Today is Sunday, December 15, 2019. Peace be with you!!
Ten days until Christmas!!
The third week of Advent!
today is Cat Herders Day. “You’ve probably heard the saying that something is as impossible as “herding cats”, used in reference to a seemingly futile or difficult task. Granted, if you have actually attempted to literally herd a bunch of cats for some reason or the other, you would know exactly how impossible this task actually is.
“All of that said, as far as we know, there’s no one out there who’s actually a professional cat herder. If there were, this day would actually be for those folks. This is a day for everyone who has to face the frustration of trying to manage the unmanageable, anyone whose day to day life involves insurmountable tasks.”
The Exchange Church is “scattered,” this morning. The group that I am leading will be meeting at 7117 Payte Lane in Fort Worth (76182) at 10:15. We meet together to devote ourselves to the Apostles’ teachings, fellowship, breaking of bread, and prayers. We will be starting at 10:15. Come join us if you are in the area!
C and I had a most wonderful time at the USBC Christmas Party, last night. The dinner was good, but the best part was the people. And the karaoke room. That was the biggest hit of the whole evening. The highlights of the evening were the last three karaoke songs. The IT departments big boss got up and did “Bust A Move,” after which most of the IT department (and me) did “Friends in Low Places.” Then a smaller group decided to do “Bohemian Rhapsody,” which everyone else joined with, as well. We had to stop the karaoke because it was time for the final door prizes. Sadly, C did not win any door prizes, this year. But we had such a good time. I was even able to dance a couple of dances with C, one being when they played “our song,” “Thinking Out Loud.”
Today, C has the ladies’ “Cookie Exchange” after our worship time. Not sure what I will have for lunch. She made teacakes for the party. They are delicious! And yes, there are enough left for the party!
TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted
Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD, O my soul!
I will praise the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.
Today I am grateful:
1. For another opportunity to worship with my brothers and sisters in Christ.
2. For the great time we had at the company Christmas party last night.
3. For the “pervasive sense of well-being” we call joy.
4. That joy, unlike happiness, is not dependent on circumstances.
5. For the announcement of the angels in Luke 2.10, “Fear not, for behold I bring you good news of great joy . . .”
Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!
Do not let my heart incline to any evil, to busy myself with wicked deeds in company with men who work iniquity, and let me not eat of their delicacies!
Let a righteous man strike me—it is a kindness; let him rebuke me—it is oil for my head; let my head not refuse it.
Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.
And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him.
And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed
(and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”
How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?
Consider and answer me, O LORD my God; light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,
lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,” lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.
But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
I will sing to the LORD, because he has dealt bountifully with me.
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.
“Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins, let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory now and for ever. Amen.”
(The Divine Hours, The Prayer Appointed for the Week)
And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”
Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
let the field exult, and everything in it! Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy
before the LORD, for he comes, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness, and the peoples in his faithfulness.
Shout, and sing for joy, O inhabitant of Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.
Clap your hands, all peoples! Shout to God with loud songs of joy!
For you, O LORD, have made me glad by your work; at the works of your hands I sing for joy.
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,
Perhaps you have discerned what the topic of the day is.
Perhaps the holiday season brings you sadness, as it does so many people. But we need to understand the difference between joy and happiness. Happiness is typically dependent on our circumstances. I was happy that I got a promotion and raise at work. I was happy at the Christmas party last night. I am not happy when the Internet breaks. I am not happy when technology (or anything else, for that matter) does not work the way it is supposed to.
My happiness is dependent on the circumstance at hand. Sometimes I can make myself unhappy just by worrying about things that may or may not happen.
But joy is different. My favorite definition of joy comes from Dallas Willard. He calls joy a “pervasive sense of well-being.” In other words, no matter what circumstances are making me unhappy at any given moment, everything is going to be fine. In fact, says Dallas Willard, when we are walking in joy, “this world is a perfectly safe place for us to be.”
When I am thinking rightly, there is not an event that can occur that can take away my joy.
Therefore, this Christmas season, be joyful. Full of joy. It’s okay to be sad. You can be sad and joyful at the same time. And we should be sad if we are remembering loved ones that are not with us during this season. But we can still experience joy in the midst of that sadness, because the Lord is here, and the Holy Spirit dwells within us. So Shout and sing for joy, O inhabitant of Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel!
I’ll leave you with one of my favorite Christmas songs from years gone by.
Father, thank you for joy. I praise you for the truth that, no matter what is happening in my life, I can experience a pervasive sense of well-being because of you, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Thank you, God.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!
The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.
Grace and peace, friends.