Values

Today is Saturday, the 7th of January, 2023, in the second week of Christmas.

I pray that the peace of Christ will enfold you, today.

Day 23,676

There are 46 days until the beginning of Lent.

As this year progresses, I intend to find that this daily blog contains more Scripture and prayer and less “talk.” We’ll see how that goes.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

May my heart be blameless in your statutes, 
so that I may not be put to shame.
(Psalms 119:80 NRSV)

A preacher friend and I shared a little joke, yesterday, around a serious prayer request. Yesterday’s “Wordle” was “belie,” a word that I don’t think I have ever used. This preacher, who also plays every day, put a prayer request on my daily Facebook post. “Pray that my behavior doesn’t belie my devotion to Christ.” After saying, “I saw what you did there,” I asked him to pray the same for me. This morning, I added the above verse to my response.

By the way, “belie” means, “(of an appearance) fail to give a true notion or impression of (something); disguise or contradict.”

Dear Father in heaven, accept us as your children, whose lives are under your protection and who turn to you for strength. In the midst of all the struggles and temptations in this world keep us certain of your love and goodness. Grant that we may help your name to be honored on earth and your salvation to spread over all the world. May we help that the hope you have given us brings light and strength for our own lives and for all whom you love in Jesus Christ. Amen.

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

Arise, shine, for your light has come, 
and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. 
See, darkness covers the earth 
and thick darkness is over the peoples, 
but the LORD rises upon you 
and his glory appears over you. 
Nations will come to your light, 
and kings to the brightness of your dawn. 
Isaiah 60:1–3, NIV

Today I am grateful:

  1. for the light that has come; for the glory of the Lord that rises upon us
  2. for the Word of God, that so strongly influences my prayer life
  3. for the abundant goodness of God
  4. for promises of answered prayer; how much better it is when we agree on what we are praying for
  5. for the motivation of God’s Holy Spirit, which eliminates selfishness

O sing to the LORD a new song;
 sing to the LORD, all the earth.
(Psalms 96:1 NRSV)
With my whole heart I cry; 
answer me, O LORD. 
I will keep your statutes.
(Psalms 119:145 NRSV)

Father, I would pray for this to be true. I cannot truthfully claim that I cry out to You with a “whole heart,” but it is my desire to do so.

Glory to You, Lord God of our fathers;
You are worthy of praise;
glory to You.
Glory to You for the radiance of Your holy Name;
we will praise You and highly exalt You for ever.
Glory to You in the splendor of Your temple;
on the throne of Your majesty, glory to You.
Glory to You, seated between the Cherubim;
we will praise You and highly exalt You for ever.
Glory to You, beholding the depths;
in the high vault of heaven, glory to You.
Glory to You, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit;
we will praise You and highly exalt You for ever.
(TeDeum)
Righteousness will go before him, 
and will make a path for his steps.
(Psalms 85:13 NRSV)
Then Jesus said to them, "Very truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world." 

"I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh." 
(John 6:32-33, 51 NRSV)

Father, give me this day my daily bread.

O how abundant is your goodness 
that you have laid up for those who fear you, 
and accomplished for those who take refuge in you,
 in the sight of everyone!
 In the shelter of your presence 
you hide them from human plots; 
you hold them safe under your shelter 
from contentious tongues. 
Blessed be the LORD, 
for he has wondrously shown his steadfast love to me 
when I was beset as a city under siege.
(Psalms 31:19-21 NRSV)
 Glory be to God the Father, 
God the Son, 
and God the Holy Spirit. 
As it was in the beginning, 
so it is now and so it shall ever be, 
world without end. 
Alleluia. Amen.
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Your Name. 
May Your kingdom come, and Your will be done, 
on earth as in heaven. 
Give us today our daily bread. 
Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. 
Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; 
for Yours are the kingdom and the power 
and the glory forever and ever. 
Amen.
"O God, who wonderfully created, and yet more wonderfully restored, the dignity of human nature: Grant that we may share the divine life of him who humbled himself to share our humanity, your Son Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen."
(The Divine Hours -The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.”
(Matthew 18:19-20 NRSV)

If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.
(John 14:14 NRSV)

All these were constantly devoting themselves to prayer, together with certain women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, as well as his brothers.
(Acts 1:14 NRSV)


My counsel is this: Live freely, animated and motivated by God’s Spirit. Then you won’t feed the compulsions of selfishness.
(Galatians 5:16 MSG)


The same night he got up and took his two wives, his two maids, and his eleven children, and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. He took them and sent them across the stream, and likewise everything that he had. Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he struck him on the hip socket; and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. Then he said, “Let me go, for the day is breaking.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go, unless you bless me.” So he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” Then the man said, “You shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with humans, and have prevailed.” Then Jacob asked him, “Please tell me your name.” But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And there he blessed him. So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life is preserved.”
(Genesis 32:22-30 NRSV)


People are more important than property. Forgiveness is more important than property. Forgiveness is better than revenge. Worshiping God is more important than impressing our neighbors.

These are the “values” that we need to be building as we follow Christ. These are values that go along with Jesus’s two commands. They give us direction and purpose.


Father, I praise You for Your Word, which both inspires me and convicts me, daily. I thank You for the way in which it leads me into prayer, each day. I also thank You for giving me both mind and spirit to comprehend what Your Spirit is telling me, through Your Word.

I pray that, more and more, we, Your children, would find ourselves in agreement in matters of prayer, that we would have more effective prayers. Help us to assist in bringing about Your kingdom on earth, as we pray that Your will be done, and Your kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven.

Give me a unified heart, that I might cry out to You and give praise to You with a whole heart. Help me to walk with You like Enoch walked with You. Your Spirit is reminding me of this man, multiple times a day. Yes, I realize that Jesus is my ultimate goal and example, but I can’t get away from the very brief bit about Enoch in Genesis.

Finally, I ask that You would guide us toward a complete lack of selfishness, that we might consider people more important than property, as well as more important than getting our way. May we consider, as Paul tells us, all other people to be more significant than ourselves. May we be less concerned with keeping up with or impressing our neighbors than we are with loving our neighbors. And help us, dear Lord, to forgive. Let us never have thoughts of revenge, and remember that Your Word tells us that vengeance belongs to You.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


"Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us in safety to this new day: Preserve us with your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."
(The Book of Common Prayer, Morning Collect for Daily Devotions)

Grace and peace, friends.

Blessing

Today is Tuesday, the thirty-first of August, 2021. Last day of August. And just in case anyone wonders, there still twenty-two days of summer left.

Shalom Aleichem!

Day 23,182

Six days until Labor Day.

It still feels like summer, in DFW, too, with temps soaring to the upper nineties every day this week, and no rain in the ten-day forecast.

Today is We Love Memoirs Day, which is fitting, because I just finished one, yesterday, and you can see the review of Willie Nelson’s Letters to America on my other blog by clicking here.

The word for today is gorgonize, a verb which means, “hypnotize; petrify.” “She felt trapped and totally helpless in his gorgonizing stare.” Wouldn’t that be an adverb in that context? What do I know?

Today’s quote, from Arthur C. Clark, is one that I love and believe I have used before. “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” It’s true, right? Seriously, anyone from a primitive culture (and they do still exist on this planet) who saw the things we do with computers would only be able to assume that we were engaging in sorcery.

Birthdays for August 30:

Lizzie Arlington, the first woman to play men's professional baseball, 1877-1919
Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands, 1880-1962. The state park and lodge in Mena, Arkansas are named after her, because many of the original investors were Dutch.
Buddy Hackett, actor in The Music Man, 1924-2003
Frank Robinson, HOF baseball player and manager, 1935-2019
Roger Dean, album cover illustrator for Yes, 77 years old today
Van Morrison, singer-songwriter from Northern Ireland, turns 76 today
Roger Dean album cover illustration

I’ve officially gotten my work schedule, which will be effective after the beginning of October, assuming the city goes ahead with plans to open the library on Fridays. It will look like this:

Every Tuesday: 4:15PM-8:15PM
Alternating Wednesdays: 9:15AM-6:15PM
Every Friday: 9:15AM-6:15PM
Alternating Saturdays: 9:30AM-6:15PM

So, based on the city’s work week, which begins on Friday and ends on the following Thursday (makes my head hurt trying to figure this out), I will work Friday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, followed by Friday, Saturday, and Tuesday. I actually like this better than my current schedule, which has me working Saturday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, followed by Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. When you break it down like that, it looks fine (and I am NOT complaining, here), but if you look at the calendar week, I have weeks like this week where I am working Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, as well as Saturday, which falls in the next pay week. So I’m actually working four calendar days, this week, and only two next week (Tuesday and Wednesday).

Like I said . . . if you think about it too hard, it makes your head hurt. I get twenty hours per pay week, but it looks like I’m actually working twenty-eight hours in this calendar week and only twelve hours next week.

Today, I’m working 11:15AM-8:15PM, and will be training in the computer center for the first time.

C is getting ready for her surgery on Thursday. She works from home today, and tomorrow will be the last day at the office for anywhere from four to six weeks (mid October, sometime), but may be able to work from home after two or three weeks, depending on how the recovery is progressing.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Glory to You, Lord God of our fathers;
You are worthy of praise;
glory to You.
Glory to You for the radiance of Your holy Name;
we will praise You and highly exalt You for ever.
Glory to You in the splendor of Your temple;
on the throne of Your majesty, glory to You.
Glory to You, seated between the Cherubim;
we will praise You and highly exalt You for ever.
Glory to You, beholding the depths;
in the high vault of heaven, glory to You.
Glory to You, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit;
we will praise You and highly exalt You for ever.
(TeDeum)

Oh, that I had wings like a dove; then I would fly away and rest! I would fly far away to the quiet of the wilderness. How quickly I would escape—far from this wild storm of hatred.
(Psalms 55:6-8 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. that, in spite of the "wild storm of hatred" outside, You still have things firmly in hand
2. that You give me quiet and rest during these times in my own home; I don't have to fly away to some distant place
3. for Your blessing upon us
4. for Your face being turned toward us
5. for the call to be peacemakers, and the peace with which You gift us

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK FIFTEEN – DAY THREE

INVITATION

I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations. For your steadfast love is great to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds.
(Psalms 57:9-10 ESV)

During this moment of peace and quiet, I pause to simply reflect on the presence of the Lord, with me at all times, in all places.

BIBLE SONG

For the director of music. With stringed instruments. Of David.

Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer.

From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe.

I long to dwell in your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of your wings. For you, God, have heard my vows; you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name.

Increase the days of the king’s life, his years for many generations. May he be enthroned in God’s presence forever; appoint your love and faithfulness to protect him.

Then I will ever sing in praise of your name and fulfill my vows day after day.
(Psalms 61:1-8 NIV)

BIBLE READING

The LORD said to Moses, “Tell Aaron and his sons, ‘This is how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them:
“‘”The LORD bless you
and keep you;
the LORD make his face shine on you and
be gracious to you;
the LORD turn his face toward you
and give you peace.”‘
“So they will put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.”
(Numbers 6:22-27 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I remind myself that I am always in God’s presence, I linger over these passages, allowing the Holy Spirit to move within my soul, guiding my thoughts, meditations, and prayers.

Let the words of my mouth 
and the meditation of my heart
 be acceptable in your sight, 
O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.
(Psalms 19:14 ESV)

These are two great passages, full of depth and encouragement.

The prayer of David is one that I am fully persuaded that God stands ready to answer.

We can cry out to God “from the ends of the earth.” It matters not where we are, He is there. It matters not when we are, He is there! Consider that our Father is currently present when you were born. He is “omnipresent,” with us at all times and all places. Therefore, He stands ready to hear us, no matter where we are.

Where is the “rock that is higher than I?” There can be various interpretations of this. I tend to see this “Rock” as Jesus. Matthew Henry, however, visualizes this rock as a place he cannot attain without the assistance of our God. I can equally see this as being true, as in the old hymn, Higher Ground.

I’m pressing on the upward way,
New heights I’m gaining every day;
Still praying as I’m onward bound,
“Lord, plant my feet on higher ground."

Refrain:
Lord, lift me up and let me stand,
By faith, on Heaven’s tableland,
A higher plane than I have found;
Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.

My heart has no desire to stay
Where doubts arise and fears dismay;
Though some may dwell where those abound,
My prayer, my aim, is higher ground.

I want to live above the world,
Though Satan’s darts at me are hurled;
For faith has caught the joyful sound,
The song of saints on higher ground.

I want to scale the utmost height
And catch a gleam of glory bright;
But still I’ll pray till heav’n I’ve found,
“Lord, plant my feet on higher ground."

There’s another hymn, though, that speaks of the “Solid Rock,” being Jesus.

In times like these you need a Savior
In times like these you need an anchor
Be very sure, be very sure
Your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock!

Refrain:
This Rock is Jesus, Yes He's the One
This Rock is Jesus, the only One
Be very sure, be very sure
Your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock!

In times like these you need the Bible
In times like these, O be not idle
Be very sure, be very sure
Your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock!

In times like these I have a Savior
In times like these I have an anchor
I'm very sure, I'm very sure
My anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock!

What a longing is expressed in verse 4: “I long to dwell in Your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of Your wings.” This is a sentiment that is expressed many times in the Psalms. And I can most certainly echo the prayer, as my heart grows more and more in its longing for Home. Doesn’t mean that I don’t like my life, here, but just means that I know where I belong, ultimately.

I believe that this prayerful psalm goes hand-in-hand with the blessing seen in Numbers 6. Such a beautiful passage that I have adopted as prayers for people for a long time, now. And I like it in many different versions. I have sort of “tweaked” it, combining a couple of my favorite versions to make it go like this:

May God bless you and keep you;
May He smile on you and gift you;
May He look you full in the face and give you peace.

The majority of that comes from The Message, but Peterson ends his with “and make you prosper,” and I would rather have it say “give you peace.” Prosperity is not my goal, here.

I pray this blessing over people when I see that it is their birthday. We frequently end our worship gatherings by either saying or singing the blessing. There are several contemporary songs that incorporate it. Matt Redman has a good one:

Then this one, more recently, from Kari Jobe and Cody Carnes (video is long, but powerful):

My favorite part of the blessing is the line that speaks of the Lord turning His face towards us. It gets translated “lift up His countenance toward you,” “look you full in the face,” “turn His face toward you,” and “show you His favor.”

The lowest point in the life of Jesus was when His Father turned His face away from Him, resulting in the cry of Jesus, “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me??”

I am moved to tears, this very moment, as I try to imagine what it must have felt like for this ripping of personalities apart. Jesus, God incarnate, experienced a tearing like none of us will ever experience, couldn’t possibly even imagine. For those few hours, on that day, there was a rift in the Holy Trinity, that perfect fellowship which had existed for all eternity. The Father turned His back on the Son, because He cannot look upon sin. The Son, for that moment, took on all the sin that had ever been committed, and ever would be committed. According to the Apostle Paul, who wrote the majority of the New Testament, at that moment, Jesus became sin!

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
(2 Corinthians 5:21 ESV)

So, today, I pray for you, whoever happens to stumble upon this humble blog, and manages to read this far.

May the Lord bless you and keep you; may He smile on you and gift you; may He look you full in the face, make His face shine upon you, turn His face toward you, show you His favor . . . and give you peace!

Father, I am overwhelmed, this morning. There are tears in my eyes as I try to type this. This famous blessing is so appropriate to be prayed for all of Your people, today. It is even appropriate to pray over people who don’t know You or refuse to acknowledge You. I would ask You to make Your face to shine upon people all over the world, so that they might prosper and have Your peace in their lives. After all, Your Word does say that You show favor on the just and the unjust, alike. People who have never once acknowledged Your existence still reap the benefits of that existence, whether they know it or not. And I believe, with all my heart, that, deep down inside, they do know it.

May Your Holy Spirit fill us, today, Father. Fill us with Your presence, Your peace, Your blessing. Send us out to wherever we need to go, with Your Gospel of peace fitted on our feet. Peace. That is the key word in all of this. Make us peacemakers in this world, not rabble-rousers, not dividers. “Blessed are the peacemakers,” said Jesus. Lead us, O God, to the Rock that is higher than we are. Help us up to those heights which we cannot reach on our own.

I pray for the call to follow You out into those workplaces and neighborhoods, Lord, and I pray for the peace and well-being of those workplaces and communities. May You rain down Your special blessing on those who work in agriculture, who provide food and sustenance for us.

"May I see Your face, God?
For to live with Your face turned from me is more bitter than death.
I thank You that in this ancient blessing, 
I may place my life in the grace of Jesus and catch sight of Your face turned in delight toward me.
Amen."

BLESSING

for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
(2 Timothy 1:7 ESV)

Blessed is the one who fears the LORD always, but whoever hardens his heart will fall into calamity.
(Proverbs 28:14 ESV)

Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment.
(Psalms 51:2-4 ESV)

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
(1 John 1:9 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)

Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.
(Ephesians 1:4 NLT)

For God saved us and called us to live a holy life. He did this, not because we deserved it, but because that was his plan from before the beginning of time—to show us his grace through Christ Jesus.
(2 Timothy 1:9 NLT)

There is a Hebrew word in that Jeremiah verse. “Makhashabah,” which means “texture,” a sort of “weaving” of a plan together. It’s the word that is translated “plans” in the ESV, and other translations, but “thoughts” in the KJV and WEB. Here’s the KJV.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.
(Jeremiah 29:11 KJV)

“Thoughts” is the Hebrew makhashabah, while “think” is “chashab,” which literally means to weave or to fabricate.

So just as it is impossible to see what the weaver on the loom is fabricating until she is finished with the work, so it is not possible to see what the Lord is doing with our lives until He is finished. We need to trust in the truth that He knows what He is doing. He is weaving a perfect work, and “all things work together for good” in our lives.

Father, I praise You for this truth. And in this weaving, I wonder how much our prayers effect things. In light of that, and in that spirit, I ask of You to end this plague on our world. Please do away with the COVID-19 virus, once and for all, that we might have peace in our world and in our nation. We are unable to come together to fight this. We are too concerned with our own “freedoms” and “rights.” Please eradicate this. I believe that You can do this. I also pray for the racial strife to end, that all people, in Your Kingdom, will be treated equally. Oh, how look forward to seeing that multitude described in Revelation, of people from every tribe, nation, and tongue, praising Your Holy and majestic Name as one!

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.