Christ Died for the Ungodly

Today is Saturday, the thirteenth of March, 2021, in the third week of Lent.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,011

Oddly, that number of days does not divide equally by 63, which is how many times I have traveled around the sun, as of early this morning.

22 days until Resurrection Sunday

We had another great time, yesterday. After a brunch of eggs and accessories (and a somewhat failed experiment with an egg bite maker), C and I headed up to the Electric Starship Arcade, where we spent a couple of hours playing various video games and pinball machines. It was great fun! They have a Tempest game, which is one of our favorites. The pinball machines were also fun, but I have to say I miss the days of the more simple machines. These days, there are so many flashing lights and things to hit and ramps to aim for . . . it’s really hard to tell what’s going on.

We also played Guitar Hero for about a half hour, which was also fun. I played Pac Man, Centipede, Q-Bert, and a few others, including a golf game and a bowling game. It was great fun. It only cost us $10 to play all we wanted. I’m sure we will be back.

Today, we will attend our WW Workshop at 10:30, after which we will figure out our lunch plans. Right now, I think Hoffbrau Steakhouse is in the lead, but I’m also thinking about seafood/pasta, as well. I’m probably planning to go into my “weekly” points for the day.

At this point, however, there are no other plans. I need to get the oil changed in my car, and C has said she would do that for me today, since it’s my birthday.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Giver of all good things, we thank you:
for health and vigour,
for the air that gives the breath of life,
the sun that warms us,
and the good food that makes us strong;
for happy homes and for the friends we love,
for all that makes it good to live.

Make us thankful and eager to repay,
by cheerfulness and kindliness,
and by a readiness to help others.

Freely we have received;
 let us freely give,
in the name of him who gave his life for us,
Jesus Christ our Lord.  
Amen. (Giver of All Good Things, Thomas Ken (1637-1711)

But giving thanks is a sacrifice that truly honors me. If you keep to my path, I will reveal to you the salvation of God.”
(Psalms 50:23 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

  • To be beginning my 64th time around the sun, today
  • That I am alive and breathing
  • For Tempest, Pac Man, Guitar Hero, and pinball
  • That Christ died for us while we were “still sinners”
  • That, because of this work of Christ, our Father is not angry with us any more

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

LENT – DAY 22

INVITATION

They were calling out to each other, “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of Heaven’s Armies! The whole earth is filled with his glory!”
(Isaiah 6:3 NLT)

Take a moment to quietly express gratitude to the Lord for something in your life.

BIBLE SONG

A psalm of David.

Ascribe to the LORD, you heavenly beings, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength. Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness.

The voice of the LORD is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the LORD thunders over the mighty waters. The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is majestic. The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars; the LORD breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon. He makes Lebanon leap like a calf, Sirion like a young wild ox. The voice of the LORD strikes with flashes of lightning. The voice of the LORD shakes the desert; the LORD shakes the Desert of Kadesh. The voice of the LORD twists the oaks and strips the forests bare. And in his temple all cry, “Glory!”

The LORD sits enthroned over the flood; the LORD is enthroned as King forever. The LORD gives strength to his people; the LORD blesses his people with peace.
(Psalms 29:1-11 NIV)

BIBLE READING

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
(Romans 5:6-11 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

There was a course that used to be taught at The Exchange Church. It was called “Equipped for Life.” I never went through the course (mostly because they insisted on having it at 7:30 on Saturday mornings), but I know a few of the principles involved.

One of those was a loose, perhaps over-simplified, definition of “propitiation.” EFL stated that propitiation means that God is not angry with us any more.

This is a hard pill for some of us to swallow, who were raised believing in an angry, wrathful God. And, while it is true that God is angry at sin, I now believe that the Scriptures teach us that, once we have received the sacrifice of Jesus Christ as our own, and believed in Him for our salvation, God is, in fact, no longer angry at us for sin. If He were, there would be something amiss in the sacrifice of Jesus, and we believe, of course, that there is nothing at all amiss in the completed work of Christ.

And, while the definition is, as I said, a bit over-simplified, it is not inaccurate. This astonishing passage from Romans 5 bears this out. “Christ died for the ungodly,” we first see in verse 6. Verses 7 and 8 explain why this is so amazing. In human terms, it would be rare for someone to die for another person, even one who is “righteous.” Paul does allow that someone “might possible dare to die” for a “good person,” whatever that means.

But Christ died for us while we were “still sinners!”

It would probably do us well to sit on that thought for a few minutes.

God does not wait for us to get our lives together before offering salvation to us. He does not wait for us to become “good” or “righteous.” In fact, the only way that we are considered “good” or “righteous” is because of the fact stated in Romans 5:8, that Christ died for us while we were still sinners!

This is, and always has been, most astonishing to me. It is a powerful verse and displays perfectly an important piece of the Gospel message.

Then, Paul goes on, though. Since we are justified by the blood of Christ, we are also spared from the wrath of God, hence the simplified definition of propitiation, that God is not angry at us, any more. We are saved from God’s wrath. Once and for all.

Before being brought into Christ, we were enemies of God. But we have been saved through the life, death, and resurrection of Christ, and will be His enemies no more. Ever. And this is the only grounds we have for boasting.

Father, I praise You for these truths. I am grateful that You are not angry with me, because of the work of Jesus Christ. Help me to remember this, each day, as I walk in Your kingdom. Thank You for the fact that Christ died for us while we were still sinners, and that You didn’t decide to wait for us to become “good” or “righteous” on our own. Because that simply would not have happened. All glory to You, Father!

Jesus,
Son of God and Son of Man,
I praise you,
worship you,
and love you.
On the cross you shouldered the weight
of God's just anger against my sin
and restored for me the righteousness
and life,
setting me completely free
and making me right with God.
There are not enough words
to thank you,
my Savior.
Amen.
(Heidelberg Catechism 17-18)

BLESSING

Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the one whose sin the LORD does not count against them and in whose spirit is no deceit.
(Psalms 32:1-2 NIV)

“But I have a few complaints against you. You tolerate some among you whose teaching is like that of Balaam, who showed Balak how to trip up the people of Israel. He taught them to sin by eating food offered to idols and by committing sexual sin.”
(Revelation 2:14 NLT)

John begins the letter to the Pergamum church by displaying Christ as having a double-edged sword. If you recall, this sword was coming from the mouth of Jesus, earlier, in chapter 1. This tell us that He will have “something decisive to say,” words that will make a difference.

Eugene Peterson refers to the writer of Hebrews, who told us this:

For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable.
(Hebrews 4:12-13 NLT)

Peterson surmises that, because Jesus is introduced in this way, the Pergamum Christians had “become sloppy with their words . . . their faith had become fuzzy.”

However, Jesus does begin with some praise, showing that He knows that they have held fast to His name, even though they live “where Satan’s throne is.” They, just as the people of Smyrna, were experiencing persecution. This was illustrated through the life of one Antipas, a martyr from Pergamum. This church was heroic.

(From This Hallelujah Banquet, by Eugene H. Peterson)

Father, I pray that You help us with our words. Give us wisdom to know what words to use when talking about our faith. May our words be salt and light to the world around us. All too often our words are brutal attacks on those who don’t believe like we do. We criticize and shame; help us, rather, to edify; to build up; to be uplifting and encouraging. There are plenty of critical words being spewed in the world, plenty, more than enough, hateful words. Let the words of Your people be good and true, but also filled with love, not hate. Help us to love as Jesus has loved us.

Lord, I pray diligently for unity and holiness within Your Church. We are divided, sadly, and most tragically, it is politics that divides us. I pray, Father, that Your people would get their eyes off of men and put them on Christ, the hope of glory, and our only hope of salvation. I lift up the families in our little church community, Father, that You would keep them under Your protection in whatever they need to do in their lives. I pray for wisdom for those of us who are leaders in this little band of believers. Help us to know how to best serve You and others.

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

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

Come; Listen; Seek

Today is Friday, the twelfth of March, 2021, in the third week of Lent.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,010

23 days until Resurrection Sunday

Yesterday was a wonderful day! After I finished blogging, C and I got bowling gear together and headed up to the local Bowlero house. I know. It’s a stupid name, and I hate it. But they pretty much rule bowling, now, having even purchased the PBA. I had a fourteen-pound ball that needed drilling, so we started at the pro shop. We had to wait a little bit, as there were people already in there, and a sign on the door said only two customers at a time. Masks were “suggested” at the front door of the bowling alley, but required in the pro shop.

We finally got inside the pro shop, and the young man inside took measurements and told me to give him around a half hour. We both figured he was being a bit liberal with that estimate, and it turns out, we were right. It took closer to an hour, but that’s okay. We went ahead and started our two hours of bowling with another ball I had brought along.

Ironically, I bowled a 235 in the first game, starting out with four straight strikes. With no warming up. It was crazy. And the thumb hole on my older ball was too big, because, you know, I’m down a hundred-plus pounds. We finished two games before the new ball was done. The second game, I bowled 166, which is more realistic. Then I got the new ball. It’s an Ebonite Nitro, and it’s pretty porous, even more-so than the Hammer I was using. But it fit perfectly! I bowled a 186 with that ball. It felt great.

However, by the end of that game, I had a muscle in my forearm that felt strained or pulled or something, so I only made it through about four frames of the last game, which C finished out. I think the pain was starting before I got the new ball, because I noticed some pain between my ring finger and pinky finger on my right hand, due to the way I was having to try to grip the ball, because the thumb hole was too big.

It was a great time, though, and I have a great new ball to use. And, bonus, my left knee never hurt at all. Oh. That reminds me. I remember mentioning the possibility of drilling the new ball for left handed. I decided not to try that.

After bowling, we ordered Applebee’s for whatever meal you want to call that (it was somewhere around 3:00 PM), and picked up Sonic. We ate our food, and then I settled in for some Playstation time.

Today, we plan to check out the Electric Starship Arcade, during the early afternoon. I have also done prep on a new recipe we are going to try for dinner tonight. From the Emily Bites website, it’s called “Crispy Onion Dip Chicken.” The “onion dip” is made from fat free Greek yogurt, onion powder, and chives. The chicken needs to marinate in the dip for a few hours (up to eight), so I’ve already prepped it and have it in the refrigerator. I will update tomorrow on how it turns out.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

God, my Father,
You have promised to remain forever with those
who do what is just and right.
Help me to live in Your presence.
The loving plan of Your Wisdom was made known when
Jesus, your Son, became man like us.
I want to obey His commandment of love
and bring Your peace and joy to others.
Keep before me the wisdom and love
You have made known in Your Son.
Help me to be like Him in word and deed.


(Prayer to Live in God’s Presence)

for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy. My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.
(Psalms 63:7-8 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

  • For the wonderful day we had yesterday; thank you, C, for what is going to be a wonderful birthday weekend!
  • For my beautiful and marvelous wife, and the wonderful marriage we have
  • For bowling; that was great fun!
  • That You extended the invitation to come to You
  • That You gave me ears to listen to You
  • That You caused me to seek You and call upon Your name while You can still be found
  • That You have had mercy and have freely pardoned me
  • For Your wonderful words of life!

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

LENT – DAY 21

INVITATION

And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.”
(Isaiah 6:3 NIV)

Spend a moment in silence, resting in the shadow of His wings, enjoying His presence.

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)

BIBLE SONG

Of David.

To you, LORD, I call; you are my Rock, do not turn a deaf ear to me. For if you remain silent, I will be like those who go down to the pit. Hear my cry for mercy as I call to you for help, as I lift up my hands toward your Most Holy Place.
(Psalms 28:1-2 NIV)

Praise be to the LORD, for he has heard my cry for mercy. The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.
(Psalms 28:6-7 NIV)

BIBLE READING

“Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest of fare. Give ear and come to me; listen, that you may live. I will make an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David.”
(Isaiah 55:1-3 NIV)

Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.
(Isaiah 55:6-7 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I sit in His presence, I see some beautiful words, this morning. The entire passage in Isaiah 55 is an invitation. It is threefold, at least. For the moment, I’m focusing on three words. You might be able to guess what they are.

First, is “come.” To all who are thirsty, and to all who are hungry, the Lord says “come.” Come to the waters; and if you have no money, it doesn’t matter. The word “come” appears four times in verse 1. The door is open, the invitation is given. God does not make Himself hard to find. It is human pride that makes God hard to find.

The second word is “listen.” Between verses 2 and 3, “listen” occurs three times, and a once, it is repeated immediately. “Listen, listen.” The fact that it is directly repeated like that adds emphasis. If you include “give ear” in verse 3, then that invitation is also given four times. The reason is found in verse 3. “Listen, that you may live.”

There’s another old hymn that I remember. I grew up Southern Baptist in a small town in north central Texas, minutes away from DFW. All we sang were hymns. Worship “choruses” and contemporary worship music didn’t come on the scene until at least eighties, at least as far as adult “church” was concerned. We had our youth songs, like “Pass It On,” and “I Wish We’d All Been Ready.” But in “church,” we only sang hymns.

Where was I? Oh, yes. Here you go. By the great hymn-writer, Philip P. Bliss.

1. Sing them over again to me,
wonderful words of life;
let me more of their beauty see,
wonderful words of life;
words of life and beauty
teach me faith and duty.

Refrain:
Beautiful words, wonderful words,
wonderful words of life.
Beautiful words, wonderful words,
wonderful words of life.

2. Christ, the blessed one, gives to all
wonderful words of life;
sinner, list to the loving call,
wonderful words of life;
all so freely given,
wooing us to heaven.
(Refrain)

3. Sweetly echo the gospel call,
wonderful words of life;
offer pardon and peace to all,
wonderful words of life;
Jesus, only Savior,
sanctify forever.
(Refrain)

I know some of you are singing this, right now.

I love that line, “wooing us to heaven.” God’s Word is life. The words that He speaks are words of life! And He bids us come and listen to Him, that we may live! To refuse to do so is simply and utterly foolishness!

The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”
(Psalm 14:1 NIV)

The third word is “seek.” Only used once in verse 6, we are encouraged/admonished to “seek the Lord while He may be found.” This, of course, implies that there will come a time when He will not be found. When will that be? After the final judgment, when everything is said and done. Then, and only then, will there be a time when humanity will not be able to seek and find the Lord. Until that day, there will always be a chance. As Led Zeppelin famously sang, “There’s still time to change the road you’re on.” I suppose I should clarify that it is also too late, once one has passed on from this life, at least as far as I understand things.

The final result of all of this coming, listening, and seeking is found in verse 7.

Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.
(Isaiah 55:7 NIV)

He will have mercy, and He will freely pardon.

FREELY!! Liberally! At no cost to us, because the high, high cost of salvation has already been paid!

Father, I praise You, this morning, for the truth of these words, these “wonderful words of life.” I thank You that You bid me come, so many years ago. I thank You that You gave me ears to listen to you (although they still fail to do so, at times). And I thank You that You led me to seek you and call on Your name, before it was too late. Thank You for Your great mercy, and Your free pardon! Thank You for Your Wonderful Words of Life!

True God,
who can save?
So many pretenders
serve up hollow promises,
but it's all foolishness.
No one else can release me
from my punishment;
no program can set me right with you.
Turn me again to Jesus,
the only true deliverer,
and clear me from my sin.
Amen.
(Heidelberg Catechism 14)

BLESSING

Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the one whose sin the LORD does not count against them and in whose spirit is no deceit.
(Psalms 32:1-2 NIV)

The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.
(Psalms 145:18 NIV)

You will pray to him, and he will hear you, and you will fulfill your vows.
(Job 22:27 NIV)

I call on you, my God, for you will answer me; turn your ear to me and hear my prayer.
(Psalms 17:6 NIV)

“To the angel of the church in Pergamum write: These are the words of him who has the sharp, double-edged sword. I know where you live—where Satan has his throne. Yet you remain true to my name. You did not renounce your faith in me, not even in the days of Antipas, my faithful witness, who was put to death in your city—where Satan lives. Nevertheless, I have a few things against you: There are some among you who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin so that they ate food sacrificed to idols and committed sexual immorality. Likewise, you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans. Repent therefore! Otherwise, I will soon come to you and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it.”
(Revelation 2:12-17 NIV)

The chapter of This Hallelujah Banquet that treats this letter to the church in Pergamum is called “The Test of Our Truth.”

We live in an age where “word making” is a huge enterprise. It’s one of the biggest businesses going. The computer age hastened this along a great deal, and, now that they are everywhere and small enough to hold in the palm of your hand, making words is even easier.

“Words are big business.”

Says, Peterson, “With this great emphasis on words, you might think they are studied and valued and understood more than ever before.” (Keep in mind that these words were part of sermons preached in the 1980s!) Unfortunately, that is not the case, and it is even more true than ever, today, in 2021. Social media has exacerbated this problem, along with the ignorance of the masses.

Words are used “badly, sloppily, carelessly.”

In fact, the actual words seem less important than the effects they can cause. “Words are used in order to influence, to sell a car or a candidate, to seduce, to persuade, to win for propaganda, or for advertisement. The skill of our times is not using words as words but using them as weapons, as tools.” (Emphasis mine)

“One of the large and persistent tasks of living the Christian life is learning to tell the truth.” Unfortunately, we continue to lie quite a bit, even when we don’t realize it. “Lies are not usually blatant falsehoods. In order to be successful, they have to be mostly truth.” And, the root cause of most lies is laziness. “Most people tell lies with the best of intentions. They think they are helping the cause of their country or company or their own fortunes and that this is the best way.” Lying is easier than doing the work to make sure we are telling the truth.

(From This Hallelujah Banquet, by Eugene H. Peterson)

Father, I pray earnestly for us, Your people, today. Help us discern truth. As we deal with people on social media, may we be more diligent to do the work to make sure that we are always telling the truth. Help us to stop spreading lies because of our affinity to a political party or candidate, or because of our support for some “cause” that is not You. We have fallen far, Lord, in the cause of truth. Jesus is The Truth! Help us to always remember this, and to make sure that we are not telling lies, even unintentionally.

Lord, I pray that, today, You might cause me to think seriously on the Cross of Jesus Christ, and its benefits to my life. I pray for all who are currently living in poverty and suffering injustice. May Your people rise up and help, Father, and may we send more than “thoughts and prayers.” I pray for all who face temptations today (that should be everyone, right?), that You would give us all the strength to withstand the temptation and find the escape route that You promise.

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!

Those who have been ransomed by the LORD will return. They will enter Jerusalem singing, crowned with everlasting joy. Sorrow and mourning will disappear, and they will be filled with joy and gladness.
(Isaiah 51:11 NLT)

Grace and peace, friends.

Jesus Loves the Church

Today is Wednesday, the tenth of March, 2021, in the third week of Lent.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,008

25 days until Resurrection Sunday

It is difficult to determine when the pandemic officially began, and lockdowns vary from state to state. But a lot of folks are stating that this week is the one year anniversary. I would concur with that, because, in my memory, I had lunch with R & J at Hoffbrau Steak House on Saturday, March 14, last year, the day after my birthday, and it was the next week that everything started locking down.

So my birthday will forever be associated with a pandemic lockdown. “Forever” being a euphemism for the rest of my life. I thought about celebrating this Saturday by going to Hoffbrau again. But I’m kind of afraid to, being that today ends the mask and social distancing mandate in Texas. I have an email that gives me a discount on an entrée for my birthday. And I just saw a Facebook post that says that their team members will continue to mask up and they will “encourage” patrons to wear masks.

Today is my “Friday” (no, it’s not, it’s Wednesday!) for this week, as I we will be off work the rest of the week for my birthday. We plan to go bowling tomorrow. I have a “new” ball that I want to get drilled. I’m toying with the thought of getting it drilled to use left-handed. C thinks that’s a dumb idea. She may win out. We will see. As for golfing, that has been tabled until our Glen Rose trip, scheduled for the last weekend of April.

Time keeps on slipping, slipping, slipping, into the future, so on to the devotional.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

"Thanks be to you, our Lord Jesus Christ,
for all the benefits which you have given us,
for all the pains and insults which you have borne for us.
Most merciful Redeemer, Friend and Brother,
may we know you more clearly,
love you more dearly,
and follow you more nearly,
day by day.
Amen."
(The prayer of St. Richard of Chichester)

Your unfailing love is better than life itself; how I praise you! I will praise you as long as I live, lifting up my hands to you in prayer.
(Psalms 63:3-4 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

  • For Your unfailing love, which is better than life, itself
  • For the upcoming long weekend
  • For the Church, which I truly love
  • For Your very great and precious promises, and that I am fully persuaded that You have the power to keep those promises
  • For Your peace, in the midst of the storm, which passes all understanding

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

LENT – DAY 19

INVITATION

And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.”
(Isaiah 6:3 NIV)

Spend a moment in silent meditation on the unfailing love of the Lord. Is it better than life to you?

BIBLE SONG

Of David.

Vindicate me, LORD, for I have led a blameless life; I have trusted in the LORD and have not faltered. Test me, LORD, and try me, examine my heart and my mind; for I have always been mindful of your unfailing love and have lived in reliance on your faithfulness.
(Psalms 26:1-3 NIV)

LORD, I love the house where you live, the place where your glory dwells. Do not take away my soul along with sinners, my life with those who are bloodthirsty,
(Psalms 26:8-9 NIV)

BIBLE READING

When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!” His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.”
The Jews then responded to him, “What sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?”
Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.”
They replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?” But the temple he had spoken of was his body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken.
(John 2:13-22 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I read the Psalm passage again, a phrase speaks to me. In verse 8, David tells the Lord, “I love the house where you live.” David, of course, was speaking of the temple (or whatever served as the “temple” before the official Temple was built). But when I read that line, this morning, what came to my mind (and I credit the Holy spirit), is the Church.

I know that the Lord dwells in each believer, via the Holy Spirit. But I also believe that, in a sense, the Church can be considered the “house” where God lives. Not the building we call First Baptist Church or whatever. But the Church of God which is made up of all of the people who follow Christ, all over the world.

The Lord lives in the Church. And I truly do love the Church. I have expressed this love before on this platform, and have also expressed, and will continue to do so, that anyone who claims to love Jesus Christ and does not love the Church is a liar.

Father, I thank You for the Church, and I give You praise, honor, and glory that You made me a part of her. I thank You for the love that You placed in my heart for Your Church. I still remember when this started taking root, because I was in college when I truly began to understand the importance of the Church in the life of a Saint. I thank You for this, and thank You that You have kept that love alive for another forty years. I pray that it will stay alive for the rest of my life, and on into eternity.

"Merciful and just God,
I rage against the regularity of evil in the world.
Thank you that you are a just judge
and will punish all such sin,
now and in eternity.
Yet when the tables get turned,
I see how puny my anger is next to yours.
And along with justice,
I pray for mercy.
Forgive me in Jesus' name,
amen."
(Heidelberg Catechism 10)

BLESSING

Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the one whose sin the LORD does not count against them and in whose spirit is no deceit.
(Psalms 32:1-2 NIV)

The righteous perish, and no one takes it to heart; the devout are taken away, and no one understands that the righteous are taken away to be spared from evil. Those who walk uprightly enter into peace; they find rest as they lie in death.
(Isaiah 57:1-2 NIV)

Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.
(Hebrews 2:14-18 NIV)

“When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation.”
(Matthew 12:43-45 NIV)

Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people.
(Philippians 2:14-15 NLT)

Dear friends, I warn you as “temporary residents and foreigners” to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls. Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world.
(1 Peter 2:11-12 NLT)

Father, I pray, as Jesus taught us, that Your Name would be revered and worshiped throughout the world. I ask that Your Kingdom be manifest in this world, and Your will be done on earth, exactly as it is in heaven. I pray for daily bread, not just for myself and my family, but for all people. ALL people. Help us to forgive those who have wronged us, that we might experience Your blessed forgiveness of our own sins, as we have all sinned, Lord. Finally, I pray that You would protect us against temptation, and deliver us from both evil, and the Evil One. For Yours is the Kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever, amen.

Lord, this morning, I lift up prayers for all national and local communities. May Your light shine in them, through Your people. I lift up the continent of South America, as well. May Your glory fill the countries and cities of South America, and may people in those areas experience Your mighty presence today. I also pray for the poor and needy and poverty stricken people of our country and of our world. May Your people step up and help in any way we can, Father.

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

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

Always A Choice

Today is Tuesday, the ninth of March, 2021, in the third week of Lent.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,007

26 days until Resurrection Sunday

Today will be a little unusual, at work. Several groups of us are going to be shuttled to McKinney, where our client’s main facility is, to get new badges. I know my badge is set to expire in six days (they must be renewed every year), but normally, they can do it remotely. However, I hear, this time, that we are getting totally new badges. So we get a little road trip today.

I’m feeling a a few allergy symptoms, this morning. I woke up sneezing several times, during the night, and my nose is running slightly, but otherwise, I’m okay.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

God, give me grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.

Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.

Amen.

O God, you are my God; I earnestly search for you. My soul thirsts for you; my whole body longs for you in this parched and weary land where there is no water. I have seen you in your sanctuary and gazed upon your power and glory.
(Psalms 63:1-2 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

  • That I am alive and breathing
  • That You are my God, and that I am seeking You
  • That no one who truly hopes in You will ever be put to shame
  • That, when I am tempted, there is always a choice to do right
  • For the easy yoke of Jesus

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

LENT – DAY 18

INVITATION

And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.”
(Isaiah 6:3 NIV)

Ponder, for a moment, how the holiness of the Lord becomes known through your day.

BIBLE SONG

Of David.

In you, LORD my God, I put my trust.

I trust in you; do not let me be put to shame, nor let my enemies triumph over me. No one who hopes in you will ever be put to shame, but shame will come on those who are treacherous without cause.
(Psalms 25:1-3 NIV)

Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. Relieve the troubles of my heart and free me from my anguish. Look on my affliction and my distress and take away all my sins. See how numerous are my enemies and how fiercely they hate me!

Guard my life and rescue me; do not let me be put to shame, for I take refuge in you. May integrity and uprightness protect me, because my hope, LORD, is in you.

Deliver Israel, O God, from all their troubles!
(Psalms 25:16-22 NIV)

BIBLE READING

For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.
(1 Corinthians 10:1-5 NIV)

These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come. So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.
(1 Corinthians 10:11-13 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I remind myself that I am in the presence of the Lord, this morning, there are a couple of things that speak to me in these readings.

First, if we put our hope in the Lord, I mean really put our hope in Him, we shall never be put to shame. This is, I believe, an important thing. Here’s the thing . . . if we truly hope in the Lord, we will never do anything that could bring shame upon us.

I have been ashamed, in the course of my life. Ashamed of my actions. But, during the committing of those actions, I most definitely was not putting my hope in the Lord, was I?

If I live my life completely in the hope of Him, I won’t step off of the path, and there will be no reason for me to ever feel shame. Of course, our enemy will attempt to make us feel shame for any and every reason imaginable. Perhaps I didn’t take advantage of an opportunity to minister to someone in some way. There are a number of reasons that our enemy could use against us to try to make us feel worthless.

But my hope is in God, and as long as I walk in that, there is no reason for shame or guilt.

The second thing is the warning in the Corinthians passage. Verse 12 warns us against being overly confident in our status of standing. “If you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall,” Paul warns us.

He then gives the famous verse about temptation, assuring us that God will never allow us to be tempted with something that we cannot overcome. I think that this may not be so much a promise (many well-meaning people have abused this “promise”) as a statement of fact, meant to insure that we don’t try to use excuses for our sin.

“The devil made me do it,” Geraldine famously said. (Apologies to any younger readers who may not know who that is. Go on You Tube and search for Flip Wilson Geraldine.) But Paul’s statement in 1 Corinthians 10:13 takes that excuse away from us. The devil never made anyone do anything. The devil didn’t make Eve take a bite of the fruit of that tree. We always do it willingly. But we had a choice. We always have a choice. Every time I’m watching a TV show, and a character says, “I had no choice,” I vigorously disagree. You always have a choice.

Father, I thank You for the truth that if I put my hope in You, I will never be put to shame. I thank You for the truth that, when I am tempted, I always have a choice, and there is always a way of escape. May I walk in these truths today, and may my hope always be in You.

"Living God,
I mistakenly presume that your mercy 
takes the edge of offense from my sin,
but a glimpse of your supreme majesty 
sobers me.
My sin is an offense so serious that
its penalty is eternal punishment of body and soul.
Lord Jesus,
Son of God,
have mercy.
Amen."
(Heidelberg Catechism 11)

BLESSING

Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the one whose sin the LORD does not count against them and in whose spirit is no deceit.
(Psalms 32:1-2 NIV)

A psalm of David.

The LORD is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name. Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings. Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the LORD forever.
(Psalms 23:1-6 NLT)

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”
(Matthew 11:28-30 NLT)

Father, I praise You for rest. I don’t always rest well, at night, but when I do, I am so grateful for it. I love falling asleep meditating on Your Word. It gives me a more peaceful sleep, I believe. I am also thankful for the easy yoke of Jesus. I pray that more of us would step into that fully, being aware of its truth. When we walk in the yoke with Jesus, everything is easier, because He is strong, and He carries the brunt of the burden. Thank You, my Savior!

Lord, I thank You for the call to serve You in my home, in my community, and in my workplace. May I honor You in all of my choices today. May all of us be a blessing to those around us today. I pray a blessing on all those who work in agriculture today.

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!

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
(Romans 12:12 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

No Other Gods

Today is Monday, the eighth of March, 2021, in the third week of Lent.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,006

27 days until Resurrection Sunday

If things work out as planned, this will be a short week for us, as we are planning PTO for Thursday and Friday, to have a long weekend for my birthday, which is Saturday. C found a Groupon for bowling, which we plan to do one of those days, and we may try to get in a round of golf, which we have not done in many years. However, all of that is pending the PTO submission getting approved.

We also booked a weekend at our favorite cabin in Glen Rose, for the end of April. This will be an unusual one, as it won’t be in honor of any special occasion. But it was the first available weekend for the cabin. As is our custom, we will check in on Thursday afternoon and return home on Sunday.

One thing we identified, over the weekend, is the change of philosophy around trips and vacations. In the past, a large amount of the energy on a trip was devoted to food; finding the best restaurants, indulging in too much food, and so on. This is not the case any more, and it has, dare I say, tainted the enjoyment of such trips. We just have to adjust our mindset and find other ways to enjoy ourselves besides eating. We can still enjoy food, of course, but it is no longer the center of the equation.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy;

O Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Amen.
(The Prayer of St. Francis)

On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rock, my refuge is God. Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us. Selah.
(Psalms 62:7-8 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

  • For a new week, full of opportunities to serve people and God
  • For the encouragement to keep You at the number one place in my life
  • For Your ability to settle me down in all circumstances
  • That all of Your promises are true, and that I am fully persuaded that You have the power to do what You say You will do
  • That Your Word corrects me when I am wrong and teaches me to do what is right

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

LENT – DAY 17

INVITATION

And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!”
(Isaiah 6:3 ESV)

Spend a moment pondering the idea that the whole earth is full of His glory.

BIBLE SONG

Of David. A psalm.

The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it on the seas and established it on the waters.

Who may ascend the mountain of the LORD? Who may stand in his holy place? The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god.

They will receive blessing from the LORD and vindication from God their Savior.
(Psalms 24:1-5 NIV)

BIBLE READING

And God spoke all these words:
“I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
“You shall have no other gods before me.
“You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.
“You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.
“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
“Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.
“You shall not murder.
“You shall not commit adultery.
“You shall not steal.
“You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”
(Exodus 20:1-17 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

The passage is lengthy, but familiar. Most people know at least some of the Ten Commandments. I dare say that the majority of people who only know some of them only know the ones that deal with our relationship to one another.

But the one that gives me pause today, as I reflect on this passage, reminding myself that I am in the presence of my Father, is the first one.

“You shall have no other gods before me.”
(Exodus 20:3 NIV)

Most of us, in Western culture, don’t have a problem with the concept of the “graven image.” We don’t, typically, worship statues, at least not in Christianity. And most of us would probably be quick to say that we had no other “gods” before Yahweh, our Father in heaven.

Do we, though?

Again, I’m thinking only of Western culture, because that is where I live. I believe that our experience over the past year has illustrated that many people who consider themselves to be Christian, at least in name, have other “gods” that they hold more dear than Yahweh.

Freedom

Guns

Rights

Material possessions

Money (not the same thing as material possessions, which typically cause us NOT to have money)

Self

I could go on. I’ve been guilty of some, myself, in the past, but am seriously attempting, these days, to not grant my allegiance to anything other than my Father in heaven.

And don’t all of the other commandments fall in line with the first one?

If you don’t have any other gods before the Lord, you certainly aren’t going to make a statue of them and worship them.

If you hold the name of the Lord (which is not, by the way, simply “God”) to be of supreme importance, you will not abuse His name(s). By the way, I believe the most common abuse of the name of the Lord is the usage of the name, “Jesus,” as a swear.

If we do not hold money or career as more worthy than the Lord, you will remember the Sabbath (whatever day that falls on for you, as I don’t believe we are officially held to observe the “Sabbath” on Saturday) and rest one day a week. We typically “rest” two days a week.

Time is short, so I will not continue down the list, but I’m sure you get my drift.

Father, please remind me to keep Your name above all others, as I go through each day. Dwell within me, by Your Holy Spirit, and fill me with love and worship for only You. Let me not ever have any other god before You. Remind me to always put myself in last place, behind You, behind everyone else. Help me to be selfless, considering others to be of more significance than myself.

"High and powerful God,
every day I fall short of living up to your law.
Why do I so easily fall into temptation
and live in reckless disobedience?
I'm weak,
God,
and I need Jesus.
Amen."
(Heidelberg Catechism 9)

BLESSING

Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the one whose sin the LORD does not count against them and in whose spirit is no deceit.
(Psalms 32:1-2 NIV)

Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.
(Philippians 4:6-7 MSG)

Then he got in the boat, his disciples with him. The next thing they knew, they were in a severe storm. Waves were crashing into the boat—and he was sound asleep! They roused him, pleading, “Master, save us! We’re going down!” Jesus reprimanded them. “Why are you such cowards, such faint-hearts?” Then he stood up and told the wind to be silent, the sea to quiet down: “Silence!” The sea became smooth as glass. The men rubbed their eyes, astonished. “What’s going on here? Wind and sea come to heel at his command!”
(Matthew 8:23-27 MSG)

Late that day he said to them, “Let’s go across to the other side.” They took him in the boat as he was. Other boats came along. A huge storm came up. Waves poured into the boat, threatening to sink it. And Jesus was in the stern, head on a pillow, sleeping! They roused him, saying, “Teacher, is it nothing to you that we’re going down?” Awake now, he told the wind to pipe down and said to the sea, “Quiet! Settle down!” The wind ran out of breath; the sea became smooth as glass. Jesus reprimanded the disciples: “Why are you such cowards? Don’t you have any faith at all?” They were in absolute awe, staggered. “Who is this, anyway?” they asked. “Wind and sea at his beck and call!”
(Mark 4:35-41 MSG)

God’s way is perfect. All the LORD’s promises prove true. He is a shield for all who look to him for protection.
(Psalms 18:30 NLT)

All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.
(2 Timothy 3:16 NLT)

Father, I praise You for Your perfect way. I thank You for Your faithful and true promises, and for being a shield about me. Thank You for Your Word, that corrects me when I am wrong (which is frequent) and teaching me to do what is right. Teach me Your way, O Lord, that I may walk in Your truth. And what is truth? Jesus is The Truth. Help me to walk in Him, today.

Lord, as I go through this day, may You open my eyes to see Your work all around me. I also pray that Your hand would be seen working in relief of any disasters in our world, both natural and man-caused. May You bring special blessing on those whose jobs it is to care for Your creation.

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!

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
(Romans 12:12 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Stop Whining!

Today is Sunday, the seventh of March, 2021, the third Sunday of Lent.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,005

28 days until Resurrection Sunday

We had a nice day, yesterday. My results at WW were that I stayed exactly the same as the previous week. No worries, there. Maintaining is better than gaining, and I did post an almost five pound loss the previous week. I’m also not on the verge of a mini-goal, so I’m not sweating this. C was a fraction of a pound (.2) over her goal weight, which is fantastic. That was her fourth week of maintenance . . . only two more to go, and if she stays within that two-pound range (plus or minus) she will obtain lifetime membership!

We picked up our grocery order right after our WW Workshop (with the obligatory stop for Sonic drinks, of course). I had received notification of substitutions, via text message and had responded to those. What I did not see, though, was a number of items that they claimed they were out of. No green grapes, no bananas (!!), and a few other things. C likes to go out and run around on Saturday afternoons, anyway, so she went and picked up at least some of the items, and found a few other goodies, as well. She also took advantage of the nice weather and walked for a little while, at a park.

We had our left-over Pecan Crusted Chicken for lunch, and each of us had our own accessories (I suppose I should call those “sides”). Later, in the evening, I cooked burgers for S and me. I use the leanest beef I can get, mix in a variety of seasonings, and bake them in the oven. I don’t put bread on mine, so the burgers (two patties) and one slice of regular sharp cheddar cheese cost from seven to nine WW points. I also cooked some frozen crinkle cut fries in the air fryer, for an additional four points. I sprinkled several different seasonings on them, and they were delicious.

We have our church Zoom gathering, this morning at 10:15. We will be starting, today, with Psalm 10, and probably get through three or four chapters. I expect that some might encourage meeting in person next weekend, after the governor’s lifting of all pandemic restrictions. I’m not sure I’m ready for that, unless people will continue to wear masks. I realize that I went to an in-person church last Sunday, but all restrictions were still in place, and people stayed distant. We will see how it goes.

After church, I am sure we will order Applebee’s for lunch. The rest of the day will be spent resting, preparing for the work week ahead. I’m going to try to get PTO for Thursday and Friday, so we can have a couple extra days off for my birthday.

Enough of that. On with the devotional. Right after I get a second cup of coffee.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Another poem, today, by Daryl Madden, called “Really To.”

To gaze, to dwell, to draw deep
Really just to be
To hear, to taste, to feel now
This moment to be free

To soak, to breath, to savor
Really to receive
Presence that’s abundant
This moment to believe

To give, to yield, surrender
Really to let go
Freedom in releasing
This moment of the flow

To meld, to bind, embracing
Really to be here
Love within of knowing
This moment is a prayer

I really love the first line of this one, and it’s pretty much why I’m here, every morning. “To gaze, to dwell, to draw deep . . .”

Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken.
(Psalms 62:5-6 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

  • For what promises to be a beautiful day outside, today
  • For the opportunity, this morning, to dwell in Your Word with other believers
  • For the faithful leaders and ministers You have placed in the midst of Your people
  • For the words of the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last, the One who died and was raised again
  • For the strength and hope and eternity that those words bring to our lives

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

Third Sunday in Lent

INVITATION

And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.”
(Isaiah 6:3 NIV)

Take a moment to meditate on the holiness of the Lord.

BIBLE SONG

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

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

Sing the praises of the LORD, you his faithful people; praise his holy name. For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.
(Psalms 30:1-5 NIV)

BIBLE READING

The whole Israelite community set out from the Desert of Sin, traveling from place to place as the LORD commanded. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. So they quarreled with Moses and said, “Give us water to drink.”
Moses replied, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you put the LORD to the test?”
But the people were thirsty for water there, and they grumbled against Moses. They said, “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to make us and our children and livestock die of thirst?”
Then Moses cried out to the LORD, “What am I to do with these people? They are almost ready to stone me.”
The LORD answered Moses, “Go out in front of the people. Take with you some of the elders of Israel and take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. I will stand there before you by the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it for the people to drink.” So Moses did this in the sight of the elders of Israel. And he called the place Massah and Meribah because the Israelites quarreled and because they tested the LORD saying, “Is the LORD among us or not?”
(Exodus 17:1-7 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

Moses was God’s faithful and chosen leader for the people of Israel. In today’s passage, though, not long after escaping the slavery of Egypt, the people quarrel with and complain against Moses.

We haven’t changed much in several thousand years. I have been attending Southern Baptist churches my whole life (so far), and time after time, I have watched (and, sadly, I confess, even participated) as congregations seemingly do nothing but whine, moan, criticize, and complain to their pastor/leadership. The music is too modern. The music is too old. The music is too loud. The sermon is too long. There’s not enough evangelism in the sermon. There’s not enough hellfire and brimstone in the sermon. There’s too much hellfire and brimstone in the sermon. We don’t like this. We don’t like that. We can’t agree on what color the carpet should be. We can’t agree on pews vs. chairs. The pews are too hard. The pews are too soft.

You know I could go on and on and on, right?

May God have mercy on us. How He managed to not destroy the stiff-necked people of Israel is beyond me. Although, I know that He is faithful to His covenants, and that, perhaps, is the sole thing that saved their wretched necks. That and the constant intercession of Moses. Even Moses snapped a few times, demanding an answer from God as to why He had saddled him with these ridiculous whiners.

I confess. I’m a complainer. And I’ve done more than my fair share of it in the past. But I have also become convicted that there is no room for complaining in the character of a child of God. There are legitimate reasons to point out things that are wrong, for sure. But when I say “complain,” I’m referring to a specific kind of critical nature, and you all know, I bet, what I mean.

We owe respect and submission to the leaders that God has placed in our midst (I’m referring only to Church life in this). If the leader proves himself to be not worthy of either, that’s a different story, but that unworthiness had better come from something heretical or unbiblical that has happened, not just because we didn’t like the way he preached last Sunday.

Moses was doing his best to obey God and lead the Israelites, but it was never enough for them. May we not be guilty of the same, in our churches today.

Father, I thank You for faithful leaders/pastors/priests/ ministers in Your Church today. I pray for Christian fellowships all over the world, this morning, that they would unite in support of their leaders, submitting to what their leaders believe to be the plan of God through His revealed Word. May we stop the incessant whining and moaning, and believe in YOU! May we have faith to believe that You know what You are doing! May we be fully persuaded that You have the power to fulfill all of Your great and precious promises, given in Your Word.

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Your Name. May Your kingdom come, and Your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; for Yours are the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

"Patient God,
even on this journey of faith,
where I experience your presence and provision,
I grumble,
gripe, 
and turn away from you.
Today,
may I know the embrace of your grace
more than the grip of sin,
and may my complaints be turned to praise.
In Christ's name,
amen."
(Canon of Dort 5.1)

BLESSING

Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the one whose sin the LORD does not count against them and in whose spirit is no deceit.
(Psalms 32:1-2 NIV)

“And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’”
(Matthew 25:40 NLT)

When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality.
(Romans 12:13 NLT)

Don’t be afraid of what you are about to suffer. The devil will throw some of you into prison to test you. You will suffer for ten days. But if you remain faithful even when facing death, I will give you the crown of life. “Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches. Whoever is victorious will not be harmed by the second death.”
(Revelation 2:10-11 NLT)

There is a distinct promise at the end of this letter to the Church at Smyrna. And, as we continue on through these letters, it will be noted that each promise is unique to the church being addressed.

To Smyrna is promised “the crown of life.” And then, “Whoever is victorious will not be harmed by the second death.”

There are two Greek words for “crown.” The first one has to do with what is worn by a king or queen, and the second is a prize “given to an athlete after winning a race or an honor bestowed on someone by the community for valorous service.” As expected, it is the second word that is used here.

When we are a participant in suffering, we are, in a sense, competing “in a contest for faith.” We are not, rest assured, calling suffering a “game,” for it is most certainly not. But when we come through this “contest” with the praise of God on our lips, we are “crowned with the prize of life.”

What is meant by “second death,” according to Peterson, is “the death that separates us from God.” We all must meet the first death (unless we happen to still be alive when Christ returns, I suppose), and the first death cannot separate us from the love of Christ. Those who keep their faith through suffering will never suffer that separation, either. We may suffer separation from “health, from friends, from children, and from this beautiful world, but we will never be separated from God.”

The words of the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last, the one who was dead and is now alive, gave strength and hope to people such as Polycarp and the “suffering Christians of Smyrna. And they have the power to give strength and eternity to our lives too.”

(From This Hallelujah Banquet, by Eugene H. Peterson)

Father, I praise You for the faithful and true words of the First and the Last, He who died and was raised again. May His words give us strength; may His words give us hope; may His words bring down eternity into the lives of Your people, the Church. All glory to You, Lord!

I pray, this morning, for increased and more intense fellowship with the crucified and risen Christ, my Savior. I pray for ongoing spiritual renewal and refreshment.

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!

“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.”
(Revelation 22:13 NLT)

Grace and peace, friends.

In Life, In Death, In Suffering, “Fear Not, For I Am With You”

Today is Saturday, the sixth of March, 2021, in the second week of Lent.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,004

29 days until Resurrection Sunday

It’s the weekend! And, as is my custom, I find it hard to sleep past 6:30 in the morning, these days, even when I stay up until midnight playing games. So I’m up early, blogging. This doesn’t mean I will finish early, as I typically dawdle and get distracted by other things on weekend mornings. I’ll probably be hurrying to finish in time to go to our WW Workshop, which happens at 10:30, this morning.

We will also return to our practice of picking up the grocery order from Walmart Neighborhood Market immediately after WW, since C has returned to the office for work. Grocery runs, while she was was working from home, could occur at random times, usually dependent on our supply of grapes and bananas, our two favorite fruits.

Last night, we made our Pecan-crusted Buttermilk Chicken for dinner. It’s been a while since we made that. We haven’t forgotten how, though, and it is still delicious. And, as always, we have leftovers for lunch today.

There are no other plans for the day, nor are there any for tomorrow, outside of our 10:15 church on Zoom gathering. We have been discussing plans for next weekend, as I seem to have a birthday coming up. Next Saturday is my birthday. We have not managed to come up with anything, yet, and, at this point, don’t even know what days we might plan to take off from work. The problem is two-fold (at least). One is that, in the past, celebrations and trips always centered around food and eating. Or at least that was a major part of the planning. Our eating habits have changed drastically in the past year, obviously, so there is not so much excitement surrounding that. The other thing is that I’m not terribly enthusiastic about going anywhere a few days after the Covid restrictions in Texas have been lifted. I have no desire to be around the masses of people who will, no doubt, be flooding places.

Also, the week after my birthday is Spring Break for most places, which is why we decided not to go to Glen Rose or Galveston for part of the week. So, we may just take off a few days and hang around the house. Maybe try to play a round of golf or go bowling, even. Of course, another issue (did I say “two-fold?”) is that, after sixty-something birthdays, they just don’t mean as much any more. I don’t even have a wish list for birthday presents. And, of course, the Friday after my birthday is the day I get part two of the Covid vaccine. So there’s a chance I will not be feeling well Friday night into Saturday of that weekend.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

"Father, I abandon myself
into your hands.
Do with me what you will.
Whatever you may do, I thank you.
I am ready for all, I accept all.
Let only your will be done in me
and in all your creatures.
I wish no more than this, O Lord.
Into your hands I commend my soul.
I offer it to you with all the love of my heart,
for I love you, Lord,
and so need to give myself,
to surrender myself into your hands
without reserve
and with boundless confidence,
for you are my Father."
Charles de Foucauld

Let the sea and everything in it shout his praise! Let the earth and all living things join in. Let the rivers clap their hands in glee! Let the hills sing out their songs of joy before the LORD, for he is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world with justice, and the nations with fairness.
(Psalms 98:7-9 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

  • For the weekend, to rest and refresh for the upcoming work week
  • That, when I am tempted, You always give me a way out
  • That I have been born from above, born of the Spirit
  • That You have shown me the path of life
  • That all suffering will eventually end

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

LENT – DAY 16

INVITATION

Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations. The LORD is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does.
(Psalms 145:13 NIV)

Spend a moment thanking God for His trustworthiness and faithfulness.

BIBLE SONG

A psalm of David.

Ascribe to the LORD, you heavenly beings, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength. Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness.

The voice of the LORD is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the LORD thunders over the mighty waters. The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is majestic.
(Psalms 29:1-4 NIV)

The voice of the LORD twists the oaks and strips the forests bare. And in his temple all cry, “Glory!”

The LORD sits enthroned over the flood; the LORD is enthroned as King forever. The LORD gives strength to his people; the LORD blesses his people with peace.
(Psalms 29:9-11 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.”
Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”
“How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”
Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
(John 3:1-8 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

There is a lot of depth in this passage from John. The phrase “born again” became very popular when I was a teen, in the mid-seventies. But even then, I don’t think we quite understood what it meant. It was just a euphemism for “saved.” What was “saved?” It meant that we had “invited Jesus into our hearts.”

At the risk of upsetting some folks, there are problems with that whole philosophy. For one thing, there is nothing in Scripture about “inviting Jesus into your heart.” But we are people who need formulas; we need things to be simple and “boxy,” so it’s easier to “sell.” It’s easier to market something that has one, two, three easy steps, and you’re done.

Unfortunately this does not reflect the truth of the Christian life. It may be “simple,” to a degree, but there are no quick and easy steps to it, as it is a lifetime of struggle, kind of like the ups and downs of a roller coaster ride.

But back to the Scripture above. The phrase “born again,” would be more literally translated “born from above.” Jesus even explains it, in verse 5, as being “born of water and the Spirit.” Being born of water is the first birth, the human birth. Being born of the Spirit is the second birth, “born again,” or “born from above.”

And there is a chilling pronouncement made by Jesus, here. First, in verse 3, as He says, “no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”

One who is not born of the Spirit might be walking around in the middle of God’s kingdom, and never see it.

Then, in verse 5, He goes even further to say that, unless one is born of the Spirit, one cannot enter God’s kingdom.

This is why I have long believed that, without the Holy Spirit, it is impossible to fully understand the Bible. Sure, there are parts that a non-believe could read and grasp. But the deeper things within, the deeper aspects of God’s kingdom, cannot be seen, cannot be grasped, cannot be entered into, unless one is born of the Spirit.

How, then, does this occur? If it doesn’t happen by inviting Jesus into my heart, as we were so fond of saying, then how?

That’s where it gets more complicated, and yet so simple. It happens by believing. Believing and embracing. If you believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead, you will be saved, says Paul, in Romans 10. And, there is the declaration that Jesus is Lord, as well.

For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.
(Romans 10:10 NIV)

But even the faith to believe and declare is a gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Father, I praise You for the gift of faith and belief. Everything came together in my life to lead me to this point. I could have easily not been born into a family of faith, or even in a country where faith is encouraged. I shake my head and wonder, sometimes, at how You worked my life out. Forgive me for not being more serious about it, and for not living to my potential in Your kingdom. As I recall yesterday’s readings, I am, indeed, fully persuaded that You have the power to accomplish everything that You promise. Your will will be done, on earth as in heaven. How much involvement I have in that is entirely up to me, it seems. Strengthen me to do the right things; draw me closer into You, Lord, through the life of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit. I wait for You, Lord, my whole being waits, and in Your Word do I put my hope!

"God of new birth,
may the mysterious wind of your Spirit
blow in my heart today.
May new life,
born again in the womb of the Spirit,
grow in me,
as I live my life in the presence
and power of your kingdom.
Amen."
(Canon of Dort 3/4, 12)

BLESSING

I wait for the LORD, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope.
(Psalms 130:5 NIV)

“Furthermore, tell the people, ‘This is what the LORD says: See, I am setting before you the way of life and the way of death.'”
(Jeremiah 21:8 NIV)

See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. For I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess.
(Deuteronomy 30:15-16 NIV)

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
(John 10:10 NIV)

And there it is. Life and death. There are two roads; two choices, and this is a choice that is made once, but it is also a choice that is made daily. For even though I have made the permanent choice to walk in the way of Christ, who is The Life, I must also daily choose to remain on that path.

Don’t misunderstand me . . . I don’t believe I can lose my salvation. I am, once again, fully persuaded that God is able to keep that which I’ve committed unto Him. But I can most certainly leave the path by making poor choices each day. He will always guide me back, sometimes gently, sometimes not so gently. I have, in my lifetime, experienced both.

But here’s the thing. 1 Corinthians 10:13. I have no excuse. “I couldn’t help myself,” is never a true statement.

The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.
(1 Corinthians 10:13 NLT)

Don’t be afraid of what you are about to suffer. The devil will throw some of you into prison to test you. You will suffer for ten days. But if you remain faithful even when facing death, I will give you the crown of life.
(Revelation 2:10 NLT)

Christ tells the Christians at Smyrna the same thing that He has told us, time and time again, throughout the Bible, and throughout history. “Don’t be afraid.” But fear is part of suffering, is it not? “Fear of the unknown, fear of isolation, fear of death? But Christ is with us. Do not fear.”

What does the psalmist say in Psalm 56?

But when I am afraid, I will put my trust in you.
(Psalms 56:3 NLT)

Any suffering that we may encounter is temporary. “Ten days” is just an expression for a “brief time.” Our suffering is limited, temporary.

Even if it ends in our death, it ends. And our death is the gateway to our eternal existence. “Suffering has an end because Christ suffered, died, and lives again.” This is not a call to stoicism; it is not a call “just to grit our teach and carry on; it is a promise of a companion and a presence.”

(From This Hallelujah Banquet, by Eugene H. Peterson)

Thank you, Jesus, for Your promise to always be with us. This promise gives us hope, and gives credibility to Your command to fear not. I am less likely to be afraid when I remember that You have promised to be there. “Fear not, for I am with You,” the Father says. May You help me always remember this, no matter what I am going through in my life.

This morning, Lord, I pray that Your Church would work more intentionally for the common good and benefit of all people. Sadly, there are many, today, who insist on holding on to their “rights” to do whatever they want. Change our hearts, Lord, that we may surrender those rights to You and do what is best for all people. I pray that all who are part of Your kingdom would experience the deepest sense of love and community. And I pray that, as it is that time of week, that Your Word would be preached effectively wherever it is spoken over the next few days.

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!

Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.
(Isaiah 41:10 NLT)

Grace and peace, friends.

Fully Persuaded

Today is Friday, the fifth of March, 2021, in the second week of Lent.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,003

Thirty days until Resurrection Sunday.

In an unexpected surprise (that’s redundant, innit?), C got her first Covid-19 vaccine shot yesterday afternoon! Now we are just waiting on S to get to the top of a list. Apparently, since C had asthma as one of her conditions, it put her in the current eligibility status. She had a headache yesterday afternoon, and her arm hurts this morning, but otherwise, she feels fine.

I’ve pondered for a minute, and can’t think of anything else to write about, so on to the devotional.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Once again, I will begin with a poem by fellow blogger, Daryl Madden, called “A Breath of Thought.”

A pause into morning
To contemplate
A taste of our God
And his power so great

In vastness of sky
Of the empty air
A pasture of peace
In Presence of here

A breath of thought
A spark of desire
Gift of the light
Of soul to inspire

Love is the word
Into of knowing
To open the spicket
If the Spirit flowing

O God, listen to my cry! Hear my prayer! From the ends of the earth, I cry to you for help when my heart is overwhelmed. Lead me to the towering rock of safety, for you are my safe refuge, a fortress where my enemies cannot reach me.
(Psalms 61:1-3 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

  • That You are my Shepherd, and I lack for nothing
  • That You lead me to the “towering rock of safety,” that You are my “safe refuge, a fortress where my enemies cannot reach me”
  • That I am fully persuaded that You have the power to do all that You have promised
  • That Your Word is right and true, and that You are faithful in all that You do (Psalm 33:4)
  • For Your love that I am feeling so strongly, this morning

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

LENT – DAY 15

INVITATION

Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations. The LORD is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does.
(Psalms 145:13 NIV)

Spend a quiet moment meditating on the Lord as your Shepherd, and that, in His care, you lack for nothing.

BIBLE SONG

Of David.

To you, LORD, I call; you are my Rock, do not turn a deaf ear to me. For if you remain silent, I will be like those who go down to the pit. Hear my cry for mercy as I call to you for help, as I lift up my hands toward your Most Holy Place.

Do not drag me away with the wicked, with those who do evil, who speak cordially with their neighbors but harbor malice in their hearts. Repay them for their deeds and for their evil work; repay them for what their hands have done and bring back on them what they deserve.

Because they have no regard for the deeds of the LORD and what his hands have done, he will tear them down and never build them up again. Praise be to the LORD, for he has heard my cry for mercy.
(Psalms 28:1-6 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.” The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone, but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.
(Romans 4:18-25 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

This is a rich passage, in Romans, and I could dwell on it for a long time. But the phrase that catches my immediate attention, this morning, that I have repeated to myself several times, is in verse 21. Abraham was “fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.”

Abraham lived in hope. God made a promise to him, and he was “fully persuaded.” He didn’t understand how it would happen, and he did question that. But in faith, Abraham believed, and “it was credited to him as righteousness.”

And then, as the icing on the cake (this cake is NOT a lie), Paul assures us that the bit about being credited as righteousness was written for our sakes, as well!

But I’m focusing, this morning, on that bit about being persuaded.

Paul likes that word. He uses it several times, in his letters. Later, in Romans, he is persuaded 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)

Elsewhere, he proclaims that he is persuaded (or convinced, in some translations) that God is able to keep that which Paul has committed to him. (2 Timothy 1:12)

There is an old hymn from that verse. I remember it well. Written by Daniel W. Whittle, published in 1883, it goes like this.

  1. I know not why God’s wondrous grace
    To me He hath made known,
    Nor why, unworthy, Christ in love
    Redeemed me for His own.
    • Refrain:
      But “I know Whom I have believed,
      And am persuaded that He is able
      To keep that which I’ve committed
      Unto Him against that day.”
  2. I know not how this saving faith
    To me He did impart,
    Nor how believing in His Word
    Wrought peace within my heart.
  3. I know not how the Spirit moves,
    Convincing men of sin,
    Revealing Jesus through the Word,
    Creating faith in Him.
  4. I know not what of good or ill
    May be reserved for me,
    Of weary ways or golden days,
    Before His face I see.
  5. I know not when my Lord may come,
    At night or noonday fair,
    Nor if I walk the vale with Him,
    Or meet Him in the air.

Just like Abraham, I do not understand how these things happen. But “I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I’ve committed unto Him against that day.” (I also know that some of you are singing this song, right now, and that makes me happy.)

Are we fully persuaded that God is able to do that which He has promised? Sadly, it appears that a lot of people are not. I am, more and more, and care less and less about the physical reality of this world. Remember the footstool? That’s one that I’m never going to forget.

All of the problems that we experience on this earth are “footstool” problems. We still don’t know how much it’s going to cost us to get our pool running again. We do know (good news) that some of the cost should be covered by our homeowners’ insurance. But I also know that this is a “footstool” problem. Even Covid-19 is a “footstool” problem.

But here’s the thing. All of these footstool problems present two opportunities. One is an opportunity for God to show His faithfulness and power. The second is for us to trust in that power.

Today, I am “fully persuaded that God [has] power to do what he [has] promised.”

Father, I praise You for Your faithfulness. I thank You for the love and compassion that You show us daily by providing for our needs. I thank You that all of the things that frequently weigh on our thoughts and cause us anxiety are nothing more than footstool problems, and should be seen as opportunities to trust You implicitly. You know what You are doing! You have all the power, infinite power, to do the things that You have promised You will do. But I also need to be aware that there are some things that You have NOT promised. You have not promised to keep “bad things” from happening to us. You have not promised to “not give us more than we can handle.” I’m still not sure where that one comes from, but it’s a lie. If You never gave us more than we can handle, we would not need You, would we?

"Lord God,
grow in me an unwavering faith
that is more than head knowledge,
greater than a conviction of the will,
but also a deep-rooted assurance in my heart
that all your promises are sure 
and everything you say is true.
In Christ's name,
amen."
(Heidelberg Catechism 21)

BLESSING

I wait for the LORD, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope.
(Psalms 130:5 NIV)

Your faithfulness continues through all generations; you established the earth, and it endures.
(Psalms 119:90 NIV)

Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments.
(Deuteronomy 7:9 NIV)

For the word of the LORD is right and true; he is faithful in all he does.
(Psalms 33:4 NIV)

Thank You for Your faithfulness, Father, in all that You do. Thank You for Your Word, which is right and true. Show me Your beauty as I walk through this day, and thank You for Your incredible love, lavished on me.

Lord, may my commitment to the ways of the Cross be strong today, and may I be willing to surrender my rights in order to serve others. Give me the capacity to do justice and show mercy in all that I do. And, for those whose needs cannot be spoken this day, for those who, perhaps, suffer in silence, I pray for mercy and blessing.

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!

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
(Micah 6:8 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

By Grace Through Faith

Today is Thursday (pre-Friday), the fourth of March, 2021, in the second week of Lent.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,002

31 days until Resurrection Sunday

Ah, the taste of Twisted Pine Hawaiian Blend coffee!!

I can’t think of anything personal that needs to be shared, this morning, . . .

Wait. I thought of one thing. My work place has issued a statement that, in spite of the governor’s proclamation, the other day, we will still be required to follow Covid-19 protocols while on the premises. I am very happy about that. The nation is still having over 50,000 new cases a day, which is still higher than when the initiatives/mandates were first put in place. For the record, I was going to keep wearing a mask, anyway.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

To begin, this morning, I wish to share another poem from fellow blogger Daryl Madden, this one called “Mist of Trinity.”

Something beyond the light
This dawning here surrounds
A sacrament of Spirit
Is laid upon the ground

Dew of the anointing
Of Holy view to share
The mist of trinity
Of light, water and air

A moving of the Spirit
Vision of a prayer
Swirling, drifting, rising
Caressing soul with care

Blessing of consuming
A treasure of beauty
Wrapped in sweet surrender
A sacred place to be

I set your instructions to music and sing them as I walk this pilgrim way.
(Psalms 119:54 MSG)

Today I am grateful:

  • To be spending this sweet time with Jesus, this morning
  • That I am alive and breathing
  • For the presence of the Holy Spirit
  • For the faithfulness of the Father
  • That by grace I have been saved through faith, and it is all Your work

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

LENT – DAY 14

INVITATION

Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations. The LORD is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does.
(Psalms 145:13 NIV)

Meditate, this morning, on the eternal nature of the Kingdom of God, and the imperishable nature of our spiritual inheritance.

BIBLE SONG

Of David.

The LORD is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid?

When the wicked advance against me to devour me, it is my enemies and my foes who will stumble and fall. Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then I will be confident.

One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple. For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock.
(Psalms 27:1-5 NIV)

BIBLE READING

It was not through the law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith. For if those who depend on the law are heirs, faith means nothing and the promise is worthless, because the law brings wrath. And where there is no law there is no transgression.
Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who have the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all. As it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations.” He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not.
(Romans 4:13-17 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

Once again, we are reminded that our promise comes through faith and not through the “law.” If our salvation was by keeping the law, there would be no use for faith! And, we would all be damned for eternity, because no one, outside of Jesus, has been able to keep the law perfectly, and the only way to gain salvation by law would be to never have sinned. And every single one of us sinned before we were even aware of sin.

“The promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace.” “For by grace you have been saved through faith.” And even that faith is a gift from God, that no man can boast of having earned it himself.

Father, I praise You for this great salvation, for which I had nothing whatsoever to do. All I did was believe, and that belief was placed in my heart by You. Even the very faith that I utilized to be saved by grace was given to me by You. Thank you, O my Father!

"Father,
I praise you for the story of salvation
you reveal in the Bible.
Good news spills out on every page - 
in the created goodness of Eden,
through your promises to Abraham
and the pointed proclamations of the prophets,
even in the strange sacrifices and ceremonies
of the law.
And of course,
I hear the gospel most clearly
in your dear Son,
Jesus.
In his name I pray,
amen."
(Heidelberg Catechism 19)

BLESSING

I wait for the LORD, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope.
(Psalms 130:5 NIV)

Sing to God, sing in praise of his name, extol him who rides on the clouds; rejoice before him—his name is the LORD.
(Psalms 68:4 NIV)

Tremble before him, all the earth! The world is firmly established; it cannot be moved. Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let them say among the nations, “The LORD reigns!”
(1 Chronicles 16:30-31 NIV)

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.
Know that the LORD is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.
(Psalms 100:1-5 NIV)

More interesting stuff from The Book of Mysteries, quickly, as time is running out. Jonathan Cahn references Isaiah 53:9.

And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.
(Isaiah 53:9 ESV)

He states that the Hebrew word translated “death” is actually plural. I did a brief amount of research on this and found that there is truth to this claim. This changes a lot in our understanding of the death(s) of Christ.

Of course, He died only once. But that death was unique, a more intense reality than our feeble brains can comprehend. For within that singular death was contained many deaths. “His would be the one life that dies the death of all.” All of our deaths were contained within His one death.

“Every death is contained inside that plural word. It is the witness in black and white that your old life and the judgment thereof is finished . . . in His deaths.”

Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men.
(Romans 5:18 ESV)

For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.
(2 Corinthians 5:14-15 ESV)

The Mission: One of the deaths in His deaths is the death of your old life. Give that which is old a eulogy and a burial. Be finished with it and be free.”

(From The Book of Mysteries, by Jonathan Cahn)

Father, I thank You for the death of Christ, in which was contained my death and all of our deaths together. I do not quite understand this, but I embrace it and celebrate it, as I believe that I have, in effect, with Christ, on the Cross, died to sin for all eternity.

Lord, continue to move my soul to a richer understanding of the truths of Your Gospel message. Help me to always know that this kingdom of Yours is available now, and that I am walking in it now. May I experience the fulness of adoption as Your child, today, and impart that knowledge to someone else along the way. I pray, this day, for racial reconciliation in our land and in our world, as all races will dwell together in peace in our eternal Home!

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

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

Trust in God, Not Works

Today is Wednesday, the third of March, 2021, in the second week of Lent.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,001

32 days until Resurrection Sunday

Unfortunately, we got a diagnosis on our pool, yesterday. We finally were able to get someone to come look at it. I’m sure he has been very busy since Snovid-21. It’s not good. We have a lot of cracked things, and are probably looking at a major overhaul of equipment. I’ll have to continue the conversation with our pool guy today, to see if he has the capability of repairing/replacing it all. Some of that equipment is over twenty years old, so much of it will probably need to be replaced. Nevertheless, all of this is a “footstool” issue, in the grand scheme of things.

The governor of Texas announced, yesterday, that he will ignore doctors and science and lift all pandemic restrictions in our state, effective a week from today. I fully expect Texas to be leading the world in Coronavirus cases within three weeks.

One of my old supervisors from a previous job with CEVA accidentally called me at 3:30 this morning. I didn’t answer, but immediately he texted me, apologizing that he has another person working with him with the same name as me. It would be humorous, but I didn’t get much sleep after that. I believe I might suggest that he sort his contacts by last name. Haha!

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

“Enter, Lord Christ–
I have joy in Your coming.
You have given me life;
and I welcome Your coming.
I turn now to face You,
I lift up my eyes.
Be blessing my face, Lord;
be blessing my eyes.
May all my eye looks on
be blessed and be bright,
my neighbors, my loved ones
be blessed in Your sight.
You have given me life
and I welcome Your coming.
Be with me, Lord,
I have joy, I have joy.”
(Celtic Daily Prayer)

Some nations boast of their chariots and horses, but we boast in the name of the LORD our God. Those nations will fall down and collapse, but we will rise up and stand firm. Give victory to our king, O LORD! Answer our cry for help.
(Psalms 20:7-9 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

  • That every problem or issue we encounter in our lives is temporary
  • For my future inheritance in God’s Kingdom, which cannot fade, be corrupted, or perish
  • That I am alive and breathing
  • That Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom
  • For the righteousness of Christ, imputed to us

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

LENT – DAY 13

INVITATION

Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations. The LORD is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does.
(Psalms 145:13 NIV)

In light of everything going on in the world, these days, ponder for a moment the everlasting kingdom of God.

BIBLE SONG

Of David.

Vindicate me, LORD, for I have led a blameless life; I have trusted in the LORD and have not faltered. Test me, LORD, and try me, examine my heart and my mind; for I have always been mindful of your unfailing love and have lived in reliance on your faithfulness.

I do not sit with the deceitful, nor do I associate with hypocrites. I abhor the assembly of evildoers and refuse to sit with the wicked. I wash my hands in innocence, and go about your altar, LORD, proclaiming aloud your praise and telling of all your wonderful deeds.

LORD, I love the house where you live, the place where your glory dwells. Do not take away my soul along with sinners, my life with those who are bloodthirsty, in whose hands are wicked schemes, whose right hands are full of bribes. I lead a blameless life; deliver me and be merciful to me. My feet stand on level ground; in the great congregation I will praise the LORD.
(Psalms 26:1-12 NIV)

BIBLE READING

What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, discovered in this matter? If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about—but not before God. What does Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”
Now to the one who works, wages are not credited as a gift but as an obligation. However, to the one who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as righteousness.
(Romans 4:1-5 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

I struggle with Psalm 26, because I have most certainly not led a blameless life. However, I have, to my credit, the righteousness of Jesus Christ, and His sacrifice on the Cross, which utterly erased my record of sin, past, present, and future. You might ask how there could be a record of future sin. My only explanation of this is that God exists outside of time, and sees my whole life at one time, even the parts I have not ventured into, yet. In the words of the psalmist, this information is too high for me, too lofty to attain.

I can say, I believe, that I have trusted in the Lord for most of my life, if not all. Sure, there have been periods of time where that trust waned a bit, but it never entirely disappeared. I have never completely forsaken my God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And, like David, I can say that “I love the house where You live.” That “house” is different for us than it was for David. But, to bring it into a more New Covenant way of thinking, I love the Church. And Church with a capital C is the Body of Christ, all believers, all over the world, past, present, and future, the communion of Saints.

I am a firm believe that if you claim to love Jesus and do not love the Church, you are a liar.

One of the things that makes the Church unique is the righteousness of Christ, imputed to us by faith, as Abraham experienced. If we trust in God rather than our works and deeds, our faith is, indeed, credited as righteousness.

So, to circle back, because of these truths, I guess, perhaps, I have led a “blameless” life. But it is not my life that was blameless. It was my Savior’s.

Father, I praise You that my faith has been credited to me as righteousness. Thank You for the example of Abraham; thank You for the testimony of David; thank You for Your Word, which so effectively communicates these truths to us, that we may live and walk in Your kingdom today. I praise You for the work of Christ, fully completed and efficacious, that has drawn us into and given us full access to Your “holy of holies,” that we may approach You, without guilty consciences, to worship You and pray to You.

"God of boundless mercy,
I come empty-handed,
confessing the bankruptcy of my works
and drawing on your infinite grace by faith.
Thank you for the gift of 
righteousness in Jesus,
who was made to be sin
and a curse in my place,
on the cross,
making me right with you.
In the Savior's name,
amen."
(Canons of Dort 2.2)

BLESSING

I wait for the LORD, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope.
(Psalms 130:5 NIV)

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.
(Psalms 32:8 NIV)

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life.
(Psalms 143:8 NIV)

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
(Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV)

In the book of Jonah, there appears to be a prophecy of the Lord that did not come true. Jonah was told to deliver the message, “”Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” (Jonah 3:4 ESV)

Yet, when Jonah delivered the message, albeit unwillingly, the Ninevites believed the message, repented, and God spared them.

God showed great mercy in this, and also showed that He “would rather save the lost even if by doing so it would appear to void His Word.”

But Jonathan Cahn brings out a great point. Was the prophecy, in fact, unfulfilled?

The word translated “overthrown” or “destroyed” in most translations, is the Hebrew hafak. That word can mean “overturn,” “change,” or “convert.” And that, in fact, is exactly what happened to Nineveh.

The Mission: Today, let His mercy triumph over all judgment and condemnation. Let logic of judgment yield to the paradox of His love.”

“Get up and go to the great city of Nineveh, and deliver the message I have given you.”
(Jonah 3:2 NLT)

The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.
(2 Peter 3:9 NLT)

Father, I praise You for Your great mercy and love, which would even make it look like Your Word did not come true. But I also praise You that our human understanding of Your Word is so incredibly fallible that we are honestly unable to make a judgment like that. Thank You for the mercy You showed Nineveh, even though Your prophet was against it. Thank You for the mercy You show me, and the rest of the world, every day. You are merciful to all, and none of us deserves it. All glory to You, Father!

Lord, I lift up all governments and leaders in our world, praying for the needs of the world around. May You be faithful and just in all of Your dealings in our world, today. I especially lift up the North American continent today and all nations included in that continent. May Your grace and mercy overflow in us today. I also pray for peace in any places in the world where war and strife are occurring. May all divisions and conflicts cease, and Your peace reign over all.

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!

Let me hear of your unfailing love each morning, for I am trusting you. Show me where to walk, for I give myself to you.
(Psalms 143:8 NLT)

Grace and peace, friends.