Today is Tuesday, the twenty-fifth of May, 2021, in the first week of Ordinary Time.
Peace be with you!
Six days until Memorial Day
Today is also the 64th anniversary of the wedding of my parents. My father, of course, has not been with us for six years, now. And while his passing is beginning to feel like a more distant memory, it doesn’t mean he is missed any less. I would ask those of you who pray to say a prayer for my mother on this day.
Yesterday was certainly a mixed bag. I feel, in some ways, that I failed in carrying on what was accomplished over our “retreat” weekend. How quickly the anxiety of work flooded back in. By mid-day, I felt quite down, but by the end of the day I was feeling better, more level. Some days (most days) it’s like an emotional/psychological roller-coaster. Hopefully, today, I can keep it more level.
TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
Let nothing disturb you,
let nothing frighten you,
all things will pass away.
God never changes;
patience obtains all things,
whoever has God lacks nothing.
God alone suffices.
(St. Teresa of Avila)
This, of course, is what I need to remember when anxiety begins to flood into my spirit.
I will praise you, LORD, with all my heart; I will tell of all the marvelous things you have done.
(Psalms 9:1 NLT)
Today I am grateful:
1. for another day of living, to celebrate life and know Your presence, in spite of circumstances 2. for the wonderful life that my mother and father had together 3. for the wonderful life that C and I have together 4. for the color blue 5. for the admonition/encouragement to stop . . . slow down . . . meditate . . . to be still and know that You are God
Scriptures and Prayers from Seeking God’s Face: Praying with the Bible through the Year
ORDINARY TIME – DAY 2
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.
(Ezekiel 36:26-27 NIV)
I pause for a moment to reflect on life, along with all the benefits that our Father has provided, in His grace. Life is good because God is good.
What shall I return to the LORD for all his goodness to me?
I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the LORD.
I will fulfill my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people.
Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his faithful servants.
Truly I am your servant, LORD; I serve you just as my mother did; you have freed me from my chains.
I will sacrifice a thank offering to you and call on the name of the LORD.
I will fulfill my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people,
in the courts of the house of the LORD— in your midst, Jerusalem.
Praise the LORD.
(Psalms 116:12-19 NIV)
One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon. Now a man who was lame from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them.
Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. He jumped to his feet and began to walk.
(Acts 3:1-8 NIV)
DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION
As I linger over these passages, this morning, I invited the Holy Spirit to dwell within me, and to cause these words to dwell in my spirit, teaching me more about my life in Jesus Christ.
The question at the beginning of the Psalm passage is, in my opinion, rhetorical. There is nothing that I can “return to the LORD for all his goodness to me!” Nor does He, I believe, expect me to.
I do not believe that God gives us gifts so that we will appreciate Him more, or so that we will bless with Him with thanksgiving and praise. I believe God gives us gifts because He loves us! Because He IS love!
That being said, I still choose to thank Him and praise Him, and sometimes, it is because of those gifts. Other times, it is simply because He is. Sometimes, as in this past weekend retreat, I feel such a marvelous sense of His presence and love that joy floods my soul, and I cannot help but praise Him and thank Him.
Other times, I confess, it is harder work to do so, because I don’t feel it. Times such as yesterday, during the work day. We are human, and we are not perfect. This is why we have these experiences that are like roller-coasters. But He is patient with us, hallelujah! He knows we are “but dust.”
As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.
(Psalms 103:13-14 NIV)
I also think it is important to note what the psalmist does say in answer to his own question. “I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the LORD.” It seems that the best thing we can do, in response to His goodness, is to depend upon Him; to call on His holy Name.
We can also turn around and channel those gifts and blessings into others, as Peter and John did in the passage from Acts. Gold and silver are not always the best ways to help people.
Father, I praise You for Your goodness to me, and that You do all of these things because You love us. I believe that we, Your people, Your sheep, are precious to You, and that You are constantly looking for ways to bless us. May Your Holy Spirit dwell within us and cause us to lift up the cup of salvation today and call on Your Name! The best thing we can do today is to depend on You for everything, because You are our source of everything. You are my source; You are my destination. You are the Alpha and Omega and every letter in between! All praise and glory to You, Lord.
Giver of every good gift, you never send your people off empty-handed but always outfit them with good things-- your guiding presence in the fiery cloud, the manna that rained down from heaven on the wilderness trek. Thank you for pouring out your Holy Spirit and all his gifts for the journeys you send us on. Make us freely generous with all your gifts to bless the world, the very reason for which you sent us. Amen. (Heidelberg Catechism 51)
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
(Romans 15:13 NIV)
On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.
(Psalms 145:5 ESV)
In his hand are the depths of the earth; the heights of the mountains are his also. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land.
(Psalms 95:4-5 ESV)
Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.
(Isaiah 40:28 ESV)
Sometimes, the message is most adequatly expressed by the words of a song, and many times that song is not even intended to be “religious.” For example, a favorite of mine by Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel, “The 59th Street Bridge Song,” better known, perhaps, as “Feelin’ Groovy.”
Slow down, you move too fast You got to make the morning last Just kicking down the cobblestones Looking for fun and feeling groovy
“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”
(Psalms 46:10 ESV)
Father, thank You for these encouragements to be still and know; to stop and meditate; to simply slow down and know Your truth, which is Jesus Christ, Your Son. Fill me with Your Spirit today, that I might not know the anxiety of yesterday. The tasks of the day will be the same as they were yesterday, along with the incessant demands on my time and work. My reaction is the only thing that I can control, so fill me with Your loving Spirit and let me know Your love and grace and presence as I go through this day.
Lord, I pray that You give us all love and commitment for the communities in which You have placed us, both physical and spiritual. May You equip us to serve “in uniquely Christian ways in the public arena.” And I specifically pray, today, for all who work in education. Most of them are off for the summer, but not all. May You give those who are summer vacation good, healthy rest, and may You give strength to those who continue to work during the summer.
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. Shalom Aleichem!