Fooled Around and Fell in Love), 1942 (79)
Judith Sheindlin, American television personality (Judge Judy), 1942 (79)
Lee Loughnane, American musician and songwriter (Chicago), 1946 (75)
Keith Green, American Christian musician, 1953-1982
Rich Mullins, American Christian singer/songwriter, 1955-1997
Carrie Fisher, American actress (Star Wars, Shampoo), 1956-2016
Steve Lukather, American rock singer, guitar player (Toto), 1957 (64)
Speaking of trouble . . .

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

“Jesus wants us to receive the love he offers.
He wants nothing more than that we allow him to love us and enjoy that love.
This is so hard since we always feel that we have to deserve the love offered to us.
But Jesus wants to offer that love to us not because we have earned it, but because he has decided to love us independently of any effort on our side.
Our own love for each other should flow from that “first love” that is given to us undeserved.” (Henri Nouwen, Receive Jesus’ Love)

But we your people, the sheep of your pasture, will give thanks to you forever; from generation to generation we will recount your praise.
(Psalms 79:13 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the love of Jesus, undeserved, yet freely given
2. that I am alive and breathing
3. for a raise at my library job (yes, already!)
4. for passages of Scripture with which I must struggle
5. that my enemy can bring nothing against me that God has not approved (don't agree? Read the book of Job)

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TWENTY-TWO – DAY FIVE

INVITATION

I praise God, because he did not reject my prayer or keep back his constant love from me.
(Psalms 66:20 GNB)

I pause, during this quiet moment, to reflect on the love of Jesus, as stated by Henri Nouwen, above. It is such a marvelous truth to realize that He loves us unconditionally, even though we have done nothing to deserve such love.

BIBLE SONG

The LORD says to my lord: “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.”
(Psalms 110:1 NIV)

The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind: “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.”

The Lord is at your right hand; he will crush kings on the day of his wrath.
He will judge the nations, heaping up the dead and crushing the rulers of the whole earth.
He will drink from a brook along the way, and so he will lift his head high.
(Psalms 110:4-7 NIV)

BIBLE READING

So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD and afflicted Job with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the crown of his head. Then Job took a piece of broken pottery and scraped himself with it as he sat among the ashes.
His wife said to him, “Are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die!”
He replied, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?”
In all this, Job did not sin in what he said.
(Job 2:7-10 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I linger over these passages, I seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance in meditating over them. These are not the easiest of passages to apply to current life situations.

I’ll be honest . . . the psalm is not one of my favorites and is a bit off-putting, especially when trying to ascertain how it applies to us, today. I believe that the first part refers to the Father speaking to the Son. The designation “LORD” should be translated from the Hebrew “YHWH,” or “yehovah.” The other “Lord” is translated from variations of “Adonai,” which means “sovereign” or “ruler.”

References to Melchizedek are always confusing, too. Basically, Melchizedek was the king of Salem, who just appeared to Abraham in Genesis 14. There are some who believe that Hebrews teaches that he was actually the pre-incarnate Christ. However, I don’t think I go along with that teaching, and passages like Psalm 110 seem to rule that out. Nevertheless, Melchizedek is a mysterious character in the narrative, having no explanation of where he came from or anything.

Psalm 110, though, proclaims that Christ (the “Lord” referred to in these verses) is a “priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.”

The latter verses of the psalm seem pretty violent, and I won’t pretend to comprehend verse 7 at all. I believe the main thing to get from Psalm 110 is the preeminence of Christ.

And the main thing I get from the Job passage (after I get through shuddering at the image of a man sitting among ashes, scraping boils off of his skin with piece of pottery) is Job’s response to his wife when she encourages him to “curse God and die.”

It’s a very wise response and one we would all do well to ponder. “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?”

Again, I don’t know if I believe that Job was a real person or if this is just allegory that teaches us things about God and His relationship with His people. I do know that there are people out there who would have us believe that any “trouble” we receive in life comes from the devil.

I don’t agree with that stance. God most definitely brought trouble on Israel. He sent trouble to David. Now, granted, most of those times of trouble were caused by their own actions. But Job had done nothing wrong. And while it is true that the boils and calamities were technically caused by Satan, they were allowed by God.

So I will gracefully (sometimes not so much, I admit) accept whatever comes my way. The Lord giveth, the Lord taketh away, you know.

Father, I am grateful for all of the good that You bring to my life. And I know, as Scripture tells me, that even the trouble that comes my way comes through You, and You work it all out for my good, because I do love You, and I am called according to Your purpose. I say these things with all humility, especially in light of the love of Jesus, so freely given, yet so little deserved. I praise You for Your great love for us, Father! Give me strength to endure any trouble that comes my way, with the grace that the Holy Spirit enables me to display. Teach me Your way, that I may walk in Your truth.

I pray that all of Your Church will have a deeper understanding of the gospel and what it means for us. May we have the full experience of life as Your adopted children, and please give us vibrant prayer lives.

"God of severe mercy,
like Job,
eventually I will lose everything -
whatever treasures I have,
my family,
my health,
my life.
This bitter reality challenges my core motives:
why am I following You?
Who am I living this life for?
Yet in this I rest:
I belong to You,
come what may.
Amen."

BLESSING

“Happy are the pure in heart; they will see God!
(Matthew 5:8 GNB)

The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
(Psalms 34:18 NIV)

Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.
(Psalms 55:22 NIV)

‘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.”
(Revelation 21:4 NIV)

Psalm 55:22 is a great verse to read after considering the truths brought forth in Job.

Thank You, Father, that You will never let us be shaken.

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.