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.

The Big Dog Versus Pluto

Today is Thursday, October 17, 2019. Blessings to you!

Day 22,498

26 days until C’s birthday

We have three more days in our vacation (four, I guess, if you count Sunday). Three more days in Galveston.

Yesterday was an odd day. It was somewhat dreary, as the weather never really cleared up. The temperature never rose above 70, I don’t believe, and it was quite windy out here on the west end. C and I sat out on the deck for as long as we could take it, but it was just too chilly. Well, too chilly for the kind of clothes we packed. 🙂 We wound up not driving into town at all. We had already planned to cook breakfast at the house, which we did. But when it came time for the evening meal, C didn’t feel like going in to Miller’s or the Gumbo Diner. So we called in an order to the Way Out West Grill and Pizzaria, which S and I got food from a couple nights ago. S and C had the patty melt, which was reported to be delicious. I got this dish they call “Old McDonald’s Fries.” It had crinkle-cut french fries, loaded with spicy ground beef, spicy shredded chicken, pulled pork, queso, lettuce, tomato, and onion. Talk about delicious!! Oh, man!

The rest of the time was spent sitting around reading, or whatever. C watched some TV. We listened to the wind whistle outside. At one point, I watched as it knocked over a large wooden rocking chair on the deck!

It’s still cloudy, this morning, but not quite as windy. It’s supposed to reach 70 degrees today. I do believe we will drive in and go to either Miller’s or Gumbo for “brunch.”

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

But I will hope continually and will praise you yet more and more. 
My mouth will tell of your righteous acts, of your deeds of salvation all the day, for their number is past my knowledge. 
With the mighty deeds of the Lord GOD I will come; I will remind them of your righteousness, yours alone. 
O God, from my youth you have taught me, and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds. 
So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come.

Psalm 71:14-19

Today I am grateful:
1. For the beauty of creation that surrounds me.
2. For all of the people around me, not just in my immediate are, but throughout my life.
3. That I will walk before the Lord in the land of the living (Psalm 116:9)
4. That the boundless grace of God stands ready to meet whatever need I find myself in.
5. That God’s grace is infinitely bigger than my need.

O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise.
Psalm 51:15
Send out your light and your truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling!
Psalm 43:3
O LORD God of hosts, who is mighty as you are, O LORD, with your faithfulness all around you?
Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; steadfast love and faithfulness go before you.
Psalm 89:8, 14
I will walk before the LORD in the land of the living.
Psalm 116:9

(From Faith That Matters)

The Infinite Grace of God, by A.W. Tozer

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.
Ephesians 2:8

I decided to check this verse in The Message.

Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish!

“No one was ever saved other than by grace, from Abel to the present moment. And wherever grace found any man it was always by Jesus Christ. Grace indeed came by Jesus Christ, but it did not wait for his birth in the manger or his death on the cross before it became operative. Christ is the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”

Perhaps we need to rediscover this truth. We are all too familiar with grace, right? And we frequently visit that verse in Ephesians, but it seems that we often go there for the purpose of showing that we can’t work for our salvation. This is true, of course, so there is nothing wrong with that.

But if we keep reading, we come to verse 10, which is never part of the quotation (we always stop at verse 9, don’t we?).

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Ephesians 2:10

So we see that works are involved, after all. Just not to gain our salvation. And these works, God prepared beforehand for us. Which means he has a plan. He has a plan for me. Little ol’ me. In this humongous cosmos, really big, big picture, God has plans for me. That makes me echo the psalmist who wrote in Psalm 139, “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.”

But it is all still grace, and it all still comes through Jesus, “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”

“In olden times men looked forward to Christ’s redeeming work; in later times they gazed back upon it, but always they came and they come by grace, through faith.

“Instead of straining to comprehend this as a theological truth, it would be better and simpler to compare God’s grace with our need.”

Wait, what?

Let’s read that line again.

“Instead of straining to comprehend this as a theological truth, it would be better and simpler to compare God’s grace with our need.”

We do a lot of straining to comprehend theological truths, especially those that, as Psalm 139 so aptly points out, are too high for us to attain.

Tozer continues, “We can never know the enormity of our sin, neither is it necessary that we should.”

That is another “wait, what??” moment, right? I mean, how much time to we spend in our “evangelism” trying to get people to know the enormity of their sin??

“What we can know is that ‘where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.'”

So let’s go back to that bit about comparing God’s grace with our need. And let’s don’t just take that to mean our sin, either. What need do you have in your life right now? I mean, we’ve all got sin, right? But we have other needs. Someone’s mother is ill and needs to go to the doctor. Someone is having issues with work and health. Someone has “unspoken” prayer needs. Someone needs a kidney transplant, but has a rare blood type.

I tried to find a picture that illustrated the difference between God’s grace and our need. All I could find was scripture verses on pretty pictures. However, what did finally come up with, I think, illustrates it perfectly. Well, not “perfectly,” because even this illustration falls short, because God’s grace is infinitely bigger than my need, right? And that is the point that we really need to grasp here. So here’s the image.

The big star on the left is Canis Majoris. I call it the “Big Dog Star.” It is the largest star known to man. That itty-bitty dot on the right? That’s our sun. We call it “The Sun.” Are we imaginative or what? So let’s say that God’s grace is represented by the Big Dog. And let’s say that our need is represented by . . .

I bet you think I’m going to say The Sun.

I’m not. I’m going to say Pluto. Because, you see, our Sun compared to Pluto is just about the same as the Big Dog compared to our Sun.

So God’s grace is Big Dog, and our need is Pluto in comparison.

If that doesn’t make you feel better about whatever is bugging you, I’m not sure I can help you.

But I know, without a doubt, that God can.

Father, thank you for these words, this morning, from Mr. Tozer. I really needed them. Your grace is greater than my sin, greater than my need, greater than anything I could possibly face today, tomorrow, for the rest of my life. Help me to keep my faith focused on that grace and walk in your Kingdom in its power and strength.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing. (Zephaniah 3:17)

Grace and peace, friends.