“I Am Willing”

Good morning. Today is Thursday, the thirteenth of January, 2022, in the first week of Ordinary Time.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,317

Ten days until Hamilton, if the show goes on as planned.

As of this morning, there has been no news on the above subject, other than an email from Bass Performance Hall, describing procedures for gaining entrance. I’m still skeptical, however, considering that the Houston run of the same show has been postponed. Also, the U.S. had 829,209 new cases, yesterday. I don’t think that’s the record, but it’s close.

I got a few things accomplished yesterday. I tried to fix the leaky shower faucet, but, when I got the knob and cover off, saw that the cartridge looked nothing like the one on the video I had watched, so I elected to reassemble it and call a professional. I have a plumber scheduled to come between 2-4 today.

I got groceries, yesterday, and wound up making an in-person visit to Walmart Neighborhood Market. They didn’t have any pickup times left for yesterday. I got most of what I wanted, but the had not one single grape in the store. So, when I got home, I set up a small delivery order from Albertson’s, and got some more grapes, watermelon, canteloupe, and a couple other things.

I am planning to cook pecan-crusted buttermilk chicken for dinner tonight.

I’m thinking this will be a day when I don’t do much. As of right now, I’m not planning on even leaving the house, except to take out the garbage, later. That could change, but I’m feeling lazy today.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

But I have trusted in your steadfast love; 
my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
 I will sing to the LORD, 
because he has dealt bountifully with me. 
(Psalms 13:5-6 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the steadfast love of the Lord
2. that the Lord truly has dealt bountifully with me/us
3. that Jesus was not hesitant to touch the leper in Mark 1
4. that all aspects of life are "sacred"
5. for grapes

A man with leprosy came and knelt in front of Jesus, begging to be healed. “If you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean,” he said. 
Moved with compassion, Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing,” he said. “Be healed!” 
Instantly the leprosy disappeared, and the man was healed. 
Then Jesus sent him on his way with a stern warning: 
“Don’t tell anyone about this. Instead, go to the priest and let him examine you. Take along the offering required in the law of Moses for those who have been healed of leprosy. This will be a public testimony that you have been cleansed.” 
But the man went and spread the word, proclaiming to everyone what had happened. 
As a result, large crowds soon surrounded Jesus, and he couldn’t publicly enter a town anywhere. He had to stay out in the secluded places, but people from everywhere kept coming to him. 
(Mark 1:40-45 NLT)

Here we have a situation that should not have happened. In the world in which Jesus lived, lepers didn’t just wander around approaching people, and people most certainly did not reach out and touch lepers! But somehow, this leper was able to get close enough to Jesus to beg for healing.

And Jesus touched him.

Consider the “prayer” of the leper. “If you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean.” There is great faith in this petition. The leper believes that Jesus can heal him. He’s not sure, however, that Jesus will be willing to do so.

This sentiment occurs in a lot of my prayers. I do believe that God can do the things I ask, but I’m not sure if He wants to or will. There are some folks who would assert that God most definitely wants to heal everyone. I question that opinion, because if God wanted to heal everyone, He would heal everyone. Those same folks would turn it around on the head of the petitioner and say that their faith wasn’t strong enough.

I have little tolerance for such malarky.

I, like the leper in front of Jesus, accept that whatever happens is God’s will. Now, this is not something that I would say to someone who just lost a loved one because God did not choose to heal them. In the same vein, the statement that “everything happens for a reason,” is not always the best thing to say to someone. I do believe that everything happens for a reason. But wisdom would dictate that it is not necessarily the right thing to say in certain circumstances.

It is worth noting that, not only did the man receive physical healing, but he was restored to his community. What parts of our lives need this compassion of Jesus? Perhaps more importantly, where can we show this compassion to others?

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 today’s episode of Pray As You Go)


In Eugene H. Peterson’s Symphony of Salvation, I have reached the chapter on Nehemiah. Peterson chooses to emphasize the mistaken division between “sacred” and “secular,” in his reading.

“Separating life into distinct categories of ‘sacred’ and ‘secular’ damages, sometimes irreparably, any attempt to live a whole and satisfying life, a life lived to the glory of God.”

This practice is widespread today, but in another book I’m reading, I learned that the current usage of the word “secular” did not appear in our culture until sometime in the fifties. Oddly enough, that is about the same time that the concept of “youth” began encroaching upon church culture, as well. But that’s a topic for another day.

“Nehemiah worked with stones and mortar.” He was, in effect, a building contractor. Ezra, his coworker, “was a scholar and teacher, working with the Scriptures.” In our modern culture, we would say that Ezra’s vocation was “sacred,” and Nehemiah’s was “secular.”

We would be wrong.

Even the “godless” surrounding nations were aware that the work which Nehemiah was doing was God-driven.

When all our enemies heard the news and all the surrounding nations saw it, our enemies totally lost their nerve. They knew that God was behind this work.
(Nehemiah 6:16 MSG)

Neither Ezra’s job nor Nehemiah’s job was more or less important than the other. They needed each other. “God’s people needed the work of both of them. We still do.”

You’re the one, GOD, you alone; You made the heavens, the heavens of heavens, and all angels; The earth and everything on it, the seas and everything in them; You keep them all alive; heaven’s angels worship you!
(Nehemiah 9:6 MSG)


To the choirmaster: according to The Gittith. A Psalm of the Sons of Korah. 

How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD of hosts! 
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. 
Blessed are those who dwell in your house, 
ever singing your praise! 
Selah. 
Blessed are those whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion. 
As they go through the Valley of Baca they make it 
a place of springs; 
the early rain also covers it with pools. 
They go from strength to strength; each one appears before God in Zion. 
O LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer; give ear, O God of Jacob! 
Selah. 
Behold our shield, O God; look on the face of your anointed! 
For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness. 
For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly. 
O LORD of hosts, blessed is the one who trusts in you! 
(Psalms 84:1-12 ESV)

Jesus, I thank You that You were not afraid to touch that leper (or others that we find in Scripture). I confess that I struggle with the approachability of some people. I’m not enough like you; there are people I don’t want to “touch,” whether physically or otherwise. At the same time, I am one who does enjoy physical touch, so not being able to freely hug people, over the last two years, has been challenging. Help me to see heaven in the eyes of everyone I encounter, even those who may not embrace You and Your teachings. Help me to not be afraid to touch or get involved in someone’s circumstances, when it is called for. Open my eyes and heart to opportunities to be Your hands and feet, Your eyes and ears, and even Your mouth, in this world.

Lord, I make the mistake, sometimes, of separated sacred and secular. It’s what I grew up learning, and, for me, became especially notable in the arena of music. But, in a sense, all music is sacred. Help me to look at everything I do, from washing dishes, cooking meals, taking out the trash, shelving books in the library, to singing worship songs, as sacred. Because my life is sacred in Your eyes, and my time is sacred. Even when I play, it can be sacred, because everything I do is an offering to You.

“How lovely is Your dwelling place, O LORD of hosts!” It is only recently that I have begun to look at that from the perspective of where Your “dwelling place” is, now. Your dwelling place is within us.

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.

Star of Wonder

Good morning! Today is Thursday, the sixth of January, 2022, in the second week of Christmas. Today is the day of Epiphany.

May the peace of Christ be with you!

Day 23,310

Seventeen days until Hamilton!

As noticed above, today is “Epiphany,” the day when the church celebrates the arrival of the “wise men” to visit Jesus. The season of Epiphany lasts until the beginning of Lent, which occurs on Wednesday (always Wednesday), March 2, known as “Ash Wednesday,” which comes immediately “Fat Tuesday,” or “Mardi Gras.”

It was a nice day at the library, yesterday (when is it not). It was relatively quiet, but there was a flurry of activity during the last ten minutes that we were open. I got to register a new patron, and fielded a phone call from one who thought that a book she had turned in was still showing up on her account. This call happened at 5:57, and I was not looking forward to having to initiate a “claims returned” process with only three minutes left in the day. I’m not very familiar with that process, as I don’t believe I have ever had to do one on my own, yet. Fortunately, when I looked up her account, the book in question did not show as being checked out.

As noted, yesterday, I have agreed to work an extra shift today, from 10-2. That won’t be bad, even though it is supposed to be a day off for me. I don’t have to go in early, and I’ll get home in plenty of time to get a couple things accomplished.

It’s a cold day in DFW, today. currently 30 degrees (or 32, depending on who I listen to), and only getting up to just below 40 today. Tomorrow’s low is predicted to be in the low twenties. Egad. Fortunately, there is no precipitation predicted until Saturday when temps are supposed to remain well above freezing.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

"O God,
by the leading of a star 
You manifested Your only Son 
to the peoples of the earth:
Lead us, who know You now by faith,
to Your presence,
where we may see Your glory face to face;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
now and for ever.
Amen."
(The Collect for Epiphany)
After listening to the king, they went on their way. 
And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose 
went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. 
When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 
And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, 
and they fell down and worshiped him.
 Then, opening their treasures,
 they offered him gifts, 
gold and frankincense and myrrh.
(Matthew 2:9-11 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that I am alive and breathing
2. that, because of Jesus, God holds me in His arms today
3. for the "star of wonder" that led the Magi to Jesus
4. for the admonition to love our enemies
5. for strength and courage that God gives us
6. for the awe I feel when I consider His holiness

In today’s final examination of Thomas More’s meditation (the text can be found at this link), I will include thought written by Richard J. Foster, in Spiritual Classics.

“This selection by Thomas More simply does me in. The breadth of it exhausts me. One line maybe I can enter into a little, but even then some single sentences contain a lifetime: ‘To think my most enemies my best friends.’ However, the prayer is not just one sentence, but sentence piled upon sentence, covering, as it seems, all thought, word, and deed. It is too much to take in, too much to expect, too much to hope for–in myself or anyone else.

“But then I realize that More is not telling me many things but only one thing. And what is that one thing? Simply to love God. When I see this it all becomes clear. Then I can read each line as another aspect of the call to love. And so, once again, I am struck by the unity of all these writers on contemplative prayer. They all keep calling us back to our first love. Their message, it seems, keeps tune to the beat of our heart . . . love God . . . love God . . . love God . . . love God.”


The main thing I want to present from Eugene H. Peterson’s Symphony of Salvation, today, from the book of Joshua, is that everything presented in that book is grounded in the reality of real people and places. Grand ideas have no life of their own apart from the people and places in which they occurred. Says Peterson, “People who want God as an escape from reality, from the often hard conditions of this life, don’t find this to their liking. But to the man or woman wanting more reality, not less–this continuation of the salvation story–Joshua’s fierce and devout determination to win land for his people and his extraordinary attention to getting all the tribes and their families, name by name, assigned to their own place, is good news indeed. Joshua lays a firm foundation for a life that is grounded.”

Just as GOD commanded his servant Moses, so Moses commanded Joshua, and Joshua did it. He didn’t leave incomplete one thing that GOD had commanded Moses.
(Joshua 11:15 MSG)

A favorite verse in Joshua is 1:9. Oddly enough, when I was in school, I memorized verse 8, but never verse 9.

Haven’t I commanded you? Strength! Courage! Don’t be timid; don’t get discouraged. GOD, your God, is with you every step you take.”
(Joshua 1:9 MSG)


Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty,
(Revelation 4:8 NIV)

Let all the earth fear the LORD; let all the people of the world revere him.
(Psalms 33:8 NIV)


Today’s prayer word in Pray a Word a Day is “persistence.” That’s a good word.

He may not get up and give you the bread, just because you are his friend. But he will get up and give you as much as you need, simply because you are not ashamed to keep on asking.
(Luke 11:8 CEV)

I’ve often wondered at this teaching of Jesus. He seems to be saying that we should “pester” God with our requests. For some reason, I’ve never felt comfortable doing that. But here Jesus seems to be telling us exactly that. There is another story that He tells, in another place, about a widow seeking justice from an ungodly ruler.

Persistence is a good trait to have. We don’t give up, or we should not give up. The book tells a story of a pianist who lost his right arm during WWI. He refused to stop playing, and began commissioning pieces written for just the left hand. That is definitely persistence.

But our persistence should be in doing good things, having good desires. As we remember that “nothing is impossible” with God, we persist, we persevere. I am persisting in my quest to have a “love revolution” in our culture. And I persist in my prayers to have that come about.


Father, I thank You for the record of the “wise men” visiting Jesus and giving Him gifts that seemed to point toward His burial preparation. I thank You for that “star of wonder.” I am also grateful for this persistent command to love each other, and more specifically, to love our enemies. Help me to do that today and every day. I pray for a Love Revolution to take hold in our country, in our world. That is only possible when people hold Jesus dear to their hearts and allow You to hold them in Your might arms.

Give us strength from the message of the book of Joshua, helping us to be grounded in its reality. I have no desire to “escape” reality. When I want to do that, I play games or watch movies. But then I return to the true reality, knowing that You exist there and that You give us mundane tasks to complete, which help us get down in the dirt with people.

Thank You for the sense of awe I have when I consider Your holiness. And thank You for Jesus’s stories, encouraging us to be persistent and never give up on praying.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

May the LORD richly bless both you and your children. May you be blessed by the LORD, who made heaven and earth.
(Psalms 115:14-15 NLT)

Grace and peace, friends.

Your Name Alone

Good morning. Today is Thursday, the thirtieth of December, 2021, the sixth day of Christmas.

May the peace of Christ be with you today.

Day 23,303

Only two more days until 2022!!

Temperatures continue to be unseasonably warm (albeit comfortable) as we have a projected high of 76 in DFW today. However, the weekend looks like it will be, how you say, “brisk.” No, let’s don’t mess around. It’s going to be freakin’ cold Sunday and Monday mornings. We’re talking in the twenties, and low twenties, at that. In fact, Saturday’s temps will go from a high of 73 to a low Sunday morning of 20! At least the temperature is supposed to get above freezing Sunday afternoon before dropping back down to 24 Monday morning. And both days are slated to be “sunny.”

Not a lot happened, yesterday. I got a package returned to Amazon, via the UPS store, and picked up Sonic drinks while out. There seems to be a growing shortage of Sprite Zero at the Sonics, so C had to drink Diet Coke. We got our grocery delivery from Albertsons and everything was good on that, except they were out of Dr. Pepper Zero Sugar products. No worries. If we run out, we have plenty of Coke Zero. And if we run out of that, we have plenty of water.

C has a prescription ready to pick up at CVS, and I tried to get it yesterday, but the line was wrapped around the building, and she said she didn’t have to have it until Friday. So I will try again today.

We made chili for dinner last night, the first meal we’ve cooked since Christmas. We don’t normally have chili on Wednesday, so that was a departure from our normal schedule. Which is fine, because the “schedule” has been anything but normal this week. So much so that I’m still having trouble remembering what day it is. I do know that tomorrow is Friday, and I am supposed to work. So I will need to get to bed at a more decent time tonight, and get up before 9:00, because I’m supposed to be at work by 9:15. And I don’t want to have to rush through the last blog of the year, right?

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.
Shout for joy in the LORD, O you righteous!
 Praise befits the upright. 
Give thanks to the LORD with the lyre; 
make melody to him with the harp of ten strings! 
Sing to him a new song; 
play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts. 
For the word of the LORD is upright, 
and all his work is done in faithfulness. 
(Psalms 33:1-4 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the ability and skill to "make melody to Him," and to sing new songs to the Lord
2. for the steadfast love of the Lord, which endures forever (see Psalm 136)
3. for the promise of Home
4. that only the name of the Lord is worthy to be exalted
5. for the many names of God and what they all mean for us

Your love, LORD, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies.
(Psalms 36:5 NIV)

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, 
"I am the light of the world. 
Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, 
but will have the light of life." 
(John 8:12 ESV)

They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.
(John 17:16 ESV)

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, 
the holy habitation of the Most High. 
God is in the midst of her;
 she shall not be moved; 
God will help her when morning dawns. 
(Psalms 46:4-5 ESV)

For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come.
(Hebrews 13:14 ESV)

"Let not your hearts be troubled. 
Believe in God; believe also in me. 
In my Father's house are many rooms. 
If it were not so, would I have told you 
that I go to prepare a place for you? 
And if I go and prepare a place for you, 
I will come again and will take you to myself, 
that where I am you may be also."
(John 14:1-3 ESV)
He will come again,
and will take us to Himself;
I long to be Home.

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

CHRISTMAS – DAY SIX

INVITATION

Shout praises to the LORD,
 everyone on this earth. 
Be joyful and sing as you come in to worship the LORD! 
(Psalms 100:1-2 CEV)

As I pause, this morning, I’m reflecting on Home. While there is nothing I can do to hasten my arrival there (it is God’s purpose that keeps me here), I can express my desire to be there, and, hopefully, prepare myself for the eventual transition. Dallas Willard once opined that some people’s transition from this life to the next might be so smooth that they don’t even realize that they “died.”

BIBLE SONG

Praise the LORD. 

Praise the LORD from the heavens; 
praise him in the heights above. 
Praise him, all his angels; 
praise him, all his heavenly hosts. 
Praise him, sun and moon; 
praise him, all you shining stars. 
Praise him, you highest heavens 
and you waters above the skies. 

Let them praise the name of the LORD, 
for his name alone is exalted; 
his splendor is above the earth and the heavens.  
And he has raised up for his people a horn, 
the praise of all his faithful servants, 
of Israel, the people close to his heart. 

Praise the LORD.
(Psalms 148:1-4, 13-14 NIV)

BIBLE READING

There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem. 
When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth. And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was on him. 
(Luke 2:36-40 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I read these passages again, I look for words or ideas that stir within me, lingering over them, giving them my attention. I pray my life to God, resting in His presence.

In the midst of Psalm 148, such a great panoply of praise, one phrase catches my attention, today. It comes in verse 13: “His name alone is exalted.”

We “praise” a lot of things and people in this world. WE speak fondly of our favorite places, people, foods, books, songs, games, and so on. But there is only One who deserves to truly be worshiped.

He goes by many names. 
YHWH (Yahweh or Jehovah) - I AM
El Shaddai - God Almighty
Adonai
Elohim
El Elyon
El Olam

There are many suffixes to the name, Jehovah. 

Jehovah Shalom - The Lord is Peace
Jehovah Jireh - The Lord will Provide
Jehovah Tsidkenu - The Lord our Righteousness
Jehovah Nissi - The Lord is my Banner
Jehovah Sabbaoth - The Lord of Hosts
Jehovah Maccaddeshcem (M'Kaddesh) - The Lord who Sanctifies
Jehovah Rohi - The Lord my Shepherd
Jehovah Shammah - The Lord is there
Jehovah Rapha - The Lord who Heals

I’m sure I have not exhausted the list . . . these are just some of the “bigger” ones, or more well-known names of God.

Consider today . . . who do you need God to be in your life today? Call on the Name of God that you need the most today. Do you need peace? Do you have physical needs of provision? Do you need protection? Do you need healing? Or do you just need to know that He is there? Call on Him, and He will answer. If you seek Him with all your heart, He will hear you and He will make Himself known to you.

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
(Jeremiah 29:13 NIV)

Father, I don’t know if I can truthfully say that I have ever sought You with “all my heart.” For surely, there is always a piece of my heart that longs for the things of this world. Otherwise, I would have ceased chasing after anything sinful, long ago. So I need You to do what Psalm 86:11 asks for. Unite my heart to fear Your Name. Teach me Your way, that I may walk in Your truth. My heart’s desire is to be whole-hearted toward You, so that I might truly know You and see Your face. I know that, someday, I will see what can be seen of You, in glory, and I truly long for that day, because I grow weary of the fight in this world. Yet I know that I am still here for a purpose, and I want to fulfill that purpose for You. So keep drawing me closer, and keep showing me Yourself, that I might come closer to calling on You with my whole heart.

Your Name, alone, is to be exalted and worshiped. Help me to worship You more faithfully, Father. And for anyone who stumbles across this, today, Lord, I pray that one of those many names of Yours will inspire them to call upon You for whatever they need in Your life. Show Yourself, faithfully, to all who call upon You, that Your name may be glorified, on earth as it is in heaven. I seek no recognition, as I am only a channel of the words that Your Holy Spirit puts in my brain and on my heart. I pray that I am “hearing” correctly, though. Let me never say or do anything that brings dishonor to Your Holy Name!

Father, please give Your children the commitment to do justice and love mercy. I pray for the rights and protection of children in our land and around the world. And, for anyone who is lonely, today, may You, Jehovah Shammah, show Yourself to them as their faithful companion.

BLESSING

Praise the Lord, the God of Israel! He has come to save his people.
(Luke 1:68 CEV)


Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
(Kyrie)

Grace and peace, friends.

Become the Blessing

Today is Thursday, the twenty-third of December, 2021, the fourth Thursday of Advent.

Peace of Christ be with you!

Day 23,296

Only two more days until Christmas!!

It is Christmas Eve Eve. Or as one Facebook friend stated, “Christmas Adam.” If you get that, good on you!

So, yesterday went great at the library, another great day in circulation. I received a couple more gifts from librarians. Our circ manager gave us all a festive pitcher/planter thing, with matching shears and paring knife, along with a bag of crunchy goodness made of pretzels, peanuts, and Chex cereal. And one of the other librarians sneaked in and handed me a bag with some Bath and Body Works Warm Vanilla Sugar hand soap. She probably doesn’t know this, but Warm Vanilla Sugar practically melts me. It’s my all time favorite BBW scent. Oh, and there was a handful of Lindor chocolates in that bag, as well. Yum!! Next year, I’m going to have to figure out something to give all of them.

Tuesday night, I got a lovely (and quite comfy) pair of soft, warm socks, a wooden ornament, and a little package of magnets with book designs on them.

Have I mentioned, lately, how much I love working at this library?

The Bundtinis that I took to work were quite the hit. I wound up eating the last one, though, because no one would take the last one. Hahaha!

Today, the cooking will begin. This evening, there will be fudge, and at least two crescent roll pull-apart Christmas trees made (one savory, one sweet). We may make four of them, if we have enough pans. If not, then we will make two more tomorrow night, after the Christmas Eve festivities are over.

C is working from home again, today, for which I applaud her. Especially considering that the traffic may not quite be back to normal, yet, today, after this happened, yesterday!

That is Loop 820 in North Richland Hills, at around 8:00 AM, yesterday. All lanes, both east and west-bound, were closed for a while. I passed by at around 9:00-ish, on the way to the library and it was still burning. I could not see what was burning, because there were high walls blocking the view at that particular point of the freeway. However, at that point, the west-bound lanes were still closed, as well as both directions of express (toll) lanes. The walls near the event were completely blackened by the smoke.

Apparently (and this is the best information I could find) there was an accident involving a fuel tanker and an empty animal waste truck (and possibly one other vehicle). There are reports that say one person died at the scene and another person was air-flighted to a hospital with critical burns. As of 6:30 last night, the west-bound express lane was still closed, and traffic was extremely heavy on the normal lanes. I was able to avoid most of that by exiting early.

Later today, I need to take some Social Security documents and fax them to the SS folks. I don’t know why they still insist on faxing, rather than having them scanned to an email. It would be much simpler to do that. I have a printer that will fax, but we have no land line at our house. So I suppose I will go to the Hurst Library to do it, after 10:00 AM. I know how to use that system, and I suppose there is an outside chance that I won’t have to pay, although I probably would not ask for that. If they offer, I won’t turn it down, though. Heh.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Let Me Forgive, by Daryl Madden

Let me come to
This realization
Here to reset
My expectations…

They were so selfish
So, I sacrificed
Let me forgive them
For not being Christ

They didn’t care
Their love was a fraud
Let me forgive them
For not being God

They gave bad advice
Wish they didn’t share it
Let me forgive them
For not being the Spirit

And forgiving myself
For I’m one in the same
In the love of the Three
Let us remain

The point is, not a one of us is perfect. We are not Jesus, we are not God, we are not the Holy Spirit. We are all flawed, so we all should forgive ourselves and one another.

Please check out more of Daryl’s inspirational poetry at the link provided above.

"I have said these things to you, 
that in me you may have peace. 
In the world you will have tribulation. 
But take heart; I have overcome the world." 
(John 16:33 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the peace that I have in my soul, because of Jesus Christ
2. for the gift of joy in my life
3. for the love of God that is in my life
4. for the ongoing desire to share that peace, love, and joy with all who live in my world
5. that whatever I have received from God, I must give away to others

So do not fear, for I am with you; 
do not be dismayed, for I am your God. 
I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. 
(Isaiah 41:10 NIV)
God is our refuge and strength, 
an ever-present help in trouble. 
(Psalms 46:1 NIV)

As you go, proclaim this message: 
'The kingdom of heaven has come near.' 
Heal the sick, raise the dead, 
cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. 
Freely you have received; freely give. 
(Matthew 10:7-8 NIV)
Very truly I tell you, 
whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing,
 and they will do even greater things than these, 
because I am going to the Father.
(John 14:12 NIV)

“Whatever you have received from God, you must give to others. If you’ve been loved, you must love. And if you’ve been loved without having deserved that love, then you must love those who don’t deserve your love. If you’ve been given joy, your life must bring joy to others. . . . if you’ve received that blessing, your life must become a blessing. And if you received that gift, your life must become a gift.”

(From The Book of Mysteries, by Jonathan Cahn)


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

ADVENT – DAY TWENTY-SIX

INVITATION

Bring us back, O God! 
Show us your mercy, 
and we will be saved! 
(Psalms 80:3 GNB)

As I pause, this morning, I reflect on the peace, love, and joy that comes from knowing God, through the Son, and by the Spirit. I reflect on the perfection of the Trinity and how that plays into my life. I acknowledge that this knowledge is unfathomable.

BIBLE SONG

I will sing of the LORD's great love forever; 
with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known 
through all generations. 
I will declare that your love stands firm forever,
 that you have established your faithfulness in heaven itself. 
You said, "I have made a covenant with my chosen one, 
I have sworn to David my servant, 
'I will establish your line forever
 and make your throne firm through all generations.'" 

He will call out to me, 'You are my Father, 
my God, the Rock my Savior.' 
And I will appoint him to be my firstborn, 
the most exalted of the kings of the earth.
 I will maintain my love to him forever, 
and my covenant with him will never fail. 
I will establish his line forever, 
his throne as long as the heavens endure. 
(Psalms 89:1-4, 26-29 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Now to him who is able to establish you in accordance with my gospel, the message I proclaim about Jesus Christ, in keeping with the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all the Gentiles might come to the obedience that comes from faith— to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen.
(Romans 16:25-27 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I leisurely read these passages again, I look for words or ideas that stir within me, lingering over them, giving them full attention. Do I find something I need to ask God about? I pray my life to God, taking refreshment in His presence.

Father, the sense of peace, love, and joy in my heart is almost overwhelming. Certainly, there are things in my life, in this world, that trouble me, that unsettle me, but they seem distant at this moment. C is experiencing turmoil in her work, at the moment, and I pray for Your peace to settle in that place. I pray for Your intervention in the circumstance, that the issue they are furiously working one would be fixed, seemingly out of nowhere.

I will sing of Your great love forever, Father. With my lips I will make known Your great faithfulness, and Your mercies, Your great mercies, which never fail and are new every morning when we awake from our sleep. The mercy exists in the fact that we wake up at all! I will sing of the joy in my soul, and the peace in my heart. These are things that will be sung from my heart for all eternity. I so look forward to the days when I will be singing them in person with You.

Thank You for the encouragement and admonition that I have nothing to fear. You are my eternal help; I fall down, You pick me up; I stumble, You are there to catch me. Sometimes, I intentionally walk off of the path, and You gently guide me back. I am spared from Your wrath by the gift of Jesus. Help me to gift that back to others, as well. Your steadfast love never fails.

Help me to be a blessing and a gift to others today. Give us spiritual renewal and refreshment as we walk in Your kingdom. Help us to truly understand the full meaning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Bring about racial peace and reconciliation in our world. And may You lead us into new relationships with people who do not share our beliefs.

"Wise God,
thank You that Christ's incarnation was not a quick reaction to surprising circumstances but part of Your eternal purpose,
the unfolding of Your long-ago decreed will.
To think that my salvation is part of Your grand eternal purpose leaves me stunned with joy-filled awe.
Amen."

BLESSING

"May the tender mercy of our God,
by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven,
shine on those living in darkness and guide our feet into the path of peace."
(based on Luke 1:78-79)

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.

Pressing On

Good morning! Today is Thursday, the sixteenth of December, 2021, the third Thursday of Advent!

Peace of Christ be with you!

Day 23,289

Only nine days until Christmas!

Yesterday turned out to be a fun day. Right after I finished my devotional blog, I texted C and asked if she wanted to have lunch. She said, “sure!” So I got dressed and headed her way. We roamed around a bit before discovering a strip shopping center that had a couple of possible destinations. There was a New York pizza place, and, to my delight, Fred’s Downtown Phillies. I know Fred’s from Carrollton, nearby where I used to work. I never actually went there, because one of our other associates used to go pick them up for us. But I knew they were delicious. So we went there. They did not disappoint. They are even better, fresh at the restaurant! The bread was hot and toasty, and they chop up all the ingredients with the steak, so it’s all mixed in. Their fries are delicious, too. I had their “Philly Toothpicks,” which are a combination of onion and jalapeno strips, breaded and fried. But the fries, which C had, were better. I have a feeling we will go back there.

After lunch, I dropped C off at the front of the building, and headed over to the ITRC pro shop, where I had left a bowling ball to be drilled, actually before C’s back surgery. They were closed, but there were people in there (one of which I knew, as he is one of C’s work friends), so they got my ball for me. I paid for the drilling and proceeded to bowl a couple games at the lanes, there. I got a free hour of bowling with the drilling. I loved the drilling job, as well as the ball. It had been C’s ball, but she wasn’t using it any more, so she let me have it. It is the best drill I have ever had on a bowling ball. And what I learned from the pro at the shop is that, if the ball is drilled properly, you do not have to grip the ball! Amazing!

I’ve talked to C, and I plan to check out local bowling leagues that bowl on weekday mornings, after the first of the year. I could bowl on Monday, Tuesday, or Thursday mornings, as I am always off work at those times.

Our bedroom fan quit working at around 6:00 this morning. So I have a task for today. I will head up to the local hardware store after I finish the blog, to see if they have any fans available. Hopefully, they will have some box fans, which is typically what we have in our bedroom. Fortunately, we have a little noisemaker box that simulates a box fan, for the noise.

The weather continues to be unseasonably warm around here. It’s been windy down here, but nothing like some of the northern and midwestern states are experiencing. I read in Brother’s Campfire that Colorado is having winds that could knock eighteen-wheelers over. And we all have heard about the tornado devastations in Kentucky and surrounding areas, earlier this week.

I can finally see a weather forecast for Christmas day, though, and it is supposed to be a high of 51 and mostly sunny. Should be a beautiful day. Today is mostly cloudy, with a high of 71, and 35% chance of precip.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

This new day You give to me
From Your great eternity
This new day now enfold
Me in Your loving hold

You are the star of the morn
You are the day newly born
You are the light of our night
You are the Savior by Your might

God be in me this day
God ever with me stay
God be in the night
Keep us by Thy light
God be in my heart
God abide, never depart.
(David Adam)
And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, 
and the glory of the Lord shone around them, 
and they were filled with great fear. 
And the angel said to them, 
"Fear not, 
for behold, I bring you good news of great joy 
that will be for all the people.
For unto you is born this day 
in the city of David 
a Savior, 
who is Christ the Lord. 
(Luke 2:9-11 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the words of that angel
2. for candy, especially Christmas candy
3. for my family, most especially C
4. for Your mercies, new every morning, and Your great faithfulness
5. that Your love stands firm forever

And he who was seated on the throne said, 
"Behold, I am making all things new." 
Also he said, 
"Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true." 
(Revelation 21:5 ESV)
The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; 
his mercies never come to an end; 
they are new every morning; 
great is your faithfulness. 
(Lamentations 3:22-23 ESV)

You gave a wide place for my steps under me, and my feet did not slip.
(Psalms 18:36 ESV)

Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own.
 But one thing I do: 
forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 
I press on toward the goal 
for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 
(Philippians 3:13-14 ESV)

We had a pastor once, who talked about this thing he called a “one percent grade.” The point being, if you keep moving up, it doesn’t matter how steeply you climb, as long as you are climbing. It doesn’t matter how fast you walk forward, as long as you walk forward. There is an old proverb that says, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” It’s true. What is also true, though, is that those steps have to keep coming.

“The small upward steps, taken every day, will end up lifting you to the heights. God has called you not only to love, but to keep loving; not only to believe, but to press on in believing; not only to do right, but to persevere in doing it.

“Don’t ever judge your life or what God is doing in your life by how it appears in the moment on the journey. . . . Walk this good road, and no matter what . . . keep walking it. Never give up, but keep walking, and you will end up standing on heights you never dreamed you could have attained. “

(From The Book of Mysteries, by Jonathan Cahn)


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

ADVENT – DAY NINETEEN

INVITATION

How wonderful it is to see a messenger 
coming across the mountains, 
bringing good news, 
the news of peace! 
He announces victory and says to Zion, 
"Your God is king!"
(Isaiah 52:7 GNB)

I pause during the quiet of this morning, considering the journey I have been on, combined with the great faithfulness and mercies of our God.

BIBLE SONG

 I will sing of the LORD's great love forever; 
with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known 
through all generations. 
I will declare that your love stands firm forever, 
that you have established your faithfulness in heaven itself. 
You said, "I have made a covenant with my chosen one, 
I have sworn to David my servant, 
'I will establish your line forever 
and make your throne firm through all generations.'" 

Once for all, I have sworn by my holiness— 
and I will not lie to David— 
that his line will continue forever 
and his throne endure before me like the sun; 
it will be established forever like the moon, 
the faithful witness in the sky." 
(Psalms 89:1-4, 35-37 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord's coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord's coming is near. Don't grumble against one another, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door! 
Brothers and sisters, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job's perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.
(James 5:7-11 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I read these passages again, perhaps out loud, I look for ways in which God’s Word has moved me. I ponder and meditate on what has connected with my heart or my mind, praying these things to God, turning my thoughts toward Him and enjoying His presence.

Father, I will sing of Your great love forever. This I have believed, for many years, and will continue to do so. This goes along with the thoughts of pressing on, presented in other readings for today. The journey begins and continues. How fast it goes is not important. The important thing is that I press on and stay faithful in believing, in loving, and in doing right, continuing to move forward in my faith, trust, and hope in You.

I will make these things known with my mouth, and I will make them known through my fingertips, as I type on this computer keyboard, sending these words out into the blogosphere, where anyone You decree may find them. I am grateful for the permanence and assurance of Your promises, exemplified in Your great promise to Your son, David. You have kept Your promise to him, through the arrival and Lordship of Jesus Christ. I believe that You will be faithful to keep all promises made to all people. Give me wisdom to know which promises are directly applicable to me, and which are not.

Give us patience, as we wait on You, Father. During this season of Advent, as we celebrate the birth of Christ, we also look forward to His second coming, His return, in which He will make all things right and fix all the effects that sin has had on our world, on Your kingdom. We look forward to the arrival of Your kingdom on earth, and pray that Your kingdom will come and Your will will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us patience and perseverance, as we know that You are full of compassion and mercy. All glory to You, through the Son and by the Spirit.

Father, give us spiritual renewal and help us to maintain the joy of our salvation, as we walk in Your kingdom. May the gifts and fruit of the Holy Spirit be manifest within us. And keep us ready to give a reason for the hope that we have.

"Ancient of Days,
You had a beginning as a child;
infinite God,
You weren't ashamed to take on our frail and finite humanity.
I praise You,
eternal God,
for becoming one of us,
because my salvation and resurrection depend on the reality of Your body.
Amen."

BLESSING

"Let us praise the Lord, 
the God of Israel! 
He has come to the help of his people 
and has set them free."
(Luke 1:68 GNB)

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.
(Psalms 19:14 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Be Strong and Courageous

Today is Thursday, the ninth of December, 2021, the second Thursday of Advent.

Peace of Christ be with you!

Day 23,282

Sixteen days until Christmas!

Yesterday’s work day was a treat. The Christmas party/luncheon was great fun. The food was okay, but everything else overshadowed that. The desserts were way better than the catered food.

The gift exchange was probably the best part, at least for me. I was up to open a gift, I think, third (somewhere like that . . . I had drawn number six, but there were some numbers not represented). I opened a box that was long and skinny (could have been a bottle of wine or something), and it turned out to be a lava lamp. The next person up stole my lava lamp. So I opened a new one, and it was a cowl-neck sweater, size XXXL. Pink stripes. S probably could have worn it. But someone else stole that one, a bit later. I still didn’t steal another person’s gift, even though there were some that were tempting. This time, I opened a bluetooth speaker. Looked like a pretty nice one, medium sized. Another flurry of gift-stealing resulted in my speaker being stolen.

This time, I took someone else’s gift. In fact, I took it from the person who originally stole my lava lamp, which had since been stolen from her and, subsequently, “frozen.” This gift, I wound up keeping. It is a cute coffee cup, with a cat on one side and “meow” on the other, along with a box of Hickory Farms sausage and cheese snacks.

In addition, yesterday was our second Secret Santa day. I received this from my secret Santa.

I didn’t try any of it, yesterday, but plan to have some today. I am a fan of this new-ish “biltong” style beef snack. It’s better than jerky, because it has no sugar.

Today is my other day off, this week, and I will be working tomorrow and Saturday, all day. I’m planning to take a savory snack to work on Saturday.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

All God's fullness dwelled
in Christ to reconcile us;
stable and steadfast.
(Colossians 1:19-23)

Behold, the Lord GOD comes with might, and his arm rules for him; behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense before him. He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.
(Isaiah 40:10-11 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the great group of people with whom I work
2. for this season of hope, peace, love, and joy
3. for the promise of Your presence, always
4. that Your love stands firm forever
5. for songs of praise, to sing of Your great love forever

And behold, I am with you always, 
to the end of the age."
(Matthew 28:20 ESV)
"Be strong and courageous. 
Do not fear or be in dread of them, 
for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. 
He will not leave you or forsake you."
(Deuteronomy 31:6 ESV)
"Have I not commanded you? 
Be strong and courageous. 
Do not be frightened, 
and do not be dismayed, 
for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go."
(Joshua 1:9 ESV)
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 8:38-39 ESV)

Father, I could easily stop right here, and not read any more. These Scriptures are enough to fuel me for the rest of the day. I confess, I was struggling a little, before I got to these . . . mostly feeling like I was wandering with no direction in life. This is still part of the process of working through this whole retirement business, I suspect. Thank You for the promises of Your presence in my life. Help me to stay faithful to You by giving You my devotion, attention, and worship.


Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses,
 let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, 
and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 
looking to Jesus, 
the founder and perfecter of our faith, 
who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, 
despising the shame, 
and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
(Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV)

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

ADVENT – DAY TWELVE

INVITATION

The LORD is my light and my salvation;
 I will fear no one. 
(Psalms 27:1 GNB)

As I pause, during the quietness of this morning, I meditate on the comforting presence of the Lord, through the Son and by the Spirit.

BIBLE SONG

I will sing of the LORD's great love forever; 
with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known 
through all generations. 
I will declare that your love stands firm forever, 
that you have established your faithfulness in heaven itself. 
You said, "I have made a covenant with my chosen one,
 I have sworn to David my servant, 
'I will establish your line forever 
and make your throne firm through all generations.'"
(Psalms 89:1-4 NIV)
I have found David my servant; 
with my sacred oil I have anointed him.
 My hand will sustain him;
 surely my arm will strengthen him. 
The enemy will not get the better of him; 
the wicked will not oppress him. 
I will crush his foes before him 
and strike down his adversaries. 
My faithful love will be with him, 
and through my name his horn will be exalted.
(Psalms 89:20-24 NIV)

BIBLE READING

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 
Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. 
(Romans 15:5-7 NIV)

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
(Romans 15:13 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I remind myself that I am in God’s presence, I read these passages again, trying to weed out the distractions of the day. I attempt to notice how God might be speaking to me through His Word, allowing my heart to respond in prayer.

Father, I truly will sing of Your great love forever, and Your great faithfulness, “known through all generations.” The truth that Your love stands firm forever gives me great comfort and hope, most especially when I feel that my strength and faith are waning. I trust that Your faithful love will be with me, just as it was with Your servant David.

Lord Jesus, Isaiah prophesied that You would lead Your flock like a shepherd. Lead us, O Lord, lead us. Lead us through these treacherous times, when we are so easily distracted. Give us endurance and encouragement, and give us “the same attitude of mind toward each other that Jesus Christ had.” Help us to, with one mind and one voice, to glorify You through Jesus Christ. May we all accept one another, especially through all of our faults and shortcomings. May we truly accept one another, as brothers and sisters in Christ, even when (and especially when) we do not agree on things.

May You fill us all with joy and peace as we trust in You, and may we overflow with hope by the power of Your Holy Spirit.

Give us all spiritual renewal and more yearning to know You. May You strengthen our prayers for family members and friends who do not know You. I also pray, still, for racial reconciliation, both in our land, as well as the rest of the world. It is most disheartening to see this continuing to be such a serious problem in our day and age.

"God of hope,
fill me with edge-of-the-seat anticipation as I wait for that unimaginable day when I will be crowned with glory and honor,
hear You call out my name,
and have You wipe away every tear from my eyes.
May my hope for that good future temper the tragedy and mess of today.
In Christ's name,
amen."

BLESSING

Trust in the LORD. 
Have faith, do not despair. 
Trust in the LORD. 
(Psalms 27:14 GNB)

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 Potter and the Clay

Good morning. Today is Thursday, the second of December, 2021. First Thursday of Advent.

Peace be with you.

Day 23,275

Twenty-three days until Christmas

Today’s blog will look a little different, as I do not have my laptop with me. I’m doing this on an iPad, so I don’t have all the usual tools and bookmarks available. It’s also slower typing.

The visitation for my Uncle Buddy went well, last night. We arrived to our hotel right at 5:00 PM, got checked in, and headed straight to the funeral home. There were lots of hugs and only a few tears. The tears will flow more freely, today, I imagine.

All my cousins were there, as well. As most of their kids. We saw Jayne and Jimmy (cousin and husband), their son Robbie, Joan and Darrell (cousin and husband), their daughters Tiffany and Michelle, Johnny and Shelia (cousin and wife), and their kids Caleb and Laurel. My Aunt Barbara was also there.

We also got to talk to a couple of my parents’ best friends from days past, Don and Henrietta. There was one other person I recognized, a man from the church my grandparents attended, named Bill. I didn’t know or really meet any of the other folks there.

About 6:30, we left to go get some dinner, then headed back to our hotel. After stopping at a nearby Sonic, of course.

There is a family lunch provided by FBC Henderson, today at 11:00. The funeral service is at 1:00.

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.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭1:3-5‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Today I am grateful:

1. For a safe trip out here, yesterday
2. for all the love and hugs from my family, last night
3. for an opportunity to minister during today’s celebration of my uncle’s life
4. that You have all my battles already won
5. that Your love and faithfulness stand firm forever

The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.
‭‭Exodus‬ ‭14:14‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
‭‭James‬ ‭4:7‬ ‭ESV‬‬


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

FIRST WEEK OF ADVENT—DAY FIVE

INVITATION

I wait eagerly for the Lord's help, 
and in his word I trust.
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭130:5‬ ‭GNT‬‬

As I pause in the quietness of this hotel room, I ponder the truth that my Father will fight for me; He will defend me against my enemy. All I have to do is submit.

BIBLE SONG

I will sing of the Lord’s great love forever; 
with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations.
I will declare that your love stands firm forever,
that you have established your faithfulness in heaven itself.
You said, “I have made a covenant with my chosen one,
I have sworn to David my servant,
‘I will establish your line forever
and make your throne firm through all generations.’ ”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭89:1-4‬ ‭NIV‬‬

BIBLE READING

But you are our Father, 
though Abraham does not know us
or Israel acknowledge us;
you, Lord, are our Father,
our Redeemer from of old is your name.
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭63:16‬ ‭NIV‬‬
Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down, 
that the mountains would tremble before you!
All of us have become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;
we all shrivel up like a leaf,
and like the wind our sins sweep us away.
No one calls on your name
or strives to lay hold of you;
for you have hidden your face from us
and have given us over to our sins.
Yet you, Lord, are our Father.
We are the clay, you are the potter;
we are all the work of your hand.
Do not be angry beyond measure, Lord;
do not remember our sins forever.
Oh, look on us, we pray,
for we are all your people.
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭64:1, 6-9‬ ‭NIV‬‬

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I read these passages again, slowly, I look for words or phrases that catch my eye or move my heart. I slowly repeat them, forming meditations and prayers in my soul. I pray my life to my Father.

Father, I will sing of Your great love forever. My time on this plane is limited, finite. But it will continue in the heavenly places after I have transitioned into glory. My voice will sound out, perfectly, with Your praise, for all eternity. While I am here, I will make Your faithfulness known, as much as I am able.

I have declared, and will continue to do so, that Your love and faithfulness stand firm forever.

And it true that, while Abraham and Israel have no knowledge of me or my brothers and sisters in Christ, You are, nevertheless, our Father. You are our Father and Redeemer, from before Abraham existed. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; I cannot attain it.

While it is easy to focus on our faults and shortcomings (just like Isaiah, I can see that our “righteousnessis no better than filthy rags), I can also see that there are faithful ones who are calling on Your Name. You are our Father. You are the Potter. We are simply clay in Your hands, willing and ready to be formed into whatever You need us to be. “We are all the work of Your hand.” I praise You that You do not remember our sins.

I pray for spiritual renewal and deep repentance for Your people. May Your gifts and fruit of the Spirit be manifest in us. And give us a gentle witness, as well as readiness to give a reason for this hope within us.

“God of all hope,
in Jesus Your salvation broke into our world,
and His return gives purpose to our living in this broken world.
Make me ready for that day when He comes again with great glory and majesty to judge the living and the dead,
renewing and cleansing this tired world,
making everything new.
Make me ready for that future day by living hopefully today.
In the name of our soon arriving Savior,
amen.”

BLESSING

He who gives his testimony to all this says,
“Yes indeed!
I am coming soon!”
So be it.
Come, Lord Jesus!
May the grace of the Lord Jesus be with everyone.

‭‭Revelation‬ ‭22:20-21‬ ‭GNT‬‬

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

May the LORD richly bless both you and your children. May you be blessed by the LORD, who made heaven and earth.
(Psalms 115:14-15 NLT)

Grace and peace, friends.

Thanksgiving

Today is Thursday, the twenty-fifth of November, 2021.

May the peace of God reign in your life today, and may you find, in your life, that you have enough.

Day 23,268

Today is Thanksgiving in the U.S. I wish all who read this a peaceful and safe day. May your heart be filled with gratitude.

Only thirty more days until Christmas. You knew that was coming.

We are doing the “Secret Santa” thing at the library, so I signed up for that. I’m quite fond of “Secret Santa.” Our library does it a little differently than I’m used to, but it’s fun. Instead of one gift, we are doing three gifts, spaced out a week apart. The first one is due next Wednesday, then one each on the following two Wednesdays. I’ve got all three of my gifts ordered, and at least one of them should be here on Monday, so I will have it in time for the first week. I don’t work next Wednesday, though, so I will take it up there Tuesday night. Then I will get mine from my Secret Santa when I go to work my extra shift on Thursday.

We are also having a Christmas lunch on Wednesday, December 8. I am scheduled to work that day, but would have made an extra trip for that, even if I wasn’t. During the lunch, which also features a dessert contest (I probably won’t cook something for that, but I’m not sure, yet), there will be a gift exchange, of the type that we used to call “Chinese Gift Giving,” which is probably no longer politically correct. Anyway, you pick a number and when your number is drawn, you select a wrapped gift and open it. The next person has the option of “stealing” your gift or picking a new one. It’s wacky fun. That reminds me . . . I need to get a gift ordered for that event, too. I wonder what I could get that would make a bunch of librarians steal from each other . . .

C is already preparing food for our Thanksgiving lunch. Currently, the sopapilla cheesecake is cooking. She also has green bean casserole and corn casserole to make. And ham to warm up, but it’s already cooked. Somewhere around noon, we will head to Mineral Wells to celebrate the day with Mama. She’s making devilled eggs and mashed potatoes, and maybe a dessert. Oh, and some crescent rolls, I believe.

We’ll be having basically the same thing tomorrow with C’s sister and family, and I believe they plan to bring some turkey, because two of them don’t care for ham.

Good times.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

"Almighty and gracious Father,
I give You thanks
for the fruits of the earth in their season
and for the labors of those who harvest them.
Make me, I pray,
a faithful steward of Your great bounty,
for the provision of our necessities
and the relief of all who are in need,
to the glory of Your Name;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God now and for ever.
Amen."
(The Divine Hours)

The choir and trumpets made one voice
of praise and thanks to GOD—
orchestra and choir in perfect harmony singing and playing praise to GOD:
Yes!
God is good!
His loyal love goes on forever!
Then a billowing cloud filled The Temple of GOD.
(2 Chronicles 5:13 MSG)

Today I am grateful:

1. that I have enough (more than enough, in fact)
2. for Your presence in my life; if that was all I had, it would be enough
3. that You are good and Your "loyal love goes on forever"
4. for music and song, the choir and trumpets that make one voice of praise and thanks to You
5. for a pervasive sense of well-being
6. that I have been crucified with Christ, and that the life that I now live, I live by faith in Him
7. that all creation sings Your praises

Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song.
(Psalms 95:2 NIV)

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
(Luke 10:41-42 NIV)

Just a quick reminder that Thanksgiving and all its celebrations is not about how perfect the table or the decorations look. It’s not even about how perfect the food is or looks. It’s a celebration of the heart. It shouldn’t matter if you’re eating ramen on a card table. It is what is in your heart that matters.

If there is sadness or grieving in your heart, that’s okay, too. This Thanksgiving (just like many before it) will be that way for some people. And you can be sad and grieving and still be thankful. There are many who are experiencing their first Thanksgiving without one of their parents, today. I know of one who is having his first Thanksgiving without his wife. A couple I know lost a son, unexpectedly and suddenly, this week. And I have a friend who had cancer surgery yesterday.

It’s not all puppies, unicorns, and rainbows today. I’m good, yes. I’m about as happy as can be. But I am aware that it’s not that way for many. So, if you are one who is sad and grieving today, that’s perfectly okay and normal. I pray that you can find something to be thankful for, especially as you share memories of your loved ones. More importantly, I hope you are not alone.


And Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, and confess over it all the iniquities of the people of Israel, and all their transgressions, all their sins. And he shall put them on the head of the goat and send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a man who is in readiness.
(Leviticus 16:21 ESV)

I have been crucified with Christ.
It is no longer
I
who live,
but
Christ
who lives in me.
And the life I now live in the flesh
I live by faith in the Son of God,
who loved me
and gave himself for me.
(Galatians 2:20 ESV)

Humble yourselves, therefore,
under the mighty hand of God
so that at the proper time he may exalt you,
casting all your anxieties on him,
because he cares for you.
(1 Peter 5:6-7 ESV)

If we say we have
no sin,
we deceive ourselves,
and the truth is not in us.
If we confess our sins,
he is faithful and just
to forgive us our sins
and to cleanse us from
all unrighteousness.
(1 John 1:8-9 ESV)

If you can truthfully say the words of Galatians 2:20, you have plenty for which to be thankful today, regardless of your circumstances.


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

LAST WEEK OF ORDINARY TIME – DAY FIVE

INVITATION

“Stop fighting,”
he says,
“and know that I am God,
supreme among the nations,
supreme over the world.”
(Psalms 46:10 GNB)

I pause during this quiet time and close my eyes to ponder my circumstances. I am blessed beyond imagination. Life is good. You are good! Thank you, Father!

BIBLE SONG

Praise the LORD.

Praise the LORD from the heavens;
praise him in the heights above.
Praise him, all his angels;
praise him, all his heavenly hosts.
Praise him, sun and moon;
praise him, all you shining stars.
Praise him, you highest heavens
and you waters above the skies.
(Psalms 148:1-4 NIV)

Let them praise the name of the LORD,
for his name alone is exalted;
his splendor is above the earth and the heavens.
And he has raised up for his people a horn,
the praise of all his faithful servants,
of Israel, the people close to his heart.

Praise the LORD.
(Psalms 148:13-14 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Then the word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.”
Jonah obeyed the word of the LORD and went to Nineveh. Now Nineveh was a very large city; it took three days to go through it. Jonah began by going a day’s journey into the city, proclaiming, “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown.” The Ninevites believed God. A fast was proclaimed, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth.
(Jonah 3:1-5 NIV)

When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened.
(Jonah 3:10 NIV)

But to Jonah this seemed very wrong, and he became angry.
(Jonah 4:1 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I continue in awareness of God’s loving presence in this place, I read these passages again, looking for anything in God’s Word that catches the attention of my heart and soul. Is there a command for me? Is there comfort for me? I talk to Him about what I have read and what has moved me, and enjoy His presence.

Psalm 148 continues the trend of the final few psalms in simply giving praise to the Lord. Or, rather, commanding all of creation to give Him praise. In our selection, this morning, we only read the first four verses that address the heavenly hosts and sun, moon, and stars.

But the list goes on, and when verse 13 says, “Let them praise the name of the LORD,” here is who that is referring to.

Sea creatures and all ocean depths
Lightning
Hail
Snow
Clouds
Stormy winds
Mountains and hills
Fruit trees
Cedar trees
Wild animals
Cattle
Small creatures
Flying birds
Kings of the earth
All nations
Princes and all rulers
Young men and women
Old men
Children

If you’re reading this, you are in one of these groups. Probably one of the last three. You might be a king or prince or ruler. If so, I would be humbly honored. Either way, just do what it says, today, and every day.

Praise the LORD.

Also? Don’t be like Jonah.

Jonah was obedient. Sort of. He was kind of like one of the sons in a parable that Jesus told. You know, where a landowner told both of his sons to go work in the fields. One said he would go, then didn’t. The other said he wouldn’t go, then later relented and went.

Jonah is a weird case, though. He initially ran away from God’s directive. Not successfully, of course, because you just can’t do that. If God wants you somewhere, you will wind up there.

Period.

Even if it takes being swallowed by a specially prepared “great fish.” (Not a whale, mind you. It’s never called a whale.) We really don’t know what kind of fish . . . it was just big.

So Jonah repented and went to Nineveh. Make no mistake, though. His “obedience” was not ever willing. He went . . . he preached repentance to the people. But then the unexpected happened.

They repented. Jonah didn’t like that, because he didn’t like those Ninevites. He really didn’t want them to repent.

How often are we like that? (Get your steel-toed shoes ready.) Are there people that you would rather not see saved? Tell the truth. Is there someone, right now, anyone, that you can think of that you would just as soon see die and go to hell?

If you’re a Republican, I bet I can name at least one. If you’re a Democrat, I bet I can name at least one.

I might have a few that I’m struggling with. I even have a few brothers and sisters for whom I struggle with praying. Yes, I admit it.

I’m human. Not perfect. In spite of the fortune cookie slip taped to my desk that says “You shall soon achieve perfection.” Obviously, we have different definitions of “soon.”

The lesson we learn from Jonah is how to not be a prophet. God will get His desired results. He will get them with or without us. If we run away from His plan, He doesn’t suffer. It is we who suffer.

Don’t be a Jonah.

Father, I praise You for all Your glorious and wondrous creation. I join with the mountains and hills, the sea creatures and cedar trees, and all the saints who have come before me and who will come after me, in praising Your holy Name. I thank You for the music that You have placed in my heart and on my tongue and my fingertips, music which I can use to praise You. But God, I have flaws (don’t You know it?). I ask You to help me love unconditionally, especially all of those saints who call the name of Jesus. Help us all to walk more completely in His steps, and love the way He loves. Help us with our bigotry and our prejudices. Teach us Your ways, that we may all walk firmly in Your truth. And that Truth, that Way, that Life, is Jesus Christ.

Give us all spiritual renewal, Father, as well as deep repentance for the sins in which we still struggle. May You give us all readiness to give a reason for the hope that dwells within us.

"Gracious God,
the saving power of the gospel is amazing to everyone.
Some are surprised that Your grace could include and change even them;
others are shocked that their goodness and religious credentials don't earn them Your grace.
Continue to astonish the world with the saving grace of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Amen."

BLESSING

Happy are those who remain faithful under trials,
because when they succeed in passing such a test,
they will receive as their reward
the life which God has promised to those who love him.
(James 1:12 GNB)


Father, as we consider this day of Thanksgiving, I pray for tensions in our nation to be healed. I pray for unity within Your Church, as there has been a rift there, unnecessarily caused by politics. May we rise above that and focus our attention on You, on Christ, and on loving You and loving our neighbors and brothers and sisters.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
(Romans 12:12 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

By His Wounds

Good morning to you! Today is Thursday, the eleventh of November, 2021.

Peace be with you.

Day 23,254

Tomorrow is C’s birthday! At this point, there are no special plans for the day, but I may come up with some kind of surprise before today is over. S and I have a small gift to give her tomorrow, but her big present is the trip to Indiana, next week, to see R & J. The second big present is hanging from the ceiling in the garage, the new opener. I have to work all day tomorrow, but maybe we will do something different for dinner tomorrow night, rather than our usual pizza. But if she wants to do the pizza, that’s what we will do. This is also my week to work Saturday, so perhaps we will do something Sunday for lunch.

Today is Veteran’s Day in the U.S. We are certainly grateful for all people who have served in the military in any capacity. This day is to honor those who are still with us, as opposed to Memorial Day, which is to honor those who are no longer with us. So if you are a military veteran, and you happen to read this, know that you are appreciated here.

I had a good day at the library, yesterday. It was mostly quiet, with a few flurries of activity. It looks like I will be working with the same group of people on Saturday, in the circulation department, which is fine. The three of us who worked yesterday make a pretty good team.

We all got a bonus, yesterday, from the City of Hurst. It was a surprise to me, in a couple of ways. I was expecting a bonus, because we were told about it at the “Hurst Way Conference,” back a couple weeks ago. One surprise was how early we got it. Everyone at the library (and the Community Services Department, which shares the building), said that they usually don’t get the bonus until after Thanksgiving. The other surprise was that there was a 1% of salary included with the bonus, which I did not think part times were supposed to get. Bonus bonus!! Hahaha! The longer I work at the Hurst Public Library, the more impressed I am with the culture of the city.

I’m currently reading two books (I don’t recommend that, necessarily, but it gives me flexibility, as one is a real book and the other is on Kindle, which I can read more easily in bed). The real book is The Divine Embrace, by Robert E. Webber. I am learning some really valuable history about spirituality, from ancient times to the present. The other book is fiction, part of the Nursery Rhyme Murder collection. It is Humpty Dumpty, by Carolyn McCray and Ben Hopkin.

I want to recommend a news podcast/newsletter to anyone who might be interested. It is Axios, and you can look at it or subscribe through this link. I listen to a daily morning podcast called “Axios Today,” and also get a few newsletters via email.

Pardon me a moment, while I engage in kitten cuddles.

The nature of what follows makes it seem ridiculous to share trivia in today’s blog.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

He who has an ear,
Let him hear what the spirit
Says to the churches.
(Revelation)

the voice of mirth
and the voice of gladness,
the voice of the bridegroom
and the voice of the bride,
the voices of those who sing,
as they bring thank offerings
to the house of the LORD:
“‘Give thanks to the LORD of hosts,
for the LORD is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever!’
For I will restore the fortunes of the land as at first,
says the LORD.
(Jeremiah 33:11 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for Your steadfast love, which endures forever
2. for Siamese kittens (especially Cleopatra)
3. for the Light of Christ, which dispels the darkness within me
4. that by Your wounds, I am made whole
5. that You were pierced for my transgressions; crushed for my iniquities
6. that You are faithful and will surely bring to completion what You have started

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TWENTY-FIVE – DAY FIVE

INVITATION

“Come to me,
all of you who are tired from carrying heavy loads,
and I will give you rest.”
(Matthew 11:28 GNB)

Come to me, all you
Tired and weary from burdens;
I will give you rest.

As I pause, during this quiet moment (and watch the aforementioned Siamese kitten bat at the cursor on my computer screen), I am grateful for the little things in life, the little comforts and pleasures that are far from necessary, but add such value to my life. I am grateful, Father, so grateful.

BIBLE SONG

A song of ascents. Of Solomon.

Unless the LORD builds the house,
the builders labor in vain.
Unless the LORD watches over the city,
the guards stand watch in vain.
In vain you rise early
and stay up late,
toiling for food to eat—
for he grants sleep to those he loves.
Children are a heritage from the LORD,
offspring a reward from him.
Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
are children born in one’s youth.
Blessed is the man
whose quiver is full of them.
They will not be put to shame
when they contend with their opponents in court.
(Psalms 127:1-5 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Who has believed our message
and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by mankind,
a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.

Surely he took up our pain
and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to our own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
(Isaiah 53:1-6 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I leisurely read these passages again, I look for words or thoughts that stirred within me. I linger over them, giving them my full attention. Do I find something that I wish to ask the Lord about? I pray my life to God, in meditation and contemplation. I spend time resting in God’s presence.

The song of ascents that is featured today is attributed to Solomon. Is it ironic that it includes the repetition of the word “vain,” especially if we think that Solomon wrote Ecclesiastes? (I’m still on the fence about that, myself, but it can be argued, and I’m certainly not an expert.)

What is interesting is that this song seems to include two completely unrelated topics. In fact, the second half (last three verses) of the psalm look like something straight out of Proverbs.

Nevertheless, I’m drawn to the word “vain” in the song. If God is not in it, whatever you do is vanity. You can work your fingers to the bone, and if God isn’t in it, all you’re gonna get is, well, boney fingers. You can stay up late and get up early, and if the Lord is not involved, all you’re going to get is tired. And the end of verse 2 even implies that all of that extra labor is useless anyway, because God grants sleep to those He loves.

I find an interesting translational difference, as well. While the NIV says “toiling for food to eat” in verse 2, the ESV says, “eating the bread of anxious toil.” KJV says, “to eat the bread of sorrows,” and the NLT says, “anxiously working for food to eat.” It seems to me (again, no expert in Hebrew) that the NIV leaves something to be desired, here, as it doesn’t include the concept of anxious or sorrow. There is something deeply sad about the other translations.

The point to me is that it is vain to work anxiously for food, bread, to eat. And the key word in that is “anxious.” It is not vain to work to provide for the family. Not at all. That is our ordained lot. Even Adam and Eve had to do some measure of “work” in the garden. It only became “anxious” and “sorrowful” after the Fall.

If we consider this psalm, together with Isaiah 53, I think we gain insight. I also have to wonder about the chapter division, at this point. It seems like the first six verses of 53 continue the thought presented at the end of 52. Let’s consider them together.

See, my servant will act wisely; he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted.
Just as there were many who were appalled at him— his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any human being and his form marred beyond human likeness—
so he will sprinkle many nations, and kings will shut their mouths because of him. For what they were not told, they will see, and what they have not heard, they will understand.
Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.
Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
(Isaiah 52:13-15, 53:1-6 NIV)

Right off the bat, this clears up who the “he” is in Isaiah 53. Sure, we assume, if we read it without the end of chapter 52, that it is talking about Jesus. But if we do read it in context, with 52, it is much clearer. There is always a danger when we don’t read Scripture in context. And it is good to remember that the chapter and verse divisions are not “inspired,” per se. The chapter divisions were not added until the early thirteenth century. The verses were not even added until much later, 100-300 years, depending on Old or New Testament.

So, I’m considering a total of nine verses, here, rather than just the six originally called for by the devotional book. The point of Isaiah 53:1, I believe, is that the questions are outlandish. Who could believe this?? That the “powerful arm of God” could be revealed in such a way as this?? This person described displays anything but power! “disfigured beyond that of any human being;” “his form marred beyond human likeness.” The sight of Jesus being crucified was unlike anything anyone had ever seen before.

And it did not appear to be at all kingly or majestic. I’ve read detailed descriptions of what happened to Jesus between the time He was arrested in Gethsemane and the time He was removed from the Cross. I haven’t seen Mel Gibson’s passion movie, so I can’t say for sure, but based on pictures from the film, he may have gotten it pretty close. It would make modern “slasher” films look tame.

Yes, He was disfigured beyond recognition, to the point that He did not even resemble a man. As it says in 53:1, who would believe this??

And even before the horrific punishment was meted out upon Him, He apparently wasn’t much to look at. The traditional artists’ rendering of Jesus seem to be quite inaccurate. For one thing, most of them paint Him as a white man. But they also make Him quite lovely and attractive. Almost angelic, right?

But Isaiah says that “He had no beauty of majesty to attract us to Him, nothing in His appearance that we should desire Him.”

“Who has believed our report??”

But verse 5 holds the key. Actually beginning in verse 4. “Surely He took up our pain and bore our suffering.”

"He was pierced for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace
was on Him,
and by His wounds
we
are
healed."

“Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain.”

It’s difficult to express where my mind is going, right now. This “report,” as it is called by Isaiah, is outlandish; it is preposterous. The Creator of the universe is revealing His powerful arm in this?? In a mangled man, pierced, crushed, punished for our transgressions??

Father, I cannot cease to be amazed at this. I cannot express the depth of wonder at what was done here. I bow my head in shame (guilt?) as I consider what my Savior did on our behalf, and, by comparison, what little regard I have had for it, throughout my life. Oh, sure, I have sung the hymns and prayed the prayers, and I have given thanks and all that. But there is much in my life that would contradict what I say I believe. Or at least, historically, there is. I’m looking back on things that You claim You don’t remember. Lucky for me, eh? I’m not being sarcastic, here. I’m not taking this lightly. Truly, Your Word tells us, in many places, that You will remember our sins no more. They have been cleansed by the work of this suffering servant. They are part of the iniquities and transgressions for which Christ was pierced and crushed. Father, this prayer might ramble a bit . . . I’m sorry.

I praise You for what I’m reading in these two chapters from Isaiah. I praise You for this unbelievable report! That You chose to reveal Your “powerful” arm in this way. I cannot bear the thought of what Jesus endured for us. Perhaps that is why it is not given in such brutal detail in the Gospels. We get just enough information. It is our own historians and theologians who have “blessed” us with the gruesome details of Jesus’s walk to the Cross. So, rather than focus on my past, because You say You don’t remember it, I will look forward to the future, where You already are, as well. I will focus on the part that says that I am made whole by the wounds experienced by my Savior. Some translations say “healed,” and that’s great, but some people want to make that all about physical healing. It is so much deeper than that. Physical healing is wonderful, but, unless You build the house, it is in vain. Physical healing means nothing if I am not made whole in Spirit. And You have made me whole.

I praise You Father! All glory to You through the Son and by the Spirit. Let this house be built by You, and let the labor not be in vain. You grant rest to those who love You and worship You. You grant peace to us who follow You; peace that passes all understanding; peace that flies in the face of what is going on in the world, today. Peace that tells me that this world is a perfectly safe place for me to be.

I pray, Father, for a constant yearning to know You more, and the diligence and discipline to seek You. May all Your saints know and experience, daily, the joy of Your salvation. And I pray for any family members or friends who have not experienced this joy.

"Suffering Savior,
throughout Your whole life you tasted loneliness and rejection,
grief and pain;
like us You knew the suffering of this world.
But You knew another suffering far beyond any link to my pain and tears.
You suffered the wrath of God against the sin of the world;
You took on my punishment so I might go free.
I worship You,
my crucified Lord.
Amen."
When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.

See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.
Isaac Watts

BLESSING

Show me how much you love me, LORD,
and save me according to your promise.
(Psalms 119:41 GNB)


For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.
(Mark 10:45 ESV)

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.
(John 15:13 ESV)

Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.
(1 Corinthians 10:24 ESV)

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
(Philippians 1:6 ESV)

He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.
(1 Thessalonians 5:24 ESV)

Father, may we, Your people embrace these truths, that You, in the form of that Suffering Servant, came not to be serve, but to serve, and to give Your life for us. May we express that same love outwardly, and seek not our own good, but that of our fellow human beings. I live this life in the hope and faith that You, who began this “good work” will bring it to completion; You are faithful; You will surely do it.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
(2 Thessalonians 1:11-12 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Naked

Good morning. Today is Thursday, the fourth of November, 2021.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,247

Eight days until C’s birthday!

Yesterday wasn’t a great day for me. I didn’t get enough sleep, but that was because I woke up sneezing like crazy. The whole day was one of those days when my nose wouldn’t dry up at all. I took several doses of over the counter meds (Sudafed and Dayquil), and there were brief periods where things dried up, but I emptied at least two boxes of Kleenex, during the day.

Needless to say, I didn’t get much accomplished. I took Nyquil before going to sleep, last night, and had a really good night’s rest. I’m definitely feeling better, this morning, so we’ll see what happens.

I have found myself experiencing mild anxiety over what I should be doing today. C and I agreed that this is silly. There is really nothing that needs to get done. I feel like I should practice some music or write a song or something. And if that happens, great. But I need to stop allowing myself to feel guilt or anxiety if it doesn’t happen. After all, retirement is not supposed to create anxiety, right?

I don’t work today, and, barring special events, will not ever work on Thursdays. Mondays, Thursdays, and Sundays are days when I will always be off. Tuesday evenings and Fridays are the days that I will always work. Wednesdays and Saturdays are the “every-other-week” days.

I’m currently reading The Divine Embrace: Recovering the Passionate Spiritual Life, by Robert E. Webber.

I watched the movie, The Haunting, yesterday. I was pretty impressed with the way they followed the book. You don’t see that much, these days. It was made in 1963, so special effects really didn’t exist. The sounds were not very realistic (there’s a lot of banging on walls and such in the book), but for when it was made, it was a pretty good movie. They changed the names, slightly, and the whole reason for the doctor’s wife showing up at the house was changed. Plus the teacher/headmaster, Arthur, wasn’t in the movie at all. In my opinion, the best acting was done by the person who played Theodora (Claire Bloom). Although, I will say that Julie Harris did a pretty good job of crazy, playing Eleanor.

Today is Men Make Dinner Day. Well, I’m already doing that, because I started a soup in our crock pot this morning. Hah!

The word for today is bellwether, “a person or thing that shows the existence or direction of a trend; index.”

Today’s quote is from Mignon McLaughlin, an American journalist. “The only courage that matters is the kind that gets you from one moment to the next.”

Birthdays on November 4:

Augustus Montague Toplady, English hymn writer (Rock of Ages), 1740-1778
Will Rogers, American humorist and actor, 1879-1935
Walter Cronkite, American journalist and news anchor, 1916-2009
Art Carney, American actor (The Honeymooners), 1918-2003
Freddy Heineken, Dutch beer brewer, 1923-2002
Loretta Swit, American actress (MASH), 1937 (84)
Laura Bush, U.S. First Lady, 1946 (75)
Markie Post, American actress (Night Court), 1950-2021
Matthew McConaughey, American actor (Interstellar, Dazed and Confused), born in Uvalde, TX, 1969 (52)
Augustus Toplady wrote this hymn
Walter Cronkite
Loretta Swit
Markie Post

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

His divine power;
Precious and great promises;
All I need for life.
(2 Peter 1)

You are my God,
and I will give thanks to you;
you are my God;
I will extol you.
(Psalms 118:28 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that You are my God
2. that I am alive and breathing
3. for Your divine power, Your great and precious promises, all I need for life and godliness
4. that You have led us away from the love of money and wealth
5. for creating a generous, open-handed spirit within me

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TWENTY-FOUR – DAY FIVE

INVITATION

“This God is our God forever and ever;
he will lead us for all time to come.”
(Psalms 48:14 GNB)

As I pause, during this quiet moment, I am considering God’s divine power, which has given me everything I need for life and godliness. He is truly my Shepherd, and I truly lack for nothing!

BIBLE SONG

A song of ascents.

I call on the LORD in my distress,
and he answers me.
Save me, LORD,
from lying lips
and from deceitful tongues.

What will he do to you,
and what more besides,
you deceitful tongue?
He will punish you with a warrior’s sharp arrows,
with burning coals of the broom bush.

Woe to me that I dwell in Meshek,
that I live among the tents of Kedar!
Too long have I lived
among those who hate peace.
I am for peace;
but when I speak, they are for war.
(Psalms 120:1-7 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Whoever loves money never has enough;
whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income.
This too is meaningless.

As goods increase,
so do those who consume them.
And what benefit are they to the owners
except to feast their eyes on them?

The sleep of a laborer is sweet,
whether they eat little or much,
but as for the rich,
their abundance permits them no sleep.

I have seen a grievous evil under the sun:
wealth hoarded to the harm of its owners,
or wealth lost through some misfortune,
so that when they have children
there is nothing left for them to inherit.
Everyone comes naked from their mother’s womb,
and as everyone comes, so they depart.
They take nothing from their toil
that they can carry in their hands.
(Ecclesiastes 5:10-15 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I remind myself that I am in the presence of the Lord, a read these passages again, attempting to notice how He might be speaking to me through His Word. I dwell on a word or phrase that jumps out at me, allowing my heart to respond to Him in prayer and meditation. I take refreshment in His presence.

There is some real depth in both of these passages today. Just as the unnamed psalmist, I think we should all be wary of “lying lips and deceitful tongues.” There is a problem in our culture, today, though. It is reflected by a single statement I saw a rather ignorant person post on Facebook, the other day.

“All liberals are liars,” he said.

What a ridiculous statement. What an ignorant statement. Unfortunately, it reflects the mindset of approximately half of the country today.

Any statement about any group of people that begins with the word “all” is not even worthy of consideration. Blanket generalities are ignorant and lazy. As tempting as it is to say “all politicians are liars,” that would be no different.

On the other hand, I dare say that 100% of all humanity has told a lie at some point, so it wouldn’t be inaccurate to say that “all humans are liars.”

“Save me, LORD, from lying lips and deceitful tongues.” That’s a worthy prayer. But diligence and wisdom are required, that we might know whose tongues are deceitful and whose lips are lying. Great discernment is needed, and this is something we can gain from the Holy Spirit and meditating on God’s Word.

The psalmist closes out this “song of ascent” with a chilling statement. “Too long have I lived among those who hate peace. I am for peace; but when I speak, they are for war.” He prefaces this by calling out “woe” because he dwells in “Meshek,” among the tents of “Kedar.”

What on earth does that mean? It is likely a euphemism for rude and barbaric people. Suddenly, I have images from January 6, 2021, in my head.

I, too, find that I seem to dwell in the midst of people who hate peace. My desire, in life, these days, is love and peace. Anyone who has read this effort, regularly, knows that I keep coming back to that idea of loving one another. And I know a lot of people who speak words like that out of one side of their mouth, but out of the other side, they spew nonstop hatred toward anyone who thinks differently than they do about pretty much any issue.

“All liberals are liars.”

That’s the kind of nonsense that comes out of people like that.

I am for peace; they may not be for “war,” but the are certainly not for peace. I guess they would be for peace if everyone agreed with them.

And from that, we move into a passage about the love of money and material wealth. Ecclesiastes 5:10 is spot on. “Whoever loves money never has enough.” We know that Paul tells Timothy that the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. Throughout the years, people have misinterpreted/misread that to say that money, itself, is evil. Again, that’s taking the lazy way out.

I love what Dallas Willard says about money. In one of his books, he recommends making as much of it as you can. So you can give it away.

But if we love it (the Hebrew word in that verse indicates having affection for something), we can’t get enough of it; we are never satisfied with our income. And I love the question the Teacher asks in verse 11, regarding “goods.” “What benefit are they to the owners except to feast their eyes on them?”

This is a question that deserves some serious pondering. It’s also one of the reasons that, a number of years ago, I essentially stopped “collecting.” What good are all these things? As someone else has mentioned, it will just be a bunch of stuff that someone has to clean out of the house after I die.

Believe it or not, this is not leading me down a path toward depression, this morning. More or less, I am simply “thinking out loud,” doing what the “dwelling” portion recommends. These are lines of Scripture that have “jumped out at me,” and I am pondering them, meditating on them, expressing my thoughts with my fingers on the keyboard.

There is, inherently, nothing wrong with “collecting.” If it makes you happy, knock yourself out. More power to you. It is just something that I have ceased to see any value in. I don’t need to “feast my eyes” on all of my stuff any more.

I also don’t want to be the person mentioned in verse 13 . . . “wealth hoarded to the harm of its owners.” Again . . . there is nothing wrong with saving money, maybe for that “rainy day,” or maybe for some kind of special event or something. Or, in the case of a few of us, for the eventual helping of someone who is in dire need of something. We actually do save money for that purpose.

But, there is a warning, as well, here. The Teacher speaks of wealth lost through some misfortune. This would, I believe, cautious us against saving money in any form that is too risky.

The bottom line is in verse 15. I was naked when I came out of mother’s womb, and I will, effectively, be naked when I leave this plane. “You can’t take it with you,” is essentially what the wisdom of the teacher is telling us. Saving money just for the sake of saving money is meaningless. Hoarding is useless. It is “a chasing after the wind.”

Father, thank You for these reminders. Naked, I came into this world, naked I will leave. Nothing that I have worked for and toiled for, in this life, will exit this world with me. While there is nothing wrong with leaving some kind of “inheritance” for my children, all things need to be tempered with moderation and good sense. I do confess that I have never claimed to have an overabundance of that. So I can always use Your help when it comes to common sense things. In all seriousness, though, I am grateful that Your Spirit has led me down a path of generosity and open-handedness. Help us to have our eyes and hearts open, though, so that we might see any need that we can help meet. As the year draws to a close, I would like to not have anything left in that “tithe” fund, at the end of the year. I’m not treating that as a “hoard” or “emergency fund.” That money, in my heart, belongs to You, so help us to use it wisely.

I do truly pray that You would deliver us all from lying lips and deceitful tongues. It’s too easy to say that all of a certain class or type of people are liars. Please lead us away from that kind of lazy and ignorant thinking. Give us discernment to know when someone is not speaking truth. Most of all, help us to not put our trust in humans instead of You and Your Word. Holy Spirit, lead us into all truth, and show us the path on which to walk. Help us to love one another more than we love our politics or our money.

I pray for spiritual renewal in Your Church, and in our land. May You grant Your people deep repentance and point us in the good direction. May You strengthen any relationships that I might have with “non-Christians,” that I might have some kind of positive influence on them, showing them Your true nature, and Your love.

"Covenant God,
money is a blinding,
demanding master,
never satisfied,
and a thief of joy.
Remind me that what doesn't possess me I'm free to give away.
Uncurl my grip on money and its clutches on me,
springing open a generosity that shares with those in need.
In my true Master's name,
amen."

BLESSING

“Happy are those who are persecuted because they do what God requires; the Kingdom of heaven belongs to them!”
(Matthew 5:10 GNB)


God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.”
(Exodus 3:14 ESV)

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life;
whoever comes to me shall not hunger,
and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.”
(John 6:35 ESV)

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying,
“I am the light of the world.
Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness,
but will have the light of life.”
(John 8:12 ESV)

I am the door.
If anyone enters by me,
he will be saved and will go in and out
and find pasture.
(John 10:9 ESV)

I am the good shepherd.
The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
(John 10:11 ESV)

I am the vine;
you are the branches.
Whoever abides in me and I in him,
he it is that bears much fruit,
for apart from me you can do nothing.
(John 15:5 ESV)

“I am the Alpha and the Omega,”
says the Lord God,
“who is and who was and who is to come,
the Almighty.”
(Revelation 1:8 ESV)

You are enough.


Awake, my glory!
Awake, O harp and lyre!
I will awake the dawn!
(Psalms 57:8 ESV)

Light dawns in the darkness for the upright;
he is gracious,
merciful,
and righteous.
(Psalms 112:4 ESV)

The night is far gone;
the day is at hand.
So then let us cast off the works of darkness
and put on the armor of light.
(Romans 13:12 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!

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
(Romans 12:12 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.