I Have A Thankful Heart

Today is Thursday, November 26, 2020. Peace be with you!

Day 22,904

Today is Thanksgiving Day in the U.S. I wish all of my U.S. readers a happy Thanksgiving. May your day be restful and peaceful. Please be safe.

We all know what’s next. 29 days until Christmas! As many of us have noticed, there are many people who have already put up their Christmas decorations. Ours went up earlier this week, a little earlier than usual. And that’s okay. In fact, I will never complain again about people putting up Christmas decorations early. The “cheer” is most definitely needed, this year.

As previously noted, we will be having our Thanksgiving with only the people in our household. Recent surges in Coronavirus numbers, along with health department strong recommendations, have led to that decision. R & J are together at their house, we will be here, and Mama will be by herself. This saddens me, but it is best. And there will be phone conversations, I’m sure.

Once again, I want to point out that there is a difference between caution and fear. We are not reacting out of fear. We are being cautious. There are many who are acting with neither. And that is why the U.S. had 181,139 new cases yesterday. Almost four times the next highest country in the world. That, my friends, says a lot about the mindset of the U.S. We had 2304 deaths yesterday, as well. Texas had almost 15,000 new cases yesterday, leading the country.

I’ve already shared our menu for the day. Pecan-crusted Buttermilk Chicken (we aren’t turkey fans, here, and don’t need a whole turkey, anyway), a corn casserole recipe from the Emily Bites website, and a “healthified” (slightly) green bean casserole. There will be no pies or baked goods. And I’m not sad about that. I’d rather keep losing weight.

After that, I’m not sure what will take place. There might be hanging of Christmas lights outside, on the house. Most are already up, since C had two extra days off, this week. All that is left will be hanging the ones on top of the house. It’s more of a two-person job, due to the large, heavy ladder.

On to the devotional, which will, as always, include thankfulness.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

God, give me grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.

Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.

Amen.

Scriptures and Prayers from The Divine Hours

Sing aloud to God our strength; shout for joy to the God of Jacob!
Raise a song; sound the tambourine, the sweet lyre with the harp.
Blow the trumpet at the new moon, at the full moon, on our feast day.
For it is a statute for Israel, a rule of the God of Jacob.
(Psalms 81:1-4 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. For this day, devoted to giving thanks for our many blessings
  2. That You have placed thanksgiving in my heart every day, not just one day out of the year
  3. That You care for us even more than You care for the birds of the air and the flowers of the field
  4. To be part of Your “cause” of making Your praise glorious and Your Name lifted high in all the earth
  5. For the love of and for my family

Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name.
(Psalms 86:11 ESV)

My mouth will tell of your righteous acts, of your deeds of salvation all the day, for their number is past my knowledge.
(Psalms 71:15 ESV)

Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving; make melody to our God on the lyre!
(Psalms 147:7 ESV)

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?”
(Matthew 6:25-30 ESV)

You visit the earth and water it; you greatly enrich it; the river of God is full of water; you provide their grain, for so you have prepared it.
You water its furrows abundantly, settling its ridges, softening it with showers, and blessing its growth.
You crown the year with your bounty; your wagon tracks overflow with abundance.
The pastures of the wilderness overflow, the hills gird themselves with joy,
the meadows clothe themselves with flocks, the valleys deck themselves with grain, they shout and sing together for joy.
(Psalms 65:9-13 ESV)

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.

"Merciful God,
who sent your messengers the prophets
to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation:
Grant us grace to heed
their warnings and forsake our sins,
that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ
our Redeemer;
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God,
now and for ever.
Amen."
(The Divine Hours, The Prayer Appointed for the Week)
"Almighty and gracious Father,
I give You thanks
for the fruits of the earth in their season
and for the labors of those who harvest them.
Make me, I pray,
a faithful steward of Your great bounty,
for the provision of our necessities
and the relief of all who are in need,
to the glory of Your Name;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God now and for ever.
Amen."
(The Divine Hours)

You will say in that day: “I will give thanks to you, O LORD, for though you were angry with me, your anger turned away, that you might comfort me.
“Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the LORD GOD is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.”
With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. And you will say in that day:
“Give thanks to the LORD, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the peoples, proclaim that his name is exalted.
“Sing praises to the LORD, for he has done gloriously; let this be made known in all the earth. Shout, and sing for joy, O inhabitant of Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.”
(Isaiah 12:1-6 ESV)

“We might give thanks easily during harvest celebrations such as Thanksgiving, when we’re enjoying an abundant feast with friends and family. But can we express our gratitude to God in difficult times, such as when we’re missing someone from our table or when we’re struggling with our finances or when we’re locked in conflict with one close to us?”
(Amy Boucher Pye, Our Daily Bread)

Amy makes reference to the Martin Rinkart hymn, translated by Catherine Winkworth, “Now Thank We All Our God.”

Our circumstances have not necessarily been conducive to a thankful heart, in 2020. We are still suffering through a pandemic, and the anxiety level was increased through the madness of the election campaigning, regardless of which side one was on.

But God has given me a thankful heart. “I have a thankful heart, that You have given me,” sang Petra, once upon a time. Truly, I believe that is one thing that has kept me sane, this year. And as my faithful readers (and Facebook friends) will note, I put up at least five things each day, for which I am thankful. Some days, it is more difficult than others to come up with five. Other days, there might even be seven.


For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.
(1 Timothy 4:4-5 ESV)

A Psalm for giving thanks.
Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth!
Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into his presence with singing!
Know that the LORD, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!
For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.
(Psalms 100:1-5 ESV)

On this mountain the LORD of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined. And he will swallow up on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the LORD has spoken. It will be said on that day,
“Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the LORD; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”
(Isaiah 25:6-9 ESV)


A Song of Ascents. Of David.
If it had not been the LORD who was on our side— let Israel now say—
if it had not been the LORD who was on our side when people rose up against us,
then they would have swallowed us up alive, when their anger was kindled against us;
then the flood would have swept us away, the torrent would have gone over us;
then over us would have gone the raging waters.
Blessed be the LORD, who has not given us as prey to their teeth!
We have escaped like a bird from the snare of the fowlers; the snare is broken, and we have escaped!
Our help is in the name of the LORD, who made heaven and earth.
(Psalms 124:1-8 ESV)

God is “for us,” so who can be against us?

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Romans 8:35-39 ESV)

The idea of God being “on our side” is a very dangerous idea, and has been severely misused, throughout history. I want to be clear. When I say God is on my side, what I really mean is that I’m on His side. God is “for me” because I am “for Him.” God does NOT champion my cause.

Let me say that again.

God does NOT champion my cause. He does not champion your cause, no matter how righteous you think it may be.

God champions no one’s cause but His own. And that is the only cause that I will champion.

What is that cause? I suppose that is open to interpretation. But I believe that the “cause” of God is that His great Name be glorified and worshiped throughout all the world. Call that arrogant, if you want. But there is no other being in the universe who has the right to do that. He created this universe and all that is in it, therefore, He has the right to demand worship and praise. If you have a problem with that, let me see you create something out of nothing, by simply speaking it into existence.

In the words of Frances Ridley Havergal (I seem to be on a hymn kick, this morning), I will gladly sing:

Take my life, and let it be
Consecrated, Lord, to Thee;
Take my moments and my days,
Let them flow in ceaseless praise,
Let them flow in ceaseless praise.

Take my hands, and let them move
At the impulse of Thy love;
Take my feet and let them be
Swift and beautiful for Thee,
Swift and beautiful for Thee.

Take my voice, and let me sing
Always, only, for my King;
Take my lips, and let them be
Filled with messages from Thee,
Filled with messages from Thee.

Take my silver and my gold;
Not a mite would I withhold;
Take my intellect, and use
Every power as Thou shalt choose,
Every power as Thou shalt choose.

Take my will, and make it Thine;
It shall be no longer mine.
Take my heart; it is Thine own;
It shall be Thy royal throne,
It shall be Thy royal throne.

Take my love; my Lord, I pour
At Thy feet its treasure-store.
Take myself, and I will be
Ever, only, all for Thee,
Ever, only, all for Thee

I love looking up hymn lyrics. There are almost always stanzas that I have never seen before.


Father, I am so very thankful today, but not just today . . . every day. I have so much to be thankful for that I could write pages and pages were I to list every single thing. It would be a list of things both simple and complex. Most of all, though, I am thankful to be included in the number of those who follow Christ in this life. And thankful that You drew me to that place, for I would not be here, were it not for the calling of the Holy Spirit. So my gratitude is unspeakable, as there are not enough words to thank You. I pray today, that all of my family will have a blessed and peaceful day. I would pray that our nation would be able to set aside its division, but I am not hopeful for that, as we are a stubborn and arrogant people. God forgive us for this, please.

I pray for peace in our nation, peace in our world. I pray for racial injustice to end, and I pray for the pandemic to be over. Above all else, though, I pray for Your will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven. For Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.
(Irish Blessing)

Grace and peace, friends.

Never Leave You

Today is Wednesday, November 25, 2020. Peace be with you!

Day 22,903

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving in the U.S.

And while today is Wednesday, this one is not a “Hump Day,” because it’s more like Friday! While C has been off already, since yesterday, I will be off tomorrow and Friday. I think I’m also going to have a few more PTO days left to use next month, as well.

Speaking of work, when I left, yesterday, I was virtually caught up. While that could change in a matter of minutes (and drastically, I might add), it is a nice feeling, and has a tremendous impact on my state of mind as I get ready to go in, this morning.

C put Christmas decorations around the house, yesterday afternoon. It looks really nice. No tree, yet. We aren’t sure how Luna (cat) is going to react to the Christmas tree. It could be disastrous.

The U.S. had 175,168 new cases of Coronavirus, yesterday, a tad higher than the day before. Over two thousand new deaths, though, which more than doubled Monday’s total. We will hit thirteen million total cases today. Texas had a staggering 19,790 cases, topping the nation.

C and I have been watching an HBO original series called “The Undoing,” starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant (also featuring Donald Sutherland). It’s quite good, and this week’s episode ended with quite the stunning development. It’s a murder “who-dun-it,” and Hugh Grant is the primary suspect, although we don’t think he really did it. This week an unexpected suspect popped up. It’s a fun show.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

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

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

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

Amen.
(The Prayer of St. Francis)

Scriptures and Prayers from The Divine Hours

Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
(Psalms 34:8 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. That I have tasted and I’ve seen . . .
  2. That I am alive and breathing and well
  3. For Your righteousness
  4. That, while weeping may tarry during the night, joy comes in the morning (Psalm 30:5)
  5. For Your constant, comforting presence

Gladden the soul of your servant, for to you, O Lord, do I lift up my soul.
(Psalms 86:4 ESV)

With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments!
(Psalms 119:10 ESV)

I will give to the LORD the thanks due to his righteousness, and I will sing praise to the name of the LORD, the Most High.
(Psalms 7:17 ESV)

So when the crowd saw that Jesus was not there, nor his disciples, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum, seeking Jesus.
When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.”
(John 6:24-27 ESV)

I will extol you, O LORD, for you have drawn me up and have not let my foes rejoice over me.
O LORD my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me.
O LORD, you have brought up my soul from Sheol; you restored me to life from among those who go down to the pit.
Sing praises to the LORD, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name.
For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.
(Psalms 30:1-5 ESV)

“Let me seek the Lord while He may be still be found.
I will call upon His name while He is near.”
(Traditional)

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.

"Merciful God,
who sent your messengers the prophets
to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation:
Grant us grace to heed
their warnings and forsake our sins,
that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ
our Redeemer;
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God,
now and for ever.
Amen."
(The Divine Hours, The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

“Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”
(Genesis 28:15 ESV)

Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand.
(Psalms 73:23 ESV)

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


A Song of Ascents.
To you I lift up my eyes, O you who are enthroned in the heavens!
Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maidservant to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the LORD our God, till he has mercy upon us.
Have mercy upon us, O LORD, have mercy upon us, for we have had more than enough of contempt.
Our soul has had more than enough of the scorn of those who are at ease, of the contempt of the proud.
(Psalms 123:1-4 ESV)

When we lift up our eyes to the Lord, it is more than just a glance. “It denotes a steady, reflective, adoring gaze filed with longing and desires. The psalmist focuses both his attention and the yearnings of his heart on God in prayer.”

The psalmist manages to overcome his distractions “and makes knowing God experientially and serving God obediently the main business of his life.”

“Lord, I live in an ‘attention deficit disorder’ society. One thing after another comes into my sight and is gone. Oh, teach me how to focus on You. Let me always keep You in mind during the day. And help me gaze long and lovingly on You in prayer. Amen.”

(From The Songs of Jesus, by Timothy and Kathy Keller)

One thing that helps with this is the idea that is put forth by the Scriptures above Psalm 123. God is always with us, holding our hand. He holds us up and keeps us from falling or slipping. But this, of course, is contingent upon our keeping our eyes fastened on Him. When I look away, I will more than likely trip, just like when I take my eyes off of where I’m going and the sidewalk disappears out from under my feet (true story).

Nevertheless, the promise is there. While the most often stated command in Scripture is some form of “don’t be afraid,” there are also many, many times where God/Jesus promises to be with us in one form or another. God is always present. He is above me, below me, beside me, in front of me, and behind me. And, as Psalm 139 famously proclaims, there is nowhere I can go where He is not.


Father, truly, I have tasted and I’ve seen Your goodness in this life, and hope to continue doing so. Your “right hand” is always with me, holding me up and defending me. Yes. Your love defends me. I thank You for Your never-ending presence, which prompts me to never-ceasing prayer. May I take that with me into this day, through this day, and into this long weekend. Help me to overcome all distractions and worship and serve You.

I pray for peace in our nation, peace in our world. I pray for racial injustice to end, and I pray for the pandemic to be over. Above all else, though, I pray for Your will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven. For Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

Jesus Loves the Church

Today is Tuesday, November 24, 2020. Peace be with you!

Day 22,902

Only two more days until Thanksgiving. Bring on that four-day weekend!

Yesterday was fairly slow, at work, and I’m hoping the today and tomorrow will be, as well. It has given me an opportunity to almost get completely caught up on the work load of both of my jobs. That, of course, could change at any moment, given the nature of this “beast.”

The U.S. wound up with 172,300 new Coronavirus cases, yesterday, which is almost five times higher than the second country, Poland. We had 972 CV deaths, yesterday. Texas had 10,912, third behind Ohio and California. I read something interesting, yesterday, in a book that I just started. The book is called Jesus and the Disinherited, written in the late 1940s by Howard Thurman. The statement had nothing, of course, to do with a pandemic. Yet I find that it has everything to do with a pandemic. It simply spoke of mistakenly equating caution and fear.

Caution and fear are not at all the same thing. I hear people say, in their refusals to follow medically and scientifically mandated guidelines of safety protection, “I’m not going to live my life in fear.” Those people are mistaking caution with fear. I am not living my life in fear! But I am living my life with caution. Which is why I follow the guidelines and mandates. I will wear my mask if I get anywhere close to other people. We will celebrate Thanksgiving only with the people who live in our household. That is caution, not fear.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

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

Scriptures and Prayers from The Divine Hours

God has gone up with a shout, the LORD with the sound of a trumpet.
Sing praises to God, sing praises! Sing praises to our King, sing praises!
For God is the King of all the earth; sing praises with a psalm!
God reigns over the nations; God sits on his holy throne.
(Psalms 47:5-8 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. For the love of God and peace that I feel at this moment
  2. That, though our afflictions are many, You will deliver us from them all
  3. For the various gifts You have given me
  4. For the desire to use those gifts to glorify You
  5. For Your Church; I love Your Church!

May all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you! May those who love your salvation say evermore, “God is great!”
(Psalms 70:4 ESV)

Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God shines forth.
(Psalms 50:2 ESV)

The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none who does good.
(Psalms 14:1 ESV)

The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” And the Lord said, “If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.
(Luke 17:5-6 ESV)

The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous and his ears toward their cry.
The face of the LORD is against those who do evil, to cut off the memory of them from the earth.
When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.
The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.
Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all.
He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken.
(Psalms 34:15-20 ESV)

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.

"Merciful God,
who sent your messengers the prophets
to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation:
Grant us grace to heed
their warnings and forsake our sins,
that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ
our Redeemer;
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God,
now and for ever.
Amen."
(The Divine Hours, The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
(Matthew 6:25-34 ESV)

Jesus, in this encounter, contrasts a life of worrying over daily needs with a life of seeking God’s Kingdom first. He uses birds and flowers to illustrate this. If God cares enough about birds and flowers to take care of them, how much more does He care about us, created in His image?

Just for reference, it is estimated that there are anywhere between two hundred to four hundred billion birds in the world. That’s right, I said billion. Compared to seven and a half billion humans. And elsewhere, Jesus says that our Father notices when a single sparrow falls to the ground. One out of a potential four hundred billion. And He notices.

Try to let that sink in for a bit.


Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you.
(1 Timothy 4:14 ESV)

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)

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
(1 Peter 4:10-11 ESV)

What is one of the first things that we ask people we have just met, after learning their names?

“What do you do?”

Traditionally, our identities are tied in with our occupation. In today’s Daily Guideposts 2020 reading, author Debbie Macomber says that she has changed that question. She no longer asks “What do you do?” She asks, “What gifts has God given you?” It places the emphasis on something/someone else.

My identity does not come from what I do. It comes from who I am, and whose I am. I belong to Jesus. My identity comes from Him, by the grace that has been bestowed upon me, and through the Holy Spirit’s work in my life.

What gifts has God given you?


A Song of Ascents. Of David.
I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the LORD!”
Our feet have been standing within your gates, O Jerusalem!
Jerusalem—built as a city that is bound firmly together,
to which the tribes go up, the tribes of the LORD, as was decreed for Israel, to give thanks to the name of the LORD.
There thrones for judgment were set, the thrones of the house of David.
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem! “May they be secure who love you!
Peace be within your walls and security within your towers!”
For my brothers and companions’ sake I will say, “Peace be within you!”
For the sake of the house of the LORD our God, I will seek your good.
(Psalms 122:1-9 ESV)

A lot of modern people read this and think that we need to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. And while there is certainly nothing wrong with that prayer, I see it as something different.

I see it as a call to pray for the Church. What Jerusalem was to the ancient Hebrews, the Church is to modern believers. We are, in a sense, citizens of a “heavenly Jerusalem.”

“People who would never get along outside the church love one another inside it. We must joyfully seek out the church; the Bible knows nothing of solitary religion.”

“Lord, I praise You for what the church could be – an alternative human society that shows the world Your glory. But I confess I am part of what the church is, a flawed community far from reflecting Your character. Give me the understanding and the love I need to become part of the solution, not the problem. Amen.”

(From The Songs of Jesus, by Timothy and Kathy Keller)


Amen, and amen, Father! “The Bible knows nothing of solitary religion.” I would stand on the housetops and shout that to the world. We are not islands of isolation, even during a pandemic. When we cannot worship in person together, our spirits are still united by Your Spirit, 24/7! We are not alone! Father, I praise You for the Church. I love the Church, and will always love the Church. I am a firm believer that one cannot love Jesus without loving the Church. Thank You for the gifts You have given us as the Church, and help us to use those gifts to glorify You and serve one another!

I pray for peace in our nation, peace in our world. I pray for racial injustice to end, and I pray for the pandemic to be over. Above all else, though, I pray for Your will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven. For Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

My Help Comes from the Lord

Today is Monday, November 23, 2020. Peace be with you!

Day 22,901

Three days until Thanksgiving.

And only three days to work this week. For me. C has tomorrow and Wednesday off. She had scheduled Wednesday off so we could go pick up my mother. But, sadly, that plan will not happen. We have chosen the safe route, this holiday season.

I forgot to relate my WW results, yesterday morning. They weren’t spectacular, but I did lose some weight. .4 pound, to be exact, leaving my total still just under 90 pounds, at 89.6. I won’t say I wasn’t disappointed, but I’m not about to say that I “only” lost .4, because my coach would tell me that I’m using the word “only” wrong. We don’t say “only” when we lose weight. We say “only” when we gain. Sure. It’s a mind trick. But it’s an important one. WW is one of the few places where a loss is a win! Any loss, no matter how small, is a win. But I now have 10.4 pounds to lose and five more weigh-ins before the end of the year. It’s my own challenge to have lost one hundred pounds by the end of 2020. And since it’s my own challenge, I will adjust the rules slightly and count the weigh-in on January 2 as valid toward that goal. That gives me six. That means I need to average 1.77 pounds each week between now and the end of the year. Definitely a challenge.

Nothing else really happened, yesterday. We watched the season premier of “Bull,” during lunch. We weren’t aware that it had started up, yet, but we looked for a recent episode of Saturday Night Live on our DVR, and saw it there. There are are also three episodes of “The Good Doctor” that have been recorded. Since we are only recording “first run” episodes, I assume they are new ones. Now, if they would only start “Prodigal Son” back up.

We have nailed down our Thanksgiving menu. Please forgive me if I have already shared this. We will make Pecan-Crusted Chicken (we aren’t big turkey fans at this house), a corn casserole that we found on the Emily Bites website (you can check it out here, if you are interested), and a tweaked green bean casserole, using “Healthy Request” Cream of Mushroom soup. We are making a smaller dish of the green bean casserole, so as not to be tempted with too many leftovers. So our total lunch will be four points for the chicken, two points per serving of the corn (we might have two servings of that), and I believe we came up with five points for the green bean casserole, so potentially thirteen total points for lunch. It will be worth it. And we won’t be stuffed.

The U.S. had 137,010 new cases of Coronavirus yesterday, with Texas having 6611. Texas was fifth in the nation, yesterday, behind Minnesota, Ohio, California, and Illinois, who topped off the list.

One thing that kind of slipped by me, yesterday, was that it was the 57th anniversary of the assassination of JFK in Dallas. But what also happened on 11/22/63 was that C.S. Lewis also passed away, along with author Aldous Huxley (Brave New World). Not as many people talk about the other two.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

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

Scriptures and Prayers from The Divine Hours

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

Today I am grateful:

  1. For a shortened work week, this week
  2. That I am alive and breathing
  3. That You are my refuge and and the source of all that is good in my life
  4. For Your “steady, sure, and unmovable love for me” (Erin MacPherson, Daily Guideposts 2020)
  5. That my help comes from You (Psalm 121)

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

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

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

The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples, and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. Jesus turned and saw them following and said to them, “What are you seeking?” And they said to him, “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come and you will see.” So they came and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day, for it was about the tenth hour. One of the two who heard John speak and followed Jesus was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ). He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John. You shall be called Cephas” (which means Peter).
(John 1:35-42 ESV)

The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple;
the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.
Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.
(Psalms 19:7-11 ESV)

O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, 
have mercy upon us.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
have mercy upon us.
O, Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
grant us Your peace.
(Agnus Dei)

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Your Name. May Your kingdom come, and Your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; for Yours are the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

"Merciful God,
who sent your messengers the prophets
to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation:
Grant us grace to heed
their warnings and forsake our sins,
that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ
our Redeemer;
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God,
now and for ever.
Amen."
(The Divine Hours, The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”
(Psalms 91:1-2 ESV)

We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.
(Hebrews 6:19-20 ESV)

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.
(James 1:17 ESV)


A Song of Ascents.
I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come?
My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
The LORD is your keeper; the LORD is your shade on your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night.
The LORD will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life.
The LORD will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.
(Psalms 121:1-8 ESV)

It’s possible that the hills to which the psalmist is looking could be a hiding place. More likely, though, they are a lair for bandits and/or enemies. As he looks toward those hills on his pilgrimage to Mount Zion, he wonders where his help comes from.

That help comes from the One Who made the mountains!

The help of God consists of shade (verse 5) from the heat of the sun; spiritual refreshing.

The help of God consists of a sure footing, keeping our feet from slipping; protection in temptation and sin.

“An ounce of sin can harm us more than a ton of suffering. Sin can harden our hearts so we lose everything, but suffering, if handled rightly, can make us wiser, happier, and deeper.”

“Lord, my life is filled with pressures that are like the sun beating down and draining me of all strength. But I have known times when Your smile, sensed in prayer, was like cool shade or like a refreshing breeze to my heart. Give me the grace to know You more as my shade and my help. Amen.”

(From The Songs of Jesus, by Timothy and Kathy Keller)


Father, I echo this prayer, knowing full well the pressures of life that sometimes fall on us like heat stroke from the sun. But there are also pressures that result from temptation to sin. So I pray for help when those come, as well. Keep my feet sure and steady on solid, level ground, worshiping at Your feet. Let me know whence comes my help!

I pray for peace in our nation, peace in our world. I pray for racial injustice to end, and I pray for the pandemic to be over. Above all else, though, I pray for Your will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven. For Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Even so, come, 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.

The Living and Active Word of God

Today is Saturday, November 21, 2020. Peace be with you!

Day 22,899

Five days until Thanksgiving!

I’m already running behind, this morning. It’s currently 9:15, and we have our WW Workshop at 10:30. I actually slept until after 7:30, this morning. That’s amazing, and I feel pretty well-rested, even if it was almost midnight when I went to bed. I think I had a brief nap in the recliner while I was “playing” my game. LOL!

The U.S. broke 200,000 new Coronavirus cases, yesterday. It was inevitable, really, as this scourge seems to be rolling completely unchecked, out of control. All we can do is try to stay safe and protect ourselves. C has it better, as she is working from home. Unfortunately, my job is such that that is not possible. But there are not a lot of people at my work place, and we rarely have to get close to each other. Yesterday’s final tally was 204,179, with 1999 new deaths. Three states had over thirteen thousand, with Texas leading the way, again.

Our grocery pickup will be this afternoon, as by the time we got the order placed, last night, 3:00-4:00 PM was the first available slot. So we will make that work. We’ll just get our Sonic drinks right after WW and then cook our brunch. Whatever the rest of the day holds, it won’t involve much walking, because I seem to have a mild issue with my left foot, at the moment. Maybe some kind of tendonitis, or something.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Giver of all good things, we thank you:
for health and vigour,
for the air that gives the breath of life,
the sun that warms us,
and the good food that makes us strong;
for happy homes and for the friends we love,
for all that makes it good to live.

Make us thankful and eager to repay,
by cheerfulness and kindliness,
and by a readiness to help others.

Freely we have received;
 let us freely give,
in the name of him who gave his life for us,
Jesus Christ our Lord.  
Amen. (Giver of All Good Things, Thomas Ken (1637-1711)

Scriptures and Prayers from The Divine Hours

Awake, my glory! Awake, O harp and lyre! I will awake the dawn!
(Psalms 57:8 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. For the weekend, to rest in preparation for the coming work week
  2. That I am alive and breathing
  3. For the comfort You give in our afflictions
  4. For the trustworthiness of Your Word
  5. That Your Word is living and active
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, 
have mercy upon us.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
have mercy upon us.
O, Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
grant us Your peace.
(Agnus Dei)

“For You alone are the Holy One,
You alone are the Lord,
You alone are the Most High,
Jesus Christ,
with the Holy Spirit,
in the Glory of God the Father.”

Into your hand I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O LORD, faithful God.
(Psalms 31:5 ESV)

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

In you, O LORD, do I take refuge; let me never be put to shame!
In your righteousness deliver me and rescue me; incline your ear to me, and save me!
Be to me a rock of refuge, to which I may continually come; you have given the command to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress.
Rescue me, O my God, from the hand of the wicked, from the grasp of the unjust and cruel man.
For you, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O LORD, from my youth.
Upon you I have leaned from before my birth; you are he who took me from my mother’s womb. My praise is continually of you.
I have been as a portent to many, but you are my strong refuge.
My mouth is filled with your praise, and with your glory all the day.
Do not cast me off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength is spent.
(Psalms 71:1-9 ESV)

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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.

"Merciful God,
who sent your messengers the prophets
to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation:
Grant us grace to heed
their warnings and forsake our sins,
that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ
our Redeemer;
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God,
now and for ever.
Amen."
(The Divine Hours, The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
(James 3:13-18 ESV)


The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness,”
(Exodus 34:6 ESV)

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
(2 Corinthians 1:3-4 ESV)

But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
(James 4:6 ESV)


Taw.
Let my cry come before you, O LORD; give me understanding according to your word!
Let my plea come before you; deliver me according to your word.
My lips will pour forth praise, for you teach me your statutes.
My tongue will sing of your word, for all your commandments are right.
Let your hand be ready to help me, for I have chosen your precepts.
I long for your salvation, O LORD, and your law is my delight.
Let my soul live and praise you, and let your rules help me.
I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek your servant, for I do not forget your commandments.
(Psalms 119:169-176 ESV)

We have reached the end of this epic psalm. In it, we have received many directions on what to do with God’s Word. “We are to read, learn, and understand it – to meditate on, memorize, and follow it. We are to take time to do this morning and night without fail. But all this is in vain unless God seeks you as you read His Word (verse 176).”

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
(Hebrews 4:12-13 ESV)

Even if you are uncertain about the trustworthiness of God’s Word, “just give yourselves to reading it. Even if you don’t believe a knife is sharp, it can still cut you.”

(From The Songs of Jesus, by Timothy and Kathy Keller)

Just quick word about the Scriptures above the psalm. God’s wisdom, the wisdom we get from Him, is necessarily peaceable. It is gentle, open to reason, and so on. If you find yourself being the opposite of these things, the “wisdom” you have gotten is not from God.

And praise God for His comfort in times of affliction! We are certainly afflicted during these days, whether you believe in it or not. (See the comment about the sharp knife, above.) And the only way some of us are making it through these times with any amount of sanity is through the comfort of God in our afflictions.


Father, I praise You this morning, for Your comfort. I praise You for the wisdom that You give, that is peaceable, gentle, and open to reason. I pray for more of this wisdom in Your Church, today. May You grant us peace; may You grant us healing. May Your Word saturate our souls to the point that nothing else matters but our love for You and our love for one another.

I pray for peace in our nation, peace in our world. I pray for racial injustice to end, and I pray for the pandemic to be over. Above all else, though, I pray for Your will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven. For Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

“As for me, I would seek God, and to God would I commit my cause, who does great things and unsearchable, marvelous things without number:
(Job 5:8-9 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

No Corrupting Talk

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.
(Ephesians 4:29 ESV)

Today is Friday, November 20, 2020. 11/20/2020. Peace be with you!

Day 22,898

Six days until Thanksgiving.

I will be “celebrating” another landmark in nine days, shortly after Thanksgiving. November 29 will mark my ten-year anniversary with CEVA Logistics. My previous employment lasted over fourteen years. It may not be a popular thing to do, these days, but I like to stay with one employer as long as possible. Call it loyalty, or whatever you want. It’s just the kind of person I am.

I’m glad it’s Friday, as the week has been semi-stressful, yesterday more so than the rest. Nothing “bad” happened. It was just a lot of hunting down things that seemed to be missing. In the end, I believe it was all found, so that was good. It was just mentally exhausting.

There are currently no plans for the weekend, as of yet. We’ll have our WW Workshop tomorrow morning, and our Zoom church gathering on Sunday. The rest will be more or less spontaneous, if anything happens.

Yesterday’s Coronavirus numbers blew the roof off of our worst day ever. The U.S. ended up with 192,186 new cases, ten thousand more than the previous record, and over two thousand new deaths. We are edging up toward a four percent infection rate, and there is a two percent death rate. Texas had 15,133 new cases, topping the states. Texas has a higher infection rate than the nation, currently at 3.9 percent.

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

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Eternal God,
who are the light of the minds that know You,
the joy of the hearts that love You,
and the strength of the wills that serve You;
grant us so to know You that we may truly love You,
and so to love You that we may fully serve You,
whom to serve is perfect freedom,
in Jesus Christ our Lord.
(Prayer to Know God, by St. Augustine)

Scriptures and Prayers from The Divine Hours

Praise the LORD! Praise the name of the LORD, give praise, O servants of the LORD,
who stand in the house of the LORD, in the courts of the house of our God!
Praise the LORD, for the LORD is good; sing to his name, for it is pleasant!
(Psalms 135:1-3 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. For Friday
  2. That I am alive and breathing
  3. That You are my God, and You give ear to the voice of my pleas (Psalm 140:6)
  4. That Jesus has revealed the Father to me
  5. That You have ransomed my soul from the power of the grave (Psalm 49)
  6. Your presence, always

I say to the LORD, You are my God; give ear to the voice of my pleas for mercy, O LORD!
(Psalms 140:6 ESV)

For you, O LORD, are most high over all the earth; you are exalted far above all gods.
(Psalms 97:9 ESV)

For the inward mind and heart of a man are deep. But God shoots his arrow at them; they are wounded suddenly.
(Psalms 64:6-7 ESV)

“All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”
(Luke 10:22 ESV)

Hear this, all peoples! Give ear, all inhabitants of the world,
both low and high, rich and poor together!
My mouth shall speak wisdom; the meditation of my heart shall be understanding.
I will incline my ear to a proverb; I will solve my riddle to the music of the lyre.
Why should I fear in times of trouble, when the iniquity of those who cheat me surrounds me,
those who trust in their wealth and boast of the abundance of their riches?
Truly no man can ransom another, or give to God the price of his life,
for the ransom of their life is costly and can never suffice,
that he should live on forever and never see the pit.
For he sees that even the wise die; the fool and the stupid alike must perish and leave their wealth to others.
Their graves are their homes forever, their dwelling places to all generations, though they called lands by their own names.
Man in his pomp will not remain; he is like the beasts that perish.
(Psalms 49:1-12 ESV)

Make haste, O God, to deliver me! O LORD, make haste to help me!
(Psalms 70:1 ESV)

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Your Name. May Your kingdom come, and Your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; for Yours are the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

"Merciful God,
who sent your messengers the prophets
to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation:
Grant us grace to heed
their warnings and forsake our sins,
that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ
our Redeemer;
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God,
now and for ever.
Amen."
(The Divine Hours, The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
(Ephesians 4:26-32 ESV)

There’s a lot of good stuff in this brief Ephesians passage, and it is very easy to gloss over it, because I have read it so many times. Do you find yourself doing that with Scripture? It is definitely a challenge for me.

“Working for reconciliation should be the goal of everyone in the church,” says Patricia Raybon, in today’s reading from Our Daily Bread.

Do you see Christians in our nation “working for reconciliation” during these days? Sadly, I don’t. At least not the majority of them. Or maybe it’s just the loudest ones. I hope and pray that they aren’t really a majority, and that the most of us are working quietly, behind the scenes, to reconcile and unify a nation that has been strongly divided, recently.

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.
(Ephesians 4:29 ESV)

What would it look like if everyone in the Church obeyed just that one little instruction? What would it look like if I did that? There’s my challenge for today!


And he said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”
(Exodus 33:14 ESV)

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”
(Joshua 1:9 ESV)

“And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
(Matthew 28:20 ESV)

Have there ever been more comforting words?


Sin and Shin.
Princes persecute me without cause, but my heart stands in awe of your words.
I rejoice at your word like one who finds great spoil.
I hate and abhor falsehood, but I love your law.
Seven times a day I praise you for your righteous rules.
Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble.
I hope for your salvation, O LORD, and I do your commandments.
My soul keeps your testimonies; I love them exceedingly.
I keep your precepts and testimonies, for all my ways are before you.
(Psalms 119:161-168 ESV)


Father, this morning, the search of Your Word, which I love and of which I stand in awe, has led me to the truth that You are with me; Your Presence is always here, wherever I am, whatever I am doing, no matter how I feel. Help me to remember that Presence when I am feeling down or depressed or anxious. Help me to remember that peace when I am disturbed or frustrated or angry. May Your Spirit nudge me when I feel anger coming on, that I might breathe deep the breath of Your Holy Spirit and stop the flood. And through all of that, help me to not utter any “corrupting talk,” but only speak what is good, kind, and helpful. All glory to You, Father!

I pray for peace in our nation, peace in our world. I pray for racial injustice to end, and I pray for the pandemic to be over. Above all else, though, I pray for Your will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven. For Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

Who Am I?

Today is Thursday (pre-Friday), November 19, 2020. Peace be with you!

Day 22,897

Seven days until Thanksgiving. And I just noticed that the Sunday after Thanksgiving is the first Sunday of Advent!

As the weekend approaches, I realize that I’m not sure if we are doing anything this weekend. The topic of geocaching has not come up, yet, but it might. And I think I would gladly be up for a few hours of that activity. Obviously, it’s not for the silly little trinkets you find in the caches, but more just being outside, moving around, and being with the people you love. It’s also something that can be done safely, in these times.

On the topic of my mental state, I got a phone call from my mother, yesterday evening, just to tell me that my father suffered from similar occurrences, so I may have inherited this. That was good to know. I’ve also begun to seriously look for some kind of therapy. I didn’t get very far with that, last night, because I was already winding down for sleep, but I looked on my health plan app (Cigna), and found that there are many choices out there. There are also some virtual counselors available, meaning that they will “see” you totally online. I haven’t decided if I want to opt for that or not. There is something calming about the serene setting of a therapist’s office. But we’ll see what happens.

I don’t think I mentioned it, but we have started watching “The Crown,” on Netflix. It is a wonderful show that begins at the time when the young Elizabeth became Queen Elizabeth II. It is very powerful, and we like it a lot, so far, having watched three episodes of season one. We continue watching the comedy, “Schitt’s Creek,” which consists of thirty-minute episodes, and we started season three, last night. I believe that there are six seasons. A new season of “The Crown” just dropped this past week, I believe.

The U.S. had 173,768 new cases of Coronavirus, yesterday, and almost two thousand deaths. Texas had over thirteen thousand new cases, yesterday, which may be a record high for our state.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord my God, I believe in you, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. 
Insofar as I can, insofar as you have given me the power, 
I have sought you. 
I became weary and I labored. 
O Lord my God, my sole hope, help me to believe and 
never to cease seeking you. 
Grant that I may always and ardently seek out your countenance.
 Give me the strength to seek you, 
for you help me to find you and you have more and more 
given me the hope of finding you. 
Here I am before you with my firmness and my infirmity. 
Preserve the first and heal the second. 
Here I am before you with my strength and my ignorance. 
Where you have opened the door to me, 
welcome me at the entrance; 
where you have closed the door to me, 
open to my cry; 
enable me to remember you, 
to understand you, 
and to love you. 
Amen.
(Prayer to Seek God Continually, St. Augustine of Hippo)

Scriptures and Prayers from The Divine Hours

Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker!
For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.
(Psalms 95:6-7 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. Another day of life
  2. For Your righteous judgments
  3. For the Good Shepherd
  4. That You know me fully and completely
  5. That all of Your Word is truth

So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.
(Psalms 90:12 ESV)

I love you, O LORD, my strength.
The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
I call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies.
(Psalms 18:1-3 ESV)

I will look with favor on the faithful in the land, that they may dwell with me; he who walks in the way that is blameless shall minister to me.
(Psalms 101:6 ESV)

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.
(Revelation 22:1-5 ESV)

Arise, O LORD, in your anger; lift yourself up against the fury of my enemies; awake for me; you have appointed a judgment.
Let the assembly of the peoples be gathered about you; over it return on high.
The LORD judges the peoples; judge me, O LORD, according to my righteousness and according to the integrity that is in me.
Oh, let the evil of the wicked come to an end, and may you establish the righteous— you who test the minds and hearts, O righteous God!
My shield is with God, who saves the upright in heart.
God is a righteous judge, and a God who feels indignation every day.
(Psalms 7:6-11 ESV)

Make haste, O God, to deliver me! O LORD, make haste to help me!
(Psalms 70:1 ESV)

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Your Name. May Your kingdom come, and Your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; for Yours are the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

"Merciful God,
who sent your messengers the prophets
to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation:
Grant us grace to heed
their warnings and forsake our sins,
that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ
our Redeemer;
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God,
now and for ever.
Amen."
(The Divine Hours, The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”
(John 10:7-18 ESV)


But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,”
(2 Timothy 2:19 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.
(Psalms 139:1-4 ESV)

I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me,
(John 10:14 ESV)

But if anyone loves God, he is known by God.
(1 Corinthians 8:3 ESV)


Resh.
Look on my affliction and deliver me, for I do not forget your law.
Plead my cause and redeem me; give me life according to your promise!
Salvation is far from the wicked, for they do not seek your statutes.
Great is your mercy, O LORD; give me life according to your rules.
Many are my persecutors and my adversaries, but I do not swerve from your testimonies.
I look at the faithless with disgust, because they do not keep your commands.
Consider how I love your precepts! Give me life according to your steadfast love.
The sum of your word is truth, and every one of your righteous rules endures forever.
(Psalms 119:153-160 ESV)

The last verse of this stanza, verse 160, says, “The sum of Your Word is truth.” The NIV renders that, “All Your words are true.” NLT says, “The very essence of your words is truth.” And The Message says, “Your words all add up to the sum total: Truth.”

That is a powerful statement. God’s Word is truth. All of it. “It must be followed, regardless of our emotional likes, cultural custom, or popular opinion.”

It is also stated that God’s “righteous rules” last forever. They do not go out of date. “We do not need to modernize, correct, or supplement” the Word of God.

(From The Songs of Jesus, by Timothy and Kathy Keller)

Now, before you start focusing on the dietary laws of the Old Testament, let me remind you of something. I’m reminding me, too. Jesus makes the bold statement, in the New Testament, that the two greatest commands sum up the entirety of the law. What are those two commands?

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”
(Mark 12:30)

“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
(Mark 12:31)

So when I hear Jesus say, “If you love me, you will keep My commands,” I think of those two commands, both of which center on love: love for God, and love for others.

A quick word about the passages above this section. There is great comfort in knowing that God knows me. I don’t have many “pet” names. C and I don’t really use those. I have a given name, and I have the name that most people call me.

My God knows me by my most intimate names. He knows me by names I may not even know myself. And no matter what I think of myself (think back to Monday and Tuesday), my Savior knows the truth about me. He knows who I really am, and that identity comes, not from my parents, not from my work, not from my hobbies, but from HIM!

There’s an old song that I used to really like, called “I Will Change Your Name.” It goes like this:

I will change your name
You shall no longer be called
Wounded, outcast, lonely or afraid

I will change your name
Your new name shall be
Confidence, joyfulness, overcoming one
Faithfulness, friend of God
One who seeks my face

I actually found a recording of it, not the original one, but a Celtic version.


Father, I praise You, this morning, that who I am depends not on what I do. It does not depend on my personality, and it does not depend on my failures and weakness. Who I am depends solely on who You say I am. There are many things that You say about me (indirectly) in Your Word, which is the embodiment of Truth. And there are things that You know about me that I do not even know. This gives me great comfort, especially as I rise up from mentally disturbed days like this past Monday. I give You praise today, both for the truth of Your Word, truth that never changes, and for the fact that You created me as I am, and You have gifted me and known me intimately.

I pray for peace in our nation, peace in our world. I pray for racial injustice to end, and I pray for the pandemic to be over. Above all else, though, I pray for Your will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven. For Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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)

Grace and peace, friends.

Times of Refreshing

Today is Wednesday (Hump Day), November 18, 2020. Peace be with you!

Day 22,896

Eight days until Thanksgiving

Yesterday saw 157,261 new Coronavirus cases in the U.S., down a few thousand from Monday. Illinois led the states, with 12,601. Texas was right behind them, with 10,678.

Yesterday was somewhat better, emotionally. By the end of the day, I was feeling much better. There are times, especially times like this week, that I truly believe that I ought to get some kind of therapy. I’ll probably be fine for the rest of the week, but days like Monday just hit me, without warning, and without any identifiable reason.

I did fall out of my high chair on my head when I was a child. Mwahahahaha!!!

Okay. That’s a joke that only true crime fans would understand.

Okay. Time to move on . . .

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

He Himself is my contemplation;
He is my delight.
Him for His own sake
I seek above me;
from Him Himself I feed within me.
He is the field in which I labour.
He is the fruit for which I labour.
He is my cause;
He is my effect.
He is my beginning;
He is my end without end.
He is, for me, eternity.
(Isaac of Stella)

O, Lord, please make this true in my life!

Scriptures and Prayers from The Divine Hours

Praise God from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, you heavenly hosts;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
(Traditional Doxology)

Today I am grateful:

  1. For a better mental and emotional state
  2. That I am alive and awake
  3. That with You, all things are possible
  4. That the people who walked in darkness have seen a great Light
  5. That “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6 ESV)

Send out your light and your truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling!
Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy, and I will praise you with the lyre, O God, my God.
(Psalms 43:3-4 ESV)

“Splendor and honor and kingly power are Yours by right,
O Lord our God,
For You created everything that is,
and by Your will they were created and have their being.”
(A Song to the Lamb)

“But my people did not listen to my voice; Israel would not submit to me.”
(Psalms 81:11 ESV)

And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
(Matthew 19:23-26 ESV)

Exalt the LORD our God; worship at his footstool! Holy is he!
Moses and Aaron were among his priests, Samuel also was among those who called upon his name. They called to the LORD, and he answered them.
In the pillar of the cloud he spoke to them; they kept his testimonies and the statute that he gave them.
O LORD our God, you answered them; you were a forgiving God to them, but an avenger of their wrongdoings.
Exalt the LORD our God, and worship at his holy mountain; for the LORD our God is holy!
(Psalms 99:5-9 ESV)

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone.
(Isaiah 9:2 ESV)

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Your Name. May Your kingdom come, and Your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; for Yours are the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

"Merciful God,
who sent your messengers the prophets
to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation:
Grant us grace to heed
their warnings and forsake our sins,
that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ
our Redeemer;
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God,
now and for ever.
Amen."
(The Divine Hours, The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God.
(Psalms 42:1 ESV)

“In Him is where I’ve always been refreshed. In Him is where I can cast my cares and trust that no matter the day, His grace is sufficient.”
(Tia McCollors, Daily Guideposts 2020)

For I will satisfy the weary soul, and every languishing soul I will replenish.”
(Jeremiah 31:25 ESV)

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
(1 Peter 5:6-7 ESV)


Qoph.
With my whole heart I cry; answer me, O LORD! I will keep your statutes.
I call to you; save me, that I may observe your testimonies.
I rise before dawn and cry for help; I hope in your words.
My eyes are awake before the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promise.
Hear my voice according to your steadfast love; O LORD, according to your justice give me life.
They draw near who persecute me with evil purpose; they are far from your law.
But you are near, O LORD, and all your commandments are true.
Long have I known from your testimonies that you have founded them forever.
(Psalms 119:145-152 ESV)

In this stanza, we see a recap of the day of this man of God. He gets up before dawn to pray and meditate and cry out to God for help. Late at night, he also meditates on God’s Word. Later, in verse 164, we will see him say that he praises God seven times a day.

“Many monastic orders follow this literally and have seven set daily times for prayer and reading. But since the number seven signifies completeness or totality, we learn that we should make the prayerful study of the Word one of the top priorities for our time, something that is never squeezed out by other things.”

(From The Songs of Jesus, by Timothy and Kathy Keller)

Those seven times are, essentially, starting at 6:00 AM and happening very three hours until midnight.

I believe that set times are important. I don’t follow them exactly, but each day I have several times of prayer and meditation. This is one of them, and begins roughly at 6:00 AM. On my drive to work, each day, I listen to the day’s episode of “Pray As You Go,” and app by Jesuits in the UK (Irish, I think, but not certain). Then I also listen to a selection of Scripture on the YouVersion app. After that, either silence for the remainder of the trip or another meditation from another source.

Then, at my 10:00 AM break (give or take a few minutes), I read, meditate, and pray from the second day’s reading in The Divine Hours.

I don’t share this in a boasting way. I share this as evidence of what it takes to keep me going every day. Without these tools, without this constant attention to God’s Word, prayer, and meditation, my life would be just another typical human life, with no spiritual strength or power.

I keep meaning to finish the day with the evening DH reading, but frequently forget. I would also like to start a habit of “Examen,” wherein I think back over the day and look at victories and failures, as I get ready to rest for the next day.


Father, I thank You that You have put it in my heart to thirst for You as the deer thirsts for streams of water. O, lead me to that still water and those green pastures; make me lie down, from time to time, to rest in You. I heard a song lyric, yesterday . . . something like, “I can rest; it’s all in Your hands.” Make that so in my life, every day, as I refresh my life with You. Don’t ever let me fall into the trap of thinking that I can live without these times of refreshing!

I pray for peace in our nation, peace in our world. I pray for racial injustice to end, and I pray for the pandemic to be over. Above all else, though, I pray for Your will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven. For Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.
(Jude 1:24-25 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Delightful and True

Today is Tuesday, November 17, 2020. Peace be with you.

And I really mean that. I hope you can find some peace today.

Day 22,895

Nine days until Thanksgiving

Yesterday was not a very good day for me. There was no particular event that occurred that made it so. It was just a mindset that I seemed to be in. Perhaps it was depression. I’m not sure, because I don’t really know what true depression feels like. I just know that, multiple times during the day, I just felt down and/or sad.

I believe it’s a combination of things. The pandemic has many of us exhausted. The recent election fiasco (and I say that from a mostly middle-of-the-road point of view) amplified it by dozens of times. And Thanksgiving is not going to be great, this year. We will make it the best we can. And I’m sure there are folks who will go right on ahead with their plans, regardless of the risks. My family has chosen the safe route.

I’m hoping for a better day today.

The U.S. had 162,346 new cases of Coronavirus, yesterday. A Bloomberg article said that the numbers increased 38% in the last seven days, with no sign of plateau. Texas topped the nation with 11,879 new cases.

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

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

"Open, Lord, my eyes that I may see.
Open, Lord, my ears that I may hear.
Open, Lord, my heart and my mind that I may understand.
So shall I turn to You and be healed."
(Traditional)

Scriptures and Prayers from The Divine Hours

Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell what he has done for my soul.
(Psalms 66:16 ESV)

In spite of the way I have been feeling, this is still true for me. I will still declare the wonderful works of my God, both in my life and in our world and history. And I will still express gratitude, no matter how down I become.

Today I am grateful:

  1. That I am alive and breathing
  2. That, no matter how depressed or sad or despondent I get, You are still my King
  3. That “You are my strength when I am weak, You are the treasure that I seek; You are my all in all”
  4. That Your Word is faithful and true and delightful, and that I love it
  5. That You have “the whole world in Your hands”

May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us,
Selah.
that your way may be known on earth, your saving power among all nations.
(Psalms 67:1-2 ESV)

Your statutes have been my songs in the house of my sojourning.
(Psalms 119:54 ESV)

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

And Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day.”
(John 12:44-48 ESV)

Hear my prayer, O LORD; give ear to my pleas for mercy! In your faithfulness answer me, in your righteousness!
I remember the days of old; I meditate on all that you have done; I ponder the work of your hands.
I stretch out my hands to you; my soul thirsts for you like a parched land.
Selah.
Answer me quickly, O LORD! My spirit fails! Hide not your face from me, lest I be like those who go down to the pit.
Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust. Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.
(Psalms 143:1, 5-8 ESV)

Psalm 143 is perfect for the way I have been feeling.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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.

"Merciful God,
who sent your messengers the prophets
to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation:
Grant us grace to heed
their warnings and forsake our sins,
that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ
our Redeemer;
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God,
now and for ever.
Amen."
(The Divine Hours, The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

Of David.
To you, O LORD, I call; my rock, be not deaf to me, lest, if you be silent to me, I become like those who go down to the pit.
Hear the voice of my pleas for mercy, when I cry to you for help, when I lift up my hands toward your most holy sanctuary.
Do not drag me off with the wicked, with the workers of evil, who speak peace with their neighbors while evil is in their hearts.
Give to them according to their work and according to the evil of their deeds; give to them according to the work of their hands; render them their due reward.
Because they do not regard the works of the LORD or the work of his hands, he will tear them down and build them up no more.
Blessed be the LORD! For he has heard the voice of my pleas for mercy.
The LORD is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.
The LORD is the strength of his people; he is the saving refuge of his anointed.
Oh, save your people and bless your heritage! Be their shepherd and carry them forever.
(Psalms 28:1-9 ESV)

“How we long to prevent bad things from happening! If only we could. But in our weakness, God promises we can always call to Him to be our Rock (vv. 1-2). When we don’t have the strength, He’s our shepherd and will carry us forever (vv. 8-9).”
(Anne Cetas, Our Daily Bread)


“And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.'”
(Matthew 25:40 ESV)

Whoever despises his neighbor is a sinner, but blessed is he who is generous to the poor.
(Proverbs 14:21 ESV)

Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.
(1 John 3:18 ESV)


Tsadhe.
Righteous are you, O LORD, and right are your rules.
You have appointed your testimonies in righteousness and in all faithfulness.
My zeal consumes me, because my foes forget your words.
Your promise is well tried, and your servant loves it.
I am small and despised, yet I do not forget your precepts.
Your righteousness is righteous forever, and your law is true.
Trouble and anguish have found me out, but your commandments are my delight.
Your testimonies are righteous forever; give me understanding that I may live.
(Psalms 119:137-144 ESV)

What does this psalm mean when it says that God is “righteous?” One meaning is that God is “completely just and fair; He never exploits or abuses.” And His Word surely displays that same righteousness. God is righteous, and His Word is righteous.

The idea of righteousness rubs against the grain of our modern culture, which is growing more and more averse to any kind of authority. We might think that God’s Word seems exploitive and unfair.

But the testimony of millions, past and present, is that “if you trust God’s Word, ‘thoroughly testing’ it in the crucible of your life over the years (verse 140), you will find it not only true (verse 142) but also delightful (verse 143). You will come to love it (verse 140).”

I am one of those millions who will staunchly deliver that testimony. The Word of God is faithful and true, and worthy of my trust. In Him I put my hope and trust; in Him do I stand and rest, never to be shaken.

“Lord, there were once many things in Your Word that seemed too harsh and severe to me, but as time has gone on, they have become fewer. Your Word has proven true. Open doors for me to tell others, in this most suspicious of all cultures, that the Word of the Lord can be trusted. Amen.”

(From The Songs of Jesus, by Timothy and Kathy Keller)


Yes, and Amen, Lord! I am grateful for Your Word, and for all that it means to me and all that it has done for me in my life. You are righteous and Your Words are righteous. Help me, as the Divine Hours prayer mentions, to hear, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest Your Words.

I pray for peace in our nation, peace in our world. I pray for racial injustice to end, and I pray for the pandemic to be over. Above all else, though, I pray for Your will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven. For Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Train me, GOD, to walk straight; then I’ll follow your true path. Put me together, one heart and mind; then, undivided, I’ll worship in joyful fear. From the bottom of my heart I thank you, dear Lord; I’ve never kept secret what you’re up to.
(Psalms 86:11-12 MSG)

Grace and peace, friends.

Wonderful

Today is Monday, November 16, 2020. Peace be with you.

Day 22,894

Ten days until Thanksgiving (and a four-day weekend).

Here we go into another week. What new opportunities/adventures will it bring? I pray that I will have my eyes open for the opportunities.

Yesterday’s Zoom church gathering was pretty good. We only got through Acts 10, but it’s a fairly long chapter, and there is a lot going on in there. At the end, it seems that the biggest message to be taken from it (at least for me) was that no race or kind of people is more important than another. That’s a huge message for our day and our culture.

As expected, we picked up Applebee’s for lunch again. C and I watched a little TV, then I made my weekly phone call to Mama, which was a good call. C went for a walk (I didn’t go, as I had already had a shower), and I cranked up the PS4 and played Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt. I have no idea how close I am to finishing, but this game is huge! I like it a lot, though, so I’ll press on until it’s finished. Or at least until the main story is finished. I don’t know that I have ever finished everything there is to do in any of these “open world” games.

I don’t remember anything else share-worthy. The Coronavirus numbers were down a bit, but they always are on Sunday. Yesterday’s was 139,084 for the U.S. We are now over three percent of the population for total cases. Texas actually came in sixth, yesterday with “only” 7369. Illinois and Florida both had over ten thousand yesterday.

There are credible rumors of one or more vaccines on the horizon. But I’m not eager to get one this early in the production. I just saw a BBC news report (minutes ago) that said that Moderna was claiming that their vaccine is “nearly 95% effective.” I’m not sure what “nearly” means. Why not just give the actual percentage?

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Creator,
as I prepare to go into the world,
help me to see the sacrament
in the wearing of this cloth -
let it be "an outward sign
of an inward grace" -
a tangible and visible way of living love for my neighbours, as I love myself.
Christ,
since my lips will be covered,
uncover my heart,
that people would see my smile
in the crinkles around my eyes.
Since my voice may be muffled,
help me to speak clearly,
not only with my words,
but with my actions.
Holy Spirit,
As the elastic touches my ears,
remind me to listen carefully -
and full of care -
to all those I meet.
May this simple piece of cloth
be shield and banner,
and each breath that it holds,
be filled with your love.
In your Name and
in that love,
I pray.
May it be so.
May it be so.
(A Prayer As I Put on My Mask, by Richard Bott)

Scriptures and Prayers from The Divine Hours

Love the LORD, all you his saints! The LORD preserves the faithful but abundantly repays the one who acts in pride.
Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the LORD!
(Psalms 31:23-24 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. That You are my rock of refuge, a strong fortress to save me
  2. For Your goodness; help me to see it in everything today
  3. For the wonderful riches of Your Word
  4. For true freedom, found only in Christ
  5. For love

Incline your ear to me; rescue me speedily! Be a rock of refuge for me, a strong fortress to save me!
For you are my rock and my fortress; and for your name’s sake you lead me and guide me;
(Psalms 31:2-3 ESV)

Oh, how abundant is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you and worked for those who take refuge in you, in the sight of the children of mankind!
(Psalms 31:19 ESV)

Blessed be the LORD, for he has wondrously shown his steadfast love to me when I was in a besieged city.
(Psalms 31:21 ESV)

But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one dot of the Law to become void.
(Luke 16:17 ESV)

O LORD, in your strength the king rejoices, and in your salvation how greatly he exults!
You have given him his heart’s desire and have not withheld the request of his lips.
Selah.
For you meet him with rich blessings; you set a crown of fine gold upon his head.
He asked life of you; you gave it to him, length of days forever and ever.
His glory is great through your salvation; splendor and majesty you bestow on him.
For you make him most blessed forever; you make him glad with the joy of your presence.
For the king trusts in the LORD, and through the steadfast love of the Most High he shall not be moved.
(Psalms 21:1-7 ESV)

Evening and morning and at noon I utter my complaint and moan, and he hears my voice.
(Psalms 55:17 ESV)

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Your Name. May Your kingdom come, and Your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; for Yours are the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

"Merciful God,
who sent your messengers the prophets
to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation:
Grant us grace to heed
their warnings and forsake our sins,
that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ
our Redeemer;
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God,
now and for ever.
Amen."
(The Divine Hours, The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.
(Galatians 5:13-26 ESV)

“Paul urges us to display the fruit of the Spirit in our lives – to ‘serve one another humbly in love’ and to demonstrate ‘kindness’ and ‘goodness’ (vv. 12, 22). When we lean on the Spirit to help us not act on our natural instincts, we’re better able to love those around us.”
(Kirsten Holmberg, Our Daily Bread)


Buy truth, and do not sell it; buy wisdom, instruction, and understanding.
(Proverbs 23:23 ESV)

Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart,
(1 Peter 1:22 ESV)

If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.
(1 John 4:20 ESV)


Pe.
Your testimonies are wonderful; therefore my soul keeps them.
The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple.
I open my mouth and pant, because I long for your commandments.
Turn to me and be gracious to me, as is your way with those who love your name.
Keep steady my steps according to your promise, and let no iniquity get dominion over me.
Redeem me from man’s oppression, that I may keep your precepts.
Make your face shine upon your servant, and teach me your statutes.
My eyes shed streams of tears, because people do not keep your law.
(Psalms 119:129-136 ESV)

According to Tim Keller, the word translated “wonderful” in verse 129, literally means “supernatural.” The book of the Law of God is more than just a “human book.” Because of this, we get the “unfolding” of verse 130, if we are patient enough to plumb the depths of God’s Word.

As many of us know, this takes a lifetime.

“While the Scripture is clear enough in its basic message for a child to understand, it will not yield its astonishing riches except to trusting (verse 133), obedient (verse 136), diligent (verse 131) study and sustained reflection.”

If we are able to put in the “work,” the “return is infinitely greater than the cost.”

“Lord, I take time for only the most superficial Bible study. But everyone makes time for the things they feel most important. I confess that my heart has little desire to know the Word. Let Psalm 119 break my heart’s indifference. Amen.”

(From The Songs of Jesus, by Timothy and Kathy Keller)

I can’t quite echo that prayer, because my heart has a greater desire to know God’s Word. However, the truth is that people will find time to do what is important to them.


Father, make the studying and meditation of Your Word more important to me and my heart. Direct my steps toward more immersion in Your Word and let the Holy Spirit, which dwells within me, saturate my soul with the riches of Your Scriptures. Teach me Your way, that I may walk in Your Truth. Unite my heart to fear Your great Name. And show me the wonderful riches of Your Word. Then take those riches and let me work them into outward love for my brothers and sisters.

I pray for peace in our nation, peace in our world. I pray for racial injustice to end, and I pray for the pandemic to be over. Above all else, though, I pray for Your will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven. For Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

GOD bless you and keep you, GOD smile on you and gift you, GOD look you full in the face and make you prosper.
(Numbers 6:24-26 MSG)

Grace and peace, friends.