The Signpost Up Ahead . . .

Today is Monday, the twenty-fifth of April, 2022, in the second week of Easter.

May the peace of Christ be within you, today!

Day 23,419

Today, I’m attempting to begin a new habit/ritual. I’ve tried this before, but it didn’t stick. But I’m going to attempt to get my morning devotional actually finished in the morning, from now on, and get it done before I give significant attention to anything else. Facebook is not open; my email is not open. Only this tab is open, along with one where I can look up anything I need to know, such as how many days since I was born.

The following was added after the devotional was completed.

The Texas Rangers failed in their bid to sweep the Oakland Athletics, as Marcus Semien was the only batter to get any hits until the top of the ninth inning. Jonah Heim and Nathaniel Lowe got hits in the ninth, but the Rangers were unable to bring them home, and lost the game 2-0. They are now 5-10 for the season, still in last place in the AL West. Their next game is today, back in Arlington, against the Houston Astros. Dane Dunning (0-1) will take the mound for the Rangers.

The Boston Red Sox dropped another game to the Tampa Bay Rays, 5-2. They are now 7-9 for the season, and remain in fourth place in the AL East. The Yankees and Blue Jays are tied for first place. The Sox will play the Blue Jays tonight, in Toronto, at 7:07, EDT.

The LA Dodgers continue to hold the best record in MLB, at 11-4, followed closely by the NY Mets, at 12-5. The Cincinnati Reds finally managed to win another game, but still hold down the bottom of the list, at 3-13. The Rangers are third from the bottom, but only because the Nationals have somehow played 3 more games than they.

Today is an “always off” day, but I have some things that need to get done, so I will be moderately busy.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

"Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us in safety to this new day: Preserve us with your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."
(The Book of Common Prayer, Collect for In the Morning)

Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.
(1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. for this new day; may it be lived in Christ's kingdom
2. for the many examples of prayer given to us in Scripture
3. for what Christ did for us in His life, death, and resurrection
4. that I have no need nor cause to worry about tomorrow (Matthew 6:34)
5. that if I take delight in the Lord, He will give me the desires of my heart (Psalm 37:4)
6. for the joy and peace that comes from knowing these things

“So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.
(Matthew 6:34 NLT)

Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you your heart’s desires. Commit everything you do to the LORD. Trust him, and he will help you. He will make your innocence radiate like the dawn, and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun.
(Psalms 37:4-6 NLT)

And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?
(Matthew 6:30 NLT)

Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon. Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 4:4-7 NLT)

There’s enough good stuff in those verses to get one through a whole week, I believe. Truly, we have no cause to worry about anything. Nevertheless, worry, we do. It seems to take much more work than it should to delight myself in the Lord, every day. And this, even knowing the truth of that verse in Psalm 37!

I am thankful for this reminder, this morning.

Father, thank You for reminding me that I don’t have anything to worry about. Thank You for the reminder that, if I take delight in You, You will give me the desires of my heart. Thank You for the example of the wildflowers and the birds, and the reminder that I am much more valuable to You than they. And thank You for the joy and peace that comes from knowing all of these things and trusting in You.

Eugene Peterson gives us “Three Short Thoughts on Direction.”

“All life is a pilgrimage. We are on our way to a destination.”

This is undoubtedly true of all of us. Even those who don’t think they are moving in any direction are on some kind of pilgrimage. This life is a journey, and there is a “final destination,” somewhere.

“Christians believe that we are on our way to God and that our companion is Jesus Christ.”

Even though we consider that God is “omnipresent,” there is still a sense that we are traveling toward Him. This is truly a mystery, and I am incapable of fully comprehending the truth that I am on my way to God, but God is also my traveling companion, because we also believe that Jesus is God.

Jesus is most definitely my companion, especially if I consider that I am walking in His “easy yoke.” If I am yoked with Him, He is right beside me. This is something that I confess that I fail to take into consideration at all times.

Is it even possible to do this? Frank Laubach believed that it was. He was a missionary to the Philippines in 1915. In 1930, he went to Mindanao, the second-largest of the Philippine islands, where he eventually taught about half of the population of that island to read and write. It was during this time that he wrote the letters that would eventually be compiled in Letters From A Modern Mystic.

Laubach came to believe (and, presumably, practice) that one could, in fact, be aware of the presence of God during every moment of one’s existence. Here is an excerpt from that book.

“We used to sing a song in the church in Benton which I liked, but which I never really practiced until now. It runs:

"Moment by moment, I’m kept in His love;
Moment by moment I’ve life from above;
Looking to Jesus till glory doth shine;
Moment by moment, O Lord, I am Thine.

“It is exactly that ‘moment by moment,’ every waking moment, surrender, responsiveness, obedience, sensitiveness, pliability, “lost in His love,” that I now have the mind-bent to explore with all my might. It means two burning passions: First, to be like Jesus. Second, to respond to God as a violin responds to the bow of the master. Open your soul and entertain the glory of God and after a while that glory will be reflected in the world about you and in the very clouds above your head.”

And it is with this constant thought that Jesus is our companion on this journey that helps us know this “moment by moment” reality.

“One of the primary (maybe the primary) signposts showing the way is the Cross of Jesus.”

How does the Cross show us the way? It is more than just by wearing it on a chain around our necks or having it hung on the wall in our house. It is on the Cross that Jesus was lifted up to draw all men to Him. It is the Cross that is probably what many of us think of when we think of Jesus.

Sure, we consider His life, and most definitely His resurrection. But separating all of time is the Cross of Jesus. Without the Cross, His life would have been nothing more than a good example. Without the Cross, there would have been no resurrection. And without the Cross, there would be no “body and blood” to consume whenever we partake of the Supper.

The Cross points us to the way of sacrifice. The Cross points us to the way of putting others before ourselves. And, through the Cross, we gain the power to do that.

Jesus, I thank You for the Cross. I thank You for the life lived before that dreadful event, and I thank You even more for the power and miracle of the Resurrection that came after. As I continue to walk on this journey of life, may I see the Cross every day as my signpost, directing me to my destination. I thank You for inviting me on this journey, and for giving me the many other human companions that You have given me along the way.

Some of those companions seem to have wandered off the path, or simply stopped. I pray for those, Lord, that You might reach out to them and draw them back to Your path, letting them know that there is no condemnation for them, as they are fully forgiven by the very Cross of which we are speaking.

I believe, with all of my heart, that I will reach my destination, and I believe that You are my companion along the way. I thank You for this, as well. Help me to consider You, the Father, and the Spirit during every moment of every day. Perhaps this an unrealistic expectation, but Laubach didn’t seem to think so. So I will pray for it, and I will endeavor to do so. Nevertheless, I will not “beat myself up” when I fail. Because You, Lord Jesus, are full of grace and mercy, for which I also praise You.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.

Forsaken for Us

Today is Friday, the second of April, 2021. Good Friday in Holy Week.

Day 23,031

Resurrection Sunday is the day after tomorrow.

C has the day off today. I don’t think we were expecting that, and she didn’t realize it until a week or so ago. I’m not taking the day off.

My mother finally got her first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine! She called me the day before yesterday to tell me that she had finally gotten a call to notify her that it was her turn to get one, so a blessed friend took her yesterday morning.

We also finally got the notification for S’s second dose, which will be next Tuesday morning. I will be taking the day off, and will take her to get her shot.

In other news, the Texas Rangers’ Opening Day, yesterday, was the opposite of spectacular. The pitching for both teams was disappointing, to say the least. By the end of the first inning, the score was 5-5, and by the middle of the second inning, both starting pitchers were gone. In fact, the Rangers’ opener didn’t even last a full inning. Final score, Royals 14, Rangers 10. The Rangers hit no home runs, while the Royals hit three. I was also surprised to find Andrew Benintendi playing for the Royals. I found out later, that he was traded earlier this year, in a three team deal. He was previously with my other favorite team, the Boston Red Sox.

Speaking of the Red Sox, it appears that their home opener was postponed. That happens a lot in the northeast, around opening day. They were supposed to play Baltimore, at Fenway. They will try again today, with Nathan Eovaldi taking the mound for Boston.

The Rangers have the day off. Probably a good thing.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

"O Lord,
you have mercy on all.
Take away my sins,
and mercifully kindle in me
the fire of your Holy Spirit.
Take away my heart of stone
and give me a heart of flesh,
a heart to love and adore you,
a heart to delight in you,
to follow and to enjoy you, for Christ’s sake.
Amen."
(Prayer for A Renewed Heart, St. Ambrose)

they open wide their mouths at me,
like a ravening and roaring lion.
I am poured out like water,
and all my bones are out of joint;
my heart is like wax;
it is melted within my breast;
my strength is dried up like a potsherd,
and my tongue sticks to my jaws;
you lay me in the dust of death.
(Psalms 22:13-15 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

  • for the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross
  • that, though it is Friday, Sunday’s coming
  • that You, Lord, are not far from me; You are my strength
  • for my mental image of the scene in the midst of the Holy Trinity, between the death and resurrection of Christ
  • for the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world

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

LENT – DAY 39 – GOOD FRIDAY

INVITATION

The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!
(John 1:29 ESV)

I pause, this morning, to reflect on the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.

BIBLE SONG

For the director of music. To the tune of “The Doe of the Morning.” A psalm of David.

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish?
(Psalms 22:1 NIV)

All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads.
“He trusts in the LORD,” they say, “let the LORD rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him.”
(Psalms 22:7-8 NIV)

They divide my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment.
But you, LORD, do not be far from me. You are my strength; come quickly to help me.
(Psalms 22:18-19 NIV)

BIBLE READING

It was nine in the morning when they crucified him. The written notice of the charge against him read: THE KING OF THE JEWS. They crucified two rebels with him, one on his right and one on his left. Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, come down from the cross and save yourself!”
In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! Let this Messiah, this king of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” Those crucified with him also heaped insults on him.
At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).
When some of those standing near heard this, they said, “Listen, he’s calling Elijah.”
Someone ran, filled a sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to take him down,” he said.
With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last.
The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died, he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!”
(Mark 15:25-39 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I sit quietly in the presence of the Lord, this morning, remembering that I (as well as all of you) am precious to Him, I read these passages, asking the Holy Spirit to teach me, to draw me in closer, to speak to my soul.

As I read, once again, David’s psalm, which so accurately predicts the scene which we commemorate this day, I notice verse 19. “But you, LORD, do not be far from me. You are my strength; come quickly to help me.”

As Jesus hung on the Cross, near death (this morning I learned that, as I am typing this blog, it is about forty minutes until the time of Jesus’s death in Jerusalem, as it is 2:20 in the afternoon, at this moment), He knew that His Father was not far from Him. Yes, He will cry out, in a little over a half hour, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” But that moment, which may have seemed like eternity, would only last a short time.

And His Father, would, indeed, come quickly to help Him. I can only imagine the scene between the death and resurrection of Jesus. I wonder what was going on in the Holy Trinity during those three days. I expect it must have been quite beautiful, as the love between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is infinitely beyond what any of us could even imagine.

As Jesus breathed His last, at least one of the soldiers standing there had a glimpse of the Holy, and said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!”

May the Holy Spirit give all of us the same glimpse today.

Father, today is a somber day. Yes, we call it “Good Friday,” but it is mixed feelings that we have when we commemorate. We know that, without this day, we would be lost; there would be no salvation, no forgiveness of sin, no relationship with You. But it chills our souls and saddens us to see what happened to our Savior on this day. Up to this moment, as He hangs on the Cross, He has been beaten, almost beyond recognition; He has been mocked and scorned; all of it unfairly, as His only crime was making fools of the religious leaders of the day. As I walk through this day, today, may this scene be on my mind; may I ponder it, meditate on it, on the words that came out of His mouth during the event. Yes, I know what is coming. But for today, may I think only on the Cross, and what my Savior endured for our sake.

Crucified Savior,
on this dark day it seems crass and opportunistic to think of your death as an advantage to me.
And yet,
we call this Friday good because through your death,
my old self is crucified,
put to death,
buried with you,
and no longer rules.
Today,
I dedicate my life as an offering of gratitude to you.
Amen.
(Heidelberg Catechism 43)

BLESSING

In a loud voice they were saying: “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!”
(Revelation 5:12 NIV)

At about three o’clock, Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”
(Matthew 27:46 NLT)

“I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me, just as my Father knows me and I know the Father. So I sacrifice my life for the sheep. I have other sheep, too, that are not in this sheepfold. I must bring them also. They will listen to my voice, and there will be one flock with one shepherd.
“The Father loves me because I sacrifice my life so I may take it back again. No one can take my life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily. For I have the authority to lay it down when I want to and also to take it up again. For this is what my Father has commanded.”
(John 10:14-18 NLT)

My Savior, Jesus, to say I am grateful that You allowed these things to be done to You is not enough. There are not enough words. I love You, Jesus; thank You; may my life belongs to You; do with it as You will.

Lord, during this day, please give me a depth of gratitude for the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross. Give us more of a capacity to know suffering, alongside our brothers and sisters. For any who might be entertaining doubts, today, may Your Holy Spirit give them the glimpse of holiness that the centurion saw. Show them, Lord, who You really are, and what You have done for them.

I pray for peace in our nation, peace in our world. I pray for racial injustice to end, and I pray for the pandemic to be over. Above all else, though, I pray for Your will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven. For Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.