Time Is, Most Definitely, Not On Our Side

Today is Thursday, September 30, 2021.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,212

Twelve more days until our anniversary!

Today is the last day of September! My favorite month begins tomorrow!

Today is my day off, this week. I have a few errands to run, during the day, such as a Kroger run, mostly for bananas and grapes, but I’ll probably pick up some bread and a few other things while there. C has a couple of prescriptions at the CVS right across the street, as well. And, of course, Sonic is just up the road from both of those places. Depending on the time, I will probably pick up Subway for lunch, as well.

For dinner tonight, I’m planning to cook a recipe that S picked out from a WW cookbook. It’s a mac and cheese recipe that is a bit complex, but doable. It’s 6 points per serving, so C and I will likely have some tuna with it, or make sandwiches to go along with it.

It is currently 73 degrees in our area, with a projected high of 88, and a less than 30 percent chance of light rain today.

I’m down to about 250 pages left in A Dance with Dragons, book five in A Song of Ice and Fire, by George R.R. Martin. I really want to get it finished by the end of the weekend. It is truly quite a “slog.” What the non-readers don’t realize is that the series is not called “Game of Thrones.” That is the name of the first book, and HBO chose to call the whole series by that name. The series is and has always been called A Song of Ice and Fire. This makes perfect sense, because the main character groups revolve around winter, along with terribly harsh cold conditions, and dragons, which, of course, produce fire.

The next book that I plan to read is a large book, size-wise, but won’t take long to read, as it is basically the libretto for Hamilton, the Broadway musical. It’s always good to read something easy and light after something as long and cumbersome as a George Martin book.

Today is International Podcast Day. I don’t listen to as many podcasts as I used to, because I’m not driving as much. I do still love them, though. It’s a great means of entertainment and information. Of course, just like any other source of media, they can be great sources of misinformation, depending on which ones you listen to.

The word for today is aureate, an adjective meaning, “golden or gilded.” “The golden statue veered in the changing breeze, menacing many points on the horizon with its aureate arrow.” (Sixes and Sevens, by O. Henry)

Today’s quote is from Thomas Merton, an American author: “Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.”

Significant birthdays on September 30:

Buddy Rich, American jazz drummer and band leader, thought by many to be the G.O.A.T. (Greatest of All Time), 1917-1987
Truman Capote, American author (In Cold Blood), 1924-1984
Johnny Mathis, American singer, 1935 (86), born in Gilmer, Texas
Marc Bolan, British guitar player and singer (T-Rex, Bang A Gong), 1947-1977
Jack Wild, British actor (Oliver!, H.R. Pufnstuf), 1952-2006

About halfway through the writing of this blog, I realized that I have lost my wedding ring! I just happened to look at my left hand and it was gone. I had known that it was getting dangerously loose. I mean, I’ve lost over a hundred pounds in the last eighteen months. We’ve looked in the bed, I’ve checked the laundry . . . I honestly can’t remember the last time I noticed it, but I usually touch it several times a day. I may be taking a trip to a jewelry store today. It’s not really that big a deal. C has had a new one for a couple years, now. It’s just alarming to look down and realize it’s missing.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

May the Lord make you
increase and abound in love
for one another
(1 Thessalonians 3:12)

Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you, and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.
(1 Thessalonians 3:11-13 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that You created me with a love for reading
2. that You created me with a love for music
3. that I have all of my senses, with which to enjoy Your creation
4. that You exist outside of time; from everlasting to everlasting, You ARE God
5. that Jesus takes in all who are in debt, in distress, or discontented and becomes their refuge and deliverer

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK NINETEEN – DAY FIVE

INVITATION

Praise God with shouts of joy, all people!
Sing to the glory of his name; offer him glorious praise!
(Psalms 66:1-2 GNB)

As I pause during this quiet moment, I reflect on, and then give thanks for the fact that I am blessed to still have full use of all of my senses, with which to enjoy the creation of our Father. I also thank Him that He gave me a love of music and reading, further enhanced by the life I had with my parents.

BIBLE SONG

A prayer of Moses the man of God.

Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations.
Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.

You turn people back to dust, saying, “Return to dust, you mortals.”
A thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night. Yet you sweep people away in the sleep of death— they are like the new grass of the morning:
In the morning it springs up new, but by evening it is dry and withered.
(Psalms 90:1-6 NIV)

If only we knew the power of your anger! Your wrath is as great as the fear that is your due.
Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
(Psalms 90:11-12 NIV)

May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us— yes, establish the work of our hands.
(Psalms 90:17 NIV)

BIBLE READING

David left Gath and escaped to the cave of Adullam. When his brothers and his father’s household heard about it, they went down to him there. All those who were in distress or in debt or discontented gathered around him, and he became their commander. About four hundred men were with him.
From there David went to Mizpah in Moab and said to the king of Moab, “Would you let my father and mother come and stay with you until I learn what God will do for me?” So he left them with the king of Moab, and they stayed with him as long as David was in the stronghold.
But the prophet Gad said to David, “Do not stay in the stronghold. Go into the land of Judah.” So David left and went to the forest of Hereth.
(1 Samuel 22:1-5 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I remind myself that I am in the presence of Almighty God, dwelling in His creation, living by His grace and kindness, and benefiting from His great goodness, I read these passages again, looking for things that catch my attention. I pray for the Holy Spirit to guide my meditations and prayers.

Psalm 90 is a rare Moses psalm. It is worth noting that the subtitle heading calls Moses “the man of God.” I believe it to be a worthy aspiration to have people say that about me, years after I have left this plane. But the emphasis should be on God, not me. If I can be considered a “man of God,” it is not because I have done godly things, but because the grace of God abided in me, strengthened me, and enabled me to do His work.

Moses speaks of the infinite nature of God. He has been the place of our dwelling “throughout all generations.” And Moses also uses the present tense in his description, not unlike Jesus, who later said, “Before Abraham and Isaac, I AM” (my paraphrase). Moses wrote, “Before the mountains were born . . . from everlasting to everlasting You are God” (emphasis mine).

Before I ever existed, God is. Not “God was,” but “God is.” And this is even further illustrated in verse 4 when Moses writes, “A thousand years in Your sight are like a day that just gone by, or like a watch in the night.” God is not contained in time. I’m not sure when “time,” as we know it, was invented. I realize that in the poetic story of creation, days are mentioned as “evening and morning,” but that is the only designation of “time” that is used. There are no “hours” or “minutes.”

WARNING! WARNING! WARNING! ABOUT TO GET PHILOSOPHICAL!

All of this makes me ponder a question of life after death. When we all get to heaven (what a day of rejoicing that will be . . . ), will we still experience “time?” In our current, fallen state of being, we experience time in so many different ways. I have heard it said that there is a huge difference between spending five minutes sitting on a hot stove and five minutes with your best friend. Both are only three hundred seconds, the exact amount of time. But one seems much longer than the other.

We also experience time as boredom, if we perceive that we have nothing to do. This is never true, of course. There is always something to do. Yet we get bored, and this is usually caused by the way we experience time. Usually when I am bored, I am waiting for something to happen, or waiting for a specific time to pass. It almost always involves “waiting.”

Another experience of time that involves waiting is anxiety. We get anxious about things. We might be waiting for test results; we might be waiting for news about something; we might be waiting for an event to happen. And anxiety can be over something exciting that we are waiting to happen, or the fact that we are dreading something that is imminent.

And all of these things involve an aspect of time simply known as “waiting.” Isaiah speaks of waiting in a favorite Bible verse.

Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
(Isaiah 40:30-31 ESV)

I do like how verse 28 prefaces this with the questions, “Do you not know? Have you not heard?” Those should have multiple question marks after them, as the sense seems to be a kind of amazement that we haven’t known or heard these things?

The Hebrew word for “wait” in this verse (again, I don’t know a bloody thing about Hebrew . . . I’m simply using the tools I have at my disposal) is actually a word for the phrase, “wait upon,” or “wait for.” In fact, the NIV uses the phrase “hope in,” and the NLT says, “trust in.” In Hebrew, it is qavah. The meanings presented are interesting. “A primitive root; to bind together (perhaps by twisting), that is, collect; (figuratively) to expect: – gather (together), look, patiently, tarry, wait (for, on, upon).”

But the point is that involves time. Without time, there is no such thing as “waiting.”

So back to the philosophical (perhaps it’s even theological) question concerning the “hereafter.” Will we have to “wait” in heaven? Before you jump in with a resounding, “yes, of course,” consider that time, as we know it, will likely no longer exist there. The Bible says that we will be like Him because we will see Him as He is. And He is timeless, existing outside of time.

The very fact that I cannot even begin to imagine the concept of “eternity” says a lot. Have you ever just sat and tried to comprehend the fact that God has always existed?? I have. It is a mind-blowing thing. As is the act of trying to conceive of myself never existing.

If you’re still reading, remember I warned you.

I have convinced myself, because of Bible passages like Psalm 90:4, that we will not experience time in eternity. Have you ever heard someone opine that heaven might be boring if all we did was sit around and sing hymns “all day?” If there is no time, there will be no waiting, and, therefore, boredom will not be possible.

Can you even imagine never being bored? If you can, I salute you, because you’re accomplished something I can’t accomplish.

My train of thought has been effectively derailed, as it was precisely at this moment that I realized that my wedding ring was missing from my left hand. I was in the middle of trying to explain my brain on the subject at hand, to C. I’m not even going to try to regain the momentum, and it’s probably for the best.

Suffice it to say that the truth of Psalm 90:4 is very important in our understanding of all things involving our heavenly Father. He exists outside of time, which is why a thousand years would be no different than a day for Him. It is also why Moses could say, “from everlasting to everlasting You are God.” And all of this helps me appreciate or better understand what we will experience in heaven.

The only thing I will say about the 1 Samuel passage also involves waiting, and, more than likely, anxiety. David is running from Saul, now. Saul knows that David is going to replace him as king, and has frequently tried to kill David. But look at verse 2 of 1 Samuel 22.

All those who were in distress or in debt or discontented gathered around him, and he became their commander. About four hundred men were with him.
(1 Samuel 22:2 NIV)

Doesn’t that sound similar to what we experience with Jesus? All of us who follow Him are, or have been, in distress, in debt, and discontented.

Father, I pray for more understanding of this concept of time and how it affects our being. I do hope that I’m getting this right, and that, when we enter eternity, to spend it with You, being able to see You as You are, that time as we know it will cease to exist. Honestly, I’m not a huge fan of time. I believe it causes many and more of our issues. But while we are here, we must navigate it, so I pray that the Spirit will help us with that task.

Lord, please give us an ever increasing understanding of the Gospel. May we have the full experience of adoption as Your children.

"God of grace,
I know a place like Adullam -
it's my church!
And I thank You for it -
that I am accepted as I am,
a living member of this community of grace,
not because of my record but because of the gospel.
Gather Your church,
Jesus,
protect it from those who would make it a holier-than-thou body,
and preserve it in the gospel.
Amen."

BLESSING

“Happy are those who are humble; they will receive what God has promised!”
(Matthew 5:5 GNB)

Indeed, he who watches over Israel never slumbers or sleeps.
(Psalms 121:4 NLT)

(Yet more evidence of His existence outside of time)

But I am trusting you, O LORD, saying, “You are my God!” My future is in your hands. Rescue me from those who hunt me down relentlessly.
(Psalms 31:14-15 NLT)

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

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

By Your grace I breathe;
Because of Your love, I love;
Love abides, love rules.

Grace and peace, friends.

Plug Into the Current

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

May the peace of God reign in your heart today!

Day 23,211

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

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

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

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

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

Except for the fact that they are books.

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

Bonus points if you got that.

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

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

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

Significant birthdays on September 29:

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

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

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

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

Today I am grateful:

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

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK NINETEEN – DAY FOUR

INVITATION

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

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

BIBLE SONG

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

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

BIBLE READING

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

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Everything.”

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

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

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

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

“Then he isn’t safe?” – Lucy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BLESSING

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

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

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

If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.
(1 Corinthians 12:26 ESV)

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
(Ephesians 4:1-3 ESV)

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

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

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

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

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

In the Name of the Lord

Today is Tuesday, the twenty-eighth of September, 2021

Peace be with you

Day 23,210

Fourteen days until our 36th anniversary

I had a good day at the library, yesterday. Up until the last thirty seconds or so. Shortly before we closed, and I do mean shortly, a family of three stepped up the counter. A mother, who did not speak English, and two small children. The male small child placed three books on the counter. I asked for a library card, and he said they didn’t have one, it was their first time there.

Looking back on it, it was quite hilarious. But at the moment, it was the most stressful few minutes I’ve had since I started my job there. I mean, it’s less than a minute before six (it may have even been straight up six, I really can’t remember), and here we have folks who don’t even understand that you have to have a library card to take books out of the building. We had to wait while the female small child ran to the car to get the mother’s photo ID. A couple of the manager/supervisors, thankfully, jumped in to assist, one advising me to go ahead and give the mother the application form to fill out (normally we don’t do that until we have checked their ID to make sure they don’t already have an account). One of the assistant librarians helped, toward the end, when they were asking a bunch of questions (I was still entering the mother’s information in the system), and explained things like due dates, fines, and so on. It all worked out great, though, and we still got out the door by 6:15, which is technically the time we get off work.

The assistant librarian also informed me, after the fact, that if it was actually six o’clock when someone does that, I have the total ability to tell them we are closed and come back tomorrow. At that point, I didn’t remember exactly what time it was when it all started. I was just trying to get people out of the library so we could close, but had been told, in no uncertain terms, that we do not turn anyone away, as long as it is still before six o’clock, even if it’s just a minute.

It’s all good, though, and no one was mad or anything. Today, I work from 11:15 to 8:15, with the first half being in shelving and the second half being in computer center. I already have our chicken ranch crock pot soup in the crock pot, cooking for tonight’s dinner.

And it’s time for my second cup of coffee.

Got some sad news, this morning, that one of my high school classmates and friends has passed away. She had a long battle with cancer.

Today is Drink Beer Day. No thank you. You can have mine. If it was “Drink Rum Day,” I might take yours.

The word for today is rout, a noun meaning, “a defeat attended with disorderly flight; dispersal of a defeated force in complete disorder.”

Today’s quote is from French designer Coco Chanel: “

Today’s quote is from French designer Coco Chanel: “There are people who have money and people who are rich.” I can’t help but wonder in which category she placed herself.

Significant birthdays on September 28:

Confucius, Chinese philosopher, 551-479 (ish) BC
Michael Praetorius, German organist and composer, 1571-1621 (ish)
Thomas Crapper, English plumber and inventor who invented parts of the flush toilet. I swear I'm not making that up. 1836-1910
Ed Sullivan, American television host, 1901-1974
Al Capp, American cartoonist (Li'l Abner), 1909-1979
Brigitte Bardot, French actress, 1934 (87)
Nick St. Nicholas, German rock bassist (Steppenwolf), 1943 (78)
Jeffrey Jones, American actor (Ferris Bueller, Amadeus), 1946 (75)
Moon Unit Zappa, American actress and vocalist (Frank's daughter), 1967 (54)
Naomi Watts, British actress, (The Ring), 1968 (53) 

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Salt of the Sound’s weekly “Pause” video

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

Today I am grateful:

1. for all the saints
2. that the next ten days of weather forecast all show highs below ninety degrees
3. that You, Jesus, have gained victory over death, and that it cannot ultimately harm us
4. that, no matter what our enemy comes against us with, we have Your Name and power behind us, if we are walking in Your kingdom
5. for Your steadfast love that never fails and never runs out

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK NINETEEN – DAY THREE

INVITATION

Shout for joy to God, all the earth;
sing the glory of his name; give to him glorious praise!
(Psalms 66:1-2 ESV)

As I pause during this quiet moment, I give thanks to God for all the saints, for all of my brothers and sisters in Christ, from the beginning of time until the end of time, as we know it. The communion of saints is a magnificent and mystical thing.

BIBLE SONG

A maskil of Ethan the Ezrahite.

I will sing of the LORD’s great love forever; with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations.
I will declare that your love stands firm forever, that you have established your faithfulness in heaven itself.

The heavens praise your wonders, LORD, your faithfulness too, in the assembly of the holy ones.
For who in the skies above can compare with the LORD? Who is like the LORD among the heavenly beings?
In the council of the holy ones God is greatly feared; he is more awesome than all who surround him.
Who is like you, LORD God Almighty? You, LORD, are mighty, and your faithfulness surrounds you.
(Psalms 89:1-2, 5-8 NIV)

BIBLE READING

For forty days the Philistine came forward every morning and evening and took his stand.
David asked the men standing near him, “What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and removes this disgrace from Israel? Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?”
Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd’s bag and, with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine.
Meanwhile, the Philistine, with his shield bearer in front of him, kept coming closer to David. He looked David over and saw that he was little more than a boy, glowing with health and handsome, and he despised him. He said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come at me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. “Come here,” he said, “and I’ll give your flesh to the birds and the wild animals!”
David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the LORD will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves; for the battle is the LORD’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.”
So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him.
(1 Samuel 17:16, 26, 40-17, 50 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

I have already become aware of Your presence with me, and look over these passages to see where Your Spirit would guide me. Please guide my meditations and prayers over the next few minutes, that I might be drawn closer to You and be more attuned to Your ways and Your purposes.

I can boldly and firmly say that, at this point in my life, my intention is to sing of the Lord’s great love forever. And by “forever,” I don’t simply mean until the end of time. I mean for all eternity, beyond the end of time. But while I am here on earth, I will, with my mouth, make known the faithfulness of our God.

With my mouth and with my fingertips, as I am doing right now, for I am typing the great love and faithfulness of the Lord and sending it out into the ether-verse. His love will stand firm forever, because He does not change, like we do.

Who is like You, O Lord? You are mighty and Your faithfulness surrounds You! None can compare to You, for You have created all things, and Your Name is higher than all names. The heavens declare and praise Your glory, Lord.

I have to confess that I don’t quite grasp the purpose of the devotional book, in breaking up the David and Goliath story the way they did. Why leave out the part where David kills Goliath??

Nevertheless, the lesson we see is David’s full dependence upon the Lord. He tries on armor that doesn’t fit him, and declines to wear it; it is too cumbersome. He goes against his enemy with nothing more than a slingshot. Odds are, this is not the kind of slingshot we are used to, either.

That would be a lot easier to aim. David’s probably looked more like this.

Not so easy to aim, right?

In my mind, this makes David’s accomplishment even more miraculous. In the spirit of “no weapon formed against me shall stand” (which had not been written, yet, of course, David declares to Goliath, “I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.” And that’s all David needed.

And it’s all we need.

Our problem (mine, too) seems to be, though, that we think that by tacking on “in Jesus’s name” at the end of our prayer that we have fulfilled all the requirements. But you have to live the life that goes along with that. Jesus isn’t just a “get out of jail free” card that you can pull out when you get in trouble. If we don’t follow Him consistently, we can’t expect Him to bail us out every time. He might, anyway, but there are no guarantees.

Read the life of David. Yes, he sinned, just like all of us, maybe worse, because most of us probably haven’t raped a woman and killed her husband. But his life, as a whole, was lived in seeking the face of God. He lived a life of devotion to the Lord, and when he was called out for his sins, he owned them and repented.

So when we wonder why we don’t see the answers that we want to our prayers, we should be looking at two things. First, we should examine the prayers, compare them with God’s revealed will and see if they line up. Then we should examine our lives. I’m not saying that prayers get answered on the basis of holiness. That’s not it at all. What I am saying, though, is what I said a couple paragraphs up. We can’t just view Jesus as a last resort to get out of trouble or hard times. That’s kind of like the child who only calls his parents when he needs money or only visits when he needs his laundry done.

At the risk of sounding like I’m being critical of God’s Word, I believe that verse 50 leaves something out. “So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him.” He had something more than a sling and a stone. He had the mighty power and hand of El Shaddai with him.

Father, I will sing of Your glory, Your mercies, and Your steadfast love forever. I declare it, and I fully intend to do that. You have done so much for me; You have loved me and my family; You have provided for us; You have bailed me out of trouble many times, even when I abused Your grace the way I write about up there. Your love never fails, it never gives up, it never runs out on us, because it is everlasting and steadfast. I will declare this for as long as I live on this earth, and then, for all eternity, in the company of saints that gather around Your throne! All praise and glory to You, Lord, by the power of the Holy Spirit and in the Name of Jesus Christ, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.

Lord, give us all grace and power to follow You into our neighborhoods and workplaces. Protect us as we do so. I pray for the peace and well-being of my community, both physical and spiritual. And I pray especially for all who might be beginning a new career or job.

"Living God,
plant in me a bold faith that dares to see new possibilities,
a sure knowledge of Your promises that is not bullied by fear,
a strong conviction that there is far more of You than what my eyes can see,
and a deeply rooted trust that Christ my champion has won the day.
Amen."

BLESSING

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”
(Matthew 5:5 ESV)

for it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.
(Romans 14:11-12 ESV)

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.
Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For he says, “In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.
(2 Corinthians 5:10, 20-6:1-2 ESV)

By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.
(1 John 4:17-18 ESV)

I call upon any who might read this, today, who do not believe in Jesus Christ. Believe, that you may be saved. Now is the time, now is the day. None of us knows when we will breathe our final breath.

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!

The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.
(Zephaniah 3:17 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

The Race Marked Out For Us

Today is Monday, the twenty-seventh of September, 2021

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

Day 23,209 (the number of days since my birth)(that’s 557,016 hours)

Fifteen days until our 36th anniversary!

Today is my last Monday to work at the library, at least for a while. I’ll be working from 9:15-6:15, today. I have started writing my work schedule on our kitchen calendar. At least that gives us a reason to have a kitchen calendar. Hahaha!

I don’t have much to write about, this morning, personally. Yesterday was pretty much just another day, so I’ll just head on into the devotional bits.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

The prayer of faith;
Praying for one another;
Great power working.

(I’ve been trying my hand at some poetry, lately. If you see these little poems with no credit given, it means that it is one that I composed for the day.)

And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
(James 5:15-16 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for prayer; for the privilege of bringing our needs before our Father in the name of Jesus
2. for a new week, with its opportunities and challenges
3. that I am alive and breathing
4. that You are the God who saves me, as I cry out to You day and night (Psalm 88)
5. for the inspiration to not give up when things are hard, but to cry out to You for help, morning and evening
6. for the ability to run with perseverance the raced marked out before me, with my eyes fixed on Jesus, not my trials
7. for the great cloud of witnesses that surrounds us

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK NINETEEN – DAY TWO

INVITATION

Shout joyful praises to God, all the earth!
Sing about the glory of his name! Tell the world how glorious he is.
(Psalms 66:1-2 NLT)

I pause during this moment to contemplate the wonder of prayer and the joy that praying brings to me. Conversation with God is truly remarkable, and the thought of bringing my brothers and sisters before Him is especially joyous, this morning. He increases my love for others when I ask Him to!

BIBLE SONG

A song. A psalm of the Sons of Korah. For the director of music. According to mahalath leannoth. A maskil of Heman the Ezrahite.

LORD, you are the God who saves me; day and night I cry out to you.
May my prayer come before you; turn your ear to my cry.

I am overwhelmed with troubles and my life draws near to death.
I am counted among those who go down to the pit; I am like one without strength.
I am set apart with the dead, like the slain who lie in the grave, whom you remember no more, who are cut off from your care.

I call to you, LORD, every day; I spread out my hands to you.
Do you show your wonders to the dead? Do their spirits rise up and praise you?
Is your love declared in the grave, your faithfulness in Destruction?
Are your wonders known in the place of darkness, or your righteous deeds in the land of oblivion?
(Psalms 88:1-5, 9B-12 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Now the Philistines gathered their forces for war and assembled at Sokoh in Judah. They pitched camp at Ephes Dammim, between Sokoh and Azekah. Saul and the Israelites assembled and camped in the Valley of Elah and drew up their battle line to meet the Philistines. The Philistines occupied one hill and the Israelites another, with the valley between them.
A champion named Goliath, who was from Gath, came out of the Philistine camp. His height was six cubits and a span.
Goliath stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, “Why do you come out and line up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not the servants of Saul? Choose a man and have him come down to me. If he is able to fight and kill me, we will become your subjects; but if I overcome him and kill him, you will become our subjects and serve us.” Then the Philistine said, “This day I defy the armies of Israel! Give me a man and let us fight each other.” On hearing the Philistine’s words, Saul and all the Israelites were dismayed and terrified.
(1 Samuel 17:1-4, 8-11 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I take a few moments to rest in Your presence, I read these passages again, looking for something that catches my attention. I ask for guidance from Your Holy Spirit, as I meditate and pray over Your Word.

At this point in my life, I find it difficult to identify with the darkness of Psalm 88, one of the ones written by the Sons of Korah. This one also gives a name, Heman the Ezrahite. I can identify with the first bit, though. “LORD, You are the God who saves me.”

I rejoice in that truth, this morning, as I sit in this place. As I rest in His presence, I find great joy in that statement. Yes, He is the God who saves me. I have, in times past, experienced moments (weeks, even) when I felt as though I was “counted among those who go down to the pit.”

This period of my life is not one of those times. I think that C, my wife, though, might be able to identify more with this psalm than I can. She has gone through some serious depression during her surgery recover, but mostly because it’s not going as fast as she thinks it should. I think she seriously believed that she would be back to full strength, by now, at least not having to take any of the pain pills. She has tried to go some days without them, but is currently taking, on average, one a day, usually in the mornings. She has walked on the treadmill for about fifteen minutes for two consecutive days, now, and yesterday said that she didn’t need a pain pill afterward.

So it is improving. And every time she begins to feel depressed, she does, at least, confide in me, and we talk it through. I have talked her down from the ledge several times (figuratively, of course), over the past couple of weeks.

But whoever wrote this psalm was going through some very difficult times, comparing himself with those who are even already dead and in the grave. But he is also crying out to God to rescue him from this state. Our reading stops at verse 12, but I continued through to verse 13.

But I cry to you for help, LORD; in the morning my prayer comes before you.
(Psalms 88:13 NIV)

And this is where Jesus helps us. We don’t stop at verse 12. We don’t give up at the point of oblivion, feeling as though we already have one foot in the grave. We press on, and we cry out to God for help, ideally, as soon as we arise from our beds of sleep.

That is one reason why I do this devotional thing first thing every day. Some days it takes me a few hours, as I get distracted by meaningless things. But on days like today, when I have to be somewhere by 9:15, I am pressing on with purpose, not allowing the distractions.

Let us be more like verse 13 in our lives.

Our passage from 1 Samuel leaves us in a somewhat hopeless place, but we know the story, so we leave it with the hope that is coming. If ever there was a feeling of hopelessness, it would certainly be when a warrior from the enemy comes out and taunts us mercilessly as Goliath did. Based on what I can find, Goliath was just under ten feet tall.

Just think about that for a minute. Most of us probably don’t know anyone who is even seven feet tall. I believe the tallest person I have ever met in person was about six foot eight.

I’m five foot eight. I’m relatively short. Goliath was almost twice as tall as I am.

When he came out and taunted the Israelites, they were “dismayed and terrified.” I certainly would be, too.

We have “enemies” that come against us and taunt us. Our main enemy, the devil, probably taunts us daily. Well, not him, specifically. I mean, he is finite and can only be one place at a time, unlike our Father, who is omnipresent. So the probability that Satan, himself is dealing with you is unlikely.

But doesn’t it sometimes seem that those trials, temptations, or challenges that we face are twice as tall as we are? We all struggle with different things. We discussed that, yesterday morning, in our worship Zoom gathering. And one of my favorite Facebook memes says something like, “Don’t judge others because they sin different than you.” While you might not struggle at all with my “pet sin,” you have one of your own, and I bet I don’t struggle with that one.

But we all struggle with something. But the point is that we struggle. We don’t give up. We may give in, from time to time, and more often than we would like. But we don’t give up. Like Paul, we press on.

Hebrews 12 speaks of sin that so easily entangles (KJV uses the word “besets”). But it also encourages us to throw off this entangling sin, and the encouragement that the writer of Hebrews gives is based on that “great cloud of witnesses” of which he spoke in Hebrews 11, the “Faith Hall of Fame.”

So we fix our eyes on Jesus, not on “Goliath,” and, in the strength of knowing that we are surrounded by this great cloud of witnesses, all of the community of saints that have gone before us, we “run with perseverance the race marked out before us.”

Father, thank You for all that You have done in my life. I praise You for the great cloud of witnesses that surrounds us, the stories of faith throughout Your Scriptures. Thank You for the testimonies of those who have gone before us, who have known Your great love and mercy, and showed us what great faith looks like. Thank You for the strength that comes from fixing our eyes on Jesus, so that we may defeat the giants in our lives. And I also thank You that I am not in a place of darkness today, but that Your light shines on my life, giving me joy and peace.

"Mighty Fortress,
although this world is filled with threats to faith and opposition to Your good purposes,
I pray 'Your kingdom come.'
Destroy the work of the devil everywhere,
topple every force that revolts against You,
and frustrate every conspiracy against Your Word.
Amen."

BLESSING

God blesses those who are humble, for they will inherit the whole earth.
(Matthew 5:5 NLT)

If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion—how can God’s love be in that person? Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.
(1 John 3:17-18 NLT)

“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”
(John 3:16 NLT)

This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
(John 15:12-13 NLT)

Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm.
(Ephesians 6:13 NLT)

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)

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!

Grace and peace, friends.

The Springs of Joy

Today is Sunday, the twenty-sixth of September, 2021

Shalom Aleichem!

There are only four more days left in September!

Day 23,208

Sixteen days until our 36th anniversary!

Yesterday was a pretty unremarkable, restful day. I did finally make myself get on the treadmill and walk for a little over twenty minutes. I followed a guide on a forest path that ended at a beautiful waterfall. We have iFit videos available on our treadmill. Technology is wonderful when it works.

This morning, we have our worship gathering at 10:15. Apparently, the hosts have decided to open up their home if anyone wants to be in person. C and I will be on Zoom. When we are still, as a country, having almost 150,000 new cases every day and around two thousand deaths every day, we aren’t quite ready to get close to people, if it is avoidable. Plus, I don’t think C is ready to go sit for an hour-plus in unfamiliar chairs.

Today is Rivers Day, which is interesting, considering that the Bible verses from Psalm speak of “fountains” or “springs.”

The word for today is perfidy, a noun that means, “deliberate breach of faith or trust; faithlessness; treachery.”

Today’s quote is from Finley Peter Dunne, an American journalist. “The past always looks better than it was. It’s only pleasant because it isn’t here.”

Significant birthdays on September 26:

St. Francis of Assissi, Italian founder of the Franciscan Order, 1181-1226
Johnny Appleseed (John Chapman), legendary American planter of trees, 1774-1845
T.S. Eliot, American poet (Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats), 1888-1965
Martin Heidegger, German philosopher, 1889-1976
George Gershwin, American composer (Rhapsody in Blue), 1898-1937
Jack LaLanne, American fitness icon, 1914-2011
Marty Robbins, American country singer (El Paso, Big Iron, Streets of Laredo), 1925-1982
Bryan Ferry, British singer-songwriter (Love Is the Drug), 1945 (76)
Lynn Anderson, American country singer (Rose Garden), 1947-2015
Olivia Newton-John, British-Australian singer (Hopelessly Devoted to You, I Honestly Love You), 1948 (73)
Linda Hamilton, American actress (Terminator), 1956 (65)

I slept until 8:00 AM, today, which is remarkable. I have certainly been sleeping better since I got away from my old job. Imagine that. At any rate, I’d best get into the devotional because I just have an hour until our gathering begins.

Right after I get another cup of coffee.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

What Love Can Do, by Daryl Madden

Beginning with the Word
The light comes pouring through
Forming all creation
Look what love can do

It was just a seed
That birthed our life anew
Grace of multiplying
See what love can do

Displayed upon the cross
Poured out for me and you
Even death was conquered
Know what love can do

With a simple prayer
Of faith beyond our view
Never underestimate
Just what love can do

“Never underestimate just what love can do.” Such an important message for our time.

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

Today I am grateful:

1. that You are much easier to find than people believe
2. that Your plans for me, and Your love for me go far beyond anything I could ask or imagine
3. that, though the mountains be shaken and the hills removed, Your steadfast love for us will not be shaken, nor will Your covenant of peace be removed
4. that my salvation is not based on any "good things" that I have done, but completely and utterly based on You and the work of Christ
5. that, because You are for us, none can be against us, when we are walking in obedience to Your Word - there is none who can condemn us, because Jesus Christ intercedes for us

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK NINETEEN – DAY ONE

INVITATION

Shout for joy to God,
all the earth!
Sing the glory of his name;
make his praise glorious.
(Psalms 66:1-2 NIV)

I pause during this quiet moment to remind my soul of Your constant presence, that You surround me, and that You dwell within me.

BIBLE SONG

Of the Sons of Korah. A psalm. A song.

He has founded his city on the holy mountain.
The LORD loves the gates of Zion more than all the other dwellings of Jacob.

Glorious things are said of you, city of God:
“I will record Rahab and Babylon among those who acknowledge me— Philistia too, and Tyre, along with Cush— and will say, ‘This one was born in Zion.'”
Indeed, of Zion it will be said, “This one and that one were born in her, and the Most High himself will establish her.”
The LORD will write in the register of the peoples: “This one was born in Zion.”

As they make music they will sing, “All my fountains are in you.”
(Psalms 87:1-7 NIV)

BIBLE READING

The LORD said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and be on your way; I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king.”
But Samuel said, “How can I go? If Saul hears about it, he will kill me.”
The LORD said, “Take a heifer with you and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the LORD.’ Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what to do. You are to anoint for me the one I indicate.”
Jesse had seven of his sons pass before Samuel, but Samuel said to him, “The LORD has not chosen these.” So he asked Jesse, “Are these all the sons you have?”
“There is still the youngest,” Jesse answered. “He is tending the sheep.”
Samuel said, “Send for him; we will not sit down until he arrives.”
So he sent for him and had him brought in. He was glowing with health and had a fine appearance and handsome features.
Then the LORD said, “Rise and anoint him; this is the one.”
So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the LORD came powerfully upon David. Samuel then went to Ramah.
(1 Samuel 16:10-13 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

I quietly read these passages again. What catches my eye? What moves me? What will I pray to the Lord because of what I have seen, this morning?

My heart is drawn to verse 2 of the psalm. “The LORD loves the gates of Zion more than all the other dwellings of Jacob.” I like, as well, the way Eugene Peterson paraphrases this verse in The Message: “and oh, how GOD loves his home! Loves it far better than all the homes of Jacob put together!”

Is it fair to equate this with the Church, the Bride of Christ? I believe that it is. We, the people of God, are those who comprise the Church, and the Lord dwells within us, via the Holy Spirit, which makes us His Home.

Isn’t that ironic? (I may or may not be using that word correctly.) We are His Home, yet, we are longing for our Home, which will be in Him. And what, exactly, is the “new Jerusalem” of which Revelation 21 speaks? It is written that the new Jerusalem descends from heaven, “prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” That bride is none other than the Church.

The message, today, I believe, is that we need to never forget that God loves the Church. I’m speaking of the larger body, here. When I speak of local bodies of believer, it will always be “church” with a lower-case “c.” When I write “Church,” with an upper-case “C,” it refers to the body of Christ, His bride, made up of believers from all over the world, people from First Baptist Church of whatever city you live in, the Methodist church down the street, the Presbyterian church that I went to for a while, and all of those alleged “non-denominational” churches. And the church that meets at Brandon and Kristin’s house. All together, we make up The Church, and God loves The Church!

I have believed for many years, and will continue to do so, that one cannot claim to love Jesus and not love the Church. Yes, she is a mess, right now, and probably always has been. But that is because She still resides on earth. Someday, She will be purified, and on that day, there will be a wedding. I have no idea what that will look like. Revelation only offers us a “through a glass darkly” picture of it, entrenched in symbolic language. But rest assured that it will be the most beautiful thing we have ever witnessed.

And what glory it will be to see your name listed among those who were “born” in her.

As they make music they will sing, “All my fountains are in you.”
(Psalms 87:7 NIV)

I’m not going to pretend to be wise enough to completely understand verse 7, but I can sense that it is joyful. “All my fountains are in you,” shout the singers and dancers, as they make music. I will defer to the words of Matthew Henry, regarding this verse. “The springs of the joy of a carnal worldling lie in wealth and pleasure; but the springs of the joy of a gracious soul lie in the word of God and prayer. Christ is the true temple; all our springs are in him, and from him all our streams flow.”

Mr. Henry also makes mention of Isaiah 54:10.

Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you.”
(Isaiah 54:10 NIV)

Father, I am so grateful to be a part of Your Church! I have loved the Church for as long as I can remember. When I was but a young boy, I loved “going to church.” I loved being in Sunday School, learning about and reading Your Word. After six decades, my love for Your Word has not waned. Yes, there have been periods of my life where it has been stronger and more vivid than other periods (and truthfully, I believe that this current “period” is one of those where it is quite strong), but I have always loved Your Word and Your Church. Thank You for keeping that love within me strong. I pray for Your Church, today. I can’t speak for other nations, but in this one, there is great and sorrowful division within the Body of Christ, sowed by Your enemy. I pray for unity. I pray that all people within Your Church would focus their allegiance and worship toward Jesus Christ, not toward any human being, government party, or set of policies. Let Your Word be our only “policy,” Lord! I praise You that Your love for us will never depart, nor Your peace be removed. May we focus on this, Father, and prepare ourselves for the wedding day!

May the risen Christ dwell in our hearts, Father, and may we all experience spiritual refreshing and renewal.

"King of kings,
in Your anointing is a new life.
Drenched with Your baptizing and anointing Spirit,
called by my new name,
I rise up with Jesus,
not a marginal pew warmer but a member of Christ,
a prophet,
priest,
and king.
Alive to Christ,
let me live out my true identity today.
Amen."

BLESSING

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
(Matthew 5:5 NIV)

But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.
(Titus 3:4-7 NIV)

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.
(Romans 8:31-34 NIV)

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

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

To Obey is Better than Sacrifice

Today is Saturday, the twenty-fifth of September, 2021.

Peace be with you.

Day 23,207

Seventeen days until our 36th anniversary!

Today’s header photo is courtesy of Paul Militaru.

I’ve been busy this morning. I woke up shortly after 7:00 AM, and decided to go ahead and hit the Kroger store, to pick up a few items that were missed, yesterday, or simply not available at Walmart or Albertson’s. I haven’t been to Kroger in a while, and it was a pleasant experience. Except for the crazy woman in front of me in the checkout line, who, after about eighty percent of her full basket was rung up, decided that she couldn’t afford all of it, and asked the cashier to void the entire order and selected a small portion of what she had put in her basket to actually buy. The whole time, she kept saying she would get the rest at “Aldi’s.” She also acted put out that it was taking the cashier so long to void the transaction. I was a good boy and kept my mouth shut.

While I was at Kroger, I discovered some “old friends” in the canned fruit section. They had diced peaches, pears, and “cherry mixed fruit” (we used to call that “fruit cocktail”), in cups with “no sugar added,” that are zero points on WW.

Speaking of WW, I know I have not provided any updates, in a while. I believe I mentioned that I canceled my membership because we weren’t sure what our financial situation was going to look like. Then, after I started working again, I reactivated it for “digital” only, meaning I can use the app, and that’s all. Since then, I have not managed to lose any more weight. I have actually gained roughly ten pounds since I retired, and for the last three weeks (since I reactivated), I have not been successful in losing any. I’m not sure what’s going on, because I’m staying within my points budget. But I’m also not moving as much as I used to, so maybe I need to work on that. It’s frustrating, though. This week, for example, I am actually more than two pounds up, since last Monday (my new weigh-in date).

There are no other plans for today, so it should be nice and relaxing. I’m sure I will cook burgers for S and me, our traditional Saturday dinner. After I finish blogging, I will probably cook brunch for all three of us.

There are a number of “holidays” today. I choose One-Hit Wonder Day. I have encountered quite a few of them, in my six-plus decades of life. I would be hard-pressed to remember them all, but here’s one.

A one-hit wonder from 1974

The word for today is codicil, a noun meaning, “any supplement; appendix.”

Today’s quote is from Edward Hopper, American artist. “If you could say it in words there would be no reason to paint.”

Significant birthdays on September 25:

Fletcher Christian, English sailor, led the mutiny on the HMS Bounty, 1764-1790 (or 1793)
William Faulkner, American author, 1897-1962
Dmitri Shostakovich, Russian composer, 1906-1975
Phil Rizzuto, American MLB shortstop and broadcaster, 1918-2007
Ronnie Barker, English comedian (The Two Ronnies), 1929-2005
Barbara Walters, American journalist, 1929 (92)
Shel Silverstein, American writer and cartoonist (Where the Sidewalk Ends), 1930-1999
Glenn Gould, Canadian pianist, 1932-1982
Michael Douglas, American actor, 1944 (77)
Mark Hamill, American actor (Skywalker), 1951 (70)
Christopher Reeve, American actor (Superman), 1952-2004
Will Smith, American actor (Men in Black, Independence Day), 1968 (53)
Catherine Zeta-Jones, Welsh (really??) actress, married to above celebrant Michael Douglas, 1969 (52)
Clea Duvall, American actress, 1977 (44)

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Breathing deep
The presence of God
Filled with love

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)

Today I am grateful:

1. for Your presence here, this morning, of which I am breathing deeply
2. for the rest of Your easy yoke
3. that there is, therefore, now, no condemnation for us who are in Christ
4. that You have cast my sins as far as the east is from the west
5. for the joy that I have, trusting in You
6. that nothing can separate us from Your love

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK EIGHTEEN – DAY SEVEN

INVITATION

I will give thanks to you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful. My soul knows that very well.
(Psalms 139:14 WEB)

During the quietness of this moment, I reflect on Your presence, always here, never leaving or forsaking. I look back at the prayer requests of the week, lifting them up again to You.

BIBLE SONG

A prayer of David.

Hear me, LORD, and answer me, for I am poor and needy.
Guard my life, for I am faithful to you; save your servant who trusts in you. You are my God;
have mercy on me, Lord, for I call to you all day long.
Bring joy to your servant, Lord, for I put my trust in you.

You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to you.
Hear my prayer, LORD; listen to my cry for mercy.
When I am in distress, I call to you, because you answer me.
(Psalms 86:1-7 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Then the word of the LORD came to Samuel: “I regret that I have made Saul king, because he has turned away from me and has not carried out my instructions.” Samuel was angry, and he cried out to the LORD all that night.
Early in the morning Samuel got up and went to meet Saul, but he was told, “Saul has gone to Carmel. There he has set up a monument in his own honor and has turned and gone on down to Gilgal.”
When Samuel reached him, Saul said, “The LORD bless you! I have carried out the LORD’s instructions.”
But Samuel replied:
“Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the LORD?
To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.
For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry.
Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has rejected you as king.”
(1 Samuel 15:10-13, 22-23 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I remind myself that I am in Your presence, I look over these passages, seeking a Word for me on this day, asking the Holy Spirit to guide my meditations and prayers, drawing me closer to Your heart.

Psalm 86 is a deep, heartfelt prayer. David begins by acknowledging that he is, indeed, poor and needy, which fits all of us, as we stand in the presence of the Almighty. There is not a person on earth who is not “poor and needy” in comparison with the Lord and His great mercy and gifts to us.

David asks the Lord to guard his life, and states that he is faithful. Some might disagree with this statement, pointing back at things like the rape of Bathsheba and the murder of her husband. However, we all fall into the same category. While we may not have raped or murdered anyone, we have sinned. So, in that sense, not a single one of us could be called “faithful.”

Nevertheless, I count myself as “faithful” because of the blood of Christ, and because of the fact that I have never completely turned away from the great salvation of my God. Yes, I have sinned. I still do. I’ve done some pretty bad things in my life. I’m not going to list them here, because my God has forgotten them. He has cast them as far as the east is from the west (a straight line, and never the twain shall meet, as Rudyard Kipling famously wrote). If my God no longer remembers my sins, why should I?

The first seven verses of Psalm 86 are a beautiful prayer, worthy of incorporating into my own prayers.

The idea, though, of a single sin ruining everything is highlighted in the passage from First Samuel, today. God speaks to Samuel, at the beginning of our selection, to let him know that Saul has not carried out His instructions. Samuel, as he should have, cried out to the Lord, possibly in Saul’s defense, all night long.

The next morning, Samuel went and found Saul and confronted him with this message. Saul proclaimed that he had carried out all of God’s instructions.

Let’s backtrack and see exactly what those instructions were.

This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘I will punish the Amalekites for what they did to Israel when they waylaid them as they came up from Egypt. Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy all that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.'”
(1 Samuel 15:2-3 NIV)

Now let’s look at what Saul did.

Then Saul attacked the Amalekites all the way from Havilah to Shur, near the eastern border of Egypt. He took Agag king of the Amalekites alive, and all his people he totally destroyed with the sword. But Saul and the army spared Agag and the best of the sheep and cattle, the fat calves and lambs—everything that was good. These they were unwilling to destroy completely, but everything that was despised and weak they totally destroyed.
(1 Samuel 15:7-9 NIV)

Oops.

One question I have is in regards to Saul’s statement to Samuel, saying he had carried out God’s instructions. Did he really believe that he had? Did he think Samuel was stupid?? Or did he completely underestimate God’s knowledge and not realize that God would let Samuel know what was going on? Whichever the case was, Saul’s declaration was simply ludicrous. The definition of “ludicrous,” by the way, is, “so foolish, unreasonable, or out of place as to be amusing; ridiculous.”

I have always been a fan of Samuel’s response, which is not included in our reading for today. I’ll paraphrase: “Oh, have you now? Really?? Then why do I hear the sounds of sheep and cattle in your camp?”

Saul offers lame excuses. And later in the passage, he makes it seem that he really does believe that he followed God’s commands, even though he did not.

This illustrates a major problem with human beings. It even translates into parent/child relationships and work situations. If God were to stand before me, today, and ask me if I had done everything He had commanded, I would have to shake my head and say, “no.” I have tried, yes. And, since I live in the post-Jesus days, my commands are boiled down to those two jobs that I keep going on about.

  1. Love God
  2. Love people

But, truthfully, I have not even managed to do those very well.

But thanks be to God for His indescribable gift (2 Corinthians 9:15). Because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, I am free from condemnation (Romans 8).

Father, thank You that there is no condemnation for me, because of the work of Christ on the cross, and His resurrection from the grave! I thank You that, while I do still need to obey those two commands, and love You, and love my neighbor, I am not bound by the law in a legal sense, because Jesus has carried out the law on my behalf, and He has taken on my punishment for not keeping the law. Your grace is truly indescribable, and all of the “thank yous” in all of eternity would not be enough. I pray, like David, that You will continue to guard my life. I praise You for the joy that You give, each day. I pray that I would be more obedient to Your will, but I also pray that You keep me honest, acknowledging truthfully when I do not.

I pray, Lord, that Your Church would flourish all over the world, even through persecution that she experiences in some parts of the world. I pray that, when we gather to worship You, You would be glorified, and that this worship would also unite us, gather us, and bless us. May Your Word be effectively preached throughout the world.

"God of grace,
in Christ You set me free for a life of gratitude.
So, 
in bedrooms and boardrooms,
with friends and neighbors,
in learning and listening,
playing and working,
giving and forgiving,
As I lie down and rise up,
in my coming and going,
be pleased with my offering of a simple life of everyday obedience.
In Christ's name,
amen."

BLESSING

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
(Matthew 5:4 WEB)

Only I can tell you the future before it even happens. Everything I plan will come to pass, for I do whatever I wish.
(Isaiah 46:10 NLT)

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Romans 8:37-39 ESV)

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

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.
(James 4:13-14 ESV)

“This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds,” then he adds, “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”
(Hebrews 10:16-17 ESV)

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

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
(Jeremiah 29:11 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Rest; Be; Love

Today is Friday, the twenty-fourth of September, 2021.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,206

Eighteen days until our 36th anniversary!

This is my last Friday to be off work, for a while, as the work schedule changes next Friday, October 1. The Library will reopen on Fridays, beginning that day. That eventuality was the primary reason I was hired as a new Library Aide, in order to fill the Friday spot which will be eight hours in the computer center. And that will be every Friday.

The other impact on my schedule will be that I will no longer work on Mondays (currently alternating Mondays), and Wednesdays will shift from every Wednesday, 1:00-5:00 PM, to alternating Wednesdays, 9:15-6:15 PM. I will still work every Tuesday, but only four hours, from 4:15-8:15 PM. The biggest impact is that I won’t have four consecutive days off any more, which is currently happening every other week. And, frankly, I’m fine with that. It really makes it difficult to remember what day it is.

So the new schedule, beginning Friday, October 1 will look like this:
Week A: Friday, Saturday, Tuesday (Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday off)
Week B: Friday, Tuesday, Wednesday (Saturday, Monday, and Thursday off)

There will be one exception, in the week of October 11, when I will work on Thursday evening instead of Wednesday, due to a special event the library is hosting.

I just spent about two hours placing online grocery orders, one to be delivered from Albertson’s, and one to pick up from Walmart. Walmart has changed their ordering format, much to my frustration, and I do plan to provide feedback. Several times, today, their site told me that items were available for pickup/delivery, and then when I went to checkout, I was told that several items were available for “shipping instead.” But it didn’t tell me which ones, so I had to scroll through my whole cart to delete the ones that weren’t available for pickup, even though their site had told me they were available for pickup.

So, not only am I late with the devotional, I’m now stressed from the grocery shopping experience. I should have waited. It’s only Friday, after all, and I still have tomorrow and Sunday to take care of things like that.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Now and Here, by Daryl Madden

A wounded heart of being
A need we all do share
A calling of our Lord
Heal now, heal here

Many thoughts are flowing
In our time of prayer
A gentle choice of offer
Rest now, rest here

Daily tasks are calling
Go fast, be there
Another view of whisper
Be now, be here

A life of many choices
The answer is not clear
Simple is the message
Love now, love here

I chose this poem today, because of the last line of each stanza. “Heal now, heal here,” “rest now, rest here,” “be now, be here,” and “love now, love here.” Such beautiful, timely words from this brother! So, for the next half hour or so, I plan to rest, be, and love.

Let my soul be at rest again, for the LORD has been good to me.
(Psalms 116:7 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. that You have, indeed been so very good to me
2. that the frustrations that I experience are only "footstool" problems, easily surmountable
3. for rest that You provide our souls, may we be faithful to take advantage of it
4. that You can give me the ability to simply "be"
5. that, in the Spirit and the power of Christ, I can love

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK EIGHTEEN – DAY SIX

INVITATION

and I praise you because of the wonderful way you created me. Everything you do is marvelous! Of this I have no doubt.
(Psalms 139:14 CEV)

As I pause to reflect, before reading the Scripture selections, today, I am drawn to that word “rest,” above. The word occurs almost twenty-five times in the first five books of the Bible, and sixteen of those come in Leviticus. In the law, Israel was commanded to rest many and more times. One might get the idea that our God wants us to rest.

BIBLE SONG

For the director of music. Of the Sons of Korah. A psalm.

You, LORD, showed favor to your land; you restored the fortunes of Jacob.
You forgave the iniquity of your people and covered all their sins.
You set aside all your wrath and turned from your fierce anger.

Restore us again, God our Savior, and put away your displeasure toward us.
Will you be angry with us forever? Will you prolong your anger through all generations?
Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you?
Show us your unfailing love, LORD, and grant us your salvation.

Love and faithfulness meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each other.
Faithfulness springs forth from the earth, and righteousness looks down from heaven.
The LORD will indeed give what is good, and our land will yield its harvest.
Righteousness goes before him and prepares the way for his steps.
(Psalms 85:1-7, 10-13 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Samuel said to all Israel, “I have listened to everything you said to me and have set a king over you. . . .
“If you fear the LORD and serve and obey him and do not rebel against his commands, and if both you and the king who reigns over you follow the LORD your God—good! But if you do not obey the LORD, and if you rebel against his commands, his hand will be against you, as it was against your ancestors.”
(1 Samuel 12:1, 14-15 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I rest in Your presence, I ask for Your guidance, via the Holy Spirit, in meditation and prayer. Help me to focus on the things I need to be focusing on, and help me to forget the things that don’t need focus.

In Psalm 85, the sons of Korah remember. They recall that God has forgiven their sins; they remember that He has shown favor to them; He has forgiven their iniquity and covered their sins, setting aside His wrath and “fierce anger.”

Do we remember these things today? We frequently see the prayers of the psalmists asking God if He has forgotten them, or forgotten to keep His promises. Have we, though, forgotten Him?

Verse 5 asks the question that is posed numerous times in the Psalms: “Will You be angry with us forever?” The short answer is no, He will not. In fact, He is no longer angry with all who call the name of Christ, who believe in Him and walk in His kingdom. That is what “propitiation” means. Jesus took on the weight of all of God’s anger for sin, while He hung on the cross. Therefore, God is no longer angry at us.

I pray along with the Sons of Korah, “Show us Your unfailing love, LORD.” I desire to see His salvation cover the earth.

The poetry in the last four verses of Psalm 85 is simply beautiful. I want to share Peterson’s paraphrase from The Message:

Love and Truth meet in the street, 
Right Living and Whole Living embrace and kiss!
Truth sprouts green from the ground,
Right Living pours down from the skies!
Oh yes!
GOD gives Goodness and Beauty;
our land responds with Bounty and Blessing.
Right Living strides out before him,
and clears a path for his passage.
(Psalms 85:10-13 MSG)

In the passage from Samuel, Samuel is speaking to Israel, after they have demanded a king. Samuel knew that this was wrong and tried to convince them that they were being unfaithful to God by asking for a king. In fact, they were mimicking what they had seen in the people that they had been sent to conquer!

So Samuel is saying, in effect: “Here is what you asked for. Here is your king.” And then he gives them a warning. “If you fear the Lord, obey Him and serve Him, and don’t rebel against His commands, things will go well for you. But if you don’t, the hand of God will be against you.” (My paraphrase)

Here’s how Peterson paraphrases it:

“So here’s the king you wanted, the king you asked for. GOD has let you have your own way, given you a king. If you fear GOD, worship and obey him, and don’t rebel against what he tells you. If both you and your king follow GOD, no problem. GOD will be sure to save you. But if you don’t obey him and rebel against what he tells you, king or no king, you will fare no better than your fathers.”
(1 Samuel 12:13-15 MSG)

Of course, anyone who has read the story knows how it goes. Saul doesn’t last very long at all. And, just like they did in between all of the judges, neither did Israel. Samuel, though, did commit to pray for them. And we should be doing the same.

I admit it . . . it is hard to pray for someone whose troubles are of their own making. I’ve been there myself. Yet we are commanded to do so. Jesus Christ compels us to do so. It’s part of my “two jobs.” And my opinion about their ills is completely and utterly irrelevant. Jesus does not ask me to judge them; in fact, He forbids me to judge them (or at least strongly advises against it by telling me that the same judgment I use on others will be used against me).

Father, help me to be more faithful in praying, and not just for people whom I think need it more, who “deserve” my prayers. You have persuaded me . . . there is no one who does not deserve my prayers! The very idea is a lie from the pits of hell. I confess that before You today. Help me to “rest now, rest here,” to “be now, be here,” and to “love now, love here.” I think I need equal help with all of those, because sometimes it is difficult to simply “be.” But before You, I can be, I can rest, and I can love.

Lord, give us great wonder at the sacrifice of Jesus Christ; may we never be aloof when thinking about it. Give us the capacity to suffer with others, for example, the many Haitian refuges stuck at the border of Texas, right now. I pray specifically for all who might have prayer needs that they believe cannot be spoken out loud, or who simply don’t know how to voice them. Your Spirit hears; Your Spirit intercedes. All glory to You, through the Son and by the Spirit.

"Forgiving God,
I confess how blind I am to the subtle ways the desires of my heart are quickly crowned and begin to rule my life instead of You.
Reclaim my heart and teach me to discern in my desires what is good and pleasing to You,
and what runs counter to Your good reign.
Amen."

BLESSING

God blesses those people who grieve. They will find comfort!
(Matthew 5:4 CEV)

Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.
(Proverbs 22:6 NIV)

Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.
(Deuteronomy 11:19 NIV)

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
(1 Corinthians 13:13 NIV)

But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!
(Matthew 5:44 NLT)

But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead. He is the first of a great harvest of all who have died.
(1 Corinthians 15:20 NLT)

Father, along with all other parents who call the name of Jesus, I pray that Your faithfulness holds true, and that You would draw our children firmly into Your Kingdom. Again, I pray that You help us to love others by praying for them, most especially those who might be considered “enemies.” And lastly, I praise You for the resurrection of Christ, the firstfruits of Your great harvest.

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.

Pilgrimage

It is Thursday, the twenty-third of September, 2021.

Shalom Aleichem!

Day 23,205

Nineteen days until our 36th anniversary!

Today’s header photo is, once again, courtesy of Paul Militaru.

At this point, there are no plans, as to what we might do to celebrate, this year. I’m working the evening of October 12, which is the actual anniversary. However, I am off on Wednesday of that week, because the library is having a special event on that Thursday, October 14. So instead of working Wednesday of that week, I will be working Thursday, from 12:00 to 9:00 PM. So, depending on how C is feeling that week, we may try to have a nice dinner out on Wednesday. I looked into a cabin for the weekend before, but they were booked up until Halloween weekend, and I have to work that Saturday, so we will look into a cabin stay later, maybe in November. I’ll have to wait until the November work schedule comes out to see what Saturdays I am off. Since I won’t be working Mondays after October 1, when I have a Saturday off, we could stay over Saturday, Sunday, and Monday nights, and return on Tuesday in time for me to be at work by 4:15 PM.

I also don’t have an anniversary gift, yet. In years past, our “gift” has always been a big trip somewhere. But since C is still recovering from her back surgery, we thought it best to forego that, this year. So I’ve got to come up with a gift. The “official” gift for 36 years is antiques. I’m pretty sure C has no interest whatsoever in antiques, so I’m not sure what to get for her. I don’t have long, either, so I’d better hurry, huh?

I’m off work today, and the rest of the week. My next scheduled shift is Monday. Today is payday for City of Hurst employees, though, and the pay week begins tomorrow. I have no plans for the day, at all. The yard needs to get mowed by the end of the weekend. I may do that today. Or I may not. I may wait until tomorrow or Saturday. I do plan (I guess there is a “plan,” after all) to cook Pecan-Crusted Buttermilk Chicken for dinner tonight. I hope to get some serious reading done today. I’m tenaciously slogging through book five of George Martin’s GoT series, A Dance with Dragons. A co-worker complimented my resolve, last week, especially considering that Martin is unlikely to ever finish the series, since HBO ruined it for him. Oh, well. I’m stubborn, that way.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Strange, mysterious,
Are Your ways, my awesome God!
All glory to You!

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.
(Psalms 51:10 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for a heart that is ever clean, not because of my own righteousness, but because of the blood of Jesus
2. that You are constantly renewing a right spirit within me
3. for Your loving presence that I feel, this morning
4. for the inheritance that is waiting for me
5. for Your awesome deeds

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK EIGHTEEN – DAY FIVE

INVITATION

I praise you because you are to be feared; all you do is strange and wonderful. I know it with all my heart.
(Psalms 139:14 GNB)

As I pause here, I consider the words in the Good News Bible, “strange and wonderful.” We say that God works in “mysterious” ways. If we were being more honest, might we not say “strange?” Do we fear that we will offend the Almighty if we call Him strange? I believe He is above being offended.

BIBLE SONG: PSALM 84:1-7 (NIV)

For the director of music. According to gittith. Of the Sons of Korah. A psalm.

How lovely is your dwelling place, LORD Almighty! 
My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. 
Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young— a place near your altar, LORD Almighty, my King and my God. 
Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you. 

Blessed are those whose strength is in you, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage. 
As they pass through the Valley of Baka, they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools. 
They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion.

BIBLE READING: 1 SAMUEL 9:15-17; 10:1 (NIV)

Now the day before Saul came, the LORD had revealed this to Samuel: 
“About this time tomorrow I will send you a man from the land of Benjamin. Anoint him ruler over my people Israel; he will deliver them from the hand of the Philistines. I have looked on my people, for their cry has reached me.” 
When Samuel caught sight of Saul, the LORD said to him, “This is the man I spoke to you about; he will govern my people.”
Then Samuel took a flask of olive oil and poured it on Saul’s head and kissed him, saying, “Has not the LORD anointed you ruler over his inheritance? 

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

I am surrounded by Your loving presence, this morning. This enables me to find hope in Your words, when the words of others, all around, tend to seem hopeless. Direct my thoughts and meditations to places in Your Word, that I might receive truth and inspiration therein.

Psalm 84 is one of those that is definitely singable. In fact, Matt Redman gave us a pretty good way to sing it, a number of years ago.

No, most certainly, when the “Sons of Korah” wrote this psalm, they had a physical location in mind. There was a physical Temple, with the “courts of the Lord,” and a place called “Holy of Holies.”

We live in the aftermath of Jesus, when the veil/curtain that separated the courts from the Holiest place was torn in two, from top to bottom, forever removing the barrier between us and the Father. So the “dwelling place” of our God is now within us, in our souls.

That being said, there is something special about being in a “house of God,” which is one thing I do miss, as we are part of a “house church,” currently. But our God does not dwell in buildings made of brick and mortar. His dwelling place is with us.

We are blessed, too, when our strength is in Him, and our hearts are set on pilgrimage. What does “pilgrimage” mean? For the ancient Israelites, it meant a yearly, long (for some of them) trek to Jerusalem, an uphill climb that spawned a group of Psalms known as “Songs of Ascent.” The word, though, simply means, “a pilgrim’s journey.”

So what is a “pilgrim?” The literal definition is “a person who journeys to a sacred place for religious reasons.” But it can also mean, “a person regarded as journeying through life.” I lean toward the second definition in our context. I’m not traveling to a sacred place.

Or am I?

Truly, my final, ultimate destination is “Home.” Not this house that I currently live in, in Fort Worth, Texas. This is a temporary dwelling. Someday, it will eventually be lived in by strangers. Or perhaps demolished and something else built here. Just like everything else on this planet, it is temporary.

I am, in a sense, on a “pilgrimage” to another land, another place, a place that will be permanent. A place whether neither moth nor rust can corrupt, and thieves cannot break in and steal. An incorruptible inheritance. It is not depressing to me to think these things. On the contrary, it is uplifting and exciting, and fills my heart with longing. These kinds of thoughts have also had an impact on my “collectible” nature. I used to collect a lot of things. I still have a corner shelf full of Marvin the Martian stuff. I have quite a bit of baseball memorabilia. But I have pretty much stopped getting new collectibles.

Why?

Because, what good are they? That’s why? After I move on from this plane, there might be one person left who cares about the baseball stuff, and after her, who will care? And surely no one will care about the Marvin the Martian stuff.

Listen . . . have you ever been to an estate sale? If you have not, I challenge you to find one soon. Go to a house where the owners are no longer alive, and all of their stuff is being sold off. C and I went to one in Cleburne, earlier this year and scored an almost mint-condition set of designer luggage for $75! I’m sure that this luggage cost well over $500 when new, and would never have considered buying it at that price.

But don’t go, necessarily, for bargains. Walk around. Look at the stuff. There will be clothes, decorations, kitchen appliances, books, records. Essentially, you will see someone’s life for sale.

I’m going to get to a point, here in a minute. Thank you for your patience. Again, this is not designed to be depressing, but, rather, the opposite. But for someone who has no hope in Christ, I can see how depressing it can be.

Almost every day, now, I see, on Facebook, some kind of post that either begins with “Remember when” or “Does anyone remember . . .” My generation is stuck living in the past. They cry and moan about how different things are and how “kids today just don’t appreciate . . . ” (fill in the blank). I’ve gotten to where I will scroll past most of those. I don’t want to live in the past. I don’t want to focus on what was. I want to look forward! I want to see what’s coming!

“You can’t take it with you.”

That reminds me of another song, this one by the Alan Parsons Project.

Well, I sympathize completely,
But there's nothing I can do.
I am just a humble servant
With a message here for you.
Well I know you have good reasons
And there's things you've got to do,
But the boatman won't be waiting
And he's leaving here with you.
And you can't take it with you,
No matter what you do.
No, you can't take it with you,
Not the place you're going to...

I’m on a pilgrimage to another land. I’m heading Home, and none of this junk can go with me. And the beauty of it is that, when I get there, when I find that mansion that my Savior is preparing for me, the furnishings will be infinitely more beautiful and grand than anything I have ever “possessed” on this planet. Either that, or they will be entirely simple, and I will be oh, so satisfied, because I will be gazing at the face of my Lord.

Father, I thank You for these truths. I praise You that there is an eternal Home waiting for me, that Jesus has prepared for me. I thank you, actually, that I cannot, in fact, take any of this junk with me. If I could, I would be burdened over trying to decide which things to take and which things to leave. And when all I ultimately want is You, anyway, why would I want to be burdened with all of this junk? I praise You that You dwell within us, and that one day, we will also dwell within You. I don’t really know what that great city is going to look like, with its streets of gold, and its river running through the middle, and that strange fruit tree that grows twelve different kinds of fruit. I fully expect that fruit to be the most delicious fruit I have ever tasted. Father, I pray that You would rescue Your children from the snares that they have fallen into, what with all of this living in the past. May we look forward, with hopeful eyes, to that Home where You will someday take us!

Don’t always be asking, “Where are the good old days?” Wise folks don’t ask questions like that.
(Ecclesiastes 7:10 MSG)

Father, I pray for a yearning to know You more and the power of Your resurrection. Let me also experience the joy of Your salvation, as well. I pray for any family members or friends who do not have a joyous relationship with You.

"Governing God,
You have ordained prime ministers and presidents,
premiers and governors,
mayors and civic officials to support a flourishing social life.
Today I pray for these leaders,
that You would lead them to rule wisely and well,
for the good of all people.
In Jesus' name,
amen."

BLESSING

“Happy are those who mourn; God will comfort them!
(Matthew 5:4 GNB)

By awesome deeds you answer us with righteousness, O God of our salvation, the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas;
(Psalms 65:5 ESV)

But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”—
(1 Corinthians 2:9 ESV)

For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.
(Philippians 1:21-23 ESV)

For we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and your love for all of God’s people, which come from your confident hope of what God has reserved for you in heaven. You have had this expectation ever since you first heard the truth of the Good News.
(Colossians 1:4-5 NLT)

As for me, my life has already been poured out as an offering to God. The time of my death is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing.
(2 Timothy 4:6-8 NLT)

Most of our “worst-case scenarios” end in death. One of my biggest fears is being first in line, at the railroad crossing, when the train derails. I mean, seriously, there is nowhere to go, nowhere to run. You might be able to get out of the car before train cars crash into it. Maybe.

But for those of us who are believers in Christ, what happens after death? Scroll up a bit . . . read about that eternal inheritance I’ve been going on about. So the worst thing that can happen to me on earth? My “worst-case scenario?” Sends me to my eternal Home.

So what do I have to fear?

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.

Let Them Know . . .

Today is Wednesday, the twenty-second of September, 2021. ‘Tis the first day of Autumn, my favorite season of the year!

Day 23,204

Twenty days until our 36th wedding anniversary!

Today’s header photo is courtesy of Paul Militaru, a wonderful Romanian photographer. My gratitude to Paul for allowing me to use his photos.

Fall has finally arrived, and has arrived in great style, as it is currently below sixty degrees in DFW, and the projected high is only 82 today. Tomorrow should be similar. There’s a little rain in the forecast, in about a week, but things could always change between now and then.

Yesterday was a great work day. I spent the first four hours in shelving, putting away some new books and DVDs, then pulled some large print books that are slated for probable “deaccession.” That means they will be pulled from library stock and placed in the next Friends of the Library sale. The second half was spent in the computer center, where my role is basically to sit there are wait for people to have questions or problems. There are occasional tasks with which I can assist, as well. I am also thinking about signing up to help with the library’s subscription service, a brain child of one of the media/tech people during the pandemic, while the library was closed to inside service. Each month, three books are chosen by library staff for subscribers, based on a survey they fill out, along with their check-out history (only made available for this service), then the patrons get to rate the books that they are given by the staff. I’ve not only considered signing up to help pick books, but I’ve also considered signing up for the service, itself. Sounds like fun.

Today, I work from 1:00 to 5:00 PM, and then I’m off for the next four days. Next week will be the “tough” week, tough only because of the number of hours I will be working during the calendar week, as my schedule changes to the new schedule I will have, going forward from October 1.

I’ve got a grocery order being delivered from Albertson’s, this morning, with some needed things, mostly watermelon and bananas. Can’t keep a banana in this house! It’s crazy.

At some point, I may have to break down and mow the yard. Maybe tomorrow. Also, in regards tomorrow, C received a text message on Monday, confirming that the Social Security folks will be calling her Thursday morning, in regards to to S’s benefit from my record. That should be interesting.

Today is Hobbit Day, as, apparently, it is the birthday of both Bilbo and Frodo Baggins.

The word for today is muliebrity, a noun, which means “womanly nature or qualities.” This is appropriate, as today is also Business Women’s Day.

The quote for today, from Eleanor Roosevelt, is “With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts.”

Significant birthdays on September 22:

Bilbo Baggins, The Hobbit, 1290 (did he ever die?)
Anne of Cleves, fourth wife of Henry VIII, 1515-1557
Michael Faraday, English scientist, 1791-1867
Charlotte Cooper, British tennis player, 1st female Wimbledon champion, 1870-1966
Tommy Lasorda, American baseball manager, 1927-2021
Toni Basil, American singer (Mickey), 1943 (78)
David Coverdale, British rock singer (Deep Purple, Whitesnake), 1949 (Wikipedia says 1951, making him 70)
Andrea Bocelli, Italian tenor, 1958 (63)
Scott Baio, American actor (Happy Days), 1960 (61)
Catherine Oxenberg, American actress (Dynasty), mother of India Oxenberg, victim of Keith Ranier's NXIVM cult, 1961 (60)
Bonnie Hunt, American actress (Cheaper By the Dozen, Rain Man), 1961 (60)
Tom Felton, English actor (Draco Malfoy), 1987 (34)

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Beginning of Fall is here;
Cooler air outside;
Refreshing and renewing.

In that day the deaf shall hear the words of a book, and out of their gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind shall see. The meek shall obtain fresh joy in the LORD, and the poor among mankind shall exult in the Holy One of Israel.
(Isaiah 29:18-19 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for Autumn, and the cooler temperatures it brings
2. for the grace that floods my soul, this morning, even though I am undeserving of it
3. for the coming day when all people, all over the world, will know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that You are Most High over all the earth
4. for the promise of rest and strength as we return to You in repentance
5. for my life in You, in the truth of Your Gospel, and the strength to share it with others

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK EIGHTEEN – DAY FOUR

INVITATION

I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration—what a creation!
(Psalms 139:14 MSG)

As I pause here, in the quietness, I consider that You are, indeed, breathtaking! This body, this soul, so marvelously and wonderfully made! I watch my fingers move. I pay attention to my breathing. What marvel; what wonder!

BIBLE SONG

A song. A psalm of Asaph.

O God, do not remain silent;
do not turn a deaf ear,
do not stand aloof,
O God.
See how your enemies growl,
how your foes rear their heads.
With cunning they conspire against your people;
they plot against those you cherish.
“Come,” they say, “let us destroy them as a nation,
so that Israel’s name is remembered no more.”

May they ever be ashamed and dismayed;
may they perish in disgrace.
Let them know that you,
whose name is the LORD—
that you alone are the Most High over all the earth.
(Psalms 83:1-4, 17-18 NIV)

BIBLE READING

After the Philistines had captured the ark of God, they took it from Ebenezer to Ashdod. Then they carried the ark into Dagon’s temple and set it beside Dagon. When the people of Ashdod rose early the next day, there was Dagon, fallen on his face on the ground before the ark of the LORD! They took Dagon and put him back in his place. But the following morning when they rose, there was Dagon, fallen on his face on the ground before the ark of the LORD! His head and hands had been broken off and were lying on the threshold; only his body remained. That is why to this day neither the priests of Dagon nor any others who enter Dagon’s temple at Ashdod step on the threshold.
The LORD’s hand was heavy on the people of Ashdod and its vicinity; he brought devastation on them and afflicted them with tumors. When the people of Ashdod saw what was happening, they said, “The ark of the god of Israel must not stay here with us, because his hand is heavy on us and on Dagon our god.” So they called together all the rulers of the Philistines and asked them, “What shall we do with the ark of the god of Israel?” They answered, “Have the ark of the god of Israel moved to Gath.” So they moved the ark of the God of Israel.
(1 Samuel 5:1-8 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I read these passages again, I ask the Holy Spirit to direct my meditations and prayers, and teach me something for my life today.

I do like the prayer at the beginning of Psalm 83. We should always be praying, I think, for God to not be silent, to not stand aloof, to not turn a deaf ear to us. It’s one of those prayers that seems superfluous, because God has already promised to not do any of those things.

It is we who are fickle, and I believe that praying prayers like this can center our souls, cause us to focus better on the Almighty. If we are asking Him to pay attention, it means we are speaking to Him. It’s a simple though, really, but it is similar to the idea that prayer, in itself, is an exercise in faith. If I had no faith, I would not be bothering to pray. But the fact that I pray indicates that there is at least a grain of sand worth of faith in there somewhere.

It is also interesting that Asaph phrases this psalm in such a way to indicate that it is GOD’S enemies that he is praying against, not his own. “These people are Your enemies, because they are trying to wipe out Your people.” In our day and time, the enemies of God have a different tactic. Mostly, I think, they simply ignore Him or try to prove that He doesn’t exist. All to their own destruction, eventually.

The last verse of the psalm is one of those great prayers that we can always pray, kind of like “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

Let them know that you, whose name is the LORD— that you alone are the Most High over all the earth.
(Psalms 83:18 NIV)

The Lord let the Philistines know that He was Most High in this mildly amusing story from 1 Samuel. The Philistines had captured the Ark of the Covenant. They thought they had won, right?

Silly Philistines.

Even their idol, their false God Dagon, bowed before the ark! That piece of stone or wood was found face down before the ark, the morning after they set the ark next to the idol. They even set it back up, but found it face down again, the next morning, with the head and hands broken off. Interestingly, their superstitions continued to rule them, as the head and hands were laying on the threshold, which caused the worshipers of Dagon to never step on the threshold of the temple again.

What does it say to us when a “god” that isn’t even real bows down to the Most High God? One also wonders why the Philistines continued to worship Dagon.

And then the “bad stuff” started happening. We don’t know the exact nature of it, other than “devastation” and “tumors.” Some wise people among them figured out that all of this was happening because they had the ark.

Ya think?

So they decided to move it. To Gath, another Philistine city. If you keep reading, the people of Gath dumped it on the city of Ekron, who immediately cried out, “”They have brought the ark of the god of Israel around to us to kill us and our people.” Word gets around.

The amazing thing to me is that there is never any indication that any of these people thought to cry out to the God of Israel for mercy! They just kind of “shooed” Him off, dumped Him on the next town. Actually, today’s reading, in the devotional book, stops before any of the moving around, with the question, “What shall we do with the ark of the god of Israel?”

A similar question looms, today. This God, the Most High God over all the earth, has revealed Himself in many ways. Paul, in the book of Romans declares that He has revealed Himself sufficiently in nature, to the point that no one on earth has any excuse for not believing in Him.

I lean toward agreeing with that thought. I do not, for the life of me, understand how anyone can look around at the beauty of this world (even the dry, arid, desolate places are beautiful in their own way) and not believe in a creator! Personally, I think it takes a lot more “faith” to believe that all of this is just serendipity.

The looming question is “What are you going to do with the God of Israel? What are you going to do with Jesus Christ?” You only have two choices. You can believe in Him, or you can not believe in Him. You can’t just ignore Him. You can try, but it has the same effect as not believing.

C.S. Lewis, I believe, was the first person to propose the idea, concerning Jesus, that you have three choices about Him. Either 1)He is who He says He is, which is God incarnate, the Savior of the world, 2) He is a bald-faced liar, making claims that simply aren’t true, or 3) He is a raving lunatic, a mad-man.

You simply do not have the choice to think that He was a “good teacher.”

He claimed to be God.

He was crucified, He was buried, and He rose from the grave, and ascended into heaven. There are eye witnesses to all of those!

I will proclaim these truths until my dying day.

Father, I pray that someone who does not believe in You will read this blog today. I pray that Your Holy Spirit will surround them as they read, and that they will be drawn into a believing relationship with You, by the power of the blood of Christ. I praise You that You drew me in so many years ago, that You caused me to be born into a believing family, and that You chose me to be one of Your children, before the foundations of the earth. I pray that You will, indeed, let them know that You, whose Name is Yahweh, that You alone are Most High over all the earth!

"Living God,
You are the one true God,
eternal,
almighty,
everywhere present,
filled with compassion,
knowing all things,
most wise,
perfectly holy,
always patient,
overflowing with goodness and truth.
All my idols are reflections of my broken self,
and only as I fall down and worship You do I find myself whole again.
Amen."

BLESSING

“You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.”
(Matthew 5:4 MSG)

For thus said the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.”
(Isaiah 30:15 ESV)

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

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

You Know Nothing, Jon Snow

Today is Tuesday, the twenty-first of September, 2021.

May the peace of God reign in your lives today.

Day 23,203

Tomorrow is the Autumnal Equinox, the first official day of Fall.

I got everything accomplished, yesterday, that I intended to, which is always a good feeling. The ATT Internet modem was delivered to Fed Ex, and once it is in their hands, it is officially out of mine. I already have email notification that it has been returned. All of the bed linens, including the comforter and two blanket/throws, got washed and dried. It took three runs through the dryer to get the comforter dry. And the floors got swept. It had been so long since I swept the floors that it looked like we had a dog again.

Today, I’ve already had an order from Albertson’s delivered. That was because I wanted to make our Chicken Taco Soup in the crock pot, but I didn’t have any diced tomatoes. So that is now cooking for tonight’s dinner.

I work from 11:15 to 8:15 today, so C and S will go ahead and have their soup, and I will eat mine after I get home. That is late to be eating, but I will likely stay up a bit later tonight, since my shift tomorrow doesn’t begin until 1:00 PM.

Today, and the following two days, we get some fall-like weather. The high today is supposed to be only 84 degrees, with 82 tomorrow, and 87 Thursday. This will be followed by a stretch of lower nineties for highs, still not too bad. Best of all is that October is on the way.

I will also mention that, since yesterday morning, C has been experiencing some pretty bad pain, and hasn’t been able to get a lot of relief. We can’t tell if it is related to the surgery or not, and it is acting like sciatica. Any prayers would definitely be appreciated.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

In This Stilling, by Daryl Madden

In this stilling
Something stirs
Beyond the known
Of grace occurs

In this stilling
Something deep
Surrendering
As Spirit seeps

In this stilling
Something prays
A flowing through
Of divine ways

In this stilling
Something above
A blessing of
Your word of love

Holy Spirit, please stir, in this stilling.

So I will bless you as long as I live;
in your name I will lift up my hands.
My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food,
and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips,
when I remember you upon my bed,
and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
for you have been my help,
and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.
My soul clings to you;
your right hand upholds me.
(Psalms 63:4-8 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the way You move and stir during these moments
2. for Your provision in our lives
3. for the shadow of Your wings
4. for Your calling on the life of Samuel
5. for Your incredible patience in our lives when we don't realize that it is You speaking to us

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK EIGHTEEN – DAY THREE

INVITATION

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.
(Psalms 139:14 ESV)

As I meditate in this quiet moment, I consider the way my soul clings to the Lord. For over sixty years, my soul has clung to God. It has never let go, and He has never let me go. I rejoice in this, and breathe deep the breath of God.

BIBLE SONG

A psalm of Asaph.

God presides in the great assembly;
he renders judgment among the “gods”:

“How long will you defend the unjust and show partiality to the wicked?
Defend the weak and the fatherless;
uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed.
Rescue the weak and the needy;
deliver them from the hand of the wicked.

“The ‘gods’ know nothing, they understand nothing.
They walk about in darkness;
all the foundations of the earth are shaken.

Rise up, O God, judge the earth, for all the nations are your inheritance.
(Psalms 82:1-5, 8 NIV)

BIBLE READING

The boy Samuel ministered before the LORD under Eli. In those days the word of the LORD was rare; there were not many visions.
One night Eli, whose eyes were becoming so weak that he could barely see, was lying down in his usual place. The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the house of the LORD, where the ark of God was. Then the LORD called Samuel.
Samuel answered, “Here I am.” And he ran to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”
But Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.” So he went and lay down.
The LORD came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!”
Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”
And the LORD said to Samuel: “See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears about it tingle.
(1 Samuel 3:1-5, 10-11 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I read these passages again, Lord, please direct my meditations and prayers, drawing me closer and closer to You, into more and more intimacy with You, the Son, and the Spirit.

Who are these “gods” of whom Asaph sings? What is this great assembly over which the Lord is presiding? Based on the question that is asked, I can imagine that it might be politicians, world leaders. After all, who is more apt to be defending the cause of the unjust than a politician?

But God demands the opposite. “Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and oppressed.” The “gods,” it seems know nothing.

I can’t help it. When I read verse 5, I get this image in my head.

Some of you will get that, some of you won’t.

It is said that these “gods” are walking around in darkness, and all the foundations of the earth are shaken. Again, I’m only guessing at the meaning of these words. But I don’t have to guess at Asaph’s final words in Psalm 82. He prays for Yahweh to rise up and judge the earth.

Things were not going well for God’s people when Samuel came on the scene. 1 Samuel 3:1 is a tragic verse. “In those days the word of the LORD was rare; there were not many visions.”

I love the story of Samuel’s calling; I always have. God calls him; he doesn’t know who is calling, so, naturally, he runs to Eli. “Here am I,” was how I learned it, when I was a boy.

God: Samuel!
Samuel, running to Eli: Here I am! You called me!
Eli: What are you talking about? I didn't call you! Go back to sleep!
God: Samuel!
Samuel, running to Eli again: Here I am! You called me!
Eli: I didn't call you! You must be hearing things! I said go back to sleep!
God: Samuel!
Samuel, running to Eli a third time: Here I am! You called me!
Eli, finally understanding what is happening: Aha! Okay. Go back to bed, and the next time this happens, say, 'Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.'"
God (miraculously not losing His cool): Samuel!
Samuel: Speak, for your servant is listening!
God (whispers under his breath): About time

So maybe that’s not quite exactly how it went down, and, of course, I mean no disrespect in that little vignette. But who among us has not laughed a little bit at this story?

Samuel had an excuse. He had never encountered (as far as we know) the living God before this night. He had no idea where this voice was coming from. Eli, on the other hand . . . it should not have taken him three times to figure out what was going on. But look back at the first verse. Eli wasn’t exactly the best priest. We see that God’s voice, His Word was seldom heard, and that there weren’t many visions. If you dig a little bit, you also see that Eli’s sons were pretty awful human beings, and this is one reason that God brought Samuel into the picture.

God tells Samuel that He is going to do something that is going to make the peoples’ ears tingle. And part of this is judgment against Eli and his sons. Later in the chapter, Eli makes Samuel tell him everything that the Lord said. Eli’s response is honorable: “He is the LORD; let Him do what is good in His eyes.”

Would that we would all respond this way when we receive unfavorable news from the Lord or from His Word. Instead, we fight against it; we say, “that didn’t come from God! He would never say or do that!”

See the picture above and put your own name there.

For, in comparison with God Almighty, we truly do know nothing. And when we set ourselves up as gods, we know less than nothing.

Father, I praise You for Your incredible patience with us. We are, too often, like Eli. We can only be like Samuel the first time. Every time after that, when we don’t realize it is You calling us, we are like Eli, as though we have forgotten Your voice. May it never be! Father, do not ever let me forget the sound of Your voice. Of course, I am speaking figuratively, here, as, as far as I know, I have never audibly heard Your voice. However, I have “heard” You speaking to me in many ways over the course of my 63 years. And I pray that never stops. These days, I seem to “hear” something most mornings, during these times, and I rejoice over that. It is not always something positive and uplifting. Sometimes, it is something that I need to work on, something convicting. But that is always balanced with times of refreshing and comforting; times of closeness when I rest under the shadow of Your wings. And, truthfully, even when the thing is convicting, I am still allowed to rest under the shadow of Your wings, which is why You are so beautiful!

Lord, please give us a love and commitment for the communities in which You have placed us, both physical and spiritual, for I have a neighborhood, in which I live, and a church family, as well. I pray that You help me find ways to get to know the people in my community (that’s a risky prayer, there, and it takes me waaaaay out of my comfort zone). Equip us, Father, to serve in our communities in unique ways. Give us great imaginations. I specifically lift up those who work in service to others.

"Calling God,
whether in a dream or some dark night,
in the hunger for beauty or the cry of the hungry,
in our weakness or in sensing our potential - 
it was You calling out to us.
Today we pray for those who have no clue what or who might be speaking to them;
reveal Yourself to them so they can answer and embrace You.
In Jesus' name,
amen."

BLESSING

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”
(Matthew 5:4 ESV)

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
(Ephesians 3:20-21 ESV)

And David and all Israel were celebrating before God with all their might, with song and lyres and harps and tambourines and cymbals and trumpets.
(1 Chronicles 13:8 ESV)

May he grant you your heart’s desire and fulfill all your plans!
(Psalms 20:4 ESV)

I am the LORD your God, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt. Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.
(Psalms 81:10 ESV)

My eyes are ever toward the LORD, for he will pluck my feet out of the net.
(Psalms 25:15 ESV)

With weeping they shall come, and with pleas for mercy I will lead them back, I will make them walk by brooks of water, in a straight path in which they shall not stumble, for I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn.
(Jeremiah 31:9 ESV)

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
(Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV)

How do you walk in a straight line? You don’t look down at your feet; you don’t look to the right or to the left; you keep your eyes fixed on your destination.

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!

Oh that my ways may be steadfast in keeping your statutes!
Then I shall not be put to shame, having my eyes fixed on all your commandments.
(Psalms 119:5-6 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.