Peace Like A River

Today is Sunday, the fourteenth of August, 2022, in the 20th week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you!

Day 23,530

We hit a high of 98 degrees, yesterday, for our fourth consecutive day under 100. The record high for yesterday’s date is 105. I wonder if that was 1980? The ten-day forecast still includes six days of under-100 temperatures, but the next four are 100+. The great news is that at the end of the ten days, I’m seeing two days that will possible be below 90! The not-so-good news is that we likely aren’t going to get any more rain until around August 21.

I have an adventure tomorrow. I get to take S’s guinea pig, Princess, to an exotic animal doctor to have her eye looked at. It’s been a little cloudy of late, although it seems a little better this morning, and she has exhibited a bit of a head tilt, which may mean she has some inner ear trouble going on.

We have our church gathering, this morning, at 10:15, and it looks like most of us will actually be there. However, we will not be there next Sunday, as we will be traveling to FBC Mineral Wells as part of S’s birthday celebration. Oh, I didn’t put that up there, did I? S turns 29 in only FIVE MORE DAYS! We should probably get that cookie cake ordered, huh?

C and I have scheduled a Glen Rose trip in October for our anniversary. It will be the weekend before the actual anniversary, which is October 12. It’s been a while since we have been to Paluxy River Bed Cabins, so we are very excited about that.

The Texas Rangers snapped a nine-game losing streak against the Mariners, by winning 7-4, last night. That losing streak was exclusively against the Mariners, by the way. They are now 50-63 (finally won that fiftieth game), still in third place by a half game, 23 games out of first place, and 9.5 games out of a Wild Card spot. They play Seattle again today, at 1:35 CDT, with Martin Perez taking the mound. The Rangers have 49 games left in 2022.

The Boston Red Sox lost to the Yankees, 3-2 (I think that’s the same score they won by, the night before), to make them 56-59 for the season. They remain in last place in the AL East, 16.5 games out of first place, and 4.5 out of a Wild Card spot. They will play the Yankees again, this evening (it’s an ESPN game). The Red Sox have 47 games left in 2022.

The LA Dodgers can’t seem to lose, now. They continue to be the best team in MLB with a 79-33 record, twelve straight wins, and a run differential of +251. The Washington Nationals remain on the bottom, at 38-77, and a -204 run differential. The Athletics of Oakland, however, have the current losing streak at seven games. The Texas Rangers have a run differential of -4, and the REd S

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, grant that we may heed your commandments, that our peace may be like a river and our righteousness like the waves of the sea. Be with us through your Spirit, we pray. Speak with us and tell us what we need to hear so that we can understand what draws us always nearer to you. Show the might of your hand to help us and all people. Even under judgment we shall not despair, we shall not lose courage because of troubles and distress. Come with your strength, that we may grow strong to overcome the world through Jesus Christ the Savior. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river, your well-being like the waves of the sea.
(Isaiah 48:18 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the possibility of peace "like a river," by heeding the commands of God (loving God and loving people)
2. for an understanding of what draws us nearer to God
3. for the strength to overcome the world through Jesus Christ the Savior
4. for the songs that my God sings over me
5. for the encouragement to always be growing, moving forward in Christ, and the knowledge that, if I am walking with Him, He will lead

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.” Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.”
(John 1:29-34 NIV)

Woe to her who is rebellious and defiled, the oppressing city! She listens to no voice; she accepts no correction. She does not trust in the LORD; she does not draw near to her God. Her officials within her are roaring lions; her judges are evening wolves that leave nothing till the morning. Her prophets are fickle, treacherous men; her priests profane what is holy; they do violence to the law.
(Zephaniah 3:1-4 ESV)

“On that day you shall not be put to shame because of the deeds by which you have rebelled against me; for then I will remove from your midst your proudly exultant ones, and you shall no longer be haughty in my holy mountain. But I will leave in your midst a people humble and lowly. They shall seek refuge in the name of the LORD, those who are left in Israel; they shall do no injustice and speak no lies, nor shall there be found in their mouth a deceitful tongue. For they shall graze and lie down, and none shall make them afraid.”
(Zephaniah 3:11-13 ESV)

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)

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.
(2 Peter 3:18 ESV, emphasis added)

“A faith walk is measured by forward movement. And when we walk with Jesus, He takes the lead.” (Shawnelle Eliasen)

The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”
(Luke 17:5 ESV)

Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, and of instruction about washings, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.
(Hebrews 6:1-2 ESV)


I could have easily stopped, today, after that bit from Plough about having peace like a river. I kept on reading my prescribed readings, though, from my various devotional materials.

Here’s the thing. Do you have peace in your life? And I’m strictly speaking to believers, here, because I know a bunch who don’t live like they have peace. And the reason for this? It’s right there in Isaiah!

If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river, your well-being like the waves of the sea.
(Isaiah 48:18 NIV)

The problem is that we seem to be getting bogged down in what those commands are. Let’s go over that again. I will never get tired of quoting Jesus Christ on this, because it is simply the essence of life.

Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
(Matthew 22:34-40 NIV)

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
(John 13:34-35 NIV)

When we don’t have peace in our lives, it is very likely because we are not heeding those commands.

Another thing that happens when we heed those commands is that we grow. We move forward. I love the quote from Shawnelle Eliason, this morning. When I walk in faith, I will move forward. And Jesus will take the lead, if I am truly following Him.

There’s one final thought, here, from Andrew Murray. “We find the Christian life difficult because we seek for God’s blessing while we live according to our own will. We make our own plans and choose our own work, and then we ask the Lord Jesus to watch and see that sin does not overtake us and that we do not wander too far from the path.”

If we are heeding His commands, we will be entirely at His disposal, we will be moving forward in our faith walk, and we will have peace like a river.

Today's sources:
YouVersion Bible reading plan
Daily Guideposts 2022
Power in Prayer, by Andrew Murray

Father, help me, today, to enjoy this peace. Help me to focus only on obeying/heeding those two commands (three if we add that “new command” from Jesus) to love You, love my neighbor, and especially love the saints. If I can do those things, I will have peace, my walk will be moving forward, and, more importantly, my life will be Yours, to do with as You will.

I pray for all of Your children, today, that they might experience this peace in their lives by heeding Your commands and loving. It truly is all about love, Father.

Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus!


Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
(John 14:27 NIV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Love Extravagantly

“We do not qualify as biblical simply by quoting the Bible.
“We are biblical only when we share life in the wilderness with those who are tempted and fall, when we carry the cross of Jesus, and when we love extravagantly in Jesus’s name.”

Today is Tuesday, the fifth of April, 2022, in the fifth week of Lent.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,399

We had some “weather” last night. Thunderstorms rolled through a bit later than originally expected, hitting us late in the evening, and going on until around 11:00 PM or so. As far as I know, we just got heavy rain and wind. I never heard any hail and didn’t see evidence of anything else. But it rained quite a bit. There were tornado warnings southeast of us.

I don’t have much on my agenda today. I’ll go out and get Subway for lunch for S, Mama, and me, and will include dinner for them and C, because I will be at work this evening, from 4:15-8:15. Typical Tuesday, in other words. I’m also really close to finishing my current read, an ARC of When Earth Shall Be No More, a science fiction novel by Paul Awad and Kathryn O’Sullivan. I’m 92% through, and, unless something drastic happens, I can already tell you it’s getting a five-star rating. I’ll also try to get in an episode or two of The Stand miniseries.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Everything comes from him; 
Everything happens through him; 
Everything ends up in him. 
Always glory! 
Always praise! 
Yes. Yes. Yes. 
(Romans 11:36 MSG)

“But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also. If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also. Give to anyone who asks; and when things are taken away from you, don’t try to get them back. Do to others as you would like them to do to you.”
(Luke 6:27-31 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the rain received last night, and that we had no damage from the storms
2. for the "golden rule"
3. that our Father delights in us, and surrounds us with His shield
4. that God gives me songs to glorify Him in thanksgiving
5. for the hope and ability to love extravagantly

Today’s prayer word is “favor.” That’s a dangerous word, there, and I feel it is misused by many. But let’s see the referenced Scripture verse.

Surely, LORD, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield.
(Psalms 5:12 NIV)

This is also a word that is dependent upon a particular translation of the Bible. NIV has “favor,” ESV has “favor,” and KJV also has “favour.” But the NLT says this:

For you bless the godly, O LORD; you surround them with your shield of love.
(Psalms 5:12 NLT)

And here is The Message:

You are famous, GOD, for welcoming God-seekers, for decking us out in delight.
(Psalms 5:12 MSG)

Interestingly, when I look at “KJV+” in my Bible app, it shows that the Hebrew word translated as “favor” in most translations can also mean “delight.” Well-played, Mr. Peterson.

My problem with the word “favor” is that, to many people, it indicates “special treatment.” Even the writer of the reading, the ubiquitous “Bob,” says, “Even so, I beg for Him to single me out and toss me a rose, so to speak.” (You would have to read the rest of the reading for that rose bit to make sense.)

I’m not comfortable with that. I’m not comfortable asking God to single me out. It’s like asking Him to help me “win.” Of course, I want to win. Who doesn’t? But the Christian life isn’t about “winning.” It’s about sacrifice and giving.

Side note: Part of my dislike of the concept of the word has to do with one particular person who, when asked a simple greeting question that we all usually ask one another, “How are you?”, would respond with, “Blessed and highly favored.” Ugh.

So when I think of the word “favor,” or “delight,” I see God delighting in all of His people! In the NIV, it is the “righteous” who are surrounded by God’s favor, or decked out in delight, as The Message says. “The righteous” is a group of people. It is all of the followers of Jesus.

I will, occasionally, pray for favor, but not so much for myself. I might pray for someone to find favor when going for a job interview or something like that. But I prefer to think of this one more in terms of “delight,” as Peterson rendered it. God, our Father, delights in us, in all of us! And, in that way, He shows US favor.

(From Pray a Word a Day)

Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name.
(1 Chronicles 29:13 NIV)

I will praise God’s name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving.
(Psalms 69:30 NIV)

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.
(Psalms 100:4-5 NIV)

My regular readers will note that I have a gratitude list up at the top of the devotional section each day. There are always at least five things, sometimes more. This has been a practice of mine for several years, now, and it launched out of dissatisfaction upon seeing people suddenly get thankful because it was November.

That’s the month in which Thanksgiving occurs in the United States, for my readers who live in other countries. I find it somewhat . . . I don’t know what the word is . . . it’s not “hypocritical,” necessarily. But it chafes me that people who grumble and complain the other eleven months of the year are suddenly all thankful for thirty days.

So I took that and ran with it, and kept it going, and have done it ever since. Every day. It’s not for show; it’s not to appear “religious;” it is not to appear more “favored.” It is to inspire others to be thankful. It is to display an attitude that, even in the toughest of times, I can find something for which to be thankful. Some days, it is hard to come up with five things. Other days, it is hard to keep it to only five. Because frequently I find that I have the same mindset of the composer of Psalm 23. “My cup overflows.”

At some point, a few months ago, I decided to wade into the murky waters of TikTok, and I started publishing a short video of my gratitude, where I read the Scripture passage that is before my gratitude list, along with the points of gratitude. I also post the list on Facebook, as well as a daily post asking, “What can I pray for you today?”

Again, I want to be clear: I am not “tooting my own horn,” here. I am not attempting to look like I’m super-spiritual. I am anything but super-spiritual. I sin; I fall short; I do grumble, much more than I should; I forget about the many blessings that I have in my life (see yesterday’s blog). But in my imperfect state, I want others to see that you don’t have to be perfect; we just have two jobs to do, you know. Love God and love people. You can make that as complicated as you want, but it still boils down to those two jobs. And that’s what I’m trying to do.

In today’s reading, Shawnelle Eliason (one of my favorites) writes this prayer. “Lord, forgive me when grumbling lives where gratitude should. Amen.” I heartily echo that plea.

(From Daily Guideposts 2022)

And to kind of go along with what I said up there about the two jobs, here is this from Eugene Peterson:

“We do not qualify as biblical simply by quoting the Bible.
“We are biblical only when we share life in the wilderness with those who are tempted and fall, when we carry the cross of Jesus, and when we love extravagantly in Jesus’s name.”

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

Father, I thank You for making me grateful. Yes, I am grateful that I am grateful. But it is because You have placed that spirit of gratitude within me. I could never do that by myself. Everything I do, at least anything that is positive and worthwhile, comes from You.

I praise You that we, Your people, are covered by Your delight. Yes, You “favor” us, You delight in us. But let us not get all selfish and self-centered about that delight, because it is not about me, an individual. It is about us, Your people, the saints, the Church, the Body of Christ. As an individual, I have a place to fill in that Body, so I pray for the ability to fill that place. I do not pray to be singled out, to be thrown a “rose,” or to receive special favors. I don’t want that. But I do desire to know that delight that You have for all of us, and I desperately want to pass that delight along to others.

Which brings me to that last bit. Lord, help me to be truly “biblical,” in the sense that I “share life in the wilderness with those who are tempted and fall,” that I can successfully carry the cross of Jesus (which, no doubt, means different things for each of us), and that I can “love extravagantly in Jesus’s name.” That last one, to me, is the most important and the most desirable.

Help me, O my Father, to love extravagantly.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

"Love one another;
This is how they know you're Mine;
Love one another."
(Inspired by John 13:34-35)

Grace and peace, friends.

Larry Norman can be heard on this song.