When “Bad Things” Happen

Today is Sunday, the twenty-fifth of September, 2022, in the twenty-sixth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ find you well and whole, today!

Day 23,572

I’ll be updating Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit after this is completed.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, our Father, we look deep into your mighty Word and see the glory of the new world you will create according to your justice and truth. We thank you for giving us this joy on earth in the midst of all our toil and striving. We look deep into your Word. You make all things new. To this hope our lives are directed, to this hope you have called us, and we want to be faithful forever. Praise to your name, for you have already done great things for us! Keep us in your Word. Let many find the light, for in this light they may look to you in simple faith and constancy until the end, when throughout the world we may see your glory and your grace. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more...And he who sat upon the throne said, "Behold, I make all things new." Also he said, "Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true." 
(Revelation 21:1, 5 RSV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. that things went so very smoothly, yesterday, moving things from Mama’s house to our house
  2. for the two young men who helped us move the heavy stuff
  3. that Jesus Christ will make all things new and that His words are trustworthy and true
  4. that when Jesus appears, we will be like Him
  5. that I am one of God’s children

“Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. For he who is least among you all is the one who is great.”
(Luke 9:48 ESV)


Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.
For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. . . . We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. 
And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us. 
(1 John 3:2-3, 11, 14-18, 23-24 ESV)
Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations. 
Before the mountains were brought forth, 
or ever you had formed the earth and the world, 
from everlasting to everlasting you are God.
(Psalms 90:1-2 ESV)
So teach us to number our days 
that we may get a heart of wisdom. 
Return, O LORD! How long? 
Have pity on your servants! 
Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, 
that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. 
Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, 
and establish the work of our hands upon us; 
yes, establish the work of our hands! 
(Psalms 90:13-14, 17 ESV)

We are all God’s children. We must receive each other in His name. Yes, Jesus was referring to a literal child, at that point, but the lesson goes beyond that. Whoever is the least will be great. Whoever is last will be first.

Why is this so hard for us to grasp? It has become apparent to me that the best measure of peoples’ understanding of this teach of Jesus is seen in the way they drive. I have seen “Christians” share things on Facebook that hurt my soul. They are meant to be funny, but they are not funny to me. “You will run over every traffic cone before I will let you in front of me,” says one meme.

That attitude violates at least two of Jesus’s teachings. 1) the last shall be first and the first shall be last, and 2) “whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”

I like this bit about “what we will be has not yet appeared.” It’s true. We have no real clue what we will be like when we meet Jesus, face to face, other than these statements that tell us we will be “like Him.”

And, again, John visits the subject of loving one another. As any frequent reader of this blog knows, this is something that I harp on, constantly. And for good reason, I think. It is something that the Bible harps on, especially in the New Testament. Jesus talks about it a lot. Paul talks about it. James talks about. John talks about it. Over and over and over.

You would think we would have gotten it down by now.

I believe Psalm 90 pinpoints a reason that we might struggle so much with the concept. Verse 14. “Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.” I believe that if we are satisfied with God’s steadfast love, His chesed, we will find it much easier to love one another.


When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.
(Isaiah 43:2 NLT)

This verse gives us beautiful truth; it gives us great encouragement. But part of the truth is in the word “when,” in this verse. It is necessary to notice that it does not say “if.” We are going to go through deep waters, through rivers of difficulty; we are going to walk through fire (hopefully not literally). And some of my favorite Psalm verses, which speak of God’s deliverance, tell us that He will deliver us “out of” our troubles, trials, and tribulations.

God will not keep “bad things” from happening to us. “God did not keep bad things from happening to God himself.” (Tish Harrison-Warren, Prayer in the Night) He has never made any kind of promise that indicates that He would keep bad things from happening to us. But He has promised that He would be with us during those “bad things,” and that we would not be consumed.


Father, I am thankful that I am one of Your children. I am also grateful that I have no issue at all being considered Your “child.” Help me, I pray, continue down this path of being less so that You can be more, of decreasing that You might increase. You have taught me that the last shall be first, and it has translated into other parts of my life. But the humanity within me bucks against that; everything I have seen and learned from this world would have me think the opposite, that I need to be first and make others get behind me. But this is not the teaching of my Savior.

Help me to keep getting better at love others, as well. It is not hard to love others when they are displaying their neediness, their desperation in their circumstances. It is hard to love others when they are displaying their self-confidence and their own lack of love toward others. This is a challenge for me, I confess. It is hard to love a “hater.” Help me with this, Father. It is hard for me to love someone whom I see ridiculing and mocking those with whom they do not agree. Help me with this, Father, because Jesus makes no distinction. I am to love all equally (with the exception that my love for the saints is to be even stronger, and some of those with whom I struggle are, indeed, saints).

I thank You that You are always near, and that You have promised to be with us when we walk through “rivers of difficulty,” and through the fires of oppression. Help us to see “bad things” through Your perspective, rather than strictly our own.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
(2 Corinthians 13:14 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Toward More Humility

Today is Sunday, the eighteenth of September, 2022, in the 25th week of Ordinary Time.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,565

Only four more days until Autumn begins!

We had a great time, last night, as we celebrated a friend’s birthday. There were people there whom we have not seen for quite some time, so, as S commented, it was like a reunion. The food was good, but the fellowship was “gooder.” Our friend loved my gift to her, which was all of the Jim Butcher Dresden Files books that I owned. Four of them were special editions, signed and numbered. I didn’t have quite all of them in physical form, as I had read two or three in ebook form. I believe she has only read the first one, so that should keep her busy for a bit.

Today, we have our church gathering at 10:15-ish, although I’m not sure how many of us will be there. I guess we shall see. As far as I know, there are no other plans for today.

Yesterday was pretty busy at the library. There was a steady stream of patrons, especially in the afternoon, and, at one point, I turned to my co-worker and opined that it sounded like a mall in there. It’s good for the library to have that much traffic, and it makes the day go by faster.

Yesterday’s high got up to 91, the first day over 90 in almost ten days. True to form, though, that was two degrees lower than the predicted high of 93. Today’s high is projected to be 95, and eight of the next ten days have expected highs of over 90.

The Texas Rangers failed to capitalize on scoring opportunities, last night, and lost to Tampa 5-1. This puts them at 63-82 for the season. With seventeen games left, they are in third place in the AL West, 31.5 out of first place, and 17.5 out of the Wild Card race. Their WCE# is 1. They play Tampa again today, at the Juice Box, at 12:10 CDT.

The Bost Red Sox were embarrassed by the KC Royals, last night, losing 9-0. The Royals. A team that is thirty games below .500. Oh, well. The Sox are 70-75 for the season, and with seventeen games remaining, they are 17 games out of first place, which puts their division E# at 1. They are 10.5 out of the Wild Card race, with a WCE# of 8. But if they keep playing like it no longer matters (and it kind of does, still), that won’t last very long. They play the Royals again today, in Boston, at 1:35 EDT.

Houston has now joined the Dodgers in clinching a playoff berth. However, they still haven’t clinched their division, as Seattle still has a slim chance.

The Dodgers won game number 100, yesterday, keeping their chances of breaking the win record alive. Their MLB-leading record is 100-44. They must win seventeen of their last eighteen games to break the record. The Nationals won again, but so did the Athletics, so the Nats stay on the bottom, 1.5 behind the A’s. The Mets, Cardinals, and Guardians all have three-game win streaks going. The Reds, Phillies, Pirates, and Twins are all on three-game losing streaks. The Dodgers now have a +328 run differential, and the Pirates are back on the bottom with -210. There are now eight teams eliminated from any chance of playoffs, the Cubs being the most recent.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, we thank you that you have given us your glorious future as the basis for our lives. We thank you that on this foundation we can forget our present troubles and believe that the power of good can move us today to oppose sin, death, and everything evil. Free our hearts from all burdens, and grant that we may have courage to wait patiently for the great help which is to come. Grant that what is happening in the world today may somehow help toward the solution of all the problems. We praise your name, our Father in the heavens. We praise you for the good you do for us each day and for the light you will shed one day on everything on earth, to the glory of your name. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of gold, as pure as transparent glass. I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp.
(Revelation 21:21-23 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. for the hope of our future inheritance, that great city that needs neither sun nor moon because the Glory of God gives it light
  2. for the hope of future grace
  3. that God keeps teaching me about humility (obviously, I haven’t gotten it right, yet)
  4. that I have no righteousness of my own, nothing that I can call my own; all belongs to God; all comes from Jesus
  5. for friends and family, and reunions

“Do you refuse to speak to me?” Pilate said. “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?” Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.” From then on, Pilate tried to set Jesus free, but the Jewish leaders kept shouting, “If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar. Anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar.”
(John 19:10-12 NIV)

Let me hear what God the LORD will speak, 
for he will speak peace to his people, to his saints; 
but let them not turn back to folly. 
Surely his salvation is near to those who fear him, 
that glory may dwell in our land. 
Steadfast love and faithfulness meet; 
righteousness and peace kiss each other. 
Faithfulness springs up from the ground, 
and righteousness looks down from the sky.
(Psalms 85:8-11 ESV)

Humility is the fear of the LORD; its wages are riches and honor and life.
(Proverbs 22:4 NIV)

“I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive. No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.
(1 Corinthians 10:23-24 NIV)

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
(Philippians 2:3-4 NIV)

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
(1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV)


It is interesting to me, how often I keep coming back around to these Scriptures about humility and seeking the good of others. Pride and arrogance are equated with evil and perverted speech. But humility is equated with the fear of the Lord.

How do we get to a place where we can, as Paul encourages us, “pray continually,” or, as the more popular phrase reads, “pray without ceasing?”

“If we seek to pray without ceasing simply because we want to appear very pious, we will never attain to it. It is by forgetting ourselves and yielding our lives to God that our heart’s capacity is enlarged to know God’s will.” (Andrew Murray)

People want to know God’s will for their lives. They don’t know because they aren’t looking for it. It’s right there. “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances.” That’s God’s will for our lives. Or at least part of it.

But we can’t get to that place of praying continually until we embrace the previous Scriptures that instruct us toward humility; until we can “do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.”

This comes back to that idea of confusing the struggle, too. When our whole life becomes wrapped up in God, in looking to Christ for our life and righteousness, when we truly realize that we have nothing to call our own, then we are close to being able to grasp the concept of humility and seeking the good of others instead of our own “rights.” Then, maybe we can be successful at the idea of praying continually.

“To forget oneself and to live for God and His kingdom among men leads to prayer without ceasing.” (Murray)


Father, this keeps coming around, and I have to consider the implications for myself. I can’t just point fingers at others without applying the lessons to myself, as well. There is always more that I need to be learning in regard to this journey, and this relationship. You are always here, always near me, always pointing me toward greater humility.

But self gets in the way, so often. I fall to the temptations of pride and arrogance, and begin to think that I am better than someone else because of my beliefs and my practices. But I’m not. I’m no better than anyone. I am not better than the “vilest offender.” I have no righteousness other than the righteousness of Christ in me, and that is pure grace, a gift from You, that no one should haven anything about which to boast.

So keep bringing it up, Father, because I haven’t gotten it right, yet.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


“I, wisdom, dwell with prudence, and I find knowledge and discretion. The fear of the LORD is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate.”
(Proverbs 8:12-13 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

“I Believe! Help My Unbelief!”

Today is Sunday, September 11, 2022, in the 24th week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ be with you today!

Day 23,558

We wound up not making it to Mineral Wells, yesterday, after all. It was probably a good thing, looking at the bigger picture, because C wasn’t (and still isn’t) feeling great. But she got to Budget rental to pick up a truck. After filling out all the paperwork and getting the truck, the “check engine” light came on. She took it straight back to them, where she was initially told to just go ahead and drive it anyway. She declined that advice.

They wouldn’t call another location for her to see if there was another truck available. That location (in a strip shopping center, mind you) had at least five broken trucks sitting in their lot. She got no satisfaction from customer service, either, where she was told that they had to send a service technician out to see if there was really a problem with the vehicle before issuing a different vehicle. At that point, I advised her to cancel it, get a refund, and we would wait two weeks until the next Saturday I am off work.

And we will most certainly not do business with Budget again.

The rest of the day was spent doing pretty much nothing, and C got some good rest.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, our Father in heaven, we thank you for letting our failures and sins come before you and for giving us One who steps in to help us just as we are, with the right help for the good and the evil things in our lives. We thank you that our whole age can be comforted, and even the terrors of our days can be turned to the good because everything has already come before your holy eyes. Salvation will come out of disaster, life out of death. Praise to your glorious and almighty name! Protect our faith in your Servant. May we always find strength and courage, even when we are in pain. The time is coming when your loving-kindness will be revealed among all nations on earth. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

After he has suffered, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities.
(Isaiah 53:11 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. that salvation comes out of disaster; life out of death
  2. that our Father in heaven will remember our sins no more
  3. that Jesus, who went to prepare a place for us, His disciples, will return to take us to Himself, that where He is, we may be also
  4. for the promises of Jesus regarding faith and prayer; Lord, help my unbelief!
  5. for God’s constant admonition to “fear not,” possibly the most often-stated command in Scripture

"Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going." Thomas said to him, "Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?" Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him." 

Philip said to him, "Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us." Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves. "Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.
(John 14:1-14 ESV)

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)

Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”
(Deuteronomy 31:6 ESV)

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me?
(Psalms 56:3-4 ESV)

“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”
(Mark 11:24-25 ESV)


Sometimes, what winds up being typed here is nothing more than me “thinking out loud,” or, as the case may be, with my fingertips. In other words, I am in the process of working through thoughts and ideas as I type.

As I read these Scriptures today, as well as Andrew Murray’s reading in Power in Prayer, I am forced to consider some things.

That verse in John 14 has always caused me some . . . “distress” isn’t exactly the right word, but it might be the best that I can come up with.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.”
(John 14:12 ESV)

“Greater works??” How on earth is it possible for us, mere humans, to do “greater works” than Jesus? I will admit that, so far, I haven’t received a wholly acceptable answer to that question. The general consensus, at least among people whom I trust, is that He meant “greater” in the sense of the scope of impact on the world. Jesus’s works, while physically greater than any we could ever do, had a small scope in terms of world impact. He worked primarily in Israel and the surrounding areas. His disciples would eventually carry His works to the uttermost parts of the earth.

But then He gives that powerful promise in13-14.

Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.
(John 14:13-14 ESV)

We see similar promises elsewhere.

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

And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.”
(Mark 9:23 ESV)

And, of course, immediately after that last one, we have the famous quote of the father of the demon-possessed child, “I believe! Help my unbelief!”

How often I find myself quoting that dad.

Andrew Murray has an interesting perspective on all of these sayings of Jesus.

“The tendency of human reasoning is to interpose here certain qualifying clauses – ‘if expedient’; ‘if according to God’s will’ – to break the force of a statement that appears presumptuous. Beware of dealing this way with the Master’s words. He wants His Word to penetrate our hearts and reveal how mighty the power of faith is and how our Father places it at the disposal of His children who trust Him.”

I have been guilty of that, especially the bit about “if according to God’s will.” But Murray is right . . . that is “human reasoning.” Sure, it makes logical sense, but it’s still human reasoning. And it is adding something to the Word of the Lord . . . something that isn’t necessarily there.

Now understand this: Murray is far from a “name-it-claim-it” kind of guy. I don’t see that kind of thinking anywhere in his writings. He isn’t into the so-called “prosperity gospel.”

But he believes in the power of prayer. I mean the book I’m reading is called Power in Prayer.

So as I ponder and meditate on the things I’ve read, this morning, I will be thinking heavily about this . . . pondering the level of my faith and belief when it comes to these statements of Jesus. How do I work this?

Right before that verse in Mark 11, the disciples had commented on the fact that a fig tree that Jesus had cursed the day before was now withered and dried up. Jesus’s response was:

And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him.”
(Mark 11:22-23 ESV)

“I believe! Help my unbelief!”


Father, I confess that I don’t really know what to do with some of Jesus’s statements. It’s not that I don’t believe Him (or You), but more along the lines of “this sounds too good to be true.”

But, if we believe Jesus, and we claim to, then we should be believing these words too, and we should be seeing some pretty mighty works in our world, today. And I’m not seeing very many.

Or am I? Just today, I saw a Facebook post from a person who may or may not be a Christian, about someone paying for his dinner at a restaurant. I don’t know if the person who paid for his dinner was a Christ-follower or not, and neither does he, because he doesn’t know who did it. But it inspired him to “pay it forward.”

We spend too much energy, it seems on trying to figure out how to “pay You back” for what You have done for us, which is, of course, ridiculous, because we simply cannot do that. It’s impossible. The best we can do is “pay it forward,” extending the same kind of grace to others that You have extended to us. For forgiving others, as You have commanded us, that we might consider ourselves forgiven, and that our prayers might be answered.

Today, Father, I have already seen, and will continue to see posts of people declaring “never forget!” I wonder, when I see those . . . what if You took that point of view? Praise Your holy name that You do not, as You have declared over and over and over again, that our sins will not be remembered, because they have been cast into the depths of the sea, or thrown as far as the east is from the west. Hallelujah!

Yet we insist on “never forgetting” what a few radical terrorists did to our nation. Or at least that is allegedly what happened.

Father, as I walk through this world, on this journey of life, I pray to forget. I want to forget. I want to be able, like You to forget any wrongs that have been done against me, no matter how deep or how trivial. (Perhaps it is often the most trivial that we remember the most.) I want to be able to be that person that Jesus describes when He says, “whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

I believe, Lord! Help my unbelief!

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.”
(John 14:23 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

The Conscience

Today is Sunday, September 4, 2022, in the 23rd week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you today!

Day 23,551

Tomorrow is Labor Day, a holiday in the US. C will be off all day and has promised that she doesn’t plan to open her work computer. I don’t work on Mondays, anyway, so it’s just another day for me, except that we won’t get any mail.

Yesterday was a warm one, getting up to 94 in our area. I swear I opened my weather app, while I was at the library, and it said 97, but the official history for the closest airport says it reached 94. There was no rain, yesterday, which is not surprising. There is some chance of rain today, with possible afternoon thunderstorms, with an expected high of 95. The record high for today’s date was, once again, in 2000, and was 110 degrees! We have had 1.1 inches of rain in the past 72 hours, at our house. The ten-day forecast shows five days of 90+, and five days in the upper eighties. Summer will not go quietly, it seems.

There was a steady stream of patrons at the library, yesterday, which made it go by fairly quickly. The book drops were quite busy, as we filled up about six carts of books that were returned. There were two carts of youth (that means children’s in library lingo) books and two carts of adult fiction/non-fiction. One cart is DVDs and “talking books,” and the other cart is books that go on the new book display in front of the circ desk.

The Texas Rangers lost again to the Boston Red Sox, 5-3, and all three of those were scored in the top of the eighth inning. One of the bullpen pitchers started the game, and it was one who has not done well of late, so I’m scratching my head over that one. The Rangers are now at 58-74, still in third place in the AL West, but only by a half game, now. They are 26.5 out of first place, with a division E number of four, and 14.5 out of a Wild Card spot, with a WCE of 17.

The Red Sox improved to 66-68, but remain in last place in the AL East, still six games behind the Orioles. They are 13.5 out of first place, with an E number of 16, and 7.5 out of a Wild Card spot with a WCE of 23. The Rangers and Red Sox play one more time today, at 12:35 CDT.

Not much has changed in the playoff picture. New York, Houston, and Cleveland lead their divisions. Tampa and Seattle are in a virtual tie for the first two Wild Cards, and Toronto has the third spot. In the NL, the Dodgers, Mets, and Cards lead their divisions, and the Braves, Padres, and Phillies currently have the WC spots.

The Dodgers won, improving their MLB leading record to 91-41. The Nationals won, as well, but still have the worst record at 46-84. They are only 2.5 behind the Athletics, though, who have lost four in a row. The Mariners continue to streak, having won six in a row, now (the Rays have won five), and our Texas Rangers continue to lose, now having lost seven in a row. The Dodgers will likely lead the run differential for the remainder of the season, now at +289. The Nationals, though, do have a chance to not have the worst differential, currently at -212, but the Pirates are at -208. The Rangers, after losing 9-1 to the Red Sox a couple days ago, are now at -8, and the Red Sox have improved to -43.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, let your light shine in our hearts, the light that can gladden us and lead us until all our longing is stilled. May the higher nature born in us become ever stronger so that the lower and perishable nature does not rule over us. Grant that we may overcome and that our hearts may rejoice in being allowed to strive for the highest good because we are your children who can share in what is eternal. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.
(Titus 3:5-7 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. for the light that shines in our hearts, “the light that can gladden us and lead us until all our longing is stilled” (Plough.com)
  2. for His great and infinite mercy, by which He has saved us
  3. for the Holy Spirit, poured out on us generously through jesus Christ
  4. that God desires to be gracious to us and bless us
  5. for the conscience; a gift from God that helps me determine right from wrong

Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him.
(Isaiah 30:18 ESV)

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
(Jeremiah 29:11 ESV)


Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the LORD your God, who teaches you to profit, who leads you in the way you should go. Oh that you had paid attention to my commandments! Then your peace would have been like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea; your offspring would have been like the sand, and your descendants like its grains; their name would never be cut off or destroyed from before me.”
(Isaiah 48:17-19 ESV)

But this command I gave them: ‘Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be my people. And walk in all the way that I command you, that it may be well with you.’
(Jeremiah 7:23 ESV)

“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.”
(Luke 6:46-49 ESV)

But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.
(James 1:25 ESV)


I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit—
(Romans 9:1 ESV)

And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.
(Deuteronomy 30:6 ESV)


“God waits to be gracious” (Isaiah 30:18). The Hebrew word for “gracious,” in that verse, is chanan. The literal meaning of the word is “to bend or stoop in kindness to an inferior; to favor, to bestow.” The NIV says, “the LORD longs to be gracious . . .”

The words “waits” and “longs” imply that there is a reason, though, that He is prevented from being gracious. Something is delaying God’s graciousness to His people. Now, in the Old Testament, this is speaking to a nation that is God’s people, the nation of Israel.

We no longer have a nation that is considered “God’s people.” God’s people is no longer a nation, but is now the Church, the Body of Christ. I think it is fair to read verses like Isaiah 30:18 and Jeremiah 29:11 and apply them to the individual within that body.

God seriously and sincerely desires, longs, waits, to be gracious to us and to shower us with blessings.

But something delays this blessing, sometimes. Isaiah 48 sheds some light on this. “Oh that you had paid attention to my commandments!” There it is. And this should be no surprise to anyone who has read the words of Jesus in the New Testament, because He says, multiple times, that, if we love Him, we will keep His commandments, or that if we abide in Him and abide in His Word, we can ask for whatever we desire, and He will give it to us.

“Abide” means “to dwell, to live within,” and if we are dwelling in Christ and in His Word, we will obey His commands.

And what are His commands? If you have read this blog before, you know the answer.

And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.
(Matthew 22:37-40 ESV)

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
(John 13:34-35 ESV)

Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.
(Romans 13:8 ESV)

So, if I believe, or find, that God is not, in fact, being gracious to me (which is absurd, because the very fact that I just took another breath is grace . . . everything that allows my life to continue is grace), it is because there is some point in my life where I have not been obedient.

This is not to induce guilt or shame. Especially not shame, because I am a firm believer that shame is a terrible thing, a tool of our enemy.

However, it is to force us to take a look at ourselves and be honest with ourselves.

I know no person who is 100% obedient to those commands, 24/7. I know a person or two that are close. But we are all human, and we all fail.

And this is where that gift of conscience comes into play. Look at that verse from Romans 9 up there, where Paul talks about his conscience bearing witness. What is “conscience?”

“An inner feeling or voice viewed as acting as a guide to the rightness or wrongness of one’s behavior.”

Here’s what Andrew Murray has to say about conscience: “If the voice of conscience tells you of a course of action that is nobler or better, and you choose something else because it is easier or pleasing to self, you ill-equip yourself for the teaching of the Spirit by disobeying the voice of God.”

Keep in mind that Brother Murray is writing to Christians, here. Not to say that the unbeliever doesn’t have a conscience; of course they do (unless they are a psychopath), and I find that some of them do a better job of obeying that conscience than some believers.

I have the Spirit of Christ dwelling within me. Therefore, my “conscience,” as it were, as Murray implies, is equal to the voice of God. It tells me if something I am considering is right or wrong. Or, perhaps, it also tells me if there is something that I should be doing that I am not doing.

“You really ought to help that person. Give them something.”

“You shouldn’t do that thing you’re thinking about doing.”

You should do that thing you’re thinking about not doing.”

Murray then gives us that verse from Deuteronomy 30 about God circumcising the heart. He advises us to “claim this promise.” If we allow God to “circumcise” our heart, then we will, it says, love Him with our entire being, “and live.”

And we will experience the full extent of the graciousness with which God longs and waits to bless us.

“Believe in the love of God and the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Trust the Spirit that is in you, enabling you to love and so cause you to walk in God’s statutes. In the strength of this faith, and in the assurance of sufficient grace, which is made perfect in weakness, enter into God’s love and the life of living obedience it enables.”

It is only the continual presence of Jesus and His love that can enable this continual obedience in us.


Father, strengthen this conscience within me, that I might hear Your voice more readily, and be more obedient to Your commands. Help me to truly live, letting that life come to me because I have loved You with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. And, in doing this, help me to love my neighbor as myself and my brothers and sisters in Christ, as He has loved us.

Let the love of Christ be continually fueling my own love, as I allow it to channel through me, driving my every behavior. This is a tall order, Lord. I am not asking for perfection; well, maybe I am, knowing Your desire for me is to be “perfect, even as my Father in heaven is perfect.” Yet, I know that I cannot be, at least not as long as I dwell in this mortal coil.

But my desire is to strive for this perfection. Not so that I can boast; for I want to have no part in boasting of anything that I have done. Rather, I desire to boast only in You and what Christ has done in my own weakness. Let my weakness be seen, that You might be seen to be strong. Let my foolishness be known, that You might seen to be wise.

I pray for the Body of Christ, that we might do a better job of heeding the conscience that is the voice of Your Holy Spirit, that we might follow the commands of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and might feed the hungry, clothe the naked, free the prisoners, and stop oppression in His name.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus.


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. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints greet you. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
(2 Corinthians 13:11-14 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Holy, Holy, Holy

Today is Sunday, the twenty-first of August, 2022, in the 21st week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you today!

Day 23,537 (the number of days since I was born)

Our high temperature, yesterday, turned out to be well below the predicted high. We only hit 89 degrees. The forecast was for 96. It’s currently 77, this morning, but quite humid out there. I was outside double-checking air pressure in tires before our trip to Mineral Wells, and I was working up a little bit of a sweat. Supposedly, there was a tiny bit of rain at Meacham Field, but I don’t know if it rained any at our house or not. The record high for yesterday’s date is 108.

Looking forward, we still have five out of the next ten days predicted at below 90. The other five are either at 90 or 91.

The Texas Rangers managed to beat the Twins, last night, 4-3 in ten innings. This puts them at 54-66, still in third place in the AL West. They are 22 games out of first, and 10.5 out of a Wild Card spot. They play again, this afternoon, at 1:10 PM CDT.

The Red Sox beat the Orioles, also 4-3, last night. This puts them at 60-61, back within one game of .500. They keep bouncing around this point. They remain in last place in the AL East, thirteen games out of first place and five out of a Wild Card spot. They play the O’s again tonight, at 7:10 PM EDT, another ESPN game.

The Dodgers continue their roll, now at 83-36, for the best MLB record. The Nationals remain on the bottom, at 41-81. The Cardinals continue to streak, now having won six consecutive games. The Giants, unfortunately, also continue to streak, now having lost four straight games. The Dodgers have a +257 run differential, while the Nats are now at -208. The Rangers are back at -3, and the Red Sox are at -35.

We will be leaving for Mineral Wells at about 8:45, this morning, where we will attend worship at First Baptist Church. After that, we will have lunch at Taqueria La Estrella. Then we will drop Mama off at her house, and take S out to the home of the pastor of FBC, who has a horse, a donkey, and some rabbits, where S will have a chance (weather permitting) to interact with some furry friends.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Dear Father in heaven, let our thoughts be filled with all that is honorable, just, pure, gracious, good, and praiseworthy. We want to await your Spirit, not giving way to anxiety, but showing ourselves worthy to be your children. We want to be your children, who can rise above even the most difficult conditions and maintain a quiet trust, to the glory of your Spirit within us. Protect us now and always in your divine peace. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
(Philippians 4:8-9 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that there are things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable, on which we can fix our minds and hearts
2. for the many blessings God has lavished on me and my family; in the words of David, "Who am I, O LORD God, and what is my house, that you have brought me thus far?"
3. for the intercession of the Holy Spirit when I don't know what to pray
4. that the Lord peaks to us in various ways; Father, help me to listen
5. for the Holy Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, who was, who is, and who is to come

Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.
(1 Samuel 3:9 NIV)

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.
(Romans 8:26 NIV)

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.”
(Isaiah 6:1-3 NIV)

“The brightest of living beings, they who are ever before and around and above the throne, find their glory in adoring and proclaiming the holiness of God. Surely for us too there can be no higher honor than to study and know, to worship and adore, and to proclaim and show forth the glory of the Thrice-Holy One.” (Andrew Murray)

The repetition of “holy,” three times, can have multiple meanings. For example, the Lord is often referred to as “Him who was and is and is to come.” But more than likely, it is in reference to Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the Godhead, three in one, the Holy Trinity. God, the Father, is “the Almighty: the Eternal Source.” We see “the present manifestation in the Son,” and “the future perfecting of the revelation of God in the Spirit’s work in His church.”

“Holy, holy, holy, the Lord God almighty! which was and is and is to come! I worship you as the Triune God. With face veiled and feet covered, I would bow in deep humility and silence, till your mercy lifts me as on eagles’ wings to behold your glory.” (Murray)


Father, may I be faithful to listen to me, and may I always be willing to, as Samuel, say, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” Help me to also be faithful to always worship You, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and to be more humble in my attentiveness to You and Your ways. May we, Your people, never approach You flippantly, but always in awe, reverently, and in the proper kind of fear.

Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus!


You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
(Psalms 16:11 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Peace Like A River

Today is Sunday, the fourteenth of August, 2022, in the 20th week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you!

Day 23,530

We hit a high of 98 degrees, yesterday, for our fourth consecutive day under 100. The record high for yesterday’s date is 105. I wonder if that was 1980? The ten-day forecast still includes six days of under-100 temperatures, but the next four are 100+. The great news is that at the end of the ten days, I’m seeing two days that will possible be below 90! The not-so-good news is that we likely aren’t going to get any more rain until around August 21.

I have an adventure tomorrow. I get to take S’s guinea pig, Princess, to an exotic animal doctor to have her eye looked at. It’s been a little cloudy of late, although it seems a little better this morning, and she has exhibited a bit of a head tilt, which may mean she has some inner ear trouble going on.

We have our church gathering, this morning, at 10:15, and it looks like most of us will actually be there. However, we will not be there next Sunday, as we will be traveling to FBC Mineral Wells as part of S’s birthday celebration. Oh, I didn’t put that up there, did I? S turns 29 in only FIVE MORE DAYS! We should probably get that cookie cake ordered, huh?

C and I have scheduled a Glen Rose trip in October for our anniversary. It will be the weekend before the actual anniversary, which is October 12. It’s been a while since we have been to Paluxy River Bed Cabins, so we are very excited about that.

The Texas Rangers snapped a nine-game losing streak against the Mariners, by winning 7-4, last night. That losing streak was exclusively against the Mariners, by the way. They are now 50-63 (finally won that fiftieth game), still in third place by a half game, 23 games out of first place, and 9.5 games out of a Wild Card spot. They play Seattle again today, at 1:35 CDT, with Martin Perez taking the mound. The Rangers have 49 games left in 2022.

The Boston Red Sox lost to the Yankees, 3-2 (I think that’s the same score they won by, the night before), to make them 56-59 for the season. They remain in last place in the AL East, 16.5 games out of first place, and 4.5 out of a Wild Card spot. They will play the Yankees again, this evening (it’s an ESPN game). The Red Sox have 47 games left in 2022.

The LA Dodgers can’t seem to lose, now. They continue to be the best team in MLB with a 79-33 record, twelve straight wins, and a run differential of +251. The Washington Nationals remain on the bottom, at 38-77, and a -204 run differential. The Athletics of Oakland, however, have the current losing streak at seven games. The Texas Rangers have a run differential of -4, and the REd S

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, grant that we may heed your commandments, that our peace may be like a river and our righteousness like the waves of the sea. Be with us through your Spirit, we pray. Speak with us and tell us what we need to hear so that we can understand what draws us always nearer to you. Show the might of your hand to help us and all people. Even under judgment we shall not despair, we shall not lose courage because of troubles and distress. Come with your strength, that we may grow strong to overcome the world through Jesus Christ the Savior. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river, your well-being like the waves of the sea.
(Isaiah 48:18 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the possibility of peace "like a river," by heeding the commands of God (loving God and loving people)
2. for an understanding of what draws us nearer to God
3. for the strength to overcome the world through Jesus Christ the Savior
4. for the songs that my God sings over me
5. for the encouragement to always be growing, moving forward in Christ, and the knowledge that, if I am walking with Him, He will lead

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.” Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.”
(John 1:29-34 NIV)

Woe to her who is rebellious and defiled, the oppressing city! She listens to no voice; she accepts no correction. She does not trust in the LORD; she does not draw near to her God. Her officials within her are roaring lions; her judges are evening wolves that leave nothing till the morning. Her prophets are fickle, treacherous men; her priests profane what is holy; they do violence to the law.
(Zephaniah 3:1-4 ESV)

“On that day you shall not be put to shame because of the deeds by which you have rebelled against me; for then I will remove from your midst your proudly exultant ones, and you shall no longer be haughty in my holy mountain. But I will leave in your midst a people humble and lowly. They shall seek refuge in the name of the LORD, those who are left in Israel; they shall do no injustice and speak no lies, nor shall there be found in their mouth a deceitful tongue. For they shall graze and lie down, and none shall make them afraid.”
(Zephaniah 3:11-13 ESV)

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 ESV)

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.
(2 Peter 3:18 ESV, emphasis added)

“A faith walk is measured by forward movement. And when we walk with Jesus, He takes the lead.” (Shawnelle Eliasen)

The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”
(Luke 17:5 ESV)

Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, and of instruction about washings, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.
(Hebrews 6:1-2 ESV)


I could have easily stopped, today, after that bit from Plough about having peace like a river. I kept on reading my prescribed readings, though, from my various devotional materials.

Here’s the thing. Do you have peace in your life? And I’m strictly speaking to believers, here, because I know a bunch who don’t live like they have peace. And the reason for this? It’s right there in Isaiah!

If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river, your well-being like the waves of the sea.
(Isaiah 48:18 NIV)

The problem is that we seem to be getting bogged down in what those commands are. Let’s go over that again. I will never get tired of quoting Jesus Christ on this, because it is simply the essence of life.

Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
(Matthew 22:34-40 NIV)

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
(John 13:34-35 NIV)

When we don’t have peace in our lives, it is very likely because we are not heeding those commands.

Another thing that happens when we heed those commands is that we grow. We move forward. I love the quote from Shawnelle Eliason, this morning. When I walk in faith, I will move forward. And Jesus will take the lead, if I am truly following Him.

There’s one final thought, here, from Andrew Murray. “We find the Christian life difficult because we seek for God’s blessing while we live according to our own will. We make our own plans and choose our own work, and then we ask the Lord Jesus to watch and see that sin does not overtake us and that we do not wander too far from the path.”

If we are heeding His commands, we will be entirely at His disposal, we will be moving forward in our faith walk, and we will have peace like a river.

Today's sources:
YouVersion Bible reading plan
Daily Guideposts 2022
Power in Prayer, by Andrew Murray

Father, help me, today, to enjoy this peace. Help me to focus only on obeying/heeding those two commands (three if we add that “new command” from Jesus) to love You, love my neighbor, and especially love the saints. If I can do those things, I will have peace, my walk will be moving forward, and, more importantly, my life will be Yours, to do with as You will.

I pray for all of Your children, today, that they might experience this peace in their lives by heeding Your commands and loving. It truly is all about love, Father.

Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus!


Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
(John 14:27 NIV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Humbled or Exalted

Today is Sunday, the seventh of August, 2022, in the nineteenth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you today!

Day 23,523

Only twelve days until S turns 29!

We didn’t hit 100 for a high temp, yesterday. I knew that, when we were leaving the library, yesterday, one of my friends there commented that it had only hit 99 there. The official report closest to my house says it only got up to 98. Today’s predicted high is 100. Beginning next Tuesday, we might see four straight days of below-100 temps, and a possible high on Wednesday of only 94, along with some possible thunderstorms that evening.

Dane Dunning had a tremendous outing, last night, as the Texas Rangers defeated the Other Sox 8-0. He pitched seven innings, giving up no runs and only one hit. Adolis Garcia had five RBIs in the game. I started to say they won the series, but they have one more game with them this afternoon, at 1:35 CDT, in Arlington. They are now 48-59 on the season, still in third place in the AL West, 21 games behind first place, and nine out of a Wild Card spot.

Boston lost another game to the KC Royals, 5-4 on a walk-off home run. They are now 54-55 on the season, still in last place in the AL East. They are 16.5 games out of first place, and now four games out of a Wild Card spot. They play KC again, this afternoon, at 1:10 CDT in KC.

The LA Dodgers are now decisively the best MLB team, with a 74-33 record. The Washington Nationals continue to be firmly entrenched in the cellar, with 36-73. The Dodgers also have the longest current winning streak, at seven games. The Nationals and the (hahahahaha!!!) YANKEES are tied for the longest current losing streak, at four consecutive games. The Dodgers also have the best run differential, at +222, while the Nats have the worst at -184. After last night, the Rangers are back in the positive column with +5, and the Red Sox continue to go backwards, now with -22.

The big news of the day, which I have avoided mentioning, is that I have a colonoscopy scheduled for tomorrow at noon. My diet has been moderately restricted since Friday (no raw fruits or vegetables, no high fiber foods, such as whole wheat bread, no nuts or legumes of any kind), and, as of noon today, I can have no solid foods at all. Oddly, Jell-o counts as a “clear liquid” (scratching my head over that one), but I don’t have any anyway, so I will be drinking lots of water today. I also have to start drinking the prep this evening at 6 PM. One dose then, and another dose tomorrow morning, at 6 AM (five hours before my 11 AM arrival time). After 8 AM tomorrow morning, I can have nothing even to drink.

Good times.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Dear Father in heaven, as your children we come into your presence so that you may lead us with the light that streams out from you. We come to your light seeking an inner birth to make us what your children ought to be. Bless us as we thank you for all your goodness and for the powerful help you have given many among us. Accept the thanks we offer you, and grant that we never forget the good you are doing for us. Help us to go forward, always forward, until your kingdom is completed. May it not be in vain that we live in the Lord Jesus and in love to you, the God and Father of all. May it not be in vain that we bring you our requests and prayers for your kingdom to come soon. Yes, Lord Jesus, come! Come soon to this earth so that all people may acknowledge the true God and may love you. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.”
(John 12:36 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the light, streaming out from God, that leads us into His Kingdom
2. that the Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed
3. that "if anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all"
4. that "everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened"
5. for the Holy Spirit, and His many ministries in the lives of the saints

The LORD is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you.
(Psalms 9:9-10 ESV)

And they came to Capernaum. And when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you discussing on the way?” But they kept silent, for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest. And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” And he took a child and put him in the midst of them, and taking him in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.”
(Mark 9:33-37 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)

“The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed.”

“If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.”

These are statements, truths, that would lead us to humility, if we are paying attention. If the Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed, we would do well to pay more attention to the oppressed and come to their aid. The words of Jesus scream in our ears about this.

"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 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.'
 "Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.' Then they also will answer, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?' Then he will answer them, saying, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.' And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."
(Matthew 25:31-46 ESV)

The body of Christ is in much need of humility, these days. Even when directed to ask, that we might receive, seek, that we might find, and knock, that the door might be opened, we need to do those things with great humility.

And it is far better to humble oneself willingly than for it to be forced upon one.

Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.
(Matthew 23:12 ESV)

Today’s source was Daily Guideposts 2022


Father, I pray for more humility in my life. I realize the dangers of this prayer, as it is akin to praying for more faith, which brings about more testing. But I know that I need to be more humble in all things, so please make it so.

Help me also to have the faith (in humility) to keep on asking, seeking, and knocking, that I might find You and be more intimately connected to You. May Your Spirit reign in my heart and in my life, that I might know You more.

I pray for this procedure coming up and for the preparations that come with it. I confess that I am dreading this, and pray that everything goes well for it. I also pray for good results from the procedure, itself.

But more than that, I pray for the body of Christ, that all we do in Your name will draw people toward You, rather than push people away.

Even so, please come soon, Lord Jesus!


"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

Grace and peace, friends.

From Death to Knowledge to Obedience

Today is Sunday, the thirty-first of July, 2022, in the eighteenth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you, today!

"I really wish you an ever deeper peace. I know that that peace quite often lives underneath the turmoils and anxieties of our heart and doesn’t always mean inner harmony or emotional tranquility. That peace that God gives us quite often is beyond our thoughts and feelings, and we have to really trust that peace is there for us to claim even in the midst of our moments of despair."
(Henri Nouwen)

Day 23,516

Nineteen days until S turns 29!

We got a long-awaited break from the heat wave, yesterday. I mean, 99 is still hot, but it’s better than the triple-digit temperatures we have been enduring. And it rained again, more in some areas than others. We drove through quite a rain shower on the way home from Mineral Wells, but I don’t think it rained nearly that much at our house. The average temps for July 30 are 97/73. The record temps are 107/65. The forecast for the next ten days predicts 100+ for five of those days, and then, beginning August 5, the next five days are predicted to be below 100. We shall see if that holds true.

I had a most wonderful time with my high school bandmates (and even a couple of their mothers showed up), as we met for lunch yesterday. There were three from my own class (class of ’76), a couple from the class of ’75, one who I’m not sure was ’75 or ’74, and then one who was probably either class of ’72 or ’73. After our lunch, a handful of us got to go over to the high school and visit with the current band director and a couple of his assistants, and we got to see their band hall. I was shocked (my, how time flies) when it was pointed out that they have been in that “new” band hall for 23 years!

What made it even more special was the way we were received and treated by them. I mean, we were practically treated like royalty! Of course, most of us were part of the first band to ever get the “Sweepstakes” award, which is a first division in all three categories of marching contest, concert contest, and sight-reading contest, which, I think, happened in 1975. One of the assistants even insisted on taking a photo of all of us, so we posed in front of our old band banner that the current band director found stored in a closet.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, with all our hearts we come before your countenance. Our hearts shall always be in your presence, asking, longing, and believing that you will guide our affairs aright. Protect us, for you are our God and Father. Protect all who are in danger or who must go into danger. Make known your great love and your living presence to the hearts of the dying. Draw our hearts together so that we may have community in you, our faith and hope set on you alone. Protect us during the night, and help us to be at peace about all our concerns because they are in your hands. Every concern of every person is in your hands. We ourselves are in your hands, Lord God, our Father, and there we want to remain. Your hands can heal and restore everything. Praised be your name! Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)(emphasis mine)

Many, LORD, are asking, “Who will bring us prosperity?” Let the light of your face shine on us.
(Psalms 4:6 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the wonderful time I had with my high school classmates, yesterday
2. that all of my concerns are in God's hands
3. that every concern of every person is in His hands
4. that there is nothing or no one that is insignificant in God's Kingdom; even the littlest things matter - nothing is wasted, nothing goes unnoticed
5. for everyday miracles that often go unnoticed; I took a breath, I see colors, I hear music and other sounds, birds fly, rain fell yesterday, the sun, moon, and stars continue on the paths to which they were appointed
6. for more rain showers, yesterday

I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: 
"Death is swallowed up in victory." 
"O death, where is your victory? 
O death, where is your sting?" 
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 
Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.
(1 Corinthians 15:50-58 ESV)

Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.”
(John 1:48 ESV)

May my meditation be pleasing to him, for I rejoice in the LORD.
(Psalms 104:34 ESV)

Glory in his holy name;
 let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice! 
Seek the LORD and his strength; 
seek his presence continually!
(Psalms 105:3-4 ESV)
Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, 
who seek him with their whole heart, 
who also do no wrong, 
but walk in his ways!
(Psalms 119:2-3 ESV)
O LORD, you have searched me and known me! 
You know when I sit down and when I rise up; 
you discern my thoughts from afar. 
You search out my path and my lying down 
and are acquainted with all my ways. 
Even before a word is on my tongue, 
behold, O LORD, you know it altogether. 
You hem me in, behind and before, 
and lay your hand upon me. 
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; 
it is high; I cannot attain it.
(Psalms 139:1-6 ESV)

Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish. When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.”
(John 6:11-12 NIV)

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
(Matthew 6:25-34 NIV)

“O, death, where is your victory? O, death, where is your sting?”

Even at my age, death seems like a distant thing. Even though I don’t know if I will finish this sentence, death doesn’t often seem like reality. I know it is, of course, because family members and friends have died, over the years.

It is quite tempting, at times, to adopt solipsism as a philosophy.

Nevertheless, when I do think about death, it is a strange feeling. I know people contradict themselves constantly. They claim to be atheists, and don’t seem to believe in any kind of afterlife, but then, when their favorite rock stars die, they talk about what a great band there must be, “up there.” What? Up where?

Furthermore, I cannot fathom, whatsoever, the concept of not existing. Have you ever tried it? Just try it for a few minutes. Try to consider what it would be like to have never existed. Then try to think about what it would be like to no longer exist, if you believed, as some, that this life is all there is. It makes my head hurt.

I believe that we were created to be eternal beings. I believe, along with Dallas Willard, that “We are unceasing spiritual beings with an eternal destiny in God’s great universe.” And I believe, along with a multitude of saints, that Jesus Christ has won the victory for us.

Related to that, I also believe what Scripture teaches about how I am known by God. Jesus saw Nathaniel, before Phillip called him, sitting under a fig tree. Jesus knew Nathaniel before Nathaniel got to Him. Jesus knew me long before I was called into His Kingdom. He continues to know me, down to the knowing of what I’m going to say (or type) before I do so.

Now, when we speak of “miracles,” we usually think about such times as when Jesus turned water into wine, or when he fed thousands of people with a little boy’s sack lunch. And, of course, we think of the miracle of all miracles, the resurrection of Christ, from the dead.

I consider God’s knowledge of us to also be a miracle. As the psalmist proclaimed, “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me.” And it is through this knowledge that I can begin to know His will for me. Is that too far a reach? I don’t think so.

It stands to reason that, if God knows me the way Scripture says He does, then it is also true what Paul declares in Ephesians.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
(Ephesians 2:10 ESV)

When Jesus chose His disciples, the works that they would do had already been prepared for them. When Jesus chose you and me, the same is true.

There has been a lot of talk, and many, many books written, about finding God’s will for our lives. There have also been myriads of questionnaires, designed to tell people what their “spiritual gifts” are.

I don’t pay any attention to most of those, any more. For one thing, I learned that it is possible to answer the questions on those questionnaires so that the answer comes out what you want it to be.

Here’s the thing. If we can embrace the truth about how completely God knows us, and simply walk in that, we won’t have to search for God’s will or His wisdom. And, if we must seek, the place to look is deep within our own hearts.

No, I’m not saying “follow your heart.” That is the worst advice anyone every gave. I’m saying that that is where God works, and that is the purpose of meditation and contemplation, two disciplines that have been widely neglected in the contemporary evangelical community.

“Learn that God’s working, and the place where He gives His life and light, is in the heart, deeper than all our thoughts. Any uncertainty about God’s will makes joyful obedience impossible.” (Andrew Murray)

Wait. When did he start talking about obedience?

Well, it’s all related. If I am not confident about God’s will for my life, then how can I be joyfully obeying? On the other hand, if I am confident that God will direct my steps on the path that He has appointed for me, walking in those “good works” for which He has prepared me beforehand, then I am also confident that whatever I am doing is His will, and I don’t have to seek for it.

Consider, said Jesus. We worry too much about too many things. The disciples had food for a few days after Jesus fed those thousands. One time, there was a basket apiece left over. Another time, there were seven baskets left over. They were eyewitnesses to these events, and, bless their hearts, they still struggled to believe the things Jesus said.

He doesn’t make it hard. We make it hard.

“Life is a series of a thousand tiny miracles. Notice them.” (Quoted in Pray a Word a Day, as “Inspirational Christian quote,” but found to be attributed to Roald Dahl)

Today's sources:
Pray a Word a Day
Daily Guideposts 2022
Power in Prayer, by Andrew Murray

Father, I thank You for more rain, yesterday, and that our temperature was a bit lower. The relief was much needed. I also thank You for the wonderful time of memory-sharing that we had, yesterday, as a group of former high school bandmates met for lunch. I’m hoping we can do more of that.

Lord, You know me, as the psalmist says, in Your Word. You know me, as has been said, better than I know myself. And I take comfort in this, because You love me, anyway. That’s right. You know all of the nooks and crannies of what makes me, me. You know how I am apt to react to any given circumstance, You know my tendency toward being judgmental, You know my anger issues, and You know my impatience with things and people, yet You love me anyway, with an everlasting love that won’t quit.

I praise You for that love. I also thank You for how You have arranged things in my life, and for the “good works” that You prepared in advance for me. Now, I know that I can only be aware of those things when I encounter them and walk in them. I won’t likely know about them until I’m in the middle of them. I believe that Your will for me is being worked out on a daily basis and revealed to me only as I spend time searching my heart for the ways You work within me. I have confidence, as I meditate and contemplate, that Your grace and mercy will be revealed in me, and that I will embrace Your knowledge of me in all things.

I thank You for Christ’s victory over death, so that death, itself, has no sway over us. Oh, sure, our physical bodies will die, someday, as we all do. But that is not the final word for us, because we are unceasing spiritual beings with an eternal destiny in Your great universe. There will be, as promised in Scripture, a new heaven and new earth that will appear when Christ returns to set all things right. And we pray,

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
(1 Corinthians 15:57 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Peace, Not Prosperity

Today is Sunday, the twenty-fourth of July, 2022, in the seventeenth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you today!

Day 23,509

Yesterday’s high temp hit 100 degrees in my area, to make our total days of triple-digit temperatures 28, with the current streak at eight days. The current forecast shows only next Saturday (July 30) being below 100. It has been fifty days since it rained. There is a 35% chance of rain next Friday, and 22% on Saturday.

We are planning a trip to Mineral Wells, next Saturday, as I have a lunch gathering with some high school band classmates, along with our director. I’m concerned that the house will be too hot to work in, but we will see how it goes.

My day at the library yesterday was pretty good. It didn’t seem very busy at the circ desk, but a lot of books were returned, so we kept busy emptying out the book drops.

The Texas Rangers lost another game to the Athletics, last night, 3-1. They are now nine games below .500, at 42-51. They remain in third place in the AL West, twenty games out of first, and eight games out of the Wild Card race. They play again in Oakland at 3:07 CDT, today. Martin Perez is starting, so there is some hope, but the bats have to work, too.

The Red Sox lost another game to the Blue Jays, but it was a bit closer, this time. It was 4-1, this time. The Sox are only one game above .500, now, at 48-47. They remain in fourth place in the AL East, and are now only a half game ahead of last place. They are 16.5 out of first place, and three games out of the Wild Card race. They play Toronto again today, in Boston, at 1:35 EDT.

The Nationals continue to have the worst MLB record, at 31-65. The Dodgers are within a half game of catching the Yankees with the best record. Those Dodgers also own the best current win streak, at seven consecutive games. The other LA team, the Angels, has the longest current losing streak, at five games. The Red Sox have lost four in a row. The Nationals still have the worst run differential, at -163. The Rangers are still in the green, but barely, with +4, and the Red Sox have dropped to -8.

At this point, I’m losing hope that either of my teams will see any playoff action, this season. I know there’s still a lot of baseball left, but it’s just not looking good. To make matters worse, Rafael Devers has been placed on the IL for the Sox. It’s just a hamstring, so maybe it won’t be for long.

We have our church gathering this morning at 10:15, and then we have a show that we are attending, in Irving, at 2:30. That’s pretty much it for the day.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, we bow down before you in this time when you have brought us hardships and judgment. Change this earthly age, we beseech you. Bring in something from heaven so that your will may be done and your mercy come to all nations. Strengthen us on all our ways, we pray. We thank you for all you have done for us. May your name be praised and glorified at all times. We want to follow you and to remain in your heavenly life. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. 
(Hebrews 10:35–36 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the confidence I have in God, that I will be "richly rewarded"
2. for the peace that God gives us
3. that God dwells with us, within us, and not in any building
4. for God's Word, and the hope for proper understanding of it
5. for the community of saints, and the hope for unity within it

Today’s word, from Pray A Word A Day, is prosper.

“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)

This is a dangerous word. And the writer of today’s reading claims that the Hebrew word for prosper means “to push forward, to pass through, to get on.” However, that doesn’t appear to be the word used in Jeremiah 29:11. There is a Hebrew word that does mean that, but the word in Jeremiah 29:11 is shalom!

That word can be translated as prosperity, but usually, it means “peace,” and that is how the KJV translates it. The ESV uses the word “welfare,” the NLT says “good,” and Peterson, The Message, says “to take care of you.”

I like this verse, but we have to be careful with verses like this. This is not a “promise” that we can “claim” for ourselves. Context is everything! And in this case, it is important to look at the verse before it.

“For thus says the LORD: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the LORD, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the LORD, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.”
(Jeremiah 29:10-14 ESV)

Here’s the thing. I do believe that God’s plans for me are good. But this passage is explicitly written to Israel, and any attempt to “claim” it for ourselves is misguided. Nevertheless, I believe we can take comfort for it, as well as the following verses that do promise that if we seek the Lord we will find Him.


My dwelling place shall be with them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
(Ezekiel 37:27 ESV)

Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?
(1 Corinthians 3:16 ESV)


Father, I thank You for the peace that dwells within me. I pray for proper understanding of Your Word and that misinformation would not be spread lightly. Help us to understand the difference between peace and prosperity, especially when we get caught up in material things. I believe that my “prosperity” comes in spiritual things, and I believe that You have granted me peace through Your Spirit, because of Your Son. Help me to call on You and seek You wholeheartedly, that I might find You, because You are not making it difficult for us to find You.

Your dwelling place is, indeed, with us, within us, both individually, and as Your Church, the Body of Christ. I pray for unity as we realize this in our lives.

Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus!


Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
(John 14:27 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Simplify

It is Sunday, the seventeenth of July, 2022, in the sixteenth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ dwell in your heart today!

Day 23,502

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, light of humankind in Jesus Christ, full of joy and trust we ask that we may have access to your almighty power, your power against all darkness, sin, death, and bondage. May we feel close to your almighty power. Hear our weeping, for we are and remain your children, to whom you have promised redemption and deliverance. Together we hold fast to this promise and stand before you saying, "We are your children in Jesus Christ the Savior, whom you have sent to us." Hear your children. Bless us each one, and bless us as one people, allowed to serve you in the misery of our world. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn. 
(Isaiah 61:1–2 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the power of God against all darkness, sin, death, and bondage
2. for promised redemption and deliverance through Jesus Christ
3. for the discipline of simplicity; may I continue to improve in that
4. for my morning coffee
5. for chances to have some alone time with my wife

"Obviously, while I love all, I must, like Christ, have a special love for the poor. At the last judgement, we shall all be judged by the treatment we have given to Christ, to Christ in the person of those who are hungry or thirsty, who are dirty, wounded, and oppressed."
(Don Helder Camara, Daily Dig from Plough.com)

And Elijah came near to all the people and said, “How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.” And the people did not answer him a word.
(1 Kings 18:21 ESV)

Then Elijah said to all the people, "Come near to me." And all the people came near to him. And he repaired the altar of the LORD that had been thrown down. Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the word of the LORD came, saying, "Israel shall be your name," and with the stones he built an altar in the name of the LORD. And he made a trench about the altar, as great as would contain two seahs of seed. And he put the wood in order and cut the bull in pieces and laid it on the wood. And he said, "Fill four jars with water and pour it on the burnt offering and on the wood." And he said, "Do it a second time." And they did it a second time. And he said, "Do it a third time." And they did it a third time. And the water ran around the altar and filled the trench also with water. 
And at the time of the offering of the oblation, Elijah the prophet came near and said, "O LORD, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel, and that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at your word. Answer me, O LORD, answer me, that this people may know that you, O LORD, are God, and that you have turned their hearts back." Then the fire of the LORD fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces and said, "The LORD, he is God; the LORD, he is God." And Elijah said to them, "Seize the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape." And they seized them. And Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon and slaughtered them there.
(1 Kings 18:30-40 ESV)

Today’s word, from Pray A Word A Day, is simplify.

“Our life is frittered away by detail. . . . Simplify. Simplify. Simplify.” ~ Henry David Thoreau

This is a word that goes right alongside yesterday’s word of balance. Our society is also way too complex, between all the doing, and all the acquiring. The reading only addresses the physical things, like all the latest technology that we seem to think we have to have.

I used to think that I had to keep up with musical technology, and have the latest gadget attached to my keyboards and what-not.

But the simplification goes beyond just the physical, as well. We also need to simplify our schedules. Many people, especially with younger children, seem to be going, going, going, all the time, with barely time to stop and breathe.

It is no wonder that we are a nation that is direly in need of therapy.

Perhaps if we worked to put God first, the other things would either fall into order, or, perhaps, many of them would fall away completely, when we discover that we don’t need them at all.


Father, I pray that that You continue to lead me down a path of simplicity. I know that I am pretty wrapped up in today’s technologies, but I try to use them for good, and to proclaim You throughout the world. I pray that my words reach ears (and eyes) that are open to Your Spirit and attuned to Your grace, that they may be drawn into Your Kingdom, that we may walk together.

I pray for this nation, that our society might find a way to balance and simplify itself. I also pray for the region in which I live, that we might have relief from this heat wave, and please, Father, send some rain to us.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!


May the LORD bless you and protect you.
May the LORD smile on you and be gracious to you.
May the LORD show you his favor and give you his peace.
(Numbers 6:24-26 NLT)

Grace and peace, friends.