Refined Like Silver

Today is Saturday, May 23, 2020, in the sixth week of Easter. Peace be with you!

Day 22,717

Memorial Day is the day after tomorrow.

I had a nice day off, yesterday. I was even a little productive. After my morning blog (not to be confused with “morning jog.” I don’t run. If you ever see me running, you should probably run, too.), I cooked brunch for us, then headed to the grocery store, mask in hand. I put it on when I got there. Unlike a few people I see, I do not wear my mask in the car. What’s the point of that?? It’s been a while since I have been to the grocery store, as C usually does that during these work at home weeks. It hadn’t changed much, so I didn’t have much trouble finding things. Except for the things that weren’t there. Weird things. Like asparagus. Why was there no asparagus? There was no frozen cut okra. I had to buy a couple packages of whole okra to be cut up for one of our recipes. There was no Buddig lunch meat (our favorite brand), but I was able to get some similar Kroger brand. I also couldn’t find a “cherry” variety of any of our favorite soft drinks. No Cherry Coke Zero, no Cherry Diet Dr. Pepper. Fortunately, I have about a half box of Cherry Zero left, and a whole box of Cherry Diet D.P. I didn’t look at Pepsi. Ick. Oh, and there was no Sprite Zero at all. But that happens, occasionally, even without pandemics. There also weren’t very many grapes. I think there might have been, like, maybe five bags. I bought two of them.

The toilet paper aisle was full. I bought some anyway. I almost passed it by, but there was this voice in my head (I should probably get that checked out), saying, “Buy some anyway.” There are still signs on the aisle stating that customers are limited to one package. A little too late for that, if you ask me. But you didn’t, so I’ll move on.

I’ll be leading our Scripture portion of the virtual worship gathering tomorrow. I haven’t nailed down the exact Scriptures, yet, but I think I’ll focus on prayer. I have gotten to a point where I believe that prayer might actually be the most important thing we do. For a long time, I thought that worship was the top priority. And the two are so closely connected that it may be impossible to separate them, in terms of importance. But prayer, being intimate communion with God, is vastly underrated in our churches today. For sure, one of the passages will be what is commonly called The Lord’s Prayer, from Matthew 6. No doubt, there will be something from Psalms, as there are quite a few prayers in there. Sorry . . . I seem to be thinking “out loud,” here.

There are no plans that I know of today. We have our WW virtual workshop at 10:30. I guess that’s a plan, isn’t it? Then we will have our traditional Saturday morning “brunch” of eggs and accessories. The rest of the day is wide open. We had thunderstorms, last night, and there is a slight chance for more this afternoon.

Oh! I just remembered a “plan.” Our former pastor’s grandfather turns 91 today! They are planning a “drive-by” birthday parade for him between 6:00 and 7:30 this evening. I’m sure we will participate in that!

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

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

Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually!
(Psalms 105:4 ESV)

Today I am grateful:
1. For the privilege (and responsibility) of prayer
2. For the miracle that You hear our prayers and respond
3. That, when You allow “bad things” to happen to me, You are refining me, like silver (Psalm 66)
4. For the encouragement that comes from our brothers and sisters, in Christ
5. That You have preserved our lives and kept our feet from slipping (also Psalm 66)

Hear, O LORD, when I cry aloud; be gracious to me and answer me! You have said, “Seek my face.” My heart says to you, “Your face, LORD, do I seek.” Hide not your face from me. Turn not your servant away in anger, O you who have been my help. Cast me not off; forsake me not, O God of my salvation!
(Psalms 27:7-9 ESV)

But you, you are to be feared! Who can stand before you when once your anger is roused?
(Psalms 76:7 ESV)

I sought the LORD, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.
(Psalms 34:4 ESV)

Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”
(Luke 24:44-49 ESV)

You will only look with your eyes and see the recompense of the wicked. Because you have made the LORD your dwelling place— the Most High, who is my refuge— no evil shall be allowed to befall you, no plague come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone. You will tread on the lion and the adder; the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot.
(Psalms 91:8-13 ESV)

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

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 and merciful God, in your goodness keep me, I pray, from all things that may hurt me, that I, being ready both in mind and body, may accomplish with a free heart those things which belong to your purpose; through Jesus Christ my Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.”
(The Divine Hours, The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

He turned the sea into dry land, they passed through the waters on foot— come, let us rejoice in him. He rules forever by his power, his eyes watch the nations— let not the rebellious rise up against him. Praise our God, all peoples, let the sound of his praise be heard; he has preserved our lives and kept our feet from slipping. For you, God, tested us; you refined us like silver. You brought us into prison and laid burdens on our backs. You let people ride over our heads; we went through fire and water, but you brought us to a place of abundance.
(Psalms 66:6-12 NIV)

Do you see what the psalmist does, here? He praises God for allowing “bad” things to happen to him and the people of God. “God is seen as present in every one of the sufferings that are listed in these verses.” In the midst of the afflictions, God “preserved our lives and kept our feet from slipping” (verse 9).

But, indeed, “God allows them in order to refine us into something precious, great, and beautiful (verse 10).” What appears to be “rough handling” from God is always grace, no matter how difficult it seems, at the moment.

This is difficult. I know it well. I confess that I have said, verbally, “God has abandoned us.” It was a difficult time, perhaps one of our more difficult times. And, yes, I said that. As soon as the words came out of my mouth, however, I knew in my heart that it was not true. Because God has promised that He will never leave nor forsake us. And God will do what He says He will do.

“Lord God, let me know deep down that when I suffer, even if it breaks your heart to see me so, you have allowed it, in infinite love and wisdom, because it is profitable for me. Amen.”
(From The Songs of Jesus, by Timothy and Kathy Keller)

Yes, Lord, You are always working to refine us and improve us and ready us for our eternal home in Your kingdom. We walk in Your kingdom, now, and joyfully so. But there will be an eternal place for us in the new heaven and new earth, and I am waiting with great anticipation for that day. So do whatever You need to do with me in order to prepare me for that. I will accept whatever comes my way as being part of Your plan for me. Forgive me for times when I think and even say that You have forsaken or abandoned me, because that has never happened!
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 of Your grace!
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Glorious Worship

Today is Friday, May 22, 2020, in the sixth week of Easter. Peace be with you!

Day 22,716

Three days until Memorial Day.

I’m on PTO today, so the blog entry is a bit later, this morning. Combined with Monday’s holiday, that gives me a four-day weekend, followed by another four-day work week. I like that. The downside is that I am missing today’s “free” lunch at work. Of course, as we all know, “there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.” TANSTAAFL.

I haven’t reported and COVID-19 numbers, lately, but since my last report, the world has passed five million cases and three hundred thousand deaths. The USA had over twenty-eight thousand new cases, yesterday, a significant spike from recent days. Oddly enough, it is approximately fourteen days since we started re-opening places. And that’s all I’m going to say about that.

I don’t exactly have any plans for the day, or the weekend, for that matter. We won’t be going anywhere, really, for the holiday. I doubt we will even cook out. But we might. Who knows. It’s been a while since I cranked up the old grill. C is working today, so I’ll be trying to not bother her. I’ll stay in the study or the bedroom, maybe read a lot today. I won’t be playing on the PS4, though, until after she finishes work. There’s also a possibility that I will make the grocery run today. Of course, there will be Sonic drinks.

Little Luna (cat) is settling in quite nicely, I think. She’s an energetic little fluff of fur. I just went and said good morning to her. She had to get off the bed and run round my feet and legs for a few minutes.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

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

Charles de Foucauld

Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually!
(Psalms 105:4 ESV)

Today I am grateful:
1. For a long weekend and the rest it will bring
2. That You know my foolishness, and my wrongs are not hidden from You (Psalm 69.5)
3. For Your steadfast love and mercy, that never ends
4. That You have called everyone on earth to praise you
5. That You are patient with us when our worship is trivial and pretentious

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)

O God, you know my folly; the wrongs I have done are not hidden from you.
(Psalms 69:5 ESV)

When iniquities prevail against me, you atone for our transgressions.
(Psalms 65:3 ESV)

“The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!”
(Matthew 6:22-23 ESV)

Remember your mercy, O LORD, and your steadfast love, for they have been from of old. Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions; according to your steadfast love remember me, for the sake of your goodness, O LORD! Good and upright is the LORD; therefore he instructs sinners in the way. He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way. All the paths of the LORD are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies. For your name’s sake, O LORD, pardon my guilt, for it is great.
(Psalms 25:6-11 ESV)

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 and merciful God, in your goodness keep me, I pray, from all things that may hurt me, that I, being ready both in mind and body, may accomplish with a free heart those things which belong to your purpose; through Jesus Christ 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)

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
(Hebrews 4:16 ESV)

Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; our God is merciful.
(Psalms 116:5 ESV)

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.
(Lamentations 3:22-25 ESV)

For the director of music. A song. A psalm.
Shout for joy to God, all the earth! Sing the glory of his name; make his praise glorious. Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds! So great is your power that your enemies cringe before you. All the earth bows down to you; they sing praise to you, they sing the praises of your name.” Come and see what God has done, his awesome deeds for mankind!

(Psalms 66:1-5 NIV)

Everyone on earth is called to praise God (verse 1). This praise consists of singing “the glory of His name,” and the awesomeness of His deeds (verses 2 and 3). The character of this praise, or the description of it, is “glorious” (verse 2).

So what, exactly, is glorious praise?

“‘Glory’ has connotations of weightiness, dignity, magnificence, and beauty. Glorious worship is exuberant, never halfhearted. It is attractive, not off-putting. It is awesome, never sentimental. It is brilliant, not careless. It points to God, not to the speakers. It fits its great object–it seeks to be as glorious as the one it praises. So worship should be ‘never trivial, never pretentious.'” (The quote within the quote is from Psalms 1-72: An Introduction and Commentary, by Derek Kidner)

Glorious worship is what will win the world.

“Lord, so much of the public worship of your church is indeed trivial and pretentious. Let my church–and churches across the world–begin to praise you ‘in Spirit and in truth’ (John 4:24). Grant us anointed worship–so beautiful that it attracts even those whose hearts are hardened toward you. Amen.”
(From The Songs of Jesus, by Timothy and Kathy Keller)

Father, I pray, along with the Kellers, that our worship of You would, indeed, be glorious. When we “gather” this Sunday, let there be no pretense or triviality in the content of our worship. May the worship we offer match the glory of the One whom we worship.
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 worship.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. Jude 1.24-25

Grace and peace, friends.

Shout for Joy and Sing!

Today is Thursday, May 21, 2020, in the sixth week of Easter. Peace be with you!

Day 22,715

Four days until Memorial Day! I was reminded yesterday that Memorial Day will be the 63rd anniversary of my parents’ wedding.

We have a new kitten! She is a six-week old “tuxedo-ish” kitten. It has been decided that her name is “Luna.” I voted for Morticia, but S doesn’t really know who that is, so she didn’t like it as much. Oddly enough, the Internet says that Luna is the current top name for female cats. Interesting. Let’s see . . . do I have a photo? I do!

She is “totes magotes adorbs!” She and S are already bonding, which I’m very glad to see.

Today is my last work day of the week. I’m quite excited about that. PTO tomorrow, then a holiday Monday, so I’ve got a four-day weekend, followed by another four-day work week! Good times.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

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

I think I had a little bit more success yesterday, spending my day with Jesus. There were still a lot of “hiccups,” but it was the best attempt, thus far, this week. I need to work on my morning routine a little bit, which may or may not affect how I do this blog. The main thing is to remember to direct my thoughts to Jesus before I set foot on floor. From that point on, it doesn’t have to change much. I will say that I have gone back to keeping silence in the car after listening to the morning’s devotional on the “Pray As You Go” app. During this silence, I will be spending the time in prayer for various people that I know and love. Maybe even some that I don’t “love,” right?

Moving on.

Rejoice in the LORD, O you righteous, and give thanks to his holy name!
(Psalms 97:12 ESV)

Today I am grateful:
1. For kittens
2. For the joyous expressions on S’s face
3. For the promise that if I ask, I will receive; seek, and I will find; knock, and it shall be opened (Luke 11.9-13)
4. For the occasional opportunity to share my resources with a homeless person
5. For life, abundant and eternal

Incline your ear, O LORD, and answer me, for I am poor and needy. Preserve my life, for I am godly; save your servant, who trusts in you—you are my God.
(Psalms 86:1-2 ESV)

Blessed be the LORD! For he has heard the voice of my pleas for mercy.
(Psalms 28:6 ESV)

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”
(Matthew 5:6 ESV)

“And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
(Luke 11:9-13 ESV)

You have dealt well with your servant, O LORD, according to your word. Teach me good judgment and knowledge, for I believe in your commandments. Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep your word. You are good and do good; teach me your statutes. The insolent smear me with lies, but with my whole heart I keep your precepts; their heart is unfeeling like fat, but I delight in your law. It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes. The law of your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces.
(Psalms 119:65-72 ESV)

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 and merciful God, in your goodness keep me, I pray, from all things that may hurt me, that I, being ready both in mind and body, may accomplish with a free heart those things which belong to your purpose; through Jesus Christ 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)

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.
(Hebrews 13:2 ESV)

“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.'”
(Matthew 25:35-40 ESV)

Remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.
So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.

(Ephesians 2:12, 19 ESV)

You know that homeless guy you see every day? For me, it’s every week or so. He’s not there every day. I don’t know if that means he gets enough handouts in a day to find a place for shelter for a while. I keep hoping, praying, when I don’t see him for a week or so, that maybe he’s turned things around. But then, there he is again. I learned his name a few months ago, to make it real for me. Stephen. We chat a bit when he’s out there, at least as long as we can before the light changes. I pray for him every day, because when I arrive at that intersection, I think about him.

Maybe he’s an angel. But even if he is not, he is one of “the least of these.” And whatever I do to him, I am doing to Jesus. Think about that, my friends. Seriously.

You care for the land and water it; you enrich it abundantly. The streams of God are filled with water to provide the people with grain, for so you have ordained it. You drench its furrows and level its ridges; you soften it with showers and bless its crops. You crown the year with your bounty, and your carts overflow with abundance. The grasslands of the wilderness overflow; the hills are clothed with gladness. The meadows are covered with flocks and the valleys are mantled with grain; they shout for joy and sing.
(Psalms 65:9-13 NIV)

God still cares for the world He created (verse 9). He waters it, he fertilizes it. People don’t have to do anything for the natural world to survive. Sure, we have to take care of the crops that we plant ourselves, but even God handles a great deal of that. The farmer has nothing to do with the crop growing to maturity. That happens naturally.

God “is the author of all life–from the life of a flower to the new birth that saves eternally (1 Timothy 6:13).”

Because of this, we, as God’s people, “should be at the forefront of those who care for creation.” The final verses of this psalm should bring joy to our hearts. “The grasslands of the wilderness overflow; the hills are clothed with gladness. . . . they shout for joy and sing.” (verses 12-13) How much more should we shout and sing for the life that God has given us?

“Lord, help me receive the beauty and richness of nature as gifts from you that reflect your own abundance and life. Teach me how to glory in it so I rob neither you of your due nor myself of joy. Amen.”
(From The Songs of Jesus, by Timothy and Kathy Keller)

Father, You have given us life, just as You have given life to all creation. Help me to see this life today. Give me the grace to notice my surroundings and see Your creation through the eyes of one who has been given life, abundant and eternal!
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 Your life!
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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.

Grace and peace, friends.

Salvation Transcends All Boundaries

Today is Wednesday, May 20, 2020, in the sixth week of Easter. Peace be with you!

Day 22,714

Five days until Memorial Day!

And only one more day (after today) until my long weekend, because I decided, over the past weekend, to take a PTO day on Friday so I can have a four-day weekend! After this Friday, I still have seven days of PTO left for the year, along with three “floating holidays.” Of course, it is my understanding that I have to use two of those floaters for the day after Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve.

A tough decision was made yesterday, to give Moe (cat) back to his foster mother. She was fine with that, as she said she had almost been crying ever since we took him. I realize we hadn’t even had him for a week, but he was hiding the entire time. At one point, we were seriously afraid he was lost, and that he might have gotten out the pet door during the night. But he finally came out of nowhere (cats can do that, you know . . . even Robert Heinlein has a book about a cat that walks through walls) in S’s room. But by that time, S and C had already decided that he wasn’t going to work out for us.

Needless to say, yesterday morning was really tough. I had been trying to do this thing that was recommended by the last book I read, Life Without Lack, by Dallas Willard. It’s about spending a day with Jesus. The idea is not to go off by yourself and be silent in solitude for a whole day. Rather, the idea is to go about your daily routine, work, and whatever, with the conscious idea that Jesus is with you. It is much harder than you might think. I managed to make it about a half day Monday, and yesterday was a complete train wreck.

But a very positive thing happened, that boosted my faith. I had been praying, hard, all morning, that Moe would be found. Shortly before lunch, S called me to tell me that she had found him in her room. Who knows where he had been hiding? But my prayers were answered.

They are now looking for a female kitten. Fun times. Honestly, I think that would be a better choice. Let her grow up with S, in her room, rather than take her out of an environment she has been in for a year or longer.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

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

Charles de Foucauld

Make your vows to the LORD your God and perform them; let all around him bring gifts to him who is to be feared,
(Psalms 76:11 ESV)

Today I am grateful:
1. For answered prayers (had a big one yesterday)
2. That the taste of your Words is sweeter than honey in my mouth (Psalm 119.103)
3. For You, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
4. That Your great salvation transcends all boundaries of race, politics, geography, and economics
5. That You are the hope of all the ends of the earth (Psalm 65.5)

Let my cry come before you, O LORD; give me understanding according to your word! Let my plea come before you; deliver me according to your word.
(Psalms 119:169-170 ESV)

With a freewill offering I will sacrifice to you; I will give thanks to your name, O LORD, for it is good.
(Psalms 54:6 ESV)

How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!
(Psalms 119:103 ESV)

“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”
(Matthew 7:12 ESV)

Praise the LORD! Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! Who can utter the mighty deeds of the LORD, or declare all his praise? Blessed are they who observe justice, who do righteousness at all times! Remember me, O LORD, when you show favor to your people; help me when you save them, that I may look upon the prosperity of your chosen ones, that I may rejoice in the gladness of your nation, that I may glory with your inheritance.
(Psalms 106:1-5 ESV)

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 and merciful God, in your goodness keep me, I pray, from all things that may hurt me, that I, being ready both in mind and body, may accomplish with a free heart those things which belong to your purpose; through Jesus Christ 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)

You answer us with awesome and righteous deeds, God our Savior, the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas, who formed the mountains by your power, having armed yourself with strength, who stilled the roaring of the seas, the roaring of their waves, and the turmoil of the nations. The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders; where morning dawns, where evening fades, you call forth songs of joy.
(Psalms 65:5-8 NIV)

God is our Savior, the hope of all the ends of the earth (verse 5). “God’s salvation began with Abraham’s family, who then became the nation of Israel, and now has burst all boundaries of nation, race, language, ethnic origin, or geographical location. We must prepare our hearts for the rich diversity of heaven (Revelation 7:9) by showing love for all, and especially those of God’s people on earth who are far from us socially, economically, racially, politically, or any other way.”

Another great word for our time from Pastor Keller and his wife.

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.
(Revelation 7:9 NIV)

“Lord, I am so absorbed in my own troubles I don’t see and praise you for what you are doing across the world. Help me to escape the defense mechanism of racial superiority so I can embrace, learn from, and rejoice in my brothers and sisters across the boundaries of race, class, and nationality. Amen.”

Yes, Father, may I remember today, that Your great salvation transcends all boundaries. May I equally show Your love to all I encounter today. Walk with me today, Jesus, as I walk through this day. Be with me all day. Take me through the daily grind today, and help me to set my mind upon You.
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 how much You love all people.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

Grace and peace, friends.

Pursue Peace

Today is Tuesday, May 19, 2020, in the sixth week of Easter. Peace be with you!

Day 22,713

Six days until Memorial Day!

Not a lot to speak of, on a personal level, today. Moe (cat) is said to be getting a little bolder. Last night, we decided to leave S’s room open, primarily because Moe seems to mew very loudly at night, seeking to leave the room. However, when anyone would open the door, he would dart back under the bed. So we decided to leave it open. I have not seen or heard anything about him, as of yet, but I’m currently the only one awake, besides the other animals.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

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

Love the LORD, all you his saints! The LORD preserves the faithful but abundantly repays the one who acts in pride.
(Psalms 31:23 ESV)

Today I am grateful:
1. For another day to be with Jesus
2. That You are my God
3. That my heart is glad in You
4. That You are directing my heart towards making peace
5. That You forgive when we don’t deserve it

I rise before dawn and cry for help; I hope in your words.
(Psalms 119:147 ESV)

You are my God, and I will give thanks to you; you are my God; I will extol you.
(Psalms 118:28 ESV)

I hate the double-minded, but I love your law.
(Psalms 119:113 ESV)

“And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but the one who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.”
(Luke 12:10 ESV)

Shout for joy in the LORD, O you righteous! Praise befits the upright. For the word of the LORD is upright, and all his work is done in faithfulness. Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love, that he may deliver their soul from death and keep them alive in famine. Our soul waits for the LORD; he is our help and our shield. For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name. Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us, even as we hope in you.
(Psalms 33:1, 4, 18-22 ESV)

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

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 and merciful God, in your goodness keep me, I pray, from all things that may hurt me, that I, being ready both in mind and body, may accomplish with a free heart those things which belong to your purpose; through Jesus Christ 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)

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; for the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.
(Psalms 1:1-6 ESV)

“Commit your way to God, let Him redirect you from old patterns that lead to nowhere, and allow the Scriptures to be the river that nourishes the root system of your heart.”
(Glenn Packiam, Our Daily Bread)

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”
(Matthew 5:9 ESV)

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.

(Romans 12:9-18 ESV)

So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.
(Romans 14:19 ESV)

Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.
(2 Corinthians 13:11 ESV)

There’s a lot about peace in these verses. Especially in that longer passage from Romans 12. I just created an image for the Romans 14.19 verse and posted it on Facebook. “Let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.” Here’s how that reads in The Message: So let’s agree to use all our energy in getting along with each other. Help others with encouraging words.

There is so much division on social media, these days. I try my best to not participate in it. I prefer to try to be a peacemaker and bring us together, rather than divide us. I strive to “let love be genuine.” But I can only do that in the power of the Holy Spirit, because my natural instinct is to judge and hate. When I catch myself doing that, it brings me great sorrow, and I immediately repent. As most people know, this is a great challenge. But God never called us to an easy life, did He?

I mean, sure, Jesus’s “yoke” is easy, but only if we’re walking in it with Him. And it’s when I step out of that yoke and try to pull the load myself that things get difficult.

Let us rejoice in Him, and aim for restoration. Let us seek peace and live in harmony.

Father, help me to seek peace today. Help me to pursue encouragement and edification for those around me. Let me not tear down, be judgmental or hateful. Let me live in love, walking in the easy yoke of Jesus.
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 seek peace.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you. Jude 1.2

Grace and peace, friends.

Safe

Today is Monday, May 18, 2020, in the sixth week of Easter. Peace be with you!

Day 22,712

Seven days until Memorial Day

Yesterday was a nice day. We had a good virtual worship gathering, where we discussed thoughts on waiting on God. Over all, it was very good, I think.

After that, C and I prepared a new dish for the crock pot. It’s another WW cookbook recipe, called “Sausage, Chicken, and Shrimp Stew.” We cut up turkey sausage (of the smoked type), chicken breasts, bell peppers (red and yellow, I think), and an onion. The sausage, peppers, and onion, had to be cooked briefly in the frying pan. Everything but the shrimp and okra went into the crock pot. There was also a little bit of flour, along with some chicken broth, added to the peppers and onions while they were cooking. Then some Cajun seasoning was added to the mix. This cooked for about four hours, after which the shrimp and okra were added. The mixture then cooked for another half hour. It was absolutely delicious!

After we got that cooking, we scrambled some eggs for “breakfast,” watched an episode of Murdoch Mysteries on Acorn TV, then C went out to get some flowers to plant in the front flower bed and I settled in to play “The Sinking City” on the PS4.

We ate the stew around 5:00 PM, and, as I said, it was delicious, perhaps even amazing! It will definitely be added to our weekly rotation, although it may have to be a strictly weekend thing, due to the prep time. There is a container left over, which I plan to take for lunch today. And, the best part is that it’s only two points on the WW blue plan! We figure we each had two servings, though, so it was four points.

I finished Dallas Willard’s Life Without Lack, yesterday, the last book in this season’s Renovare Book Club. You can find my review of it at my other blog, if you are interested.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits,
(Psalms 103:1-2 ESV)

Today I am grateful:
1. For a restful weekend
2. For a new work week, and the opportunities it will bring with it. This, of course, includes prayers to not fail when those opportunities arise.
3. For the possibility of living a life without lack
4. That You hear prayer
5. That we are safe in You

Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge. I say to the LORD, “You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.”
(Psalms 16:1-2 ESV)

I love you, O LORD, my strength. The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
(Psalms 18:1-2 ESV)

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
(Psalms 51:7 ESV)

“No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. If he does, the patch tears away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear is made. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins—and the wine is destroyed, and so are the skins. But new wine is for fresh wineskins.”
(Mark 2:21-22 ESV)

Praise is due to you, O God, in Zion, and to you shall vows be performed. O you who hear prayer, to you shall all flesh come. When iniquities prevail against me, you atone for our transgressions. Blessed is the one you choose and bring near, to dwell in your courts! We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house, the holiness of your temple! 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 65:1-5 ESV)

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)

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 and merciful God, in your goodness keep me, I pray, from all things that may hurt me, that I, being ready both in mind and body, may accomplish with a free heart those things which belong to your purpose; through Jesus Christ 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)

For he delivers the needy when he calls, the poor and him who has no helper.
(Psalms 72:12 ESV)

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
(Romans 8:26-28 ESV)

Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
(Hebrews 4:14-16 ESV)

But God will shoot them with his arrows; they will suddenly be struck down. He will turn their own tongues against them and bring them to ruin; all who see them will shake their heads in scorn. All people will fear; they will proclaim the works of God and ponder what he has done. The righteous will rejoice in the LORD and take refuge in him; all the upright in heart will glory in him!
(Psalms 64:7-10 NIV)

“David’s comfort again is the self-defeating nature of evil and the fact that in God’s world there are natural consequences to sin.” When we lie, we get caught in our own trap. When we slander people, it will eventually recoil on us. As we are reminded in Galatians 6.7 and Luke 6.38, “God is a God of reaping and sowing.”

“Even in this life the greedy will be at least spiritually poor, while the generous will have a rich life whether they are wealthy or not. In the end, all will be amazed at God’s judgment on sin.” The one thing that David didn’t know yet, was how we would “wonder and rejoice at how God judged sin in Jesus Christ, so that at the end of time he can end evil without ending us.”

“Lord, many recoil from a God of judgment. But I could not live in such an evil world if I didn’t know that you will judge all things in your wisdom and with your justice. And I would have no hope if I did not know all the judgment I deserved was borne in love by your Son. Amen.”
(From The Songs of Jesus, by Timothy and Kathy Keller)

Truly, Father, the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the only hope we have, and our only reason for living. It is in this, combined with Your steadfast love that endures forever, that we are able to live in this world, which, in You, is a perfectly good and safe place for us to be.
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 that we are safe in You.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.