Jesus Loves the Church

Today is Wednesday, the tenth of March, 2021, in the third week of Lent.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,008

25 days until Resurrection Sunday

It is difficult to determine when the pandemic officially began, and lockdowns vary from state to state. But a lot of folks are stating that this week is the one year anniversary. I would concur with that, because, in my memory, I had lunch with R & J at Hoffbrau Steak House on Saturday, March 14, last year, the day after my birthday, and it was the next week that everything started locking down.

So my birthday will forever be associated with a pandemic lockdown. “Forever” being a euphemism for the rest of my life. I thought about celebrating this Saturday by going to Hoffbrau again. But I’m kind of afraid to, being that today ends the mask and social distancing mandate in Texas. I have an email that gives me a discount on an entrée for my birthday. And I just saw a Facebook post that says that their team members will continue to mask up and they will “encourage” patrons to wear masks.

Today is my “Friday” (no, it’s not, it’s Wednesday!) for this week, as I we will be off work the rest of the week for my birthday. We plan to go bowling tomorrow. I have a “new” ball that I want to get drilled. I’m toying with the thought of getting it drilled to use left-handed. C thinks that’s a dumb idea. She may win out. We will see. As for golfing, that has been tabled until our Glen Rose trip, scheduled for the last weekend of April.

Time keeps on slipping, slipping, slipping, into the future, so on to the devotional.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

"Thanks be to you, our Lord Jesus Christ,
for all the benefits which you have given us,
for all the pains and insults which you have borne for us.
Most merciful Redeemer, Friend and Brother,
may we know you more clearly,
love you more dearly,
and follow you more nearly,
day by day.
Amen."
(The prayer of St. Richard of Chichester)

Your unfailing love is better than life itself; how I praise you! I will praise you as long as I live, lifting up my hands to you in prayer.
(Psalms 63:3-4 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

  • For Your unfailing love, which is better than life, itself
  • For the upcoming long weekend
  • For the Church, which I truly love
  • For Your very great and precious promises, and that I am fully persuaded that You have the power to keep those promises
  • For Your peace, in the midst of the storm, which passes all understanding

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

LENT – DAY 19

INVITATION

And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.”
(Isaiah 6:3 NIV)

Spend a moment in silent meditation on the unfailing love of the Lord. Is it better than life to you?

BIBLE SONG

Of David.

Vindicate me, LORD, for I have led a blameless life; I have trusted in the LORD and have not faltered. Test me, LORD, and try me, examine my heart and my mind; for I have always been mindful of your unfailing love and have lived in reliance on your faithfulness.
(Psalms 26:1-3 NIV)

LORD, I love the house where you live, the place where your glory dwells. Do not take away my soul along with sinners, my life with those who are bloodthirsty,
(Psalms 26:8-9 NIV)

BIBLE READING

When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!” His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.”
The Jews then responded to him, “What sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?”
Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.”
They replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?” But the temple he had spoken of was his body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken.
(John 2:13-22 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I read the Psalm passage again, a phrase speaks to me. In verse 8, David tells the Lord, “I love the house where you live.” David, of course, was speaking of the temple (or whatever served as the “temple” before the official Temple was built). But when I read that line, this morning, what came to my mind (and I credit the Holy spirit), is the Church.

I know that the Lord dwells in each believer, via the Holy Spirit. But I also believe that, in a sense, the Church can be considered the “house” where God lives. Not the building we call First Baptist Church or whatever. But the Church of God which is made up of all of the people who follow Christ, all over the world.

The Lord lives in the Church. And I truly do love the Church. I have expressed this love before on this platform, and have also expressed, and will continue to do so, that anyone who claims to love Jesus Christ and does not love the Church is a liar.

Father, I thank You for the Church, and I give You praise, honor, and glory that You made me a part of her. I thank You for the love that You placed in my heart for Your Church. I still remember when this started taking root, because I was in college when I truly began to understand the importance of the Church in the life of a Saint. I thank You for this, and thank You that You have kept that love alive for another forty years. I pray that it will stay alive for the rest of my life, and on into eternity.

"Merciful and just God,
I rage against the regularity of evil in the world.
Thank you that you are a just judge
and will punish all such sin,
now and in eternity.
Yet when the tables get turned,
I see how puny my anger is next to yours.
And along with justice,
I pray for mercy.
Forgive me in Jesus' name,
amen."
(Heidelberg Catechism 10)

BLESSING

Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the one whose sin the LORD does not count against them and in whose spirit is no deceit.
(Psalms 32:1-2 NIV)

The righteous perish, and no one takes it to heart; the devout are taken away, and no one understands that the righteous are taken away to be spared from evil. Those who walk uprightly enter into peace; they find rest as they lie in death.
(Isaiah 57:1-2 NIV)

Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.
(Hebrews 2:14-18 NIV)

“When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation.”
(Matthew 12:43-45 NIV)

Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people.
(Philippians 2:14-15 NLT)

Dear friends, I warn you as “temporary residents and foreigners” to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls. Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world.
(1 Peter 2:11-12 NLT)

Father, I pray, as Jesus taught us, that Your Name would be revered and worshiped throughout the world. I ask that Your Kingdom be manifest in this world, and Your will be done on earth, exactly as it is in heaven. I pray for daily bread, not just for myself and my family, but for all people. ALL people. Help us to forgive those who have wronged us, that we might experience Your blessed forgiveness of our own sins, as we have all sinned, Lord. Finally, I pray that You would protect us against temptation, and deliver us from both evil, and the Evil One. For Yours is the Kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever, amen.

Lord, this morning, I lift up prayers for all national and local communities. May Your light shine in them, through Your people. I lift up the continent of South America, as well. May Your glory fill the countries and cities of South America, and may people in those areas experience Your mighty presence today. I also pray for the poor and needy and poverty stricken people of our country and of our world. May Your people step up and help in any way we can, 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!

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)

Grace and peace, friends.

No Other Gods

Today is Monday, the eighth of March, 2021, in the third week of Lent.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,006

27 days until Resurrection Sunday

If things work out as planned, this will be a short week for us, as we are planning PTO for Thursday and Friday, to have a long weekend for my birthday, which is Saturday. C found a Groupon for bowling, which we plan to do one of those days, and we may try to get in a round of golf, which we have not done in many years. However, all of that is pending the PTO submission getting approved.

We also booked a weekend at our favorite cabin in Glen Rose, for the end of April. This will be an unusual one, as it won’t be in honor of any special occasion. But it was the first available weekend for the cabin. As is our custom, we will check in on Thursday afternoon and return home on Sunday.

One thing we identified, over the weekend, is the change of philosophy around trips and vacations. In the past, a large amount of the energy on a trip was devoted to food; finding the best restaurants, indulging in too much food, and so on. This is not the case any more, and it has, dare I say, tainted the enjoyment of such trips. We just have to adjust our mindset and find other ways to enjoy ourselves besides eating. We can still enjoy food, of course, but it is no longer the center of the equation.

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)

On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rock, my refuge is God. Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us. Selah.
(Psalms 62:7-8 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

  • For a new week, full of opportunities to serve people and God
  • For the encouragement to keep You at the number one place in my life
  • For Your ability to settle me down in all circumstances
  • That all of Your promises are true, and that I am fully persuaded that You have the power to do what You say You will do
  • That Your Word corrects me when I am wrong and teaches me to do what is right

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

LENT – DAY 17

INVITATION

And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!”
(Isaiah 6:3 ESV)

Spend a moment pondering the idea that the whole earth is full of His glory.

BIBLE SONG

Of David. A psalm.

The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it on the seas and established it on the waters.

Who may ascend the mountain of the LORD? Who may stand in his holy place? The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god.

They will receive blessing from the LORD and vindication from God their Savior.
(Psalms 24:1-5 NIV)

BIBLE READING

And God spoke all these words:
“I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
“You shall have no other gods before me.
“You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.
“You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.
“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
“Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.
“You shall not murder.
“You shall not commit adultery.
“You shall not steal.
“You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”
(Exodus 20:1-17 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

The passage is lengthy, but familiar. Most people know at least some of the Ten Commandments. I dare say that the majority of people who only know some of them only know the ones that deal with our relationship to one another.

But the one that gives me pause today, as I reflect on this passage, reminding myself that I am in the presence of my Father, is the first one.

“You shall have no other gods before me.”
(Exodus 20:3 NIV)

Most of us, in Western culture, don’t have a problem with the concept of the “graven image.” We don’t, typically, worship statues, at least not in Christianity. And most of us would probably be quick to say that we had no other “gods” before Yahweh, our Father in heaven.

Do we, though?

Again, I’m thinking only of Western culture, because that is where I live. I believe that our experience over the past year has illustrated that many people who consider themselves to be Christian, at least in name, have other “gods” that they hold more dear than Yahweh.

Freedom

Guns

Rights

Material possessions

Money (not the same thing as material possessions, which typically cause us NOT to have money)

Self

I could go on. I’ve been guilty of some, myself, in the past, but am seriously attempting, these days, to not grant my allegiance to anything other than my Father in heaven.

And don’t all of the other commandments fall in line with the first one?

If you don’t have any other gods before the Lord, you certainly aren’t going to make a statue of them and worship them.

If you hold the name of the Lord (which is not, by the way, simply “God”) to be of supreme importance, you will not abuse His name(s). By the way, I believe the most common abuse of the name of the Lord is the usage of the name, “Jesus,” as a swear.

If we do not hold money or career as more worthy than the Lord, you will remember the Sabbath (whatever day that falls on for you, as I don’t believe we are officially held to observe the “Sabbath” on Saturday) and rest one day a week. We typically “rest” two days a week.

Time is short, so I will not continue down the list, but I’m sure you get my drift.

Father, please remind me to keep Your name above all others, as I go through each day. Dwell within me, by Your Holy Spirit, and fill me with love and worship for only You. Let me not ever have any other god before You. Remind me to always put myself in last place, behind You, behind everyone else. Help me to be selfless, considering others to be of more significance than myself.

"High and powerful God,
every day I fall short of living up to your law.
Why do I so easily fall into temptation
and live in reckless disobedience?
I'm weak,
God,
and I need Jesus.
Amen."
(Heidelberg Catechism 9)

BLESSING

Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the one whose sin the LORD does not count against them and in whose spirit is no deceit.
(Psalms 32:1-2 NIV)

Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.
(Philippians 4:6-7 MSG)

Then he got in the boat, his disciples with him. The next thing they knew, they were in a severe storm. Waves were crashing into the boat—and he was sound asleep! They roused him, pleading, “Master, save us! We’re going down!” Jesus reprimanded them. “Why are you such cowards, such faint-hearts?” Then he stood up and told the wind to be silent, the sea to quiet down: “Silence!” The sea became smooth as glass. The men rubbed their eyes, astonished. “What’s going on here? Wind and sea come to heel at his command!”
(Matthew 8:23-27 MSG)

Late that day he said to them, “Let’s go across to the other side.” They took him in the boat as he was. Other boats came along. A huge storm came up. Waves poured into the boat, threatening to sink it. And Jesus was in the stern, head on a pillow, sleeping! They roused him, saying, “Teacher, is it nothing to you that we’re going down?” Awake now, he told the wind to pipe down and said to the sea, “Quiet! Settle down!” The wind ran out of breath; the sea became smooth as glass. Jesus reprimanded the disciples: “Why are you such cowards? Don’t you have any faith at all?” They were in absolute awe, staggered. “Who is this, anyway?” they asked. “Wind and sea at his beck and call!”
(Mark 4:35-41 MSG)

God’s way is perfect. All the LORD’s promises prove true. He is a shield for all who look to him for protection.
(Psalms 18:30 NLT)

All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.
(2 Timothy 3:16 NLT)

Father, I praise You for Your perfect way. I thank You for Your faithful and true promises, and for being a shield about me. Thank You for Your Word, that corrects me when I am wrong (which is frequent) and teaching me to do what is right. Teach me Your way, O Lord, that I may walk in Your truth. And what is truth? Jesus is The Truth. Help me to walk in Him, today.

Lord, as I go through this day, may You open my eyes to see Your work all around me. I also pray that Your hand would be seen working in relief of any disasters in our world, both natural and man-caused. May You bring special blessing on those whose jobs it is to care for Your creation.

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!

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
(Romans 12:12 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

By Grace Through Faith

Today is Thursday (pre-Friday), the fourth of March, 2021, in the second week of Lent.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,002

31 days until Resurrection Sunday

Ah, the taste of Twisted Pine Hawaiian Blend coffee!!

I can’t think of anything personal that needs to be shared, this morning, . . .

Wait. I thought of one thing. My work place has issued a statement that, in spite of the governor’s proclamation, the other day, we will still be required to follow Covid-19 protocols while on the premises. I am very happy about that. The nation is still having over 50,000 new cases a day, which is still higher than when the initiatives/mandates were first put in place. For the record, I was going to keep wearing a mask, anyway.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

To begin, this morning, I wish to share another poem from fellow blogger Daryl Madden, this one called “Mist of Trinity.”

Something beyond the light
This dawning here surrounds
A sacrament of Spirit
Is laid upon the ground

Dew of the anointing
Of Holy view to share
The mist of trinity
Of light, water and air

A moving of the Spirit
Vision of a prayer
Swirling, drifting, rising
Caressing soul with care

Blessing of consuming
A treasure of beauty
Wrapped in sweet surrender
A sacred place to be

I set your instructions to music and sing them as I walk this pilgrim way.
(Psalms 119:54 MSG)

Today I am grateful:

  • To be spending this sweet time with Jesus, this morning
  • That I am alive and breathing
  • For the presence of the Holy Spirit
  • For the faithfulness of the Father
  • That by grace I have been saved through faith, and it is all Your work

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

LENT – DAY 14

INVITATION

Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations. The LORD is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does.
(Psalms 145:13 NIV)

Meditate, this morning, on the eternal nature of the Kingdom of God, and the imperishable nature of our spiritual inheritance.

BIBLE SONG

Of David.

The LORD is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid?

When the wicked advance against me to devour me, it is my enemies and my foes who will stumble and fall. Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then I will be confident.

One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple. For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock.
(Psalms 27:1-5 NIV)

BIBLE READING

It was not through the law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith. For if those who depend on the law are heirs, faith means nothing and the promise is worthless, because the law brings wrath. And where there is no law there is no transgression.
Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who have the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all. As it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations.” He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not.
(Romans 4:13-17 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

Once again, we are reminded that our promise comes through faith and not through the “law.” If our salvation was by keeping the law, there would be no use for faith! And, we would all be damned for eternity, because no one, outside of Jesus, has been able to keep the law perfectly, and the only way to gain salvation by law would be to never have sinned. And every single one of us sinned before we were even aware of sin.

“The promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace.” “For by grace you have been saved through faith.” And even that faith is a gift from God, that no man can boast of having earned it himself.

Father, I praise You for this great salvation, for which I had nothing whatsoever to do. All I did was believe, and that belief was placed in my heart by You. Even the very faith that I utilized to be saved by grace was given to me by You. Thank you, O my Father!

"Father,
I praise you for the story of salvation
you reveal in the Bible.
Good news spills out on every page - 
in the created goodness of Eden,
through your promises to Abraham
and the pointed proclamations of the prophets,
even in the strange sacrifices and ceremonies
of the law.
And of course,
I hear the gospel most clearly
in your dear Son,
Jesus.
In his name I pray,
amen."
(Heidelberg Catechism 19)

BLESSING

I wait for the LORD, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope.
(Psalms 130:5 NIV)

Sing to God, sing in praise of his name, extol him who rides on the clouds; rejoice before him—his name is the LORD.
(Psalms 68:4 NIV)

Tremble before him, all the earth! The world is firmly established; it cannot be moved. Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let them say among the nations, “The LORD reigns!”
(1 Chronicles 16:30-31 NIV)

A psalm. For giving grateful praise.

Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.
Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the LORD is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.
(Psalms 100:1-5 NIV)

More interesting stuff from The Book of Mysteries, quickly, as time is running out. Jonathan Cahn references Isaiah 53:9.

And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.
(Isaiah 53:9 ESV)

He states that the Hebrew word translated “death” is actually plural. I did a brief amount of research on this and found that there is truth to this claim. This changes a lot in our understanding of the death(s) of Christ.

Of course, He died only once. But that death was unique, a more intense reality than our feeble brains can comprehend. For within that singular death was contained many deaths. “His would be the one life that dies the death of all.” All of our deaths were contained within His one death.

“Every death is contained inside that plural word. It is the witness in black and white that your old life and the judgment thereof is finished . . . in His deaths.”

Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men.
(Romans 5:18 ESV)

For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.
(2 Corinthians 5:14-15 ESV)

The Mission: One of the deaths in His deaths is the death of your old life. Give that which is old a eulogy and a burial. Be finished with it and be free.”

(From The Book of Mysteries, by Jonathan Cahn)

Father, I thank You for the death of Christ, in which was contained my death and all of our deaths together. I do not quite understand this, but I embrace it and celebrate it, as I believe that I have, in effect, with Christ, on the Cross, died to sin for all eternity.

Lord, continue to move my soul to a richer understanding of the truths of Your Gospel message. Help me to always know that this kingdom of Yours is available now, and that I am walking in it now. May I experience the fulness of adoption as Your child, today, and impart that knowledge to someone else along the way. I pray, this day, for racial reconciliation in our land and in our world, as all races will dwell together in peace in our eternal Home!

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!

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)

Grace and peace, friends.

Trust in God, Not Works

Today is Wednesday, the third of March, 2021, in the second week of Lent.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,001

32 days until Resurrection Sunday

Unfortunately, we got a diagnosis on our pool, yesterday. We finally were able to get someone to come look at it. I’m sure he has been very busy since Snovid-21. It’s not good. We have a lot of cracked things, and are probably looking at a major overhaul of equipment. I’ll have to continue the conversation with our pool guy today, to see if he has the capability of repairing/replacing it all. Some of that equipment is over twenty years old, so much of it will probably need to be replaced. Nevertheless, all of this is a “footstool” issue, in the grand scheme of things.

The governor of Texas announced, yesterday, that he will ignore doctors and science and lift all pandemic restrictions in our state, effective a week from today. I fully expect Texas to be leading the world in Coronavirus cases within three weeks.

One of my old supervisors from a previous job with CEVA accidentally called me at 3:30 this morning. I didn’t answer, but immediately he texted me, apologizing that he has another person working with him with the same name as me. It would be humorous, but I didn’t get much sleep after that. I believe I might suggest that he sort his contacts by last name. Haha!

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)

Some nations boast of their chariots and horses, but we boast in the name of the LORD our God. Those nations will fall down and collapse, but we will rise up and stand firm. Give victory to our king, O LORD! Answer our cry for help.
(Psalms 20:7-9 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

  • That every problem or issue we encounter in our lives is temporary
  • For my future inheritance in God’s Kingdom, which cannot fade, be corrupted, or perish
  • That I am alive and breathing
  • That Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom
  • For the righteousness of Christ, imputed to us

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

LENT – DAY 13

INVITATION

Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations. The LORD is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does.
(Psalms 145:13 NIV)

In light of everything going on in the world, these days, ponder for a moment the everlasting kingdom of God.

BIBLE SONG

Of David.

Vindicate me, LORD, for I have led a blameless life; I have trusted in the LORD and have not faltered. Test me, LORD, and try me, examine my heart and my mind; for I have always been mindful of your unfailing love and have lived in reliance on your faithfulness.

I do not sit with the deceitful, nor do I associate with hypocrites. I abhor the assembly of evildoers and refuse to sit with the wicked. I wash my hands in innocence, and go about your altar, LORD, proclaiming aloud your praise and telling of all your wonderful deeds.

LORD, I love the house where you live, the place where your glory dwells. Do not take away my soul along with sinners, my life with those who are bloodthirsty, in whose hands are wicked schemes, whose right hands are full of bribes. I lead a blameless life; deliver me and be merciful to me. My feet stand on level ground; in the great congregation I will praise the LORD.
(Psalms 26:1-12 NIV)

BIBLE READING

What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, discovered in this matter? If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about—but not before God. What does Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”
Now to the one who works, wages are not credited as a gift but as an obligation. However, to the one who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as righteousness.
(Romans 4:1-5 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

I struggle with Psalm 26, because I have most certainly not led a blameless life. However, I have, to my credit, the righteousness of Jesus Christ, and His sacrifice on the Cross, which utterly erased my record of sin, past, present, and future. You might ask how there could be a record of future sin. My only explanation of this is that God exists outside of time, and sees my whole life at one time, even the parts I have not ventured into, yet. In the words of the psalmist, this information is too high for me, too lofty to attain.

I can say, I believe, that I have trusted in the Lord for most of my life, if not all. Sure, there have been periods of time where that trust waned a bit, but it never entirely disappeared. I have never completely forsaken my God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And, like David, I can say that “I love the house where You live.” That “house” is different for us than it was for David. But, to bring it into a more New Covenant way of thinking, I love the Church. And Church with a capital C is the Body of Christ, all believers, all over the world, past, present, and future, the communion of Saints.

I am a firm believe that if you claim to love Jesus and do not love the Church, you are a liar.

One of the things that makes the Church unique is the righteousness of Christ, imputed to us by faith, as Abraham experienced. If we trust in God rather than our works and deeds, our faith is, indeed, credited as righteousness.

So, to circle back, because of these truths, I guess, perhaps, I have led a “blameless” life. But it is not my life that was blameless. It was my Savior’s.

Father, I praise You that my faith has been credited to me as righteousness. Thank You for the example of Abraham; thank You for the testimony of David; thank You for Your Word, which so effectively communicates these truths to us, that we may live and walk in Your kingdom today. I praise You for the work of Christ, fully completed and efficacious, that has drawn us into and given us full access to Your “holy of holies,” that we may approach You, without guilty consciences, to worship You and pray to You.

"God of boundless mercy,
I come empty-handed,
confessing the bankruptcy of my works
and drawing on your infinite grace by faith.
Thank you for the gift of 
righteousness in Jesus,
who was made to be sin
and a curse in my place,
on the cross,
making me right with you.
In the Savior's name,
amen."
(Canons of Dort 2.2)

BLESSING

I wait for the LORD, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope.
(Psalms 130:5 NIV)

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.
(Psalms 32:8 NIV)

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life.
(Psalms 143:8 NIV)

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
(Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV)

In the book of Jonah, there appears to be a prophecy of the Lord that did not come true. Jonah was told to deliver the message, “”Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” (Jonah 3:4 ESV)

Yet, when Jonah delivered the message, albeit unwillingly, the Ninevites believed the message, repented, and God spared them.

God showed great mercy in this, and also showed that He “would rather save the lost even if by doing so it would appear to void His Word.”

But Jonathan Cahn brings out a great point. Was the prophecy, in fact, unfulfilled?

The word translated “overthrown” or “destroyed” in most translations, is the Hebrew hafak. That word can mean “overturn,” “change,” or “convert.” And that, in fact, is exactly what happened to Nineveh.

The Mission: Today, let His mercy triumph over all judgment and condemnation. Let logic of judgment yield to the paradox of His love.”

“Get up and go to the great city of Nineveh, and deliver the message I have given you.”
(Jonah 3:2 NLT)

The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.
(2 Peter 3:9 NLT)

Father, I praise You for Your great mercy and love, which would even make it look like Your Word did not come true. But I also praise You that our human understanding of Your Word is so incredibly fallible that we are honestly unable to make a judgment like that. Thank You for the mercy You showed Nineveh, even though Your prophet was against it. Thank You for the mercy You show me, and the rest of the world, every day. You are merciful to all, and none of us deserves it. All glory to You, Father!

Lord, I lift up all governments and leaders in our world, praying for the needs of the world around. May You be faithful and just in all of Your dealings in our world, today. I especially lift up the North American continent today and all nations included in that continent. May Your grace and mercy overflow in us today. I also pray for peace in any places in the world where war and strife are occurring. May all divisions and conflicts cease, and Your peace reign over all.

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!

Let me hear of your unfailing love each morning, for I am trusting you. Show me where to walk, for I give myself to you.
(Psalms 143:8 NLT)

Grace and peace, friends.

Exit to Enter; End to Begin

Today is Sunday, the twenty-eight of February, 2021, the second Sunday of Lent.

Peace be with you!

Day 22,998

35 days until Resurrection Sunday

Are you observing Lent? How is it going for you? How does it look different, this year?

I registered a loss of 4.8 pounds at the WW Workshop, yesterday! That’s awesome, even for a two-week stretch. Perhaps I have managed to get off of that plateau upon which I seemed stuck for a couple months. The topic of discussion, yesterday was “non-scale victories,” otherwise known as “NSVs.” #nsv on social media.

A non-scale victory can be anything that is not related to numbers on a scale. It can be changing clothing sizes, being able to physically do something that one couldn’t do before losing a significant amount of weight, or reducing medication dosage, like I have, recently. So I’m going to try to focus on those, during the coming week. C will need to work on that, as well, as she is now three weeks into her quest for lifetime membership.

As previously mentioned, I plan to be “going to church,” this morning, as Jacob and I will be attending St. Barnabas Anglican Church for their 10:00 AM service. Should be interesting.

I’m looking forward to a restful afternoon. C may go out and do something. I know she is restless because she is having to go back to the office starting tomorrow. She has really enjoyed her time at home, and is having to come up with a different exercise schedule. That is probably the most difficult part, besides spending sixty to ninety minutes driving every day.

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)

A song for pilgrims ascending to Jerusalem. A psalm of David.

How wonderful and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony! For harmony is as precious as the anointing oil that was poured over Aaron’s head, that ran down his beard and onto the border of his robe. Harmony is as refreshing as the dew from Mount Hermon that falls on the mountains of Zion. And there the LORD has pronounced his blessing, even life everlasting.
(Psalms 133:1-3 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

  • That today is the last day of February
  • For an opportunity to experience something new in worship, this morning
  • That my heart will sing your praises and not be silent (Psalm 30)
  • That death is not the end, but the beginning of something new
  • For Your kingdom, in which I am currently dwelling in my “home” away from Home

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

Second Sunday in Lent

INVITATION

Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations. The LORD is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does.
(Psalms 145:13 NIV)

Meditate for a moment on the everlasting kingdom of God.

BIBLE SONG

A psalm. A song. For the dedication of the temple. Of David.

I will exalt you, LORD, for you lifted me out of the depths and did not let my enemies gloat over me.
(Psalms 30:1 NIV)

When I felt secure, I said, “I will never be shaken.” LORD, when you favored me, you made my royal mountain stand firm; but when you hid your face, I was dismayed.

To you, LORD, I called; to the Lord I cried for mercy: “What is gained if I am silenced, if I go down to the pit? Will the dust praise you? Will it proclaim your faithfulness? Hear, LORD, and be merciful to me; LORD, be my help.”

You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent. LORD my God, I will praise you forever.
(Psalms 30:6-12 NIV)

BIBLE READING

The LORD had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.
“I will make you into a great nation,
and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
and you will be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you,
and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
will be blessed through you.”
So Abram went, as the LORD had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Harran.
(Genesis 12:1-4 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

These are some pretty incredible promises made by God to Abram. But we know from the rest of the story that they all came true. Most people in the world today know who Abraham was. And he was actually made into more than one great nation. Some say that the nations of Islam are descended from Ishmael. This may or may not be true. But we do know that the descendants of Ishmael, as well as the descendants of Esau (also a descendent of Abraham) are not considered part of Israel. We have to consult non-biblical history sources to trace all of that.

But the most important of those promises, in my opinion, is “all peoples on earth will be blessed by you.” This was ultimately fulfilled in Jesus Christ, who is, also in my opinion, the primary reason for the existence of Israel.

Note Abram’s age when this all began. He was seventy-five years old!!

Father, I thank You for blessing all peoples of the earth through Abraham and his obedience to you. Will I get to meet him someday? I’m not sure how all of this post-resurrection stuff will work, honestly. It’s also not really a primary concern. But it would be nice to get to chat with Abraham. I’m sure there will be a waiting list. Hahaha! As I sit here and ponder eternal life, I am almost overwhelmed, though. It will be such a shift from what we are used to, here. Everything here is finite. Everything here has a beginning and an end. Eternal life will, at least, have no end. You have no beginning, another thing which my mind cannot comprehend at all.

But my prayer is rambling, and I think there is nothing wrong with that. Maybe that’s the best kind of prayer. I thank You for consistently lifting me out of the depths, throughout my life, because I always manage to find myself in some kind of pit or another. I have, like David, felt secure and boasted that I would never be shaken. Usually, in minutes, I have been shaken, and no longer feel secure. But You always draw me back in to Yourself. All praise and glory to You for that! My heart will sing Your praises and not be silent.

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.

"Good God,
you didn't turn you back on a world
plunged up to its neck in physical and spiritual death
but set out to rescue it.
I worship you for your resolute goodness
and wisdom that sought and found me;
I thank you for the blessing
that has comet o me in Jesus,
and pray that my life may be a blessing
to others.
Amen."
(Belgic Confession 17)

BLESSING

I wait for the LORD, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope.
(Psalms 130:5 NIV)

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.
(Proverbs 17:17 NIV)

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.
(Proverbs 27:17 NIV)

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
(Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 NIV)

“For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”
(Matthew 18:20 NIV)

Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown.
(Revelation 2:10 NIV)

What is the best thing to say to someone who is suffering? “What is the true thing to say?” One of the most awkward situations to be in is being in the presence of someone who is suffering, for whatever reason. You feel like you have to say something. But then, that is a human characteristic, isn’t it? Especially a Western human characteristic. (These are my words, not Peterson’s.) We always feel like we have to be talking!

But in the presence of one who is suffering, when I am not suffering, it is a great challenge. What do I say? They might respond by saying, “It is well enough for you to talk like that, but it is not you who are suffering.” Also, there is the danger of saying the absolute wrong, worst thing. You don’t want to give false hope; you don’t want to cause disillusionment. You don’t want to completely miss the mark and cause hindrance in the person’s journey.

In John’s letter to the Smyrna Church, Jesus first describes Himself as “the First and the Last, who died and came to life again” (verse 8). In saying the words “first and last,” Jesus “includes everything within himself. He is at the beginning and at the end; all that occurs between occurs in the context of his presence.” Peterson believes, and I agree, that this is important for the church that is suffering.

Christ is at the beginning, and He is here with us until the finish. He will not go off and leave us in the midst of our suffering.

Consider also the order of the words, “who died and came to life again.” We humans don’t think of existence in that direction. We are born and then we die. Life is the beginning; death is the end. One of the things that makes suffering so frightening is that it “threatens to bring the end closer.”

Ponder that last statement for a bit, as it is a key point in this discussion. We fear suffering because it threatens to bring our lives to an end.

But in describing Himself as He “who died and came to life again,” Christ calls out death as a beginning! “Instead of disaster, it became resurrection.” This person speaks living words of life to us!

(From This Hallelujah Banquet, by Eugene H. Peterson)

The LORD had said to Abram, “Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you. I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you.”
(Genesis 12:1-3 NLT)

On that very day the LORD brought the people of Israel out of the land of Egypt like an army.
(Exodus 12:51 NLT)

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!
(2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT)

Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.
(Ephesians 4:21-24 NLT)

In a rare moment of congruence, my last resource echoes my first one, this morning, as it speaks of Abraham leaving his home in order to eventually find the Promised Land.

Israel is called “Ivrim” in Hebrew, which means, “Those who cross over.” The point is made that, not only did they cross over the Jordan to get to the Promised Land, but they also crossed over the Red Sea to leave Egypt. Before they could enter the Land, they had to exit another land.

“You can’t enter unless you leave.” This most simple of statements is a deep truth. Every time you enter a room, you leave another room. When you exit your house, you enter the outdoors.

When we enter the break room at work, there is a button we must press to unlock the magnetic security lock going in. But it says “Push to exit.” I always thought it was wrong. I’m not exiting! I’m entering! But, when this truth is considered, I am also exiting!

This goes for our spiritual lives, as well. “If you want to get to the place where you aren’t, you must first leave the place where you are. Leave the old, and you will enter the new. Cross the Red Sea out of your Egypt, and you will also cross the Jordan River into your promised land.”

The Mission: Where do you need to go? What promised land has God called you to enter? What must you first leave? Begin your exodus today.”

(From The Book of Mysteries, by Jonathan Cahn)

Father, these are things worthy of pondering, this day. How do we approach suffering and the ministry to those who are in the midst of it? How do we consider this idea of exiting and entering? For, in order to enter eternal life, we must leave something else. Death is the beginning; eternal life is the end that never ends. Give me wisdom as I ponder these things today. I pray for Your Church all around the world. Help us to get it right. And by “it” I mean everything that relates to You, eternal life, Your Kingdom, and the Holy Trinity. All praise and glory to You, Father!

Lord, may You give us all hope and joy in the resurrection, both in that of Jesus Christ, and the one we will eventually experience in Him. Give us all confidence and encouragement to share the testimony of the living Christ in the world in which we live.

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!

“Write this letter to the angel of the church in Smyrna. This is the message from the one who is the First and the Last, who was dead but is now alive:
(Revelation 2:8 NLT)

Grace and peace, friends.

The Word, the World, and Sacrifice

Today is Saturday, the twenty-seventh day of February, 2021, in the first week of Lent.

Peace be with you!

Day 22,997

36 days until Resurrection Sunday

I will start out by reporting on my vaccine experience, yesterday. I arrived at the Baylor Scott & White location (they are my health care provider organization) right about 12:00 PM. My appointment was for 12:15.

As I was approaching the parking garage, I was initially panicked by the number of cars parked in a grassy field across the driveway from the building. These turned out to be not related at all. But, since I was in a mild state of anxiety, when I found a parking place on level 2, I grabbed it, and headed for the elevator to go to the sixth floor, where the vaccines were administered.

The good people with BS&W have this down to a well-oiled system! There must have been at least a hundred staff people (I wonder how many were volunteers) on site. There were at least three in the hall, as soon as we stepped off the elevator, directing us in the right direction immediately. Just around the corner, a gentleman was scanning people for temperature.

As I approached the first area of a large room (this appeared to be happening on the top floor, in an area that was yet undeveloped), a friendly person directed me to one of many tables set up in the area. Within seconds of when I sat down, a young lady was in front of me, handing me a form to fill out, along with a fact sheet about the vaccine. I would be getting the Pfizer version.

After filling out the form, I was directed to the next area, where another friendly staff person directed me to another table, at which was sitting a lady at a computer. She quickly registered me, explained the vaccine card to me, and provided me with my next appointment, exactly three weeks in the future, same bat-time, same bat-place (I know . . . I’m showing my age with that, but I’ve never tried to hide it, anyway). She then pointed the way to an exit door and told me they were waiting for me, as she handed me my vaccine card and form. I thanked her as I stood, barely able to hold back tears.

I found that I was way more emotional than I expected to be, as this process progressed.

I went through the door, into yet another large room, where another friendly staff person directed me to a table staffed by a couple of health care professionals. I sat down, and the lady courteously spoke with me about the shot, asked a few questions (have I ever had a reaction to a vaccine; which arm, and so on), and explained that I would be asked to sit and wait for fifteen minutes after the shot, to insure that I did not have any serious, immediate reaction. And just like that, it was done. I never even felt the needle.

As I got up and moved to the next area, filled with chairs for the fifteen minute wait, I was greeted by gentlemen handing out stickers declaring that I had been vaccinated against COVID-19. I found an empty chair and sat down to wait, fighting back (not necessarily successfully) tears the whole time. The time went quickly, as I watched, in a bit of amazement, the buzz of activity around me.

As I left, I thanked every staff person/volunteer I could see, thanked them for being there. I do believe that a few of them were quite surprised by that. I hope it made their day.

As to any reactions or side effects, the only thing that I can say for certain is that my arm hurts like a son-of-a-gun! Up until about four hours after the shot, I was wondering if I even really got a shot! After that four hours, though, there was no doubt, and it still hurts pretty bad, this morning. Otherwise, I have had no other effects that I can say for certain are related to the vaccine. I had a very mild headache for a little bit, yesterday evening, and, at one point, my fingertips on the arm where I received the shot were a little tingly, but who knows if either one of those were related.

It was a fantastic experience. My thanks go out to the good people at BS&W for how efficiently they worked this. There was literally never any time where I was standing and waiting, except for when I was waiting for an elevator. And that’s not their fault, is it?

My appointment for the second shot is at 12:15 PM on March 19.

We have our WW Workshop, this morning, at 10:30. We didn’t get a weigh-in last week, because of our week of winter, so I should definitely lose a little. At this point, I’m not sure how much, but it should be at least a couple pounds. Looking at my weight from two weeks ago, I suppose it might even be as much as four pounds.

Tomorrow morning, our little church will be taking a break, as the other two leaders and their wives are on a hunting trip. They tried to act like they weren’t going to be together, but some of us knew better. So, I’m going to take this opportunity and do something completely different. Our form pastor, Jacob, and I will be attending St. Barnabas Anglican Church tomorrow morning at 10:00 AM. I am really looking forward to this. I’m not sure what to expect, other than a lot of liturgy/ritual, and a bit of responsive recitation back and forth with the priests. It should be quite interesting, especially considering that this will be the second Sunday of Lent.

Oh, and in case anyone is wondering, the Anglican Church is Protestant, born out of the Reformation. But a lot of what happens in their service still resembles Catholicism.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

This new day You give to me
From Your great eternity
This new day now enfold
Me in Your loving hold

You are the star of the morn
You are the day newly born
You are the light of our night
You are the Savior by Your might

God be in me this day
God ever with me stay
God be in the night
Keep us by Thy light
God be in my heart
God abide, never depart.
(David Adam)

The LORD keeps you from all harm and watches over your life. The LORD keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever.
(Psalms 121:7-8 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

  • That I successfully got my first COVID-19 shot
  • That I have had no adverse effects, other than my arm hurts pretty bad
  • For the weekend, to rest and refresh for another work week
  • That the Word precedes the world
  • For the example of hundreds of years of Christian martyrs

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

LENT – DAY 10

INVITATION

The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
(Psalms 34:18 NIV)

As this first full week of Lent comes to a close, take a moment to reflect on your closeness to the Father, and His great salvation in Christ Jesus.

BIBLE SONG

A psalm of David.

Ascribe to the LORD, you heavenly beings, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength. Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness.

The voice of the LORD is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the LORD thunders over the mighty waters. The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is majestic. The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars; the LORD breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon.
(Psalms 29:1-5 NIV)

The voice of the LORD twists the oaks and strips the forests bare. And in his temple all cry, “Glory!”

The LORD sits enthroned over the flood; the LORD is enthroned as King forever. The LORD gives strength to his people; the LORD blesses his people with peace.
(Psalms 29:9-11 NIV)

BIBLE READING

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit. After being made alive, he went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits— to those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand—with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him.
(1 Peter 3:18-22 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

“Ascribe . . .” what does that mean?

It means “to attribute” something to someone. So when we ascribe to God glory and strength, the “glory due his name,” we attribute these characteristics to him. In other words, we acknowledge His glory and strength.

His holiness is indeed full of splendor, and worthy to be worshiped. The rest of that psalm proclaims the power of His voice over creation. And if His voice thunders over the waters, how incredible must be the strength He gives His people?

Considering this, it is not unbelievable that He brought Jesus Christ back to life, following His great sacrifice for us on the Cross. He was raised, and now sits at the right hand of the Father, with all things in submission to Him.

Also important is the word “once” in verse 18 of the 1 Peter passage. In contrast to the Hebrew sacrificial system, which had to be performed on a daily basis, Jesus died once. He “suffered once for sins.” The NLT says “once for all time,” nailing it down even more explicitly.

So when Jesus said, “It is finished,” on the Cross, He meant it.

The reason is also made clear. “To bring you to God.” And contrary to what many people seem to believe, that is the only way to get to God. There are not “many roads” to the Father. There is one. Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

Father, I praise You, this morning, for Your great glory and strength. I lift up Your Name because of Your great holiness, the splendor of Your majesty. Thank You for the strength and the peace You give Your people. I also thank You for the sacrifice made for sin, once for all time, by Jesus on the Cross. I thank You that, in this sacrifice, I have been brought into Your presence, so that I can truly worship You in spirit and in truth. I long for the day when Jesus will return to lead us into our Home forever.

"Persuasive God,
I know it sounds odd,
but sometimes my sin seems
too big and ugly even for you.
Keep me from adding to my sin
by thinking that your power can't forgive me now.
Convince my unbelieving heart that
through Christ's sufferings
I'm forgiven and forever right with you.
In the name of Jesus Christ,
amen."
(Heidelberg Catechism 21)

BLESSING

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
(Romans 5:8 NIV)

If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.
(Psalms 139:11-12 NIV)

The LORD will grant that the enemies who rise up against you will be defeated before you. They will come at you from one direction but flee from you in seven.
(Deuteronomy 28:7 NIV)

But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one.
(2 Thessalonians 3:3 NIV)

Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown.
(Revelation 2:10 NIV)

In contrast to Ephesus, who got a warning about abandoning their first love, Smyrna got a promise. But it’s not the kind of promise that we like to hear. “Things are going to get worse,” they were told.

One wonders if Jesus’s words to the church at Smyrna were echoing in Polycarp’s mind as he burned to death. And, then, one wonders what lead a group of early American to name their Delaware town after Smyrna. “Perhaps to keep before them the example of the person who was faithful to death and fearless in the face opposition. To remind them that the sequence is not life to death but death to life.”

Says Peterson, “I live in a culture and a society where hardly anyone knows the meaning of the word sacrifice, where suffering is something to be avoided at all costs and complained of when it can’t be avoided, and where it is unthinkable that there is anything more important than preserving and extending my life.”

In contrast to our modern culture, for three hundred years, the church’s “most important model of the Christian life was that of a martyr – the person whose witness was authentic to the point of death.”

This is the great paradox of the Christian life. In order to truly live, we must die. Not physically, of course, not literally. But we must die, as Paul repeatedly says, to ourselves. If we use all our energy trying to preserve our lives, the opposite will happen. “But if we live at risk, giving up all in witness and commitment and love, we are released form death to live in the power of the Resurrection.”

(From This Hallelujah Banquet, by Eugene H. Peterson)

The LORD merely spoke, and the heavens were created. He breathed the word, and all the stars were born. He assigned the sea its boundaries and locked the oceans in vast reservoirs. Let the whole world fear the LORD, and let everyone stand in awe of him. For when he spoke, the world began! It appeared at his command.
(Psalms 33:6-9 NLT)

In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone.
(John 1:1-4 NLT)

By faith we understand that the entire universe was formed at God’s command, that what we now see did not come from anything that can be seen.
(Hebrews 11:3 NLT)

The Word preceded the world. In fact, it was the Word which created the world. God spoke, and everything came into existence. By His Word, the universe was created ex nihilo, out of nothing.

According to Jonathan Cahn, the world, the creation, is the olam. The Word is the Davar. The Davar came before the olam.

God’s Word stands forever, and never changes. It will accomplish all that it is set forth to accomplish. Even more importantly, that Word became flesh and dwelt among us.

We must stand on the Word, regardless of what we see in the world.

The Mission: Choose the Word over the world, over your circumstances, your problems, and everything else. Let the Davar rule your olam.”

(From The Book of Mysteries, by Jonathan Cahn)

Father, I praise You for the truths presented this morning. I thank You for Your Word, both spoken by You and the Word become flesh, that we might be drawn to You and Your kingdom. Help me to stand on Your Word each day as I walk in this world. May Your Word guide me over my circumstances; may Your Word rule over my problems. And may I be willing to sacrifice for Your sake and the sake of the Gospel in this world.

Lord, I pray for the mission-mindedness of the Church, these days. There seems to be a bit of an identity crisis in recent years. Help us to remember what we are about. I also pray for “servant leadership, kingdom vision, godly stewardship, and effective organization” in the local church. Especially that “servant leadership” part. It is way past time for our pastors to stop acting like authority figures and start acting like servants, mimicking the life of Jesus. Likewise, I pray for deacons and other servants in the local churches, that they, too, would transition from thinking that they are a governmental body, into realizing that their original purpose was to “wait tables.”

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!

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
(Micah 6:8 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Everybody Have Fun Tonight

Today is Thursday, the twenty-fifth of February, 2021, in the first week of Lent.

Peace be with you!

Day 22,995

38 days until Resurrection Sunday!

A couple of news items, and then on to the morning devotional.

I received a somewhat unexpected message from my health care provider, yesterday afternoon. “It’s your turn! Schedule your COVID vaccine,” it said. So I did. I’m getting round 1 tomorrow afternoon (Friday), at a Baylor Scott & White clinic in Frisco, TX. I chose that one for two reasons. One, it is close to where I work (within ten miles), and, two, they had appointments on Friday, which works well, in case the shot makes me feel ill. I will leave work early, get the shot, and take the rest of the day off.

The second news item is that my new glasses arrived yesterday. The eyecare place is open until 7:00 PM on Wednesdays, so I stopped by to pick them up. After a couple of adjustments, I went on home. However, I may need to stop by Saturday for one more adjustment, as I think they still might be riding a little high on my nose. These new ones are trifocals, so they will take a little getting used to. However, I’m sitting here typing with them on, and I can see the computer screen perfectly! So I will no longer need two pair of glasses! Huzzah!

Have I mentioned that C has to return to the office next week? We are pretty bummed about that. But, as they say, “it is what it is.” On March 1, they are returning to the office. To sit in their offices with their doors closed. And still have virtual meetings. Oh, well.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Prayer to the Most Holy Name of Jesus
By St. Bernard of Clairvaux

Jesus, the very thought of Thee
With sweetness fills the breast!
Yet sweeter far Thy face to see
And in Thy presence rest.

No voice can sing, no heart can frame,
Nor can the memory find,
A sweeter sound than Jesus’ name,
The Savior of mankind.

O hope of every contrite heart!
O joy of all the meek!
To those who fall, how kind Thou art!
How good to those who seek!

But what to those who find? Ah! this
Nor tongue nor pen can show
The love of Jesus, what it is,
None but His loved ones know.

Jesus! our only hope be Thou,
As Thou our prize shalt be;
In Thee be all our glory now,
And through eternity.
Amen.

I think of the good old days, long since ended, when my nights were filled with joyful songs.
I search my soul and ponder the difference now.
Has the Lord rejected me forever? Will he never again be kind to me? Is his unfailing love gone forever? Have his promises permanently failed? Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has he slammed the door on his compassion?
Interlude
(Psalms 77:5-9 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

  • That I am getting my COVID vaccine tomorrow
  • That You have NOT forgotten Your unfailing love and compassion!
  • For the confidence that I have in You, no matter what my circumstances throw at me
  • That Your Word tells us it’s okay to have fun (read Ecclesiastes!)
  • That the plurality of God’s mercies is more than enough for the singularity of my sinful condition

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

LENT – DAY 8

INVITATION

The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
(Psalms 34:18 NIV)

Sit in silence for a moment, pondering the unfailing love of the Lord.

BIBLE SONG

Of David.

The LORD is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid?

When the wicked advance against me to devour me, it is my enemies and my foes who will stumble and fall. Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then I will be confident.
(Psalms 27:1-3 NIV)

Do not hide your face from me, do not turn your servant away in anger; you have been my helper. Do not reject me or forsake me, God my Savior. Though my father and mother forsake me, the LORD will receive me.
(Psalms 27:9-10 NIV)

I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.
(Psalms 27:13-14 NIV)

BIBLE READING

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.” For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
(Romans 10:9-13 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

There’s a word that captures my attention in the psalm, this morning. It appears twice. That word is “confident.” David declares that, even if an army wages war against him, he will be confident. Confident of what? Verse 1 appears to be the answer.

“The Lord is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear?”

In the words of the Emperor Joseph, in the movie Amadeus, “Well . . . there it is.”

If verse 1 of Psalm 27 is true, the rest follows. Of whom shall I be afraid? What can man do to me? What is the worst thing that could happen to me? Death? That sends me Home!

But even in the face of all the bad things that may happen to him, in verses 9 and 10, David again uses that word and says, “I remain confident.” He believes with all his heart that he will see God’s goodness, still, in this life.

I share David’s confidence, this morning. In spite of everything that 2020 and 2021 have thrown at us (and we are still barely in 2021), I believe that we will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. I saw it last week. In the middle of the frozen crisis in Texas, last week, I saw the goodness of the Lord. And if you didn’t . . . you’re doin’ it wrong!

One quick note about the Romans passage. All that is required to be saved is to call upon the name of the Lord. It does not say “Whoever calls upon the name of the Lord and gives up drinking, dancing, fornicating, and smoking will be saved.” It does not say “Whoever calls upon the name of the Lord and votes pro-life will be saved.” There are NO conditions other than believing in your heart and declaring that Jesus is Lord!

Another thing I am confident of: Whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. Period.

Father, I praise You for this great salvation which requires nothing other than believing with our hearts and declaring that Jesus is Lord! I thank You for the confidence that You have placed in my heart, confidence not in myself or any “good” works that I might do, but confidence in YOU and You alone! I have seen, and believe that I will continue to see, Your goodness in the “land of the living.” I am also confident in my eternal inheritance. The further You draw me in, the more confident I am of that inheritance which resides where moths and rust cannot destroy and thieves cannot break in and steal. All glory to You, Father!

"God of truth,
I don't like to face the sin in me -
it's ugly and frightening.
But avoiding it only gets me
tangled deeper in deception.
So give me the courage
to take an honest look at myself,
and may that honesty make me
long more and more for your salvation that
sets me free from this body of death.
In Christ's name,
amen."
(Belgic Confession 15)

BLESSING

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
(Romans 5:8 NIV)

So I recommend having fun, because there is nothing better for people in this world than to eat, drink, and enjoy life. That way they will experience some happiness along with all the hard work God gives them under the sun.
(Ecclesiastes 8:15 NLT)

So I concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can.
(Ecclesiastes 3:12 NLT)

Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.
(Romans 12:9-10 NLT)

Did you ever know that the Bible says it is okay to have FUN?? There is something to be said for spontaneity. I’m not very good at that, myself. The spontaneous part. I love having fun. Perhaps too much. But I like to plan things. But the older I get, the more I like for vacation trips to be unplanned. I start feeling tired before it begins, if there is something planned for every day.

I bet you did know that the Bible commands us to love each other. But guess what! Loving people, truly loving them and not pretending, as the Romans verse warns us against, is also fun! Loving people is fun.

So have some fun today! Be spontaneous! Love someone and do something unexpected for them!

The faithful love of the LORD never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.
(Lamentations 3:22-23 NLT)

But the Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him.
(Daniel 9:9 NLT)

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.
(2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NLT)

Jonathan Cahn points out, in The Book of Mysteries, that the Hebrew word for mercy, “rachamim,” is actually plural. Mercies. It is interesting. In the Lamentations passage, the word for “mercies” is “chesed.” But in Daniel, it is “racham.” But both times, it is translated “mercies” or “merciful.” The KJV says “mercies” in Daniel 9, as well.

The point, though, is that God’s mercy is plural. It is infinite. As opposed to our sin, which is singular. Yes, we have plural “sins,” but those are actions, occurrences. “Sin,” singular, is our condition. And the mercies of God are more than enough for our sinful condition, regardless of the plurality of sins.

The Mission: Open your heart today to receive the rachamim God has for you, not only for your sins, but the overflowing rivers of His compassions and love.”

(From The Book of Mysteries, by Jonathan Cahn)

Father, I praise You for the plurality of Your mercies, which is more than enough for my sinful condition. I thank You that You have placed within my heart the confidence and belief that is required for me to call upon Your name, that I may be saved. Your mercies . . . Your compassions . . . will never fail. Praise to You, Father!

Lord, I pray that You would keep giving me more and more yearning to know You more and also give me the diligence to continue seeking You, day by day. I pray for the fullness of the Spirit of Christ within my soul, as well as all other believers, this day. And I pray for any family members and friends who may not share my faith in You, or perhaps their faith wanes. I pray that You draw them in to Yourself by the power of Your Holy Spirit, and may I be an acceptable witness to Your grace and goodness.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Speaking of fun . . .

Grace and peace, friends . . . and FUN!

Rivers of Living Water From the Wells of Yeshua

Today is Wednesday, the twenty-fourth of February, 2021, in the first week of Lent.

Day 22,994

39 days until Resurrection Sunday!

I woke up to a message from my doctor’s office, this morning. I had gotten test results throughout the day, yesterday, all of which were good. Finally, at the end of the day, they sent comments and instructions for going forward. The best part is that my A1C is 5.4, which is normal. It’s not even in “pre-diabetic” range. This is great news. Of course, I have been taking 1000 mg of Metformin twice a day for a while, now. The plan is to reduce that in half. As soon as I get my new prescription, I will begin taking 500 mg twice a day. No doubt, the glucose readings will be a bit elevated, at first. But hopefully, as I continue my healthy journey, they will also continue to trend downward.

It is 6:00 AM, time for the daily devotional.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Love the LORD, all you godly ones! For the LORD protects those who are loyal to him, but he harshly punishes the arrogant.
(Psalms 31:23 NLT)

The people will play flutes and sing, “The source of my life springs from Jerusalem!”
(Psalms 87:7 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

  • That I am alive and breathing
  • For another new day, and this time of prayer and meditation
  • For Your covenants with mankind and creation
  • For the stories of people like Polycarp
  • For the living water of Your Holy Spirit, drawn from the wells of Yeshua

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

LENT – DAY 7

INVITATION

The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
(Psalms 34:18 NIV)

Take a moment to meditate on the Lord’s closeness. Is He close to you, this morning?

BIBLE SONG

Of David.

Vindicate me, LORD, for I have led a blameless life; I have trusted in the LORD and have not faltered. Test me, LORD, and try me, examine my heart and my mind; for I have always been mindful of your unfailing love and have lived in reliance on your faithfulness.
(Psalms 26:1-3 NIV)

Do not take away my soul along with sinners, my life with those who are bloodthirsty, in whose hands are wicked schemes, whose right hands are full of bribes. I lead a blameless life; deliver me and be merciful to me. My feet stand on level ground; in the great congregation I will praise the LORD.
(Psalms 26:9-12 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him: “I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you and with every living creature that was with you—the birds, the livestock and all the wild animals, all those that came out of the ark with you—every living creature on earth. I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be destroyed by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.”
And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.”
So God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant I have established between me and all life on the earth.”
(Genesis 9:8-17 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

I confess that, when I read the above psalm, my initial reaction is skepticism. My thought is, “Oh, really?? You’ve led a blameless life, have you?” I know I could never pray that prayer with any amount of sincerity, and I’ve got the salvific work of Christ behind me.

But here’s the thing. As far as we know, David was honest about all of his sins and confessed them all to God. As far us, this “salvific work” of Jesus has removed all of our sins from us. So, technically, yes, I can pray that prayer, because of Jesus!

It’s a bold prayer, but it also speaks confidence; confidence that our Father is just, and that He will not punish us along with the “sinners,” with “those who are bloodthirsty.” The older I get, the more my confidence in my Father grows. That’s a correlation, not a causation. My confidence is not growing because I’m getting older. It’s growing because, as I age, I am seeking God more diligently. And even this is because of His grace in drawing me closer to Him.

We see in the Genesis passage, God making a covenant. And this covenant He made was with all living creatures, not just man. Perhaps I have noticed that before, but it seems fresh, today.

The covenant has been confused, over the years. God did not promise to never allow a flood again. Nor did He promise that the earth would never be destroyed again. He only promised that it would not be destroyed by a flood.

We get twisted around, sometimes, in proclaiming God’s “promises.” A big one in recent years has been “God will never give you more than you can handle.”

Balderdash! Fol-de-rol and fiddledy-dee fiddledy faddledy foddle.

The Bible most certainly never says that! The opposite is true. If God never gave you more than you can handle, you would never need God, would you?

We must be careful in declaring these “promises;” careful to be sure that they really are promises.

In my most recent favorite book, Prayer In the Night, Tish Harrison Warren wrote that God cannot be trusted to keep bad things from happening to us. This would make some peoples’ heads spin, because they would stop reading after “God cannot be trusted.” But the statement is true, because God never promised to keep bad things from happening to us. God didn’t keep bad things from happening to God!!

But God did make promises! And one of my favorites is in Isaiah 41.

Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.
(Isaiah 41:10 NLT)

Father, I thank You for Your promises, most especially that one in Isaiah 41:10. Over and over in Scripture, You tell us to fear not; You promise protection; You promise deliverance from the bad things. You don’t promise to keep the bad things away, and that’s okay, because that’s where we learn to trust You. If we never went through the darkness and the cold, we would not appreciate the light and the heat. Help us to know Your truths and Your promises, and teach us to trust You through all things.

"Forgiving God,
the world is bent over with brokenness,
weight down with sin that spreads
through the human race
and sprouts up misery everywhere.
It's a wonder you don't uproot
the whole tangled mess and end it all - 
but you promised not to do that.
I praise you for your bow of mercy
that is now bent over the world,
for the freedom from sin I can know
in the grace of Jesus Christ.
Amen."
(Belgic Confession 15)

(Note the reference of misunderstanding the Genesis covenant in that prayer.)

BLESSING

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
(Romans 5:8 NIV)

Know that the LORD has set apart his faithful servant for himself; the LORD hears when I call to him.
(Psalms 4:3 NIV)

If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!
(Matthew 7:11 NIV)

“If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”
(Matthew 21:22 NIV)

That last one is tricky. But one thing I have learned is this, and Carol Kuykendall points this out in today’s Daily Guideposts reading. God doesn’t always answer prayers in the way we are expecting. He will answer. That He does promise. But it may not quite be what we wanted or expected. And we need to be okay with that.

Don’t be afraid of what you are about to suffer. . . . But if you remain faithful even when facing death, I will give you the crown of life.
(Revelation 2:10 NLT)

We left off, yesterday, with Polycarp, in Smyrna. Polycarp is not mentioned in the Bible, but history tells us that he was one of John the Revelator’s disciples, and was part of the church in Smyrna when John wrote his letters.

Polycarp was eventually arrested and “was taken to an arena where great crowds gathered to see Christians burned.” He was placed in the middle and commanded to curse Christ.

His reply: “Eighty-six years I have served him, and he never did me any wrong. How can I blaspheme my King who saved me?”

The proconsul continued by demanding that Polycarp swear by Caesar. Again, he refused, proclaiming his Christianity. The proconsul threated to release wild beasts upon Polycarp, to which Polycarp replied, “Call them. For repentance from the better to the worse is not permitted to us; but it is noble to change from what is evil to what is righteous.”

The proconsul threatened fire. Said Polycarp, “The fire you threaten burns but an hour and is quenched after a little. . . . Why do you delay? Come, do what you will.”

The flames were lit; “Polycarp burned while the world watched.”

Who are your heroes? “The self-indulgent or the self-sacrificing?”

Here’s the thing. “We don’t get the Christ-life without the self–death.” Based on historical evidence, the faithful in Smyrna were exactly that; faithful through suffering, faithful to the death.

(From This Hallelujah Banquet, by Eugene H. Peterson)

In that day you will sing: “I will praise you, O LORD! You were angry with me, but not any more. Now you comfort me. See, God has come to save me. I will trust in him and not be afraid. The LORD GOD is my strength and my song; he has given me victory.” With joy you will drink deeply from the fountain of salvation!
(Isaiah 12:1-3 NLT)

On the last day, the climax of the festival, Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’” (When he said “living water,” he was speaking of the Spirit, who would be given to everyone believing in him. But the Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus had not yet entered into his glory.)
(John 7:37-39 NLT)

Here’s something I just learned today. In that passage from Isaiah, the last word is “salvation.” The Hebrew word there is “yeshuah!” That is also our name for Jesus. The passage from John takes place during the Feast of Tabernacles, during which a water drawing ceremony took place each day. Fascinating.

The Mission: Today, come to the wells of Yeshua, and in joy, draw forth and partake of the rivers of living waters of the Spirit of God.”

(From The Book of Mysteries, by Jonathan Cahn)

Father, I thank You for the living water of Your Spirit, drawn from the wells of Yeshuah, wells that are infinitely producing. I praise You for Your covenants with us, and that Your promises never fail. Help me to walk in those promises, and may those rivers of living water flow from me to all around me, today. All glory to You!

Lord, I lift up prayers for governments and leaders all over the world. May Your Holy Spirit be present in every form of government, and may You be in total control of all things. Please give the resources to Your people, world wide, to meet needs in their communities and cities. I pray specifically for the Asian continent, this morning. May Your presence be known in their countries, states, cities, and communities. I also pray for areas of hunger and disease throughout the world, Lord. Please be Provider for all who hunger, this day.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
(Romans 12:12 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

The Kingdom In Me

Today is Saturday, the twentieth of February, 2021.

Peace be with you!

Day 22,990

43 days until Resurrection Sunday

I am not at work, this morning, and won’t be, tomorrow, either. There are people working, but I was told that it was “up to me” if I wanted to come in and make up PTO for the first three days of the week. I was also given the option to take those three days unpaid, rather than using PTO. Since I hit my ten-year anniversary, I have 184 hours of PTO, which comes out to four weeks and three days. I think I can spare those three days for inclement weather.

And, of course, I also have Monday off, as an already-scheduled day of PTO. I have a six-month checkup at my doctor, and later, an appointment to get my driver’s license renewed. It doesn’t expire until next year, but I need to get the silly “Real ID” star on it, in case we decide to travel by plane anywhere in the next year.

Yesterday’s trip to work was better than Thursday’s. The roads were more clear and more dry, except for the street in front of our house and the couple of blocks between I-35E and the place where I work. Those two areas were the scariest part of my drive. Well, not really “scary.” But potentially treacherous.

Reflecting on the last week is difficult. My reflections begin with Thursday morning, February eleven, and continue on until at least yesterday. Brandon and Kristin finally got their power back on yesterday. They were almost one hundred hours without electricity. They have generators, though, so they had some power. But they used over seventy gallons of fuel. I think we gave them two, which was all we had when they brought firewood to us. Their blackout was the longest that I have heard about.

Others never lost power. Terry and Summer, I don’t believe, ever lost power, and they are not that far from us. Brent and Colby, who live across the street from Brandon and Kristin, never lost power, either.

I’m not going to spend any more time on that, this morning, except to praise Jesus that my mother never lost power. She was having to boil water, as they had some water main breaks in Mineral Wells. But her power and heat stayed on.

Our WW Workshop will be virtual, this morning. I’m a little bummed about that, but I get it. We could easily get there, with no problems. It is already up to thirty degrees and sunny, this morning. I’m not sure when we will try to get groceries. I imagine that the shelves are largely empty at our grocery stores. And we have enough food to get through the weekend. And maybe Applebee’s will be open. If so, we may utilize their services more than once. I know we can get Sonic drinks, but the app still says that they are all “temporarily closed,” so we can’t order ahead.

I’m still sussing out all the things we can learn from this terrible experience. And I’m afraid to ponder what the next crisis will be.

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)

You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy, that I might sing praises to you and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give you thanks forever!
(Psalms 30:11-12 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

  • For a whole day with temperatures above freezing
  • For hope, that which enables me to embrace joy without the fear of bad things happening (bad things will happen, but the fear doesn’t have to)
  • That Your kingdom is something that we can allow to enter into us
  • That You give us the ability to love
  • For Your great mercy and compassion on us, that You are slow to anger and rich in love

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

LENT – DAY 4

INVITATION

The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.
(Psalms 145:8 NIV)

Spend a moment meditation on the goodness, graciousness, and compassion of the Father.

BIBLE SONG

A song of ascents.

Out of the depths I cry to you, LORD; Lord, hear my voice.
Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy.

If you, LORD, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve you.

I wait for the LORD, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope.
I wait for the Lord
more than watchmen wait for the morning,
more than watchmen wait for the morning.

Israel, put your hope in the LORD, for with the LORD is unfailing love and with him is full redemption.
He himself will redeem Israel from all their sins.
(Psalms 130:1-8 NIV)

BIBLE READING

“When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
(Matthew 6:16-21 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

This is a season of reflection. It is intentionally somber, yet there can be joy within it. As we reflect on the condition of our souls, we cry out to God from the depths, for who among us, in being honest, can reflect on the condition of their souls without the acknowledgment that we are severely broken beings?

But, for those in Christ, our Father keeps no record of sin. The record was expunged when Jesus, who knew no sin, became sin for us, on the Cross. Our sin hung on the cross. Therefore, we can stand, in grace, and serve the Almighty, without fear.

And, as we serve, as we observe our chosen “fast,” whatever that may look like during this forty days, we are not to call attention to ourselves. We must not appear gloomy and sad. If you are giving up meat for Lent, you should not wear a sign around your neck that says, “I’m giving up meat for Lent!” Instead, “put oil on your head and wash your face, sot that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting.”

You see, we are not fasting for recognition. If we are, then we have already received any reward we can hope for. We are fasting for our Father in heaven, who will see our actions, even if others do not.

And the attitude behind our fasting will, in effect, reveal wherein lies our treasure. My treasure is not on this earth, where moths and rodents destroy and thieves steal. My treasure is in heaven, unperishable, never-fading, eternal.

Father, I thank You for the work You are doing in my heart, soul, and spirit, during these days. I thank You for the affliction that we suffered and endured. As I continue to reflect on the events of the past week (and beyond to the entire last twelve months), as well as what might lie ahead, help me to be molded into the man You desire for me to be. Teach me the lessons that I must learn, and then help me to share those lessons, as appropriate, with others. I pray for all of Your Church, that we might all endure whatever afflictions come our way, and that we would endure them with a lot less whining and complaining than we tend to do.

"Creator God,
I praise you for creating humanity good,
in your own image.
Despite the regularity of evil wickedness
I see in the world,
despite my own twisted ways,
this is not the way it is supposed to be.
I'm meant to know you,
to love you with all my heart,
and to live with you in eternal happiness.
Today,
equip me to move in the direction
of your created purposes for me.
In Christ's name,
amen."
(Heidelberg Catechism 6)

BLESSING

Redeem us from all wickedness, purify us and make us your very own, eager to do what is good.
(see Titus 2:14)

Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray.
(Philippians 4:6 MSG)

“If you decide for God, living a life of God-worship, it follows that you don’t fuss about what’s on the table at mealtimes or whether the clothes in your closet are in fashion. There is far more to your life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body. Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds.
“Has anyone by fussing in front of the mirror ever gotten taller by so much as an inch? All this time and money wasted on fashion—do you think it makes that much difference? Instead of looking at the fashions, walk out into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They never primp or shop, but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them.
“If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.
(Matthew 6:25-33 MSG)

And we are confident that he hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him.
(1 John 5:14 NLT)

These are good words for the situations that we have endured over the past twelve months.

“But I have this complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first! Look how far you have fallen! Turn back to me and do the works you did at first.”
(Revelation 2:4-5 NLT)

In each of the letters that John writes to the seven churches, there is a pattern. In the first portion, Jesus presents a part of His character to the church. It is worth noting that it is a different part of His character for each one, and that characteristic matches up with what He then says to the church.

After He presents Himself, He subjects the congregation to an examination. These examinations reveal both strengths and weaknesses, along with corrective action to be taken. Finally, a promise is given to conclude each letter.

The examination of the church at Ephesus revealed some great things. “They were hard workers. They didn’t give up easily.” They didn’t waver in the face of constant opposition. “They were . . . discerning about doctrine.”

There was this group that is mentioned, the Nicolaitans. According to Peterson, these were people who “denied the necessity for any moral standards – they taught that you could love Christ and do what you liked.” The Ephesian Christians did not fall for this and did not tolerate these folks in their midst. Jesus praised them for this.

However, in their zeal to do the right thing, they had failed in one area. They abandoned love.

“Love was the beginning of their faith. And ours too, of course. The foundation of Christianity is an immense act of love – the love of God for them, for us, for all who come to God.” God’s love for us brings everything to completeness and wholeness. Our love for God gives us a life that has “purpose, intensity, and passion.”

Sometimes, however, as we go along, love becomes the one thing that falls by the wayside. Why is that? Because it is easier not to love.

“Love is not what we do after we get the other things done, if we have any energy left over. Love is what we do, period. It is not how we work; it is our work.”

Everything else is easier. The things that are easier are not bad or harmful, necessarily, and many of them must be done, as well. They might even, in fact, be helpful.

But when we fail to love, we are not at our best. We are not “living at that center where the action of God is in full force.”

“In a word, they were lazy,” says Peterson. “They were working day and night, doing good deeds, teaching the truth, opposing falsehood, impressing themselves and one another with their industriousness – all because they were too lazy to love.”

My, how familiar this sounds!

(From This Hallelujah Banquet, by Eugene H. Peterson)

“Open up, O heavens, and pour out your righteousness. Let the earth open wide so salvation and righteousness can sprout up together. I, the LORD, created them.”
(Isaiah 45:8 NLT)

“The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth. They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry. It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it.”
(Isaiah 55:10-11 NLT)

“I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever; and this bread, which I will offer so the world may live, is my flesh.”
(John 6:51 NLT)

We spend so much time and energy worrying about how to “get to heaven.” And, for the most part, we think of “heaven” as a place where, if we are good enough, we will go after we die.

But in these Scriptures, things come down from heaven to earth. Just as rain and snow come down to water the earth, God’s Word comes down (or out, or whatever) from heaven, in order to accomplish its purpose. And it will, according to God, accomplish all that He wants it to accomplish.

Jesus calls Himself the “living bread that came down from heaven.” Then He speaks of us eating this bread, in order to live forever.

What happens when you eat something? It gets inside you. So, perhaps our perspective is all wrong. Rather than spending so much energy trying to get to heaven, maybe we need to be working harder to get heaven into us!

“The Mission: Make it your aim today not to strive for heaven, but let heaven – its love, its blessings, and its joy – get into you.”

How do we do this? To use a phrase that is a title of another Eugene Peterson book, “Eat this book.” We can devour the Word of God. It is, after all, called “bread.”

(From The Book of Mysteries, by Jonathan Cahn)

Father, I thank You for the revelation, in recent years, that Your kingdom is not a place that we are waiting to go to after we die, but something into which we can enter NOW! It is also something that we can allow, through Scripture reading, prayer, and meditation, to enter into us! I pray for Your kingdom to enter into us and fill us up with Your Spirit and Your presence.

Lord, I pray for the Church of Jesus Christ, all over the world, that she might flourish, both spiritually and physically. May Your blessings transcend all expectations and cause us to worship You with complete abandon. May this worship glorify You, and may it gather, unite, and bless Your people. I also pray for all elders and leaders in the various incarnations of Your Church around the world.

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!

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)

Grace and peace, friends.

Always and Forever

Today is Thursday, the eighteenth of February, 2021.

Day 22,988

It is 45 days until Resurrection Sunday.

If you wonder how there are only 40 days in Lent, yet there are 45 until Easter, they don’t count Sundays as official Lent days, because we celebrate the resurrection every Sunday. So we had “Shrove Tuesday,” which is more popularly known as “Fat Tuesday,” then “Ash Wednesday,” the official first day of Lent, then it ends on Saturday, April 3, the day before Easter Sunday.

This is our fourth day of below-freezing temperatures. It might get right up to freezing today, but that’s not for sure, and even that depends on which weather app you look at. I have one that has a high of 32, and one that has a high of 30. It is currently 23.

My plan is this. I’m going to do my devotional, take a shower, and go out and drive toward work. If it’s too bad (pretty much if I slide at all), I will turn around and go home. One of my work friends, last night, said the roads weren’t too bad. But he also lives only minutes away from where we work, whereas I live thirty miles away. I have a route planned out that avoids highways. For sure, I won’t be there by 8:00 AM. If I get there at all, they should be happy with that.

As far as I know, we still have at least two families in our church whose power is still out. One house went out yesterday, but came back on later. One has been out since shortly after ours went out Monday morning. Please pray for these folks, and for all of us down here in Texas who are suffering not only the unusual weather, but the consequences of political incompetence. That’s all I’m going to say about that.

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)

Show me your unfailing love in wonderful ways. By your mighty power you rescue those who seek refuge from their enemies.
(Psalms 17:7 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

  • That our power still has not gone off again, since it came back on Tuesday afternoon
  • For the compassion and generosity shown by Your people during this time
  • For Your chosen “fast” (Isaiah 58)
  • For the completed work of Jesus Christ on the cross
  • That He is my answer, continuously, every day, always, and forever

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

LENT – DAY 2

INVITATION

The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.
(Psalms 145:8 NIV)

BIBLE SONG

Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity.

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

Then I will teach transgressors your ways, so that sinners will turn back to you.
(Psalms 51:7-13 NIV)

BIBLE READING

“Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, only a day for people to humble themselves? Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed and for lying in sackcloth and ashes? Is that what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the LORD?

“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter— when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?”
(Isaiah 58:5-7 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

The prayer for cleansing coincides with the appropriate fast, chosen by God. Note that the day of fasting is not just for people humbling themselves or being somber or walking around in sackcloth and ashes.

If all we do is paint crosses on our heads with ash-paste, it is useless, it means nothing. The “fast” must include an attitude (along with appropriate actions) of compassion toward those for whom the Lord feels the most compassion. Scripture is clear about this. The ones dearest to the Lord’s heart are those to whom injustice is being done, the oppressed, the hungry, the naked, the sojourner or wanderer, as well as the frequently mentioned widows and orphans.

Father, I pray for a clean heart and a righteous spirit to be renewed within me. Continue to guide my heart into the depths of Your compassion, love, and mercy. Show me where I can help, even if all I can do is send money or other such resources. If I can give time, show me where I can give time. You have blessed us and my heart’s desire is to forward that blessing on to others, when they need it. So show me who needs it, because the blessings are piling up. I’m not real good at seeking out the needy, so You may have to smack me up side the head to get me to see where the need is. Your people seem to be handling this crazy weather streak pretty well, down here in Texas. At least the group that we are associated with. I guess I can’t speak for any other local bodies of believers, but I know ours has been stellar. Keep us joyful in our affliction and suffering, but always mindful that others suffer more than we.

"Living God,
I confess I have crossed your commandments of life;
by my sin I've willing separated myself from you,
my true life.
I'm damaged goods.
My guilt hangs like dead weight in my heart;
I can feel the sentence of death,
in my body and soul.
There is no health in me.
Lord, have mercy.
Amen."
(Belgic Confession 14)

(Personal note: I do not believe that my sin separates me from God, because I am in Christ. Romans 8 proclaims that NOTHING can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus! “Nothing” includes my sin. After all, the work of Jesus changed my past and eradicated my sin, and that work never ceases working.)

BLESSING

“Redeem us from all wickedness, purify us and make us your very own, eager to do what is good.
(see Titus 2:14)”

But the king replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on buying it, for I will not present burnt offerings to the LORD my God that have cost me nothing.” So David paid him fifty pieces of silver for the threshing floor and the oxen.
(2 Samuel 24:24 NLT)

People may be right in their own eyes, but the LORD examines their heart.
(Proverbs 21:2 NLT)

Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.
(Matthew 6:21 NLT)

I know that I have not revealed the content of my Lenten “fast” for this season, but it might be changing, as I write, this morning. Conviction is heavy.

“But I have this complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first! Look how far you have fallen! Turn back to me and do the works you did at first. “
(Revelation 2:4-5 NLT)

It appears that John the Revelator served as pastor for these seven churches, to whom he is writing. Peterson compares them to us and our churches. Very similar, except that they spoke Greek instead of English, and had an emperor in Rome instead of a president in Washington. They also probably wore sandals instead of sneakers.

But, “they got up in the morning and went to bed at night; they ate and drank; they had jobs and lived with families, had good days and bad days, laughed some of the time and cried once in a while.”

They also believed in Jesus Christ and considered themselves saved, “freed from sin and free for God.” Through all of this, they discovered that “their quite ordinary lives had meaning, and they kept finding meaning in unexpected places. Just like we are doing.”

For some reason, one day, the powers that be decided that John was dangerous and exiled him away to this island of Patmos. “Curious, isn’t it, that the soldiers considered the old pastor a threat to their law and order. He had no sword, no army. All he did was teach his people to pray, lead them in worship, teach them songs and Scripture, and train them to live honestly with compassion and fairness.”

The thing is . . . Jesus started a revolution! Perhaps we need to revitalize that sense of revolution in our own world. Not a legal revolution, where we storm the capitol, but a love revolution (I’ve been praying for that for a while), where we love our neighbor as ourselves to the point that their heads are spinning.

These letters originate from a vision that John had one day, while on the island. It was a vision of “Jesus Christ doing his work of love and salvation in the midst of all the angry, fearful hostility.”

Through these letters, John assured his congregations that Rome was not in control. Christ is in control, and these letters describe how. “Do you think that persecution and blasphemy and death and Caesar are the last words? They are not. Worship and life and praise and the living Christ are the last words.”

More on the content of the letters, tomorrow.

(From This Hallelujah Banquet, by Eugene H. Peterson)

In the ancient Hebrew Scriptures, there were two lambs offered as sacrifice, each day. One at the third hour of the morning (around 9:00 AM), and another at the ninth hour (around 3:00 PM). This was the “law of the Tamid.”

The Messiah was crucified at the third hour, at about 9:00 AM. The Lamb of God was lifted up on the cross at that time. The Messiah died at about the ninth hour, or 3:00 PM, at which time the Temple veil, between the Holy of Holies and the rest of the temple, was torn, from top to bottom.

“So the sacrifice of Messiah began with the offering of the morning lamb and ended with the offering of the evening lamb. And it all took place during the six hours of the Temple sacrifices, in between the two lambs, from the first sacrifice to the last. The Lamb of God . . . is all in all, covering every moment, every need, every sin, every problem, and every answer. He is the Tamid.”

What does Tamid mean? “It means continual, daily, perpetual, always, and forever. And so He is your Tamid . . . the One who will be there for you always . . . and will be your answer continuously, every day, always, and forever . . . For Messiah is the Lamb, and not only the Lamb . . . but your Tamid.”

The Mission: Meditate on the fact that Messiah is your Tamid – the covering for every moment of your life – always, and forever. Live accordingly.”

“These are the sacrifices you are to offer regularly on the altar. Each day, offer two lambs that are a year old, one in the morning and the other in the evening.”
(Exodus 29:38-39 NLT)

It was nine o’clock in the morning when they crucified him. A sign announced the charge against him. It read, “The King of the Jews.” Two revolutionaries were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. The people passing by shouted abuse, shaking their heads in mockery. “Ha! Look at you now!” they yelled at him. “You said you were going to destroy the Temple and rebuild it in three days. Well then, save yourself and come down from the cross!” The leading priests and teachers of religious law also mocked Jesus. “He saved others,” they scoffed, “but he can’t save himself! Let this Messiah, this King of Israel, come down from the cross so we can see it and believe him!” Even the men who were crucified with Jesus ridiculed him.

At noon, darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock. Then at three o’clock Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” Some of the bystanders misunderstood and thought he was calling for the prophet Elijah. One of them ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, holding it up to him on a reed stick so he could drink. “Wait!” he said. “Let’s see whether Elijah comes to take him down!” Then Jesus uttered another loud cry and breathed his last.
(Mark 15:25-37 NLT)

After this I saw a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes and held palm branches in their hands. And they were shouting with a great roar, “Salvation comes from our God who sits on the throne and from the Lamb!” And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living beings. And they fell before the throne with their faces to the ground and worshiped God. They sang, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and strength belong to our God forever and ever! Amen.” Then one of the twenty-four elders asked me, “Who are these who are clothed in white? Where did they come from?” And I said to him, “Sir, you are the one who knows.” Then he said to me, “These are the ones who died in the great tribulation. They have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb and made them white. “That is why they stand in front of God’s throne and serve him day and night in his Temple. And he who sits on the throne will give them shelter. They will never again be hungry or thirsty; they will never be scorched by the heat of the sun. For the Lamb on the throne will be their Shepherd. He will lead them to springs of life-giving water. And God will wipe every tear from their eyes.”
(Revelation 7:9-17 NLT)

(From The Book of Mysteries, by Jonathan Cahn)

Father, I praise You for the “Talmid,” for the continual sacrifice that was completed by Jesus Christ. The wonders that I continue to learn, considering things such as the timing of the crucifixion and how it coincided with the ritual of the daily sacrifices, continue to astonish me and inspire me. I thank You for these revelations, and the impact they are having on my life. I thank You for Messiah, my “answer continuously, every day, always, and forever.”

Lord, I pray specifically for spiritual renewal during this season of Lent, for myself, as well as anyone else who is observing the season. I’ve already failed to succeed in my quest, yesterday. Help me to remember what I have purposed to do (or not do), as this day progresses. Give me deep, deep repentance for my sin, as I go, and give me genuine humility that is born out of my commitment to, and understanding of, and the power of, the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I pray for travel safety, this morning, for myself, as well as everyone else. If it be Your will, I will make it to work today. If not, I will come back home. I praise You for Your grace and mercy.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
(Micah 6:8 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.