Values

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

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

Day 23,676

There are 46 days until the beginning of Lent.

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

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

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

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

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

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

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

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

Today I am grateful:

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

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

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

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

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

Father, give me this day my daily bread.

O how abundant is your goodness 
that you have laid up for those who fear you, 
and accomplished for those who take refuge in you,
 in the sight of everyone!
 In the shelter of your presence 
you hide them from human plots; 
you hold them safe under your shelter 
from contentious tongues. 
Blessed be the LORD, 
for he has wondrously shown his steadfast love to me 
when I was beset as a city under siege.
(Psalms 31:19-21 NRSV)

Glory be to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, so it is now and so it shall ever be, world without end. Alleluia. Amen.

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

"O God, who wonderfully created, and yet more wonderfully restored, the dignity of human nature: Grant that we may share the divine life of him who humbled himself to share our humanity, your Son Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen."
(The Divine Hours -The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

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

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

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


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


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


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

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


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

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

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

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

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


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

Grace and peace, friends.

Small Acts Bring Big Results

Today is Monday, the 2nd of January, 2023, in the second week of Christmas. It is the ninth day of Christmas.

May the peace of the Lord be with you always!

Day 23,671

For a lot of people (unless you happen to work in retail or restaurant industry), today is the observed holiday for New Year’s Day. As far as I know, the banks are closed, and there will be no mail delivery. C is off work today, and will be headed back in tomorrow after a whole week off, as she took vacation between Christmas and yesterday. I don’t ever work on Monday, so it’s just another day for me. “Just another manic Monday.”

I don’t really feel that way. It’s just a line from a song.

I wondered, this morning, how many sermons were preached, yesterday, on 2 Corinthians 5:17?

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

I know, O LORD, that your judgments are right, 
and that in faithfulness you have humbled me.
(Psalms 119:75 NRSV)

O Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayers. I am praying, this morning, for many who need healing of some kind. I am praying for some who need guidance in life, and success in new goals that they have begun. There are many, many who are grieving . . . may You give the comfort of the Holy Spirit to their hearts and souls. There are some who seek familial reconciliation; may You intervene in their situations. O Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayers!


Lord our God, we have gathered in your sight. We thank you that through your words you have given something of your very self to help us be your disciples, your children, who stand firm in faith and trust throughout our lives, whatever our lot may be. Help us in these times, and when days grow difficult and full of grief, hold your people securely in your hand. Help us to be firmly rooted in faith, however dark it is on earth. You can give us strength and courage; we can do nothing in our human strength. But the power of your Spirit can renew us, make us alert, and fill us with lasting joy. For we are your people, your children, and when held in your hand, we can rejoice in spite of all grief. Amen.

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

With this in mind, then, I kneel in prayer to the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name, that out of the treasures of his glory he may grant you strength and power through his Spirit in your inner being, that through faith Christ may dwell in your hearts in love. 
Ephesians 3:14–17a, NEB

Today I am grateful:

  1. that Jesus shares Himself with us, in order to help us be His disciples
  2. that the Lord gives us strength and courage, for we can do nothing in our human strength
  3. for daily renewal in the Holy Spirit
  4. that even our smallest efforts can yield large results, when God is involved
  5. for the faithfulness of God to act on our behalf, when we commit our ways to Him

O magnify the LORD with me, 
and let us exalt his name together.
(Psalms 34:3 NRSV)
Open my eyes, so that I may behold 
wondrous things out of your law.
(Psalms 119:18 NRSV)
I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples; 
I will sing praises to you among the nations. 
For your steadfast love is as high as the heavens; 
your faithfulness extends to the clouds.
(Psalms 57:9-10 NRSV)
Save us, O LORD our God, 
and gather us from among the nations, 
that we may give thanks to your holy name 
and glory in your praise.
(Psalms 106:47 NRSV)
O give thanks to the LORD, call on his name,
 make known his deeds among the peoples. 
Sing to him, sing praises to him; 
tell of all his wonderful works. 
Glory in his holy name;
 let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice. 
Seek the LORD and his strength; 
seek his presence continually. 
Remember the wonderful works he has done, 
his miracles, and the judgments he has uttered,

He is mindful of his covenant forever, 
of the word that he commanded, 
for a thousand generations, 
the covenant that he made with Abraham, 
his sworn promise to Isaac, 
which he confirmed to Jacob as a statute, 
to Israel as an everlasting covenant, 
(Psalms 105:1-5, 8-10 NRSV)

Glory be to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, so it is now and so it shall ever be, world without end. Alleluia. Amen.

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


He put before them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.”
(Matthew 13:31-32 NRSV)

“Whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and whoever is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much.”
(Luke 16:10 NRSV)

“There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people?”
(John 6:9 NRSV)


Open up before GOD, keep nothing back; 
he'll do whatever needs to be done:
(Psalms 37:5 MSG)

The tiny mustard seed becomes a huge plant. Whoever is faithful in little is also faithful in much. The young boy’s five loaves and two fish feeds a multitude. “Little is much when God is in it.” Even the smallest acts of faith can yield huge results.

For us, we need not worry about the magnitude of our actions. Some are hindered by the mindset of wanting to do “huge things” for God. But that’s not what God is after. He is after the willingness of the boy with the sack lunch, who is willing to share it with Jesus. He is after the one who is willing to pray, faithfully, alone in her closet, no one ever knowing. He is after the one who is willing to give her two “mites,” as opposed to the one who throws noisy coins into the coffer, out of his abundance.

One of the most seemingly small and insignificant things we can do, especially for one another, is to listen. This world is an exceedingly noisy place, and it is growing ever more so by the day. “We are surrounded with noise: telephone, radio, television, stereo. Messages are amplified deafeningly. The world is a mob in which everyone is talking at once and no one is willing or able to listen.” (Eugene H. Peterson, Reversed Thunder, quoted in God’s Message for Each Day)

But, in the midst of all of this noise, God listens. The popular Psalm 37:5 says, “Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act.” Peterson renders this to say, “Open up before GOD, keep nothing back; he’ll do whatever needs to be done.

Most followers of Christ are aware that God speaks to us. Primarily, this comes through His Word, but there are other avenues, as well. However, we aren’t quite as aware that God listens to us. He hears us. And, in ways that we cannot comprehend, somehow, He is able to hear all of us at one time. The fact that He listens to us is even more amazing than Him speaking to us.

Finding someone who listens to us at all, much less “carefully and thoroughly,” is rare. “When it happens we know that what we say and feel are immensely important. We acquire dignity. We never know how well we think or speak until we find someone who listens.” (ibid)

It has been said many times, that, when we are involved in conversation, we all too often, rather than listen when the other is speaking, are considering what we are going to say next. And how often do we interrupt?? I’m guilty of it, and I hate when I do it. It’s almost automatic, seeming to be out of my control. But it is not. We are a society of interrupting people.

Knock Knock
Who's there?
Interrupting cow.
Interrupting cow w--
MOOOO!

So today, consider two things. One, that God listens to you. Your thoughts, your words, your feelings are important, and have dignity. Two, consider listening to someone else. If you find yourself engaged in conversation today, listen. Let the other person speak full sentences. Don’t try to finish their sentences for them. Don’t interrupt. And don’t let your mind stray to what you want to say next. I might forget what I was going to say next. But that’s okay. I’m not the most important person in the room. You are.


"O God, who wonderfully created, and yet more wonderfully restored, the dignity of human nature: Grant that we may share the divine life of him who humbled himself to share our humanity, your Son Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen."
(The Divine Hours -The Prayer Appointed for the Week)
"Eternal Father, you gave to your incarnate son the holy name of Jesus to be the sign of our salvation: Plant in every heart, I pray,t he love of him who is the Savior of the world, our Lord Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen."
(The Divine Hours - Concluding Prayer of the Church)

Father, help us to be more aware and confident that You hear us when we pray. And, in that knowledge, help us to pray more and better. When I lift up the prayer requests that come to my attention, may my attention be fully with them. May my prayers be sincere and not cursory, and may Your Holy Spirit help me know the best way to pray for all.

I also pray that You help us, in turn to listen to others when we are in conversation with them. It is so important to listen. It gives others dignity and it gives them confidence. It also gives them feelings of hope and importance. So give us all the ability to listen, which goes hand in hand with not thinking we are the most important person in the room.

In Your mercy, Lord, hear our prayers.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


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

Grace and peace, friends.

Keep Your Eyes On the Son

Good morning. Today is Thursday, the third of February, 2022, in the fourth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ be with you, today.

Day 23,338

It was a fairly busy day at the library, yesterday, as people came in to get books in preparation for today’s winter storm. We have a subscription service that was initiated during the time that the library was closed in 2020. Those who sign up get three books a month, personally curated by a library staff member, based on the patron’s likes and preferences. A bookmark is provided with each book, that gives an opportunity for the patron to respond to the choice, indicating if the library staff person made a good choice for them. I see a lot of those come back through, some with good comments on them, but some with nothing at all, which is not at all helpful for the next month’s bag of books. I have thought about signing up for that myself.

Anyway, I handed out no less than seven of those bags, yesterday, which is, by far, a record for me. I handed out five during my first hour at the circ desk, and I don’t think I had ever given out that many in a whole day before.

The library, along with all city services (other than emergency of course), is closed today. I can’t speak for the rest of the area, but at my house, we pretty much only got sleet/freezing rain all night, and have had very little snow. Snow would be better, because sleet is ice, which means the roads are covered in ice. I don’t know what will happen tomorrow, regarding my library shift, because it won’t get above freezing today. In fact, the projected high is only 23.

Our power went out for about an hour, last night, at around 1:30. At first, I was angry. I will confess that, in the spirit of transparency. I always want to hold myself accountable for the things I “preach” here, and show that I am not, in fact, perfect, and have a long way to go. I was angry at our governor and the farcical board that controls electricity in the state of Texas, since a few years back (many of us had no idea that our government had even done this) when the state decided to foolishly remove itself from the federal power grid. This is why we were without power for over thirty hours last February (some people for even five whole days). And no improvements at all were made in the last year, because our government caters to capitalistic greed and will not hold power resource companies accountable to their actions.

However, in the midst of my anger, it was as if the Holy Spirit were speaking peace into my soul, reminding me that my trust and hope is not in human beings, but in the Lord. The power was restored in less time than predicted by the power company. It took me a while to calm down and go back to sleep, which may not have happened at all, had it not been for that peace received from the Spirit. I was wrong to be angry, yes. My thoughts were not wrong, and someone in power still should be held accountable, and hopefully in this year’s election, that will happen. But I was wrong to be angry, because my hope is not in princes, kings, presidents, or governors. My hope is in the Lord God Almighty, and He is my strength and shield.

Today is my normal day off, anyway, so the library closing really means nothing to me. However, I am glad that my beloved library friends won’t have to try to get to work in this weather. Hopefully, they are all safe and warm. One of them said she was going skiing. Hahaha! The only thing on my “plate,” today (besides the chocolate cake I ate for breakfast), is likely a few loads of laundry. There should be some reading and gaming done, as well. And probably chicken stir-fry for dinner.

And here is my Wordle score for the day. As one of my Facebook friends says, I had a “fortuitous” second guess.

Wordle 229 3/6*

🟨⬜🟩🟩⬜
⬜🟩🟩🟩⬜
🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩

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)
I sought the LORD, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. 
Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed. 
This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him and saved him out of all his troubles. 
The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them. 
Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! 
(Psalms 34:4-8 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that I have tasted and seen that the Lord is good
2. that He has delivered me from all my fears (so far)
3. that my hope and trust is not in any human being, but only in the Lord God Almighty
4. for Nathan Buchanan and his ministry to FBC Mineral Wells
5. for angels
6. for the light and warmth of the sun (as well as the Son)

“Let the heart of those who seek the Lord rejoice; seek the Lord and be strengthened, seek his face always. Entering into prayer today, I too am seeking the Lord, seeking his face, looking for the signs of his presence in my life, gently guiding me in truth and peace and love.”

When David's time to die drew near, 
he commanded Solomon his son, saying, 
"I am about to go the way of all the earth. 
Be strong, and show yourself a man, 
and keep the charge of the LORD your God, 
walking in his ways and keeping his statutes, 
his commandments, his rules, and his testimonies, 
as it is written in the Law of Moses, 
that you may prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn, 
that the LORD may establish his word 
that he spoke concerning me, saying, 
'If your sons pay close attention to their way, 
to walk before me in faithfulness 
with all their heart and with all their soul, 
you shall not lack a man on the throne of Israel.'" 
Then David slept with his fathers 
and was buried in the city of David.  
So Solomon sat on the throne of David his father, 
and his kingdom was firmly established.
(1 Kings 2:1-4, 10, 12 ESV)

In today’s reading, we see the final words of King David to his son, Solomon. David tells Solomon to “keep the charge of the LORD your God, walking in his ways and keeping his statutes.” Perhaps there is not a lot of agreement on what it means to walk in the ways of the Lord, keeping His statutes. It seems to mean different things to different people.

I will tell you what it means to me. It means paying close attention to the words and actions of Jesus. The Bible tells us that Jesus is the “radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of His nature” (Hebrews 1:3). Therefore, if I am to walk in the ways of God, then Jesus is where I need to look. Of course, it is wise and helpful to read and meditate on the Law of the Old Testament. But that should not ever take precedence over the words and steps of Christ. And even if it does, we have the words of Micah, who said, “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?”

And Jesus boiled all of the commands of the Law and Prophets into two commands. If you’ve read my blog before, you know what is coming. Love the Lord your God with all of your being and love your neighbor as yourself. Everything is covered in those two commands.

The question is asked, do I know a leader who carries great responsibility. I do, as a matter of fact, one whom I respect greatly. His name is Nathan Buchanan, and he pastors my mother’s church, FBC Mineral Wells. Over the years, I have grown to appreciate him very much (as well as the worship leader, Mel Kincaid). Pastor Nathan is bearing quite a load, right now, as his wife is quite ill. I believe that he is striving to walk in the ways of the Lord, as made evident by Jesus Christ. And I pray for him, that he might have “wisdom, kindness, strength, and courage” and everything else that he needs in order to successfully minister to the people of Mineral Wells, Texas.

Glory be to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, so it is now and so it shall ever be, world without end. Alleluia. Amen.

(From Pray As You Go)

Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?
(Hebrews 1:14 NIV)

Today’s prayer word is “sun.” This could mean a lot of things to a lot of people. It could also be read phonetically to be “Son.” Helen Keller is quoted as saying, “Keep your face to the sun and you will never see the shadows.”

If you’re like me, and you are, sometimes, you might be a cat owner. Dog owners might experience this, as well, but I’ve seen more cats do it. And that is laying on the floor, stretched out in a streak of sunlight that is shining through a window somewhere. Sometimes that streak is really narrow, yet the cat always finds a way to fit inside it, basking in the warmth.

“Like the sun, the warmth of Jesus’s presence does the same for me. When life feels wild, His faithful love leaves me feeling sated and calm. In light of His mercy, anxiety and anger fade away. There is no darkness in Jesus. His Holy Word is a lamp for my feet, guiding my way. His face shines upon me, bringing peace. Like the sun, Jesus brings light and life. I have all I need.” (Susanna, in Pray a Word a Day)

I’ve written a few songs, in my lifetime. One of my favorites is called “Keep Your Eyes on the Son.” It begins like this:

Have you ever looked at the sun, my friend?
If you have, then you know, when you look away again,
All you can see is a big yellow ball;
When you look at the sun, you can't see anything else at all.
Some people say, "If you look at the sun, then blind you'll be,"
But I'm here to tell you, it's the only way to see.

Keep your eyes on the Son . . .

We started out, this morning, talking about walking in the ways of the Lord (the version read in Pray As You Go had the word “faithfully” after “walk”), and walking faithfully. As we conclude, we see that the best way to walk faithfully in the ways of the Lord is to keep our eyes on the Son. The physical sun provides light and warmth to our physical bodies. The Son of God provides light and warmth to our spiritual selves.

Father, I have many things to pray, this morning. I lift up Your servant Nathan to You, asking that You would provide all the wisdom, kindness, strength, and courage that he needs in order to do Your work. I also pray for healing for his dear wife. May You bless them richly, especially for the kindness that they have shown my family.

I pray for my friend Robert’s granddaughter, Addison, who is struggling with breathing, in the hospital. Father, breathe life into this child and fill her lungs with oxygen.

Keep teaching us, Father, how to walk in Your ways, how to walk in Your kingdom. Help us to know the ways of Jesus, how to keep our eyes on Him as we walk in this world. The older I get, the more distracting life is. There are so many things that threaten to take our eyes off of Jesus, and successfully, all too often. Help us to stay focused; help us to walk correctly. Help us to do those things that are mentioned in Micah, things that please You.

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.

Making Disciples v. Preaching at People

Today is Tuesday, the twenty-fifth of January, 2022, in the third week of Ordinary Time.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,329

Today is my half-day, at the library, from 4:15 to 8:15, this evening. The reason for the fifteen bit is that I’m working until we close, which is 8:00 PM. Then it takes a few minutes for everyone to get their stuff together and get out the back door, so, in order for it to be four hours, the schedule is bumped to the quarter-hour. That is why my eight-hour days begin at 9:15 instead of 9:00, as well. We close at 6:00, but work until 6:15. For some reason, on Saturdays, we start (officially) at 9:30 and only get forty-five minutes for lunch. I have not asked for the logic behind that decision, I just go with it.

Nothing of any interest happened yesterday. It was a pretty lazy day. I did some chores, my usual Monday stuff. I still have a little bit of laundry to finish today.

We have been notified that we need to get Magnolia (cat) vaccinated against rabies. We thought this had already been done, but C got a call from the Watauga animal shelter, yesterday, saying that we had until Friday to provide proof of that, or we would get a citation. I had several possible reactions to that, one of which was, we don’t live in Watauga, so let them go ahead and cite us. However, the probable more right thing to do, especially as one who is supposed to be a “peacemaker,” is to get the shot and provide the proof. We got a voucher with Maggie to get it done at a place called TCAP (that stands for Texas Coalition for Animal Protection), and I can take her pretty much any morning this week. So I plan to take her to the Hurst location tomorrow, sometime between nine and noon, which is when they do vaccinations.

I’ve been playing the latest game craze to hit social media, Wordle. Here is my score for today.

Wordle 220 5/6*

⬜🟨🟨⬜⬜
🟨🟨⬜⬜⬜
⬜🟨🟨⬜⬜
🟨⬜🟩🟩⬜
🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩

If you are interested in trying it, here is the link. Everyone gets the same word, each day, and the word changes every day. You get six guesses. The yellow blocks show that the guessed letter is in the word, but in the wrong position. The green blocks show that the correct letter is in the correct position. The empty blocks are just wrong. LOL. I have played ten times with a win percentage of 90%. I missed one a few days ago. The word was “prick.” I would never have guessed that. Modern culture assigns a not-so-nice meaning to that word. But it is a verb, though, meaning to “make a small hole in something with a sharp point.” You know . . . Sleeping Beauty pricked her finger with a spindle, right? Anyway.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Can Take You, by Daryl Madden

To listen so intently
The into flowing through
That takes you to the place
Only music can take you

To move the soul so deeply
Beyond what we construe
That takes to you the Grace
Only prayer can take you

To dwell within the scene
Of vision in the view
That takes you to the space
Only beauty can take you

To hope within the promise
To receive what we pursue
That blesses the embrace
Only God can take you

Oh, the places that music, prayer, beauty, and God can take me . . . please check out more of Daryl’s beautiful poetry at the link provided above.

Send out your light and your truth; let them lead me;
 let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling! 
Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy, 
and I will praise you with the lyre, O God, my God. 
Why are you cast down, O my soul, 
and why are you in turmoil within me? 
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God. 
(Psalms 43:3-5 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for music, prayer, and beauty, and the places that they can take me
2. that my soul is not "cast down," and that I am able to praise the Lord
3. that God is a friend to those who revere Him (Psalm 25:14)
4. that God has given me the faith to faithfully pray, and then watch to see what He will do (Psalm 5;3)
5. that I am content and protected beneath the wings of my God and Father
“I believe in one God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.”
And he said to them, 
"Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. 
Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, 
but whoever does not believe will be condemned. 
And these signs will accompany those who believe: 
in my name they will cast out demons; 
they will speak in new tongues; 
they will pick up serpents with their hands; 
and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; 
they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover." 
(Mark 16:15-18 ESV)

In this passage (allegedly not found in the oldest, most reliable manuscripts), Jesus tells His disciples, His followers to go and proclaim the good news to all of, or “the whole” creation. The KJV translated the word “kosmos” as “world,” where the more modern translations use the more-inclusive “creation.” What is our reaction to this command? The more popular version of it is found in Matthew 28, and is referred to as “The Great Commission.” Some people say that the Bible says that we are supposed to preach the Good News to everyone we meet.

No one I know does that, not even the people who claim to believe that this is what the Bible teaches. They would never get anything else accomplished, nor would they be able to hold down any kind of reasonable employment. I dare say that most employers would not tolerate someone who never did anything but preach at people while on the job.

And, sadly, that is what a lot of people do when they try to proclaim the Good News. They preach at people. And I can tell you from experience that this bothers people. Dallas Willard once opined that Jesus did not mean that we were supposed to go out and “bother” people.

I have also heard it said that, in the Great Commission, the Greek language implies that it should say “As you go . . . ,” indicating that we should be speaking the Good News in the context of our daily lives. This I find easier to believe. It is also worth noting that the Matthew version uses the phrase “make disciples” or “teach” (KJV) rather than “proclaim.” That’s a bit different, isn’t it? It takes a lot more investment in someone to make them a disciple than it does to just proclaim the Gospel. It’s a lot easier to stand on a street corner and preach than it is to take the time to actually teach someone how to be a disciple of Jesus.

For me (and I am most certainly not saying that I have done a good job of obeying this command), the way to discern what is being asked of us is to look at what Jesus did. While He did do some preaching (there are several “discourses” recorded in the Gospels), the majority of His time was spent with those twelve guys, teaching them how to be disciples.

But going back to this passage in Mark. What is the “good news?” That question is answered in Mark, as well, back in chapter 1.

Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
(Mark 1:14-15 ESV)

I believe that the “gospel,” as proclaimed by Jesus, is that “the kingdom of God is at hand,” or, in other words, here. This is the message that we have to proclaim to the world. The kingdom is here; change the way you are thinking about life.

If Jesus really said the things recorded in this passage (again, not included in the oldest and most reliable manuscripts), He made some rather bold statements about how His followers would be identified. My take on this requires me to contextualize it into our own culture, and I believe that it simply speaks to the kind of faith that we will see in disciples of Christ. Unfortunately, I don’t think we would find a lot of agreement about it, if we were to gather a dozen or so followers of Christ in the same room. Depending on where we got them, some would want to take this more literally than others. I mean, I suppose we still have “snake-handler” Christians around us somewhere. I seem to recall some news about some around Fort Worth, just a few years ago.

And some would, no doubt, use this passage as ammunition for their refusal to take part in any Covid-preventing measures. My faith, however, does not lead me down that path. Where it leads me is to walk on a path of love and faithfulness, of compassion and generosity and kindness. If you have read this forum very much, you have seen that I believe that I have, basically, two jobs: love God and love people. That is where my faith leads me, and it leads me to trust that God is looking out for me and has my best interest at heart (behind His own best interests, of course).

Part of the good news is this: God loves us. He loves us so much that He has provided a way for us to spend not only this life, but all eternity in His presence. And He has gifted us with His presence as we live and walk on this earth. What more could we ask for?

Pieces of this taken from today’s episode of Pray As You Go.

Glory be to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, so it is now and so it shall ever be, world without end. Alleluia. Amen.

If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
(Luke 11:13 ESV)

O LORD, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch.
(Psalms 5:3 ESV)

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, 
neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. 
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
 so are my ways higher than your ways 
and my thoughts than your thoughts. 
(Isaiah 55:8-9 ESV)

The prayer word for today is “feathers,” as in Psalm 91:4.

He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
(Psalms 91:4 NIV)

Father, I praise You for the protection that I feel, sheltered beneath Your “feathers” and “wings.” Your faithfulness is, indeed, my shield, and I find that I have nothing to fear in this world.

I thank You for the faith that You have given me, faith that enables me to pray in the face of insurmountable odds, and then wait to see what You will do. No, my prayers are not always answered the way I would like them to be. But that is part of my faith, that allows me to accept the answers You give as Your will. I know that Your thoughts are not my thoughts and Your ways are not my ways. There are times when I cannot comprehend Your ways and thoughts, and that is where faith comes into play, the faith of which Jesus spoke. I may not handle snakes or drink poison, but I trust in You, so I’m not afraid to walk out my front door and get in my car to drive somewhere.

I am also thankful that You have given me the faith to believe in the gospel, that Your kingdom is at hand, that it came to earth in the form of Jesus Christ, and that it remains on earth, with the presence of Your Holy Spirit, which You have given us, Your Church. May we walk in Your kingdom, and may we faithfully and adequately proclaim this kingdom while we walk here, and may we also faithfully teach others to walk in it, as we make more disciples. But, in doing this, may we not just preach at people. Help us to be more invested in the lives of others, because this is how we are going to reach them in Your name.

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.

Generosity Begets Generosity

Good morning. Today is Friday, the seventh of January, 2022, in the second week of Christmas.

May God’s peace flood your soul, today.

Day 23,311

Sixteen days until Hamilton, assuming it doesn’t get cancelled.

I remain concerned that it will, still, as the new cases of Covid continue to break previous records. The U.S. had 751,000 new cases, yesterday.

Regarding the Church calendar, I will mostly be following whatever Pray As You Go says, this year. I’ve already noticed that they begin counting “Ordinary Time” next week. The resource I used last year counted the entire time between yesterday and Ash Wednesday as the season of Epiphany, and didn’t begin counting Ordinary Time until after Easter. If you’re confused, join the club. I will say that Pray As You Go is a ministry of Jesuit Ministries in Great Britain.

I’ve already done better with my “aspirations” for the new year. I’ve definitely done more reading, and am already just over sixty pages away from finishing my second book of the year (A Slow Fire Burning, by Paula Hawkins), and we are still in the first week! Several nights, this week, after we have finished dinner and our TV watching, rather than crank up a video game, I have simply sat on the coach and read a while.

I feel like I’m doing a little better with the praying. That can always improve, but I’m finding myself stopping and whispering a quiet prayer any time I receive a prayer request on FB (or Tik Tok, but I haven’t gotten very many there, yet).

However, I have yet to make any music, this year. It will come, I am confident.

I had a great four hours, yesterday, at the library, but it is really messing up my “what day is this” bit on this week. I had to ask C if this was Friday. Of course, I always get to work on Fridays, in the computer center. This is also my week to work Saturday, which has not happened since before Christmas. In fact, I have not worked a Saturday since December 18th, and that was an “extra” shift for me.

I don’t really have much else, so on with the devotional.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord, I dedicate this day to You.
May my feet walk only where You want them to walk.
May my eyes see only what You want them to see.
May my ears hear only what You want them to hear.
May my mouth say only what You want it to say.
May my mind think only what You want it to think.

Father, I ask You to be present in this time. I know that You are here, but I am asking for something deeper, more of an awareness of that presence. As I read various portions of Your Word, this morning, I pray for wisdom and insight into what lies ahead for me today and in my life.

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)

Today I am grateful:

1. that God is with me, and there is no reason for me to be afraid of anything (unless I wander off the path)
2. that God is my refuge and my strength, my fortress and my hiding place
3. that He who is in me is greater than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4)
4. that God doesn't need perfect people to do His good work (he manages to use me, after all)(for proof of this, read Judges)
5. that every good and perfect gift comes from God
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. 
By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 
and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. 
Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. 
They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. 
We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.
(1 John 4:1-6 ESV)

“How do I know my words and actions are bringing me closer to God? What things make me turn away from God?”

These are good questions for reflection. These days, I’m seeing a lot of videos on social media about “deconstruction” of faith. It is a disturbing, yet understandable trend. A lot of it stems from, unfortunately, the political climate of the past four-plus years, and the rabid association of the “white evangelical church” with the “extreme right.” Some of the people who are deconstructing seem to have abandoned faith altogether, while some continue to seek Jesus, but outside the confines of the traditional “church.”

It is my opinion that one cannot leave the “Church” (capital C), while it is totally possible to leave the “church.” The reason I say that is because the Church is the Body of Christ. And if one is truly a member of the Church, one cannot leave it.

For these people, their words and actions may or may not be bringing them closer to God. For some, it is obvious that they are drifting further from God. So how, indeed, do I know? And note that the questions are not in regard to anyone else but me. This is a personal reflection. It is not for me to reflect on whether your words and actions are bringing you closer to God.

If my words and actions are bringing me closer to God, I believe that my words and actions will, in turn, reflect that. It is somewhat cyclical. If I am being drawn to love others (yes, here we go again), then I think that I am drawing closer to God. If my heart is full of compassion, I believe I am growing closer to God. If we keep reading in the fourth chapter of 1 John, I think we see this to be clear. If I am growing closer to God, then I am growing in love.

If my words and actions indicate bigotry and hatred, I am most definitely not growing closer to God. And, I am learning, I cannot afford to watch or listen to too many of these deconstruction videos, because they can cloud my thinking. I don’t have good answer for these people, nor do I intend to debate them. That is not my place; not my “ministry,” if you will. I am not a “Christian apologist.” My job is to love God and worship Him, and to love and pray for other people. I will say this, though. If you are a person who feels that “Christianity” has hurt you, one of two things is true, in my opinion. Either what you encountered is not “true” Christianity, or what you were looking for was not real Christianity, but some kind of personal validation. Real Christianity, true followers of Christ, is not in the business of hurting people.

Jesus, I ask You to help me recognize both the things that draw me closer to You and the things that tend to draw me away from You. Help me to be faithful to love and pray for others, and to love and worship You. Remind me to allow others, who are more gifted in that area, to debate with the deconstructionists. Also, please remind me of the truth of the words, “he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.

Glory be to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, so it is now and so it shall ever be, world without end. Alleluia. Amen.

In Symphony of Salvation, in the piece about the book of Judges, Eugene H. Peterson makes this statement: “God, it turns out, does not require good people in order to do good work.”

I’m going to let that sit there for a minute.

“God, it turns out, does not require good people in order to do good work.”

This may shock some people, but, if you read the book of Judges, it is hard to disagree. I have made mention of this fact, in previous entries, but possibly the most often-repeated phrase in the book is, “The people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord.”

“It is always something of a shock to enter the pages of the book of Judges and find ourselves immersed in nearly unrelieved mayhem.”

I’m sorry (no I’m not), but did anyone else just see this?

The beauty of the story is that God works with us “in whatever moral and spiritual condition he finds us. God, we are learning, does some of his best work using the most unlikely people.”

Lift your hearts high, O Israel, with abandon, 
volunteering yourselves with the people—
bless GOD!
(Judges 5:9 MSG)
Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, 
for his compassions never fail. 
They are new every morning; 
great is your faithfulness.
(Lamentations 3:22-23 NIV)
"Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. 
See, I am doing a new thing!
 Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? 
I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland."
(Isaiah 43:18-19 NIV)

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
(2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV)

Today’s prayer word, in Pray a Word a Day, is “giving.”

Every good and perfect gift is from above, 
coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, 
who does not change like shifting shadows. 
(James 1:17 NIV)

“Giving” can mean a lot of things. Or at least it can be seen in a lot of different ways. I don’t really want to talk about how much C and I give to others, because I never want to appear to be boastful about it. But know this. When you give to someone, out of the kindness of your heart, or, honestly, even if it is out of a sense of obligation (but remember, “God loves a cheerful giver”), that gift comes from God. It may have come out of my heart or my bank account or my pocket, but if it is a “good and perfect gift,” it originated from God.

And yes, I believe that gifts that we give to people can, indeed, be “good and perfect.” Because I believe that the opposite of the statement is also true. (“Opposite” is probably not the right word.) If every good and perfect gift comes from God, then it can also be said that every gift that comes from God is good and perfect. So if I give a gift, and it comes from the heart of God, and I am simply the channel, then that gift is “good and perfect.”

How does this apply to prayer? I can pray to be more giving. I can pray that God opens my eyes to needs today, as I interact with people, that I might give something to help that need. That could be time, money, attention, or anything else that I might have. It might just be a friendly smile or greeting, a notion of love.

Everyone, and I do mean everyone, needs love.

Father, I am grateful that You are able to use people who are not necessarily “good,” nor are we perfect, to do Your good work. Thank You for the examples of people in the Bible, people who are jerks, people who are sinful, people who just aren’t very nice or good, sometimes, yet You used them in Your plan to bring salvation to the world. This means that You can use me, even me, and You have, and You continue to, so I am blessed and honored and humbled by this.

I thank You that You have placed a generous, giving heart within me, but I do not rest on that. I believe I can do better, and You can help me do so. All glory to You, through the Son and by the Spirit.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Give away your life; you’ll find life given back, but not merely given back—given back with bonus and blessing. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity.”
(Luke 6:38 MSG)

Grace and peace, friends.

God In Present Tense

Good morning. Today is Wednesday, the fifth of January, 2022, in the second week of Christmas. It’s the twelfth day of Christmas.

May the peace of Christ be with you.

Day 23,309

Eighteen days until Hamilton!

It was a fine day, yesterday. My evening at the library was different than usual. I was asked, at the beginning, to cover in the computer center while the full-time librarian went on lunch break, so I didn’t get a lot of shelving done. In fact, I didn’t technically put anything on the shelves, last night, as the remainder of my time was spent sorting a cart of DVDs. While that task may sound simple, it’s more time-consuming than you might think. I have to open every case to check the DVD in the case and make sure it matches the bar code number on the case. Then I have to make sure all DVDs in a multiple set (such as a season of a TV show) are in the case. Then I have to make sure that each case has one of our sticky notes with places to indicate issues with the media (won’t play, skips, and so on). Then, before putting them back on the cart in alphabetical order by title, I have to lock each case with our magnetic locking device. That is occasionally a challenging task, as sometimes those locking mechanisms don’t want to work.

At any rate, I was able to get the full cart sorted and ready for someone to shelve this morning, and then walked the shelves to straighten up some, and picked up stray books along the way, which we mark as “used” in the system. If a book is taken off the shelf, but not checked out, it is marked “used” so that the librarians know that there was at least some interest in the book. This helps them when the “weeding” times come.

I’m up pretty early, this morning, and not sure why. I am working the full day, today, 9:15-6:15, and it is the first full day since my new devotional routine began. That may have something to do with why I couldn’t go back to sleep. I also signed up to work an extra shift tomorrow, from 10-2, to cover for someone. I don’t know who, but that doesn’t really matter. I’m always willing to work an extra shift if it doesn’t interfere with any other plans, and it is only a half day, so I’ll still have time to prep for our Chicken Stir-fry tomorrow evening.

Oops. I just remembered . . . I’m supposed to start soup in the crock pot, this morning. And my coffee cup is empty. Be right back.

Thanks for waiting. The soup is started. It’s Chicken Ranch Crockpot soup, today. Chicken breast, three cans of 98%fat free cream of chicken soup, and one packet of ranch dressing mix. Oh, and a can of water, using one of the soup cans.

Okay, here we go.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Little Things, by Daryl Madden

Little gifts of kindness
Of generosity
Bring light to this world
Through humility

Little acts of love
Through the trinity
Draw the world as One
Bound Spiritually

Little prayers of faith
Through divinity
Turns the worlds direction
Oh, so gradually

All these little moments
One day we will see
In another world
Flow to eternity

The little things in life
The world sees as small
Turns out in the end
Are the greatest, of all

This is something to remember when we feel like we can’t do anything to change the world because we are only one person. One person can change the world of one other person. Please check out Daryl’s other poetry on the link provided above.

But let all who take refuge in you rejoice;
 let them ever sing for joy, 
and spread your protection over them, 
that those who love your name may exult in you. 
For you bless the righteous, O LORD; 
you cover him with favor as with a shield. 
(Psalms 5:11-12 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for coffee
2. for little acts of love and kindness, spread around the world
3. for these quiet pauses, each morning
4. for colors; red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet, and all the combinations
5. that Jesus looks at me (and you) and sees good things
6. for Jesus's calling on me to follow Him
7. that God's Word is not just some literary artifact to be studied, but can be brought into present tense in our lives
The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, "Follow me." 
Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 
Philip found Nathanael and said to him, "We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph." 
Nathanael said to him, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" Philip said to him, "Come and see." 
Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, "Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!"
 Nathanael said to him, "How do you know me?" Jesus answered him, "Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you." 
Nathanael answered him, "Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!" 
Jesus answered him, "Because I said to you, 'I saw you under the fig tree,' do you believe? You will see greater things than these." 
And he said to him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man." 
(John 1:43-51 ESV)

When Jesus saw Nathaniel, he noted a good quality about him. What good qualities does Jesus see in us? I assure you that He does see good qualities in us. As hard as I am on myself, when I look within, I believe that Jesus, who can see all and knows me better than I know myself, looks upon me and sees some good things.

Yet I find within me things that I would have Him change. What things would you have Jesus change in you? I encourage you to talk about these things with Him, both the good things that He finds in you, as well as those things you would like to see changed.

Father, I am thankful, this morning, for the calling of Jesus on my life. Obviously, You found something in me that was worth having, or You would not have chosen me and called me. Yet, anything that You found was something that You already put there. This puts me back at Psalm 139 again. “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.” Show me the “greater things,” Lord. Let me see where You are working in this world that seems so lacking of Your presence. Help me do the little things that You place in my path, little things that can change the world of one of “the least of these.”

Glory be to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, so it is now and so it shall ever be, world without end. Alleluia. Amen.

(From Pray As You Go)

As I continue looking at the spiritual discipline of meditation, the question is posed, “What are some obstacles to meditation for people in secular careers?”

That is an interesting question, especially considering that the word “secular” did not come into use in that context until after the fifties. What, exactly, is a “secular” career? The opposite of a “sacred” career? Did not Brother Lawrence even consider the washing of dishes as “sacred?”

But I digress. It is not the purpose, here, to debate the difference between “secular” and “sacred.” I understand the meaning behind the question. All of my full-time jobs have been in a “secular” career. And while there may not be a large number of obstacles to meditation in these careers, they don’t have the advantage of having a career in some kind of ministry. For example, a pastor should have all kinds of time to meditate. Now whether or not he or she takes advantage of that is on them.

In contrast, someone working an 8-5 job in some kind of industry doesn’t have an abundance of time to stop and meditate during the day. However, those obstacles can be overcome. For example, last night, as I was walking the shelves of the library, I prayed, which can be a form of meditation. I could just as easily have gone over memorized passages of Scripture in my head, while glancing through shelves of books. The challenge is to not look at all the books and wonder, “Oh, that looks interesting; what is it about?”

One of the reasons I have, for many years, chosen to get up much earlier than I need to, is so that I can have the time to read and meditate on Scripture and other worthy writings, before I begin the tasks of my day. That’s what I’m doing right now, because I cannot guarantee that I will have a chance to have quiet reflection during my work day, even at a place like a library. Working the circulation desk is not always quiet.

But taking time to pause in the morning, like this, also helps me be more aware of times throughout the day when I can pause and reflect or pray. There is plenty to pray about, at least for me.

Meditation is an important discipline to engage in. It is a process of thinking through passages of Scripture that have been read, praying them back to the Lord, along with questions about what has been read. Is there something I need to ask Him? Is there an opportunity for the Holy Spirit to speak further into this passage, helping me understand it? And while there are certainly obstacles to this discipline, in “secular” careers, they can be overcome.

Father, help me to be more aware of times, during my day, when I can pause and reflect on things I have read earlier. Help me to rely on the Holy Spirit to draw my attention to these things and remember what I have read.

In Symphony of Salvation, Eugene H. Peterson describes Deuteronomy as “maybe the longest sermon ever.” Along with Leviticus, Deuteronomy probably stands as one of the least favorite books of the Bible to read. It is, essentially, “Moses, standing on the Plains of Moab with all Israel assembled before him, preaching.”

Peterson says that this sermon “does what all sermons are intended to do: Take God’s words, written and spoken in the past, take the human experience, ancestral and personal, of the listening congregation, then reproduce the words and experience as a single event right now, in this present moment.”

Peterson rejects that thought that God’s Word is just a literary artifact to be studied, or that human experience “is dead history merely to be regretted or admired.” It all must be brought into today, into context.

This commandment that I'm commanding you today isn't too much for you, it's not out of your reach. 
It's not on a high mountain—you don't have to get mountaineers to climb the peak and bring it down to your level and explain it before you can live it. 
And it's not across the ocean—you don't have to send sailors out to get it, bring it back, and then explain it before you can live it. 
No. The word is right here and now—as near as the tongue in your mouth, as near as the heart in your chest. Just do it! 
Look at what I've done for you today: I've placed in front of you 

Life and Good, 
Death and Evil. 

And I command you today: Love GOD, your God. Walk in his ways. Keep his commandments, regulations, and rules so that you will live, really live, live exuberantly, blessed by GOD, your God, in the land you are about to enter and possess. 
(Deuteronomy 30:11-16 MSG)

Notice how the words “today,” “here,” and “now” keep recurring. This sermon’s importance is highlighted by the fact that this is the last stop on their long journey to the Promised Land. Moses puts their entire experience, as well as the entirety of the commands of God, into present tense.

Be vigilant, 
listen obediently to these words that I command you 
so that you'll have a good life,
 you and your children, 
for a long, long time, 
doing what is good and right in the eyes of GOD, your God. 
(Deuteronomy 12:28 MSG)

“and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.”
(Psalms 50:15 ESV)

In the day of my trouble I call upon you, for you answer me.
(Psalms 86:7 ESV)

He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength.
(Isaiah 40:29 ESV)

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
(2 Corinthians 12:9 ESV)

Today’s word in Pray a Word a Day is “creativity.” Albert Einstein is quoted as saying “Creativity is intelligence having fun.”

Kids are naturally creative, it seems. What happens to us, though? It seems like most of us lose that creativity when we get older. There are a handful of people, who seem almost “genius-like,” who never seem to grow up. And I don’t blame them, if “growing up” means losing your imagination.

How can the word “creativity” be used in prayer, today? I will be considering this as I walk through this day. For me, it lends itself to my desire to make more music this year. Making music, whether writing it or performing someone else’s creation, is, itself, creativity. Every time I play a song, regardless of who wrote it or when it was written, I create something new. That is worth considering, don’t you think?

Also, consider . . . we were created by the Master Creator, “in His image.”

Father, fan my creativity into flame today. Make my imagination soar. As I find time to meditate on Your Word, throughout this day, and as I am called upon to pray for the needs of whoever you put in my path, make me creative in these tasks. There is nothing wrong with creativity in prayer. Thank You for giving me an imagination, and I thank You that there is still the heart of a child lurking in there, somewhere.

Father, I continue to pray for relief in this pandemic. Numbers are soaring; hospitalization are at an all-time high; make us aware of the needs, and give us a miracle. I have been asked to pray for people who have Covid, Lord, and I do that. I am asking for a miracle for one family, today, if it is not too late. They need a miraculous healing, Father. I pray Your healing blessing upon them.

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 His Heart

Today is Monday, the ninth of August, 2021.

May the peace of God reign in your life, today!

Day 23,160

Only ten more days until S’s birthday!

Yesterday was quite uneventful. I got the groceries picked up from Walmart Neighborhood Market shortly after noon, and then another order delivered from Albertson’s while C was picking up our lunch from Applebee’s and drinks from Sonic.

We successfully canceled our DirecTV account on Saturday, and have all TVs in the house now set up to watch ATT TV. I also took our HBO Max account off of Hulu (we had been getting it bundled with Hulu for $11.99/month, and we got a free year with ATT TV) and successfully signed in with the ATT login.

There are other subscriptions that will be canceled along the way, some of which were paid for by the year. Sirius XM will likely be dropped, eventually. It’s not expensive, if you call and threaten to cancel every time, but that’s always a hassle. And the whole family can access the Spotify account, and we can listen to almost anything we want to hear on there. Plus, FM radio is free. I also have a free year of Fitbit Premium that came with my new Fitbit Charge 4 last year. That expires in October of this year. It’s $9.99 a month. I have enjoyed the benefits of that service, mostly the sleep metrics that it gives, but I don’t think it’s worth $120/yr.

We’ve been watching a show on Netflix called Manifest, about some people on a plane flight that mysteriously disappeared, and then reappeared five and a half years later. Only, for the people on the plane, it was only a few hours. And some really bad turbulence. Unfortunately, some relationships had moved on, because the loved one was assumed to be dead. It’s quite interesting. From what I understand, the show was dropped by NBC, but is in the process of being negotiated with another network (perhaps Netflix), to the delight of many fans.

The only thing on today’s schedule is to take new kitty, Cleopatra, to the vet for shots and to schedule another appointment to get her spayed. I’m not sure when the microchipping part will take place, but we do want to do that, as well.

Plus I am waiting for the sleep study equipment (no longer any hurry on that, though), and a call from the City of Hurst to finalize my start date for the library job.

Weather-wise, we are hot in the area, but not unseasonably, as it continues to be below triple-digits. There is, however, no rain in the forecast until this coming Saturday.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Glory be to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, so it is now and so it shall ever be, world without end. Alleluia. Amen.

The trumpeters and musicians joined in unison to give praise and thanks to the LORD. Accompanied by trumpets, cymbals and other instruments, the singers raised their voices in praise to the LORD and sang: “He is good; his love endures forever.” Then the temple of the LORD was filled with the cloud, and the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled the temple of God.
(2 Chronicles 5:13-14 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the life that You have given me, with the love of this family;
2. for cats; 
3. for the trust that You have placed in my heart;
4. that You have placed a longing for eternity in our hearts, even though we struggle to comprehend the thought;
5. that life is too short for hatred and anger.

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TWELVE – DAY TWO

INVITATION

The LORD gives righteousness and justice to all who are treated unfairly.
(Psalms 103:6 NLT)

I pause, briefly, to consider the effects of the praise and thanksgiving in 2 Chronicles, above. May God bless us with such powerful manifestations of His presence.

BIBLE SONG

For the director of music. For Jeduthun. A psalm of David.

I said, “I will watch my ways and keep my tongue from sin; I will put a muzzle on my mouth while in the presence of the wicked.”
So I remained utterly silent, not even saying anything good. But my anguish increased;
my heart grew hot within me. While I meditated, the fire burned; then I spoke with my tongue:
“Show me, LORD, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting my life is.
You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Everyone is but a breath, even those who seem secure.

“But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you.”
(Psalms 39:1-5, 7 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Now a man of the tribe of Levi married a Levite woman, and she became pregnant and gave birth to a son. When she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him for three months. But when she could hide him no longer, she got a papyrus basket for him and coated it with tar and pitch. Then she placed the child in it and put it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile. His sister stood at a distance to see what would happen to him.
Then Pharaoh’s daughter went down to the Nile to bathe, and her attendants were walking along the riverbank. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her female slave to get it. She opened it and saw the baby. He was crying, and she felt sorry for him. “This is one of the Hebrew babies,” she said.
Then his sister asked Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and get one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for you?”
“Yes, go,” she answered. So the girl went and got the baby’s mother. Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this baby and nurse him for me, and I will pay you.” So the woman took the baby and nursed him. When the child grew older, she took him to Pharaoh’s daughter and he became her son. She named him Moses, saying, “I drew him out of the water.”
(Exodus 2:1-10 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I strive to be more aware of God’s presence in this place, I read these passages again, looking for insights into my walk with Christ. I ask the Holy Spirit to guide my meditations and prayers.

I can attest to the fact that simply keeping one’s mouth shut about things does not lessen the level of anxiety. However, we would do well to note that the psalmist’s answer is not to spout off to those with whom he disagrees, or even to climb up to the rooftop and shout about the wicked.

His answer is to cry out to the Lord. And what he winds up saying to the Lord doesn’t even have much to do with the current wickedness. His prayer is that the Lord would show him how fleeting our lives are.

And truthfully . . . the amount of time that we spend on this earth is, in perspective, quite brief. Seventy or eighty years for many. Some get a few more decades, many get markedly fewer years.

But compare that to eternity. There’s no true comparison, actually, because our brains really can’t comprehend eternity. Yet the Lord has put that in our hearts, according to Ecclesiastes 3:11.

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.
(Ecclesiastes 3:11 NIV)

Perhaps it is true what they say . . . “Life is too short to __________.” Insert your own thing in that blank. Life is too short to constantly be bickering over politics. Life is too short to constantly be expressing hatred toward a fellow human being. Life is too short to be angry all the time.

And, truthfully, if one is dwelling in the presence of the Lord, how is it even possible to be angry over things? Consider this:

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

I can’t speak for anyone else, but I like pleasure. Anger and anxiety are not pleasures. I want to bask in the pleasures of the Lord, at His right hand. So, when I see something in social media that makes me angry, or creates anxiety, I talk to God about it. I don’t just bottle it up, nor do I lash out at whoever posted it. Believe me, there are plenty of times that I want to, and I have typed out countless responses only to delete them instead.

But there is some pretty great wisdom in that old gospel song, “Have A Little Talk with Jesus.” As the end of verse 7 says (Psalm 39), “My hope is in you.” What else do I look for? (The ESV translates “look for” as “wait.”) I wait for the Lord . . . my hope is in Him.

Moses’s mother’s hope was also in the Lord. We aren’t privy to what she was thinking when she put her baby (unnamed, at that point . . . he was given the name by the Pharaoh’s daughter) in the reeds along the Nile river.

Why was she even doing this, in the first place? Because Pharaoh, in his fear of the Hebrews, had declared that all male children of the Hebrew women were to be killed. So Moses’s mother (later we learn that her name was Jochabed), hid him until she could no longer hide him.

By the hand of the Lord, he was found by Pharaoh’s daughter, and taken in to be raised in the courts of the highest authority of the land. Ironically, Moses’s sister offered to get someone to nurse the baby and take care of him for Pharaoh’s daughter. So his mother wound up nursing him and caring for him, after all.

The hand of the Lord is so amazing.

Father, thank You for the trust that You have given me. I thank You that You are constantly leading me away from anger and hatred and anxiety, and drawing me inward to joy and “pleasures forevermore.” I thank You for stories such as the story of Moses and how You marvelously work in peoples’ lives to bring about Your purposes. To think that the deliverer of Your people came right out of the most intimate parts of the family of Pharaoh. Unfathomable. But that’s what You are; You are, sometimes, most unfathomable. And that’s okay. I do not attempt to understand what is too deep for me. As the psalmist stated, such knowledge is too wonderful for me; I cannot attain it. But I can embrace it and enjoy it.

Lord, may You grant us eyes to see Your work in the world around us; let us see where You are working, especially in places where it may appear that You are absent. For all who may be enduring natural disasters, I pray for Your care and comfort, as well as protection. Help us to ever be better stewards of the world You have given us.

"Saving God,
I stand in awe before the mystery of your providence.
Through our sometimes desperate decisions and fearful circumstances,
you work your loving will.
Give me patient confidence in troubled times and gratitude when things go well,
knowing that all things are in your hand.
Amen."

BLESSING

The LORD is my strength and my song; he has given me victory. This is my God, and I will praise him—my father’s God, and I will exalt him!
(Exodus 15:2 NLT)

Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
(Psalms 139:7-8 ESV)

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

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

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

All We Need Is . . .

“Public praise is an act of love. It’s how we’re encouraged to express our love for God. The psalms exhort us, again and again, to make music for God, to sing to Him, to shout to the Lord with joy. It is in the shouting that others hear and are made glad.” (Amy Eddings, Daily Guideposts 2020)

Today is Thursday (pre-Friday), September 3, 2020. Peace be with you!

Day 22,820

Four days until Labor Day!

Today is the Feast of St. Gregory the Great. Gregory was Pope of the Catholic Church between 590 and 640 AD. He is known for some liturgy changes that he made that are still used today, and the infamous “Gregorian Chant” is named after him.

I have a funny story. Yesterday morning, I checked the pressure on the tire that was repaired Tuesday evening. My heart sank when my tire gauge read 22. But I went ahead and started the car to see what would happen, hoping that it was a mis-read or mistake of some kind. The tire pressure light did not come on.

I began driving to work, with the resolution that, if the light came on within a reasonable distance from home, I would go back and get C’s car. Don’t ask my why I did this . . . but, later, I would gladly attribute it to the Holy Spirit.

The light never came on. I drove safely to work (in the rain), and was a few minutes late because of a wreck on the highway, which closed down two of the three lanes.

When I got to work, I got the tire gauge out and pushed the button to turn it on. It turns out that the gauge was registering “BAR” rather then “PSI.” I’m not sure what “BAR” means on a tire gauge, but one web site says it measures outside pressure. Anyway, I clicked the button three more times to get it back to PSI, and the tire measured at 33.

All of my tension melted away as I whispered, “Thank You, Jesus,” and walked into our building. Somewhere, in my soul, I knew that everything was okay, and that’s why I went ahead and drove to work after the first reading. In fact, in the middle of this drive, in the traffic, in the rain, I experienced joy, a pervasive sense of well-being.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

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

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

Today I am grateful:

  1. For joy, the pervasive sense of well-being, no matter the circumstances
  2. That my soul longs for Your courts, O Lord (Psalm 84:2)
  3. For love
  4. For my wonderful family, all across the generations
  5. That I am not ashamed to proclaim my love for You

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

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

I have sworn an oath and confirmed it, to keep your righteous rules.
(Psalms 119:106 ESV)

“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.”
(Matthew 5:13 ESV)

My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the LORD; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God. Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, at your altars, O LORD of hosts, my King and my God.
(Psalms 84:2-3 ESV)

Glory be to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, so it is now and so it shall ever be, world without end. Alleluia. Amen.

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

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

But Zion said, “The LORD has forsaken me; my Lord has forgotten me.”
“Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me. Your builders make haste; your destroyers and those who laid you waste go out from you. Lift up your eyes around and see; they all gather, they come to you. As I live, declares the LORD, you shall put them all on as an ornament; you shall bind them on as a bride does.
“Surely your waste and your desolate places and your devastated land— surely now you will be too narrow for your inhabitants, and those who swallowed you up will be far away.”
(Isaiah 49:14-19 ESV)

Nestled in the midst of this passage are five words that can still the troubled soul.

“I will not forget you.”

That’s God talking.

My soul makes its boast in the LORD; let the humble hear and be glad.
(Psalms 34:2 ESV)

“Public praise is an act of love. It’s how we’re encouraged to express our love for God. The psalms exhort us, again and again, to make music for God, to sing to Him, to shout to the Lord with joy. It is in the shouting that others hear and are made glad.

“If so with God, then so with one another. Saying to all who will listen ‘I love him’ and ‘I love her’ is just as important as saying ‘I love you.'”

(Amy Eddings, Daily Guideposts 2020)

Side note: I have just learned that Amy Eddings, the above writer for Guideposts, is also the host of NPR’s “Morning Edition” in Cleveland. Fascinating.

Back to the topic.

I will proclaim as loudly as I can type that I love my wife, C. (I learned long ago, the hard way, and will never again post full names in my blog). I love my daughters, R and S. I love my son-in-law, J. I love my mother, B. I still love my father, K, and all of my grandparents who have gone on to their eternal rest. I love my aunts and uncles, some of who are still living, and I love my cousins, some of whom I have not seen in years.

And you, my gentle readers. I love you. Some of you I “know,” and some of you I don’t. There are some of you, whose blogs I also read when I remember to get over there (deeply sorry that it’s not more consistent), that hold a very special place in my heart.

And I will shout my love for the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit from the mountaintops.

Father, I think that we need to rediscover the beauty of publicly proclaiming our love for one another. We need to not be ashamed of our love for each other, and display it like a badge on our lapel. Help us to love one another as You have loved us, and help us to love You with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Thank You for my beautiful family!

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!

We love because he first loved us.
(1 John 4:19 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

A Glimpse in the Mirror

Today is Wednesday, August 5, 2020. Peace be with you!

Day 22,791

Fourteen days until S’s birthday!!

I don’t really have much to write about, this morning, personally.

There was a huge explosion in Beirut, Lebanon, yesterday. I’ve seen several videos of it. The mistake that I made the first time was assuming that the fire and smoke at the beginning of the video was the result of the explosion. I was told to watch it again and keep watching. A few seconds in, there was a massive explosion that resembled a nuclear bomb.

The most recent reports say that at least 100 people were killed and the cause is still under investigation.

In Sports news, I just heard, yesterday, that thirteen members of the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team have tested positive for COVID-19, and that a four-game series with the Tigers, scheduled to start yesterday (Tuesday), has been cancelled. Seven players and six staff members tested positive.

The skeptic in me figures we won’t make it through a sixty-game “season.” The Rangers and Red Sox fan in me almost hopes we don’t, as neither team seems to be able to win much. The Rangers lost to the Athletics, 5-1, making them 3-6 on the season, in fourth place in the AL West. The Red Sox lost to the Rays, 5-1, making them 3-8 on the season, firmly in last place in the AL East.

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)

Let Israel be glad in his Maker; let the children of Zion rejoice in their King! Let them praise his name with dancing, making melody to him with tambourine and lyre! For the LORD takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with salvation. Let the godly exult in glory; let them sing for joy on their beds.
(Psalms 149:2-5 ESV)

  1. That You take pleasure in Your people
  2. That I am Your child, I am loved, I am beautiful, and I am gifted
  3. That in You, I am richer than I could ever imagine
  4. That I am an unceasing spiritual being with an eternal destiny in Your great universe
  5. That I am blessed because I praise You

Do good, O LORD, to those who are good, and to those who are upright in their hearts!
(Psalms 125:4 ESV)

Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, who alone does wondrous things. Blessed be his glorious name forever; may the whole earth be filled with his glory! Amen and Amen!
(Psalms 72:18-19 ESV)

May the LORD give you increase, you and your children!
(Psalms 115:14 ESV)

And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”
(Matthew 9:35-38 ESV)

When Israel went out from Egypt, the house of Jacob from a people of strange language, Judah became his sanctuary, Israel his dominion. The sea looked and fled; Jordan turned back. The mountains skipped like rams, the hills like lambs. What ails you, O sea, that you flee? O Jordan, that you turn back? O mountains, that you skip like rams? O hills, like lambs? Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob, who turns the rock into a pool of water, the flint into a spring of water.
(Psalms 114:1-8 ESV)

Glory be to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, so it is now and so it shall ever be, world without end. Alleluia. Amen.

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

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

For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
(Romans 8:15-17 ESV)

If you happen to look in a mirror today, say to yourself, “You are a child of God, you are loved, you are beautiful, you are gifted.”
(Sheridan Voysey, Our Daily Bread)

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
(Ephesians 3:14-21 ESV)

If you should happen to look in a mirror today, say to yourself, “You are richer than you think; God is faithful; you have His strength, His help, and His encouragement, as well as all of His resources; you have the power of prayer and His Word; you have ‘spiritual blessings beyond comparison’; you have His perfect provision.”
(Bill Giovannetti, Daily Guideposts 2020)

You rule over the surging sea; when its waves mount up, you still them. You crushed Rahab like one of the slain; with your strong arm you scattered your enemies. The heavens are yours, and yours also the earth; you founded the world and all that is in it. You created the north and the south; Tabor and Hermon sing for joy at your name. Your arm is endowed with power; your hand is strong, your right hand exalted. Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; love and faithfulness go before you. Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, LORD. They rejoice in your name all day long; they celebrate your righteousness. For you are their glory and strength, and by your favor you exalt our horn. Indeed, our shield belongs to the LORD, our king to the Holy One of Israel.
(Psalms 89:9-18 NIV)

If you should happen to look in the mirror today, say to yourself, “You are blessed because you praise God; walk in the light of His presence today; rejoice in His name all day today; celebrate His righteousness!”

Father, I pray that, when I look in the mirror today (and that will happen multiple times), that I will remember these things. You have loved me; You have made me beautiful; You have gifted me (O, how You have gifted me!); I am richer than I know or think; You have been faithful to me; I have Your strength, Your help, and Your encouragement; I have the power of prayer, and Your Word. Help me to walk in the light of Your presence and rejoice in Your name all day today!

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!

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.
(Ephesians 1:18-21 NIV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Jesus Wept

Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust. Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.
(Psalms 143:8 ESV)

Today is Tuesday, August 4, 2020. Peace be with you!

Day 22,790

Fifteen days until S’s birthday!!!

Speaking of birthdays, I neglected to mention that this past Saturday was my Granddaddy’s birthday. He would have been 106 years old.

Today is the Feast of Saint John-Marie Vianney, the patron saint of priests.

We finished watching I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, last night. The Golden State Killer, Joseph James DeAngelo, Jr. was identified, charged, convicted, and sentenced. It was very interesting and moving to watch as surviving victims were interviewed as the trial went on. He was over seventy years old when captured, so he was frequently described as a pathetic little man as his victims from the seventies wondered how the person they saw in front of them was the “monster” that had destroyed their lives. I really want to read the book, now. I thought I had it on my Kindle, but I don’t, so I’ll have to get a copy.

US cases of Coronavirus have taken a drastic downturn over the last couple of days. Yesterday’s new case count was only 48,622. As recently as Saturday, we had over 70,000. Not sure what that means.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.
(The Jesus Prayer)

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.
(Psalms 96:11-13 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. For Your mercies, O Lord, new every morning
  2. For Your steadfast love, filling my soul this morning
  3. That vengeance belongs to You, and not us
  4. That I can direct my frustrations to You, and You change my heart
  5. That You are teaching me to pray

Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust. Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.
(Psalms 143:8 ESV)

Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting! And let all the people say, “Amen!” Praise the LORD!
(Psalms 106:48 ESV)

The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.
(Psalms 118:14 ESV)

And all the crowd sought to touch him, for power came out from him and healed them all.
And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said:
“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.
“Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied.
“Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.
“Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.
“But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.
“Woe to you who are full now, for you shall be hungry.
“Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.
“Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.”
(Luke 6:19-26 ESV)

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.

He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away.

Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; for the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.
(Psalms 1:1-6 ESV)

Glory be to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, so it is now and so it shall ever be, world without end. Alleluia. Amen.

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

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

When Saul returned from following the Philistines, he was told, “Behold, David is in the wilderness of Engedi.” Then Saul took three thousand chosen men out of all Israel and went to seek David and his men in front of the Wildgoats’ Rocks. And he came to the sheepfolds by the way, where there was a cave, and Saul went in to relieve himself. Now David and his men were sitting in the innermost parts of the cave. And the men of David said to him, “Here is the day of which the LORD said to you, ‘Behold, I will give your enemy into your hand, and you shall do to him as it shall seem good to you.'” Then David arose and stealthily cut off a corner of Saul’s robe. And afterward David’s heart struck him, because he had cut off a corner of Saul’s robe. He said to his men, “The LORD forbid that I should do this thing to my lord, the LORD’s anointed, to put out my hand against him, seeing he is the LORD’s anointed.” So David persuaded his men with these words and did not permit them to attack Saul. And Saul rose up and left the cave and went on his way.

Afterward David also arose and went out of the cave, and called after Saul, “My lord the king!” And when Saul looked behind him, David bowed with his face to the earth and paid homage. And David said to Saul, “Why do you listen to the words of men who say, ‘Behold, David seeks your harm’? Behold, this day your eyes have seen how the LORD gave you today into my hand in the cave. And some told me to kill you, but I spared you. I said, ‘I will not put out my hand against my lord, for he is the LORD’s anointed.’ See, my father, see the corner of your robe in my hand. For by the fact that I cut off the corner of your robe and did not kill you, you may know and see that there is no wrong or treason in my hands. I have not sinned against you, though you hunt my life to take it. May the LORD judge between me and you, may the LORD avenge me against you, but my hand shall not be against you.
(1 Samuel 24:1-12 ESV)

“When it seems others are getting away with wrongdoing, we struggle with the injustice. But with God’s mercy at work in our hearts and the hearts of others, we can forgive as He’s forgiven us and receive the blessings He’s prepared for us.”

Xochitl Dixon, Our Daily Bread

I believe this to be a very important passage, and in our current day, it seems even more so. Over the years, I have grown to a point where I am hesitant to mock or criticize people in leadership positions, especially in the Church. It’s easy to make fun of people like Benny Hinn and Joel Osteen. But should I do that?

I find myself being too critical of management at work. I shouldn’t be doing that, either. If I have helpful comments, there is nothing wrong with that. But if my spirit is speaking in anger and frustration, there is everything wrong with that.

David had an opportunity to kill his tormentor. All he did was cut off a corner of Saul’s robe, and he felt overwhelming guilt just for that! David’s frame of mind would be good for us to adapt in our lives.

I have some things to ponder as I move forward in this day. Things that have to do with thoughts and words about people in leadership positions, from company level all the way up to world leadership.

As we have noticed in various Psalms, my frustrations need to be directed to God, not at human beings. He is the one with the power, and He is also the one who can mold hearts like He molds the course of a river. And He can be trusted.

Jesus wept.
(John 11:35 ESV)

I don’t usually like Marci Alborghetti’s readings in Daily Guideposts. Something has changed, though.

And today’s has brought tears to my eyes.

Marci walks. And when she walks, she prays. One of the things she does is to write Scripture on the back of her jackets. One of the Scriptures, the shortest in the Bible is John 11:35, above.

I don’t know how far in advance these daily readings are written, but they have to be written in 2019, because the book is available to purchase before the beginning of 2020.

This means that Marci (and Daily Guideposts) had no idea what the world would look like in August of 2020!

God works in mysterious ways.

Marci writes, “I pray visibly by writing Scripture with an indelible marker on the back of my jackets. One of my favorites, given the state of our world, is ‘Jesus wept.’ It’s also the Bible’s shortest passage, so it can be written in large letters on my jacket.” (Italics mine)

“Given the state of our world,” she wrote. At least last year, sometime. I wonder if she is reading this today.

Why did Jesus weep? We don’t really know for sure, but we can speculate. “For His friends, for the city He loved, for Lazarus, for Himself, maybe, because He knew He would soon suffer and die?”

Marci’s young godson asked her what “wept” means.

“‘It means to cry.’

“‘Was Jesus sad?’ he wondered.

“‘Yes, he was sad that people hurt each other.’ I explained.

“‘I’m sad when someone hurts my feelings.’

“‘But Jesus was sad when anyone’s feelings got hurt.’

“He looked at me with just one word, ‘Wow.’

Wow, indeed.”

“Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied.

“Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.

“Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.

“But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.

“Woe to you who are full now, for you shall be hungry.

“Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.”
(Luke 6:21-25 ESV)

And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”
(Luke 19:41-44 ESV)

Most of us can probably envision Jesus weeping today. But we’d best be careful of the reason that we think He is weeping. Especially if that reason involves our political leanings.

Because Jesus isn’t political. He is Jesus and His way is the only way. He doesn’t support Republicans or Democrats. Nor does He necessarily condemn either.

Jesus shows us the way, and the only way is to follow Him.

For the record, yes, I believe that He weeps today, over the state of our world.

O Lord, teach me to weep. Teach me to weep for the right reasons. Show me the hurt and the pain. Not my own. Compared to most of the world, my life is easy. And I’m grateful for that, yes. But let me not take it for granted, nor let me get too comfortable in it. Show me, Father, that I might weep with Jesus.

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!

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
(Revelation 21:3-4 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.