Your Will Be Done

Good morning. Today is Thursday, the twenty-fourth of February (did I almost just type “July??”), 2022, in the seventh week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ rain down on you today.

Day 23,359

Well, there is no snow on the ground, this morning. At least, not yet. It is cold, currently 22 degrees outside. And there is a very fine sort of mist in the air, so there is moisture out there. I could feel it, but couldn’t see it. Why was I out there, you ask? I was mailing a confirmation form for S, to the SSA office in Austin. We have a doctor appointment on March 22, for an evaluation in their ongoing effort to determine if she is still eligible for disability benefits.

We received word, last night, that the library will be closed today. I got text messages from both my manager and the circulation manager.

I know that I indicated at the end of yesterday’s blog that we had heat by that time. I’ll give a little more detail, here. We have to get a new circuit board for our heating unit. The tech indicated that he thought the blower motor might be going out in the near future. It might last another five years, or it might not last the rest of this year. One of those scenarios. He also kind of suggested that we might be better off replacing everything. Outside unit, inside unit, the whole shebang. We’re talking seven to eight grand to do that.

Now, let me say that I do not think this was a money-grabbing effort. From previous experience with this company and family, I trust them, highly. There was no pressure at all, just a suggestion. At this time, though, we are only going to replace the circuit. However, we are aware that 1) the heating system in the attic is as old as the house, almost 23 years old; 2) the outside A/C unit is at least fifteen, possibly seventeen, years old. So there’s that. We’ll be spending just over seven hundred for the new circuit board. But that includes yesterday’s visit, the parts and the labor for installation. He is supposed to come Saturday to replace that.

In the meantime, he has hardwired the system, bypassing the board, so that the heater will work. The blower is on, non-stop, because of that, but that’s not that big a deal.

C is working from home, today. She came home early, yesterday, which was good. I was nervous, the whole time she was on the road, and was quite relieved when she walked in the front door. The roads were mostly dry, but there were isolated spots where the early morning sleet had accumulated, one being a small bridge between our house and the next major intersection.

So we are all safe and warm, this morning. Unless, of course, the madman in charge of Russia, right now, decides to nuke us all.

I have no agenda for today, other than finishing this blog and writing a book review blog. Oh . . . I just remembered . . . I’m supposed to start soup for dinner. Be right back.

Thanks for waiting.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Gratitude Is the Way, by Daryl Madden

Gratitude is the way
That the heart remembers
Thoughts of kindnesses
Loving, glowing embers

Everyday blessings
Cherished interactions
Gifts of surprise
Acts of compassion

We honor and acknowledge
By remembering
Of the many ways
The ripples these acts bring

Through the soul of others
Of sacrifices giving
Of how we have been shaped
By both the dead and living

This poem was inspired by the following quote from “the world’s leading scientific expert on gratitude,” Robert Emmons. “Gratitude is the way the heart remembers––remembers kindnesses, cherished interactions with others, compassionate actions of strangers, surprise gifts, and everyday blessings. By remembering we honor and acknowledge the many ways in which who and what we are has been shaped by others, both living and dead.” As you know, gratitude is something that I have stressed and tried to live for a number of years, now. Every day, I share at least five things for which I am grateful. This is not to appear “super-spiritual.” It is, hopefully, to inspire gratitude in others, because, “Gratitude Is the Way.”

Please take a look at more of Daryl’s poetry at the link provided.

But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 
(Matthew 5:44-45 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for all the saints who try their best to live by this scripture passage
2. for the ultimate will of God in all things that happen in our world
3. for the good things that happen when we sing
4. that, just like the wind, though we cannot see God, we can see the effects and results of His working
5. for the freedom I experience in Christ; freedom from sin, freedom to love unconditionally

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

Today, in Spiritual Classics, by Richard J. Foster and Emilie Griffin, I’m continuing to look at the “prayer of prayers,” as examined by early twentieth-century mystic, Simone Weil. The phrase today is “Your will be done.” I have believed, for many years, now, that this is the safest prayer to pray.

“Your will be done.” It is the one prayer that we can pray that is sure to be answered 100%.

Simone Weil makes some bold statements about this phrase. “We are only absolutely, infallibly certain of the will of God concerning the past.” I agree with this. As fallible, faulty, sinful humans, we cannot be certain of what God’s will is, going forward. Even regarding our interpretations of Scripture, we cannot be. We fancy ourselves wise, and think we have some things figured out, but we don’t really. Every opinion we have, concerning the future will of God, is based on prejudicial presuppositions. Therefore, we can only be 100% certain of the will of God, looking backward.

Everything that has happened, looking backward, can be said to have been the will of God. This is really tough for us to agree with, because some terrible things have happened in the history of the world. But hear this: if we cannot say that this is true, then God is not fully in control of our world, and our faith in Him is useless.

When we pray “Your will be done,” we are asking for what already is. And we are asking, not for internal realities, such as holiness, and so forth, but for what will happen “in the time order. Nevertheless we are asking for the infallible and eternal conformity of everything in time with the will of God. . . . We have to desire that everything that has happened should have happened, and nothing else. We have to do so, not because what has happened is good in our eyes, but because God has permitted it, and because the obedience of the course of events to God is in itself an absolute good.”

Any objection to the above comes out of ignorance. And trust me, I have been plenty ignorant, over time. This ignorance is necessary, because we are not God. Therefore, all of us, every single one of us, is ignorant when it comes to completely understanding the ways of God in this world. Because we are not Him.

We will still pray for things according to our own desires and incomplete knowledge. This is inevitable. But we couch these prayers in the caveat of “Your will be done.” And remember . . . Jesus did the same thing in the Garden of Gethsemane. And also remember . . . the cross of Christ, where God, Himself, incarnate died for us, the most horrible event that has ever happened in history (in human eyes), was the will of God.

“When men and women get their hands on religion, one of the first things they often do is turn it into an instrument for controlling others, either putting or keeping them ‘in their place.’ The history of such religious manipulation and coercion is long and tedious. It is little wonder that people who have only known religion on such terms experience release or escape from it as freedom. The problem is that the freedom turns out to be short-lived.” ~ Eugene H. Peterson, in Symphony of Salvation, “Free from Within,” the chapter on Galatians

I will be glad and exult in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.
(Psalms 9:2 ESV)

My lips will shout for joy, when I sing praises to you; my soul also, which you have redeemed.
(Psalms 71:23 ESV)

About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened.
(Acts 16:25-26 ESV)

Great things happen when we sing.

Today’s prayer word is “wind.” Wind is an interesting thing. You can’t see it. It is invisible, because it is nothing more than moving air, and you can’t see air.

Christina Rossetti, nineteenth century English writer, is quoted as saying, “Who has seen the wind? Neither you nor I but when the trees bow down their heads, the wind is passing by.”

There is also a quote by Billy Graham that has been used in many places. “I’ve never seen the wind. I’ve seen the effects of the wind.”

Wind can be gentle and comforting, a gentle breeze on a beautiful fall or spring day. Or, it can look like this:

I remember that day. God is a lot like the wind. In fact, the Holy Spirit is described multiple times in the Bible, as wind. But we cannot see God, can we? We can see the evidence and effect of God, but we cannot see God. And, in addition, God can be gentle and comforting, or He can be awesome and destructive, as has been proved many times in Scripture.

The writer of today’s reading, identified only as “Barbranda,” says, “The Almighty One reminds me of the ever-moving wind: I can’t see Him, but I know He’s there.”

Incidentally, wind is needed to fly, which was yesterday’s prayer word.

Father, I believe in You, as You know, even though I cannot see You. I am grateful for the many ways that I can see evidence of Your work, in my life, and in this world. I am grateful for the times when Your presence comes in like a gentle breeze, as well as for the times when You rush in like a hurricane. I trust You and Your will implicitly, believing that You will, as Your Word promises, work out all things for our good. This helps me look back on world events that humans see as horrific and trust that, somehow, in the grand scheme of things, they were included in Your ultimate will. I will never claim to understand the workings of these things, though, because I am not You, and Your ways are infinitely higher than mine.

God, wonderful things happen when we sing. Paul and Silas were released from prison, because the earth shook. Other wonderful things happen. Over and over, the Bible depicts Your people singing Your praises after You acted in marvelous ways for them. I pray for more opportunities to sing. I pray for future opportunities for Your people to gather and sing Your praise together and pray together, because great things happen we the saints gather and pray and sing.

I pray for our world right now. Scary things are happening, Lord, so I pray for protection for Your people. I pray for Your hand on the events surrounding Ukraine, right now. I pray for peace. I pray for leaders to have wisdom and mercy. And I pray, “Your will be done.”

All glory to You, through the Son and by the Spirit.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.

Ascension Day

Today is Thursday (pre-Friday), the thirteenth of May, 2021, in the sixth week of Easter.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,072

Today, the Church recognizes Ascension Day, the day Jesus ascended into heaven, in the presence of His disciples.

Seven days until our Glen Rose trip!

Today is “Friday” for me, because I’m taking PTO tomorrow. It’s the one-year anniversary of S’s cat, Honey, passing away, and I just thought I would take the day off to be around for her.

We have hot water! C found someone that could come fix it yesterday evening, and they had it fixed and were gone before I got home from work. So I had a hot shower before going to bed, last night. And there’s a little less anxiety in my life, this morning. Actually, the hot water heater problem wasn’t causing that much anxiety. But I won’t deny that there was a little bit, and now that is resolved.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

"I cannot produce joy.
I cannot produce peace.
I cannot produce love.

This doesn't mean I have no hope --
just no hope in myself.
Transferring the hope to our Lord --
these are gifts from our Father.

I can turn to God.
I can place my requests at Jesus' feet.
I can submit my will.
I can acknowledge and be grateful for these gifts.

And I can share
his joy,
his peace,
his love,
and his hope."
(Daryl Madden, On a Bench of Wood: Reflections of God's Grace)

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.
(Psalms 118:1 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

  • for joy, peace, love, and hope, all of which I get from You
  • for Your faithful love that endures forever, even (and especially) when I turn my face away from You and toward my problems
  • for singing and music
  • for the ascension of Jesus Christ
  • for the coming of the Holy Spirit

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

EASTER – DAY 40

INVITATION

God has ascended amid shouts of joy, the LORD amid the sounding of trumpets.
Sing praises to God, sing praises; sing praises to our King, sing praises.
For God is the King of all the earth; sing to him a psalm of praise.
(Psalms 47:5-7 NIV)

I pause, briefly, in this quiet moment, to reflect on joy, peace, love, and hope.

BIBLE SONG

May the glory of the LORD endure forever; may the LORD rejoice in his works— he who looks at the earth, and it trembles, who touches the mountains, and they smoke. I will sing to the LORD all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live. May my meditation be pleasing to him, as I rejoice in the LORD. But may sinners vanish from the earth and the wicked be no more. Praise the LORD, my soul. Praise the LORD.
(Psalms 104:31-35 NIV)

BIBLE READING

After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”
He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.
They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”
(Acts 1:3-11 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I remind myself that I am in the presence of God, I read these passages slowly, lingering on words and phrases phrases that catch my attention. I pray these, along with other things in my life, back to God.

Do I believe that the Lord still rejoices in His works? Why wouldn’t He? I mean, sure His major work, us, has truly fouled things up in this world. But there is still a lot of beauty to behold, and still a lot of good, even in the midst of mankind, the primary “fouler-upper.”

My job, here, is to sing. To sing to the Lord all my life, to sing praises to Him as long as I live. I’ve been working on that a little bit more, lately, as I am fully persuaded that these psalms and Scriptures are not coming into my days by accident. The Holy Spirit is inviting me to sing! So I’m trying to sing more. Hopefully, perhaps I will “sing a new song,” eventually.

I’m also working on the meditation piece a little more, too, hoping that my meditations will be pleasing to Him, as the Psalms consistently hope. This morning meditation is a good start, and I fall asleep meditating on His Word, at night. But there are quite a few hours between those two events, and, truthfully, meditation is lost during a lot of that.

As mentioned yesterday, and above, today is Ascension Day, in the Church. Growing up Southern Baptist, I never even heard of this until I was an “adult,” if that’s what you want to call someone in college. In latter years, I have grown to embrace the various portions of the Church calendar, finding great joy and fulfillment in recognizing some of the special days, especially some of the more-neglected ones, like today.

Why is Ascension Day important? For one thing, had Jesus not Ascended, the Holy Spirit would not have come down. He had to go up so the Spirit could come down. Why? Heck if I know. I’m not God. I just know that this is what Scripture seems to indicate.

So Jesus reigns on high, from what I understand, still in bodily form, maybe even with holes in his hands and side. He sits “at the right hand of the Father,” waiting for that time when He will be sent back to collect His brothers and sisters and take them to the mansions that He is preparing for us.

In the meantime, the Holy Spirit is here, dwelling within each of us, empowering and enabling us to do the ministry that He has given to each of us, according to Ephesians 2:10. What does Acts 1:8 say? We will receive POWER! “Power, power, wonder-working power.” And that’s exactly what those first disciples did in the days and years following that great Pentecost in the second chapter of Acts.

Is it possible for us to do some of those same powerful works? I would like to think it is, and I ponder why we seem unable to do so.

Father, as I walk through this day, may my meditations be pleasing to You. May I sing, from the depths of my soul, let me sing! Let me sing; make me sing; sing for all the days of the rest of my life, however long that may be. And, should it be Your will, give me a new song to sing! And then, Father, empower us! May Your Holy Spirit have His way with and in us! Today and every day, show us Your power anew. Show us Your mighty works; perhaps we have become too complacent and too comfortable in things. Dare I ask for You to shake us up a little?

Most High God,
like the disciples,
I'm left staring at the sky,
mouth wide open in wonder to think that someone like me--
a real human being--
now sits at your right hand,
in glory.
In his physical absence,
comfort me with the knowledge that Jesus has ascended for my good,
governing all things from the heavenly throne.
Amen.
(Heidelberg Catechism 46)

BLESSING

Go and make disciples of all nations. . . . And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
(Matthew 28:19-20 NIV)

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
(Psalms 147:3 NIV)

The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. The righteous person may have many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all;
(Psalms 34:17-19 NIV)

Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words.
(1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 NIV)

Lord, I pray for those who are grieving, today, both for recent loss, and for loss from either the recent or distant past. Everyone has experienced loss of some kind. May You bind the wounds of the brokenhearted today, and ease their grieving hearts. Help us all to grieve in a healthy way, promoting healing to our hearts. May we not stifle our emotions, but embrace them and walk in them, lifting them all up to You in the process.

Lord, I pray, today, for a deeper grasp and understanding of the Gospel. May it permeate every inch of my being, today, and every day. May my experience as an adopted son of Yours be full, today; may I realize every benefit of being Your son. Make my prayer life more passionate, Father, as I pray for people daily. May my love for those for whom I pray be limitless.

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

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Let 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.

Amen.
(St. Teresa of Avila)

Grace and peace, friends!

The Lord Reigns

Today is Thursday (pre-Friday), the sixth of May, 2021, in the fifth week of Easter.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,065

Three days until Mother’s Day. We’ve got cards and gifts.

I have neglected (fancy for “forgotten”) to mention that May is a bit of a special month in my family. It has two somewhat easy to remember birthdays. My grandmother’s (maternal) birthday was May 1. My grandmama’s (paternal) birthday was may 31. In addition, my parents’ wedding anniversary is May 25.

So May is one of those “mixed blessing” months. Good memories, but bittersweet to think about, as all of my grandparents, as well as my father, have passed on to their eternal home.

Not jealous at all. Nope.

Speaking of singing . . . oh, wait, I wasn’t, was I? But I was, yesterday. So go back and read yesterday’s, if you haven’t.

For once, I followed my own advice. I sang. Quite a bit. Not loudly, mind you, and a good bit “under my breath,” as they say. But I sang. Mostly, I sang “What A Beautiful Name.” A James Taylor song might have wormed its way in there, too.

I want to let you know that it made a difference in my day. A huge difference. I skated through yesterday with a great attitude. I don’t even remember getting annoyed at anyone. Not much, anyway. I figure it was mostly the Jesus song that helped, but who knows? Just the act of singing helps. So I’m going to try that again today.

But first I have to get through the morning devotion, and as usual, I’m already behind. So roll on . . .

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

In the turmoil of the sea, I find safety on my rock.
In the winds of the storm, I find shelter by my rock.
In the heat of the fire, I climb upon my rock.
In the threat of the enemy, I hide under my rock.
In the dark of the night, I find comfort in my rock.

I cling to my rock.
Letting go, I realize my rock is clinging to me.
And having persevered, I am able to share my rock.
(Daryl Madden, in On a Bench of Wood: Reflections of God's Grace)

It is good to praise the LORD and make music to your name, O Most High,
proclaiming your love in the morning and your faithfulness at night,
to the music of the ten-stringed lyre and the melody of the harp.
(Psalms 92:1-3 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

  • for my Twisted Pine Mocha Mint coffee; it tastes especially good, this morning
  • for my Rock, upon which I find safety, shelter, protection, and comfort
  • for singing
  • that You reign
  • that there are blessings and harvests that I have yet to realize, and I will thank You and celebrate those before they appear

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

EASTER – DAY 33

INVITATION

Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. . . . The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.
(Psalms 126:2-3 NIV)

I pause briefly to contemplate the joy that filled my soul, yesterday, and encourage the same behavior today.

BIBLE SONG

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

Let those who love the LORD hate evil,
for he guards the lives of his faithful ones
and delivers them from the hand of the wicked.
Light shines on the righteous
and joy on the upright in heart.
Rejoice in the LORD, you who are righteous,
and praise his holy name.
(Psalms 97:10-12 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
(Matthew 28:16-20 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I linger over these passages, this morning, I strive to enjoy the presence of God. Sometimes, this means simply sitting for a moment, doing nothing else but acknowledging His presence. Breathing slowly. Centering myself on Him. Allowing the Holy Spirit to dwell and point my thoughts in the right direction.

“The LORD reigns, let the earth be glad; let the distant shores rejoice.”

This hearkens back to yesterday morning, as I envisioned the trees and fields rejoicing, yesterday, on my drive to work. I really did that. I plan to try that again, this morning.

I truly believe that God reigns. I believe that all creation sings over this truth, and rejoices in it. I wish that I could hear it. I would believe it would be the most “beautiful noise” I have ever heard in my life.

One thing I am looking forward to, in my longing for Home, is that scene in Revelation 7:

After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying: “Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!”
(Revelation 7:9-12 NIV)

I know it says that they “cried out.” But is it too much of a stretch to think that they are singing? In fact, in the NLT, Revelation 5:12 does use the word “sang.”

And they sang in a mighty chorus: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slaughtered—to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing.”
(Revelation 5:12 NLT)

I am fully persuaded that it will sound even better than this, and this gives me the biggest chill bumps ever. Go ahead . . . take ten minutes to listen to this. You won’t be disappointed.

This is a far as I’m getting, this morning. I realize there is much more Scripture to look at, but I am stuck on singing and the Lord reigning. So sing I will, celebrating the reign of our Lord and Father, and our Savior Jesus Christ, and the power of the Holy Spirit.

Holy Trinity, One and Three at the same time. More love between the three in one than any one of us has ever experienced in our lives. May He share that love in us today!

Father, praises be to Your Name, this morning. I will sing more. I will sing now, and I will sing again. I will celebrate Your reign; Your blessing and honor, glory and power be unto You, for ever and ever. Amen!

Lord, give me more of a yearning to know You and help me seek Your face more consistently, each day. May I and all around me know the joy of Your great salvation, today! I pray for any of my friends and family who have not yet found faith in You. May I be a channel of blessing in their lives today.

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

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
(1 John 4:18 NIV)

Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.
(Mark 11:24 NIV)

One quick thing before I go. Jonathan Cahn, in The Book of Mysteries, reminds us that we should celebrate our blessings before they come. So, remember that today. As you sing about the Lord reigning, consider the blessings that have yet to appear, the harvests that you have not realized, yet, and give thanks for them.

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!

Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.
(Jude 1:21 NIV)

Grace and peace, friends.

All Creation Sings

Today is Wednesday, the fifth of May, 2021, in the fifth week of Easter.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,064

Four days until Mother’s Day!

As previously mentioned, we will be spending the Mother’s Day weekend helping my mother do some things around her house. There are boxes that need to be pulled down from shelves in closets, and other assorted things like that, so we will be spending Saturday and Sunday at her house. It will be a good time. I think R & J may show up Saturday.

C is working from home today. No particular reason, that I know of. Just because she can. 🙂

That’s about all I’ve got, this morning, so on to the devotional.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

I Have Chosen You, by Daryl Madden

Stop all the seeking
And list of things to do
Pause now with a prayer
To hear this message true

I Am here knocking
Nothing to pursue
You did not choose me
But I have chosen you

Know this in your soul
Wisdom to believe
Open up the door
A blessing to receive

With heart of gratitude
This treasure to embrace
A joyful revelation
The primacy of grace

We thank you, O God! We give thanks because you are near. People everywhere tell of your wonderful deeds.
(Psalms 75:1 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

  • for Your nearness to me, this morning
  • for Your wonderful deeds, which we proclaim, daily
  • for joy, the pervasive sense of well-being, which circumstances cannot shatter
  • for Your splendor and majesty, strength and glory; may we do better at acknowledging these
  • that all creation sings

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

EASTER – DAY 32

INVITATION

Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. . . . The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.
(Psalms 126:2-3 NIV)

I pause, briefly and quietly, to reflect on those “great things” and “wonderful deeds” which the Lord has done.

BIBLE SONG

Sing to the LORD a new song;
sing to the LORD, all the earth.
Sing to the LORD, praise his name;
proclaim his salvation day after day.
Declare his glory among the nations,
his marvelous deeds among all peoples.

For great is the LORD and most worthy of praise;
he is to be feared above all gods.
For all the gods of the nations are idols,
but the LORD made the heavens.
Splendor and majesty are before him;
strength and glory are in his sanctuary.
(Psalms 96:1-6 NIV)

Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad;
let the sea resound, and all that is in it.
Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them;
let all the trees of the forest sing for joy.
Let all creation rejoice before the LORD, for he comes,
he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness
and the peoples in his faithfulness.
(Psalms 96:11-13 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.
As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For in Scripture it says:
“See, I lay a stone in Zion,
a chosen and precious cornerstone,
and the one who trusts in him
will never be put to shame.”
Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe,
“The stone the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone,”
and,
“A stone that causes people to stumble
and a rock that makes them fall.”
They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for.
(1 Peter 2:2-8 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I remind myself that I am in God’s presence, this morning, I linger over these passages, allowing the Holy Spirit (hopefully) to direct my thoughts and meditations.

I am initially drawn to the thought that I don’t sing enough. That word, “sing,” is repeated three times in the first two verses. I’ve always been taught that when something is repeated in Scripture, that means it is really important. If it is repeated three times, that intensifies the importance.

Peter denied Christ three times. Three times, Jesus asked Peter “Do you love me?” There were three crucifixions the day Jesus died. I’m not sure of the significance of this, but it just came to my mind. He was in the grave three days and three nights.

“Three is a magic number,” Schoolhouse Rock told us.

But I digress . . . Here, the unnamed psalmist tells us to sing, three times. I’m not singing enough. Oddly enough, I can feel it in my voice, when I do sing. It gets tired more quickly than it used to, because it is out of practice.

Lord, help me fix this.

I am also drawn to the idea of “splendor and majesty” being before Him; “strength and glory” in His sanctuary.

I believe that modern Christianity has lost this sense of the splendor and majesty of God. We treat Him like our friendly grandfather who always gives us gifts. Yes, God is friendly; true, He is ancient, like our grandfathers; and it is also true that He gives us gifts.

But He is majestic and owns splendor; His “sanctuary” is filled with strength and glory and honor. If He is a grandfather, He is a grandfather before which we should humbly bow and worship.

Because, look at the last few verses in the psalm.

Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad;
let the sea resound, and all that is in it.
Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them;
let all the trees of the forest sing for joy.
Let all creation rejoice before the LORD, for he comes,
he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness
and the peoples in his faithfulness.
(Psalms 96:11-13 NIV)

I’m going to try something, this morning. As I drive to work, I’m going to try to consider and picture the heavens rejoicing, the earth being glad. I don’t have any sea around me, but there are a couple of large ponds that I drive by. I’m going to consider that they are resounding with the praise of God, and any creatures that might be around them. I’m going to imagine the fields being jubilant and the trees singing for joy.

All creation sings.

So should we.

Father, help me to sing more. Help us to sing more. Not just because it makes us feel good, which it does. But because the forests and seas do it; because the fields and creatures do it. And if we don’t, the rocks will. Help me to sing a new song to You, every day. Teach us to worship You again, in Your splendor and majesty, in Your strength and glory. You are good, and benevolent, but You are also powerful and majestic, and a bit scary, if we are looking at You correctly. Help us to see You as You truly are, not as we wish You were, or as some weak theology has told us. Teach us Yourself, Lord! Show us Your mighty face; Your beautiful, terrible face!

“You are beautiful; a terrible, terrible sight,” said Terry Scott Taylor I believe he nailed it.

Most High God,
you take ordinary people and anoint them into service in your temple.
May I be a living stone in your church today,
so that my every word and thought and action may be a sacrifice of praise to you.
Amen.
(Heidelberg Catechism 32)

BLESSING

Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.
(Jude 1:21 NIV)

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.
(Ephesians 6:18 NIV)

Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
(James 5:14-16 NIV)

Father, this might come as a surprise to some who know me, but I need You to teach me to pray better. My prayers need to be more consistent; more focused. Help me to pray throughout the day, especially when I least feel like it. When the troubles of the day come pouring in, and they will, minutes after I arrive at work, may Your Holy Spirit direct me to prayer, rather than frustration. And help me pray “all kinds of prayers,” as the above Scripture says. Calming and centering prayers, intercessory prayers, prayers of supplication and thanksgiving; and prayers of petition. Teach me to pray!

Lord, I lift up our communities, both locally and national. May Your presence be felt in them; may Your safety and protection be upon them. I pray for the continent of Europe, today. May it be filled with Your blessing, and may they see You as You are. I also lift up all who might be trapped in the industry of sex work. May You liberate them and bring justice to them.

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!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

He Keeps Me Singing

Today is Friday, May 8, 2020, in the fourth week of Easter. Peace be with you!

Day 22,702

Two days until Mother’s Day!

It looks like the world will hit four million confirmed cases of COVID-19, over the weekend. I haven’t heard any news on what kid of effect this is having on third-world countries. Perhaps that is because we simply have no way of knowing. As we pray for the world, we should not forgot about countries that don’t have the medical advances and technology that we have in the US.

It’s Friday, and we’re getting lunch provided by the company again. This week, I chose a pepper-jack chicken sandwich. I don’t know how many points it’s going to be, yet, because I’m not sure where it’s coming from. I also don’t know what kind of bread will come with it. I may choose to skip the bread and just eat the protein and veggies. We’ll see.

We had a thunderstorm around midnight, last night. It was early. It wasn’t supposed to be here until around 3:00 AM. It didn’t sound too severe, though. I only heard thunder and saw lightening. I didn’t hear any hail or terrible winds. Hopefully, there was rain.

I don’t know much else, so on to the devotional.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Bless our God, O peoples; let the sound of his praise be heard, who has kept our soul among the living and has not let our feet slip.
(Psalms 66:8-9 ESV)

Today I am grateful:
1. That You have kept my soul among the living.
2. For the shadow of Your wings (Psalm 17.7).
3. That You have shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of Your glory in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 4.6).
4. That You keep me singing.
5. That You have dealt bountifully with me (Psalm 13).

Wondrously show your steadfast love, O Savior of those who seek refuge from their adversaries at your right hand. Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings,
(Psalms 17:7-8 ESV)

Save us, we pray, O LORD! O LORD, we pray, give us success! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD! We bless you from the house of the LORD.
(Psalms 118:25-26 ESV)

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
(2 Corinthians 4:6 ESV)

“But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.
“Woe to you who are full now, for you shall be hungry.
“Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.”

(Luke 6:24-25 ESV)

Blessed be the LORD, my rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle; he is my steadfast love and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield and he in whom I take refuge, who subdues peoples under me. O LORD, what is man that you regard him, or the son of man that you think of him? Man is like a breath; his days are like a passing shadow. Bow your heavens, O LORD, and come down! Touch the mountains so that they smoke! Flash forth the lightning and scatter them; send out your arrows and rout them! Stretch out your hand from on high; rescue me and deliver me from the many waters.
(Psalms 144:1-7 ESV)

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

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

“Almighty Father who gave your only Son to die for our sins and to rise for our justification: Give me grace so to put away the leaven of malice and wickedness, that I may always serve you in pureness of living and truth; through Jesus Christ your Son my Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.”
(The Divine Hours, The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

“Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought me in safety to this new day: Preserve me with your mighty power, that I may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all I do direct me to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen.”
(The Divine Hours, The Concluding Prayer of the Church)

Sing GOD a brand-new song! Earth and everyone in it, sing! Sing to GOD—worship GOD! Shout the news of his victory from sea to sea, Take the news of his glory to the lost, News of his wonders to one and all! For GOD is great, and worth a thousand Hallelujahs. His terrible beauty makes the gods look cheap; Pagan gods are mere tatters and rags. GOD made the heavens— Royal splendor radiates from him, A powerful beauty sets him apart. Bravo, GOD, Bravo! Everyone join in the great shout: Encore! In awe before the beauty, in awe before the might. Bring gifts and celebrate, Bow before the beauty of GOD, Then to your knees—everyone worship! Get out the message—GOD Rules! He put the world on a firm foundation; He treats everyone fair and square. Let’s hear it from Sky, With Earth joining in, And a huge round of applause from Sea. Let Wilderness turn cartwheels, Animals, come dance, Put every tree of the forest in the choir— An extravaganza before GOD as he comes, As he comes to set everything right on earth, Set everything right, treat everyone fair.
(Psalms 96:1-13 MSG)

To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.
How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me? Consider and answer me, O LORD my God; light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death, lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,” lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken. But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the LORD, because he has dealt bountifully with me.

(Psalms 13:1-6 ESV)

In Psalm 13, David feels forsaken at the beginning. “How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?” But, as is so often the case, by the end of this short psalm, David is singing. Why? Because God has been good to him. In spite of his feelings at the beginning of the psalm, David remembers that God has “dealt bountifully” with him.

Psalm 96 is all about singing. All about praise. I love how The Message says, “Bravo, God, Bravo!” When’s the last time you looked at a beautiful sunrise or sunset and shouted, “Bravo, God, Bravo!”

We are going through great troubles in this world, right now. And whether the scope of the pandemic is manufactured or not (I am not expressing an opinion here), the world is intensely troubled. The best medicine for trouble is singing. So sing today. Find something and sing.

I was reminded of an old hymn that I have not thought of in years. I tried to find a good You Tube version to post, but couldn’t find one that I liked, so I’ll just post the lyrics. For those of you who know hymnody, you know that the lyrics are the actual “hymn.” Here is the hymn, “He Keeps Me Singing,” by Luther B. Bridges, in 1910.

There’s within my heart a melody
Jesus whispers sweet and low,
Fear not, I am with thee, peace, be still,
In all of life’s ebb and flow.

Refrain:
Jesus, Jesus, Jesus,
Sweetest Name I know,
Fills my every longing,
Keeps me singing as I go.

All my life was wrecked by sin and strife,
Discord filled my heart with pain,
Jesus swept across the broken strings,
Stirred the slumb’ring chords again.

Feasting on the riches of His grace,
Resting ’neath His shelt’ring wing,
Always looking on His smiling face,
That is why I shout and sing.

Though sometimes He leads through waters deep,
Trials fall across the way,
Though sometimes the path seems rough and steep,
See His footprints all the way.

Soon He’s coming back to welcome me,
Far beyond the starry sky;
I shall wing my flight to worlds unknown,
I shall reign with Him on high.

Thank You, Father, for keeping me singing for all these years. Whenever I feel discouraged, remind me to sing. Whenever I feel doubtful, remind me to sing. Remind me about those sparrows and flowers that Jesus spoke of in Matthew, and how much more valuable I am then they. Remind me to sing! Bravo, God, Bravo!
Lord, please shorten these days. Protect our families; protect our church families; protect our nation, and protect our world. We pray for this disease to end. And may we be quick to learn a valuable lesson from these days. Much of what we thought we needed, we truly don’t need. Teach us to SING!
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

Grace and peace, friends.