Calling Out Your Name

Today is Saturday, the 22nd of October, 2022, in the 29th week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you, today!

Day 23,599

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, our Father in heaven, be with us as we are gathered here. Through your Spirit let our hearts grow in understanding of how we can serve you rightly and live as you want us to live. Help us hold fast to all that is good. Free us more and more from everything that hinders us, from all that is evil. Show your loving-kindness to us and to our loved ones, wherever they may be. Hear every human heart that sighs to you, pleading that what is of heaven may overcome what is of earth. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul?
(Deuteronomy 10:12 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. for God’s help in making difficult decisions
  2. for the Holy Spirit’s work in freeing us from things that hinder us
  3. the artistry of God in our world
  4. for faith, the confidence in what we hope for and the assurance about things that we do not see (Hebrews 11)
  5. that the Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in Him (Psalm 37)

We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.
(1 Thessalonians 1:2-3 ESV)

And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD. And his delight shall be in the fear of the LORD. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide disputes by what his ears hear, but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked. Righteousness shall be the belt of his waist, and faithfulness the belt of his loins.
(Isaiah 11:2-5 ESV)

You will say in that day: "I will give thanks to you, O LORD, for though you were angry with me, your anger turned away, that you might comfort me. 
"Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the LORD GOD is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation." 
With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. And you will say in that day: 
"Give thanks to the LORD, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the peoples, proclaim that his name is exalted. 
"Sing praises to the LORD, for he has done gloriously; let this be made known in all the earth. Shout, and sing for joy, O inhabitant of Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel."
(Isaiah 12:1-6 ESV)
Light dawns in the darkness for the upright; 
he is gracious, merciful, and righteous.
 It is well with the man who deals generously and lends;
 who conducts his affairs with justice.
 For the righteous will never be moved; 
he will be remembered forever. 
He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the LORD. 
His heart is steady; he will not be afraid, 
until he looks in triumph on his adversaries. 
He has distributed freely; he has given to the poor; 
his righteousness endures forever; his horn is exalted in honor. 
The wicked man sees it and is angry; 
he gnashes his teeth and melts away; 
the desire of the wicked will perish!
(Psalms 112:4-10 ESV)

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
(Philippians 2:3-4 ESV)


Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
(Hebrews 11:1 NIV)

The LORD makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with his hand.
(Psalms 37:23-24 NIV)

Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.
(Colossians 3:2 NIV)


“The World is charged with the grandeur of God.” (Gerard Manley Hopkins)

Please read this blog entry from Eileen, at Quiet Moments with God.


The LORD upholds all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down. 
The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season.
(Psalms 145:14-15 ESV)

I was moved, this morning, by Eileen’s statement that God is an artist. It made me consider . . . do I think of Him in that way. Sure, I look at the creation and I marvel at its beauty. But God is always just seen as “Creator.” Truly, He is an artist. Just try to point out two trees that are exactly the same. Show me two mountains that are exactly alike. Just as no two Rembrandt paintings are alike, creation is different, each piece unique.

Consider the quote from Gerard Manley Hopkins, the wonderful poet. His poems are somewhat difficult for us to read, in our time, as the language he uses is from days gone by. But he celebrates God’s creation in his poetry.

It is always helpful for us to take a quiet walk, somewhere in nature. Even better if we can find ourselves alone, no other humans around to distract us. We listen more when we do that. We listen, because the only person to talk to is ourselves, and that usually isn’t too productive, I have found.

Prayer, of course, is more than just talking. It is at least fifty percent listening, and probably should be more. We should begin each act of prayer by listening first. God gives us everything we need, but if we feel we are lacking at any point, we should wait. An army that has approached a well-fortified city to attack it waits until its supplies are replenished before attacking. So should we wait on the Lord, to be fully supplied in grace before we begin our spiritual “attack.”

Too often, we run ahead. I’m supposed to be praying, right now, so, by George (whoever that was), I’m going to pray, whether I feel up to it or not. “Fake it till you make it,” it has been said.

But waiting is constantly seen, in Scripture, as something which we are encouraged to do. Wait upon the Lord and rise up as on the wings of eagles! Wait on the Lord and walk and not become weary, run and not faint. Wait on the Lord and never be afraid of bad news. Wait on the Lord and see your steps be firm and not stumble (or, if you do stumble, you will not fall).

Wait on the Lord, and receive everything you need for life and godliness.


Father, first of all, I am thankful, this morning, for all the saints. Like Paul, in 1 Thessalonians, I give thanks for all the saints, and mention them frequently in my prayers. I am grateful for those with whom I have worshiped, and for those with whom I will worship in the future. I am grateful for those who have inspired me, and for those whom I have inspired (it has happened a time or two).

I praise You for the Trinity, the way the Holy Spirit rested on Jesus Christ when He walked the earth, and the way the three of You interact with one another and, thereby, fortify and strengthen and encourage us. It is inexplicable, and it is most wonderful.

Father, I pray for the ability, again, to consider others as more significant than myself, and to do nothing out of vain ambition or conceit. This, as a human, is relatively difficult, it seems. Forgive us when we are conceited, and when we are selfish.

Finally, I thank You and praise You for Your artistry in this world. I look at the night sky, and I see glory, the stars calling out Your name. I look at the mountains, and they give glory to You and call out Your name. I look at the prairies and they, too are calling out Your name. Your artistry calls out Your glory and praise. The trees and rivers “clap their hands.”

May I listen more and more to those “sounds,” as I walk in Your Kingdom, Father!

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


Grace and peace, friends!

Of Holiness and Knowledge

Today is Thursday, the sixth of October, 2022, in the twenty-seventh week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ be with you today!

Day 23,583

This is delayed today, because I had an appointment at 10:00 to get my cyst removal stitches out.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

My Friend of Lighty, by Daryl Madden

In a chapels morn’
Deep within a prayer
Inpouring of Spirit
My friend of light is here

On an ocean of waves
Joy shining clear
In thousands of diamonds
My friend of light is here

On a cloudy day
In hope to appear
The sun bursting through
My friend of light is here

In my times of need
A blessed soul to share
Bearing of my cross
My friend of light is here

My thoughts on this, and I am not sure how the author intended it, are that it could be referring to Jesus, but could also be referring to a human “friend of light,” a brother or sister in the faith, another saint. How precious it is to be in the presence of another saint, a true “friend of light.”

Please visit Daryl’s site at the link above.


Lord our God, our Father, give us your Spirit, we pray, for you have ruled over us at all times and loved us with a love that guides and leads us, that helps us go forward in body and soul. Reveal your hand. Grant that we undertake nothing in human strength; may everything come from you for each one whose heart holds true to you and who does the work intended for him. Then everything we do on earth can be a service to you. Protect us through your great goodness and faithfulness, which have been with us to this day and will go with us into the future. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

“O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”
(John 17:25-26 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. that Jesus makes the Father’s name known to us, that His love may be in us
  2. for brothers and sisters in Christ, “friends of light”
  3. for the beautiful music of Salt of the Sound; please check them out
  4. for God’s gift of holiness, through Jesus Christ; may I get to know it more through prayer and devotion
  5. that I will sing to the Lord as long as I have being; may my meditation be pleasing to Him (Psalm 104:34)

I will sing to the LORD as long as I live;
 I will sing praise to my God while I have being. 
May my meditation be pleasing to him, 
for I rejoice in the LORD.
(Psalms 104:33-34 ESV)

Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, “My way is hidden from the LORD, and my right is disregarded by my God”? Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
(Isaiah 40:27-31 ESV)


Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.
(Jeremiah 33:3 ESV)

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
(Psalms 19:1 ESV)


but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”
(1 Peter 1:15-16 ESV)


“Be holy.” How exactly do we do that? There are many who have tried to “be holy” by obeying an innumerable set of rules. The “Holiness Church,” for example. Don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t. In fact, one of the major objections to unbelievers, regarding church, is all the “don’ts.”

I get it.

But that’s now how we accomplish holiness. We cannot be holy by works. You cannot do enough positive things and avoid enough negative things to be holy. It’s like trying to work your way to Heaven. You can’t do it. Because if you have sinned once, you are disqualified. Period. You can’t undo that one, and all the “good” things you do cannot outweigh that one.

There is this terrible concept that so many people have, hoping that, when they die, that the good that they did will outweigh the bad, and that there is some kind of scale system at the “pearly gates,” whereby St. Peter will do some calculating and either you get in or you don’t.

That simply isn’t the way it is. But that, my friends, is part of the “good news.” Because the blood of Jesus on the Cross erased all of the sin. It changed history, as well as changing the future.

So, back to the original question. How do we achieve holiness?

God imparts it to us, through Christ. It is a gift. But here’s the thing. We cannot grasp or get to know this holiness if we are not spending time with God in prayer. No, we don’t get to be holy by praying; that’s just another “work.” We get to know God, and thereby, His holiness, by praying.

Prayer involves more than just asking for stuff, though. Meditation is prayer; contemplation is prayer; waiting on the Lord is prayer (in my opinion). Prayer can be anything that can draw you closer to the Almighty. C and I are going to Glen Rose tomorrow. We will spend a lot of time sitting on the deck of the cabin on the banks of the Paluxy River. Some of that time, we will be reading. Some of that time, we will be engaging in prayer by looking in wonder at the beauty of God’s creation. I’m looking forward to taking my telescope out to look at the night sky during this trip, so I can see the heavens declaring the glory of God and the sky proclaiming His handiwork.

Singing is prayer. I will sing to the Lord as long as I live, as long as I have breath, as long as I have my being. Which means I will sing for eternity, because that’s how long I will have my being (I don’t know about breath . . . I’m not sure we will need breathing in heaven). And as I sing, I will pray that my meditation is pleasing to Him.

Praying is also calling to Him. Jeremiah tells us to call to Him, and He will show us things that we do not know. How much do you not know? I guarantee you that there is more that you don’t know. I’m confident that if you took all of the knowledge in the entire world and added it all up, there would still be more that is unknown.

I don’t know a lot. Wait. Let me rephrase that. There is a lot that I don’t know. Just the other day, I learned something. (Spoiler alert, this has nothing to do with anything theological.) I was shelving DVDs at the library Tuesday night, and I ran across a movie, from 1971, called “They Might Be Giants.” It has George C. Scott and Joanne Woodward. I’ve never heard of this movie.

However, I have heard of an alternative rock band, formed in 1982, called They Might Be Giants, created by John Flansburgh and John Linnell. They assumed the name because it had been used by (and discarded by) a friend who had a ventriloquist act. Okay, so the band is named after the movie. But that’s not all. It is also a line from Don Quixote! You know, the book by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra. It explains why Don Quixote was “tilting at windmills.”

So there you go. There was something that you probably didn’t know. (Hats off if you did.) And no extra charge for that.

Now, God did not show me that (or did He?) as a result of me calling out to Him. It’s just to illustrate how much there is that we do not know. After a year a some months working at a public library, there are still books in there that I have not seen. Just in the Hurst Public Library, there is literally at least a ton of stuff that I. Do. Not. Know.

You think you know?

Well, that certainly took a sharp left turn, didn’t it? Where was I?

Oh, yeah. Jeremiah. And knowing God’s holiness in our lives. If we are lacking in prayer, we will be certainly lacking in holiness, or at least the knowledge and practice of it. It may be there, buried deep within our soul, simply because of the work of Christ in our lives. But, without prayer, it will stay there. May we pray more fervently, that our holiness may come to light, that He may be glorified, and the earth be filled with the glory of God as the waters cover the seas.


Father, I call out to You today, that You might show me Your might works, and that You might tell me great and hidden things that I do not know. Maybe there are some things I don’t want to know, so don’t tell me those. But You know . . . You know all things, so You know what I need to know. Help me to wait on You, to wait patiently. I prayed for patience, yesterday. So today, I had to wait thirty minutes past my appointment time at the doctor’s office, to get my stitches out. And while I was waiting, I had to listen to bad country music. And then I had to listen to someone else singing along with the bad country music. I should be careful what I pray for.

I will sing to You, Father! I have not been singing enough, lately. Forgive me for that, and help me to sing more. I don’t know what that will look like. It might just be me singing alone in my room, here. I don’t know. But if so, then let me do that, and do it will all my being. You have given me life and breath, and I choose to use that life and breath to praise and glorify You.

By my prayers, my worship, and my singing, and my meditations, which I hope will be pleasing to You, let me know Your holiness, and thus display the holiness with which You have gifted me. Let it not stay buried deep in my soul.

Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus!


Talk no more so very proudly, let not arrogance come from your mouth; for the LORD is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed.
(1 Samuel 2:3 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Adventure Time

“There are days when the world is bright with meaning and every bird and flower a witness to the glory; we dance and sing with the innocence of animals. But those days are then snatched by the starless nights when the dark has seeped into our souls and we cower in fear and despair, pulling the covers over our heads.”

It’s Tuesday, the nineteenth of July, 2022, in the sixteenth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you!

Day 23,504

I got all the things accomplished yesterday. It was quite productive, and turned out pretty well. I wound up only needing one new tire (for now), and I have to say, I love the company where I get my tires done. We have been going to Hamm’s for quite a while, now, and they are honest, reliable people. They could have easily sold me four new tires, yesterday, but told me that the other three tires were okay for now. They showed me the bad one, so I’m confident that that was what I needed.

I got the oil changed pretty quickly after that, as well. I was home, with Sonic drinks, shortly after noon, which isn’t bad. Turns out mid-morning on Mondays is a good time to do things.

I haven’t updated the weather, here, lately, so I’ll do that, today.

It’s hot.

I’m still keeping my spreadsheet going, and found a website that helps me keep up better, because Reliant’s app is always at least two days behind. So the highest temperature, to date, was yesterday, when it hit 110 (that’s 43.3c for those reading anywhere but the U.S.). It is projected to be that hat again today.

We did have two days, last week, that did not reach 100, so that streak ended at ten days. The current streak is at three. We have had 23 days, now of triple-digit temperatures. The ten-day forecast calls for another 110 degree day tomorrow, followed by temps closer to 100 for the rest of the visible forecast. That gives me some hope that it might drop below 100 somewhere in there.

As for rain, there is virtually no chance in the next ten days, with one day having a 21% chance (and that depends on which weather site you look at – Wunderground only gives a 15% chance for that day).

It has still not rained since June 3.

But even bigger news is the European heat wave, right now. It hit 40c yesterday, in London, and airports are shutting down because the runways are melting. Many people there do not have A/C. At least, in Texas, we expect it to be hot.

It’s my busy week at the library, so I’ll be working tonight, tomorrow, Thursday, and Saturday.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, we rejoice that we may be called your children. In our weakness we ask you to shelter us in your hands. Strengthen us in the hope and faith that our lives will surely go the right way, not through our strength but through your protection. Grant that through your Spirit we may come to know more and more that you are with us. Help us to be alert in our daily life and to listen whenever you want to say something to us. Reveal the power and glory of your kingdom in many people, to the glory of your name, and hasten the coming on earth of all that is good and true. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
(2 Corinthians 12:9–10 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that, when I am weak (and acknowledge that weakness), in Him I am strong
2. that His grace is sufficient
3. for this journey, this "adventure" of faith, trusting that life in God's Kingdom is far better than I could ever imagine
4. for the community of saints; oh, how we need each other!
5. for the mystery of resurrection and the adventure it brings us

For behold, he who forms the mountains and creates the wind, and declares to man what is his thought, who makes the morning darkness, and treads on the heights of the earth— the LORD, the God of hosts, is his name!
(Amos 4:13 ESV)


Today’s word, from Pray A Word A Day, is adventure.

“Adventure is not outside man, it’s within.” ~ George Eliot

Adventure. It is defined as, “an unusual and exciting, typically hazardous, experience or activity.” As a verb, it means, “engage in hazardous and exciting activity, especially the exploration of unknown territory.”

You won’t find the word anywhere in the Bible, but that’s okay, because we don’t just pray words that are in Scripture.

Admittedly, some folks are more adventurous than others. We have had adventures in Mexico, some more fun than others. We ziplined, we drove a Hummer, we held a baby crocodile, we had a snake around our shoulders, we rode four-wheelers through the jungle. We even rode a bus to Walmart.

“Adventures” can be fun. They can also be dangerous and risky. People have lost their lives attempting adventure.

I suppose the journey of faith can be described as an adventure. In this journey, every step is a step into the unknown. Someone once described faith as walking up to the edge of the light and taking one more step. But, in reality, walking in faith is never knowing what is coming next.

Now what this truly means is that every human being on the planet is walking in faith, whether they know it or not. Who or what that faith is placed in is a different story. But everyone who takes a step forward or gets in a car to drive or ride somewhere is acting in faith.

I am on a journey of faith, walking in God’s Kingdom. I trust in Him, in His reality. I trust that things in God’s Kingdom are far better than I could ever imagine, no matter what I see in the world around me. And let me tell you, the world around me doesn’t look very promising, right now.


Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.” And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.”
(Matthew 26:36-38 ESV)

When Jesus was approaching the most traumatic time He would experience while He walked on earth, He brought His best friends along. He expressed His heart to them, His trouble and sorrow.

Jesus. The Son of God. God incarnate. Needed His friends.

A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
(Proverbs 18:24 ESV)

No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.
(John 15:15 ESV)

Jesus calls us “friends.” He does not call us “servants.” The old hymn says, “What a friend we have in Jesus.” How often do we stop to think that He also considers us “friends?”

If Jesus, God incarnate, needed His friends around at this most important juncture of His life, how much more do we need each other?


In this life of adventure, Peterson chimes in (although he doesn’t use the word). “There is a lot we don’t know. There are days, many of them, when we don’t know what is going on. Events tumble out randomly, it seems. . . . There are days when the world is bright with meaning and every bird and flower a witness to the glory; we dance and sing with the innocence of animals. But those days are then snatched by the starless nights when the dark has seeped into our souls and we cower in fear and despair, pulling the covers over our heads.”

Try to imagine what Peter and John must have felt when they stood in front of an empty tomb, not yet comprehending what had happened. “Not only was the body gone from the tomb, but the meaning was gone from their lives.”

They had such high hopes. Jesus, when He was alive, “had convinced the two men that their lives had purpose, that it was worthwhile to live, that everything fit together in a design of salvation, and that love was possible.”

And now, not only was the living Jesus gone, so was the dead Jesus. But in the midst of this mystery (adventure?), “They spotted a clue. They used their heads. they followed the clue. And it led them to resurrection.

“There are clues everywhere, still. It is up to the curious to pick them up, follow them, make the correct deductions from them, and live before the mystery of life in a believing faith.”

(From On Living Well, by Eugene H. Peterson)


Father, this life is full of adventure, but those adventures are not always fun or enjoyable. In fact, we seem to be in the midst of an adventure that I would just as soon end. But it continues, and so must we. I pray for the faith to continue to walk in Your Kingdom, and to continue to believe that things are far better than I could ever imagine, and far better than they seem.

I praise You for the resurrection, and for the “clues” that we still have around us. Help us to not get bogged down in circumstance; help us to see that “reality” is not necessarily what we can see with our eyes and hear with our ears. Rather, give us the faith to be able to see and hear what is truly reality in Your Kingdom.

I pray for unity within the Body of Christ. We need each other more than ever, and yet we are terribly divided over issues and “causes” that are not necessarily relevant to the Kingdom. Help us to remember that the only “cause” worthy of our attention is the cause of Jesus and love. I believe it’s okay to support a cause, but if that cause divides brothers and sisters in Christ, then please God, give us the sense to step back and re-think it!

I continue to pray for relief from this heat wave, which now is affecting more than just Texas. I pray for people in Europe who are experiencing unusual heat, right now. Give them relief, as well. I also pray for rain in our area. The forecast doesn’t give much hope, but You are the God of hope, and control things that the forecast can only guess about. I pray for relief, Father, and I know that I am not alone.

Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus! Come and set things right, and take us to the place You have prepared for us, that where You are, there we may also be.


Grace and peace, friends.

Abiding in Christ

Today is Sunday, the first of May, 2022, in the third week of Easter.

May the peace of Christ find you today.

Day 23,425

It seems as though it has been a really busy week. Between working four days (three of those consecutive) and then going to Mineral Wells on Friday, there has been a lot going on. I am grateful to have a day, today, where (hopefully) nothing is expected other than going to our house church.

C and Mama got a lot accomplished, yesterday, I think, while I was “working” at the library. It was pretty dead at the library, yesterday, so not a lot of actual work was involved. I’m not sure if the pretty weather kept people away or what.

The Texas Rangers managed another win, yesterday, beating the Atlanta Braves 3-1. And the starting pitcher got the win! Dane Dunning finally got a win. The Rangers are now 7-14 for the season, in last place in the AL West, 6.5 games out. The LA Angels are currently in first place, at 14-8. The Rangers and Braves will play again, this afternoon, at 1:35 CDT, with Taylor Hearne still seeking his first win.

The Boston Red Sox blew a one run lead in the bottom of the ninth inning, last night, and lost in the tenth, 2-1. This behind seven innings of stellar pitching by Nathan Eovaldi. The Sox are looking a lot like the Rangers, this season. That’s distressing. They are 9-13 for the season (having played one more game than the Rangers), and are in fourth place in the AL East, thanks to Baltimore being worse. Those two teams will play again, this afternoon, at 1:05 EDT, in Baltimore.

The NY Yankees have sneaked into the top position in MLB, with a 15-6 record. They are a half game ahead of the Milwaukee Brewers and the cross-town rival Mets, who both have 15-7 records. The LA Dodgers have fallen to fifth overall. The Cincinnati Reds (3-18) continue their losing streak (now at five games), to hold down the worst spot in MLB. The Washington Nationals are next, at 7-16, followed by the Orioles and Rangers, both at 7-14. The Reds have a run differential of -56. This means that their opponents have outscored them, over the span of 21 games, by 56 runs. In comparison, the Rangers only have a -10 run differential.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

"O God, whose blessed Son made himself known to his disciples in the breaking of bread: Open the eyes of our faith, that we may behold him in all his redeeming work; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen."
(The Book of Common Prayer, Collect for Third Sunday of Easter)

All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer. A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had.
(Acts 2:42-44 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the opportunity to gather with other saints, this morning, to devote ourselves to the reading of Scripture, the fellowship, the breaking of bread, and the prayers 
2. for the life that I have had so far
3. for the hope that I have in God, and that I am calling out His name
4. for the boldness, and the ability to live out the truth and words of Christ, that comes from being associated with Him
5. for a day of rest

Today’s prayer word is “longevity.” I have to confess, I’m scratching my head over this one. I’m not sure what they are getting at, so let me get on with the reading.

My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you peace and prosperity.
(Proverbs 3:1-2 NIV)

Verses like these are dangerous, because people tend to key in on the wrong things. The focus becomes material, the word “prosperity” is highlighted, and suddenly, there is a group of people proclaiming that if you memorize Proverbs, you’ll get rich.

If you think I’m joking, think again. I have heard things just as outlandish as that.

The writer of today’s reading, Susanna, speaks of an Italian village that has over three hundred centenarians (that’s people over one hundred years old, in case you don’t know that word). As I searched to try to get validation of that statistic (yes, I’m a “fact-checker”), I found that there seems to be more than one such Italian village.

Scientists believe the key to such longevity is a combination of genes, lifestyle, and diet. Just yesterday, I saw a report that the oldest person on the planet is a French nun who enjoys wine and chocolate. Seriously, she is 118 years old and has a glass of wine every day.

Longevity is, indeed, a mystery. It does seem that the average European life is a bit longer than the average American life, though. It also seems that there is quite a bit less stress over there than over here. The USA is an incredibly stressful place to live.

But here’s the thing. Susanna mentions this, and I firmly believe it, as well. “God already knows how many days I have on this earth. My longevity is anchored in Him. Following His loving commands, centering my life in His words of hope, brings peace and long life. Abiding in Him is good for body and soul.”

I already feel like I’ve had a good, long, life. And I’m only 64 years old. That French nun has lived 54 more years than I. I can’t even fathom living another 50 years. But if I do, I pray that it will be in continued abiding.

(From Pray a Word a Day)

Father, I don’t pray for more longevity. I am not asking for 50 more years of life. However, what I do ask is that, for all the years that I have left here, be it one or be it 50, that I spend those days abiding in You and following Your commands. Help me to center my life in Your words of hope, that I might display the love that You have for all people, in everything that I do and say. I am grateful for the life that I have had, so far. My lot has fallen in pleasant places.

The land you have given me is a pleasant land. What a wonderful inheritance!
(Psalms 16:6 NLT)

Ask me and I will tell you remarkable secrets you do not know about things to come.
(Jeremiah 33:3 NLT)

Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
(1 Corinthians 13:7 NLT)

Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love. God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us.
(1 John 4:7-12 NLT)

Father, I praise You that You have caused me to be one who calls out Your name. I know that the songs that I have sung have not been sung in vain, and that the thirst in my soul, that thirst for Home, will one day be permanently quenched.

I pray for the promise that You gave Jeremiah, that, if I call out to You, You will reveal remarkable and wonderful things. I’m not asking You to tell me the future. Rather, I’m asking You to reveal wonderful things about Yourself to me. Honestly, I’m not terrible concerned with the future, other than the certainty that I will one day live in eternity, worshiping You with all the saints. I just want to know You and know You more.

“Our association with Jesus will teach us, as it taught Peter and John, the deepest truths about ourselves and the highest truths about God. We need not be theologians or experienced in the ways of the world or longtime church members or leaders of the community or overly intelligent. We need only to be with Jesus–to associate with him in prayer and imitation. And as we do, people will wonder at our boldness as we live out in words and actions the truth of humanity and God as it is seen in Jesus Christ.”

(From On Living Well, by Eugene H. Peterson)

Father, this little reading fits hand-in-hand with my previous prayer. Because that is my desire, to live life in association with Jesus Christ, being taught the deepest truths about myself and the highest truths about You. I’ve attempted to be a theologian, at times, and found that it only produces a sort of arrogance that is dry and not nearly as deep as it pretends. I’ve been a “leader” in churches, and found this experience to leave something to be desired, as well. I have no more aspirations to be a “leader.” I want to be a follower, a simple follower of Christ, that I can live out His truth in words and actions as I walk through this world in Your kingdom.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

The members of the council were amazed when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, for they could see that they were ordinary men with no special training in the Scriptures. They also recognized them as men who had been with Jesus.
(Acts 4:13 NLT)

Grace and peace, friends.

True Success

Today is Friday, the fifteenth of April, 2022, in the sixth week of Lent, Holy Week. It is “Good Friday.”

May the peace of Christ be with you today.

Day 23,409

It’s Friday, but Sunday’s coming.

I’m off work today, as I will be every Friday, going forward, until my schedule changes again, if it does. But the library is closed today, anyway, and, based on what I’m hearing, usually is closed for Good Friday, as all city offices are also closed.

We have a funeral to attend, this afternoon, and are about to get ready to go pick up a good work friend of C’s, and go have lunch together, and then she will ride to the funeral with us, as she also worked for the man who passed away.

I have several book reviews to write, today, at some point. I may not attend the Good Friday service this evening. I have not yet decided on that. And I’m still not sure what we are doing for church Sunday morning.

The Texas Rangers won their game, last night, beating the Angels (and Ohtani!) 10-5. Included in that game was a grand slam by catcher Jonah Heim, who also batted in another run, and scored at least one more, himself. That was the first grand slam ever allowed by Ohtani, and I think I heard the radio announcers say that it was the first home run hit off of that particular pitch of his. Also included in the game was Corey Seager finally getting his first Rangers home run (he flirted with that a couple days ago, but it was stolen from him by a great outfield catch). They play again tonight, at 7:05 CDT, apparently with Matt Bush starting.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

"Almighty God, we pray you graciously to behold this your family, for whom our Lord Jesus Christ was willing to be betrayed, and given into the hands of sinners, and to suffer death upon the cross; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen."
(The Book of Common Prayer, Collect for Good Friday)

But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
(1 Corinthians 15:57-58 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for great discussions/conversations with C and Mama
2. for friends with which to have lunch
3. for the death of Jesus on the cross, which paid for all our sins
4. for a life that has been lived with the "correct" definition of success (obeying God's voice, having love and peace, helping others, and appreciating the blessing of family)
5. that "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God"

“When you reap your harvest in your field and forget a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it. It shall be for the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow, that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. When you beat your olive trees, you shall not go over them again. It shall be for the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow. When you gather the grapes of your vineyard, you shall not strip it afterward. It shall be for the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow. You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt; therefore I command you to do this.”
(Deuteronomy 24:19-22 ESV)

Today’s prayer word is “success.” This is a tricky one, I think. We need to be careful, of course, how we define “success.”

Commit your actions to the LORD, and your plans will succeed.
(Proverbs 16:3 NLT)

There is also this famous verse, not included in the reading for today.

This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.
(Joshua 1:8 ESV)

What is success? When classmates vote “most likely to succeed,” they are probably considering who will “make a name for themselves, earn lots of money, and enjoy an illustrious career.”

I really like what today’s reading says. Written by “Barbranda,” she says “While I’ve had goals, I can honestly say that I’ve never had a master plan. I just take life step by step and make the most of the opportunities that come my way. For me, true success is obeying God’s voice, having love and peace, helping others, and appreciating the blessing of family.” (I added the emphasis)

Indeed, I agree. That is what makes up true success. I have never really had what others might call a “life goal,” or “master plan.” I’ve just kind of plodded along, trying to do that same thing that Barbranda said.

" . . . and step by step You'll lead me,
and I will follow You all of my days."
(Written by David Strasser, aka "Beaker," for Rich Mullins)

(From Pray a Word a Day)

We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”
(Luke 23:41 NIV)

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.
(Isaiah 53:5 NIV)

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
(2 Corinthians 5:21 NIV)

We need a lot of help “getting our feet on the ground and making sure we are headed in the right direction.” Our ground is, to a degree, “holy ground,” and the “‘right direction’ is toward the Cross of Jesus.'” Unfortunately, a lot of clutter gets into our lives, littering that holy ground, and voices cry out to us, distracting us from the Cross.

We have to cultivate our inwardness, and this must be intentional. “Spiritual practices, including prayer and fasting, are about getting our inside stories straight.” We must realize that a lot of, maybe most of, Jesus’s life happened “behind the scenes, in prayer. . . . It is not enough to become knowledgeable in surface facts. it is not enough to gain access to the biblical reports. We need the inside story, the God-story, that is at the heart of everything.

“Prayer grants access to inwardness, to the God-action that is taking place within us. This God-action is the most distinctive thing about us. it is more important than our circulatory systems, our brain waves, and our skeletal structures. When we realize that huge centrality, we are no longer content with prayers that are brief and occasional expressions of thanks or general laments upward. We want something comprehensive – prayer that is rigorously probing and capable of getting at the entire inside stories of our lives.”

I apologize for the lengthy quote, but, as is so often the case, I simply cannot adequately paraphrase Peterson’s writing.

(From On Living Well, by Eugene H. Peterson)

Father, this is the kind of prayer, this kind of inwardness, that I am looking for. As I walk through this Good Friday, may my heart, soul, and mind be turned inward toward this “inside story.” I want to know Jesus in this way, and I want to be walking on this “holy ground,” toward the direction of the Cross of Christ. Even if I only move 1% closer each day, I am satisfied with that, as it is progress toward true success. And “success” will be realized when I “arrive,” which will not happen until I stand face to face before You.

Help me to know as I am known. Help me to walk in the present, being aware of Your presence always with me, beside me, behind me, in front of me, above me, below me, and inside me.

May all the glory go to You, through the Son, and by the Spirit.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.

One Thing

Today is Thursday, the tenth of March, 2022, in the first week of Lent.

Peace be with you.

Day 23,373

There is a lot more than “one thing” in this post . . . that should make sense by the time it’s all over.

Our home has a complete new heating and cooling system. The good people of Air King arrived yesterday morning around 10:00 AM, and finished up somewhere around 7:00 PM. If they had any problems or issues, I don’t know about them. All of our old equipment was hauled off and we basically can’t tell they were ever here.

And so far, the new system works great. The new “smart” thermostat actually has a setting (I had only dreamed that this could be possible) that automatically switches between heat and cool. And it connects to Wi-Fi, so we can control the temps from our phones, as well. How cool is that?? Allegedly, this new system will save us up to 35% on our electricity, this summer. We shall see, right? We’re due for a new billing contract soon, so we’ll see what kind of rate we can get.

The day is wide open for me, so I don’t have any real agenda. I hope to finish the book I am currently reading, an ARC version of The Lights of Prague, by Nicole Jarvis. I have about fifty pages left. After that, I will likely work on finishing This Wicked Darkness, a selection of short stories, also an ARC version that I got in exchange for a review. I also have two library books checked out. And a stack sitting on the floor next to me. Not to mention shelves and shelves of books in the house. I should be caught up in about eight hundred years.

I have just discovered, this morning, that the time change to DST occurs this Saturday night. Since I am attempting to fast from being critical, that is all I’m going to say about that.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Meanderings,” by LightWriters

Slabs of river ice
play water music
symphonies of Spring

©2022 S. Michaels
Another Springtime
(Haiku 5-5-5)

You can see more of her wonderful poems at the link provided. Also, there is always a lovely picture that accompanies the short poem, which enhances it that much more, so it’s worth clicking the link.

The Lord is my light and my salvation;
    whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
    of whom shall I be afraid?
(Psalm 27:1 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the heart of gratitude that God has formed within me; it makes life so much easier to bear
2. for celebrations of birth, both into physical life and spiritual life; there  are beautiful similarities between them
3. for the fact that my security in Christ gives me strength against evil spirits in this world
4. for the reminder, today, that I need to clothe myself with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience
5. for the encouragement I've received today to practice my focus

As I conclude John Henry Newman’s selection on fasting, today, he gets into the territory of “spiritual warfare,” to a degree. He speaks of the security of being in Christ, and its effect on our spiritual life. Says Newman, ” . . . evil spirits, instead of having power over us, tremble and are affrighted at every true Christian. They know he has that in him which makes him their master, that he may, if he will, laugh them to scorn, and put them to flight.” Note the word “true” before the word “Christian.” And then consider this passage from the New Testament:

Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, “In the name of the Jesus whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.” Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. One day the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know about, but who are you?” Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding.
(Acts 19:13-16 NIV)

But, if we are “true Christians,” the evil spirits, or demons, will attempt to frighten us and gain power over us. “Therefore, let us be, my brethren, ‘not ignorant of their devices’; and as knowing them, let us watch, fast, and pray, let us keep close under the wings of the Almighty, that He may be our shield and buckler.”

We get a bit too frivolous with the concept of spiritual warfare, in my opinion, almost as if it is a game, or a box to check off on their Sunday School envelope. The whole purpose of fasting is to bring us closer in fellowship to the Lord. It does not get Him to love us more. That is impossible. But it calls to mind that we need to pray more. The point is, whenever I find myself tempted to partake or participate in that from which I am fasting, I am supposed to, at that very moment, stop and pray. The prayer might be about the thing I’m fasting from, or it might be for someone or something else, about which I have knowledge. Or, it might be, as Newman suggests, that He might “make known to us His will – to teach us our faults – to take from us whatever may offend Him – and to lead us in the way everlasting.”

(From Spiritual Classics, by Richard J Foster and Emilie Griffin)

In a short essay called “On Birth,” Eugene Peterson compares physical birth and physical birth. The comparison, to me, is fascinating. “Our first birth thrusts us kicking and squalling into the light of day. Our second birth places us singing and believing in the light of God. By acts of love previous to us, we are launched into ways of seeing and being that become truly ours. We are launched into life.”

In both circumstances, new life is involved. And the thing that really caught my attention was that bit about “acts of love previous to us.” In the physical realm, it is the physical love of two people that results in a birth into new life. And in the spiritual realm, it is the love of God in Jesus Christ that results in a birth into new life.

(From On Living Well, by Eugene H. Peterson)

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
(Colossians 3:12 NIV)

This verse has been on my radar since the mid-eighties, during a particularly spiritually volatile time in my life. I enjoy being brought back to it, from time to time. I don’t always enjoy the way it makes me feel, because I’m usually not living by it when it comes back around.

Going back to that bit about spiritual warfare up there . . . too many folks are all too willing to talk about putting on that spiritual armor, the “armor of God” that Paul talks about in Ephesians. They’re all about that “belt of truth” and “breastplate of righteousness.” They’ve got that “shield of faith,” ready to extinguish those “flaming arrows of the evil one.” They’re ready to spread the gospel, although I’m not so sure they’re into that bit about “peace.”

But you will not find those same people being all that excited about putting on these elements that Paul mentions in Colossians. I truly believe that, in their minds, compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience = weakness. But they are wrong. What those elements do equal is meekness, which is an entirely different thing.

I believe I find myself with more “fuel” for prayer, today.

Peter gives us a similar list:

 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
(2 Peter 1:5-8 ESV)

And, of course, it can all be summed up in love.

Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him.
(1 John 3:18-19 ESV)

Today’s prayer word is “focus.” I think it can go quite well with yesterday’s word, which was “ponder,” for to “ponder” something, or meditate on it, is to focus on said topic for a period of time.

I believe our culture has lost, or at least is in the process of losing, the ability to focus. The average, or standard, length of a TV commercial, these days, is fifteen seconds. I remember when they used to be a full minute. Then thirty seconds. Now fifteen. One source claims that some Internet ads are even down to only one second.

This is a reflection on the attention span of our culture. I confess that I have fallen into it, myself, as it is a struggle for me to maintain enough focus to sit and read a book for very long. We are always doing something else when we watch a TV program. We might be eating, we might be playing a game on a phone or tablet or laptop. Or we might just be scrolling through Facebook. I lose count of how many times I have to rewind a program on Prime Video or Netflix, saying, “Wait, what just happened?”

A Zen proverb is quoted at the beginning of today’s reading. It says, “When walking, walk. When eating, eat.” That’s all it says, but it can be applied to everything we do. There is a lot of stress put on “multitasking,” these days. Personally, I believe multitasking to be a myth. Oh, sure, I can do five things at a time. But am I doing any of them well? And, am I fully focused on any of them?

The answer, of course, is “no.” And, of course, these bad habits cannot help but effect our prayer lives. If I can’t focus enough to read for a length of time, or watch a TV program with my full concentration, I also am unable to pray for any serious amount of time.

A perfect example is what happens to me when I try to do this blog with Facebook and email tabs open in my browser. It is currently 10:47 AM. I started this blog well over two hours ago, and I’m not finished yet. Granted, I look at four different resources (not counting my Bible reading plan), but I still get much too easily distracted.

So there’s what I need to work on. Focus. One thing.

(From Pray a Word a Day)

Father, there is much to pray over today. I give You praise for being my Father in heaven, and for the grace and mercy that You have lavished on me. I pray for Your name to be glorified in all the earth, for You to be lifted high and worshiped.

I thank You for the discipline of fasting, to help me to remember to pray more effectively. Help me to be more adept at both practices, as well as knowing my strengths that You have placed within me. Gratitude is one of those strengths, and showing this, constantly, helps keep me humble (not that I am all that humble, mind you).

Thank You for the miracle of birth, both physical and spiritual. I cannot stress one over the other, for if it were not for physical birth, there would be no spiritual birth. They are too closely tied together. May we all be better at recognizing the beauty in both events.

Please help me to keep myself clothed in compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. I need all of those in equal measure, for none is more important than any other. I pray that it all be tied together in love within my heart and soul.

And in all of these things, please help me focus better. Keep me mindful of the need for “one thing.” One thing at a time.

All glory to You, through the Son, and by the Spirit.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

I will recount the steadfast love of the Lord,
    the praises of the Lord,
according to all that the Lord has granted us,
    and the great goodness to the house of Israel
that he has granted them according to his compassion,
    according to the abundance of his steadfast love.
(Isaiah 63:7 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Oh!

Today is Tuesday, the fifteenth of February, 2022, in the sixth week of Ordinary Time.

Peace be with you!

Day 23.350

C has gone to work, this morning, to the office. She says she is feeling some better, but still experiencing what she describes as sinus headaches. My manager at the library seems to be experiencing similar symptoms and was out yesterday and will be today, as well. She also had a negative Covid test result. So far, I have managed to avoid whatever this is.

C and I got the shelf back up in the study, yesterday afternoon. We managed to find a couple of studs in the wall and got it attached to them, so no anchors were needed. Hopefully, it won’t fall off the wall again. I finished going through old files in the file cabinet, so that’s done. I have a stack of files that are going to the garage, as soon as I get the new plastic file boxes that I ordered from Amazon. They should arrive today. These are files that are important enough to not be tossed out, but not important enough to take up space in the file cabinet.

Now I just have a few stacks of papers to go through and file, and things will look much better in here. This will also be conducive to more music making in the future.

Since this is Tuesday, I will be working at the library from 4:15-8:15 tonight. This is also my week in circulation, so I will be working tomorrow and Saturday, in addition to my usual Friday shift in the Computer Center.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

GOD IS SO GOOD, by Daryl Madden

My heart would say more
If it only could
But words will suffice
That God is SO good

The gift that has rescued
From my deserved fate
Let me proclaim
God’s mercy is great!

Blessings abundant
Each day He brings
Gifts all for free
God’s grace is everything

Each moment I find
Beyond comprehending
Unconditionally
God’s love is unending

I love this poem, which was published yesterday. I’m not sure how I missed it, yesterday. Please see more of Daryl’s poetry at the link provided.

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 the power and love of community in Christ
2. for the wonder, amazement, and praise indicated by the simple word, "oh"
3. for simple things, like getting a shelf back on the wall
4. for my wonderful wife, who is a perfect fit for me, and whom I most definitely do not deserve
5. that God is so good, His mercy is great, His grace is everything, and His love is neverending
They are blessed who keep his commandments; they will have their eternal place. Come in, all of you, so that you may be happy and be able to say, I’ve seen him on the cross, the one who loves me. Teach me, Father, to love you, praise you and pray to you.

Today’s prayer word is “oh.” That’s it. Just, “oh.” But that word carries with it an entire dictionary of meaning, does it not? The Scripture reference is the beginning of Mary’s Magnificat, from the New Living Transation.

Mary responded, “Oh, how my soul praises the Lord.”
(Luke 1:46 NLT)

Sometimes, “oh” can indicate surprise, wonder, or praise. Sometimes, it is a response when someone gives us information, and is followed by the word, “okay.” I see that a lot. “Oh, okay.”

The Psalms are filled with the word. One of my favorite instances is Psalm 34:8.

Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good!
 Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! 
Oh, fear the LORD, you his saints, 
for those who fear him have no lack! 
The young lions suffer want and hunger; 
but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing. 
(Psalms 34:8-10 ESV)

Many is the time that I have uttered the word in amazement, when looking out over something in God’s creation. And I love to sing along with Rich Mullin’s use of it in “Step by Step,” as he sings “Oh, God, You are my God.”

“Oh, God, You are my God, and I will ever praise You!” That is my cry to You, this morning, for it is true. No matter what I go through, no matter where I have been or what has gone before, You have remained my God through all of these years of my life, and I see no reason that this should ever change. I have changed like the wind, but You remain constant, and that is the thing that has kept me following You. Your patience with me has been remarkable and most certainly praiseworthy.

As I consider Christ on the Cross, today, and the commands that He gave us, may I follow closely in His steps, walking in the rest of His easy yoke and light burden. Let me not burden myself by attempting to carry loads that are not mine to carry.

Thank You for the beauty of Your creation, both on the earth and in the skies above. May I never grow tired of the amazement and wonder that I get when I see it.

I lift up prayers, today, for C and my manager at work, and others I know who are not feeling well, right now. Please bring them healing and relief. I also pray for wisdom for decisions that need to be made in the future.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Never

Today is Saturday, the eighth of January, 2022, in the second week of Christmas.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,312

Fifteen days until Hamilton!

Yesterday was a sad day, as we learned of the deaths of two more entertainment giants. First, I learned that Sidney Poitier passed away at the age of 94. Most people remember him for To Sir With Love, but I remember him more for A Patch of Blue. Minutes after I learned of his passing, I learned that Peter Bogdanovich, director of The Last Picture Show, Paper Moon, and Mask, among others, had also passed away, at the age of 82. Both of them died on Thursday.

It was, of course, another great day at the library. In addition to working the computer center, which seemed busier than usual, with more people needing extended help, I was asked to jump over and do some shelving for the last couple of hours. Due to some unusual “projects” going on at the time, the shelving hall had gotten very backed up. There’s a chance that I might be doing a little more of that today, in between my times at the circulation desk. I believe my manager sent out an email asking the circ manager if I could do shelving during my “off-desk” hours.

Of course, I’m totally fine with this. Whatever they need me to do, I’m cool with.

Today, I am due in at 9:30, working until 6:15.

It is currently 45 degrees (which I believe is warmer than yesterday’s high), and is projected to reach 64 later today. It is currently cloudy, but is expected to be clear, this evening. Tonight’s low is expected to be 45. The temp range for the next week seems a bit more “normal” for this time of year, ranging from just below freezing in the morning to as high as 68 one day.

I finished reading A Slow Fire Burning, by Paula Hawkins, last night, and posted my review of it in my other blog. I am currently reading, at the recommendation of one of the librarians, Pudd’nhead Wilson and Those Extraordinary Twins, by Mark Twain (Samuel L. Clemens). This volume contains both stories, along with quite a bit of critical content. I will try to get through all of the critical content after reading the stories. After completing two books in the first week of 2022, I am ahead of schedule on my reading challenge for the year. I’m sure that will not last long.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Little Quiet Moments, by Daryl Madden

In the midst of life
An offer here for free
To take a little moment
To be still and be

A moment to ponder
A change of attitude
Practicing of wonder
To foster gratitude

A moment of dwelling
With our being whole
To open to Spirit
And center the soul

A moment of vision
Perspective to see
Of the infinite ways
That Gods’ blessing me

Little quiet moments
An insight of gleaning
That seem to give the rest
Extra special meaning

This poem inspired by a quote from Fred Rogers: “How many times have you noticed that it’s the little quiet moments in the midst of life that seem to give the rest extra-special meaning?” Please check out more of Daryl’s inspiration and meditative poetry at the link provided above.

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)

Today I am grateful:

1. for books and the authors who write them
2. for all of my new friends at the Hurst Public Library
3. for the fullness of joy in the presence of the Father
4. that I have a part in God's story, no matter how small it may seem
5. that God will never leave us or forsake us

Today, in Symphony of Salvation, by Eugene H. Peterson, we get to the book of Ruth, the great-grandmother of King David. Ruth was an “outsider,” not born into the faith. “But she came to find herself gathered into the story and given a quiet and obscure part that proved critical to the way everything turned out.”

In the midst of all the great names of faith (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Samuel, David, Solomon), we find this ordinary, seemingly random person. You and I, along with Ruth, might find ourselves saying, “Surely there is no way that I can have any significant part on such a stage.”

Of course, Ruth said no such thing, because she wasn’t even aware that there was a stage. But we, as we look back on this story, can easily find ourselves wondering how we, as similarly ordinary people, can possibly have a part in God’s great plan.

Says Peterson, “The book of Ruth makes it possible for each of us to understand ourselves, however ordinary or ‘out of it,’ as irreplaceable in the full telling of God’s story. We count–every last one of us–and what we do counts.”

“Blessed be GOD! He didn’t leave you without family to carry on your life.”
(Ruth 4:14 MSG)

As Rich Mullins said, in "Who God Is Gonna Use," 
"You never know who God is gonna use
A princess or a baby
Maybe even you or me."
"Behold, I will do a new thing . . ."
(Isaiah 43:19)

Wisdom is with the aged, and understanding in length of days.
(Job 12:12 ESV)

The righteous flourish like the palm tree and grow like a cedar in Lebanon. 
They are planted in the house of the LORD; 
they flourish in the courts of our God. 
They still bear fruit in old age; they are ever full of sap and green, 
to declare that the LORD is upright; he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him. 
(Psalms 92:12-15 ESV)

Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life.
(Proverbs 16:31 ESV)

That Isaiah verse has popped up a lot, since January 1. I suppose that is always a theme for the “New Year,” that God is doing a “new thing.” But then, He is always doing a “new thing,” isn’t He? We read that favorite verse from Lamentations frequently, that talks about His mercies being “new every morning.” We wake up every morning to a new day. And who doesn’t remember the old cliche, from the seventies, “Today is the first day of the rest of your life!” (Okay, maybe it was earlier than the seventies.)

Cliche as it is, it’s true. Every day is the “first day of the rest of your life.” What do we do about that? And, no matter how old we get (I’m almost 64, now), God can and will keep using us to do “new things.” We are never too old to be a part of God’s great story!

Speaking of “never,” that happens to be today’s prayer word in Pray a Word a Day. Harriet Beecher Stowe is quoted as saying, “Never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.”

The word “never” occurs in 186 verses in the Bible (in the English Standard Version). The first four of those are in Genesis 8 and 9, when God promises that He will never again destroy the earth in the way that He did in the flood. In Judges 2:1, “the angel of the LORD” says, “I will never break my covenant with you.”

Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.
(Psalms 34:5 ESV)

Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.
(Psalms 55:22 ESV)

For the righteous will never be moved; he will be remembered forever.
(Psalms 112:6 ESV)

Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look at the earth beneath; for the heavens vanish like smoke, the earth will wear out like a garment, and they who dwell in it will die in like manner; but my salvation will be forever, and my righteousness will never be dismayed.
(Isaiah 51:6 ESV)

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
(Lamentations 3:22-23 ESV)

I make a decree, that in all my royal dominion people are to tremble and fear before the God of Daniel, for he is the living God, enduring forever; his kingdom shall never be destroyed, and his dominion shall be to the end.
(Daniel 6:26 ESV)

The LORD has taken away the judgments against you; he has cleared away your enemies. The King of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst; you shall never again fear evil.
(Zephaniah 3:15 ESV)

but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
(John 4:14 ESV)

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.”
(John 6:35-37 ESV)

I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.
(John 10:28 ESV)

There are many more occurrences of the word, a number of them more negative. But the point I make, here, is that God has made promises that He will not leave us, and that those of us who believe in Jesus and follow Him, will not be put to shame, cast out, or perish. There are other places where the word “never” is exclusively used in the KJV, but the ESV uses a word such as “not.” Deuteronomy 31:8 is one such place.

“It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”
(Deuteronomy 31:8 ESV)

In light of all of those “nevers,” I think it is safe to say that we, as His children, should “never give up,” because it’s “never too late.” You see, if our God is always in the business of doing “new things,” then we are “never” too old to be included in those “new things.” I’m wearing out my ” key, here.

“You can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” we’ve all heard. I disagree, because I’m an “old dog” and I learn “new tricks” almost every day.

God is doing a “new thing.” You never know who He is going to use in His plan. Remember, He even used a donkey once (go back and listen to that Rich Mullins song again). He used some real jerks in the story (go back and read about Judges in yesterday’s blog). He used a “nobody” like Ruth to be the great-grandmother of King David, in the lineage of Jesus Christ.

I won’t be in the lineage of a Savior, but I know for a fact that God has used me in peoples’ lives. I am confident that He will continue to do so, even though, in the grand scheme of things, I’m pretty much a nobody. But you know what?

Everybody is somebody to somebody.

Father, I am grateful to know that You will never give up on me. Because of that, I will also never give up on You and what You can do in someone’s life, or in the life of our world and culture. I will never stop calling out to You; I will never stop worshiping You; I will never stop singing and playing my instruments to You. And I believe that, no matter how old I live to be, that You will continue to do new and fresh things within me and those around me.

I continue (because I will never give up) to pray that You will intervene and eradicate the plague that surrounds us. To all appearances, it is getting worse, daily. The country where I live had 850,000 new cases yesterday, a new record. But You know this. I implore You (yes, a fancy word for “beg”) to rid us of this disease, Father. I pray that the cases will stop, that the hospitals and their workers will get some relief. I also pray that people would stop being so mean to one another. Help us to love again, Lord. Help me to do my part, even more than my part, to spread love in this world.

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.

Your Name Alone

Good morning. Today is Thursday, the thirtieth of December, 2021, the sixth day of Christmas.

May the peace of Christ be with you today.

Day 23,303

Only two more days until 2022!!

Temperatures continue to be unseasonably warm (albeit comfortable) as we have a projected high of 76 in DFW today. However, the weekend looks like it will be, how you say, “brisk.” No, let’s don’t mess around. It’s going to be freakin’ cold Sunday and Monday mornings. We’re talking in the twenties, and low twenties, at that. In fact, Saturday’s temps will go from a high of 73 to a low Sunday morning of 20! At least the temperature is supposed to get above freezing Sunday afternoon before dropping back down to 24 Monday morning. And both days are slated to be “sunny.”

Not a lot happened, yesterday. I got a package returned to Amazon, via the UPS store, and picked up Sonic drinks while out. There seems to be a growing shortage of Sprite Zero at the Sonics, so C had to drink Diet Coke. We got our grocery delivery from Albertsons and everything was good on that, except they were out of Dr. Pepper Zero Sugar products. No worries. If we run out, we have plenty of Coke Zero. And if we run out of that, we have plenty of water.

C has a prescription ready to pick up at CVS, and I tried to get it yesterday, but the line was wrapped around the building, and she said she didn’t have to have it until Friday. So I will try again today.

We made chili for dinner last night, the first meal we’ve cooked since Christmas. We don’t normally have chili on Wednesday, so that was a departure from our normal schedule. Which is fine, because the “schedule” has been anything but normal this week. So much so that I’m still having trouble remembering what day it is. I do know that tomorrow is Friday, and I am supposed to work. So I will need to get to bed at a more decent time tonight, and get up before 9:00, because I’m supposed to be at work by 9:15. And I don’t want to have to rush through the last blog of the year, right?

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.
Shout for joy in the LORD, O you righteous!
 Praise befits the upright. 
Give thanks to the LORD with the lyre; 
make melody to him with the harp of ten strings! 
Sing to him a new song; 
play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts. 
For the word of the LORD is upright, 
and all his work is done in faithfulness. 
(Psalms 33:1-4 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the ability and skill to "make melody to Him," and to sing new songs to the Lord
2. for the steadfast love of the Lord, which endures forever (see Psalm 136)
3. for the promise of Home
4. that only the name of the Lord is worthy to be exalted
5. for the many names of God and what they all mean for us

Your love, LORD, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies.
(Psalms 36:5 NIV)

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, 
"I am the light of the world. 
Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, 
but will have the light of life." 
(John 8:12 ESV)

They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.
(John 17:16 ESV)

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, 
the holy habitation of the Most High. 
God is in the midst of her;
 she shall not be moved; 
God will help her when morning dawns. 
(Psalms 46:4-5 ESV)

For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come.
(Hebrews 13:14 ESV)

"Let not your hearts be troubled. 
Believe in God; believe also in me. 
In my Father's house are many rooms. 
If it were not so, would I have told you 
that I go to prepare a place for you? 
And if I go and prepare a place for you, 
I will come again and will take you to myself, 
that where I am you may be also."
(John 14:1-3 ESV)
He will come again,
and will take us to Himself;
I long to be Home.

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

CHRISTMAS – DAY SIX

INVITATION

Shout praises to the LORD,
 everyone on this earth. 
Be joyful and sing as you come in to worship the LORD! 
(Psalms 100:1-2 CEV)

As I pause, this morning, I’m reflecting on Home. While there is nothing I can do to hasten my arrival there (it is God’s purpose that keeps me here), I can express my desire to be there, and, hopefully, prepare myself for the eventual transition. Dallas Willard once opined that some people’s transition from this life to the next might be so smooth that they don’t even realize that they “died.”

BIBLE SONG

Praise the LORD. 

Praise the LORD from the heavens; 
praise him in the heights above. 
Praise him, all his angels; 
praise him, all his heavenly hosts. 
Praise him, sun and moon; 
praise him, all you shining stars. 
Praise him, you highest heavens 
and you waters above the skies. 

Let them praise the name of the LORD, 
for his name alone is exalted; 
his splendor is above the earth and the heavens.  
And he has raised up for his people a horn, 
the praise of all his faithful servants, 
of Israel, the people close to his heart. 

Praise the LORD.
(Psalms 148:1-4, 13-14 NIV)

BIBLE READING

There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem. 
When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth. And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was on him. 
(Luke 2:36-40 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I read these passages again, I look for words or ideas that stir within me, lingering over them, giving them my attention. I pray my life to God, resting in His presence.

In the midst of Psalm 148, such a great panoply of praise, one phrase catches my attention, today. It comes in verse 13: “His name alone is exalted.”

We “praise” a lot of things and people in this world. WE speak fondly of our favorite places, people, foods, books, songs, games, and so on. But there is only One who deserves to truly be worshiped.

He goes by many names. 
YHWH (Yahweh or Jehovah) - I AM
El Shaddai - God Almighty
Adonai
Elohim
El Elyon
El Olam

There are many suffixes to the name, Jehovah. 

Jehovah Shalom - The Lord is Peace
Jehovah Jireh - The Lord will Provide
Jehovah Tsidkenu - The Lord our Righteousness
Jehovah Nissi - The Lord is my Banner
Jehovah Sabbaoth - The Lord of Hosts
Jehovah Maccaddeshcem (M'Kaddesh) - The Lord who Sanctifies
Jehovah Rohi - The Lord my Shepherd
Jehovah Shammah - The Lord is there
Jehovah Rapha - The Lord who Heals

I’m sure I have not exhausted the list . . . these are just some of the “bigger” ones, or more well-known names of God.

Consider today . . . who do you need God to be in your life today? Call on the Name of God that you need the most today. Do you need peace? Do you have physical needs of provision? Do you need protection? Do you need healing? Or do you just need to know that He is there? Call on Him, and He will answer. If you seek Him with all your heart, He will hear you and He will make Himself known to you.

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
(Jeremiah 29:13 NIV)

Father, I don’t know if I can truthfully say that I have ever sought You with “all my heart.” For surely, there is always a piece of my heart that longs for the things of this world. Otherwise, I would have ceased chasing after anything sinful, long ago. So I need You to do what Psalm 86:11 asks for. Unite my heart to fear Your Name. Teach me Your way, that I may walk in Your truth. My heart’s desire is to be whole-hearted toward You, so that I might truly know You and see Your face. I know that, someday, I will see what can be seen of You, in glory, and I truly long for that day, because I grow weary of the fight in this world. Yet I know that I am still here for a purpose, and I want to fulfill that purpose for You. So keep drawing me closer, and keep showing me Yourself, that I might come closer to calling on You with my whole heart.

Your Name, alone, is to be exalted and worshiped. Help me to worship You more faithfully, Father. And for anyone who stumbles across this, today, Lord, I pray that one of those many names of Yours will inspire them to call upon You for whatever they need in Your life. Show Yourself, faithfully, to all who call upon You, that Your name may be glorified, on earth as it is in heaven. I seek no recognition, as I am only a channel of the words that Your Holy Spirit puts in my brain and on my heart. I pray that I am “hearing” correctly, though. Let me never say or do anything that brings dishonor to Your Holy Name!

Father, please give Your children the commitment to do justice and love mercy. I pray for the rights and protection of children in our land and around the world. And, for anyone who is lonely, today, may You, Jehovah Shammah, show Yourself to them as their faithful companion.

BLESSING

Praise the Lord, the God of Israel! He has come to save his people.
(Luke 1:68 CEV)

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.

Good and Trouble

Today is Thursday, the twenty-first of October, 2021

May the peace of God reign in your lives

Day 23,233

Seventeen days until Daylight Saving Time ends

As is pretty typical on or around Thursdays, I don’t have a whole lot to write about, this morning. I did some grocery shopping, yesterday, and not much else. I’m doing a few other household chores today, and hope to get a good deal of reading done. The library book I am reading is due tomorrow, and I’m not sure I’m going to get it finished.

The Red Sox are heading back to Houston, down 3-2, after another lackluster performance, yesterday. The sad thing is that Chris Sale actually put on a stellar performance from the mound, only giving up one run on a home run, early in the game. Unfortunately, the Houston pitcher was perfect through five innings, something that has never happened at Fenway Park. And then, as if they weren’t behind enough, Alex Cora showed that he doesn’t learn from his mistakes and put Martin Perez in, again, in the ninth, to hand the Astros two more runs. Red Sox lose 9-1. Oh, well. It will be one less thing to worry about.

I have neglected to mention . . . we will be closing on the refinancing of our mortgage next Tuesday. We will be paying off both car loans after the refi, and we plan to channel the money we have been paying on the cars into the mortgage payment, and theoretically could have the house paid off in less than ten years. The main reason was to get a lower interest rate, but we will take advantage of the opportunity to pay off the cars early. I don’t foresee either of us entering into a new car loan any time soon. Both of our cars are less than five years old. I think mine is a 2019, and C’s is likely only the year before that.

Today is Reptile Awareness Day. Lizards, anyone?

Today’s word is shivaree. “A mock serenade with kettles, pans, horns, and other noisemakers given for a newly married couple; charivari.”

Today’s quote is from Jonas Salk, American scientist. “The reward for work well done is the opportunity to do more.” Reminds me of one that I don’t know who originally said it, “No good deed goes unpunished.”

Significant birthdays on October 21:

Samuel Taylor Coleridge, English poet (Rime of the Ancient Mariner), 1772-1834
Sir Georg Solti, Hungarian conductor (Chicago Symphony), 1911-1994
John Birks "Dizzy" Gillespie, American jazz trumpeter, 1917-1993
Whitey Ford, American HoF baseball pitcher, 1928-2020
Ursula K. Le Guin, American Science Fiction author (The Lathe of Heaven), 1929-2018
Manfred Mann, British rock musician (The Mighty Quinn, Blinded By the Light), 1940 (81)
Elvin Bishop, American rock guitar player (Fooled Around and Fell in Love), 1942 (79)
Judith Sheindlin, American television personality (Judge Judy), 1942 (79)
Lee Loughnane, American musician and songwriter (Chicago), 1946 (75)
Keith Green, American Christian musician, 1953-1982
Rich Mullins, American Christian singer/songwriter, 1955-1997
Carrie Fisher, American actress (Star Wars, Shampoo), 1956-2016
Steve Lukather, American rock singer, guitar player (Toto), 1957 (64)
Speaking of trouble . . .

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

“Jesus wants us to receive the love he offers.
He wants nothing more than that we allow him to love us and enjoy that love.
This is so hard since we always feel that we have to deserve the love offered to us.
But Jesus wants to offer that love to us not because we have earned it, but because he has decided to love us independently of any effort on our side.
Our own love for each other should flow from that “first love” that is given to us undeserved.” (Henri Nouwen, Receive Jesus’ Love)

But we your people, the sheep of your pasture, will give thanks to you forever; from generation to generation we will recount your praise.
(Psalms 79:13 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the love of Jesus, undeserved, yet freely given
2. that I am alive and breathing
3. for a raise at my library job (yes, already!)
4. for passages of Scripture with which I must struggle
5. that my enemy can bring nothing against me that God has not approved (don't agree? Read the book of Job)

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TWENTY-TWO – DAY FIVE

INVITATION

I praise God, because he did not reject my prayer or keep back his constant love from me.
(Psalms 66:20 GNB)

I pause, during this quiet moment, to reflect on the love of Jesus, as stated by Henri Nouwen, above. It is such a marvelous truth to realize that He loves us unconditionally, even though we have done nothing to deserve such love.

BIBLE SONG

The LORD says to my lord: “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.”
(Psalms 110:1 NIV)

The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind: “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.”

The Lord is at your right hand; he will crush kings on the day of his wrath.
He will judge the nations, heaping up the dead and crushing the rulers of the whole earth.
He will drink from a brook along the way, and so he will lift his head high.
(Psalms 110:4-7 NIV)

BIBLE READING

So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD and afflicted Job with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the crown of his head. Then Job took a piece of broken pottery and scraped himself with it as he sat among the ashes.
His wife said to him, “Are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die!”
He replied, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?”
In all this, Job did not sin in what he said.
(Job 2:7-10 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I linger over these passages, I seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance in meditating over them. These are not the easiest of passages to apply to current life situations.

I’ll be honest . . . the psalm is not one of my favorites and is a bit off-putting, especially when trying to ascertain how it applies to us, today. I believe that the first part refers to the Father speaking to the Son. The designation “LORD” should be translated from the Hebrew “YHWH,” or “yehovah.” The other “Lord” is translated from variations of “Adonai,” which means “sovereign” or “ruler.”

References to Melchizedek are always confusing, too. Basically, Melchizedek was the king of Salem, who just appeared to Abraham in Genesis 14. There are some who believe that Hebrews teaches that he was actually the pre-incarnate Christ. However, I don’t think I go along with that teaching, and passages like Psalm 110 seem to rule that out. Nevertheless, Melchizedek is a mysterious character in the narrative, having no explanation of where he came from or anything.

Psalm 110, though, proclaims that Christ (the “Lord” referred to in these verses) is a “priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.”

The latter verses of the psalm seem pretty violent, and I won’t pretend to comprehend verse 7 at all. I believe the main thing to get from Psalm 110 is the preeminence of Christ.

And the main thing I get from the Job passage (after I get through shuddering at the image of a man sitting among ashes, scraping boils off of his skin with piece of pottery) is Job’s response to his wife when she encourages him to “curse God and die.”

It’s a very wise response and one we would all do well to ponder. “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?”

Again, I don’t know if I believe that Job was a real person or if this is just allegory that teaches us things about God and His relationship with His people. I do know that there are people out there who would have us believe that any “trouble” we receive in life comes from the devil.

I don’t agree with that stance. God most definitely brought trouble on Israel. He sent trouble to David. Now, granted, most of those times of trouble were caused by their own actions. But Job had done nothing wrong. And while it is true that the boils and calamities were technically caused by Satan, they were allowed by God.

So I will gracefully (sometimes not so much, I admit) accept whatever comes my way. The Lord giveth, the Lord taketh away, you know.

Father, I am grateful for all of the good that You bring to my life. And I know, as Scripture tells me, that even the trouble that comes my way comes through You, and You work it all out for my good, because I do love You, and I am called according to Your purpose. I say these things with all humility, especially in light of the love of Jesus, so freely given, yet so little deserved. I praise You for Your great love for us, Father! Give me strength to endure any trouble that comes my way, with the grace that the Holy Spirit enables me to display. Teach me Your way, that I may walk in Your truth.

I pray that all of Your Church will have a deeper understanding of the gospel and what it means for us. May we have the full experience of life as Your adopted children, and please give us vibrant prayer lives.

"God of severe mercy,
like Job,
eventually I will lose everything -
whatever treasures I have,
my family,
my health,
my life.
This bitter reality challenges my core motives:
why am I following You?
Who am I living this life for?
Yet in this I rest:
I belong to You,
come what may.
Amen."

BLESSING

“Happy are the pure in heart; they will see God!
(Matthew 5:8 GNB)

The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
(Psalms 34:18 NIV)

Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.
(Psalms 55:22 NIV)

‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
(Revelation 21:4 NIV)

Psalm 55:22 is a great verse to read after considering the truths brought forth in Job.

Thank You, Father, that You will never let us be shaken.

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.