Today is Saturday, the twenty-fifth of September, 2021.
Peace be with you.
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.
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
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.
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)
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)
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.
- Love God
- 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."
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.