Today is Monday, the fourteenth of February, 2022, in the sixth week of Ordinary Time.
May the peace of Christ be with you, today!
Well, it’s Valentine’s Day. Happy Valentine’s Day to all the people who recognize it. I hope you have a good time today.
C continues to work from home, and is still not feeling well. Something seems to be going around (not Covid-related, as far as we know, because everyone who is suffering from this has gotten negative tests), though, as I know of at least two other people (not in the immediate area) who have not been feeling well. So far, I’m fine. I’ve tried to not get too close to C, since she has been feeling unwell.
Monday is my normal day off. I actually slept until after 8:00, this morning, which is not normal. I have a couple of household things to get done today, and I plan to straighten up my study, a bit. I want to get it looking better, and more conducive to actually making some music. I also would like to get in some reading, as well. I’m currently in the middle of We Have Always Lived in the Castle, by Shirley Jackson. I’m still trying to figure out what it is really about. It has some great elements of humor in it, and maybe a murder by poisoning?
I think the Rams won the Super Bowl. Of course they did, because I wanted the Bengals to win. But not enough to watch the game or any part, thereof.
TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
(Hebrews 10:19-25 ESV)
Today I am grateful:
1. that I am alive and breathing 2. that the Word of God is alive in me 3. for the admonition and potential to "stir up one another to love and good works" 4. that, as we gather together, we strengthen one another 5. for the day when God will be acknowledged as King over all the earth
Can I speak those words to God? Truly? That question reminds me of yesterday’s prayer word. “Almost.” Maybe I could say “I have hardly ever put my hope in any other but You.” Or, “I have almost never put my hope in any other but You.”
And Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, saying, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken first to you. Since you thrust it aside and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles. For so the Lord has commanded us, saying, “‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.'” And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed. And the word of the Lord was spreading throughout the whole region.
(Acts 13:46-49 ESV)
I can’t identify at all with the Gentiles in this passage. The question is asked, “Do you remember the word of the Lord being spoken to you for the first time?” Of course, I don’t remember that. I grew up in church. I was probably at church as soon as my parents could safely take me out of the house. Which, in the fifties, was probably sooner than it is, these days. I’m a “lifer.” I was on the “cradle roll.” I feel relatively certain that the Word of God was spoken to me before I could comprehend what it was.
So, no. I don’t remember. And, to be honest, I can’t ever remember a time when I celebrated that I was able to hear that Word. Because it has always been a privilege in this country. These Gentiles in Acts rejoiced because they had previously been excluded from any possibility of hearing God’s Word. I can only imagine what it must be like for a people in some remote area of the world to be able to read God’s Word in their own language for the first time.
You bet I have taken this for granted, as have most of God’s people in this country, especially here in the “Bible Belt.” But here’s the thing. Just because we have had it readily available, and in large amounts, doesn’t mean we have always read it correctly.
You see, there’s this verse in Hebrews. Two of them, actually.
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
(Hebrews 4:12-13 ESV)
And because this is true, every time I read the Bible, any part of it, there is potential for me to “see” something that I have never “seen” before. And, praise God, this has been happening quite a bit in the last decade, and, perhaps, even more so, in the last few years. I rejoice, kind of like those Gentiles, every time the Holy Spirit reveals something “new” to me. It’s not really “new,” is it? Because it’s always been there. But my understanding is ever new, because the God with Whom I have to do, and to Whom I must give account, is always doing something new.
And because of this growth, which, truthfully, doesn’t look like this:
but more like this:
, perhaps I can come closer to saying that “I am currently not putting my hope in any other but You.”
(From Pray As You Go)
Today’s prayer word is “shelter.”
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. (Psalms 91:1, 4 ESV)
This is not brick and mortar shelter, although, in some cases, He does provide this for us. This is more of a spiritual shelter, a place to find refuge, a hiding place. Over and over, the Psalms describe our Father as a place where we can run and hide. What are we hiding from? It’s different things for different people, and that is one of the beautiful things about God. Yes, He is one God, but He is also many things to many different people. When we get weary of the hate that we see in this world, all the pain that we see around us (which, unfortunately, is necessary for us to sometimes be in the middle of), and the negative news that we are bombarded with, we can run to this shelter, and simply rest in His presence for a while, regaining strength, renewing faith and hope, so we can go back out and continue whatever work He has given us to do.
(From Pray a Word a Day)
And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
(Ecclesiastes 4:12 ESV)
. . . with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
(Ephesians 4:2-3 ESV)
Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.
(Ephesians 4:26-27 ESV)
Father, I praise You and look forward to that day when You will be King over all the earth. What a day, glorious day, that will be! However, I do not look forward to that day in arrogance, as some do. I do not look forward to seeing any of Your enemies destroyed. I would rather see them all become part of Your Church and acknowledge Your glory and beauty along with the rest of us.
I thank You for the strength that comes in numbers, as we gather together as Your people. Not strength as in power to be in control or anything like that, but strength to prevail in righteousness, in right living, and in doing the things that You have called us to do; strength to love one another, to love our neighbors as ourselves, strength to clothe the naked, feed the hungry, release the oppressed, and help the downtrodden and immigrants who need our help. Help us to be more generous with the resources You have given us.
I also praise You for the shelter we can find in You, when we are filled to the brim with the hatred we see in the world, the frustration of people who claim to be following You, but still, for some reason, don’t seem to filled with love for their fellow man. Shelter where we can hide and rest when we feel all used up, when we think we can’t do any more, when our strength is dried up. But we also need to utilize this shelter together. Shelter isn’t just for me to go hide alone, although I am free to do that. Shelter is where two or more of us can gather, as well. When our little “church” gathers in the home where we meet, we are, in a sense, sheltering under Your wings. Thank You for this, Father.
And I praise You that Your Word is alive, and growing within me, by the power of Your Spirit. My growth isn’t always steady. Sometimes, I fail and fall. But You pick me back up and put me back on the path so that I can grow some more. I thank You that, in all the years I have been reading and hearing Your Word (and, yes, please forgive me for when I take this privilege for granted), I can still find truth and beauty in it, sometimes things that I have never noticed before.
I pray for Your Word and truth to continue to be shared and grow in our world today, just as it did when the book of Acts was written. May You go before us and prepare the hearts of men to hear Your Gospel truth. And then equip us to share it in love, and, as best we can, keeping our person opinions and politics out of it.
All glory to You, through the Son, and by the Spirit.
What a Day that will be! No more cold nights—in fact, no more nights! The Day is coming—the timing is GOD's— when it will be continuous day. Every evening will be a fresh morning. What a Day that will be! Fresh flowing rivers out of Jerusalem, half to the eastern sea, half to the western sea, flowing year-round, summer and winter! GOD will be king over all the earth, one GOD and only one. What a Day that will be! (Zechariah 14:6-9 MSG)
Grace and peace, friends.