Was Job Patient?

Today is Saturday, the fifteenth of January, 2022, in the first week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ be with you.

By the way . . . that is not just a filler that I put in here. While it may seem somewhat “automatic,” I really do wish for the peace of Christ to be with everyone who reads this.

Day 23,319 (the number of days since I was born)

Only eight days until Hamilton, if the show goes on as scheduled.

I know I sound like a broken record, but it was a lovely day at the library, yesterday. There was a flurry of activity around one point, and while I was unsuccessfully attempting to help one patron send a document to our printers from her phone (more on that in a minute), there was one person using the fax, and another waiting to use it.

The reason I was unsuccessful in helping the first patron was that she didn’t seem to know what to do on her phone, and was not patient enough to keep trying. She seemed really jittery, as well, and finally just gave up and said she would go home and do it. I don’t think there was any frustration with me, or at least I didn’t sense that.

In the meantime, the person using the fax finished, and actually helped the next person fax her documents. I thanked her profusely for this after I got done with the patron I was trying to help.

I also spent some time helping with the shelving again. I sorted several carts while sitting at my desk in the computer center, and then, from about 4:00-5:40, I shelved two carts of books in the stacks. The librarian that was on duty in the computer center was fine with me doing that. She asked me what I wanted to do, and I said it really didn’t matter, that I wanted to do whatever they needed me to do. That was the truth, too.

So today is my Saturday off, and we are planning to head to Mineral Wells in a little while to visit Mama and get me a couple cases of Crazy Water #4.

Oh, and C has been given permission to work from home over the next two weeks. As of right now, there were 827,132 new cases of Covid-19 in the U.S., yesterday. That number seems to change, though, as I’m looking at two days ago, which now shows 869,783.

While I have had various allergy symptoms over the past couple of weeks, I have exhibited none of the common symptoms of any of the Covid variants.

It’s cold today. Currently 33 degrees, and the high is only projected to be 36. Tonight’s low is predicted to be just below 30, but tomorrow’s high is 57. There is little-to-no precipitation predicted. In fact, I saw something yesterday that indicated that north Texas is experiencing a drought. But that seems to be rather normal for this time of year.

Oh, I almost forgot. I got a call about my new CPAP yesterday, finally. I have an appointment Tuesday morning to pick it up. The total cost is going to be close to $1000. The good news is that all of that will go toward our deductible for the year. I won’t have to pay it all at once, either. There is an up-front charge, a couple months of “rental,” and then a final charge, after which I will own it.

And now, on to the important stuff.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

"O Lord,
you have mercy on all.
Take away my sins,
and mercifully kindle in me
the fire of your Holy Spirit.
Take away my heart of stone
and give me a heart of flesh,
a heart to love and adore you,
a heart to delight in you,
to follow and to enjoy you, for Christ’s sake.
Amen."
(Prayer for A Renewed Heart, St. Ambrose)
"Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 
Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. 
For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." 
(Luke 12:32-34 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that it is our Father's "good pleasure" to give us the Kingdom
2. that my treasure is in heaven
3. for the capacity God gives us to be kind to one another
4. that God has patience with us and can handle our questions of frustration
5. for the opportunity to look back on the week and assess any growth (or lack thereof)

Have you ever heard someone say something about the “patience of Job?” I have decided, over the years, that that phrase is incorrect. Job was anything but “patient.” He suffered, and he endured the suffering, true. He was faithful, never giving in to the temptations (and advice) to give up. But he was far from patient.

“Job did not take his sufferings quietly or piously. He disdained going for a second opinion to outside physicians or philosophers. Job took his stand before God, and there he protested his suffering, protested mightily.”

"All I want is an answer to one prayer, a last request to be honored: 
Let God step on me—squash me like a bug, and be done with me for good. 
I'd at least have the satisfaction of not having blasphemed the Holy God, before being pressed past the limits. 
Where's the strength to keep my hopes up? What future do I have to keep me going? 
Do you think I have nerves of steel? Do you think I'm made of iron? 
Do you think I can pull myself up by my bootstraps? Why, I don't even have any boots!"
(Job 6:8-13 MSG)

And Job’s suffering was not unlike our suffering, in this life. He suffered “in the vital areas of family, personal health, and material things.” But Job stayed faithful, having this firm conviction:

Because even if he killed me, I'd keep on hoping. 
I'd defend my innocence to the very end. 
Just wait, this is going to work out for the best—my salvation! 
(Job 13:15-16 MSG)

(From Symphony of Salvation, by Eugene H. Peterson)


So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.
(Romans 14:19 ESV)

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
(Ephesians 4:32 ESV)


Pray As You Go does a thing on Saturday that they call the “Saturday Examen.” What is examen? “A devotional exercise involving reflection on and moral evaluation of one’s thoughts and conduct, typically performed on a daily basis.” In the Catholic tradition, it is something that is done at the end of the day. I like PAYG’s idea of doing it on Saturday, at the end of the week. There is encouragement to look back on the week, reflecting on things that God has done, or, perhaps, on events that created tension or disharmony, or attitudes that could have been better. What went well? What didn’t go so well?

In the past week, I gained a fresher perspective on the purpose of God’s Word in my life; that it is not so much a moral code to try to live by, but stories told, with an invitation for me to live in them. It is God’s story, and I am invited to see my own story in the context of His story (and no, I am not trying to be clever with the word “history”). One of the keys in this is to never be satisfied with where I am, to never stop learning.

The idea of the sovereignty of God in the affairs of men was reinforced, something we all need to be reminded of, occasionally. I was also reminded that the people God used in the Bible were pretty ordinary, for the most part, and not always the most exemplary of characters.

The concept of doing good things for people that don’t like us was also reinforced, another thing that we need to be constantly reminded of.

One of the things that I need to do better at, going forward, is listening for the “voice” of God. Whether that be an audible voice, or the whisperings of the Holy Spirit, I need to be attuned to what He is saying to me. And I need to be aware of the fact that Jesus is willing to do good things for us, as He was willing to touch the leper and heal him.


Father, as this week draws to a close, I am thankful for the things You have taught me. I am always glad to have a reminder of Your sovereignty in this world, because the world constantly tries to make me think otherwise. The world loves chaos, and seems to thrive on that. But I know that You are in control of all things. I am grateful for the reminder of Job’s persistence before You. I’m not concerned at all with whether Job was a real person or not. The story has value, either way. It shows us that, while You are sovereign, You can take questioning. We cannot offend You or hurt Your feelings. And You will, eventually, answer.

I thank You for the many stories that have been presented to us in Your Word, stories into which we can enter and live. I thank You for imagination, that allows me to consider my own place in Your story by considering how I would have reacted in any of those Bible stories. And I thank You for the prayers of various people recorded in Your Word, that can give me inspiration for my own prayers.

Help me to be a better listener, next week. Let me focus on improving that skill. Increase my faith in You, as well, believing that You are always ready and willing to do “good things” for me. All glory to You, through the Son, and by the Spirit

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Glory be to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, so it is now and so it shall ever be, world without end. Alleluia. Amen.


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

Grace and peace, friends.

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.

Surely Goodness and Mercy

Good morning (it will be afternoon before I am finished). Today is Saturday, the first of January, 2022. The eighth day of Christmas.

May the peace of Christ be upon you today!

Day 23,305

Twenty-two days until we finally get to see Hamilton. Hoping that the current surge of Covid Omicron variant doesn’t wind up canceling this one.

It’s a new year, and with the new year come new devotional materials. So things will begin looking a little different from last year. Some things will stay the same, but others will change. I will continue to try to make note of where we are in the Church calendar, hence the mention of the eighth day of Christmas, above. I have a couple of sources to help me keep up with that.

Yesterday was another great day at the library. It was somewhat slower than usual, for the whole library, as well as the computer center. There were only a handful of staff people there, so it was very quiet. I had an unusual experience as I helped a gentleman scan and attach documents to an HOA website, so he could try to get permission to add solar panels to his home. It was very complicated, and reinforces my opinion that I will NEVER live in an HOA.

C wasn’t feeling well, yesterday, so I picked up Subway for dinner for last night. We did wind up staying up until the end of 2021, though. Actually, I think C had to, to make sure that their systems came back online at midnight, as scheduled. She and I counted down the new year together, watching the last minute or so from a New Orleans broadcast.

At any rate, 2022 is here. So far, I don’t feel any different. That’s not one hundred percent true, but it has nothing to do with what day it is. Yesterday, as I was listening to “The Blessing” (I posted the video at the end of yesterday’s blog), something “flipped” inside. I can’t really put a finger on it, or put it in words, but some attitudes changed. As 2022 gets into gear, I don’t have any “resolutions.” I don’t do those any more , haven’t for at least a decade. I don’t really have any “goals,” either, as goals are supposed to be measurable. Well, I take that back. My Goodreads reading goal for 2022 will be fifty-two books, just like it was in 2021. I’m going to try to share my Year in Books from Goodreads. Hopefully that link will work. There is one error in it, though. I actually only read 48 books. For some reason, it has The Hobbit in there twice. I only listened to the audio version. I did not read a physical book again.

I do have some “aspirations,” I suppose. I want to read more, pray more consistently, love better, make more music, and spend a little less time playing video games.

To begin the year, I will focus on the following resources:
Symphony of Salvation, by Eugene H. Peterson (sixty days)
Daily Guideposts 2022
Pray a Word a Day, a new Guideposts resource

I may or may not choose to add another resource. There is one that I will use after the sixty-day Peterson book. On Living Well: Brief Reflections on Wisdom for Walking in the Way of Jesus, also by Eugene H. Peterson. I’m not sure how many days it will take, but I’m confident that there aren’t 365 readings in it.

Actually, I believe I have just decided to also include Spiritual Classics: Selected Readings on the Twelve Spiritual Disciplines, a Renovare resource edited by Richard J. Foster and Emilie Griffin. It is a different format than I’m used to, having a weekly reading for fifty-two weeks. Not sure how that will play out in my daily readings, but it will be fun to explore.

So there it is. Oh, and Happy New Year to all who make it over here, either on purpose or by serendipity.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

"Eternal Father, 
You gave to Your incarnate Son the holy name of Jesus to of our salvation:
Plant in every heart,
we pray,
the love of Him who is the Savior of the world,
our Lord Jesus Christ;
who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God,
in glory everlasting.
Amen."
(Collect for January 1, The Holy Name, The Book of Common Prayer)
Oh sing to the LORD a new song, 
for he has done marvelous things! 
His right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him. 
The LORD has made known his salvation; 
he has revealed his righteousness in the sight of the nations. 
(Psalms 98:1-2 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for new beginnings
2. for God, for His very existence and who He is
3. for the marvelous things that God has done
4. that God is always doing "new things"
5. that the goodness and mercy of the Lord are actually chasing us, pursuing us

My verse for 2022 will be Psalm 145:18. The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. 

My word for 2022 (I don’t remember if I had one for 2021) will be “pray.” Because that’s what I need to do more of.


“First, God. God is the subject of life. God is foundational for living. If we don’t have a sense of the primacy of God, we will never get it right, get life right, get our lives right. Not God at the margins; not God as an option; not God on the weekends. God at center and circumference; God first and last; God, God, God.”

Thus begins the first reading in Peterson’s Symphony of Salvation.

And, if we look at the first verse of Genesis in The Message, the first three words are, “First this: God.”

God looked over everything he had made; 
it was so good, 
so very good! 
(Genesis 1:31 MSG)

See, I am doing a new thing! 
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? 
I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. 
(Isaiah 43:19 NIV)

Your beginnings will seem humble, so prosperous will your future be.
(Job 8:7 NIV)

For I know the plans I have for you," 
declares the LORD, 
"plans to prosper you and not to harm you, 
plans to give you hope and a future.
(Jeremiah 29:11 NIV)

These are great verses to begin a new year. Especially a new year that has been preceded by two really sketchy years. Things have not been great. Understatement of the century. But we, we who are followers of Jesus Christ, have a hope for our future, most especially the future that we will have beyond this world, beyond this mortal coil.

Things keep happening. People are losing loved ones. Beloved celebrities (ones that we thought would live forever) are leaving us. But we followers of Jesus cannot afford to fix our eyes on these things. We must keep our eyes fixed on the author and finisher of our salvation, Jesus Christ. Our God is always doing a “new thing.”

(From Daily Guideposts 2022)


Today’s word for prayer is “goodness.”

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
(Psalms 23:6 ESV)

It is worth noting that the Hebrew word that is translated “follow,” can also mean “chase” or “pursue.” So we consider that the goodness and mercy of the Lord are actually chasing us or pursuing us, and that kind of implies that we might be actually, sometimes, running away?

Just food for thought there.


Father, I praise You for the “new things” that You are constantly doing. I thank You that Your goodness and mercy are chasing and pursuing us . . . much more actively than simply “following,” which kind of implies a passive nature. You are chasing us down with Your goodness and mercy! Help me to stop running from them and let them catch me! I praise You that You are You, that You exist, from before eternity past beyond eternity future. And I praise You that You have made a way for us to exist with You, through the work of Jesus Christ, the author and perfecter of our faith and our salvation. Help me to embrace this salvation, more than ever, this coming year.

I continue to pray for this pandemic to end, Lord. Please wipe this virus off the earth, that we may return to some kind of normalcy. I also pray, though, for the compassion of human beings to be restored. There is so much meanness and hatred in our world, today. I pray for Your followers, Your children, to rise up and insist on LOVE! Again, I start a campaign for a love revolution! Make it so, Father!

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.

Joy

Today is Saturday, the twenty-fifth of December, 2021. It is Christmas Day!

I wish you the peace and joy of Jesus Christ, today and every day!

Day 23,298

Seven days until 2022!

Christmas Eve was very nice at our house. C’s family started showing up around 2:00-ish, to help with food preparations. Everyone was there by 4:30, and I think we ate dinner around 5:00 or so, but I don’t rightly remember. Dinner was quite delicious, with ham, turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, rolls, and gravy. There were also sweet potatoes, but I don’t eat those. Oh, and there was cranberry sauce, which I enjoy, as well. We also had the savory and sweet crescent pull-apart Christmas trees, fudge, and two kinds of pie. Everyone was so full that one of the pies never got touched. The pecan pie was left at our house (yay!!).

We have plenty of everything left over. We decided to not make the green bean casserole, because there was plenty of food. We may not make it for today, either, as there is probably enough of everything else left over. So we will be taking ham, the leftover corn and mashed potatoes (I think my mother is making more), and rolls that were left, as well. And fudge, the rest of the crescent Christmas trees, and pecan pie . . . all of this to Mineral Wells today.

After all of that, we will still have a whole twenty-pound ham left. If we can’t find someone who needs it, I guess we will be eating ham for a while. That’s fine with me, though. And we will likely have green bean casserole for New Year’s.

As for gifts, I got a new telescope, along with a book about the night sky (National Geographic), and Stephen King’s latest book, Billy Summers. Just for kicks, I had gotten $20 scratch-off lottery tickets for everyone. Out of the seven tickets that were scratched, last night, C’s sister won $30, S won $50, and C’s niece’s boyfriend won . . .

TWO HUNDRED DOLLARS!!!!

I feel like we got my money’s worth on that. I kept trying to convince him that I gave him the wrong ticket, but it didn’t work.

This morning, in a few minutes, we will be zooming with R & J, as we open presents. The blog will be interrupted during that time, but will be resumed immediately afterward. I have my cup of coffee and have had a few pieces of fudge (it’s Kahlua fudge, by the way) for “breakfast.” Oh, and I also already went up to the nearby Amazon Hub Locker to retrieve the final Christmas gift that wasn’t supposed to arrive until Tuesday, because it showed up yesterday! So everything (at least I think) has been delivered!

I wish everyone who reads this a blessed and joyful Christmas day. I pray that the peace of Christ will be in your hearts today. If you are not a Christ-follower, I pray for peace to be in your heart and soul, anyway. And I have no ill will toward anyone, Christ-follower or not. “Love one another” is my mantra.

Okay . . . time to go play Santa Clause. Be back in a bit.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Come, by Daryl Madden

Come to awaken
In the dawning light
Come Spirit to dwell
With deeper insight

Come to contemplate
And celebrate
The gift of wonder
Of His birth so great!

The gift of love
Come to our hope
Of binding divine
Beyond human scope

Source of our joy
Come wisdom revealing
He is God with us
Our comfort and healing

Through His sacrifice
His grace is the key
Come know the way
To eternity

With great rejoicing
To all the world
Oh come, oh come
Emmanuel!

Please check out Daryl’s other poetry at the link provided above.

For I am sure that 
neither death
 nor life,
 nor angels 
nor rulers, 
nor things present 
nor things to come, 
nor powers, 
nor height 
nor depth, 
nor anything else in all creation,
 will be able to separate us from 
the love of God 
in Christ Jesus our Lord. 
(Romans 8:38-39 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the truth of those two verses
2. for all the wonderful Christmas gifts
3. for the angels who sang "Glory!" at the birth of Christ
4. for my Savior, Jesus Christ
5. for love, received and given, shared and experienced

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
(Luke 2:11 KJV)

And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.
(Isaiah 40:5 KJV)

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 
Glory to God in the highest, 
and on earth peace, 
good will toward men. 
(Luke 2:13-14 KJV)

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

CHRISTMAS – DAY 1

INVITATION

A psalm. For giving grateful praise. 

Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth. 
Worship the LORD with gladness; 
come before him with joyful songs. 
(Psalms 100:1-2 NIV)

As I pause, during the mid-morning quiet, after all the gifts are opened, I reflect on the best gift, the gift of Jesus. Because after all these years, “through the pain, and the grief, through the lies, through the storms, through the cries, and through the wars” . . . “through the cold and the heat, through the pain and through the tears, through the crowds and through the cheers” . . . “through the shame and through the grief, through the heartache, through the years, through the waiting” . . . I still believe!

BIBLE SONG

The LORD reigns, let the earth be glad; 
let the distant shores rejoice. 
Clouds and thick darkness surround him; 
righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne. 
Fire goes before him 
and consumes his foes on every side. 
His lightning lights up the world; 
the earth sees and trembles. 
The mountains melt like wax before the LORD, 
before the Lord of all the earth. 
The heavens proclaim his righteousness, 
and all peoples see his glory. 
(Psalms 97:1-6 NIV)

BIBLE READING

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register. 
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. 
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." 
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 
"Glory to God in the highest heaven, 
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests." 
(Luke 2:1-14 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I leisurely read these passages again, I look for words or ideas that stir within me. As I linger over them and give them my attention, I look for anything that I want to ask God about. I pray my life to God, resting firmly in His presence.

Father, I praise You for Your reign on this earth. Sometimes, we sit back and think that You’ve lost control. But I do not believe that to be true. You are allowing humanity to “do their thing.” You could have created robots, who would never do anything other than Your will. Instead, You created us with a measure of free will (I used to cringe at that phrase), able to act on our own accord, within the framework of Your “bigger picture.” And even though I still believe that my salvation was planned out before the foundations of the earth, and You chose me to be one of Your children, there was still a point at which I had to decide to follow You.

You reign over all the earth. Your power is evident in the forces of nature, and even that is a small indication of the scope of Your infinite power. The heavens proclaim Your righteousness, and we see Your glory.

On this, Christmas Day, I praise You for the Gift. I thank You for Jesus, for His life, His death on the cross, and His resurrection. I praise You for His teachings, which He gave us to show us how to live and walk in Your kingdom. I pray that more of Your children would follow those teachings rather than being sucked into the erroneous teachings of men. Help us to love one another and to leave the judging to You, the One who is perfect in all Your ways.

Give me the willingness and ability to share the good news of Jesus to others. Give me the words to speak when opportunity arises, and the means to answer the questions that will naturally come up. Thank You for “Christmas,” and I pray for Christmas hope and joy for anyone who stumbles across this blog.

"Jesus Christ,
our newborn King,
we rejoice that You came among us in all Your glory,
taking on our life so that we might share in YHours.
In Your conception and birth You've come to remove our sin -
ours since we were first conceived -
delivering to us the hope of new life.
Make Your home among us today and always.
Amen."

BLESSING

“Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come to his people and redeemed them.”
(Luke 1:68 NIV)


Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends. Merry Christmas!

Here to Give, Not Receive

Good morning! Today is Saturday, the eighteenth of December, 2021, the third Saturday of Advent.

May the peace of Christ be with you!

Day 23,291

Only seven days until Christmas!!

C is in the breakfast nook, wrapping more presents. I have a small pile in the study, that I will be wrapping Monday and/or Tuesday. There are a few things that have not been delivered, yet, most of which should arrive sometime today. But there is one item that may not make it before Christmas. No big deal, but it might affect the usefulness of one or more of the other things.

I have let time get away from me, this morning, so I need to get moving with the devotional.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

"Open, Lord, my eyes that I may see.
Open, Lord, my ears that I may hear.
Open, Lord, my heart and my mind that I may understand.
So shall I turn to You and be healed."
(Traditional)
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 the joy that I feel in Your presence
2. that You have made know to me the path of life
3. for the beautiful people with whom I work at the Hurst Public Library
4. for the gifts, talents, and resources I have to give to this world, all of which came from You
5. that You care about what is in our hearts, not what is on the outside of our bodies

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, 
keeping watch over their flock by night.
(Luke 2:8 ESV)
"She will bear a son, 
and you shall call his name Jesus, 
for he will save his people from their sins." 
(Matthew 1:21 ESV)
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, 
and we have seen his glory, 
glory as of the only Son from the Father, 
full of grace and truth. 
(John 1:14 ESV)

He said to them, 
"You are from below; I am from above. 
You are of this world; I am not of this world."
(John 8:23 ESV)
They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 
Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 
As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 
(John 17:16-18 ESV)
Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, 
God making his appeal through us. 
We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 
(2 Corinthians 5:20 ESV)

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

ADVENT – DAY TWENTY-ONE

INVITATION

I pause during this quiet moment, pondering the joy of the Lord, the mission I have on this earth, and the path that He has shown my feet.

How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of him
 who brings good news, 
who publishes peace, 
who brings good news, 
who proclaims salvation, 
who says to Zion, 
“Your God reigns!” 
(Isaiah 52:7 WEB)

BIBLE SONG

Praise the LORD.

 Praise the LORD, my soul. 

I will praise the LORD all my life;
 I will sing praise to my God as long as I live. 
Do not put your trust in princes, 
in human beings, who cannot save. 
When their spirit departs, they return to the ground;
 on that very day their plans come to nothing. 
Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob, 
whose hope is in the LORD their God. 
(Psalms 146:1-5 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. 
Do not quench the Spirit. Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil. 
May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it. 
(1 Thessalonians 5:16-24 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I read these passages again, somewhat slowly, I look for words and phrases that catch my eye or move my heart. I linger over them, repeating them, praying my thoughts, desires, needs, and feelings to the Lord. I enjoy His presence, this morning.

Father, there are several things that catch my eye, through the various readings, this morning. I wonder, along with Rick Hamlin, from Daily Guideposts, what those first shepherds looked and smelled like. We attend our Christmas musicals in our finest garb, smelling all pretty and stuff. But I’m pretty sure those shepherds didn’t stop to take a shower and splash cologne on before they made their way to the stable where their salvation had been laid. I acknowledge, Father, that it is the heart with which You are concerned, rather than the outward appearance.

I ponder, also, the truth that I am in this world to give, not to receive. You have gifted me (along with all the rest of Your children) with resources and talents to be shared. I need to focus on what I can give to this world, not what I can get out of it. The same is true when I come to worship You. What can I give You? Too many times, we approach Your throne with the idea of what we can get from You. Help us to think, rather, on what we can give. But may we also remember that everything I have to give came from You, to begin with.

And as I continue to praise You, as long as I live, I will open my mouth with songs of joy. I will rejoice always, and pray without ceasing. I will be thankful in all circumstances, continuing to be an example of gratitude to those around me, not that I can be noticed, but, hopefully, to direct them to You. Help me not to quench the Spirit in any of my ways. Also help me to reject all kinds of evil, and to test the spirits.

I pray for unity within Your Church, Father.

"Jesus,
Prince of Peace:
I've lost my childlike wonder and stuffed the emptiness with Christmas busyness and sappy sentiment.
Remind me of the miracle of Christmas,
that You not only assumed a human nature but a real human soul;
You were fully human.
Fill me with renewed wonder that You came to save me wholly,
body and soul.
Amen."

BLESSING

“Blessed be the Lord, 
the God of Israel, 
for he has visited and redeemed his people;"
(Luke 1:68 WEB)

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

May God himself, the God of peace, 
sanctify you through and through. 
May your whole spirit, soul and body 
be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 
The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it. 
(1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 NIV)

Grace and peace, friends.

And the Glory of the Lord . . .

Today is Saturday, the eleventh of December, 2021, the second Saturday of Advent.

Peace of Christ be with you!

Day 23,284

Fourteen days until Christmas!

It currently doesn’t look or feel like Christmas around here (DFW, TX), but it definitely looks and feels better than last February. It’s unseasonable warm, for the most part, around here. I hear that the reason for it is that the jet stream is stuck in Canada. That’s the easy, oversimplified version, because that’s the version I understand.

We are expecting a low of right at or just below freezing tomorrow morning, but it’s supposed to get up to 61 tomorrow, so it should be a beautiful day.

Speaking of tomorrow, we are going back to Mineral Wells, tomorrow, to attend FBC’s Christmas music presentation. S wants to do that, so we can do that for her. Hopefully, Mama will be able to attend with us. We will probably have lunch from Natty Flats BBQ afterward. That seems to be our new “go to” place for lunch in Mineral Wells.

This is my Saturday to work, so I will be at the library from 9:30-6:15, today. Several of us are bringing food to share today. I’m not sure what the others are bringing, so I will also bring something for lunch, just in case. I’m bringing this:

Crescent Christmas Tree Pull Apart

It has a whopping four ingredients. Pillsbury crescent rolls, Boursin Gournay Garlic & Herb cheese, butter, and parsley flakes (that’s the green stuff on top). Easy to make, and comes out very pretty. Also delicious.

I have also agreed to work in place of one of my associates, next Saturday. He has something he needs to do, so I agreed to work his shift next Saturday. Not that I care that much, but it will help to make up for the sixteen hours I will miss on Christmas weekend. We are closed Friday and Saturday, for Christmas, both days on which I was scheduled to work. We are also closed New Year’s Day, but I would have already been off that Saturday, anyway.

There has been a flurry of Christmas present buying, lately. We are almost finished. We still have a few things to come up with, though.

Please continue to pray for Benjamin’s wife, over at Brother’s Campfire. They could use some miracles.

Today’s header photo is courtesy of Paul Militaru. Please check out his other lovely photographs at the link provided.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Awaiting, by S. Michaels (LightWriters)

Believe…
miracles
happen…

 
©2021 S. Michaels
All Things Bright
(Haiku 2-3-2)

Indeed, miracles happen, sometimes whether we believe or not. Please check out her other poetry in the link provided above. You will also see some lovely images for each poem.

Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. 
The Lord is at hand; 
do not be anxious about anything, 
but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving 
let your requests be made known to God. 
And the peace of God, 
which surpasses all understanding, 
will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, 
whatever is honorable, 
whatever is just, 
whatever is pure, 
whatever is lovely, 
whatever is commendable, 
if there is any excellence,
 if there is anything worthy of praise, 
think about these things. 
What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—
practice these things, 
and the God of peace will be with you.
(Philippians 4:5-9 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the glorious truth of these verses
2. that every good and perfect gift comes from You
3. for Your peace, which, when I allow it, floods my soul like a river
4. that Your glory shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together
5. that Your mouth has spoken these things

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
(Luke 10:41-42 NIV)

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, 
and I will give you rest. 
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, 
for I am gentle and humble in heart, 
and you will find rest for your souls. 
For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." 
(Matthew 11:28-30 NIV)

It is good to note that rest isn’t necessarily related to activity or the lack thereof. Rest can be a state of mind, as we allow ourselves to be immersed in and embraced by the love of God in Christ Jesus. I could be running a marathon (actually, no, I could not be running a marathon, but this is just for illustration) and be “resting” at the same time. Likewise, I could be sitting on my rump in an easy chair and not be resting at all.

The best rest comes when we walk in the easy yoke with Jesus, who bears the brunt of the labor in our lives, willingly and easily.


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

ADVENT – DAY FOURTEEN

INVITATION

Yahweh is my light and my salvation. 
Whom shall I fear? 
(Psalms 27:1 WEB)

I pause during the quietness of this morning to reflect on the peace of God, the theme of this second week of Advent. I allow His peace to move over me, covering me like a fleece blanket.

BIBLE SONG

I will praise the LORD all my life; 
I will sing praise to my God as long as I live. 

He is the Maker of heaven and earth, 
the sea, and everything in them— 
he remains faithful forever. 
He upholds the cause of the oppressed 
and gives food to the hungry. 
The LORD sets prisoners free,
 the LORD gives sight to the blind, 
the LORD lifts up those who are bowed down, 
the LORD loves the righteous.
 The LORD watches over the foreigner 
and sustains the fatherless and the widow, 
but he frustrates the ways of the wicked. 

Praise the LORD. 
(Psalms 146:2, 6-10 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Comfort, comfort my people, 
says your God. 
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, 
and proclaim to her 
that her hard service has been completed, 
that her sin has been paid for, 
that she has received from the LORD's hand 
double for all her sins.

 A voice of one calling: 
"In the wilderness prepare the way for the LORD; 
make straight in the desert a highway for our God. 
Every valley shall be raised up, 
every mountain and hill made low; 
the rough ground shall become level, 
the rugged places a plain. 
And the glory of the LORD will be revealed, 
and all people will see it together. 
For the mouth of the LORD has spoken." 
(Isaiah 40:1-5 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I leisurely read these passages again, I look for words and ideas that stir within me. I linger over them and give them my attention. Is there something I need to ask God about, to pray to Him? I pray my life to the Lord, resting in His presence.

Because You have ordained it, and made it possible, my God, my Father, I will praise Your Name for as long as I live, which will be for eternity in Your presence. “I can only imagine,” as the song says, “what it will be like” to be in Your presence for eternity. I know what Your presence feels like now. The very thought of how powerful it will be when I am Home nearly makes my heart burst.

You, the creator of heaven and earth, have condescended to interact with us. You care for the oppressed, the hungry, the prisoner, the widow, and the fatherless. Over and over, throughout Scripture, You tell us these things. And then that bit where Jesus talks about “the least of these,” and how that applies directly back to Him . . . it would do us well to heed these words and act accordingly. When we are blind, Father, please restore our sight. We become “blind” when we look too long at the wrong things. Return our sight to the things that matter to You. Help us to take up the cause of the oppressed, the hungry, the prisoner, the widow, the fatherless, and the foreigner, while somehow managing to avoid the traps of the wicked.

Make the desert road straight;
raise up the valleys;
make low the mountains and hills;
level out the rough ground;
make plains out of the rugged lands.
Reveal Your glory to us, O Lord!
For Your mouth has spoken it!

I pray, Father, for servant leadership in Your Church. Give us “kingdom vision, godly stewardship, and effective organization.” May we have a deep identity with the mission You have given us. I pray for unity in the midst of the chaos.

"Satisfying God,
it sometimes hurts to hope,
and so I settle for less.
I confess that I've often given my heart to impostors and counterfeits that can never deliver.
Nurture in me a desire for Your generous reward -
a glory I can hardly begin to imagine -
and a longing for that great day when I will fully enjoy Your promises in Jesus Christ,
our Lord.
Amen."

BLESSING

Wait for Yahweh. 
Be strong, 
and let your heart take courage. 
Yes, wait for Yahweh. 
(Psalms 27:14 WEB)

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.

Please Remember Me

Good morning. Today is Saturday, the fourth of December, 2021, the first Saturday of Advent.

May God’s peace reign in your soul today.

Day 23,277

Twenty-one days until Christmas!

Right off the bat, first thing, I want to ask for urgent prayers for a fellow blogger, Benjamin, over at Brother’s Campfire. His latest entry simply asks for prayer for his wife, who has had a bad stroke. Please join me in praying for them.

Yesterday was a fine day at the library. For some reason, the fax machine was in high demand, yesterday. I think I helped more people fax yesterday than I have the whole time I’ve been working there. And it’s slow, too. One patron had seventeen pages to fax. He waited at least twenty minutes for it to complete.

Friday night is normally homemade pizza night, but we weren’t sure if all our ingredients were still within “best-by” dates, so we had Subway instead.

Weekend plans: I think C and I (maybe S) are going to Six Flags this afternoon. We decided to get season passes, this time, because they were offering a free upgrade to “Gold-Plus,” which includes a season parking pass, as well. We have to go to the park to activate them, and it looks like today’s weather is going to be pretty spectacular. There are also a couple of local craft fairs that look good. We might shop at one of those tomorrow.

I don’t work again until Tuesday night, but next week is my four day week. It should be a fun week, though. Not only do we have another installment of our Secret Santa (on Wednesday), we also have a Christmas Luncheon on Wednesday, as well, catered, I believe, by Rosa’s. There will be a Gift Exchange at that, and I got mine from Amazon, yesterday. We also plan to get a group photo of “ugly Christmas sweaters.” Which means, of course, that I must go find myself an ugly Christmas sweater.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

"Open, Lord, my eyes that I may see.
Open, Lord, my ears that I may hear.
Open, Lord, my heart and my mind that I may understand.
So shall I turn to You and be healed."
(Traditional)
And we know that for those who love God 
all things work together for good, 
for those who are called according to his purpose. 
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors 
through him who loved us. 
For I am sure that neither death nor life, 
nor angels nor rulers, 
nor things present nor things to come, 
nor powers, 
nor height nor depth, 
nor anything else in all creation, 
will be able to separate us 
from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. 
(Romans 8:28, 37-39 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for all of that, right there ^^^
2. for the hope of a pretty day, outside
3. that You promise to remember us
4. for that vision in Revelation, where people from every tribe, nation, and language sing praises to the Lamb
5. that You cause our love for You and for one another to overflow

In him we have redemption through his blood,
 the forgiveness of sins,
 in accordance with the riches of God's grace 
(Ephesians 1:7 NIV)
"Very truly I tell you, 
whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me 
has eternal life and will not be judged 
but has crossed over from death to life."
(John 5:24 NIV)
"Salvation is found in no one else, 
for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind 
by which we must be saved." 
(Acts 4:12 NIV)

One of my favorite Daily Guideposts writers, Shawnelle Eliasen, was looking at some letters to Santa, along with her son, Logan (also a DG writer), in a local newspaper. A common thread through them all was the ending, “Please remember me.”

Says Shawnelle, “While I sipped coffee and watched the sky wake, I thought about the common cry of the human heart – of all who draw breath. Please remember me. Don’t forget me. Don’t abandon me, leave me out, or let me go unnoticed.

“Oh, what a gift it is that God the Father did not!

“Sin separated me from Him, but the Lord made a way for me. God Most High sent His Son, a flesh-and-bone, beating heart, Savior-baby, because He would not, could not, forget or overlook me.”

Thursday afternoon, C and I were walking around the Crims Chapel Cemetery. We were looking for the graves of my grandparents. It took a few minutes, and, along the way we found numerous other Vinsons (my mother’s maiden name). We finally found theirs, right alongside the grave of my Aunt Nancy, younger sister of Mama and Uncle Buddy, who died tragically in a car wreck at a young age.

Someday, no one will be left who will remember these names. Someday, there will be no one left who remembers that I ever walked on this earth.

Depressing, huh? Or at least it can be, if we forget God’s promises, or if we are focused on the wrong things.

Everyone wants to be remembered. No one wants to be left out. I think one of the reasons that people act out in the ways that they do is fear of being not noticed or forgotten. But I’m no psychologist, so I might be way off base, here.

But one thing I do know. And that is the God, my Father, remembers. He has forgotten something, though. My sin. He has intentionally forgotten (you just try intentionally forgetting something, sometime) all of my sin. He has made it as though I have never sinned at all. But He remembers me.

Go back up and look at that Scripture before my gratitude list for today. What can separate us from the love of God?

Death
Life
Angels
Demons
The present
The future
Any powers
Height
Depth
ANYTHING ELSE IN ALL CREATION

You know what else can’t separate you from the love of God?

All my life I have heard people say, even from the pulpit, that our sin separates us from God.

My brothers and sisters in Christ, if we are, in fact, “in Christ,” that is a lie from the pits of hell!! Yes, if we are not believers in Jesus, our sin separates us from God.

But once we have believed in the saving power, the saving grace of Jesus Christ, and have been “saved” from our sins, there is NOTHING THAT CAN SEPARATE US FROM GOD!!

Can I get a hallelujah??

“Sin” is included in that phrase of Romans 8:39 that says, “nor anything else in all creation!”

So, rest assured. There will be, one day, no one left on the earth who remembers my name or your name. But there is a God in heaven who will

never

forget

you


"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, 
where moth and rust destroy 
and where thieves break in and steal, 
but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, 
where neither moth nor rust destroys
 and where thieves do not break in and steal. 
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
(Matthew 6:19-21 ESV)
Jesus said to him, 
"If you would be perfect, 
go, sell what you possess 
and give to the poor, 
and you will have treasure in heaven; 
and come, follow me." 
(Matthew 19:21 ESV)
After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, 
"Salvation belongs to our God 
who sits on the throne, 
and to the Lamb!" 
And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, 
"Amen! 
Blessing and glory and wisdom 
and thanksgiving and honor and power 
and might 
be to our God forever and ever! 
Amen." 
Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, 
"Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?" 
I said to him, 
"Sir, you know." 
And he said to me, 
"These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. 
They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 
"Therefore they are before the throne of God, 
and serve him day and night in his temple; 
and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence. 
They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; 
the sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat. 
For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, 
and he will guide them to springs of living water, 
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes." 
(Revelation 7:9-17 ESV)

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

FIRST WEEK OF ADVENT – DAY SEVEN

INVITATION

I wait for Yahweh. 
My soul waits. 
I hope in his word. 
(Psalms 130:5 WEB)

In this quiet moment, I pause to reflect on the truths already revealed, this morning.

BIBLE SONG

Praise the LORD. 

Praise the LORD, my soul. 

I will praise the LORD all my life; 
I will sing praise to my God as long as I live. 
Do not put your trust in princes,
 in human beings, who cannot save. 
When their spirit departs, they return to the ground; 
on that very day their plans come to nothing. 
Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob, 
whose hope is in the LORD their God. 

He is the Maker of heaven and earth, 
the sea, and everything in them— 
he remains faithful forever. 
He upholds the cause of the oppressed 
and gives food to the hungry. 
The LORD sets prisoners free, 
the LORD gives sight to the blind, 
the LORD lifts up those who are bowed down, 
the LORD loves the righteous. 
The LORD watches over the foreigner 
and sustains the fatherless and the widow, 
but he frustrates the ways of the wicked. 

The LORD reigns forever, 
your God, O Zion, for all generations. 

Praise the LORD. 
(Psalms 146:1-10 NIV)

BIBLE READING

May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones.
(1 Thessalonians 3:12-13 NIV)

As for the “dwelling” segment for today, I feel that I’ve already engaged in that, and will move directly on to my closing prayers.

Father, I am so grateful for the truth that nothing in all creation can ever separate me from Your love in Christ Jesus. As long as I remain in Christ, and, according to Your Word, nothing can snatch me out of His hands, then I am connected to You and nothing can separate us. What a glorious truth. This, of course, does not free me to live as I please. Rather, it gives me comfort to not have to worry about messing up or stumbling to the point of losing my salvation. I am grateful that You will never forget me.

I pray that Your church would flourish throughout the earth. I pray that we would engage in worship that glorifies You, and that gathers, unites, and blesses Your people. I pray that new churches would spring up, all over the world, as Your Gospel is spread to the uttermost parts of the earth.

"Almighty God,
this coming judgment day stretches my imagination with strange wonders.
Every man,
woman,
and child -
anyone who has lived from the beginning until the end of the world -
will be summoned by the voice of the archangel and the sound of Your trumpet.
Where will we all fit?
Will we recognize others?
Today, rest me in the greatest wonder -
hearing the voice of Jesus confessing my name before the Father.
Amen." 

BLESSING

He who testifies to these things says, 
"Yes, I am coming soon." 
Amen. 
Come, Lord Jesus. 
The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God's people. 
Amen. 
(Revelation 22:20-21 NIV)

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Praise the Lord

Good morning. Today is Saturday, the twenty-seventh of November, 2021.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,270

We had a very nice day, yesterday, with C’s family. There was way too much food, of course, and plenty of leftovers. We’ll be eating ham for a while. I suspect the green bean and corn casseroles, as well as the desserts, will all be gone by the end of today, though.

I got some good news in email. All of my gifts for my Secret Santa person should be in hand by the end of Tuesday. Also, I believe my gift for the library’s Christmas lunch gift exchange should arrive Monday.

Today is a scheduled work day for me, and I have to be there in an hour and twenty minutes, so I’d best get busy with what is important.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Isn’t It?, by Daryl Madden

Isn’t it exhausting?
Life just seems too hard
Keeping up appearance
Living the façade

Isn’t is confusing?
No matter how I try
Being who I’m not
Living of a lie

Isn’t it so stressful?
Worries everywhere
Of all that could go wrong
Living here in fear

Isn’t it so freeing?
When our lifes outpoured
Being who God made me
Living for the Lord

Please check out Daryl’s other poetry at his blog site, linked above.

“Ask,
and it will be given to you;
seek,
and you will find;
knock,
and it will be opened to you.”
(Matthew 7:7 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for grapes
2. for good food and fellowship with family
3. for promises of answered prayer
4. that You are a God of restoration
5. for the many ways we have to praise You

“I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter, my great army, which I sent among you.
“You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the LORD your God, who has dealt wondrously with you.
And my people shall never again be put to shame.
You shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the LORD your God and there is none else.
And my people shall never again be put to shame.”
(Joel 2:25-27 ESV)

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
(Luke 4:18-19 ESV)


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

LAST WEEK OF ORDINARY TIME – DAY SEVEN

INVITATION

“Be still,
and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations.
I will be exalted in the earth.”
(Psalms 46:10 WEB)

As I meditate in this quiet moment, I consider that Jesus came to liberate the captives, give sight to the blind, liberate the oppressed, and proclaim the Lord’s favor. As I continue reading His Word, these thoughts will be in focus.

BIBLE SONG

Praise the LORD.

Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heavens.
Praise him for his acts of power;
praise him for his surpassing greatness.
Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
praise him with the harp and lyre,
praise him with timbrel and dancing,
praise him with the strings and pipe,
praise him with the clash of cymbals,
praise him with resounding cymbals.
Let everything that has breath praise the LORD.

Praise the LORD.
(Psalms 150:1-6 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Now this is what the LORD Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. You have planted much, but harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.”
This is what the LORD Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build my house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored,” says the LORD. “You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?” declares the LORD Almighty. “Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with your own house.”
(Haggai 1:5-9 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I remind myself that I am in God’s presence, I read these passages again, noticing how He might be speaking to me through His Word. I allow my heart to respond to Him in prayer and meditation, and take refreshment in His presence.

The obvious word in Psalm 150 is “praise.” It occurs (if I am counting correctly) thirteen times in the psalm. All of the main questions are answered.

Who is praised? The Lord. Yahweh. Creator of the universe.
Where? In His sacred place; in His mighty heavens.
Why, or for what? His mighty acts of power, His surpassing greatness.
How? With sounds of trumpet, harp, lyre, timbrel, strings, pipes, and cymbals. With activities or movement of dancing. 
Who is praising? Everything that has breath!

I think it is fitting that the Psalms end with the simple injunction to “praise the LORD.”

The thing that stands out to me in the Haggai passage is a phrase that is repeated in verses 5 and 7. “Give careful thought to your ways.” I can’t speak for anyone else (we all try, at times, though, don’t we?), but I am guilty of not doing that enough. “Give careful thought to your ways,” says the Lord, through the prophet Haggai.

To the people of Israel, He takes note that they plant, but harvest little. They eat, but are not filled. They put on clothes, but aren’t warm. They earn wages, but their purses or pockets seem to have holes in them. In other words, they never have enough.

Now, I don’t know if this is saying that they literally don’t have enough, or if they are a lot like our modern Western culture, where we can’t seem to be satisfied with what we have. I suspect that it may be a subtle combination of the two, but I can’t verify that.

At any rate, they are given the answer in the rest of the passage. The second time they are told to consider their ways, the house of the Lord is brought up. It seems that everyone is occupied with their own “houses,” while the Lord’s “house” remains in ruins.

This is very thought-provoking for me. Because, while I know and acknowledge, readily, that this passage is explicitly directed to Israel, I can see correlation in today’s Church. We get caught up in our own “houses,” or own lives, even our own families, which are, of course, important. But not more important than our relationship, or “house,” with the Lord.

We don’t have a physical “temple,” to which we are to travel, today. The individual person is the “temple of the Holy Spirit,” as His Spirit resides and dwells in each of us. We are the “Church.” It is not a physical “house.” I don’t think that means we are supposed to spend extraordinary energy and time keeping our bodies fit, either.

This is about “soul keeping.” We need to make sure that we are keeping the Lord’s “house,” our souls, in good shape.

And one of the best ways to do that, in my opinion, is to practice what Psalm 150 teaches us.

Praise the Lord.

Father, I praise You, this morning. I will praise You for no other reason (though I have plenty) than that You are God. I will praise You for Your mighty acts of power, too. I will praise You for Your surpassing greatness, Your most excellent righteousness. And in praising You, I shove aside selfish platitudes and thoughts; I shut out selfish needs concerning my own “house.” I tend to Your “house,” which is my soul, because my soul needs tending and keeping. Thank You for the reminders from Your Word, reminders of how important this upkeep of our souls is. Help me to stay focused on what is important to You.

I pray for Your Church to flourish all over the world. I pray that we would engage in worship that glorifies You and “gathers, unites, and blesses” Your people.

"Generous God,
my way with money is a sure sign of my heart's trust.
and when it's mostly spent on me,
I show that my heart does not belong to You.
Center me again on You,
the source of everything good;
remind me of how rich I am because of Jesus and free up a generous heart for others.
Amen."

BLESSING

Blessed is a person who endures temptation,
for when he has been approved,
he will receive the crown of life,
which the Lord promised to those who love him.
(James 1:12 WEB)

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.

His Love Endures Forever

Good morning. Today is Saturday, the twentieth of November, 2021.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,263

Five days until Thanksgiving.

Of course, we will be having a sort of “Thanksgiving” today, with R & J, up here in Indy.

This is our last full day in Indy, as we must fly home tomorrow. Our flight tomorrow leaves at around 2:20 PM, I think.

Yesterday was a great day, as well. Even with it being interrupted by having to exchange our rental car.

We had a great breakfast at Lincoln Square, in the Irvington community of Indy. The food was delicious. The coffee was only okay. But the food was amazing. I’m going to lobby for having breakfast there again, tomorrow, before we head back to the airport.

After breakfast, we walked around the area for a bit, and wound up looking at a couple of shops. Both were just an assortment of stuff, gift shops, I suppose. S found a journal that she wanted in the first one. The second one was much more “local,” and had a lot of neat stuff in it. We found a nice gift for Mama in there, and I bought a little rock. Yes, a rock. I like having a small stone in my pocket. The last one I had, which I found up in Broken Bow, OK, fell on the floor at my last job, and broke in half. This one is a small Lapis Lazuli stone.

Stones such as this are said to have special properties or “powers.” I don’t know about that, but Lapis is supposed to increase creativity, so I figured, why not, right? Plus they are pretty. It’s also supposed to connect me with “cosmic wisdom,” whatever that is.

After that, we ventured back through the back part of that store, where we found a charming little book/record store. It’s a good thing we are flying on this trip, not driving. I probably would have wound up with at least a handful of used records.

The exchange of the rental car was relatively painless. We were helped by a couple of very friendly folks, though, who made it good for us. I wish I had gotten their names. I will say that we rented from Dollar, and were helped at a counter where Dollar, Thrifty, and Hertz were all represented. We even got an upgrade for our inconvenience. We are now driving a Toyota Highlander, a full-size SUV. And it has more of the features that my personal car has, including push-button start and automatic headlights. Plus, it seats seven, so we can pick up R & J, this morning, and all fit comfortably.

Our meetup with our old friends, Mike and Kay, went great, last night! We met at Edwards’ Drive-In, and had a nice dinner. I had the grilled pork tenderloin, because I hear that you must have one of those when you visit Indy. It was okay, and the fries were okay. C said her burger was good, but felt like her quarter pounder at Mickey D’s was better. I had some of their chili which, not surprisingly, had spaghetti on the bottom. Yes, they do that up in these parts. The best part, for me, was the root beer in the frosty mug. Yum. Actually, the best part was catching up with people we haven’t seen in thirty-plus years. It was wonderful to see them, and didn’t seem awkward at all.

Today, we are returning to Yats for lunch. We will be picking up R & J and heading over there at noon, when they open for lunch. Incidentally, Mike and Kay both agreed that that was an excellent choice. I plan to have the Chili Cheese Etouffee again, along with, hopefully, the Chipotle Alexio, which they were out of Wednesday night.

Not sure what is happening after that. There is talk of a Children’s Museum in the area that is nice and fun. Then, for dinner, we plan to have City BBQ deliver food to R’s house. That’s what we are calling “Thanksgiving.” I’m not sure what we will order, but I’m thinking the thing they call “The Motherload” would be sufficient. Another option might be several of the City Samplers, which include four meats and a couple of sides. The Motherload has pretty much all the meats and six sides, and some bread. But we will decide all that later.

It has been a wonderful time, and I will be leaving Indianapolis with some good feelings about my first visit, and no hesitations about returning, as we will, no doubt do, probably at least once a year.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

"O Lord,
you have mercy on all.
Take away my sins,
and mercifully kindle in me
the fire of your Holy Spirit.
Take away my heart of stone
and give me a heart of flesh,
a heart to love and adore you,
a heart to delight in you,
to follow and to enjoy you, for Christ’s sake.
Amen."
(Prayer for A Renewed Heart, St. Ambrose)

The LORD is my strength and my song,
and he has become my salvation;
this is my God,
and I will praise him,
my father’s God,
and I will exalt him.
(Exodus 15:2 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that You are my God, the God of my father and mother, and of my ancestors, and that You have placed it in my heart to praise You
2. for the privilege and responsibility of prayer; may I be faithful in that
3. for Jesus Christ, the Way, the Truth, and the Life
4. that Your love endures forever
5. that it has pleased You to bless my household

to the praise of his glorious grace,
with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.
(Ephesians 1:6 ESV)

And whatever you do,
in word or deed,
do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus,
giving thanks to God the Father through him.
(Colossians 3:17 ESV)

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TWENTY-SIX – DAY SEVEN

INVITATION

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

As I pause during this quiet moment, I consider the truth that there is no one like You, God. No one, nothing, You are completely and utterly unique; You are “Other.” I am, at my most base essence, completely unworthy and unable to interact with You. I give You thanks for the gift of Jesus, which makes me worthy and able.

BIBLE SONG

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords:
His love endures forever.
to him who alone does great wonders,
His love endures forever.
(Psalms 136:1-4 NIV)

He remembered us in our low estate
His love endures forever.
and freed us from our enemies.
His love endures forever.
He gives food to every creature.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of heaven.
His love endures forever.
(Psalms 136:23-26 NIV)

BIBLE READING

“The days are coming,” declares the LORD,
“when I will make a new covenant
with the people of Israel
and with the people of Judah.
It will not be like the covenant
I made with their ancestors
when I took them by the hand
to lead them out of Egypt,
because they broke my covenant,
though I was a husband to them,”
declares the LORD.
“This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the LORD.
“I will put my law in their minds
and write it on their hearts.
I will be their God,
and they will be my people.
No longer will they teach their neighbor,
or say to one another, ‘Know the LORD,’
because they will all know me,
from the least of them to the greatest,”
declares the LORD.
“For I will forgive their wickedness
and will remember their sins no more.”
(Jeremiah 31:31-34 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I read these passages again, slowly, I look for words or phrases that catch my eye or move my heart. I linger over those, repeating them, and I pray my thoughts and meditations to the Father, enjoying his presence in this place.

There is an evident theme to the antiphonal Psalm 136. At least it appears to be of an antiphonal nature, what we called “responsive readings” when I was a child, growing up in a Southern Baptist church. I always liked when we did those readings, and still feel like they weren’t often enough.

In this one, the theme, the repeated line, is “His love endures forever.” Is it strange that we need to be so constantly reminded of this truth? But here, we have it repeated twenty-six times (if you read the entire psalm).

His love endures forever.

This truth is further established by the covenant made between the Lord and His people. We see a bit of this in Jeremiah. The Lord establishes a “new covenant” with the people of Israel. “I will put my law within them—write it on their hearts!—and be their God. And they will be my people. They will no longer go around setting up schools to teach each other about GOD. They’ll know me firsthand, the dull and the bright, the smart and the slow. I’ll wipe the slate clean for each of them. I’ll forget they ever sinned!” (vv. 33-34, The Message)

His love endures foverer.

Just like the most-often-repeated “command” in Scripture, which is a variety of “do not fear,” we see this truth repeated often, as well. The more something is repeated, the more important it is, the more sure it is.

His love endures forever. We cannot escape His love; we cannot lose His love; we cannot increase or decrease His love. It is steadfast, it is sure; it endures forever.

Father, I cannot adequately express my gratitude for Your love. Beyond the fact that it endures forever, it is strong and powerful. I cannot even begin to comprehend it. As the psalmist said in Psalm 139, such knowledge is too wonderful for me, I cannot attain it. Your love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens, Your faithfulness stretches to the skies, Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, and Your justice rolls like the ocean’s tide. As Third Day, sang, “I will lift my voice to worship You, my King.” I will celebrate Your love, that endures forever, and nothing can take this away from me. I praise You that there is nothing that I can do to either increase or decrease Your love for me, and I most certainly cannot lose this love. May it rain down on me today, and may it permeate everything I do today.

I pray, Lord, that Your Church would experience unity and holiness, and that this enduring-forever love would flow between us all, shutting out all competing entities.

"Covenanting God,
You are my God and I belong to You,
bound to You through the grace of Jesus.
Set me free in Jesus Christ to live in grateful obedience,
not from threat of punishment or persistent nagging but because Your will is imprinted on my heart.
Lord,
You have my heart;
I am Yours because You have given Yourself to me.
Amen."

BLESSING

Now therefore let it please you to bless the house of your servant,
that it may continue forever before you;
for you, Lord Yahweh,
have spoken it.
Let the house of your servant be blessed forever with your blessing.”
(2 Samuel 7:29 WEB)


Father, during these days, I am torn between remaining ignorant of current events, and struggling to be aware of them and dealing with the vitriol that is spewed from both sides of every issue. Give me wisdom, as I navigate these times, and help me above all, to show love to all, as much as is possible, and as much as it is up to me.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
(Psalms 16:11 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

New

Today is Saturday, the thirteenth of November, 2021.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,256

Four days until we fly to Indianapolis!

As usual, yesterday was a great day at the library. The computer center was not terribly busy, but had a few stretches where it was fairly busy. In the meantime, I had some good conversations with the manager, about various things.

Today, I work 9:30-6:15, in circulation. One piece of good news that we received, yesterday, is that the Hurst City Council approved the library to finally be “fine free.” This will be retroactive, as well as on-going. All existing fines will be forgiven, except those related to lost books. We will still charge patrons if they lose or destroy a book. But they will no longer be charged for overdue books. This is a trend that has been occurring nationwide, in recent years. Fort Worth went fine-free a number of years ago, and, most recently, the New York Public Library declared that it was now fine-free.

I suppose C had a nice birthday. She had to work, but was working from home. S and I gave her a small gift before I left for work, yesterday, along with our birthday cards, which she appreciated. During the day, C decided she did not want to go out after work, so I picked up Subway on the way home, so C did not have to cook pizza.

Today, C is still in bed, so good for her. It’s currently 7:25, and I have been up about an hour. I’m probably about to go get my second cup of coffee.

We’re scheduled to depart DFW to IND, next Wednesday morning, at 10:29. I need to pay closer attention. I thought we were leaving in the afternoon. Our return flight is Sunday afternoon at 2:22. That must be where I was getting the afternoon departure. Oddly, both flights have the same flight number. I don’t recall that ever happening before. I do hope that there are no delays/cancellations, as it is getting close to Thanksgiving. There are multiple reasons for planning this trip the week before Thanksgiving, though.

Speaking of Indianapolis, I’m taking my heavy coat. Weather forecast shows a low of 26 degrees on Friday morning. Brrr . . .

I’m still currently reading The Divine Embrace, by Robert E. Webber, and Humpty Dumpty, by Carolyn McCray and Ben Hopkin. I haven’t made much progress in The Divine Embrace, lately, but managed to get a few chapters of Humpty Dumpty read, yesterday. The plot is enjoyable, and the character development is growing on me.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Of Being Real, by Daryl Madden

In Presence be
Of offered prayer
An entrance to
Surrender here

Take me deep
Deeper still
Past my thoughts
Beyond my will

To the place
Here to reveal
One of the soul
Of being real

To drift, to dwell
To simply be
Of grace and peace
In love with Thee

Such a beautiful prayer. “Take me deep, Deeper still . . .” Yes, Lord!

Rejoice always,
pray without ceasing,
give thanks in all circumstances;
for this is the will of God
in Christ Jesus for you.
(1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for weather that actually feels like Autumn
2. for my coffee
3. for a good night's rest
4. the preview of the "new heavens" and "new earth" given in Isaiah 65
5. for the hope of the end of all violence, oppression, and injustice

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TWENTY-FIVE – DAY SEVEN

INVITATION

“Come to me, all you who labor and are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest.”
(Matthew 11:28 WEB)

As I briefly pause, this morning, the entire house is quiet. In this peaceful moment, I consider the command to rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and give thanks in all circumstances. It is declared to be God’s will. Not to be thankful for all circumstances, but to be thankful in them. Big difference.

BIBLE SONG

A song of ascents.

“They have greatly oppressed me from my youth,” let Israel say;
“they have greatly oppressed me from my youth,
but they have not gained the victory over me.
Plowmen have plowed my back
and made their furrows long.
But the LORD is righteous;
he has cut me free from the cords of the wicked.”
(Psalms 129:1-4 NIV)

BIBLE READING

“See, I will create
new heavens and a new earth.
The former things will not be remembered,
nor will they come to mind.”
(Isaiah 65:17 NIV)

“Never again will there be in it
an infant who lives but a few days,
or an old man who does not live out his years;
the one who dies at a hundred
will be thought a mere child;
the one who fails to reach a hundred
will be considered accursed.
They will build houses and dwell in them;
they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit.”
(Isaiah 65:20-21 NIV)

They will not labor in vain,
nor will they bear children doomed to misfortune;
for they will be a people blessed by the LORD,
they and their descendants with them.
Before they call I will answer;
while they are still speaking I will hear.
The wolf and the lamb will feed together,
and the lion will eat straw like the ox,
and dust will be the serpent’s food.
They will neither harm nor destroy
on all my holy mountain,”
says the LORD.
(Isaiah 65:23-25 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I read these passages again, perhaps out loud, I look for ways in which God’s Word has moved me. I ponder and meditate on what has connected with my heart and mind. I pray to God what has moved me, turning my thoughts and meditations to Him and peacefully enjoying His presence.

These are interesting passages, and beautiful, as well. I can’t really identify with the psalm, as I do not feel as if I have ever been “oppressed.” Sadly, there are people groups in the U.S. who, historically and presently, have been oppressed. I am not part of any of those. I am a white, upper-middle-class male. We’ve traditionally had it pretty good in this country. Unfortunately, there are many of us who do not want to acknowledge the oppression of others that has occurred.

But that’s not a direction I want to take, this morning. I focus, rather, on the deliverance of the Lord. Verse 4 o the psalm declares the righteousness of the Lord, and that He has cut the oppressed free from the “cords of the wicked.” As part of my prayer, I do wonder why, if that is true, we still see such oppression in our world, especially in the “land of the free.” At the same time, I celebrate my own deliverance from the cord of the wicked, but that being a spiritual deliverance from spiritual cords of wickedness.

I do believe that God desires us to be active in seeking justice and deliverance for those who are oppressed.

The end result of all of this can be seen in Isaiah’s beautiful passage. While there are parts of it that still present questions for me, over all, it is one of the more comforting passages in the entire Bible.

First we see the creation of “new heavens and a new earth.” I’m intrigued by what the second half of that verse means, “The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind.” I’m not going to try to tackle the theology of that statement, but do believe that it has to do with the promise that all of our tears will be dried up. It also leads me down the path that disagrees with people who believe that their ancestors are “looking down on them,” from “heaven.” But again . . . that’s not a topic for today.

I have all kinds of questions for verses 20-21. I’ve looked at Matthew Henry’s commentary on it, and it doesn’t address my questions at all. I wonder about this talk of “dying” in the new heavens and new earth. I have to assume that this is figurative language, because we believe in eternal life, and in the new heavens and new earth, there will be no death at all. So perhaps the thought that “the one who dies at a hundred will be thought a mere child,” is hyperbole.

Actually, the NIV seems to be quite different from the KJV.

There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed.
(Isaiah 65:20 KJV)

So I’m moving on. The description of this life continues in verses 23-25, and it is unimaginable, frankly. Considering the times we have lived in and through, and the times that have gone before us. There will be no vain labor (it does appear that there will be “labor,” but perhaps it will look more like any work that Adam and Eve did pre-fall); the children will have no misfortune. Again . . . more questions. Will there be “new children” in this time? I have no answer to these questions.

But the presence of the Lord will be so strong and so prevalent that He will answer before the words leave our lips. And there will be no violence of any kind. Even the animals who were previously predator and prey will live peacefully together.

Father, this is a wonderfully beautiful picture of what we can expect in our future. As I’ve written, questions have arisen in my mind, but they are not, in my opinion, terribly important questions. They are not vital to my faith. They are peripheral, at best. I can only imagine, as the song says, what this will look like. I can only imagine how I will react and live in this world that Isaiah has presented. The idea of a world without sickness or death or violence or oppression or crime . . . this is so foreign to me. But I long for it, and am so grateful that You have given us this preview of what it will be like. The last line of this passage, “They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain,” gives me something to long for and hope for. I trust in Your promises, Father. They help me get through the difficult times in this life. But my “difficult” times are nothing compared to those who truly face oppression and injustice. I pray, Father, that You would help me see ways to work for justice and the cessation of oppression.

I pray, Father, that Your Church would work to this end, for the common good and benefit of all people. May we experience deep care, bold love, and rich community within the “walls” of the Church.

"God of every square inch,
thank You for the promise of Your coming kingdom,
the hope that everything wrecked will be completely renovated.
Renew in me the vision that faith in You has everything to do with construction safety and agricultural practices,
labor laws and justice seeking,
flourishing cities and thriving people.
Let Your kingdom come.
Amen."

BLESSING

Let your loving kindness also come to me, Yahweh, your salvation, according to your word.
(Psalms 119:41 WEB)


A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
(John 13:34-35 ESV)

Love from the center of who you are;
don’t fake it.
Run for dear life from evil;
hold on for dear life to good.
Be good friends who love deeply;
practice playing second fiddle.
Don’t burn out;
keep yourselves fueled and aflame.
Be alert servants of the Master,
cheerfully expectant.
Don’t quit in hard times;
pray all the harder.
Help needy Christians;
be inventive in hospitality.
(Romans 12:9-13 MSG)

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
(Ephesians 5:1-2 ESV)

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
(1 John 4:7-11 ESV)


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

Is it possible to live as though we have already died?

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!

May the LORD answer you when you are in distress; may the name of the God of Jacob protect you.
(Psalms 20:1 NIV)

Grace and peace, friends.