To Obey is Better than Sacrifice

Today is Saturday, the twenty-fifth of September, 2021.

Peace be with you.

Day 23,207

Seventeen days until our 36th anniversary!

Today’s header photo is courtesy of Paul Militaru.

I’ve been busy this morning. I woke up shortly after 7:00 AM, and decided to go ahead and hit the Kroger store, to pick up a few items that were missed, yesterday, or simply not available at Walmart or Albertson’s. I haven’t been to Kroger in a while, and it was a pleasant experience. Except for the crazy woman in front of me in the checkout line, who, after about eighty percent of her full basket was rung up, decided that she couldn’t afford all of it, and asked the cashier to void the entire order and selected a small portion of what she had put in her basket to actually buy. The whole time, she kept saying she would get the rest at “Aldi’s.” She also acted put out that it was taking the cashier so long to void the transaction. I was a good boy and kept my mouth shut.

While I was at Kroger, I discovered some “old friends” in the canned fruit section. They had diced peaches, pears, and “cherry mixed fruit” (we used to call that “fruit cocktail”), in cups with “no sugar added,” that are zero points on WW.

Speaking of WW, I know I have not provided any updates, in a while. I believe I mentioned that I canceled my membership because we weren’t sure what our financial situation was going to look like. Then, after I started working again, I reactivated it for “digital” only, meaning I can use the app, and that’s all. Since then, I have not managed to lose any more weight. I have actually gained roughly ten pounds since I retired, and for the last three weeks (since I reactivated), I have not been successful in losing any. I’m not sure what’s going on, because I’m staying within my points budget. But I’m also not moving as much as I used to, so maybe I need to work on that. It’s frustrating, though. This week, for example, I am actually more than two pounds up, since last Monday (my new weigh-in date).

There are no other plans for today, so it should be nice and relaxing. I’m sure I will cook burgers for S and me, our traditional Saturday dinner. After I finish blogging, I will probably cook brunch for all three of us.

There are a number of “holidays” today. I choose One-Hit Wonder Day. I have encountered quite a few of them, in my six-plus decades of life. I would be hard-pressed to remember them all, but here’s one.

A one-hit wonder from 1974

The word for today is codicil, a noun meaning, “any supplement; appendix.”

Today’s quote is from Edward Hopper, American artist. “If you could say it in words there would be no reason to paint.”

Significant birthdays on September 25:

Fletcher Christian, English sailor, led the mutiny on the HMS Bounty, 1764-1790 (or 1793)
William Faulkner, American author, 1897-1962
Dmitri Shostakovich, Russian composer, 1906-1975
Phil Rizzuto, American MLB shortstop and broadcaster, 1918-2007
Ronnie Barker, English comedian (The Two Ronnies), 1929-2005
Barbara Walters, American journalist, 1929 (92)
Shel Silverstein, American writer and cartoonist (Where the Sidewalk Ends), 1930-1999
Glenn Gould, Canadian pianist, 1932-1982
Michael Douglas, American actor, 1944 (77)
Mark Hamill, American actor (Skywalker), 1951 (70)
Christopher Reeve, American actor (Superman), 1952-2004
Will Smith, American actor (Men in Black, Independence Day), 1968 (53)
Catherine Zeta-Jones, Welsh (really??) actress, married to above celebrant Michael Douglas, 1969 (52)
Clea Duvall, American actress, 1977 (44)

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Breathing deep
The presence of God
Filled with love

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”
(Matthew 11:28-30 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. for Your presence here, this morning, of which I am breathing deeply
2. for the rest of Your easy yoke
3. that there is, therefore, now, no condemnation for us who are in Christ
4. that You have cast my sins as far as the east is from the west
5. for the joy that I have, trusting in You
6. that nothing can separate us from Your love

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK EIGHTEEN – DAY SEVEN

INVITATION

I will give thanks to you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful. My soul knows that very well.
(Psalms 139:14 WEB)

During the quietness of this moment, I reflect on Your presence, always here, never leaving or forsaking. I look back at the prayer requests of the week, lifting them up again to You.

BIBLE SONG

A prayer of David.

Hear me, LORD, and answer me, for I am poor and needy.
Guard my life, for I am faithful to you; save your servant who trusts in you. You are my God;
have mercy on me, Lord, for I call to you all day long.
Bring joy to your servant, Lord, for I put my trust in you.

You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to you.
Hear my prayer, LORD; listen to my cry for mercy.
When I am in distress, I call to you, because you answer me.
(Psalms 86:1-7 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Then the word of the LORD came to Samuel: “I regret that I have made Saul king, because he has turned away from me and has not carried out my instructions.” Samuel was angry, and he cried out to the LORD all that night.
Early in the morning Samuel got up and went to meet Saul, but he was told, “Saul has gone to Carmel. There he has set up a monument in his own honor and has turned and gone on down to Gilgal.”
When Samuel reached him, Saul said, “The LORD bless you! I have carried out the LORD’s instructions.”
But Samuel replied:
“Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the LORD?
To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.
For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry.
Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has rejected you as king.”
(1 Samuel 15:10-13, 22-23 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I remind myself that I am in Your presence, I look over these passages, seeking a Word for me on this day, asking the Holy Spirit to guide my meditations and prayers, drawing me closer to Your heart.

Psalm 86 is a deep, heartfelt prayer. David begins by acknowledging that he is, indeed, poor and needy, which fits all of us, as we stand in the presence of the Almighty. There is not a person on earth who is not “poor and needy” in comparison with the Lord and His great mercy and gifts to us.

David asks the Lord to guard his life, and states that he is faithful. Some might disagree with this statement, pointing back at things like the rape of Bathsheba and the murder of her husband. However, we all fall into the same category. While we may not have raped or murdered anyone, we have sinned. So, in that sense, not a single one of us could be called “faithful.”

Nevertheless, I count myself as “faithful” because of the blood of Christ, and because of the fact that I have never completely turned away from the great salvation of my God. Yes, I have sinned. I still do. I’ve done some pretty bad things in my life. I’m not going to list them here, because my God has forgotten them. He has cast them as far as the east is from the west (a straight line, and never the twain shall meet, as Rudyard Kipling famously wrote). If my God no longer remembers my sins, why should I?

The first seven verses of Psalm 86 are a beautiful prayer, worthy of incorporating into my own prayers.

The idea, though, of a single sin ruining everything is highlighted in the passage from First Samuel, today. God speaks to Samuel, at the beginning of our selection, to let him know that Saul has not carried out His instructions. Samuel, as he should have, cried out to the Lord, possibly in Saul’s defense, all night long.

The next morning, Samuel went and found Saul and confronted him with this message. Saul proclaimed that he had carried out all of God’s instructions.

Let’s backtrack and see exactly what those instructions were.

This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘I will punish the Amalekites for what they did to Israel when they waylaid them as they came up from Egypt. Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy all that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.'”
(1 Samuel 15:2-3 NIV)

Now let’s look at what Saul did.

Then Saul attacked the Amalekites all the way from Havilah to Shur, near the eastern border of Egypt. He took Agag king of the Amalekites alive, and all his people he totally destroyed with the sword. But Saul and the army spared Agag and the best of the sheep and cattle, the fat calves and lambs—everything that was good. These they were unwilling to destroy completely, but everything that was despised and weak they totally destroyed.
(1 Samuel 15:7-9 NIV)

Oops.

One question I have is in regards to Saul’s statement to Samuel, saying he had carried out God’s instructions. Did he really believe that he had? Did he think Samuel was stupid?? Or did he completely underestimate God’s knowledge and not realize that God would let Samuel know what was going on? Whichever the case was, Saul’s declaration was simply ludicrous. The definition of “ludicrous,” by the way, is, “so foolish, unreasonable, or out of place as to be amusing; ridiculous.”

I have always been a fan of Samuel’s response, which is not included in our reading for today. I’ll paraphrase: “Oh, have you now? Really?? Then why do I hear the sounds of sheep and cattle in your camp?”

Saul offers lame excuses. And later in the passage, he makes it seem that he really does believe that he followed God’s commands, even though he did not.

This illustrates a major problem with human beings. It even translates into parent/child relationships and work situations. If God were to stand before me, today, and ask me if I had done everything He had commanded, I would have to shake my head and say, “no.” I have tried, yes. And, since I live in the post-Jesus days, my commands are boiled down to those two jobs that I keep going on about.

  1. Love God
  2. Love people

But, truthfully, I have not even managed to do those very well.

But thanks be to God for His indescribable gift (2 Corinthians 9:15). Because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, I am free from condemnation (Romans 8).

Father, thank You that there is no condemnation for me, because of the work of Christ on the cross, and His resurrection from the grave! I thank You that, while I do still need to obey those two commands, and love You, and love my neighbor, I am not bound by the law in a legal sense, because Jesus has carried out the law on my behalf, and He has taken on my punishment for not keeping the law. Your grace is truly indescribable, and all of the “thank yous” in all of eternity would not be enough. I pray, like David, that You will continue to guard my life. I praise You for the joy that You give, each day. I pray that I would be more obedient to Your will, but I also pray that You keep me honest, acknowledging truthfully when I do not.

I pray, Lord, that Your Church would flourish all over the world, even through persecution that she experiences in some parts of the world. I pray that, when we gather to worship You, You would be glorified, and that this worship would also unite us, gather us, and bless us. May Your Word be effectively preached throughout the world.

"God of grace,
in Christ You set me free for a life of gratitude.
So, 
in bedrooms and boardrooms,
with friends and neighbors,
in learning and listening,
playing and working,
giving and forgiving,
As I lie down and rise up,
in my coming and going,
be pleased with my offering of a simple life of everyday obedience.
In Christ's name,
amen."

BLESSING

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
(Matthew 5:4 WEB)

Only I can tell you the future before it even happens. Everything I plan will come to pass, for I do whatever I wish.
(Isaiah 46:10 NLT)

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Romans 8:37-39 ESV)

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
(Galatians 2:20 ESV)

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.
(James 4:13-14 ESV)

“This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds,” then he adds, “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”
(Hebrews 10:16-17 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!

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
(Jeremiah 29:11 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Reading To Shape the Heart

Today is Monday, September 25, 2017. Day 21,746. 17 days until our 32nd anniversary!

Phil Rizzuto, who was born on this date in 1918 (died 2007), said, “I’ll take anyway to get into the Hall of Fame. If they want a batboy, I’ll go in as a batboy.”
BrainyQuote

Word of the Day

Monticule ~ “a small mountain, hill, or mound.”

Today is One-Hit Wonder Day. So sit back and enjoy your favorite one-hit wonders. One of my favorites is “Come On Eileen” by Dexy’s Midnight Runners.

We had a nice day yesterday. The worship gathering went well, and afterward, S got to go with our friends from church, to the place where the lady keeps her horses. That means so much to her, when they get to do that. C went and got the grocery shopping done early, so we were able to spend the rest of the day chilling.

The Red Sox won another game, and the Yankees lost, which increased the Sox lead to five games. Three more Red Sox wins and/or Yankee losses, and the Sox will win the division for the second consecutive year. The Rangers, however, couldn’t muster enough to beat the last place Athletics, and got swept by them. The Twins beat Detroit again, so the Rangers’ playoff chances are very slim, now, down to an elimination number of two. There are seven games left. I really don’t believe that the Twins are going to lose more than five of those seven games.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

(From The Divine Hours)

Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! 
Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, 

Psalm 103:1-2
Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge. 
I say to the LORD, “You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.”

Psalm 16:1-2
I love you, O LORD, my strength. 
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.

Psalm 18:1-2
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Psalm 51:7
As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him. 
And as Jesus reclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and his disciples. 
And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 
But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 
Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Matthew 9:9-13
Teach me, O LORD, the way of your statutes; and I will keep it to the end. 
Give me understanding, that I may keep your law and observe it with my whole heart. 
Lead me in the path of your commandments, for I delight in it. 
Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain! 
Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways. 
Confirm to your servant your promise, that you may be feared. 
Turn away the reproach that I dread, for your rules are good. 
Behold, I long for your precepts; in your righteousness give me life!

Psalm 119:33-40
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, have mercy upon me.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, have mercy upon me.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, grant me your peace.

(From Living the Message)

More on spiritual reading, from Eugene H. Peterson:

“Spiritual reading, for most of us, requires either the recovery or acquisition of skills not in current repute: leisurely, repetitive, reflective reading. In this we are not reading primarily for information, but for companionship. Baron Friedrich von Hugel once said it was like sucking on a lozenge in contrast to gulping a meal. It is a way of reading that shapes the heart at the same time that it informs the intellect, sucking out the marrow-nourishment from the bone-words.”

I will add that it also means not hurrying through a book just so you can finish it. This is a challenge for me, as I have always prided myself on the number of books I can read in a year. I have this list of books I’ve read . . . it goes all the way back to April of 1974. The last book I finished was number 1446. I usually have a goal of trying to finish somewhere between twenty and thirty books in a year. That goal used to be 52, a book per week. That was before the Internet. Anyway. The point of Peterson’s words are that we need to slow down, and, as Dallas Willard famously said, “ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.” That includes in our reading habits, as well.

His mother held these things dearly, deep within herself. 
And Jesus matured, growing up in both body and spirit, blessed by both God and people.

Luke 2:51b-52

Father, teach me to read all over again. In recent years, I have noticed diminished capacity to remember what I have read, in some cases what I have read minutes before. When it comes to reading either your word or books about you and your word, help me to retain what I have read. Help me to slow down and read, not “primarily for information, but for companionship.” Help me to treasure these things deep in my heart.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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.

Grace and peace, friends.

Discipleship Is Impossible Unless . . .

Today is Sunday, September 25, 2016. 19 days until Galveston!

Quote of the Day

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” – Nelson Mandela

Word of the Day

Albatross – a seemingly inescapable moral or emotional burden, as of guilt or responsibility. Also, something burdensome that impedes action or progress.

Today is One Hit Wonder Day. There are so many of these, it is impossible to count them. Celebrate by finding your favorite one-hit-wonder and giving it a listen today. Or maybe even see if you can find a playlist of one-hit-wonders. I’ll give you one (not necessarily my favorite, just one I thought of).

The Rangers shut out the Athletics again, 5-0, while Houston and Seattle both lost. The Rangers are 10.5 games ahead of the second place Mariners. It really didn’t matter, though, because the Rangers clinched the AL West the night before. Now, they are just trying to maintain home field advantage for the playoffs. Except for the World Series which is ridiculously determined by the otherwise meaningless All Star Game.

The Red Sox extended their winning streak to ten games, beating the Rays 6-4, thanks to a Dustin Pedroia grand slam home run! Their magic number is now three, with seven games left. They play Tampa one more time, this afternoon. They have tomorrow off, after which they travel to New York to take on the Yankees for three games, and then home to face the Boo Jays in what could very well be a very important series. The Sox have clinched, at the very least, a playoff birth for this season. I have to confess, though, that they are scaring me a little bit with this run at the end of the season. I love it, don’t get me wrong, but I can’t help thinking of the 2007 Colorado Rockies, who won something like 21 straight regular season games at the end, to win their division. Then the Red Sox swept them in the World Series.

We are getting ready for our worship gathering, this morning. We worship with our brothers and sisters at The Exchange, which meets at the Northpark YMCA, at 9100 N. Beach St., in Fort Worth. We worship at 10:15. We will be there at around 8:00 for set up and rehearsal.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

Sing to the LORD, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day.
Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples!
For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; he is to be feared above all gods.
Psalm 96:2-4
Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. Psalm 90:14

(From Praying With the Psalms)

Open to me the gates of righteousness, that I may enter through them and give thanks to the LORD.
This is the gate of the LORD; the righteous shall enter through it.
Psalm 118:19-20

“Biblical faith is characterized by a vocabulary of access and invitation–well-marked approaches to follow and wonderfully courteous invitations to accept. Faith is access to God, and discipleship is entrance into his joy.”

“I don’t want my life, Lord, to be a meandering stream, its course altered by every stone and diverted by each depression, following the path of least resistance. I want it to be a direct, undiverted flow through the wide, inviting gates that lead to your will in Jesus Christ. Amen.”

(From My Utmost For His Highest)

And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Matthew 5:41

Jesus teaches much about being disciples in the Sermon on the Mount. We have to remember that, even though there are, perhaps, thousands of people gathered and listening, Jesus was speaking to twelve of them. “The summing up of Our Lord’s teaching is that the relationship which He demands is an impossible one unless He has done a supernatural work in us.” Too often, we forget this, and we scrabble and claw to try to accomplish something in that relationship. But Jesus “demands that there be not the slightest trace of resentment even suppressed in the heart of a disciple when he meets with tyranny and injustice.” I don’t know anyone who can accomplish that without the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit.

The teachings in the Sermon are not just an ideal that it would be nice if we could live by. “It is a statement of what will happen in my when Jesus Christ has altered my disposition and put in a disposition like His own. Jesus Christ is the only One who can fulfill the Sermon on the Mount.” We must be made disciples supernaturally. Don’t be mistaken; we still have work to do. We call those the Spiritual Disciplines. These are practical, tangible things that we can practice in order to put ourselves in a position for Christ to supernaturally work within us. It is a delicate balance between the work of the Spirit and what we must practice in our own lives. But we can’t do it without Jesus starting it for us.

Father, I believe that this supernatural work was begun in me many years ago. But I have only just begun to focus on the disciplines and truly trying to be your disciple. On the one hand, so many years wasted in wandering, meandering in the path of my faith. On the other hand, lessons learned, and, hopefully, a number of years left to practice and get better at being a disciple. Only you know that, for sure. Nevertheless, I pray for the disciplines to take root in my spirit. Help me to identify which ones need the most work, in order to make me more like Jesus, that I might walk with him in his easy yoke. Teach me to abide in him and his words in me, that I might walk in the truth of his words.

Come, Lord Jesus!

“O God, you declare your almighty power chiefly in showing mercy and pity: Grant me the fullness of your grace, that I, running to obtain your promises, may become a partaker of your heavenly treasure; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.” (The Divine Hours)

Grace and peace, friends.

Love and Intercession

Good morning. It is Wednesday, September 25, 2013.

Tough choice today, between “Comic Day” and “One Hit Wonder Day.” Well, now I’ve said both, so you can take your pick. For your entertainment, however, I will give you this, a compilation of seventies one-hit wonders. I don’t think it’s fair to have Lynn Anderson in there, nor was Argent a one-hit wonder. Some of these I had forgotten about, and a couple I never heard at all.


Last night, we watched the series finale of Dexter. Yes, it’s all over. And I’ll say this much. . . the finale was just flat stupid. In fact, pretty much the entirety of season 8 was a waste of time. They fixed it so that I won’t miss him, that’s for sure. Then we watched the season premier of Castle, which ended on a cliff-hanger, “to be continued” next week. After that, we gave Dads one more try, but have decided that it won’t make our cut. Sorry, Seth Green. Lots of TV shows cranking back up over the next couple of weeks, some new, some old. We’ll give a few new ones a shot at making our rotation, and one old one has dropped off. We have eliminated Bones from the list, as it clearly “jumped the shark” when she got pregnant.

The Rangers won, last night, keeping themselves alive in the Wild Card race. Unfortunately, the two teams ahead of them, the Rays and the Indians, both won, as well. The Rangers’ elimination number is now five. There are five games left. The Red Sox lost to the Rockies (can someone please explain why we are having interleague play in September??), but it really doesn’t matter, except that the Sox are trying to maintain home field advantage for the playoffs.


Today’s birthday is Shel Silverstein, born on this date in 1930. Silverstein was an author, poet, songwriter, who mostly was known for a series of poem collections that were “for children.” I believe most of us have found them to be quite delightful as adults, as well. Here is a You Tube clip I found of Shel reciting his own poem, “Ickle Me, Pickle Me, Tickle Me Too,” from Where the Sidewalk Ends.

Honorable mentions go to Will Smith, 45, Christopher Reeve, 1952-2004, Mark Hamill, 62, Catherine Zeta Jones, 44, Michael Douglas, 69, Barbara Walters, 84, Heather Locklear, 52, Cheryl Tiegs, 66, Jamie Hyneman, 57, Glenn Gould, 1932-1982, Anson Williams, 64, Ronnie Barker, 1929-2005, William Faulker, 1897-1962, Dmitri Shostakovich, 1906-1975, Juliet Prowse, 1936-1996, Clea Duvall, 36, Bill Simmons, 44, and Phil Rizzuto, 1917-2007.

When I pointed out that there were a lot of birthdays today, Christi reminded me that nine months prior to this date. . .

. . .is Christmas. 😀


TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

Worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness; tremble before him, all the earth! Psalm 96:9
Seven times a day I praise you for your righteous rules. Psalm 119:164
Oh, guard my soul, and deliver me! Let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in you.
May integrity and uprightness preserve me, for I wait for you.
Psalm 25:20-21

Father, may I truly praise you at least seven times a day! Guard my soul through this day and teach me your ways. Let me take refuge in you every day that I live, that I might be found faithful to your cause.


Today’s reading in A Year With God is called “The Greatest of These Is Love.” The scripture reading is 1 Corinthians 13:1-7, 13. This is the final reading on the discipline of chastity. I don’t know about you, but I’m kind of glad about that. 🙂

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

This is probably the most famous passage on love in the whole Bible. I remember, as a child, being confused by this chapter, because the word “love” was translated “charity” in the King James Version, which was pretty much all we had back then. The words written here provide a very uplifting ideal for any community of faith to aspire to. In fact, I pray for these qualities in my life every single day. Paul desires for the Corinthian Christians to show this kind of love toward each other “in all their behavior.” The thing is, when we practice that love, we will also receive that love. Dallas Willard is quoted as saying, “To practice chastity, then, we must first practice love, practice seeking the good of those of the opposite sex we come in contact with.” I certainly believe that the discipline of chastity requires that we all respect and honor each other.

The book offers this prayer:

“Lord God, just as you love us, you call us to love one another. Thank
you for this wonderful gift. Teach me to love others chastely, with patience
and endurance, but also with rejoicing, recognizing in all I meet my brothers
and sisters. In your name I pray. Amen.”


Pray Without Ceasing: A Thirty-One-Day Course, by Andrew Murray

DAY TWENTY-SIX
What to Pray: For the Holy Spirit on Young Converts

Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, for he had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Acts 8:14-16
And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee. 2 Corinthians 1:21-22

“Many new converts remain weak; many fall into sin; many
backslide entirely. If you pray for the church, its growth in holiness
and devotion to God’s service, pray especially for the young
converts. Many stand alone, surrounded by temptation; many
have no teaching on the Spirit in them and the power of God to
establish them. Some are without support of family or friends.
Some are in countries that are closed to the Gospel, where Satan
has a stronghold. When you pray for the power of the Spirit in
the church, pray in particular that every young or new convert
may know that he may claim and receive the fullness of the Spirit
in his life.”

How to Pray: Without Ceasing

Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by ceasing to pray for you, and I will instruct you in the good and the right way. 1 Samuel 12:23

“We are sinning against the Lord if we cease to pray for others.
When we begin to see how absolutely indispensable intercession
is, just as much our responsibility as loving God or believing in
Christ, and how we are called and bound to it as believers, we
will be convinced that to cease our intercession is a serious sin.
Let us ask for grace to take our place as priests with joy and give
our life to bring down the blessing of heaven on those who
depend on our prayers and supplications.”


Father, I lift up prayers today for “young” converts (which does not always mean young people). I lift up any who have recently given their lives to Jesus Christ, being inhabited by your Spirit. I pray for them to be surrounded by other believers, who will pray for them diligently to know the power of the Spirit that is already within them. Let them not be led astray by well-meaning folks who misinterpret scripture, but let them have solid foundations. Let us, believers everywhere, your Church, not fail in the mission of intercession. I am compelled daily to pray for people, not out of a sense of duty, but more of a sense of responsibility. There is a sense that these people are depending on me to pray for them, even when they don’t even know it is happening! I do not want to let them down; I do not want to let you down. Again, I pray, Father, don’t let me mess this up!

I pray for love in the community of faith. Just as I pray for the qualities of love listed in 1 Corinthians 13 to be visible in my life each day, I pray for those same characteristics to be manifest in the life of the Church, both local and worldwide. We used to sing, “They’ll Know We Are Christians By Our Love.” Let that be truth in your Church. Let us be loving people, yet chaste in our love for each other.

I pray for this day, Lord, that Christi and I will have a good work day today. May we be diligent and efficient in getting tasks accomplished for our employers, working with joy, not begrudgingly. I pray for Stephanie today, as she was experiencing some ear pain yesterday, probably due to weather changes and sinus issues.

Your grace is sufficient.


As we, the Church, commit to love each other, we also need to commit to intercede for each other. We all depend on each other’s prayers. Let us be diligent and faithful in both love and intercession.

Grace and peace, friends.