Known By God

Good morning. Today is Wednesday, the twenty-fourth of November.

May the peace of God reign in your life today.

Day 23,267

Thanksgiving is tomorrow!

We got the outside lights up, yesterday. And of course, one of them is already not lighting up. It’s possible it is just a bit loose in the connector. That happens sometimes, especially with a brand new set. We might have a chance to get the ladder back out, later today, and try to fix it. Of course, as well, it is the next to the top light on the house.

I finished a game on my PC, last night, after work. I got home from the library, cooked some eggs and toast for a quick dinner, and sat down to play Cyberpunk 2077. I knew I was close to the end, because, in a recent session, I reached one of those points where you get a warning asking if you’re sure you want to keep going, because there’s not going back from this point. Sure enough, I completed the story line.

As the ending approached, there were multiple choices to be made. There were at least three different choices as to who I wanted to take with me for the final fight, and then, at the very end, there was a very important choice, as well. I like the ending that I got, but am aware that, similar to Fallout 4, there are multiple ending possibilities. Makes me want to play the final sequence again, making different choices, just to see what happens.

But not for now. According to the Steam app, I have put 265+ hours into the game. Time for something different. Hahaha!

Today, I’m working from 9:15-6:15. I’m off tomorrow and Friday, for Thanksgiving holiday. I would have been off tomorrow, anyway. However, I will be working from 1:00-5:00 next Thursday. The circulation manager asked me if I would work that shift, since I’m going to be short hours on that pay period, and she needs help with coverage that day, so I said, “sure!”

Oh. I forgot to mention that we have another cat in the house. We got this one from the Watauga shelter, and she is already two years old and spayed, so we don’t have to worry about that. She is a tabby who looks a lot like S’s cat, Honey. We have decided that she will be called Magnolia. We will probably call her Maggie or Mags, for short.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

What Is A Blessing?, by Daryl Madden

What is a blessing?
But a share of
A taste of heaven
A gift of Gods’ love

Of nothing deserved
But one of pure grace
Let us receive it
With a grateful embrace

A treasure to cherish
Shared in many ways
If we are aware
We will be amazed!

Just a reminder
Of this message true
As a child of God
You’re a blessing too!
LUTHER'S MORNING PRAYER
In the name of the Father and of the Son 
and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
I thank you, my heavenly Father, 
through Jesus Christ, Your dear Son, 
that You have kept me this night from all harm and danger; 
and I pray that You 
would keep me this day also from sin and every evil, 
that all my doings and life may please You. 
For into Your hands I commend myself, 
my body and soul, and all things. 
Let Your holy angel be with me, 
that the evil foe may have no power over me. 
Amen.

I will give to the LORD the thanks due to his righteousness, and I will sing praise to the name of the LORD, the Most High.
(Psalms 7:17 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for all my friends and family; you are, indeed, a blessing to me
2. that I am alive and breathing, and have awakened to another new day
3. for the Light of Jesus Christ in my life
4. that I can sing praises to You and make music on various instruments
5. that You know me, intimately, as You know the number of and the names of all the stars in the heavens

And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.
(Luke 2:52 ESV)

For though by this time you ought to be teachers,
you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God.
You need milk,
not solid food,
for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness,
since he is a child.
But solid food is for the mature,
for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.
(Hebrews 5:12-14 ESV)

Father, make me more like Jesus, increasing in wisdom and stature and in favor with You and those around me. Make me mature in Your Word, living on the “solid food” that comes from constant immersion in it.

Arise,
shine,
for your light has come,
and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.
(Isaiah 60:1 ESV)

Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week,
Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb.
And behold, there was a great earthquake,
for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven
and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it.
His appearance was like lightning,
and his clothing white as snow.
And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men.
But the angel said to the women,
Do not be afraid,
for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified.
He is not here,
for he has risen,
as he said.
Come, see the place where he lay.
(Matthew 28:1-6 ESV)

“Awake,
O sleeper,
and arise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”
(Ephesians 5:14 ESV)

For you are all children of light,
children of the day.
We are not of the night or of the darkness.
(1 Thessalonians 5:5 ESV)

Father, may the Light of Christ shine on and through me, today.

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

LAST WEEK OF ORDINARY TIME – DAY FOUR

INVITATION

“Step out of the traffic!
Take a long, loving look at me,
your High God,
above politics,
above everything.”
(Psalms 46:10 MSG)

As I pause during this quiet morning, I am struck by the Light that is Jesus Christ. My heart’s desire is to be “alive and awake,” shining brightly, in this world of darkness, with the Light of Jesus. I stop to take a long, loving, look at my Father, who is present with me, at all times.

BIBLE SONG

Praise the LORD.

How good it is to sing praises to our God,
how pleasant and fitting to praise him!

The LORD builds up Jerusalem;
he gathers the exiles of Israel.
He heals the brokenhearted
and binds up their wounds.
He determines the number of the stars
and calls them each by name.
Great is our Lord and mighty in power;
his understanding has no limit.
The LORD sustains the humble
but casts the wicked to the ground.

Sing to the LORD with grateful praise;
make music to our God on the harp.
(Psalms 147:1-7 NIV)

BIBLE READING

The word of the LORD came to Jonah son of Amittai: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.”
But Jonah ran away from the LORD and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the LORD.
Then the LORD sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up. All the sailors were afraid and each cried out to his own god. And they threw the cargo into the sea to lighten the ship.
But Jonah had gone below deck, where he lay down and fell into a deep sleep. The captain went to him and said, “How can you sleep? Get up and call on your god! Maybe he will take notice of us so that we will not perish.”
(Jonah 1:1-6 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I leisurely read these passages again, I look for words or ideas that have stirred within me. I linger over them, giving them my attention. Is there something within about which I need to ask God? I pray my life to my Father and rest in His presence.

Do you know how many stars there are? Does anyone? God not only knows the number of stars, He “determines the number of stars and calls them each by name.” Yes, I do realize that this is poetry, not theology. But it gives us insight into the infinite wisdom, knowledge, and understanding of our God. “His understanding has no limit.”

If He knows every star and calls it by name, how much more does He know each of us? God Almighty, the Creator of everything that we can see and much that we cannot see, condescends to know us. He knows me better than I know myself. He knows everything that I am going to do and say today. He knows what I am going to think.

Yet, still He loves me. He remembers that we are only dust.

This causes me to do what Psalm 147:7 tells me to do. “Sing to the LORD with grateful praise; make music to our God on the harp.” I don’t have a harp, but I have instruments, and I can use them to make music to God. I also have a voice, with which I can sing praises to Him.

Father, I praise You for Your knowledge of us! You, who created everything, have made Yourself known to us, just as You know us. Someday, when we see You, face to face (as much as will be possible), we will know You as intimately as You know us. But, for now, we cannot handle such knowledge; it is too wonderful, we cannot attain it. As I go through this day, may this knowledge carry me through all challenges that I might face. Give me Your wisdom and shine in me with the Light of Jesus Christ. May His light be visible in me. All glory and praise to You, through the Son and by the Spirit.

"Father,
never let Your salvation,
Your free choice of me,
make me lax or arrogant toward others.
Never let me forget that You've chosen me for both a special relationship as Your child and a special service,
becoming a channel of blessing for all.
In Christ's Name,
amen."

BLESSING

Anyone who meets a testing challenge head-on
and manages to stick it out is mighty fortunate.
For such persons loyally in love with God,
the reward is life and more life.
(James 1:12 MSG)

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.

Out of the Depths

Good morning! Today is Sunday, the fourteenth of November, 2021.

May the peace of God reign in your life today!

Day 23,257

Three days until we fly to Indianapolis!

We’re trying to make some plans around our trip, you know, things to do while we are up there. One thing we’re definitely going to try to do is this Cat Cafe they have, where you can drink coffee and sit with cats. We may try an escape room, and they have a zoo up there. Outdoor activities may not work, though, as it looks like it’s going to be pretty chilly. Friday morning’s low is predicted to be 25 degrees. But it’s supposed to get up to 44 that day. Sounds like good hot chocolate weather!

Yesterday was another great day at the library. There was very little, if any, anxiety. I helped a fourteen-year-old girl get a library card, which was fun. She was very excited about reading, which made me feel all warm and fuzzy. When minors get library cards, their parents have to be there to sign off on it. And then later on, a young family was in with their child, and they checked out Are You My Mother? and I told them how much I loved that book.

“You are not my mother! You are a Snort!”

Working at the library is so much fun and so rewarding. Oh, and later in the afternoon, a guy checked out the “Firefly” series, along with some other DVDs he was getting. He had not seen it, and we had a conversation about science fiction shows/books, mostly about The Expanse, which is an Amazon Prime Video series based on some books. I have not yet read any of the books, but they are on my TBR list. (That stands for “To Be Read,” in case you don’t know.)

While I was at work, C went shopping. Unfortunately, it appears that she didn’t get out of the store with a couple of her purchases, so she will go back this afternoon to try to get that resolved. She said that the young man who was waiting on her was having some serious problems. I’m not sure what all she got for herself, but for me, she got some black jeans and a new belt. I asked for some jeans that are not blue, because we can wear those to work on non-weekend days. I’m not sure why they’re okay if they aren’t blue, but that’s the rule. So now I have some jeans I can wear to work if I don’t feel like wearing slacks. She got me some t-shirts to wear under some flannel shirts, but it’s the flannel shirts that didn’t make it home. She has the receipt, so should be able to get it all cleared up.

Today, we don’t have much on the schedule. We have our church gathering at 10:15, which will be on Zoom again, today. I’m sure there will be Applebee’s for lunch, and C will go back up to Macy’s to try to get those shirts. I may or may not go with her. Who knows?

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

"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."

And the four living creatures,
each of them with six wings,
are full of eyes all around and within,
and day and night they never cease to say,

“Holy, holy, holy,
is the Lord God Almighty,
who was and is and is to come!”

And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne,
who lives forever and ever,
the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever.
They cast their crowns before the throne,
saying,

“Worthy are you,
our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will they existed and were created.”
(Revelation 4:8-11 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for this incredible vision of worship
2. for the feeling of peace that I have
3. for Your righteousness, that reaches to the heavens
4. that with You is unfailing love and full redemption
5. for the grace in which I stand, and the fact that, because of that grace, I CAN stand

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TWENTY-SIX – DAY ONE

INVITATION

Your righteousness,
God,
reaches to the heavens,
you who have done great things.
Who is like you,
God?
(Psalms 71:19 NIV)

As I pause during this peaceful morning, I consider Your righteousness, infinitely higher than mine, infinitely higher than the “best Christian” I can think of. I consider Your infinite worthiness to receive glory and honor and power and worship! Thank You, Father!!

BIBLE SONG

A song of ascents.

Out of the depths I cry to you, LORD;
Lord, hear my voice.
Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy.

If you, LORD, kept a record of sins,
Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness,
so that we can, with reverence, serve you.

I wait for the LORD, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope.
I wait for the Lord
more than watchmen wait for the morning,
more than watchmen wait for the morning.

Israel, put your hope in the LORD,
for with the LORD is unfailing love
and with him is full redemption.
He himself will redeem Israel
from all their sins.
(Psalms 130:1-8 NIV)

BIBLE READING

The word of the LORD came to me, saying,
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
before you were born I set you apart;
I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”
“Alas, Sovereign LORD,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am too young.”
But the LORD said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am too young.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the LORD.
Then the LORD reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “I have put my words in your mouth. See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.”
(Jeremiah 1:4-10 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

I remind myself that I am in Your presence. I read these passages through again, at least once more, trying to notice how You might be speaking to me through them. I dwell on any words or phrases that jump out at me, allowing my heart to respond to You in prayer. I receive refreshment in Your presence!

In this psalm, another of the songs of ascents, the psalmist speaks of crying out to the Lord “out of the depths.” As I consider this, I think that the only place we can cry out to Him is “out of the depths,” because, in comparison to Him, that is where we are. Consider my meditation above the Scripture readings. His righteousness and holiness is infinitely higher than ours. It’s not enough to simply say that God is holier than I or more righteous than I. It is immeasurable! Therefore, when I cry out to Him, it is most certainly “out of the depths.”

When I read verse 3 and 4, what I get is that it is impossible to serve the Lord without forgiveness. And sometimes, we have to wait. I don’t believe we have to wait for forgiveness. There is sometimes an errant idea that we have to wait until we “get holy” to serve Him. And while there are passages that encourage/admonish us to “be holy, even as the Lord is holy,” this particular passage speaks of a qualification of service being that of forgiveness.

Forgiveness, I believe, is instant. I do not believe that forgiveness is a “process,” like some things are. Sanctification is a process; consecration is a process. But forgiveness and salvation, I believe, are instant and permanent. Just as I believe that you cannot lose your salvation, I also believe that you cannot lose or even tarnish your forgiveness.

We can sin again, yes. That has an effect on sanctification; it has an effect on the growth of our relationship with the Father. But it does not make us unsaved or unforgiven.

So what is the psalmist waiting for in verse 5? He is waiting for the morning to come (verse 6). He is waiting for the night to be over. Perhaps he is experiencing that long, dark night of the soul, of which St. John of the Cross spoke. We’ve all had those, right? And we wait. Not only do we wait, but we hope. For if we are not hoping and trusting in His Word, then the waiting is fruitless. But the psalmist, here is waiting and putting his trust in the Word of God.

Then he calls on his entire nation, his people to put their hope in Him, because with Him “is unfailing love and with Him is full redemption” (emphasis mine).

The passage from Jeremiah is tricky and, perhaps, tough, because it is the account of the calling of the Lord on Jeremiah. It is words spoken by God directly to Jeremiah and applies solely to Jeremiah.

There are phrases in the passage that I believe can be applied to me, personally. “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you.” I believe this is true for me, as well as for everyone else that has ever been “formed . . . in the womb.” I do believe that I was also set apart before I was born. Not to be a prophet though, so the application ends there.

“Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” says the Lord (verse 8). That can apply to any of us, in our current circumstances. God is with us, we have nothing to fear.

And, while there may be times for all of us when the Lord puts words in our mouths, that’s pretty much the end of the application for anyone besides Jeremiah, in my opinion. God has most definitely appointed me over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant. I daresay He has also not appointed you to do these things. Jeremiah was appointed for those tasks. Not me.

So why is this here? Illustration, I believe, that we might see the origins of the authority of the man who writes the rest of the words in this book of prophecy. It is good to see why we need to listen to what Jeremiah had to say to the people of Israel (or whoever else he was sent to). He had the authority of the Lord behind his words.

We may also have the authority of the Lord behind our words, sometimes, but we had best be careful when we assert that. And that’s all I’m going to say about that.

Father, I thank You for the lessons from the psalm, this morning. I know that, when I cry out to You, I am crying out from “out of the depths,” because that is the only place I can be in comparison to You. You are infinitely higher than I; You are infinitely holier than I; You are infinitely more righteous than I. Therefore, when I cry out to You, it is from the depths. I thank You for the forgiveness that was won for me by my Savior. I thank You that it is this forgiveness that enables me to serve You, because it completely erased the record of my sins. I You had kept that record of sin, I would be unable to stand before You. As it is, I can barely stand, because of Your infinite righteousness and holiness. But, because Jesus fills in the gaps of my unrighteousness, I can stand. It is by Your grace, I stand. I praise You and thank You for this grace. All glory to You, through the Son and by the Spirit.

May resurrection hope and joy fill my life today. May I have desire and opportunity to share the gospel of Christ with someone this week.

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.

"Searching God,
Your knowledge of me is both soothing and strange.
I'm comforted knowing Your eyes of love have seen me long before I even thought to look for You;
but it's also an unsettling reminder that I'm not in control.
Quiet me now in the grace of Your loving heart that has known and chosen me for Yourself from before time.
Amen."

BLESSING

Now be pleased to bless the house of your servant,
that it may continue forever in your sight;
for you,
Sovereign LORD,
have spoken,
and with your blessing the house of your servant will be blessed forever.”
(2 Samuel 7:29 NIV)


Oh, the depth of the
riches
and wisdom
and knowledge
of God!
How unsearchable are his judgments
and how inscrutable his ways!
(Romans 11:33 ESV)

Behold,
these are but the outskirts of his ways,
and how small a whisper do we hear of him!
But the thunder of his power who can understand?”
(Job 26:14 ESV)

Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay.
(Matthew 10:8 ESV)

Father, Your ways and judgments are, indeed, unsearchable and inscrutable. I proclaim, along with Paul, “Oh, the depths of Your riches and wisdom and knowledge!” And, as Job said, we are only on the outskirts of Your ways, and what we hear from You is merely a whisper of all that You are! If You were to speak in Your full “thunder,” we would surely perish. Help us to do all the things that You are enabling us to do. May we exhibit the attitude that Jesus gives us, as we have, indeed received without paying, so let us give without expecting anything in return.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.
(John 15:9 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Worship Him

Today is Monday, the eighth of November, 2021.

May God’s peace reign in your heart today.

Day 23,251

Four days until C’s birthday!

Today’s header photo is from Paul Militaru. Please check out his photo blog.

We had a mostly nice day, yesterday. The worship time at FBC Mineral Wells was pretty awesome. We had a great lunch from Natty Flats BBQ (although slightly delayed, as they were shorthanded).

This brings up an important point. I know from experience, it is quite easy to get impatient when I have to wait longer than usual for a food or drink order. But please keep in mind . . . it is not the fault of the person/persons serving you and they are most definitely not deserving of our wrath. Many people have left the restaurant/serving industry because of how rudely they have been treated during the past eighteen months or so.

Most especially, if you call Jesus your Savior, you must be patient and kind with people.

After lunch, we had a nice time of conversation with my mother, during which many topics were discussed. Our trip home was safe, but had a few tense moments. That’s all I’m going to say about that.

I’m off work today, and only have a few chores planned. I’ve already been to the grocery store, which is why I’m running a tad behind with the blog, this morning. We have a pool tech coming, sometime this afternoon, to check on why our indoor control panel won’t connect with the outside panel. That’s about it.

There have been some big changes made to WW (Weight Watchers), beginning today. My plan has changed quite a bit, based on some answers I gave to questions upon opening the app, this morning. The biggest thing for me is, based on my ongoing bout with type 2 diabetes, fruits are no longer zero points. That means I have to count grapes!! Egad! But, as a trade-off, I can now have avocados/guacamole for zero points! And, when I eat a cup of non-starchy veggies, I get to add a point back. So that’s cool. Just some adaptation to be made, but I plan to carry on and keep moving forward.

Today is World Orphans Day.

The word for today is angakok, “a shaman in Inuit society.” “Inuit” is what we used to call “Eskimo.”

Today’s quote is from Winston Churchill, British statesman. “The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.”

Birthdays for November 8:

Julian of Norwich, English saint, 1342-1416
Vlad the Impaler (really!), Wallachian prince, the inspiration for Dracula, 1431-1476 (It should be noted that most sources do not provide a day of the year for Vlad's birth. My guess is that it has been put on this date because it is also Bram Stoker's birthday.)
Edmund Halley, English mathematician and astronomer (Halley's Comet), 1656-1742
Bram Stoker, Irish author (Dracula ), 1847-1912
Hermann Rorschach, Swiss psychiatrist (inkblot test), 1884-1922
Margaret Mitchell, American author (Gone with the Wind), 1900-1949
Joe Flynn, American actor (McHale's Navy), 1924-1974
Patti Page, American singer (Tennessee Waltz), 1927-2013
Bert Berns, American songwriter (Twist and Shout, Piece of My Heart, Hang on Sloopy), 1929-1967
Darla Hood, American child actress (Little Rascals), 1931-1979
Ben Bova, American sci-fi author (Exiled from Earth), 1932-2020
Bonnie Bramlett, American blues-rock vocalist (Delaney and Bonnie), 1944 (77)
Bonnie Raitt, American blues singer/songwriter/guitar player (Something to Talk About), 1949 (72)
Jerry Remy, American baseball player and broadcaster (Boston Red Sox), 1952-2021
Gordon Ramsay, British chef (Hell's Kitchen), 1966 (55)
Bonnie Bramlett
Another Bonnie

I really wanted to post a video of Gordon Ramsay freaking out over raw food, but there were too many bad words.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord, I dedicate this day to You.
May my feet walk only where You want them to walk.
May my eyes see only what You want them to see.
May my ears hear only what You want them to hear.
May my mouth say only what You want it to say.
May my mind think only what You want it to think.

All your works
shall give thanks to you, O LORD,
and all your saints
shall bless you!
(Psalms 145:10 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for all the saints, who are constantly giving You thanks and praising Your Name
2. that I am alive and breathing
3. for our good visit with Mama yesterday
4. for the rest You give when we step into the easy yoke of Christ
5. that my help and salvation is from You, in the Name of the Lord, maker of heaven and earth

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TWENTY-FIVE – DAY TWO

INVITATION

Then Jesus said,
“Come to me,
all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens,
and I will give you rest.”
(Matthew 11:28 NLT)

I pause, now, during this very quiet moment, peacefully sleeping kitten nearby, and consider the rest that Jesus gives to those who are weary. If our burdens are heavy, we need only step into His “easy yoke,” and allow Him to carry the bulk of the load. It doesn’t mean we don’t work . . . but it does mean our work is much easier.

BIBLE SONG

A song of ascents. Of David.

If the LORD had not been on our side—
let Israel say—
if the LORD had not been on our side
when people attacked us,
they would have swallowed us alive
when their anger flared against us;
the flood would have engulfed us,
the torrent would have swept over us,
the raging waters
would have swept us away.

Praise be to the LORD,
who has not let us be torn by their teeth.
We have escaped like a bird
from the fowler’s snare;
the snare has been broken,
and we have escaped.
Our help is in the name of the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
(Psalms 124:1-8 NIV)

BIBLE READING

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another:
“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty;
the whole earth is full of his glory.”
At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.
“Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.”
Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”
Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”
And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”
(Isaiah 6:1-8 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

I read these passages again, perhaps even out loud, in order to force myself to pay more attention to the words. How has the Word of God moved me? I ponder and meditate on what has connected with my heart and my mind. I pray to God what has moved me, turning my every thought to Him and quietly enjoying His presence.

Along with Israel, I can firmly say, “my help is in the name of the Lord, maker of heaven and earth!” Through Him, in His power, by the power of His Holy Spirit, I have escaped the “fowler’s snare.” The binding traps of the enemy have been broken.

As the Church, the new Israel, I do believe that we can confidently believe that the Lord is on our side. That means the Church, capital C, world-wide, and does not at all apply to any single country. However, lest we get too big-headed about it, we should remember that, in the big picture, the Lord is on HIS side. We should, therefore, be careful to be found on His side, as well. Let us not champion ourselves and hope that the Lord joins in. Rather, let us champion Him and His purpose, joining in His “cause,” the only cause worthy of defending.

Isaiah 6 is, indeed, a beautiful passage. When I was in music school at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, it was presented as the biblical model of a worship service. I do believe there is something to be said for that, however, I don’t feel that it needs to be adhered to, rigidly.

There are certainly characteristics of the chapter that should be found in any worship service, regardless if it is in a huge cathedral or an intimate living room in a house.

First, God is central. Worship is all about God. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about this. Worship is not, and never has been, about us. When we make it about us, it is not “worship.” It is idolatry. Isaiah saw the Lord, high and lifted up, seated on His throne. We have no other description of what the Lord looked like, other than the fact that the train of His robe was really, really big.

Second, it is worth noting that the attending “living creatures” (these seem to be the same beings that Ezekiel saw), covered their faces and their feet with four of their six wings. I’m not sure what that means for us, to be honest, other than that we had best be careful how we conduct ourselves in worship. If the seraphim, these terrifyingly majestic beings, felt the need to cover their faces and feet, I believe we would do well to exercise a bit of humility in the holy presence of God.

Side note . . . maybe they aren’t the same creatures Ezekiel saw . . . they are only described as having four wings. He saw four of them. We do not know how many seraphim Isaiah saw, and it really doesn’t matter.

Third, the seraphim “sang” a hymn to the Lord. Maybe they weren’t singing. Whatever they were doing shook the very foundations of the temple, their voices were so powerful. This tells me that, when we praise the Lord, it needs to be

loud.

Now, this doesn’t mean the musical instruments need to be blasting through the speakers. What it does mean is that the sound of our voices should not be timid, but strong. How beautiful is it to hear the sounds of many voices, singing in unison, the praises of our God?

Side note . . . I believe it was Dietrich Bonhoeffer who preferred unison singing when congregations sang together. While harmony is pretty, unison is more powerful.

Fourth, back to humility. Note Isaiah’s response to this vision. “Woe to me! I am ruined!” While the narrative doesn’t specify this, I have a vision of Isaiah falling on his face while he cried out those things. He recognized his own impurity, his own uncleanness, his SIN! Isaiah! The called prophet of God! When we come into the powerful presence of God, there is no room for pride and arrogance! I am not calling for shame. That is a tool of our enemy, the devil. Not shame, but recognition of, acknowledgment of, our condition before Him. He is HOLY! We are most definitely NOT holy!

He is “Other.”

Fifth, there is cleansing. Now, I don’t know how literally to take this passage. I know people who are way smarter than me when it comes to theology. But could it be that Isaiah’s sins were atoned before Christ’s blood was shed? This puts Isaiah in a rather special place, does it not? But that’s what one of the seraphim told him, the one who touched Isaiah’s lips with the burning coal. I know . . . vision. Not reality. Nevertheless, before we can be sent out on mission, naturally, we must be cleansed. Our cleansing comes from the shed blood of Christ, but there must be confession, just as Isaiah did.

Finally, there is an invitation and an acceptance. The invitation comes from the Lord. It’s more of a challenge, actually. “Whom shall I send?” Isaiah responded. “Here am I! Send me!”

I do not see this as an argument for the traditional evangelical invitation at the end of every service. I personally am not in favor of those, and feel they are largely unbiblical and manipulative. But that’s just my opinion, arrived at after years of observation and Scripture-searching.

There’s a twist, here, though. If you keep reading beyond the selected passage for the day, you will see that Isaiah’s message was anything but the traditional, evangelistic message.

He said, “Go and tell this people: “‘Be ever hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’ Make the heart of this people calloused; make their ears dull and close their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.” Then I said, “For how long, Lord?” And he answered: “Until the cities lie ruined and without inhabitant, until the houses are left deserted and the fields ruined and ravaged, until the LORD has sent everyone far away and the land is utterly forsaken. And though a tenth remains in the land, it will again be laid waste. But as the terebinth and oak leave stumps when they are cut down, so the holy seed will be the stump in the land.”
(Isaiah 6:9-13 NIV)

Father, I am grateful that I can proclaim, along with David, that You have rescued me from the “fowler’s snare,” that I have escaped from the traps of our enemy. Why do I manage, though, to find myself back in them, after having escaped?? That is a question that I will have to wait to have answered. Until that day, I will strive to keep my feet out of those snares. They are broken (the traps, I mean). . . they cannot hold me. So if I find myself back in one of them, it is my own doing, even though I am free to walk away at any time. I thank You that I am part of Your Church, a small piece of “all the saints,” who praise Your Name and give You thanks, daily. I pray for the times of worship that we have, that they will be You-centered; that our attention will be on Your glory and majesty, and that we, like the seraphim, will practice humility as we cry out praises at the top of our lungs, praises to You, who are completely and utterly “Other,” and “Holy, holy, holy!” And then, just like Isaiah, when we acknowledge our sinfulness and our unworthiness to be in Your presence, cleanse us from our impurities, and send us to proclaim whatever message You give us to proclaim. Most importantly, may we listen to You for that message, for we will not all have the same message. All praise to You, through the Son and by the Spirit!

"High and exalted God,
Your holiness crushes my pride and pretense,
and I cry, 
'Woe is me.'
Thank You for Jesus,
the cleansing fire from Your heavenly altar who takes away my guilt so I may hear Your call.
Amen."

BLESSING

LORD,
give me your unfailing love,
the salvation that you promised me.
(Psalms 119:41 NLT)


Father, take us through this day, make us humble, and make us kind to one another.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

May the Lord make your love
increase and overflow
for each other and for everyone else,
just as ours does for you.
(1 Thessalonians 3:12 NIV)

Grace and peace, friends.

A Time for Everything

Good morning! Today is Wednesday, the third of November, 2021.

May the peace of God reign in your heart today!

Day 23,246

Nine days until C’s birthday!

And we have a birthday gift on the way. Besides the fact that we are taking a trip to Indianapolis the following week (after her birthday), we are getting a new garage door opener soon. I’m pretty sure the one that is currently installed, and not working, is the original one, installed in 1999.

Of course, the next order of business, garage-wise, is getting room to put a car in there. I told C that wasn’t happening for her birthday.

Last night was a fine evening at the library. I got a full cart of books sorted and shelved, and then there weren’t any more in the hall to sort, so I spent the last hour walking the shelves looking for stray books. If we find books that were pulled off the shelves but not checked out (we do prefer that the patrons not attempt to re-shelve them), they are marked “used” in the system and placed in the shelving area for the next day. This tells the librarians that there was at least some interest in the materials . . . someone at least touched them.

Every so often, some “weeding” is done, in which a librarian marks material for removal/discard (the official term is “deaccession”), based on when the last time it was checked out. Marking items “used,” at least shows that there was some interest in them.

While I was there, I discovered, thanks to the help of one of the assistant librarians, that our library holds one copy of the 1963 film, The Haunting, so I checked it out. This black and white film is based on Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House, which I recently finished.

I just remembered that I forgot to post my current read, yesterday. I am currently reading The Divine Embrace, by Robert E. Webber, subtitled, “Recovering the Passionate Spiritual Life.” I decided to dig deep into my “want to read” shelf on Goodreads. This was added to my list back in May of 2008. Seriously. That’s how far back my TBR list goes. I still had my copy of the book, too. So I’m reading it, now. I haven’t gotten very far into it, yet, but hope to make some serious progress over the next couple days.

I plan another trip to the grocery store, this morning, probably right after I finish the blog. I do believe it has finally quit raining for a while. I changed my mind. I’ve ordered Albertson’s for delivery, instead. Not leaving the house unless I have to.

Oh, and lest I forget, the Braves won the World Series, dominating last night’s game six with a score of 7-0.

Today is Cliché Day. I want all of you to get out there and give 110% today! Seize the day! And whatever you do, be sure and run upstairs when the chainsaw-wielding maniac is chasing you.

The word for today is maringouin, “a mosquito, especially a large swamp mosquito.” Why?? Why, dictionary.com, do you wish to put that image in my brain??

Today’s quote is from James Thurber, American author. “Love is what you’ve been through with somebody.”

Birthdays on November 3:

Stephen F. Austin, founder and colonizer of Texas, 1793-1836
Bob Feller, American HoF baseball pitcher, 1918-2010
Charles Bronson, American actor (Death Wish, White Buffalo), 1921-2003 (I met him once, in Colorado)
Marie McDonald McLaughlin Lawrie (aka Lulu), Scottish singer (To Sir With Love), 1948 (73)
Dwight Evans, American baseball player (Boston Red Sox), 1951 (70)
Roseanne Barr, American actress and comedienne, 1952 (69)
Jim Cummings, American voice actor (Winnie the Pooh), 1952 (69)
Kate Capshaw, American actress (Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom), born in Fort Worth, TX, 1953 (68)
Dennis Miller, American comedian (Saturday Night Live), 1953 (68)
Stuart Goddard (aka Adam Ant), English rocker (Goody Two Shoes), 1954 (67)

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Be sober-minded;
Cast all your anxieties
On Him who loves you.
(1 Peter 5)

Open to me
the gates of righteousness,
that I may enter through them
and give thanks to the LORD.
(Psalms 118:19 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that You have given me a thankful heart
2. that I am alive and breathing
3. for my job at the library
4. that there is a time and a season for every purpose under heaven
5. that You have given me a love for Your Word

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TWENTY-FOUR – DAY FOUR

INVITATION

Our God forever,
who guides us till the end of time.
(Psalms 48:14 MSG)

As I pause in the quietness of the morning, interrupted only by the amusing cat next to me, who is pawing at the front of the computer, non-stop, I consider the love and grace of God Almighty, who condescends to even think about us. What are we that He is mindful of us? Yet He is, even to the point that He desires for the children to be brought to Him.

BIBLE SONG

Your statutes are wonderful;
therefore I obey them.
The unfolding of your words gives light;
it gives understanding to the simple.
I open my mouth and pant,
longing for your commands.
Turn to me and have mercy on me,
as you always do to those who love your name.
Direct my footsteps according to your word;
let no sin rule over me.
Redeem me from human oppression,
that I may obey your precepts.
Make your face shine on your servant
and teach me your decrees.
Streams of tears flow from my eyes,
for your law is not obeyed.
(Psalms 119:129-136 NIV)

BIBLE READING

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:

a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
(Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I read these passages again, perhaps even out loud (in ancient times, Scripture was heard more than seen), I ponder how the Word of God has moved me, this morning. What has connected with my heart? What has my mind observed? I pray these things back to the Lord as I turn my thoughts toward Him and enjoy His presence.

The celebration of the love of God’s Word continues in Psalm 119. I love the thought in verse 131. “I open my mouth and pant, longing for Your commands.” Our desire for the Word of God in our lives should supersede any other desire. Reading and meditating on God’s Word should be like breathing to us, just as prayer should be. The love of one flows directly out of the love of the other, perhaps even feeding off of each other.

I love, also, the idea in verse 132, the the Lord always has mercy on those who love His name. Just as, I believe, all who love His name should be sorrowful when His Word is not heeded or obeyed (verse 136).

There is much love and appreciation for the passage from Ecclesiastes. Most people my age are familiar with the song, written by Pete Seeger, “Turn, Turn, Turn.” Here’s a beautiful version by him and Judy Collins.

I do love the wisdom of these words. There is, indeed, a time for each of these. The wisdom comes in knowing when those times are. When are the times to weep and mourn; when are the times to laugh and dance? There is way too much tearing down, right now, in our world. We need to do more building up. I love to embrace; I’m a hugger. But the last year has been a time to refrain from embracing. Probably the most difficult is knowing when is the time to speak and time to be silent.

For many years, I’ve loved the last line of the song, “a time for peace, I swear it’s not too late.” But there will not be everlasting peace until we are Home. But we could certainly be striving a little more for it.

Father, there is, indeed, a time for everything. I pray for wisdom to know when those times are. Help me to be, though, one who works more for peace then fighting. I pray that I might be willing to be silent when silence is needed, but also give me the right words when speaking is called for. Help me to be one who builds up more than tearing down. Thank You for the love You have placed in my heart, love for Your Word, love for You. I pray that the thirst for Your Word will always continue, driving me deeper and deeper into it. I pray with great sorrow, that Your Word and commands would be revered more, in this world, today.

I lift up a prayer, this morning, specifically for my aunt, uncle, and cousins. You know the circumstances, Father. Healing is needed and desired, physically and beyond. I pray for Your intervention.

"God for all time,
assure me that no matter the moment,
I belong to You.
Whatever the season -
whether in cold stillness,
budding brightness,
full bloom,
or loss and decay -
I trust all my times are in Your hands.
In my faithful Savior's name,
amen."

BLESSING

“You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution.
The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom.”
(Matthew 5:10 MSG)


Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer; you shall cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am.’ If you take away the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness, if you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday.
(Isaiah 58:8-10 ESV)

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
(Matthew 5:14-16 ESV)

May Your light shine in and through me, Father, as “borrowed light.”

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!

Break forth, like the dawn!
Light! Shine out in the darkness!
Gloom! Be as noonday!
(Isaiah 58)

Grace and peace, friends.

Infinite Love

Today is Thursday, the fourteenth of October, 2021

May the peace of God reign in your lives

Day 23,226

Twenty-four days until Daylight Saving Time ends

Today is the annual Showcase at the Hurst Public Library. The actual event goes from 6-8 PM tonight. I’m working from 12-9, the last hour being for clean-up.

So there aren’t really any other plans or agenda for today. Mostly, I need to focus on not wasting too much time, this morning and getting this blog thing done in plenty of time. I’ve already folded laundry, and we have an Albertson’s delivery on the way. S and C will have to figure out dinner tonight, I guess.

Today is Sight Day, so ordained in order to heighten awareness of those who suffer from blindness and visual impairment.

The word for today is chaebol, “a South Korean conglomerate, usually owned by a single family, based on authoritarian management and centralized decision-making.”

Today’s quote is from James Joyce, Irish novelist. “The actions of men are the best interpreters of their thoughts.”

Significant birthdays on October 14:

Dwight D. Eisenhower, 34th U.S. President (president when I was born), born in Denison, Texas, 1890-1969
Lillian Gish, American silent film actress, 1893-1993
E.E. Cummings, American poet, 1894-1962
C. Everett Koop, U.S. Surgeon General, 1916-2013
Ralph Lauren, American fashion designer, 1939 (82)
Cliff Richard, English rock vocalist (We Don't Talk Anymore), 1940 (81)
Justin Hayward, English vocalist (Moody Blues, Nights in White Satin), 1946 (75)
Al Oliver, American baseball player, 1946 (75)
Harry Anderson, American comic, magician, and actor (Night Court), 1952-2018
Thomas Dolby, British rock musician (Blinded Me With Science), 1958 (63)

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Have nothing to do
Irreverent, silly myths;
Train for godliness
(1 Timothy 4)

Sing praises to the LORD, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name.
(Psalms 30:4 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for Your saints, who encourage me and lift me up
2. that You, by various ways, make Your ways known to us
3. that You are merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love
4. that You do not deal with us according to our sins; You do not give us what we deserve
5. for the Cross, that instrument of execution which You turned into an instrument of redemption

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TWENTY-ONE – DAY FIVE

INVITATION

I waited patiently for the LORD’s help;
then he listened to me and heard my cry.
He pulled me out of a dangerous pit,
out of the deadly quicksand.
He set me safely on a rock and made me secure.
(Psalms 40:1-2 GNB)

As I pause during this quiet moment, rather than reflect on the day ahead, I stop and reflect on You; for You have truly heard my cry and delivered me from the “dangerous pit” and the “deadly quicksand,” many, many times. May I be more faithful to “train for godliness.”

BIBLE SONG

The LORD works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed.

He made known his ways to Moses, his deeds to the people of Israel:
The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.
He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever;
he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him;
(Psalms 103:6-13 NIV)

BIBLE READING

The wife of a man from the company of the prophets cried out to Elisha, “Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that he revered the LORD. But now his creditor is coming to take my two boys as his slaves.”
Elisha replied to her, “How can I help you? Tell me, what do you have in your house?”
“Your servant has nothing there at all,” she said, “except a small jar of olive oil.”
Elisha said, “Go around and ask all your neighbors for empty jars. Don’t ask for just a few. Then go inside and shut the door behind you and your sons. Pour oil into all the jars, and as each is filled, put it to one side.”
She left him and shut the door behind her and her sons. They brought the jars to her and she kept pouring. When all the jars were full, she said to her son, “Bring me another one.”
But he replied, “There is not a jar left.” Then the oil stopped flowing.
She went and told the man of God, and he said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debts. You and your sons can live on what is left.”
(2 Kings 4:1-7 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

In quiet contemplation, I read these passages again, focusing on the presence of the Lord that surrounds me. My spirit and soul are quieted as I meditate and pray.

Moses, like Elisha, was just a man, like me. The Lord made His ways known to Moses, just as He has made His ways known to other people, throughout Scripture. If I am paying attention (which I frequently am not), He also makes His ways known to me.

One of the purposes of Scripture is to do exactly that. May “life verse,” Psalm 86:11 is a prayer for that.

Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name.
(Psalms 86:11 ESV)

The verse after is worthy of notice, as well.

I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever.
(Psalms 86:12 ESV)

Psalm 86:11 is a prayer that I know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that God wants to answer. He wants to teach me His way; He wants me to walk in His truth; He wants to “unity my heart,” so that I fear His Name.

And how great is His steadfast love? “As high as the heavens are above the earth.” So far, mankind has not been able to find an end to that distance. It appears to be infinite. God’s love for us is infinite. It has no limits.

Remember yesterday’s opening poem? “A thousand sweethearts could not love me more.”

Today’s reading from 2 Kings features, Elisha, a great man of God. Great as he was, though, he was not the one with the power. The power was all God’s. Elisha was merely a channel. And, once again, I remind myself that Elisha was only human, just like me.

Father, I thank You for the examples of Moses and Elisha. I thank You that You freely and willingly make Your ways known to us. If we do not know Your ways, it is nobody’s fault but our own. I give You praise for Your amazing, steadfast love. It is baffling, to say the least. Only You would be able to continue to love us the way You do, in spite of our continued sinfulness. Help me to focus on that love today. I also pray that You help me to pass that love on to everyone who crosses my path.

Lord, please give me an increased yearning to know You, as well as diligence to seek You. Help me to experience the joy of my salvation today.

"Creator God,
I'm thankful for Your hands that uphold,
rule,
and even miraculously intervene in the created order of things.
May Your fatherly hands still provide for the starving poor,
the girl sold as a sex slave,
the heartbroken child shuffled from one foster home to the next.
Use me today to be Your hands,
still providing for those in need.
Amen."

BLESSING

“Happy are those who are merciful to others; God will be merciful to them!”
(Matthew 5:7 GNB)


I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from?
My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.
(Psalms 121:1-2 NIV)

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
(Psalms 46:1 NIV)

For he will deliver the needy who cry out, the afflicted who have no one to help.
(Psalms 72:12 NIV)

Behold, my servant shall act wisely; he shall be high and lifted up, and shall be exalted. As many were astonished at you— his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of the children of mankind— so shall he sprinkle many nations; kings shall shut their mouths because of him; for that which has not been told them they see, and that which they have not heard they understand.
(Isaiah 52:13-15 ESV)

And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
(John 3:14-15 ESV)

For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written,

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”

Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are,
(1 Corinthians 1:18-28 ESV)

"At the Cross,
At the Cross,
Where I first saw the Light,
And the burden of my heart rolled away;
It was there by faith
I received my sight,
And now I am happy all the day."
(Chorus by Ralph E. Hudson)

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!

Sprinkling of nations;
Cross; folly to perishing;
Salvation power.
(1 Corinthians 1)

Grace and peace, friends.

Just Do It

Today is Wednesday, the sixth of October, 2021.

May the peace of God reign in your life today!

Day 23,218

Six days until our 36th anniversary! The anniversary gift is supposed to arrive today. It will be too big to hide.

The Boston Red Sox are going to the American League Division Series! They defeated the Evil Empire 6-2 last night, in a game where they dominated the entire game. The Yankees were barely in the game. Yankees pitching walked quite a few Sox batters, while Nathan Eovaldi and company walked zero Yankee batters. The first Yankee run was on a Rizzo home run. A base running error probably cost them another run, mid-game, but the error is on the third base coach who waved Aaron Judge around third toward home. Two perfect throws, by the centerfielder and Xander Bogaerts nailed Judge at home plate. He was probably at least ten yard away when the catcher had the ball. Not even close. The second run came in the top of the ninth on a Stanton solo homer.

Next game is tomorrow night, in Tampa Bay. I’m already pleasantly surprised that they got this far, so everything else is bonus. Tampa won 100 games this year, so they are a formidable opponent. But if the Sox play like they did last night? They could win.

Tonight, the Cardinals take on the Dodgers for the NL Wild Card. I don’t normally care about NL games, but this is interesting because the Dodgers won 106 games and only got a wild card birth. How frustrating is that? I’ll be mildly cheering for the Cards, though, because C’s company CEO is a Cardinals fan, and his fiftieth birthday was yesterday. Oh, and because I don’t like the Dodgers. There’s that.

Last night’s shift went pretty well, but I messed up a little bit. I’m supposed to begin the shelving cleanup process forty-five minutes before closing. I got confused and waited until 7:45, which is actually only fifteen minutes before closing! Oops. This resulted in me leaving a stack of books/DVDs/magazines in a bin by the staff computer, that will need to be marked “used” this morning. I’ve already had communication with my manager, and her response was, “No worries. Time gets away from all of us, sometimes.”

It’s so hard to let go of the anxiety that my old job produced, and be okay with the idea of, “It’s okay, someone will do it tomorrow.” That simply wasn’t acceptable in my old world. The environment in this job is so much more relaxed. But next Tuesday, I will get it right. I’m still not perfect.

What’s on the schedule for today? Got some laundry to fold, and I plan to make a trip later this morning (or early afternoon) to a couple of grocery stores. Why two? Because we can’t get everything we need at a single store, because of the Vast Grocery Store Conspiracy! Only Walmart has the fat-free shredded cheese that we use. Only Alberton’s (and Tom Thumb) has the Nick’s ice cream that we love. Also, Walmart’s produce is quite mediocre, so we get fruit from Alberton’s. But Walmart is cheaper on most items. Oh, and Kroger has the center-cup bacon that lets you eat two slices for one WW point!

Today is Mad Hatter Day, celebrating the Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland. This date is chosen because of the tag on the Mad Hatter’s hat, which said, “In This Style 10/6.”

The word for today is gramarye, a noun which means, interestingly, “occult learning; magic.”

Today’s quote is from George Eliot, British author. “Our deeds determine us, as much as we determine our deeds.”

Significant birthdays on October 6:

George Westinghouse, American entrepreneur and engineer (air brakes, alternating current system), 1846-1914
Walter Ray Williams, Jr., American bowler (current record holder for all time PBA titles), 1959 (62) 
"Oil Can" Boyd, American MLB pitcher (Boston Red Sox), 1959 (62)
Darren Oliver, American MLB pitcher (Texas Rangers), 1970 (51)
Amy Jo Johnson, American actress (the pink Power Ranger), 1970 (51)

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

I Cannot, by Daryl Madden

I cannot force
His gifts to bestow
But to Spirit can pray
An let His treasures flow

I cannot make
The scriptures run deep
But can savor the Word
And let It seep

I cannot cajole
God to proceed
But I can trust
He gives what I need

I cannot persuade
God to love me
But to know that He does
Eternally

All of these truths translate into effective prayers of faith, as I know and understand that my words don’t convince or manipulate God into doing something or loving me more.

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!
(1 Chronicles 16:8-11 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that we can rejoice in Your presence
2. that You have drawn my heart to seek Your face and Your strength
3. for strength You give in temptation
4. for music and song
5. that You do not dwell in a physical house or building

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TWENTY – DAY FOUR

INVITATION

He loves it when everything fits, when his world is in plumb-line true. Earth is drenched in GOD’s affectionate satisfaction.
(Psalms 33:5 MSG)

BIBLE SONG

Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song.

For the LORD is the great God, the great King above all gods.
In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him.
The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land.

Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker;
for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care.
(Psalms 95:1-7A NIV)

BIBLE READING

After the king was settled in his palace and the LORD had given him rest from all his enemies around him, he said to Nathan the prophet, “Here I am, living in a house of cedar, while the ark of God remains in a tent.”
Nathan replied to the king, “Whatever you have in mind, go ahead and do it, for the LORD is with you.”
But that night the word of the LORD came to Nathan, saying: “Go and tell my servant David, . . .
(2 Samuel 7:1-5A NIV)

. . . I will also give you rest from all your enemies.
“‘The LORD declares to you that the LORD himself will establish a house for you: When your days are over and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, your own flesh and blood, and I will establish his kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his father, and he will be my son. When he does wrong, I will punish him with a rod wielded by men, with floggings inflicted by human hands. But my love will never be taken away from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you. Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.'”
(2 Samuel 7:11B-16 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I rest in Your presence, this morning, I rejoice. I give You thanks for your strength in me as temptation attacks, attempting to distract me from this purpose. Show me Yourself, Lord, as the Holy Spirit guides me through the next few minutes of meditation and prayer.

The unnamed composer of Psalm 95 is clearly in a mode of exultation and rejoicing. He encourages us to sing for joy, to shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. He desires that we come before the Lord, first with thanksgiving, and then with music and song.

Why? Because “the LORD is the great God, the great King above all gods.” I am still not sure who all of these other “gods” are, but does that really matter? Yahweh is King! He is the Rock of my salvation! All creation belongs to Him, the sea is His, the mountain peaks are His. For these reasons, let us worship and bow down before Him, for we are His people, the sheep of His pasture.

David longed to bring glory to God by building Him a house. But in the part of the chapter that our reading for today skips, God is not concerned about having a house. “I have not dwelt in a house,” He says (2 Samuel 7:6). “When have I ever asked you to build me a house,” He asks in verse 7 (my paraphrase).

Then the Lord assures David that his offspring will build a house for His Name. In the meantime, though, God promises David that he will have rest from his enemies, and that “

Then the Lord assures David that his offspring will build a house for His Name. In the meantime, though, God promises David that he will have rest from his enemies, and that “Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever” (verse 16)

As we know, Solomon did, indeed build the Temple. If you pay attention, though, Solomon’s own house was bigger.

The Lord still does not dwell in a manmade house, a house of brick and mortar or wood and nails. He dwells in the “temple” of the human heart (or stomach of kidney, depending on the culture). His Spirit dwells in our spirit. Truthfully, “churches” did not gather in large buildings until Emperor Constantine institutionalized Christianity in the 4th century AD.

How cluttered is my “house?” Is my spiritual house as cluttered as my physical house? Is there room in my “heart” for Jesus? That’s a bit of a trick question, isn’t it? It would be very easy to get carried away with legalistic thinking if we begin to try to answer those questions. And this, in turn, would make it difficult for us to follow the advice of the unnamed psalmist of Psalm 95. Or the passage from Chronicles before my gratitude list. How can my heart rejoice if it is full of anxiety over whether there is ample room for its Lord?

Let us simply seek Him and rejoice. He really makes it simple. We are the ones who complicate things by adding all of these dos and don’ts to the equation. We have two “dos.” Love God and love people. If we focus on those, I don’t believe we have to worry about the “don’ts.”

Father, I thank You that You have made me part of the sheep of Your pasture. I know that I am so much like a sheep, who runs off from time to time, seeking some flight of fancy (look, a butterfly!) or some softer, greener grass. Then, before I know it, I’m stuck, feet up, unable to move until You come rescue me. And You do it. You do it with great love and compassion.

I am also grateful that You do not dwell in a physical place. Your people do not have to make pilgrimage to find You. You are as close as a whisper. All we have to do is call out Your name, and You are there. To paraphrase James Taylor’s song, all we have to do is call, and You are right there . . . we’ve got a Friend. And oh what joy fills my soul to be able to call You, my Father, Friend. What a Friend we have in Jesus!

I pray right now for the students of Timberview High School in Arlington, as they have just had a school shooting at the campus. Father, I pray that no lives were lost, and I pray for the parents who are living in anxiety until they know if their children are safe.

"Faithful God,
You made an extravagant promise to David and kept it through generations of rebellion and failure,
until You sent Your Son as David's true descendant.
Keep us from ever thinking that we can build Your kingdom by our programs or efforts,
but call us to live out of the kingdom You have built in the death and resurrection of the son of David,
Jesus Christ,
our Lord,
amen."

BLESSING

“You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.”
(Matthew 5:6 MSG)


The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
(John 10:10 ESV)

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.
(1 Peter 5:8-9 ESV)

Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
(Hebrews 4:14-16 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!

Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.
(2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Dwelling

Today is Monday, the fourth of October, 2021

May the peace of God reign in your life today!

Day 23,216

Only eight more days until our 36th anniversary!

We had an awesome Zoom worship gathering, yesterday morning. Our former pastor surprised us with his presence (he was hunting at the ranch with Brandon and Terry), and his knowledge of the Bible is so much better than any of ours. He has been sorely missed. We read through and discussed 1 John 4, and hashed out some difficulties in the passage, most of which largely related to cultural context and the period in which the letter was written.

After church, we had our usual lunch from Applebee’s. They got one of our orders wrong, but fixed it quickly. It was fortunate that the wrong one happened to be on top and I was able to see it. Otherwise, I would not have noticed until I got home with it. Personally, I think it’s because of the recent change in their menu and how it looks when you substitute an item. It looks confusing to me, so it probably does to the kitchen staff, as well.

Here’s how the baseball season ended. The Red Sox came from behind to beat the Nationals in the final game, 7-5, and the Yankees scored a run, I believe, in the bottom of the ninth to beat the Rays 1-0. Because of that, it didn’t matter that Toronto won their last game by a pretty big margin. The Seattle game wouldn’t matter, either, but I believe they lost to the Angels.

So the Red Sox and Yankees will play in the Wild Card game at Fenway Park tomorrow night. I guess the Sox won more head to head games, so they get home field. For the NL, the Cardinals and Dodgers will play the WC game on Wednesday night. How sad is it that the Dodgers won 106 games and only get a Wild Card spot?? But the Giants won 107. What a crazy season! Everyone else in the NL West was under .500 for the season!

Tampa Bay will play the Wild Card winner in the AL division series, and the White Sox will play the Astros in the AL division series. The Braves will play the Brewers in the NL division series, and the Giants will play the WC winner.

Because of the way they ended the season, I don’t have high hopes for the Red Sox, but maybe they will step up and beat the Yankees tomorrow night.

The Rangers finished the season 60-102, third worst in MLB. It’s like we’re back in the seventies again, only with worse management.

I have a few plans for the day. I plan to finish A Dance with Dragons (about 150 pages left). I will likely make a grocery run, maybe to Winco. It’s a little farther from home, but we like the selections they have. I haven’t yet checked to see if they have a curbside pickup option. They apparently don’t (I just looked), but in the process, I discovered that the store is open twenty-four hours a day. That is mildly surprising.

I also have a little bit of laundry to fold and floors to sweep. I’m sure all of this information is terribly interesting and engaging.

Today is my first Monday of the new library schedule, and I will be off every Monday until the schedule changes. Monday Off. There is a jazz vocal group called Monday Off. I tried to find some video of them. But they only have one published album from back in 2006. I might be able to share a track here.

I honestly don’t know if people who don’t have a Spotify account will be able to hear that.

Oh, and today is my official WW weigh-in day, even though I’m digital only and not attending workshops at this time. I managed to lose 1.8 since last Monday. I’m still up around ten pounds from when I retired from my old job.

Today is Vodka Day. I may or may not “celebrate” this. A shot of vodka (or pretty much any other whiskey or liquor) is 3 WW smartpoints. And it is true, vodka is, in general, made from potatoes.

Today’s word is Weltanschauung. I promise you that a cat did not just walk across my keyboard. I’m not making this up. It means, “a comprehensive conception or image of the universe and of humanity’s relation to it.” It is pronounced [ velt-ahn-shou-oong ]. Okay, I think I understand. It basically means “worldview.” Not any particular or specific worldview. As a Christ-follower, I have a certain Weltanschauung. An atheist has a different Weltanschauung.

Today’s quote is from Henry Van Dyke, American poet: “Love is the best thing in the world, and the thing that lives the longest.” I believe the Apostle Paul would agree.

So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
(1 Corinthians 13:13 ESV)

Significant birthdays on October 4:

Richard Cromwell, Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland, 1626-1712
Rutherford B. Hayes, 19th U.S. President, 1822-1893
Buster Keaton, American actor and comedian, 1895-1966
Charlton Heston, American actor (Ben-Hur, The Ten Commandments, Planet of the Apes), 1923-2008
Alvin Toffler, American author (Future Shock), 1928-2016
Anne Rice, American author (Interview with A Vampire), 1941 (80)
Tony La Russa, American baseball HOF player and manager, 1944 (77)
Susan Sarandon, American actress (Bull Durham, Thelma & Louise, Rocky Horror Picture Show), 1946 (75)
Andreas Vollenweider, Swiss new-age harpist, 1953 (68)
Mark McLemore, American baseball player and broadcaster (Texas Rangers), 1964 (57)
Alicia Silverstone, American actress (Clueless), 1976 (45)
Caitriona Balfe, Irish actress (Outlander), 1979 (42)
Dakota Johnson, American actress, daughter of Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson, 1989 (31)

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Pray without ceasing;
Be joyful no matter what;
This is the Lord's will.
(1 Thessalonians 5)

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)

Today I am grateful:

1. for Mondays off
2. that I have so much for which to be grateful
3. that true joy is not based on circumstances
4. for these daily pauses, to allow God's Word to dwell in my life
5. for the spiritual sustenance that God's Word gives me

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TWENTY – DAY TWO

INVITATION

He loves whatever is just and good; the unfailing love of the LORD fills the earth.
(Psalms 33:5 NLT)

I pause to regain focus and concentration after being interrupted. Nothing serious at all, but interruptions do disrupt the flow of things. Sometimes it is hard to regain. I focus on the presence of the Lord and His unfailing love.

BIBLE SONG

The LORD is a God who avenges. O God who avenges, shine forth.
Rise up, Judge of the earth; pay back to the proud what they deserve.
How long, LORD, will the wicked, how long will the wicked be jubilant?
(Psalms 94:1-3 NIV)

Take notice, you senseless ones among the people; you fools, when will you become wise?
Does he who fashioned the ear not hear? Does he who formed the eye not see?
Does he who disciplines nations not punish? Does he who teaches mankind lack knowledge?
The LORD knows all human plans; he knows that they are futile.

Blessed is the one you discipline, LORD, the one you teach from your law;
(Psalms 94:8-12 NIV)

BIBLE READING

David again brought together all the able young men of Israel—thirty thousand. He and all his men went to Baalah in Judah to bring up from there the ark of God, which is called by the Name, the name of the LORD Almighty, who is enthroned between the cherubim on the ark. They set the ark of God on a new cart and brought it from the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill. Uzzah and Ahio, sons of Abinadab, were guiding the new cart with the ark of God on it, and Ahio was walking in front of it. David and all Israel were celebrating with all their might before the LORD, with castanets, harps, lyres, timbrels, sistrums and cymbals.
When they came to the threshing floor of Nakon, Uzzah reached out and took hold of the ark of God, because the oxen stumbled. The LORD’s anger burned against Uzzah because of his irreverent act; therefore God struck him down, and he died there beside the ark of God.
Then David was angry because the LORD’s wrath had broken out against Uzzah, and to this day that place is called Perez Uzzah.
(2 Samuel 6:1-8 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I center into these passages, reading them again, I intentionally ignore distractions from other sources, such as notifications about new Facebook posts or emails. My purpose is to seek the Lord’s face and His truth and wisdom. May the Holy Spirit guide me.

We only read a few verses of Psalm 94 today (there will be more tomorrow), a psalm that has the sub-heading, “The Lord Will Not Forsake His People.” The beginning speaks of vengeance, something that stayed heavy on the hearts and minds of ancient Israel. But it makes proper note of the fact that vengeance belongs to God, and we are not to take it upon ourselves. The psalm begins with a prayer for God to take vengeance, for Him to pay back what is deserved.

The danger of such a prayer, of course, is that I would never pray for God to give me what I deserve. Therefore, I am hesitant to pray such a prayer about anyone else. I would rather pray for Him to show mercy. Yet we find such a prayer in Scripture, so we must recognize that it is proper. But we must examine our hearts and motivations.

In this case, the psalmist (unnamed for Psalm 94) asks how long the wicked will be allowed to “be jubilant.” And, like any true believer, I will confess that there are times when I shake my head, wondering at the fact that “the wicked” seem to always be partying down, having a good ol’ time, and never suffering any consequences. Sometimes, we just have to rest in the knowledge that “they will get theirs.” The will get what’s coming to them.

Or, perhaps, even better, they will repent and believe.

Tell the truth . . . which would you rather see?

I like the turn that the psalm takes in verses 8-12. The psalmist begins asking rhetorical questions. Essentially, in my own way of thinking, he is asking, “Do you think God is stupid??” The truth is, He does, indeed, know our plans. He knows them all, even before we do, and He knows that the plans of humans are futile.

We are blessed if God chooses to discipline us, and teach us from His laws.

In the passage from 2 Samuel, we see a rather severe case of the Lord’s discipline. Uzzah touches the Ark of the Covenant, and he is struck dead. Just like anyone else who reads this, I see it and think, “Whoa! That’s pretty harsh!” I mean, he was just trying to keep it from falling off the cart.

Here’s the thing. Based on the research I have done, they weren’t carrying the Ark properly. And only priests were allowed to touch it. It was supposed to be carried by staves, on the shoulders of two men, not riding in a cart pulled by oxen.

This whole sequence of events upset David so much that he was afraid of the Lord and wouldn’t even continue to bring the Ark to Jerusalem. Instead, he left it at the house of “Obed-Edom the Gittite.”

He was not willing to take the ark of the LORD to be with him in the City of David. Instead, he took it to the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite. The ark of the LORD remained in the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite for three months, and the LORD blessed him and his entire household.
(2 Samuel 6:10-11 NIV)

I’m willing to make a big leap here and get all figurative with the Word. What we see here is a household being blessed when the Word of God dwells within it. Maybe that is too big a reach, I don’t know. But I don’t think I need to find a specific passage of Scripture to validate that truth, either.

This portion of the morning’s devotional is called “Dwelling.” To dwell means, as a verb, to live in or at a specific place. But there is also another meaning, in the operation of machinery. It means, “a slight regular pause in the motion of a machine.”

Interesting. In the motion of the machine of my life, there is a “dwelling” each morning. It is a “slight regular pause” in the motion of my daily life.

If, during that pause, I allow the Word of God to live in or reside in me, I am blessed. That Word, that the Lord speaks, permeates my being, just like drinking a glass of water or eating a piece of bread sustains my body. I believe this to be the reason Jesus used phrases like “living water” and “bread of life.” I need Him as much as I need real water and real bread. I cannot live without either of them.

Father, as I go through the motions of my life, as this “machine” operates, I am grateful for the regular pauses that You have initiated in my life. I am often torn, Father, between the desire to see the wicked suffer for their crimes and the desire to see them brought to life. We are a people who love to see vengeance. Yet, You call upon us to love our enemies. So how can I love someone, yet desire to see them harmed by Your wrath? I cannot reconcile the two. Help me to lean toward the compassionate side. I see the prayers of the psalmists, when they ask You for vengeance, so I acknowledge that this is acceptable. However, I would rather follow in the path of Jesus, seeking the restoration of all people, spiritually. Your heart’s desire to to see all men come to repentance, to know You intimately. Therefore, I will pray toward that end.

Thank You for the sustenance of the living water and bread of life. Help me to see You in all things around me, wherever I may direct my gaze.

"Holy God,
keep me from dishonoring You,
boxing You into tidy formulas I can take hold of,
taming You into something I can manage.
Let me really know You so I never trivialize You but make the glory of Your name the concern of my life.
Amen."

BLESSING

God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be satisfied.
(Matthew 5:6 NLT)


Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain . . .
(Revelation 3:2 KJV)

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.
(2 Corinthians 4:16 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!

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.

Morning and Evening

Today is Saturday, the second of October, 2021

May the peace of God reign in your life today!

Day 23,214

Ten more days until our 36th anniversary!

I woke up early, for some reason, this morning, between 5:30 and 6:00. I did go to bed a little earlier, last night, than I have during the rest of the week. I was tired and sleepy, so I turned off my game and went to bed.

The library was rather slow, yesterday, which is not surprising. However, the computer center was occupied by a few people for most of the day. At one point, I think there were as many as five patrons in there at once. I gave assistance to several patrons who needed help printing things, but the majority of them already knew what they were doing and didn’t need my help. Over all, it was a nice, peaceful day. I also helped out circulation by covering a lunch break at noon, as they only had two people for the first half of the day. I think the other new part timer, the guy who started at the same time as I, worked four hours, because he was there at closing time.

Today, I work 9:30-6:15 in circulation. The whole time won’t be at the desk though. I like how they do that. Each employee gets at least one hour away from the front desk in a full day shift, either processing on-shelf holds for patrons, or clearing out the automatic book drops. If there is nothing else to do, we also process “deaccessions,” books that are being removed from the library and given to the Friends of the Library for book sales.

After today, I don’t work again until next Tuesday.

I have a grocery pickup order at Kroger, today, scheduled to be picked up right after work, and then a small order being delivered from Albertson’s, this morning.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

A new day awaits,
Drawing strength from the Spirit;
Opportunity

“Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows my name.
When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him.
With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.”
(Psalms 91:14-16 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that because of Your great grace and mercy, I know Your Name
2. that You have satisfied me with long life
3. that You have given me the gift of song, that I might sing Your praises, morning and evening
4. that You give us the ability to love our enemies
5. that my sins have been removed from me, as far as the east is from the west, from vanishing point to vanishing point

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK NINETEEN – DAY SEVEN

INVITATION

Make a joyful shout to God, all the earth!
Sing to the glory of his name! Offer glory and praise!
(Psalms 66:1-2 WEB)

During this quiet moment, I rest in Your peace, confident of Your presence in my life, many times, in spite of myself. Thank you, Father!

BIBLE SONG

A psalm. A song. For the Sabbath day.

It is good to praise the LORD and make music to your name, O Most High,
proclaiming your love in the morning and your faithfulness at night,
to the music of the ten-stringed lyre and the melody of the harp.
For you make me glad by your deeds, LORD; I sing for joy at what your hands have done.
How great are your works, LORD, how profound your thoughts!
(Psalms 92:1-5 NIV)

BIBLE READING

After the death of Saul, David returned from striking down the Amalekites.
(2 Samuel 1:1A NIV)

David took up this lament concerning Saul and his son Jonathan, and he ordered that the people of Judah be taught this lament of the bow (it is written in the Book of Jashar):
“A gazelle lies slain on your heights, Israel.
How the mighty have fallen!”
(2 Samuel 1:17-19 NIV)

Saul and Jonathan—
in life they were loved and admired,
and in death they were not parted.
They were swifter than eagles,
they were stronger than lions.

“Daughters of Israel,
weep for Saul,
who clothed you in scarlet and finery,
who adorned your garments with ornaments of gold.

“How the mighty have fallen in battle!
Jonathan lies slain on your heights.
I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother;
you were very dear to me.
Your love for me was wonderful,
more wonderful than that of women.

“How the mighty have fallen!
The weapons of war have perished!”
(2 Samuel 1:23-27 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I rest in the presence of the Lord, I read these passages over, meditating on the words and the meanings (as the Spirit leads me). I seek only God and His wisdom, more than HIs blessing. I just want to know Him and His presence.

I’m moved by the psalm, this morning, moved by the idea of singing praises to the Lord, first thing in the morning, and last thing at night. Now, obviously, I can’t go cranking up my “lyre” or “harp” while the rest of the house is asleep. So this idea can be modified, of course. For example, C is awake, now. She woke up in the middle of this paragraph. So I could now, very easily, either grab my “lyre” (I would play the guitar), or turn on my “harp” (I’ll substitute my Nord keyboard), and sing a song of praise. In fact, I believe I will do that. I’ll be right back.

I’ll share what I sang with you (not my singing, but the original recording).

So, at the inspiration of God’s Word, I have praised the Lord and made music to His Name, this morning. If the Spirit reminds me (and I listen), I will endeavor to do the same, sometime this evening, after work and dinner. The psalmist even breaks it down to proclaiming God’s love in the morning and His faithfulness at night. However, I do not think it necessary to be legalistic about that.

And for what reason do we sing? Because He has made us glad by His great works! (Verse 4) We sing for joy because of the works of God’s hands. His works are great and His thoughts, far beyond what we could ever think, are vastly profound.

I want to touch briefly on the Old Testament reading, as well. What we see today is David’s lament over the deaths of Saul (yes, Saul) and Jonathan. It is certainly easy to comprehend that David would mourn and lament over the death of the best friend he had ever had (“you were very dear to me. Your love for me was wonderful, more wonderful than that of women” (verse 26).

But here is a lesson for a large portion of “Christendom.” David mourned and lamented the death of . . .

his mortal enemy!

We should all ponder that for a bit.

Saul had repeatedly tried to kill David, for no other reason than sheer jealousy. Yet David consistently honored Saul, and refused to seek vengeance, and even, as discussed, I believe, yesterday, felt guilty over cutting a corner off of Saul’s robe (when he could have easily slain him).

Yet David mourned and lamented his death, saying repeatedly in 2 Samuel 1, “How the mighty have fallen!”

I believe this is a lesson for all of us to consider. I’ve said repeatedly that I don’t, as far as I know, have any enemies. But there are certainly people out there that I don’t like very much. Nevertheless, I am called upon, by God, to love them as myself, and if they are my brother in Christ, I am commanded to love them as Christ has loved me. If I should dare be glad when something “bad” happens to them, I deserve the worst of hells.

Father, I praise You for the works of Your hands, for the depths of Your love to me, and the profundity of Your thoughts. I am constantly amazed at the idea that I might be included in those thoughts. What am I that You are mindful of me?? This is not false humility, Father, a contrivance to get You to be kind to me. It is the way my heart feels. You are the Creator of all I see around me, the origins of the entire universe. I cannot even fathom Your existence in eternity past and eternity future, because my feeble brain is captured in time. But You are. Before the foundations of the earth, You are, and after everything we know ceases to exist, You are! I thank You for Your love to me and mine. I thank You for Your love to my “enemies.” Help me to love them as my neighbor, as myself. And please, Father, by Your Spirit, enable me to love all the saints as Christ has loved me, with total abandon to my own welfare.

God, You are good, You’re so good to me! And You are truly worthy; You are the only One worthy of my praise and worship. Lead me to worship You more and more, Lord, in the morning and in the night, and throughout the day, as well.

Father, I pray that You would give Your Church a deep understanding of her mission. Give us “kingdom vision, godly stewardship, and effective organization.” I lift up all church staff members, this morning. May You fill them with Your Spirit and lift them up to do the work that You have given them to do.

"God of life,
it's tempting to avoid facing death and experiencing grief because it seems so dark and bottomless.
Because Christ faced death and defeated it,
help me to face this last enemy courageously and honestly,
with sorrowful tears and sure faith,
because I know I belong,
in life and in death,
to my faithful Savior,
Jesus Christ."

BLESSING

Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.
(Matthew 5:5 WEB)


The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.
(Hebrews 1:3A NIV)

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
(Isaiah 9:6 NIV)

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”
(John 14:6-7 NIV)

These are some very important words. The writer of Hebrews wanted his readers to understand the significance of Jesus, in regard to God. The Son, Jesus, is the “radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being.”

In Jesus’s own words, He is THE way, THE truth, and THE life. He is the only way to the Father. And if we know Him, we know the Father.

For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
(Psalms 103:11-12 ESV)

From the rising of the sun to its setting, the name of the LORD is to be praised!
(Psalms 113:3 ESV)

And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.
(Ephesians 3:18-19 NLT)

But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.
(1 John 1:9 NLT)

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!

Wonderful, Mighty;
To us a Son is given;
Everlasting, Prince of Peace.

Grace and peace, friends.

Plug Into the Current

Today is Wednesday, the twenty-ninth of September, 2021.

May the peace of God reign in your heart today!

Day 23,211

Thirteen days until our 36th wedding anniversary (y’all pray for me! I need a gift idea, stat!)

It’s hard to believe there’s only one more day in September. I’m quite happy about that, though. Not that I have any dislike for September (I’m not a fan of Greenday, though). I mean, it’s not like it’s February or anything. But I love October. It’s by far my favorite month of the year, and not just because it’s the month I got married in. As my new friend at the library has said several times, October should be everyone’s favorite month.

Yesterday was a good day (as pretty much all of them have been). I did get some validation from one of the assistant librarians who said that I handled the situation Monday evening very well. My four hours of shelving were quite uneventful, as they normally would be. I really like that I’m dividing my time between three different departments at the library. For one thing, it gives me diversity of activities. And for another, it gets me more educated about more facets of the library. And since, while shelving, I will frequently get into the children’s (or “Youth” as they call it there) section, I am even getting some knowledge about that section, as well. I always figure that the more you know, the more valuable you are.

The time in the computer center was quiet, for the most part. We had to assist a few people who needed to print things, and there was one patron who had trouble getting the PC attachment to read his USB drive. I say “we” because, as has been the case thus far, a veteran aide was in there with me. That’s the “new friend” referenced above. Beginning this Friday I will be the only part timer in the computer center for the whole day. Of course, the manager will be in there with me on Friday. We are thinking it will probably be kind of slow, this first Friday. Partially because it is the first Friday open since pre-pandemic days, and there is a chance of rain/thunderstorms on Friday, as well.

Today, I work from 1:00 to 5:00 PM, in shelving. I like shelving. While it is the most physically demanding portion of my responsibilities (lots of bending and stretching . . . you would be amazed at the number of books that get checked out from the top or bottom shelves! Also more walking, as you can imagine), it is very quiet and I am normally alone, which I also like. Just imagine . . . alone with all those books! Needless to say, my TBR (To Be Read) list on Goodreads is growing by leaps and bounds. Yesterday, I just kind of looked around and thought, “I want to read ALL the books. All of them.” Which is, of course, silly. There are many of them that I have no interest in whatsoever.

Except for the fact that they are books.

C is feeling a little better this morning. I don’t remember if I wrote anything about that yesterday, but she had a rough night Monday night and was feeling pretty awful all day, yesterday. We think she overdid on Monday when she went out for her walk. Too far and too fast, probably. Bless her heart, she things she is Superwoman. And while my opinion of her probably equates with that, she is not, in fact, immortal or invincible. She am woman, and she am strong, but she am not invicible.

Bonus points if you got that.

Today is World Heart Day. Be educated about heart disease. But also spread the “hearts” (love).

The word for today is cordial, an adjective that means what this world needs a lot more of, these days, “courteous and gracious.”

Today’s quote is from Kin Hubbard, an American journalist: “The hardest thing is to take less when you can get more.”

Significant birthdays on September 29:

Pompey the Great, Roman political and military leader, 106-48 BC
Miguel de Cervantes, Spanish author (Don Quixote), 1547-1616
Enrico Fermi, Italian-American nuclear physicist, 1901-1954
Gene Autry, American cowboy singer, 1907-1998
Bum Phillips, American football coach (Houston Oilers), 1923-2013
Stan Berenstain, American children's author (some books about some bears), 1923-2005
Jerry Lee Lewis, American rock and roll piano player and singer (Great Balls of Fire), 1935 (86)
Tommy Boyce, American songwriter (Last Train to Clarksville, The Monkees), 1939-1994
Jean-Luc Ponty, French jazz-fusion electric violinist, 1942 (79)
Madeline Kahn, American actress (Young Frankenstein), 1942-1999
Mark Farner, American musician (Grand Funk Railroad), 1948 (73)
Steve Busby, American MLB pitcher (KC Royals) and play by play broadcaster (Texas Rangers), 1949 (71)

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Power of Spirit.
Live I an empowered life?
O, Wild Goose, chase me!
(Inspired by a blog by Carolyn Arends)

And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.
(1 Thessalonians 2:13 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the unpredictable, disruptive power of the Holy Spirit in our lives; may we avail ourselves more readily to You
2. for Your Word that has come to us through the writers of Scripture; not the "word of men," but Your Word, at work in us
3. that You have given us everything we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1)
4. for songs sung to the tune of Your glory, to the rhythms of Your praise
5. for power of Your "arm" and "right hand"

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK NINETEEN – DAY FOUR

INVITATION

All together now—applause for God!
Sing songs to the tune of his glory, set glory to the rhythms of his praise.
(Psalms 66:1-2 MSG)

During this quiet time, I pause to reflect on the Holy Spirit, supplier of all the power I need to live this life. Why do I lack? I have all that I need. If I lack, it is because I do not seek it (the power); I do not allow it to fill me. Fill me, Lord Jesus!

BIBLE SONG

Your arm is endowed with power; your hand is strong, your right hand exalted.

Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; love and faithfulness go before you.
Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, LORD.
They rejoice in your name all day long; they celebrate your righteousness.
For you are their glory and strength, and by your favor you exalt our horn.
Indeed, our shield belongs to the LORD, our king to the Holy One of Israel.
(Psalms 89:13-18 NIV)

BIBLE READING

After David had finished talking with Saul, Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself. From that day Saul kept David with him and did not let him return home to his family. And Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself. Jonathan took off the robe he was wearing and gave it to David, along with his tunic, and even his sword, his bow and his belt.
Whatever mission Saul sent him on, David was so successful that Saul gave him a high rank in the army. This pleased all the troops, and Saul’s officers as well.
When the men were returning home after David had killed the Philistine, the women came out from all the towns of Israel to meet King Saul with singing and dancing, with joyful songs and with timbrels and lyres. As they danced, they sang:
“Saul has slain his thousands,
and David his tens of thousands.”
Saul was very angry; this refrain displeased him greatly. “They have credited David with tens of thousands,” he thought, “but me with only thousands. What more can he get but the kingdom?” And from that time on Saul kept a close eye on David.
(1 Samuel 18:1-9 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I read these passages again, I look for ways in which Your Spirit has moved me, through Your Word. I ask Your Spirit to guide my meditations and prayers.

There is nothing negative in today’s passage from Psalms. The power comes from the “arm” of God, from His “right hand.” These are, of course, anthropomorphisms, as God is fully Spirit and has no arms and hands. But we find, in Scripture, that God even uses such terms about Himself, as we would not be able to even begin to comprehend Him otherwise.

Verse 14 paints a beautiful picture. The foundations of the throne of God are righteousness and justice. Therefore, they should also be the foundation of our lives. They should be the foundation of any earthly government. What goes before Him, or proceeds out of Him are love and faithfulness.

This, to me, is beautiful. One might think that, from a foundation of righteousness and justice, legalism and strictness might come forth; worked out in acts of violent authoritarianism. But this is not the case. Out of the foundation of righteousness and justice flow love and faithfulness.

And those who are walking in the light of these things, in the light of the presence of God, are blessed; they rejoice in His name “all day long,” and celebrate His righteousness.

Have you ever known anyone like this? I have. At least one person comes to mind, and I’m sure that if I sat and pondered it a while, some others might as well. Another one just popped up. The first one is our favorite teacher from R’s days at Glenview Christian School, Julie Brancadora. C and I have both agreed, numerous times, that we have never known anyone who exhibited the Spirit of God the way she does. Another that I thought of was a favorite Sunday School teacher from my childhood days. Miss Juanita, we called her. My memory is fuzzy, of course, but from what I remember, she lived and walked in the Spirit of Jesus.

My heart’s desire is to be like this. I don’t want to imitate Julie or Miss Juanita, though. I want to imitate Christ. People like them inspire me, but to imitate them would not be proper. I do realize Paul does encourage people to imitate him, just as he imitates Christ, so I guess that’s okay. But I would rather imitate Jesus directly, and let the other humans simply be my inspiration. Perhaps I am also simply wrestling with semantics.

This, I believe, also goes back to the question of power that is raised in my Haiku at the beginning. Do I live an empowered life? The little book of Second Peter tells us that we have everything we need.

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.
(2 Peter 1:3 NIV)

“Everything.”

When I fail to live an empowered life, I am without excuse. Plain and simple. This is not a beat-down. It is just simple fact. I don’t feel shame for this. Remember, shame is bad. Guilt is okay, because I am guilty. As Brené Brown has said, guilt says “I did a bad thing,” where shame says, “I’m a bad person.” While this is not Scripture, I believe that Scripture validates it. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Shame holds us back while guilt should drive us forward. We acknowledge our guilt, accept God’s forgiveness, and move forward. If we focus on shame, we wallow in it.

But I digress. Back to the idea of the empowered life. In the blog entry that I linked underneath my Haiku, Carolyn Arends cites another writer who compares the Holy Spirit to a “wild goose” rather than a dove. I don’t find this to be irreverent at all. I realize that the Holy Spirit is represented by a dove a couple of times in the Bible. But I also like that people like Rich Mullins referred to God’s love as a “reckless, raging fury.” There is also the bit from C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia where it said of Aslan that he is not safe.

“Is he—quite safe?” I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion” – Susan

“If there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than most or else just silly.” – Mrs. Beaver

“Then he isn’t safe?” – Lucy

“Safe? . . . Who said anything about safe? Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King I tell you.” – Mr. Beaver

And, once again, I quote my alternative Christian music hero, Terry Scott Taylor, from Daniel Amos’s Darn Floor, Big Bite, “You are beautiful, a terrible, terrible sight.”

The power of God cannot be harnessed or controlled. He cannot be manipulated. We foolish humans think that we can manipulate Him with our formulaic prayers. We think we can say “In Jesus’s name” at the end of a prayer and that it will magically be answered, regardless of what kind of lives we lead. There are volumes of books written that mislead people into thinking that saying just the right words in just the right order will cause God to act in just the way we want Him to.

But here’s the thing. While that power cannot be manipulated or controlled, it can be assimilated. It can be worked in our own lives. If we surrender to it. You see, the correct perspective is surrender not control. If I surrender to the Lord of Light, and walk in the light of His presence, the power controls ME. I cannot control the power, but I can allow it to control me. And, as Carolyn opined in her blog, that is where we fall short. We like “predictability and control. The Holy Spirit – the member of the Trinity most associated with spiritual empowerment – tends to be unpredictable and disruptive.” Not chaotic, mind you. There is a difference between disruption and chaos.

She also points out that we feel safer talking about this power, rather than “plugging into the current.”

Father, help me to plug into the current of the power of Your Holy Spirit. I acknowledge the truth of Scripture that tells me that I have everything I need for “life and godliness.” Therefore, I do not need to be seeking anything outside of You. I simply need to be who You have created me to be, and surrender to the control of Your Spirit. But I don’t like to do that. Like Carolyn, I like predictability and control. Help me to surrender that control, because I cannot control You; I cannot manipulate You; please forgive me for the times when I try that. Words are important, true. But words are wind, too. What is more important is the heart, the motivation, behind the words. If I say one thing, but my heart says another, then I am not in agreement, even with myself, much less with You! My heart’s desire is to live a life that walks in the light of Your presence, rejoicing in Your name all day long, and celebrating Your righteousness!

I pray, this morning, Lord, for all of the governments and leaders in this world. May Your Holy Spirit surround them and cause them to look to You for guidance; may they follow Your will.

BLESSING

“You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.”
(Matthew 5:5 MSG)


Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.
(Romans 12:15 ESV)

“The pain of our experiences can hold so much power over our lives. But the incredible power of human connection is undeniable, if we are willing to give it away and receive.”
(Karen Valentin, Daily Guideposts 2021)

If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.
(1 Corinthians 12:26 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, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
(Ephesians 4:1-3 ESV)

I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
(Philippians 4:13 ESV)

Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound!
(2 Timothy 2:8-9 ESV) (emphasis mine)

“Nothing can stop the one who walks fully in the will of God. Be that person and break every chain and obstacle to the contrary.”
(Jonathan Cahn, The Book of Mysteries)


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!

Nothing can stop one
who walks fully in God's will;
break every chain.

Grace and peace, friends.

I Will Recount All of Your Wonderful Deeds

Today is Thursday, the sixteenth of September, 2021.

May the peace of God reign in your lives today.

Day 23,198

Only six more days until the official beginning of Autumn, my favorite season.

I’m a little late getting started, this morning. However, I have already been to the grocery store, prepped food and started the crock pot for tonight’s dinner, and had breakfast. And two cups of coffee. So it has been a busy morning, already. For grocery run, I went all the way to the closest Tom Thumb (over six miles away), just so I could get some Nick’s Cherry Choka Flaka ice cream. Fortunately, they had four pints of that flavor. Albertson’s carries Nick’s, but they never have that flavor.

I’m off work today and tomorrow. The only thing on the schedule for today is the new Internet installation, for which the technician is supposed to arrive between 12:00 and 1:00 this afternoon. We will be without Internet service for a brief time while they install the new service. Then again, is any time with out Internet access “brief?” Shows how attached we are to it, eh?

Oh, I almost forgot. I’m supposed to call ATT this morning and see if we can lower our phone bill. If not, we’re going to look at switching to Verizon. And C is looking into refinancing our mortgage, because we can cut our interest rate in half. If we do that, we will go for a fifteen year mortgage, as we aren’t really trying to lower the monthly payment, but simply cut down the amount of money we are “throwing away.”

I do hope to get a significant amount of reading done, today, as well. Without Internet access for an hour or so, that could be easier done. I also haven’t practiced my music since last weekend, so I could use a little bit of that, as well.

Today is Guacamole Day. I just may have to have me some of that.

The word for today is azure, an adjective meaning, “of or having a light, purplish shade of blue, like that of a clear and unclouded sky.” And here I always thought it just meant “blue.”

Today’s quote is from Helen Keller: “The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched – they must be felt with the heart.”

Significant birthdays on September 16:

Drusilla, daughter of Germanicus and Agrippina the Elder, 16-38. The only reason I include her is because she shares a name with one of my favorite vampires from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
James Cash Penney, American department store founder (surely I don't have to tell you), 1875-1971
H.A. Rey, children's author, creator of Curious George, 1898-1977
Allen Funt, American TV host (Candid Camera), 1914-1999
Lauren Bacall, American actress, 1924-2014
B.B. King, if I have to tell you, please go away, 1925-2015
Peter Falk, American actor (Columbo, Princess Bride), 1927-2011
Anne Francis, American actress (Honey West--does anyone else remember that?), 1930-2011
Ed Begley, Jr., American actor (Parenthood, Arrested Development, Modern Family, Cat People), 1949 (72)
Mickey Rourke, American actor (Wild Orchid, 9 1/2 Weeks), 1952 (69)
Robin Yount, American baseball player, 1955 (66)
David Copperfield, American magician, 1956 (65)
Jennifer Tilly, American actress (Psycho II, Liar Liar), 1958 (63)
Orel Hershiser, American baseball pitcher, 1958 (63)
Amy Poehler, American comedian/actress (Saturday Night Live, Parks and Recreation), 1971 (50)
Travis Wall, American choreographer (So You Think You Can Dance), 1987 (34)

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord, I dedicate this day to You.
May my feet walk only where You want them to walk.
May my eyes see only what You want them to see.
May my ears hear only what You want them to hear.
May my mouth say only what You want it to say.
May my mind think only what You want it to think.

I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.
(Psalms 9:1 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the approach of Autumn, and lower temperatures in our area
2. for all of Your wonderful deeds, which include sustaining life as we know it
3. for the example of Asaph, in Psalm 77, when he remembered all of Your miracles and the displays of Your great power
4. for the overwhelming sense of well-being in the face of today's circumstances
5. that my soul is satisfied as with fat and rich food (Psalm 63)

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK SEVENTEEN – DAY FIVE

INVITATION

Let them all praise the name of the LORD! His name is greater than all others; his glory is above earth and heaven.
(Psalms 148:13 GNB)

As I pause for reflection, at this moment, my thoughts are directed toward the many great and wonderful deeds of the Lord, from all the way back to Genesis, up to today. Perhaps if we would spend more time meditating on those, we would have fewer problems.

BIBLE SONG

For the director of music. For Jeduthun. Of Asaph. A psalm.

I cried out to God for help; I cried out to God to hear me.
When I was in distress, I sought the Lord; at night I stretched out untiring hands, and I would not be comforted.

“Will the Lord reject forever? Will he never show his favor again?
Has his unfailing love vanished forever? Has his promise failed for all time?
Has God forgotten to be merciful? Has he in anger withheld his compassion?”

Then I thought, “To this I will appeal: the years when the Most High stretched out his right hand.
I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.”

Your ways, God, are holy. What god is as great as our God?
You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the peoples.
(Psalms 77:1-2, 7-11, 13-14 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Then the LORD raised up judges, who saved them out of the hands of these raiders. Yet they would not listen to their judges but prostituted themselves to other gods and worshiped them. They quickly turned from the ways of their ancestors, who had been obedient to the LORD’s commands. Whenever the LORD raised up a judge for them, he was with the judge and saved them out of the hands of their enemies as long as the judge lived; for the LORD relented because of their groaning under those who oppressed and afflicted them. But when the judge died, the people returned to ways even more corrupt than those of their ancestors, following other gods and serving and worshiping them. They refused to give up their evil practices and stubborn ways.
Therefore the LORD was very angry with Israel and said, “Because this nation has violated the covenant I ordained for their ancestors and has not listened to me, I will no longer drive out before them any of the nations Joshua left when he died.
(Judges 2:16-21 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I read these passages again, trying to rest in the presence of the Lord, I look for words, phrases, and thoughts that speak to me. I pray for the Holy Spirit to guide me in this time.

The psalmist poses a question and answer in Psalm 77. He begins, though, by stressing that prayer is a work that must be both diligent and persistent. He cries out to the Lord, in distress, stretching out “untiring hands.”

Then he gets to the questions: Have God’s promises failed? Has He forgotten to be merciful? Is He withholding compassion because He is angry?

While Asaph doesn’t explicitly answer these questions, in a sense he does answer them. He first decides to appeal to his memory of the great deeds of the Lord. Take note of the psalm verse before my daily gratitude list. “I will recount all of Your wonderful deeds.”

There is a reason for doing this. It is not just mindless memory activity. There is great benefit to remembering the wonderful and mighty works of the Lord. Asaph finds this to be true as he composes this Psalm. While it is tempting to look around at the current circumstances and wonder if, indeed, the Lord has forgotten to be merciful and wonder if His promises have failed, if we stop and appeal to our own memory of the works He has done in our lives, we will not continue down the tracks of that train of thought.

For some reason, the editors of this devotional chose to omit verse 12, which I believe is an important piece of the psalm.

“I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds.”
(Psalms 77:12 NIV)

The conclusion is seen in verses 13-14. They do not conclude the psalm, but they are the end result of the consideration and meditation on the mighty deeds of the Lord. Because he has stopped his questioning and begun to remember the works of the Lord, Asaph’s conclusion is: “Your ways, God, are holy. What god is as great as our God? You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the peoples.”

And that, essentially, answer the question of whether God’s promises have failed.

The passage from Judges kind of rehashes what was said yesterday. As long as the people of Israel had a human judge to look to, they did okay. But as soon as that judge died, they started following their own desires, and straying from the paths of the Lord. Again, as stated, yesterday, it is a vicious and tragic cycle, and we seem to continue to follow it today.

My focus today, though is on the passage from Psalms.

Father, I am grateful for the example of Asaph (and other psalmists) who are trying to teach us how to deal with our doubts and questions when circumstances would tempt us to question Your faithfulness. I admit that I have struggled with this, especially in the past couple of years. I look around me at the mess our world (especially our nation) is in and wonder if You have forgotten us. Not only does it seem that Your people are wandering around without shepherds, it also seems that the unrighteous are living however they please, with no consequences. This tempts me to question where You are; what You are doing. But then I follow the example of Asaph and meditate on all that I know about You; all that I have seen You do in my own life, as well as the Scriptural record of the miracles that You did for Your people in those days. When I do this, I attain peace; I experience joy, because I have an overwhelming sense of well-being. Thank You for this, Lord.

I pray for spiritual renewal, Father. I pray for it in me; I pray for it in the Church. I pray for it in the world. I pray for a sense of deep repentance throughout both the world and Your Church. I pray, as well, that You would lead us into new relationships with people who don’t know You.

"Lord God,
as soon as the pressure is off and life is good,
my rebellious heart turns away,
to the promises and pleasures of this world.
In a world that scorns obedience,
I need You to teach me a yielded heart and help me find freedom in a submitted life,
so that I can honor,
love,
and obey all those You have set in authority over me.
Amen."

BLESSING

“Happy are those who know they are spiritually poor; the Kingdom of heaven belongs to them!”
(Matthew 5:3 GNB)


Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.
(2 Corinthians 4:16 NIV)

Do not cast me away when I am old; do not forsake me when my strength is gone.
(Psalms 71:9 NIV)

He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.
(Isaiah 40:29 NIV)

So I will bless you as long as I live;
in your name I will lift up my hands.
My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food,
and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips,
when I remember you upon my bed,
and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
for you have been my help,
and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.
(Psalms 63:4-7 ESV)

Praise the LORD!
Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heavens!
Praise him for his mighty deeds;
praise him according to his excellent greatness!
Praise him with trumpet sound;
praise him with lute and harp!
Praise him with tambourine and dance;
praise him with strings and pipe!
Praise him with sounding cymbals;
praise him with loud clashing cymbals!
Let everything that has breath praise the LORD!
Praise the LORD!
(Psalms 150:1-6 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!

Praise God from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, you heavenly hosts;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
(Traditional Doxology)

Grace and peace, friends.