As Close As A Prayer

Today is Sunday, the eighth of August, 2021.

Shalom Aleichem!

Day 23,159

Eleven days until S’s birthday!

We had a fun time, last night. After mostly relaxing all day, C & I went back up to the International Bowling Campus to watch the final ladder elimination round of the PWBA International Bowling Campus Classic tournament. After all of the qualifying rounds and match play rounds, my favorite PWBA bowler, Verity Crawley (the first ever professional female bowler from the UK), was the top seed for the final round.

We arrived early, and hung out in the pro shop for a bit. On the way in, we saw Verity chilling in the foyer and got her autograph.

Since she was the top seed, it meant that she had to sit through two other matches. I’ve often wondered if this was detrimental. Many times I have seen the top seed in one of these elimination rounds not be the winner, and last night was no exception.

On Thursday night, Birgit Noreiks, from Germany, won all three rounds of the evening finals, to take the PWBA Go Bowling Classic trophy. She was the third seed in that round. Dasha Kovalova, who had been in first place for most of the event, only bowled a 177 in the championship match, to Birgit’s 228.

Last night, fourth seed Jen Higgins stormed (maybe I shouldn’t say “stormed,” as Storm is not her sponsor) through three games, virtually unstoppable. She was very close to perfect, as she bowled 247 to Bryanna Cote’s 176, 257 to Stephanie Zavala’s 196, and 252 to Verity Crawley’s 155.

While I was sad that Verity did not win the trophy, she came in second for the event, which still brings home a nice sum of prize money. And the really cool thing was that it was Jen’s first PWBA title. So we did get to witness a little bit of bowling history last night. We got to speak briefly with Jen after the match, and she graciously gave an autograph and posed for a picture.

Jen Higgins, winner of the 2021 PWBA International Bowling Campus Classic

Today, the IBC will host the PWBA Dallas/Fort Worth Regional, and tomorrow through Tuesday, the PWBA BowlTV Classic. That will complete the week of PWBA tournaments being held at the International Bowling Campus.

In other news, we will not be having our church gathering again, this morning. I’m not sure what the future holds for us.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Come See, by Daryl Madden

Come see the sunrise
Come breathe the fresh air
Come feel the joy
Of being right here

Come to the stillness
Come feel my peace
Come into my comfort
All fear to release

Come rising light
Come now restart
Come now receive
My gifts to impart

Come know my Presence
Come be a prayer
Come let us dwell
In my love to share

Come of the needing
Come to be heard
Come to receiving
My blessed Word

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.
(1 Chronicles 16:34 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. for Your faithful love that endures forever;
2. for Your presence, in which I can restart and refresh each new day;
3. that You work righteousness and justice for all the oppressed (Psalm 103:6);
4. that, because of the Cross of Jesus Christ, I do not experience Your wrath;
5. that You have promised to never forsake us, and You are always as close as a whispered breath of a prayer.

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TWELVE – DAY ONE

INVITATION

The LORD works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed.
(Psalms 103:6 NIV)

I pause, briefly, to consider the righteousness and justice of the Lord. I also stop to make sure all distractions are shut off.

BIBLE SONG

A psalm of David. A petition.

LORD, do not rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your wrath.
Your arrows have pierced me, and your hand has come down on me.
Because of your wrath there is no health in my body; there is no soundness in my bones because of my sin.
My guilt has overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear.
My wounds fester and are loathsome because of my sinful folly.
I am bowed down and brought very low; all day long I go about mourning.
My back is filled with searing pain; there is no health in my body.
I am feeble and utterly crushed; I groan in anguish of heart.

LORD, do not forsake me; do not be far from me, my God. Come quickly to help me, my Lord and my Savior.
(Psalms 38:1-8, 21-22 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Now Joseph and all his brothers and all that generation died, but the Israelites were exceedingly fruitful; they multiplied greatly, increased in numbers and became so numerous that the land was filled with them.
Then a new king, to whom Joseph meant nothing, came to power in Egypt. “Look,” he said to his people, “the Israelites have become far too numerous for us. Come, we must deal shrewdly with them or they will become even more numerous and, if war breaks out, will join our enemies, fight against us and leave the country.”
So they put slave masters over them to oppress them with forced labor, and they built Pithom and Rameses as store cities for Pharaoh. But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread; so the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites and worked them ruthlessly. They made their lives bitter with harsh labor in brick and mortar and with all kinds of work in the fields; in all their harsh labor the Egyptians worked them ruthlessly.
(Exodus 1:6-14 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I rest in the presence of the Lord, this morning, I read through these passages, looking for something to glean for my day, for the new week that is beginning. What better way to begin a week?

Incidentally, I looked up “glean.” It’s not so common a word, these days, but I am well-familiar with it. There are several meanings. The Old Testament usage typically means, “gather (leftover grain or other produce) after a harvest.” We see it in the story of Ruth, as the common practice back in the day was to allow poor folk to glean the fields after the harvest. In fact, part of the Mosaic law forbad the landowner to go back and pick up grain that had been dropped during harvest, and also said not to harvest the corners of the field, for that very purpose.

It also means, “extract (information) from various sources.” And another definition, which I like even more, “collect gradually and bit by bit.” That’s what I feel like I do with God’s Word. Each morning, I collect information, or, I would prefer to call it, “knowledge.” There is a big difference between information and knowledge. But I collect some each morning, gradually, bit by bit.

Today’s readings seem rather bleak. The Psalm 38 passage speaks of great discomfort and pain, actual physical pain. The writer of the psalm attributes this to God’s wrath, and begs the Lord not to discipline him further. It is a passage full of misery.

However, as I read this, I give thanks to the Lord for the finished work of Jesus Christ. Because of Him, I do not experience the wrath of God. Jesus took that upon Himself for me, for us. So I cannot identify with the psalmist, in this case.

Unless, of course, I am forgetting that miracle of redemption, which I frequently do. I have supposed, erroneously, that circumstances in my life were due to God’s wrath. But we have discussed an overly simplified definition of “propitiation,” in earlier posts, that says that propitiation means that God is not angry with us any more. And it’s true.

Because of the Cross of Jesus Christ, the wrath of God does not come down upon those who claim the name of Jesus as Savior. Regardless of what may be happening to me, in my life, God is not punishing me for my sins. Why on earth would that be the case? If God has already laid on the back of Jesus all of the sins of mankind, why on earth would He be punishing me for them, again??

That would be unjust, and God is never unjust!

So, if there is “no health in my body,” it is not because of God’s wrath. It might be a natural consequence of my over-eating or some other thing that I did. Or, it might be that I just got sick. People get sick. Of course, the pendulum swings that other way, as well, and people blame Satan for their sickness. “Satan came against me with a cold,” I have actually heard someone say.

Whatever.

I mean, the devil probably doesn’t mind taking credit for that, but he likely didn’t have anything to do with your cold. Unless you are way more important than we think you are.

When my guilt overwhelms me (verse 4), it is only because I have forgotten than my guild has been cleansed, my sin erased.

The psalmist comes around, at the end Psalm 38, almost, but not quite, making it positive. He prays a prayer that our God is happy to answer. “LORD, do not forsake me; do not be far from me, my God.” That, in fact, is something that God has promised to us. He will not ever forsake us, and He is never far from us.

Neither was He far from the people of Israel, as the book of Exodus begins. Psalm 38 is a good one to read in pairing with the first chapter of Exodus. I’m sure that the people of Israel could identify with David, but, on the other hand, what on earth would God have been punishing them for?

God is always working His plan, and, here, the plan seems to be a way to get them out of Egypt back to the “Promised Land.” It was not wrath that was causing their circumstances, because I don’t see anything that God would have been angry about.

We don’t know who this new king was (at least he is not identified in Exodus), but he was actually afraid of the Israelites. They were dwelling peacefully in the land, alongside the Egyptians, but he did not trust them. And that always seems to be the nature of earthly kings. They don’t trust anyone.

So he made their lives miserable, forcing them into slave labor. It is likely that they even had a hand in building those famous pyramids.

So what is the lesson for us today? That’s a good question. But, for me, I think it goes back to the idea that, because of the work of Christ, of which these Old Testament people knew nothing, yet, the wrath of God does not come down on us. Yes, there may be harsh circumstances, and there will certainly be discomfort, pain, and even misery in this life.

But our God has promised to never forsake us, and He is always near to us, as close as a whispered breath of a prayer.

Father, I praise You, this morning, that I do not experience Your wrath because of our loving Savior. Forgive me for the times when I forget this and blame You for things that may happen in my life, or when I question Your love for me because things don’t quite go the way I thought they should. Your plan is always greater than mine; You know better than me how things should happen. May Your Spirit always remind me of these things. I thank You that You will never forsake me, and that You are always near to me.

May You give us all true fellowship with the risen Christ, today. I also pray for spiritual refreshment and renewal for Your people, as well as some physical healing for some of us.

"God of good order,
government is your gift through which you rule earthly life.
Help me to honor and respect my leaders and pray for good government. And when power corrupts,
authority is abused,
and people are oppressed,
keep me obedient to your Word,
confronting wisely and praying defiantly,
with a yielded heart that longs for your reign.
Amen."

BLESSING

“The LORD is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him.”
(Exodus 15:2 NIV)


Jesus replied, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.”
(Luke 18:27 NIV)

Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
(Colossians 3:13 NIV)

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

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, 
have mercy upon us.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
have mercy upon us.
O, Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
grant us Your peace.
(Agnus Dei)

Grace and peace, friends.

A Divine To-Do List

Today is Friday, the sixth of August, 2021.

Shalom Aleichem!

Day 23,157

Thirteen days until S’s birthday!

C and I had a lovely time, yesterday afternoon. I consider myself fortunate (or blessed, perhaps, is better) to be married to someone who works for USBC, and to have such an opportunity.

I had the privilege of watching some of my favorite PWBA bowlers, yesterday evening. We arrived just in time to see the beginning of the 4:00 PM match play event. In this event, the top twelve bowlers in the tournament face off in pairs for six games. They switch lanes and opponents between each of the games, so they are constantly moving around.

I learned a few new names, and saw some familiar faces. One bowler that I was familiar with, Shannon O’Keefe, did not make the match play rounds, but I was able to see her and actually got an autograph.

We saw Verity Crawley, the UK’s first ever professional woman bowler, Daria Pajak, from Poland, Diana Zavjalova, from Latvia, and a new name to me, Dasha Kovalova, from Ukraine. Dasha was in the lead for the match play, and stayed there through all six games. Another new name for me was Birgit Noreiks, from Germany. At the beginning of the round, Dasha was in first and Birgit was in second. Verity was in fifth. The way it works is the top four, by pin count total, wind up in the final ladder elimination event.

After four games, we decided to go ahead and leave, because we were 1) hungry, 2) tired, and 3) hungry. During those four games, we saw second through fourth places shift drastically, with Diana Zavjalova being in second at one point, but eventually dropping all the way to ninth place. There were no less than four bowlers contending for that fourth spot for the finals.

At the end of the round, we learned later, the order was Dasha (there was never any doubt), Jordan Richard (Maumee, OH), Birgit, and Verity. Unexpectedly (at least for us), Birgit won all three of the ladder elimination rounds to win her first singles PWBA title. It was great fun, and I think that I will be trying to keep up a little more with these ladies, going forward. There are three more tournaments happening at the IBC (International Bowling Campus), going through next Tuesday. Who knows? We may wind up attending another session. I think it would be great fun to watch a final round, and the next one is tomorrow night at 8:00 PM CDT.

Now for some good news. Make that awesome news.

Yesterday afternoon, around 2:45-ish, I got a phone call from the Hurst Library, offering me the Library Aide position for which I interviewed Monday afternoon! It is, of course, contingent upon me passing the drug screen and background check. I am so excited! And now I wait for an email from their HR folks, with information on getting the screenings done. As soon as that is done, we will discuss hours and start date. I indicated, of course, that I would be available immediately.

I will be floating between circulation, shelving, and the computer center, and will likely be working a full shift on Tuesdays (11:00-8:00), some Saturdays, and various hours on other days that they are open. It’s only twenty hours a week, so it appears that I will be working only three days a week, most weeks.

Of course, I am still waiting to hear from Social Security. My application is still in “step 2,” being reviewed by a representative. This step, they say, could take two to four weeks.

I got my final paycheck from CEVA today.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

“As for me, I would seek God, and to God would I commit my cause, who does great things and unsearchable, marvelous things without number:
(Job 5:8-9 ESV)

Praise the LORD, the God of Israel, who lives from everlasting to everlasting. Amen and amen!
(Psalms 41:13 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. for new and exciting opportunities;
2. that You do great, unsearchable, and marvelous things without number (Job 5:9);
3. for the sport of bowling;
4. that You have created me to delight in You and find fulness of joy in Your presence;
5. for the example of Joseph as he trusted in You through all of his circumstances;
6. for the cross of Jesus Christ.

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK ELEVEN – DAY SIX

INVITATION

Respect and obey the LORD! This is the first step to wisdom and good sense. God will always be respected.
(Psalms 111:10 CEV)

As I pause to reflect and attempt to shut out distractions, I meditate on the great, unsearchable, and marvelous works of the Lord, both in my own life, and throughout history.

BIBLE SONG

Of David.

Do not fret because of those who are evil or be envious of those who do wrong;
for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away.

Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this:
He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun.

Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.
(Psalms 37:1-7 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt. Potiphar, an Egyptian who was one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had taken him there.
The LORD was with Joseph so that he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master.
Now Joseph was well-built and handsome, and after a while his master’s wife took notice of Joseph and said, “Come to bed with me!”
But he refused. “With me in charge,” he told her, “my master does not concern himself with anything in the house; everything he owns he has entrusted to my care. No one is greater in this house than I am. My master has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?” And though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her or even be with her.
(Genesis 39:1-2, 6b-10 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I remind myself that I am in the presence of the Lord, I read these passages a second time (at least), looking for truths that I have yet to notice, or, perhaps, have forgotten about. May the Spirit guide my reading and meditations.

So, in answer to my prayer, I am drawn to something previously not noticed in the Psalms passage. While today’s reading is not the whole chapter, the portion that is highlighted begins and ends with the same command (or admonition, if you prefer).

“Do not fret.”

What are we not fretting about?

“Those who are evil;” “those who do wrong;” “when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.”

Almost every time I log on to Facebook, I see quite a bet of “fretting” from my more “conservative” friends. In fact, that seems to be their favorite form of exercise, always complaining about all the “evil” (read “democrats”) that they see around them. Fret, fret, fret.

But God’s Word expressly forbids this activity, doesn’t it? This, of course, leads me to believe that the majority of these “fretters” (not to be confused with “fritters,” which are delicious) don’t really know God’s Word as well as they would have you believe.

Never mind how confused they are about what is actually “evil.”

What, then, are we supposed to do, instead of fret?

There’s actually a very clear list of things.

1. Trust in the Lord and do good (v. 3)
2. Dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture (v. 3)
3. Take delight in the Lord (v. 4)
4. Commit your way to the Lord (v. 5)
5. Trust in Him (v. 5)
6. Be still before the Lord (v. 7)
7. Wait patiently (v. 7)

Now, let’s look at Joseph, in light of this list.

We discussed Joseph’s arrogance and impetuousness, in earlier posts. Today, we will look at some positive traits.

I think it is well-implied that Joseph did not fret. Oh, his brothers fretted, yes, sir. But we aren’t shown Joseph even being in any kind of despair. He trusted in God, through all of the trials that he was forced to endure.

While in Egypt, he did number two, up there. He dwelled in the land. To be truthful, he didn’t have a lot of choice, but we don’t see him scheming on how to get out of prison. He dwells there, biding his time, and actually enjoys “safe pasture.”

While he is there, he delights in the Lord and trusts in Him. And most of all, he waits patiently. If you have read, or are familiar with, the rest of the story, you will see that his waiting and patience pay off in a big way. Joseph eventually becomes second only to Pharaoh in the land of Egypt, which results in a place for his father and brothers to eventually come live and survive the famine.

Which, by the way, was the fulfillment of one of the dreams that he told his brothers about, and we will read a little more about that tomorrow.

These are things that I have been in the process of learning, over the past few years. I’m not perfect. I still fret, sometimes. I don’t fret about the same things as some of my friends, because we see different things as “evil.” Nevertheless, regardless of what your definition of “evil” is, God commands us to not fret over it.

After all, what is “fret” but another word for “worry?” And what is worry but a waste of time (and possibly sinful, as well). To quote the Master, Himself,

Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
(Matthew 6:27 NIV)

Father, thank You for the example of Joseph, and how he trusted You through all of the things that resulted from his brothers’ extreme jealousy. Thank You for this “divine to-do list” of things that can keep us from fretting. Most of all, for the idea of delighting myself in You. Delight is such a happy word, to me. To delight myself in You means that I take great pleasure in You. And according to one of my favorite verses from Psalms, at Your right hand, there are pleasures forevermore, as well as fulness of joy. I have delighted in You; I have trusted in You; and You are in the process of 1) giving me the desires of my heart, and 2) making my righteous reward shine like the noonday sun.

Lord, please increase our gratitude for the cross of Jesus Christ. I pray for relief and justice for those who are living in poverty and suffering injustice. Where possible, may I be a used in that relief. I pray for grace and peace for all who are mourning a death, and for those who minister to them. Have mercy, dear Lord. Kyrie eleison.

"Sovereign God,
sexual temptation surrounds us today.
Like Joseph,
may my heart be yours,
so I will refuse to sin against you.
Fill my heart with such love for you that I might resist temptation,
keeping your temple,
my body,
clean and holy.
In Jesus' name,
amen." 

BLESSING

I pray that God will greatly bless you with kindness, peace, and love!
(Jude 1:2 CEV)


I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.
(Psalms 77:11 NIV)

Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me.
(Isaiah 46:9 NIV)

Is is possible that we forget too easily? Is that why we fret so much?


Father, help us to remember Your great, unsearchable, and marvelous works!

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!

Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
(Kyrie)

Grace and peace, friends.

For Such A Time As This

Today is Thursday, the fifth of August, 2021.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,156

Fourteen days until S turns twenty-eight!

This afternoon/evening, should be fun. C and I will be attending the 4:00 PM match play event at the PWBA Go Bowling Classic, which is taking place at the International Training and Research Center (ITRC), adjacent to C’s work building. At this point, Dasha Kovalova, from Ukraine, is the front runner. The top twelve bowlers will be participating in Match Play during two sessions, today, one at 11:00 and one at 4:00. Then the top four will participate in the step-ladder finals, tonight at 8:00 PM. We may stay for that, as well. In the finals, there will be three matches, with the winner of each one advancing until the final match, where the winner will be the tournament champion.

I am not taking my car in for the repair, this morning. C talked me into rescheduling to next Friday (the thirteenth) so she can follow me there and bring me back home, since she works from home on Fridays.

I have also scheduled an exam for our new kitty, Cleopatra, which will take place Monday at noon. I will probably go ahead and get her shots at that appointment, and then discuss spaying and microchipping for a future date.

I think the equipment for my new sleep study will be shipped today. They said it would be coming UPS, so hopefully, I will get it this weekend.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

This new day You give to me
From Your great eternity
This new day now enfold
Me in Your loving hold

You are the star of the morn
You are the day newly born
You are the light of our night
You are the Savior by Your might

God be in me this day
God ever with me stay
God be in the night
Keep us by Thy light
God be in my heart
God abide, never depart.
(David Adam)

Blessed is the one who considers the poor! In the day of trouble the LORD delivers him;
the LORD protects him and keeps him alive; he is called blessed in the land; you do not give him up to the will of his enemies.
The LORD sustains him on his sickbed; in his illness you restore him to full health.
(Psalms 41:1-3 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the ministry of prayer and the encouragement it brings to others;
2. for the true believers who consider the poor in our world;
3. for Your protection over us, and Your deliverance from all trouble and afflictions;
4. that You continually manifest Your love to those who make effort to know You;
5. that all things work together for good for those who love You and are called according to Your purpose.

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK ELEVEN – DAY FIVE

INVITATION

The way to become wise is to honor the LORD; he gives sound judgment to all who obey his commands. He is to be praised forever.
(Psalms 111:10 GNB)

I quiet my heart before You, O Lord, recognizing Your presence in this place, as You dwell around me and within me. Let Your Holy Spirit reign in me as I continue into Your Word.

BIBLE SONG

Your love, LORD, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies.
Your righteousness is like the highest mountains, your justice like the great deep. You, LORD, preserve both people and animals.
How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
They feast on the abundance of your house; you give them drink from your river of delights.
For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.

Continue your love to those who know you, your righteousness to the upright in heart.
(Psalms 36:5-10 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Now Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other sons, because he had been born to him in his old age; and he made an ornate robe for him. When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him.
So Joseph went after his brothers and found them near Dothan. But they saw him in the distance, and before he reached them, they plotted to kill him.
Judah said to his brothers, “What will we gain if we kill our brother and cover up his blood? Come, let’s sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay our hands on him; after all, he is our brother, our own flesh and blood.” His brothers agreed.
So when the Midianite merchants came by, his brothers pulled Joseph up out of the cistern and sold him for twenty shekels of silver to the Ishmaelites, who took him to Egypt.
(Genesis 37:3-4, 17b-18, 26-28 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I read these passages again, I strive to be aware of the presence of God, attempting to drive away distractions and temptations. I ask the Holy Spirit to guide me through.

I take note, this morning, of a little sentence in verse 6 of Psalm 36. “You, LORD, preserve both people and animals.” While humanity is the crown of God’s creation, He cares for the whole of creation. Animals are not, as some mistakenly think, equal to humans in any way. They are not as important, yet they are precious to God.

I am also drawn to the phrase in verse 10, “Continue your love to those who know you.” I like the way Peterson paraphrases this in The Message: “Keep on loving your friends.” As I indicated up there in my gratitude list, it takes effort to know God. While some of the knowledge of God comes from His revelation to us, it still takes effort on our part to know Him. And, while He loves all of creation, I believe that He has a deeper love for those who at least try to know Him.

In the Genesis passage, we see God continuing to work through some really strange circumstances, and, once again, flawed people. I’ve already mentioned, recently, how arrogant Joseph was. But it’s not all his fault, you see. This arrogance was encouraged by the blatant favoritism of his father, Jacob (later known as Israel). And that favoritism was because Joseph was one of the two sons born of Jacob’s favorite wife, Rachel.

Because of the favoritism, and because of Joseph’s arrogance, his brothers hated him. At first, they wanted to kill him. This astonishes me, actually. I mean, I have seriously disliked some people in my life. But to so casually speak of killing a person is unthinkable.

Reuben at least had a tiny bit of rationality and stopped that plot. But the rest of the brothers, led by Judah this time, continued down their treacherous path and agreed to sell Joseph to some slave traders that just happened to be passing by.

I don’t even know what to say about this. But if you keep reading, you see that the slave traders then sold Joseph to the captain of the guard of the Pharaoh of Egypt. If you know the story, you know that Joseph, being blessed by God, rose up through the ranks to a position of great authority in Egypt. But more on that in coming days (yes, I peeked ahead).

Rewind to an entry from a few days ago. I named it after a Rich Mullins song, “Who God Is Gonna Use.” Today’s could just as well be named, “How God Is Gonna Act.” We never know what means God is going to use in order to accomplish His purpose. Man cannot thwart the plans of God. He will try, but will always fail. In all honesty, I don’t even think man can delay the plans of God. But I do know the truth of Romans 8:28. All things do work together for the good of those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose.

We would do well, however, to remember that there is a second part to that verse, that bit about being called according to His purpose. Sometimes, things just happen. We often hear it said, “Everything happens for a reason.” For the most part, I think I agree with that, as I am not a big believer in “chance” or “luck.” But I do think that, sometimes, things just happen. Not every single event that comes to pass is part of God’s ultimate plan. For example. I just took a sip of Crazy Water. Did that happen for a reason?

Probably not . . . but Joseph was sold into slavery for a reason, and we will find that out by the end of this week.

Father, I am in awe of Your enormous grace and mercy, seemingly infinite and endless. We do see, sometimes, in the Bible, however, that Your mercy does have limits. I pray that we would never reach those limits in our dealings with You. I also pray that we would look at our lives and see You at work in them. I believe that I do love You; I believe that, in spite of my sinfulness, I have made efforts to know You, and that, as a result of this, You continue Your love for me. On the other hand, I also believe that there is nothing I can do that can cause You to love me either less or more than You already do. That will sound contradictory to some, but I don’t really care. It is both simple and complicated, all at the same time.

I thank You for the example of Joseph, and how You worked in his life and arranged circumstances for him to be in the right place at the right time. I love to see how You work with the flawed people of the Old Testament, because it gives me assurance that You can work through me, as well. Help us, Father, to care for our world the way You do, but also help us to not get things out of order and in the wrong perspective. Help us remember that people, souls, are the most important piece, but that creation matters, too.

May You give us a deeper understanding of the Gospel of Christ. May we experience the fulness of our adoption as Your children. And may we, Your people, Your Church, fully repent of racism, and may we strive for racial reconciliation in our country and in our world.

"Merciful God,
when I'm tempted to be envious or jealous,
when I insult or hate my neighbor by words or deeds,
looks or gestures,
reveal my murderous heart and lead me to repentance and reconciliation before I do any harm.
Amen."

BLESSING

May mercy, peace, and love be yours in full measure.
(Jude 1:2 GNB)


One day Jesus told his disciples a story to show that they should always pray and never give up.
(Luke 18:1 NLT)

When I refused to confess my sin, my body wasted away, and I groaned all day long.
(Psalms 32:3 NLT)

Give your burdens to the LORD, and he will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall.
(Psalms 55:22 NLT)

Those who are wise will shine as bright as the sky, and those who lead many to righteousness will shine like the stars forever.
(Daniel 12:3 NLT)

“Go and gather together all the Jews of Susa and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will do the same. And then, though it is against the law, I will go in to see the king. If I must die, I must die.”
(Esther 4:16 NLT)

If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it.
(Matthew 10:39 NLT)

Hold firmly to the word of life; then, on the day of Christ’s return, I will be proud that I did not run the race in vain and that my work was not useless.
(Philippians 2:16 NLT)

Father, help me to not cling to my life, but to live it in such a way as to be a blessing to others with it. I am here, in this place, at this time, for Your purposes. Show me the path to righteousness and meaning. May Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

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!

“Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?” 
(Esther 4:14b NLT)

Grace and peace, friends.

Wailing Into Dancing; Sackcloth Into Joy

Today is Friday, the thirtieth of January, 2021.

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

Day 23,150

Twenty days until S’s birthday.

Today is the day. My last day of full-time employment. I expect many tears, throughout the day, as I say goodbye to some good friends. I had to say goodbye to two of them, yesterday, as they will not be at work today. For most of these, I will be able to have some contact, either through Facebook, or text messaging.

I won’t deny that I am going to feel a little bit lost after today, at least for maybe a week or so, depending on what happens on the part time job front. I’ve been unemployed before, but this is the first time in my adult life that it has been my own choice to do so. The last time I left a job voluntarily was over twenty-five years ago. Since then, I was terminated at one position, and, in the other, the company closed the location.

I am a little bit proud of the fact that, since my graduation from school, I have only worked four jobs. One of those lasted less than two years, so if you take that one out, my average stay at a job is over ten years. I am a reliable and loyal employee with a strong work ethic.

Okay, this is starting to look like a resume, so let’s move on.

I may have an opportunity to attend some events of the PWBA next week. That’s Professional Women’s Bowling Association. The ITRC (International Training and Research Center) will be hosting some tournament events next week, and that is located in the same building as the USBC (United States Bowling Congress) for whom my wife works. They have been told that they can attend any of the bowling squad sessions for free. C has inquired as to whether a family member can attend with them. If they say that this is okay, we are considering one or two of the sessions on Thursday afternoon/evening. Thursday at 8:00 PM is the final ladder elimination event of that tournament, and would be super fun to see in person.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Bring Me, by Daryl Madden

Bring me to this moment
The soul to be aware
To be fully present
Right now, and right here

Bring me to my senses
To taste and feel and see
Of the abundant ways
That God is blessing me

Bring me to be grateful
For nothing I deserve
Let joy fill my heart
A turn to go and serve

Bring me to be humble
With His gifts to share
Reflection of His love
Shining everywhere

We are merely moving shadows, and all our busy rushing ends in nothing. We heap up wealth, not knowing who will spend it.
And so, Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in you.
(Psalms 39:6-7 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the many blessings I have received, all of which I do not deserve;
2. that my only hope is You;
3. that You turn our wailing into dancing; and You replace the sackcloth of mourning and repentance with a garment of joy;
4. that You have given me eyes to see that things in Your Kingdom are far better than we could ever imagine;
5. that I am an unceasing spiritual being with an eternal destiny in Your great universe.

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TEN – DAY SIX

INVITATION

Yahweh is faithful in all his words, and loving in all his deeds.
(Psalms 145:13 WEB)

I pause, briefly, to ponder the fact that Yahweh is, indeed, my only true hope in this world and in this life. Truly, although I can scarce count my blessings, due to the magnitude of them, I dare not place my hope in those blessings. My hope is in the Lord, who loves me with an everlasting love, and is faithful in all His words and works.

BIBLE SONG

A psalm. A song. For the dedication of the temple. Of David.

I will exalt you, LORD, for you lifted me out of the depths and did not let my enemies gloat over me.
LORD my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me.
You, LORD, brought me up from the realm of the dead; you spared me from going down to the pit.

Sing the praises of the LORD, you his faithful people; praise his holy name.
For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.

You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent. LORD my God, I will praise you forever.
(Psalms 30:1-5, 11-12 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Now the LORD was gracious to Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did for Sarah what he had promised. Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the very time God had promised him. Abraham gave the name Isaac to the son Sarah bore him. When his son Isaac was eight days old, Abraham circumcised him, as God commanded him. Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him.
Sarah said, “God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.” And she added, “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.”
(Genesis 21:1-7 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I continue to be aware of God’s loving presence, this morning, I dwell in His peace. I pray for the Holy Spirit to draw me deeper and reveal something to me in these passages.

I can echo the psalmist, to some degree, as I do feel that the Lord has lifted me out of many depths, in my length of days. My life may not have been in quite the danger as David’s, at least never to my knowledge. As far as I know, I have never had a jealous king attempting to slay me. But my life has had some depths, and the Lord has lifted me from them all.

Therefore, along with David and all the saints, I can sing the praises of the Lord; I can praise His holy Name. He does turn our wailing into dancing; He removes the sackcloth (a garment that is reserved to indicate mourning and/or repentance) and clothes us with joy.

Joy is radiant, such an extreme opposite of the dullness of sackcloth (think of it as wearing a burlap feed bag). Joy, if you will remember, is the overwhelming pervasive sense of well-being. It is the truth that things in the kingdom of God are far better than you could ever imagine.

And they are.

All we have to do is have eyes to see.

Joy also comes from knowing that “we are unceasing spiritual beings with an eternal destiny in God’s great universe” (Dallas Willard).

And note, at the end of Psalm 30, the reason for turning our wailing into dancing and replacing our sackcloth with joy.

“that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent. LORD my God, I will praise you forever.”

Father, I praise You for all of these things; that You turn our mourning into dancing and replace our sackcloth with joy. I pray that all of Your children would see, this morning, that they are clothed with joy. Give us all eyes to see that things in Your Kingdom are far, far better than our wildest dreams could imagine. Give us eyes to see the overwhelming pervasive sense of well-being that comes from knowing and trusting You. And show us that we are, indeed, unceasing spiritual beings with an eternal destiny in Your great universe!

Lord, please give us all a deep, deep gratitude for the cross and sacrifice of Jesus Christ. May You bring provision and sustenance to those who are suffering from poverty and injustice in today’s world. Give us all our daily bread, Father. And for those who suffer any kind of addiction, and for their supporters and caregivers, I pray a special blessing today. Give them grace, and have mercy on their souls. Draw them out of the pits of despair and addiction, Lord!

"Gracious Lord,
for many the gospel seems too good to be true.
When life looks so unforgettably bad,
how can I believe something so impossibly good?
I pray that you do what only you are able--
birth Christ's life in me through the work of your Holy Spirit.
Amen."

BLESSING

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you,” says Yahweh, “thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you hope and a future.”
(Jeremiah 29:11 WEB)


Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
(Hebrews 4:13 NIV)

If we had forgotten the name of our God or spread out our hands to a foreign god,
would not God discover this? For he knows the secrets of the heart.
(Psalms 44:20-21 ESV)

O God, you know my folly; the wrongs I have done are not hidden from you.
(Psalms 69:5 ESV)

Father, I praise You that I am an open book to You.

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 to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.
(Jude 1:24-25 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.