Think . . . Thank

“Thanking that is not preceded by thinking is shallow and inadequate, but thinking that does not transform to thanking is arid and sterile.” ~ Eugene H. Peterson

Today is Tuesday, the twenty-sixth of April, 2022, in the second week of Easter.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,420

It’s a normal Tuesday around here, which means that everyone is home, this morning. C is in her easy chair with her work laptop, working from home. I’m back here in the study churning out words on the keyboard, and Mama is in her room reading her Bible readings for the day.

In a little while, I’ll be making a trip to the grocery store, and, hopefully, picking up Subway for lunch for us. Then I will go to “work” at 4:15, this evening.

The Texas Rangers rallied late, last night, to beat the rival Astros 6-2. Initially, the game was a pitcher’s battle, marred only by a second inning home run for Houston, a second inning error that allowed a Texas run, and a fluke pop single for Houston in the sixth. But Texas scored 2 in the bottom of the seventh (which got Dunning off the hook that he shouldn’t have been on to begin with) and another three in the bottom the eighth to seal the deal. Willie Calhoun was stellar as a pinch hitter and DH, going 2 for 2, and Adolis Garcia had a bases-clearing double for 3 RBIs in the bottom of the eighth. It was, at the end, quite exciting.

This makes the Rangers 6-10 for the season, only one game behind the Astros (7-9) in the AL West. They play again, this evening, at 7:05 CDT. Taylor Hearn (0-1) will take the mound for Texas.

The Boston Red Sox dropped another game to the Blue Jays, last night, 6-2. How weird is that . . . the same score? They are now 7-10 for the season, only a half game better than Texas. But they aren’t in last place, because they are in the AL East, with Baltimore. But Baltimore has the same record as Texas. The Red Sox play the Blue Jays again today, at 7:07 EDT.

The LA Dodgers continue to hold the top spot in MLB, at 12-4. The NY Mets, at 13-5, are in a virtual tie, mere percentage points between them. The Giants are 12-5, a half game behind. The Cincinnati Reds must not have played yesterday, as they are still 3-13, bringing up the rear of MLB. The Rangers and Orioles are fifth from the bottom, now, with Royals, Diamondbacks, and Nationals between them and the Reds. The Tigers and White Sox are a half game above them. It’s so early in the season that everything could change in the space of one game.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Today is the day
The Lord created for us;
Rejoice and be glad!
(Inspired by Psalm 118:24)

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay.
(1 Peter 1:3-4 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. that I am alive and breathing
2. for the great expectation of that priceless inheritance
3. for the constant presence of God in my life
4. for the promise of hope and a future in God's plans for me, which make it possible for me to persevere in "doing good" (Galatians 6:9)
5. for the relationship between thinking and thanking
"God stretches the northern sky over empty space and hangs the earth on nothing. 
He wraps the rain in his thick clouds, and the clouds don’t burst with the weight. 
He covers the face of the moon, shrouding it with his clouds. 
He created the horizon when he separated the waters; he set the boundary between day and night. 
The foundations of heaven tremble; they shudder at his rebuke. 
By his power the sea grew calm. By his skill he crushed the great sea monster. 
His Spirit made the heavens beautiful, and his power pierced the gliding serpent. 
These are just the beginning of all that he does, merely a whisper of his power. Who, then, can comprehend the thunder of his power?” 
(Job 26:7-14 NLT)

Today’s prayer word is “presence.” You have to be sure to read that word correctly, and not just say it. The word is “presence,” not “presents.” I am, of course, being mildly facetious, but there are people out there who believe that God’s sole purpose is to give His children “presents.”

We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.
(1 John 4:16 NLT)

You may notice that our prayer word is not in that verse. The actual word may not be, but the idea is.

I’m one of those people who grew up in church. I’m a “lifer.” I was on the “cradle roll.” I’ve said this before, but I’m sure my parents had me at church, as an infant, as soon as it was safe to take me out of the house. And, back in 1958, I would dare to venture that it was safer sooner than it is in 2022.

For those of you who have attended some kind of church for most of your lives, do you remember “that person” who was always there? There is a word for that – ubiquitous. “Ever-present.” “Present, appearing, or found everywhere.”

Mr. Crump was one such person. I have fond memories of Mr. Crump. At various points in my life he was my bus driver, my Sunday School teacher, and the church custodian. But he was always there; he was there before we got there, and he was still there when we left. For all I know, he lived there.

There is a certain comfort in life when you see people like that. And God is exactly like that. The fifty-dollar word we like to use for Him is “omnipresent.” That basically means the same thing as “ubiquitous.” He is always there, everywhere. He is there before you get there, and He is still there when you leave. He is there when you wake up from surgery or some medical procedure. He is there when you are grieving the loss of a loved one. He is there when you are celebrating a promotion or some other significant life event.

And here’s the thing. Sometimes, His presence is known in the presence of other human beings. Like Mr. Crump.

He is present. And we can know and feel that presence if we open ourselves up to it.

(From Pray a Word a Day)

Father, thank You for being here, and thank You for making Your presence known to me every day. I praise You that You have created within me that longing for Your presence, and the fact that I can feel it and know that You are here. My heart’s desire is that all people, all around the world, would know Your presence and acknowledge it. To me, knowing and feeling Your presence is even better than knowing my own salvation. Yes, that salvation is amazing and wonderful, but it pales in the knowledge of Your presence, right here, right now.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
(Jeremiah 29:11 NIV)

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
(1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NIV)

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
(Galatians 6:9 NIV)

Initially, there might not seem to be much in common between these three passages of Scripture. But it is the last word of the 1 Corinthians passage that ties them all together for me.

“. . . always perseveres.”

Because of the promise of God in Jeremiah 29:11 (I know that statement was made specifically to Israel, but how could it not be true for all of God’s children??), that He has plans to give us a hope and a future, we have the ability to “always persevere,” which is also part of the definition (or one of the characteristics) of love.

It might also be noted that 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 is, to a degree, a description of our Father.

Because of that promise of hope, because of that characteristic of love that “always perseveres,” then we can “not become weary in doing good;” we can “not give up.” And I will proclaim with my dying breath that it is the presence of God that makes all of that possible.

I thank You, Father, that Your plans for us are not plans for disaster and harm, but, rather, plans for hope and a future. Our problem is that we get caught up in what’s happening right now, and forget about that hope. Or we get caught up worrying about that future, instead of hoping and trusting in what You are already providing for us. Help us to focus on what we are doing now, while at the same time looking forward (not worrying, big difference) to what You have planned for us.

I praise You that I am able to not grow weary in doing good because of the promise of a hope and a future, and because You are constantly with me, reminding me of these things. Help me to always be aware of Your presence with me, so that I may also always be aware of that hope that I have for the future, that great expectation of a priceless inheritance that is waiting for me/us.

“Think.”

“Thank.”

Two totally different words with only a vowel different between them. “The change of a single vowel triggers a quantum leap in meaning.”

To think is to employ the intellect. To thank “is an expression of the whole person. Thanking that is not preceded by thinking is shallow and inadequate, but thinking that does not transform to thanking is arid and sterile.”

I’m going to type that last sentence again, because I perceive that it is extremely profound (as is par for Eugene Peterson, right?).

“Thanking that is not preceded by thinking is shallow and inadequate, but thinking that does not transform to thanking is arid and sterile.”

Says Peterson, “It is our acts of gratitude that complete our processes of worship and remembrance. We recollect all that has happened among us by Christ’s design. We praise the Lord, who makes our lives, like all things, work together for good. Is there any other place in our society where so much is remembered and praised as here among Christians in worship, where there is such a concentration of memory and such exuberance in gratitude? I think not.”

(From On Living Well, by Eugene H. Peterson)

Father, I read these words, and I am grateful that You have given me a brain with which to think. We humans, these days, are quick to accuse others of not thinking. But if the truth be known, we all think. It is only when we combine that thinking with thanking that we are complete. And I praise You that You have led me down this path of constant gratitude for the past few years. That gratitude, that “thanking,” is most certainly preceded and accompanied by thinking, and I am grateful for this. Help me to continue to use my mind, and to always include thinking with my thanking, that my worship of You can be complete.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.
(Proverbs 3:5-6 NLT)

Grace and peace, friends.