Seen Vs Unseen

Today is Thursday, the 25th of August, 2022, in the 21st week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you!

Day 23,541

We hit 88 degrees, yesterday, for a high. It still felt rather humid out there, at one point, and the sky was looking like it might rain some more on us, but it didn’t. The record high for yesterday’s date is 105. Today’s projected high is 91. It looks like (hopefully) we have topped out at 43 total days of 100+, and the longest streak, at least in my area, was 14 days. The forecast is predicting more thunderstorms and rain (hopefully no monsoons) next week, beginning around Tuesday.

Nathaniel Lowe drove in a career-high five runs, yesterday, and Adolis Garcia extended his hitting streak to 21 games, as the Rangers obliterated the Colorado Rockies, 16-4. At one point, it was 9-0, as the Rangers scored two in the first and seven in the second. Martin Perez had a great game. The bullpen lost the shutout in the seventh, when the Rockies got their only four runs. But the Rangers stormed back with three in the eighth and four in the ninth. Matt Moore came in and closed it out in the bottom of the ninth with three-up-three-down. Perez gave up only four hits and had seven strikeouts, over six innings.

The Rangers are now 57-67, still in third place in the AL West, still 22.5 games out of first place and ten games out of a Wild Card spot. They are off today, and will be back home tomorrow for a weekend series with the Detroit Tigers. They were 4-2 on this recent road trip.

Boston lost their third consecutive game, 3-2, against the Blue jays, in ten innings. They are now four games under .500, at 60-64, in last place in the AL East, sixteen games out of first place, and seven out of a Wild Card spot. They play Toronto again, tonight, in Boston.

The Dodgers won again, and are now at MLB-leading 86-37. The Nationals won a game, but are still at the bottom with 42-83. The Rays are at the top of the streaks with five consecutive wins, while the Twins, Angels, and Pirates are still duking it out for the longest losing streak, all at five games. The Dodgers now have a +275 run differential, while the Nats are at -209. The Rangers are now at +16 after yesterday’s romp, and the Red Sox went down to -44.

Since this is Thursday, I will be spending my eight-hour shift in the Computer Center of the Hurst Public Library, from 11:15-8:15. It’s an odd shift, especially figuring out the eating schedule. I typically get “lunch” at 4:00 PM, and then I will eat “dinner” after I get home, which makes my dinner really late. The same thing happens on Tuesdays, but I don’t go in until 4:15, so I have a normal lunch on Tuesdays.

I have Slow Cooker Chicken and Stuffing, from Emily Bites, in the crockpot, and it will be ready whenever C gets home from work. This is a delicious recipe, and pretty easy to make. The most “difficult” part is stirring together the sour cream and cream of chicken soup, and then stirring together the stuffing mix and the chicken broth. It’s all layered in the crock pot, and that’s all the preparation that is involved. You basically have five ingredients and three steps. Boom. And the family loves it.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Grant us your Spirit, Lord our God, that we may discern your good, acceptable, and perfect will. Give us joy in fighting on your side, so that what is good, acceptable, and perfect may be given to the world. Wherever we are and whatever work we do, give us zeal to serve you and be guided by you so that your will may be done and your kingdom come, so that already today we may find happiness even though only in hope. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
(Romans 12:2 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for answered prayers
2. for cooler temperatures
3. that the "work of God" is to believe on the One whom He has sent, that is Jesus
4. that Jesus is the "bread of life" 
5. that, as we look to things that are unseen, rather than things that are seen, we are daily being renewed in our spirit
6. for Jesus's declaration that we must take up our cross and deny ourselves, die to ourselves, to follow Him

Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal." Then they said to him, "What must we do, to be doing the works of God?" Jesus answered them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent." So they said to him, "Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform? Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, 'He gave them bread from heaven to eat.'" Jesus then said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world." They said to him, "Sir, give us this bread always."
 Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day."
(John 6:27-40 ESV)

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
(2 Corinthians 4:16-18 ESV)

The righteous flourish like the palm tree and grow like a cedar in Lebanon. They are planted in the house of the LORD; they flourish in the courts of our God. They still bear fruit in old age; they are ever full of sap and green, to declare that the LORD is upright; he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.
(Psalms 92:12-15 ESV)

“Listen to me, O house of Jacob, all the remnant of the house of Israel, who have been borne by me from before your birth, carried from the womb; even to your old age I am he, and to gray hairs I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save.”
(Isaiah 46:3-4 ESV)


I struggled for a few minutes, this morning, trying to figure out where the Lord was leading me with these various Scripture readings from various sources.

Then I keyed in on this idea of looking at things that are unseen, rather than things that are seen. If we keep our eyes on things that are seen, we remain selfish. We react to things differently, focusing on “I, I, me, me, me.” We focus on “what I’ve done,” and we also seem to focus too much on “what God has done for me.”

While there is definitely value in recognizing what God has done for me, we become hyper focused on the self. This is not helped by the modern trend of worship music to sing about “I” and “me,” rather than “us” and “we.”

One of the results of this trend is, for example, what I am seeing on social media today. When the news broke that many people would have at least part of their student loans forgiven, people who claim to be following Jesus became indignant. “I worked hard and paid for my school.” “I don’t want my tax dollars to pay off other peoples’ student loans.” And so on.

In my opinion, these sentiments are extremely un-Christlike. And very selfish and self-centered. Again . . . “I, I, me, me, me.”

These are people who have their eyes on what is seen, rather than on what is unseen.

When we keep our sight on the unseen, we realize that whatever we are going through at the moment, “this light momentary affliction,” is “preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.” (Emphasis added)

Only the things that are unseen are eternal, says Paul. Everything that is seen is transient, temporary. Why focus on those things? When we keep our eyes on the unseen, we are daily being renewed from within, even though our outward bodies are dying, wasting away. There is also much effort, in this culture, to preventing that outward wasting away, which is, of course, a dubious effort.

I thought of the prayer of St. Francis, as I was reading my devotions and thinking of these things. It is very other-centered, rather than self-centered. It prays for the ability to spread love, pardon (also known as forgiveness), faith, hope, light, and joy. And it points my feelings outward, that I might console, rather than be consoled, that I might understand, rather than be understood, and that I might love, rather than be loved.

In short, the prayer is a desire to die to self and be born to eternal life. When we focus on the things that are seen, on “I, I,” and “me, me, me,” we fail to do this. And this is what Jesus calls us to do . . . to die to self.

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”
(Matthew 16:24-25 ESV)


Father, my heart echoes the prayer of St. Francis this morning. I have had my share of being selfish and focusing on what is seen, rather than on what is unseen. You have been working on this in my soul for many years, now, and I believe that You have delivered me from being self-centered. Yet I find that I still manage to slip back into that habit, sometimes.

I pray for Your Spirit to dwell strongly within me, to help me keep focusing on what is unseen, on what is eternal, rather than on things that are transient and will perish, along with the rest of this physical world.

Help me to die to myself, to use the resources that You have given me to help others. I rejoice at the possibility that my “tax dollars,” that which I have “rendered to Caesar,” might be used to help someone else out of a financial bind. I cannot fathom any child of God being so selfish as to complain about that. Dear God, help us get outside of ourselves and stop being so selfish! Does Jesus weep when we complain so?

Help me . . . help all of us who call Your name and follow Jesus, to die to ourselves, to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Him, walking in His “easy yoke,” to live in Your Kingdom in this world.

Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus!


Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy;

O Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Amen.
(The Prayer of St. Francis)

Grace and peace, friends.