A Vision of Worship

Today is Tuesday, the thirteenth of July, 2021.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,133

37 days until S’s birthday.

It’s Tuesday, so C is working from home. Someone is also coming by to measure our countertops for some granite that I believe we have finally picked out. C went to a place during lunch yesterday and sent me some photos. I was going to try to include one of them, but I’m having technical issues.

Time is getting away from me, so I’ll move on. I will say that I watched a little bit of the Home Run Derby, last night. The format has changed so much that it was hard to tell what was going on. Graphically, the screen was so terribly busy that it was confusing, as well. That may just mean I’m getting old, too. Anyway, Joey Gallo, from the Texas Rangers, choked, and was eliminated in the first round. I imagine nerves got to him, and he didn’t get in his groove until too late, so he lost his round by one home run. The legendary Otahni, was also eliminated in the first round, after a couple of tie breakers.


Entering In, by S. Michaels

Focus, refocus, persist,
pray and praise, do not give up,
take the ground I’ve won for you

©2021 S. Michaels
A Line in the Sand
(‘High-Haiku’ 7-7-7)

Come, O children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD.
What man is there who desires life and loves many days, that he may see good?
Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit.
Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.
(Psalms 34:11-14 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the words of wisdom in the above psalm passage.
2. that I am alive and breathing.
3. that through faithful persistence, I can move forward on the path You have provided for me.
4. for the diversity and unity of the Kingdom of heaven.
5. for my continued desire to learn from You, to never stop getting advice and instruction from Your Spirit.

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



The LORD their God will save his people on that day as a shepherd saves his flock. They will sparkle in his land like jewels in a crown. How attractive and beautiful they will be!
(Zechariah 9:16-17a NIV)

I pause, briefly, to meditate on the means You have provided for a good life and many days. Help me, Father, to keep my tongue from evil and my lips from speaking lies. Make it easy for me to turn away from evil and do good, and to seek peace and pursue it.


For the director of music. Of David.

The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”
They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good.

The LORD looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God.
All have turned away, all have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.

Do all these evildoers know nothing?

They devour my people as though eating bread; they never call on the LORD.
But there they are, overwhelmed with dread, for God is present in the company of the righteous.
You evildoers frustrate the plans of the poor, but the LORD is their refuge.

Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion! When the LORD restores his people, let Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad!
(Psalms 14:1-7 NIV)


After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice:
“Salvation belongs to our God,
who sits on the throne,
and to the Lamb.”
All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying:
Praise and glory
and wisdom and thanks and honor
and power and strength
be to our God for ever and ever.
Then one of the elders asked me, “These in white robes—who are they, and where did they come from?”
I answered, “Sir, you know.”
And he said, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
(Revelation 7:9-14 NIV)


As I linger over these passages, I ask the Holy Spirit to guide my thoughts, meditations, and prayers for the morning.

I believe the psalmist is once again using hyperbole in his song. “All have turned away,” he says. “There is no one who does good, not even one.”

It could be said that, in comparison to God, it is true that no one does good. Even Jesus, Himself, once said that only God is good, when someone called Him, “Good teacher.”

I believe it wise to consider verses 2 and 3 before we start feeling all high and mighty after David calls those who say there is no God, “fools.” For even we are part of the “no one” who does good.

There is also a clearer idea of who the evildoers are, in this psalm. They are those who would intentionally frustrate the plans of the poor (v. 6). But God is their refuge!

The Revelation passage once again illustrates the diversity of the Kingdom of God. He has brought together people from tribe, nation, and language. They are all dressed alike, in this vision, illustrating the truth that those differences do not matter. They cry out, together, “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and unto the Lamb!”

This vision is the worship service to top all worship services. It is my belief that our earthly worship times should mirror this. We have far too many worship songs that have lyrics that focus on “I” and “me.” We need more songs that focus on God! And the pronouns therein need more “we” and “us.”

Note that the first worship “song” in this passage says that salvation belongs to OUR God. We are community, just as God, in the Trinity, is community. He is our God, not just my God. Jesus even emphasized this in the model prayer He gave us, that begins, “Our Father which art in heaven . . .”

Father, OUR Father, may we truly worship You in all that we do. May our songs reflect Your glory, honor, praise, and wisdom, as we give thanksgiving to You for all Your wondrous works, the most glorious of those being how You worked salvation for us through the Lamb! May more of our worship point to You and Christ, rather than at us. May we interact with each other in the same way that You, the Son, and the Holy Spirit interact, all pointing to each other. I just want to worship You today. Help me to do that.

"Reigning Lamb,
I thank you for the promise that those who have died in you are not lost but live in your presence and behold your face.
May my whole life be as fully devoted to you as those saints who live forever in your presence.
May my poor worship find its focus and fulfillment in the worship of the saints and angels in heaven.
To you be glory forever,


May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.
(1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 NIV)

And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength.
(Deuteronomy 6:5 NLT)

Get all the advice and instruction you can, so you will be wise the rest of your life.
(Proverbs 19:20 NLT)

When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things.
(1 Corinthians 13:11 NLT)

Father, help me to love You with all of my being, today. And let me never stop getting “advice and instruction” from You, through Your Spirit!

Lord, please give us love and commitment for our communities, in which You have placed us. Please enable and equip us to serve in unique ways in these communities, showing us the best way to love hem and serve them. May you specifically empower any who work in the trades, 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!

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!

The Kingdom of Heaven Is Like…

I actually got in here and started getting some music recorded last night! As always, I’m not satisfied with what I did, but at this point, I may let it go, because I’m just trying to get something in a format that I can send to the pastor of our church so he can listen to it. It doesn’t have to be perfect, it just needs to represent the song I’ve written. However, if I want to go posting it on Facebook or something like that, it needs to be much better. I’m more excited about “church” than I’ve been in a long time. It’s a good feeling.
I made another huge decision yesterday, in light of this new opportunity. I have cancelled my MMORPG accounts. (That stands for Massively Multi-player Online Role Playing Game.) In other words, after I don’t know how many years, I will no longer be playing World of Warcraft. As silly as that may sound to some people, that was a very tough decision to make. But I’m not going to have as much time to play as I used to.
Okay…on to the devotions. I’m still a little behind from the power outage event on Sunday, so I’ll pick up where I left off yesterday morning.

Bible readings from Discovering the Bible, by Gordon L. Addington:
Isaiah 11-12
11:1 There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.
2 And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.

This chapter begins with Messianic prophecy. The Holy Spirit will rest upon Jesus as he walks on the earth.
3 And his delight shall be in the fear of the LORD. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide disputes by what his ears hear,
4 but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.

Unlike most humans, Jesus does not judge by what he sees and hears, but by righteousness alone. His judgment is not clouded by opinion, but based in pure righteousness.
6 The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them.
7 The cow and the bear shall graze; their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
8 The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den.
9 They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.

Such a beautiful passage. And obviously relating to future events, because I haven’t seen any lions and lambs laying down together lately.

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

Proverbs 3:27-35
27 Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it.
28 Do not say to your neighbor, “Go, and come again, tomorrow I will give it”–when you have it with you.
29 Do not plan evil against your neighbor, who dwells trustingly beside you.
30 Do not contend with a man for no reason, when he has done you no harm.
31 Do not envy a man of violence and do not choose any of his ways,
32 for the devious person is an abomination to the LORD, but the upright are in his confidence.
33 The LORD’s curse is on the house of the wicked, but he blesses the dwelling of the righteous.
34 Toward the scorners he is scornful, but to the humble he gives favor.
35 The wise will inherit honor, but fools get disgrace.

Hm….looks like I covered this yesterday. I accidentally went farther than I was supposed to in this chapter yesterday morning. Just to recap, though, we are to be generous people. If someone needs something and we have it, we should give it to them. And we shouldn’t make them wait! We should also not pick fights with people for no reason. (There must be a reason God is having me read this passage twice, right? Hahaha.) Notice, in verse 34, that the humble get favor, and in verse 35, the wise inherit honor.

Matthew 13:31-35, 44-58
31 He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field.
32 It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.”
33 He told them another parable. “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened.”

What does Jesus mean here? The kingdom of heaven begins small and grows large? It does, indeed begin small, with a “seed” of faith. In another place, Jesus describes the faith that is needed as being as small as a mustard seed. Wait…he doesn’t say “small” there, does he? In Matthew 17:20, he says, He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.” Could it be that the tiny grain of mustard seed actually has great faith? The seed is small, but is the faith? I’m not sure that “size” is the issue in this verse. But the picture Jesus draws for us here is small growing to large, because leaven is also rather small, but grows throughout the loaf of bread until it fills the whole thing. I used to make donuts for a living (way back in college…it’s how I started getting fat). We would put about 3/4 of a pound of yeast in a big mixing bowl of dough and let it sit for the better part of an hour. It’s amazing how big it grew! it would be overflowing the bowl! That is how our faith should be, right? It should grow to the point that our bowl is overflowing. The kingdom of heaven should eventually be overflowing from our lives to the point that everyone notices.

34 All these things Jesus said to the crowds in parables; indeed, he said nothing to them without a parable.
35 This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet: “I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter what has been hidden since the foundation of the world.”

Matthew is explaining why Jesus spoke in parables. In fact, Matthew quotes from Psalm 78:2 in verse 35. Jesus is making known truths that have, up until this day, been hidden.

4 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls,
46 who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.

This is how valuable the kingdom of heaven is. So much so that we should give up everything we own to “possess” it. We should be willing to sacrifice anything to obtain it.

47 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind.
48 When it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into containers but threw away the bad.
49 So it will be at the close of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous
50 and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

This is similar in nature to the parable about the grain and the weeds (or the wheat and the tares, as it may be more commonly known). It is, according to Jesus, the angels who will sort out the righteous from the evil. We really are not responsible to do that. What this means is, if we spend too much energy trying to expose evil, perhaps we are “barking up the wrong tree.” Our energy should be spent trying to bring people to Christ, shouldn’t it? Let’s leave the sorting out up to the angels. That’s their job. That’s definitely worth pondering.

51 “Have you understood all these things?” They said to him, “Yes.”
52 And he said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house, who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.”

Remember, at this point, he is no longer in the boat, speaking to the crowds. He is back in the house, talking only to the disciples. They claim they understand what he has been telling them, and that is entirely possible, because the Holy Spirit has granted them understanding. What is Jesus saying in verse 52? I’ll be honest…I’m not 100% positive. But he may be telling the disciples that, now that they have been trained, they will become teachers, bringing understanding to people about the relationship between the old covenant and the new.

53 And when Jesus had finished these parables, he went away from there,
54 and coming to his hometown he taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, “Where did this man get this wisdom and these mighty works?
55 Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas?
56 And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?”
57 And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.”
58 And he did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief.

The people of Jesus’s home town did not receive him. In fact, they “took offense at him.” So he refused to do miracles there. I don’t believe that he was unable to do them. I believe that he chose not to. The Reformation Study Bible adds this: “Jesus’s refusal to do many miracles in Nazareth was not because he needed the faith of people to empower Him, but because miracles are of little value to those without faith.” Remember when Jesus talked about casting pearls before swine? Here is a perfect example of that statement being acted out.

Isaiah 13-14
Chapter 13 concerns the judgment against Babylon.
6 Wail, for the day of the LORD is near; as destruction from the Almighty it will come!
7 Therefore all hands will be feeble, and every human heart will melt.
8 They will be dismayed: pangs and agony will seize them; they will be in anguish like a woman in labor. They will look aghast at one another; their faces will be aflame.

The destruction of Babylon was desolate and utterly complete. In fact, Isaiah goes further to say:
19 And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the splendor and pomp of the Chaldeans, will be like Sodom and Gomorrah when God overthrew them.
20 It will never be inhabited or lived in for all generations; no Arab will pitch his tent there; no shepherds will make their flocks lie down there.
21 But wild animals will lie down there, and their houses will be full of howling creatures; there ostriches will dwell, and there wild goats will dance.
22 Hyenas will cry in its towers, and jackals in the pleasant palaces; its time is close at hand and its days will not be prolonged.

It is interesting that Saddam Hussein began rebuilding Babylon in 1983. He was said to have inscribed his name on the bricks, in imitation of Nebuchadnezzar. How did that work out for him? It is also interesting that the UN and Iraqi leaders said in 2006 that they have plans to restore Babylon as a “cultural center.” But all that is from Wikipedia, so who knows if it is reliable?

Chapter 14 begins with a promise that the Lord will, once again, choose Israel and set them in their own land. They will even get a chance to taunt the king of Babylon (vv. 3-21). Verses 12-14 have often been cited as depicting the fall of “Lucifer” or Satan. “How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn! How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low! You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God I will set my throne on high; I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’ I’m not sure I go along with that. On the surface, it is referring to the king of Babylon. I see no indication of any other meaning in this passage. My belief is reinforced by the lack of any such statement in the notes of the Reformation Study Bible.
Verses 24-27 give an oracle on the judgment of Assyria. Verse 27 declares the power in the purposes of God. For the LORD of hosts has purposed, and who will annul it? His hand is stretched out, and who will turn it back? If God has proclaimed it, it will happen.
The chapter closes with an oracle against Philistia.

Proverbs 4:1-9
1 Hear, O sons, a father’s instruction, and be attentive, that you may gain insight,
2 for I give you good precepts; do not forsake my teaching.
3 When I was a son with my father, tender, the only one in the sight of my mother,
4 he taught me and said to me, “Let your heart hold fast my words; keep my commandments, and live.
5 Get wisdom; get insight; do not forget, and do not turn away from the words of my mouth.
6 Do not forsake her, and she will keep you; love her, and she will guard you.
7 The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom, and whatever you get, get insight.
8 Prize her highly, and she will exalt you; she will honor you if you embrace her.
9 She will place on your head a graceful garland; she will bestow on you a beautiful crown.”

Wisdom is personified as a faithful woman who will stick beside whoever has her. Wisdom and insight (or understanding) should be highly prized, and if done so, she will exalt and honor you. Embrace wisdom, and you will get a crown! Note that this teaching is given a son by his father. Parents, you still have something worthwhile to teach to your children, no matter what this world may tell you!

Fascinating Facts of the Faith speaks of a young girl named Agnes who grew up in a home next door to her church in Macedonia. She helped her mother distribute clothing and food to the poor and took it to heart when her mother told her, “When you help people like this, it’s just like helping Jesus.” Agnes left home at the age of eighteen to pursue her calling of helping the poor. “Agnes moved into the slums where the ‘poorest of the poor’ lived. She held the hands of the dying, scrubbed dirty toilets, and taught by example how to administer love and dignity to people others might overlook or ignore.”
We know Agnes as Mother Teresa of Calcutta. She spent the rest of her life fulfilling her calling in the most unselfish way I have ever seen. When she won the Nobel Peace prize in 1979, she used the $19,000 prize to build more homes for the poor. When she died at age 87 in 1997, more than 12,000 people attended her funeral. She was quoted as saying “In our action, we are instruments in God’s hand and He writes beautifully.”

And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’–Matthew 25:40

Father, I pray that I might be more like Jesus, who judges not by sight and sound, but by righteousness. According to Scripture, I have the righteousness of Christ, imputed to me. I pray that I might utilize it more in daily judgments and decisions.
I pray for wisdom and insight. I still have so much to learn. But I pray that I might be a generous and kind person. There must be a reason that you wanted me to read that passage of Proverbs again this morning. Give me the wisdom to ponder it later during this day.
I pray that I might have that faith that is described by Jesus as a grain of mustard seed. I’ve seen a mustard seed, Lord. It’s almost microscopic. But what it grows into is very large. I pray that I might be overflowing with the kingdom of heaven in my life. Again, I don’t want people to notice me, rather I want them to notice you in me. Let your kingdom be what I live for.
Along with that, I pray that this new-found excitement will not dwindle. I seem to have suddenly regained a purpose, Lord, and that has to have come from you. You order our steps and you have a plan that you are working out. Therefore, I believe that you have led us to The Exchange Church at just the right time. Fan this spark into a flame, Father!

I pray for this day, Lord, that it will be a good day, free from large amounts of stress and anxiety. I pray for a smooth process when we go to pick up Stephanie’s school books this evening. And I pray that she and her cousin will have a good time together today, and be safe.

There are friends and family that my parents have brought to my attention, that need prayers, Lord. I pray for all of them, in their physical needs, that they might be okay. I pray for healing for the woman and her son who were injured in a car crash. I also pray for my aunts, one who was injured in a fall, and one who had…was it hip replacement? Be their rock and fortress, Lord…be their healer.

I know…this was very long today, and I’ll be surprised if anyone is still reading. But I’m caught up. Seek that wisdom! There is much benefit to embracing wisdom and knowledge that comes from the Lord.

Grace and peace, friends.