Of Holiness and Knowledge

Today is Thursday, the sixth of October, 2022, in the twenty-seventh week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ be with you today!

Day 23,583

This is delayed today, because I had an appointment at 10:00 to get my cyst removal stitches out.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

My Friend of Lighty, by Daryl Madden

In a chapels morn’
Deep within a prayer
Inpouring of Spirit
My friend of light is here

On an ocean of waves
Joy shining clear
In thousands of diamonds
My friend of light is here

On a cloudy day
In hope to appear
The sun bursting through
My friend of light is here

In my times of need
A blessed soul to share
Bearing of my cross
My friend of light is here

My thoughts on this, and I am not sure how the author intended it, are that it could be referring to Jesus, but could also be referring to a human “friend of light,” a brother or sister in the faith, another saint. How precious it is to be in the presence of another saint, a true “friend of light.”

Please visit Daryl’s site at the link above.


Lord our God, our Father, give us your Spirit, we pray, for you have ruled over us at all times and loved us with a love that guides and leads us, that helps us go forward in body and soul. Reveal your hand. Grant that we undertake nothing in human strength; may everything come from you for each one whose heart holds true to you and who does the work intended for him. Then everything we do on earth can be a service to you. Protect us through your great goodness and faithfulness, which have been with us to this day and will go with us into the future. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

“O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”
(John 17:25-26 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. that Jesus makes the Father’s name known to us, that His love may be in us
  2. for brothers and sisters in Christ, “friends of light”
  3. for the beautiful music of Salt of the Sound; please check them out
  4. for God’s gift of holiness, through Jesus Christ; may I get to know it more through prayer and devotion
  5. that I will sing to the Lord as long as I have being; may my meditation be pleasing to Him (Psalm 104:34)

I will sing to the LORD as long as I live;
 I will sing praise to my God while I have being. 
May my meditation be pleasing to him, 
for I rejoice in the LORD.
(Psalms 104:33-34 ESV)

Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, “My way is hidden from the LORD, and my right is disregarded by my God”? Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
(Isaiah 40:27-31 ESV)


Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.
(Jeremiah 33:3 ESV)

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
(Psalms 19:1 ESV)


but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”
(1 Peter 1:15-16 ESV)


“Be holy.” How exactly do we do that? There are many who have tried to “be holy” by obeying an innumerable set of rules. The “Holiness Church,” for example. Don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t. In fact, one of the major objections to unbelievers, regarding church, is all the “don’ts.”

I get it.

But that’s now how we accomplish holiness. We cannot be holy by works. You cannot do enough positive things and avoid enough negative things to be holy. It’s like trying to work your way to Heaven. You can’t do it. Because if you have sinned once, you are disqualified. Period. You can’t undo that one, and all the “good” things you do cannot outweigh that one.

There is this terrible concept that so many people have, hoping that, when they die, that the good that they did will outweigh the bad, and that there is some kind of scale system at the “pearly gates,” whereby St. Peter will do some calculating and either you get in or you don’t.

That simply isn’t the way it is. But that, my friends, is part of the “good news.” Because the blood of Jesus on the Cross erased all of the sin. It changed history, as well as changing the future.

So, back to the original question. How do we achieve holiness?

God imparts it to us, through Christ. It is a gift. But here’s the thing. We cannot grasp or get to know this holiness if we are not spending time with God in prayer. No, we don’t get to be holy by praying; that’s just another “work.” We get to know God, and thereby, His holiness, by praying.

Prayer involves more than just asking for stuff, though. Meditation is prayer; contemplation is prayer; waiting on the Lord is prayer (in my opinion). Prayer can be anything that can draw you closer to the Almighty. C and I are going to Glen Rose tomorrow. We will spend a lot of time sitting on the deck of the cabin on the banks of the Paluxy River. Some of that time, we will be reading. Some of that time, we will be engaging in prayer by looking in wonder at the beauty of God’s creation. I’m looking forward to taking my telescope out to look at the night sky during this trip, so I can see the heavens declaring the glory of God and the sky proclaiming His handiwork.

Singing is prayer. I will sing to the Lord as long as I live, as long as I have breath, as long as I have my being. Which means I will sing for eternity, because that’s how long I will have my being (I don’t know about breath . . . I’m not sure we will need breathing in heaven). And as I sing, I will pray that my meditation is pleasing to Him.

Praying is also calling to Him. Jeremiah tells us to call to Him, and He will show us things that we do not know. How much do you not know? I guarantee you that there is more that you don’t know. I’m confident that if you took all of the knowledge in the entire world and added it all up, there would still be more that is unknown.

I don’t know a lot. Wait. Let me rephrase that. There is a lot that I don’t know. Just the other day, I learned something. (Spoiler alert, this has nothing to do with anything theological.) I was shelving DVDs at the library Tuesday night, and I ran across a movie, from 1971, called “They Might Be Giants.” It has George C. Scott and Joanne Woodward. I’ve never heard of this movie.

However, I have heard of an alternative rock band, formed in 1982, called They Might Be Giants, created by John Flansburgh and John Linnell. They assumed the name because it had been used by (and discarded by) a friend who had a ventriloquist act. Okay, so the band is named after the movie. But that’s not all. It is also a line from Don Quixote! You know, the book by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra. It explains why Don Quixote was “tilting at windmills.”

So there you go. There was something that you probably didn’t know. (Hats off if you did.) And no extra charge for that.

Now, God did not show me that (or did He?) as a result of me calling out to Him. It’s just to illustrate how much there is that we do not know. After a year a some months working at a public library, there are still books in there that I have not seen. Just in the Hurst Public Library, there is literally at least a ton of stuff that I. Do. Not. Know.

You think you know?

Well, that certainly took a sharp left turn, didn’t it? Where was I?

Oh, yeah. Jeremiah. And knowing God’s holiness in our lives. If we are lacking in prayer, we will be certainly lacking in holiness, or at least the knowledge and practice of it. It may be there, buried deep within our soul, simply because of the work of Christ in our lives. But, without prayer, it will stay there. May we pray more fervently, that our holiness may come to light, that He may be glorified, and the earth be filled with the glory of God as the waters cover the seas.


Father, I call out to You today, that You might show me Your might works, and that You might tell me great and hidden things that I do not know. Maybe there are some things I don’t want to know, so don’t tell me those. But You know . . . You know all things, so You know what I need to know. Help me to wait on You, to wait patiently. I prayed for patience, yesterday. So today, I had to wait thirty minutes past my appointment time at the doctor’s office, to get my stitches out. And while I was waiting, I had to listen to bad country music. And then I had to listen to someone else singing along with the bad country music. I should be careful what I pray for.

I will sing to You, Father! I have not been singing enough, lately. Forgive me for that, and help me to sing more. I don’t know what that will look like. It might just be me singing alone in my room, here. I don’t know. But if so, then let me do that, and do it will all my being. You have given me life and breath, and I choose to use that life and breath to praise and glorify You.

By my prayers, my worship, and my singing, and my meditations, which I hope will be pleasing to You, let me know Your holiness, and thus display the holiness with which You have gifted me. Let it not stay buried deep in my soul.

Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus!


Talk no more so very proudly, let not arrogance come from your mouth; for the LORD is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed.
(1 Samuel 2:3 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Faith and Knowledge

Today is Thursday, the twenty-ninth of September, 2022, in the twenty-sixth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you today!

Day 23,576

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit will be updated following this blog, today.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Dear Father in heaven, grant us your Spirit so that here on earth we may be united with you in Jesus Christ the Savior. May truth dawn on us with its light, bringing joy no matter what happens to us. May all the pain in our lives be turned into birth pangs of a new life in which we can rejoice as people you have created, people prepared for the struggle on earth, who are called into battle and led to victory. Grant that we may not be blinded by the surrounding darkness. Shed a clear light on the new life that is coming. May we see what has already happened because Jesus Christ came to the earth and remains on earth, and may we see what is still to come through him, the Savior. O God of wonders, keep us aware of the wonders that increasingly surround us, until all the pain on earth is finally overcome and we men glorify your love and your great goodness. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.
(John 16:21-22 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. that all of the grief and suffering we see in the world will eventually be turned into joy
  2. that we are not blinded by the darkness that surrounds us
  3. for the faith of a child, but also for knowledge that comes with growth and maturity
  4. that You do not hide Yourself from us
  5. for new beginnings

Beloved, do not imitate evil but imitate good. Whoever does good is from God; whoever does evil has not seen God.
(3 John 1:11 ESV)

And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your Teacher. And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.
(Isaiah 30:20-21 ESV)

Oh come, let us sing to the LORD; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!
(Psalms 95:1-2 ESV)

For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.
(1 Timothy 4:4-5 ESV)

So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.”
(John 11:41-42 ESV)


“Do not imitate evil but imitate good.” Seems simple enough. Except when we can’t agree on what is evil and what is good. Paul told Timothy that everything created by God is good, and, as long as we receive it with thanksgiving, it’s not to be rejected.

There are some things that are evil, and there are some things that are good. And there are quite a few things that are neutral, with no inherent good or evil attached to them. What makes a thing “good” or “evil” is the intent with which it is used. If it is used to harm another, it becomes evil.

The major difference, here, though is thanksgiving. Gratitude is key. I’ve been expressing daily gratitude for at least a couple years, now. One writer said that his aunt told him, “If you never lose your sense of thanksgiving, you will always find a sense of happiness. Gratitude will change your attitude for the better.” (Scott Walker, Daily Guideposts 2022).

That, of course, sounds rather cliche and overly simplistic, but there is truth to it. I’ve been attempting to maintain that “attitude of gratitude” for some time, now. Some days it is easier than others. Today, it is more of a struggle, for personal reasons. Nevertheless, it is there, and I will express it, and, in the expressing, will move my heart in the right direction.

We are to sing to the Lord, we are to “come into His presence with thanksgiving.” Note that this particular passage doesn’t say anything about any other offering than thanksgiving. Sometimes, it is enough to simply be grateful for the gifts that God has given us.

So, to imitate what is good, we begin by being grateful. I, personally, would find it difficult to truly give thanks to God for something with which I intend to do harm.

Two good things, for which I am grateful, are faith and knowledge. There is a difference between those two. The faith of a child requires little to no knowledge. But as we grow and mature, we gain knowledge. Does that increase or decrease our faith? I suppose that depends upon the person. For me, the more knowledge I obtain, the greater my faith. I can’t explain that. But that “faith of a child” becomes faith that is more mature. “I believe” becomes “I know,” which, in the case of things like the existence of God, is still based on faith. Because I cannot prove to you that God exists. Nevertheless, I know He does.


Father, I praise You for faith, and I praise You for knowledge. I like them both. I love having faith, but I also really enjoy gaining knowledge, which, in my case, increases my faith. The more I know about You, the more I believe in Your Word and Your Truth.

I pray that my faith continues to increase as I continue to get older. I also pray that my sense of gratitude and thanksgiving will not only continue, but will also grow. I pray that this sense of gratitude will also increase my satisfaction of You and my life. May I always be satisfied in You and in Christ.

I pray for Your constant guidance in my life. May I always be looking to You to tell me which way to go in my life. And, as always, I pray for more love for others. Help me to clothe myself with the compassion, patience, kindness, humility, and grace that are mentioned in that Colossians passage. May I imitate good, rather than evil, in my life.

All glory to You, through the Son, and by the Spirit.

Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus!


Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
(Philippians 4:8-9 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Chesed

Today is Thursday, the twenty-second of September, 2022, in the twenty-fifth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ find you today!

Day 23,569

I’m up early, this morning, because I’m due at the Hurst Conference Center by 8:00 AM for the annual Hurst Way Conference for all city employees. If I have time, I will update Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit after I finish my devotional, this morning.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, we lift our hearts to you, for you have given great promises to those who fear you. Let your Word strengthen us in faith, patience, and hope. Be with all those who call upon you, pleading for help in our time. For these times must work for our good, and in spite of sin, death, and all evil we can find joy in what you are doing. We call to you, O Lord our God. Let your hand be revealed, that something may be seen besides human striving and the efforts of human hands. Let the work of your hand be visible to many, to all peoples on this earth. May your name be honored, O Lord our God, your kingdom come, and your will be done on earth as in heaven. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
he does not treat us as our sins deserve 
or repay us according to our iniquities. 
For as high as the heavens are above the earth, 
so great is his love for those who fear him; 
as far as the east is from the west, 
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
(Psalms 103:10-12 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. that God does not treat us as our sins deserve
  2. that His love for us is as high as the heavens are above the earth
  3. for the steadfast love, the chesed, of the Lord
  4. that God never sleeps nor slumbers (Psalm 121:4); He is always watching, always listening
  5. that Jesus Christ did not seek to enjoy the Father’s love for Himself alone; He passed it on to us” (Andrew Murray)

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
(Matthew 11:28-30 ESV)


Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them, the one who also had leaned back against him during the supper and had said, “Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?” When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?” Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!” So the saying spread abroad among the brothers that this disciple was not to die; yet Jesus did not say to him that he was not to die, but, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?”
(John 21:20-23 ESV)

Here is a good argument that we are not supposed to be so concerned about other people, but to take care of our own business. We are not to be “pointing fingers” at those around us. We need to pay attention to our own relationship with Christ, especially as it concerns our own sin. One of my Facebook friends posted something yesterday, with which I heartily agree. “The TRINITY is more concerned about how you deal with your sin than the laws you support to deal with the sin of others.” (Aaron Smith, professional drummer) Jesus’s answer, when we say, “What about this guy?” is “What is that to you?”

I love the last verse of John’s Gospel.

Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.
(John 21:25 ESV)

I don’t think it unreasonable to add “and said” at the end of the first sentence. Certainly, Jesus said more than just the words that are included in the Gospels.


Manasseh led Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem astray, to do more evil than the nations whom the LORD destroyed before the people of Israel. The LORD spoke to Manasseh and to his people, but they paid no attention. Therefore the LORD brought upon them the commanders of the army of the king of Assyria, who captured Manasseh with hooks and bound him with chains of bronze and brought him to Babylon. And when he was in distress, he entreated the favor of the LORD his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers. He prayed to him, and God was moved by his entreaty and heard his plea and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD was God.
(2 Chronicles 33:9-13 ESV, emphasis added)

I find great encouragement in this passage of 2 Chronicles. Manasseh was likely the most evil king that Judah had. And even though he waited until he was in desperate trouble before he cried out to God, God heard him and was “moved by his entreaty.” You see, it doesn’t matter how evil and wicked we might be. If we cry out to God, He is compassionate and merciful. His chesed will be shown.


Speaking of chesed . . .

I will sing of the steadfast love of the LORD, forever; 
with my mouth I will make known 
your faithfulness to all generations. 
For I said, "Steadfast love will be built up forever; 
in the heavens you will establish your faithfulness."
(Psalms 89:1-2 ESV)

Both times it says “steadfast love,” the Hebrew word is chesed. Many are familiar with the KJV of verse 1 that says, “I will sing of the mercies of the Lord, forever.” I seem to remember an old Sunday School song from that verse.

Let the heavens praise your wonders, O LORD, 
your faithfulness in the assembly of the holy ones! 
For who in the skies can be compared to the LORD? 
Who among the heavenly beings is like the LORD, 
a God greatly to be feared in the council of the holy ones, 
and awesome above all who are around him? 
O LORD God of hosts, who is mighty as you are, O LORD, 
with your faithfulness all around you?
(Psalms 89:5-8 ESV)

Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
(Psalms 121:4 ESV)

To you, O LORD, I call; my rock, be not deaf to me, lest, if you be silent to me, I become like those who go down to the pit.
(Psalms 28:1 ESV)

Most of the time, Psalm 121:4 is referenced when speaking of God’s protection. He is always watching over us; He never sleeps.

But Rick Hamlin, in today’s Daily Guideposts, brings another perspective to this. God is also always listening. He never “shuts off” His listening. He doesn’t “mute” us. Comforting, yes, but it means He also hears all of our rants and complaining. And He continues, nevertheless, to rain down His steadfast love on us.

Just something to ponder, this morning.


Father, as I consider Your Words, this morning, I am comforted and encouraged. I am glad to remember that You never slumber nor sleep; that You are always watching, always listening. The very thought that You care enough for us to extend Your steadfast love and mercy to us, even when we bitterly complain, is astonishing. Were we You, we would have given up on us long ago. I fear some of us have, actually.

I pray for Your people, Father, especially those who have lost their way. For those who might be stumbling or wandering, Father, I pray for Your Spirit to guide them back to Your loving arms, to experience Your glorious chesed in ways that they never imagined. Help us all to know this steadfast love every single minute of every day, Father!

Oh, Lord, You do not treat us as our sins deserve, and have cast our sins as far as the east is from the west! What glorious thought! What wonderful news! Help us to embrace this, Father, as we consider Your great love for us, today!

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


You have granted me life and steadfast love, and your care has preserved my spirit.
(Job 10:12 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

The Wrong Struggle

Today is Thursday, the fifteenth of September, 2022, in the 24th week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ enfold you today!

Day 23,562

Seven days until Autumn begins!

I’m going to have lunch with C, today, since I don’t have to work today. I’m not sure what we will have, but it might be Fred’s Phillies.

The Texas Rangers lost to the Oakland Athletics, 8-7, last night. The sad thing about that is that they were ahead 5-1, at one point, and then 7-4. But their two most inconsistent pitchers struck again, and they lost another one run game. They are now 62-81 for the season, but still managed to stay in third place in the AL West. They are 31 games out of first place and 17.5 out of the Wild Card race. For some reason, the MLB standings page is no longer showing elimination numbers, so I don’t know what the WCE# is for Texas. They are off today, and will be in Tampa Bay, in the worst stadium in the history of baseball, tomorrow. They have nineteen games left.

The Boston Red Sox lost both games in a two-game series with New York, losing 5-3 on three unearned runs, last night. They are 69-74 for the season, and will likely finish in last place in the AL East. What a disappointing season. I can’t remember, but it seems like they were at least close to first place, at one point in the season. I know they at least were in the running for the Wild Card race, at one point. They are 18 games out of first place and 10.5 out of the Wild Card race. They are also off today, will face KC tomorrow, in Boston. They also have nineteen games left.

The current playoff picture looks the same as it has for a while, now. In the AL, we have Houston, New York, and Cleveland leading their divisions. The three Wild Card spots are currently occupied by Toronto, Seattle, and Tampa Bay, in that order. Baltimore, with twenty games remaining, is four games out. The White Sox are 6.5 out, and the Twins are 7.5 out. The White Sox and Twins, however, have a slim chance of winning the division, still.

In the NL, LA, NY, and St. Louis lead their divisions, with Atlanta, Philadelphia, and San Diego holding the three Wild Card spots. Milwaukee is only two games out, while the Giants are a whopping nine games behind. Atlanta is only a half game behind the Mets, though, so that division is still up in the air, so to speak.

Albert Pujols still has 697 home runs. There’s another cool story in St. Louis, though. Last night, Adam Wainright and Yadier Molina started the game against the Brewers, which was the 325th time that pitcher/catcher combination played together. That surpassed the previous duo of Mickey Lolich and Bill Freehan (1963-1975).

The Dodgers lost a game, but still lead MLB with their 98-44 record. They are also not only the only team to clinch a playoff spot, but are also the first team to clinch their division. With twenty games left, they must win nineteen of them to beat the win record. I’m not betting on that. The Nationals remain on the bottom, with 49-94. With Oakland’s win over Texas last night, the Nats are now three games behind the Athletics.

The Guardians continue to streak, pushing for that division win. They have won six consecutive games, now. The Reds continue to streak, as well, but the bad kind, having lost six in a row. The Dodgers’ run differential is at +318, and Nationals are now at -211. The Pirates have won four in a row, so they are twelve runs ahead of the Nats, now. The Rangers are at -17, and the Red Sox are at -36.

Weather-wise, we continue to have mild days, and the highs keep coming out to be a degree or two lower than predicted. You won’t get any complaints from me about that! Yesterday’s high was 88, and was projected at 90. The low was 66, which is the average for that date. Today’s high is predicted at 88. After today, we have nine days of low-to-mid nineties, with 89 on 9/24, which is the day we are now planning on taking the truck to Mineral Wells.

The record high for today is 97, back in 2019, and the record low, from 1993, is 41! Wow. That’s pretty chilly for a September morn.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, we thank you for allowing us to come to you and to stand before your face. We thank you for helping us throughout our life on earth, for strengthening our faith in you and our trust in all you do. Bless us and give us courage. May your light shine out among the peoples so that they recognize your will. May your light shine out so that your name may be praised and we can rejoice in the new time you give us. For you will be at work and you will accomplish it. Even when we do not know what will become of our time, you know what our time needs, and you will carry out your will. You will let your name be honored. You will bring your kingdom, and you will change everything for the good. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not my ways. This is the very word of the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. 
(Isaiah 55:8–9 NEB)

Today I am grateful:

  1. for the ways and thoughts of the Lord, infinitely higher than mine
  2. for the help and strength God gives me in this life, and for His light that shines out among all people
  3. for the confidence that, even though we do not know what will come in our time, that God’s will will be accomplished
  4. that God thought of me and planned my life before the very foundations of the earth
  5. that, together with God, we can do all things

“For You This Day,” by Daryl Madden

More than 10,000
Years ago
I thought of you
And loved you so

And I adored
You, everyday
A joy to craft
Your DNA

I took my time
Your soul, prepare
Blessed each cell
Count every hair

And all has led
Unto this place
And in this time
You’re sent with grace

Come find the joy
Within my way
What I’ve prepared
For you this day

This poem gave me chill bumps, this morning. Please check out Daryl’s site at the link provided.

“Joy Is Rising,” by S. Michaels/LightWriters

You can do all things through Me
together, let us do this…
with great joy, the time is now

©2022 S. Michaels
Always Believe
(Prophetic Haiku 7-7-7)

Another mention of joy. Such encouraging words. Consider . . . with God all things are possible. “Together, let us do this.” Please check out Susan’s site at the link provided.


When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”
(John 17:1-3 ESV)

“I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them.”
(John 17:9-10 ESV)

“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.”
(John 17:20-23 ESV)

Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.
(Psalms 82:3-4 ESV)

Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.
(Hebrews 7:25 ESV)


What is Jesus Christ to you? What is He to me?

If He is not everything to us, then He is not enough. If we see Him as everything, He is more than enough.

“The Christian life is not a struggle to live rightly but rather resting in Christ and finding in Him our life and our righteousness.” (Andrew Murray)

I love that quote. Read it again. And then read it again, and think on it, ponder it, consider it.

And while we are thinking on that, let’s also consider that mention of intercession. Jesus “always lives to make intercession . . .”

Did you know that Jesus prayed for you? Not only do we have this verse in Hebrews, which puts it in present tense, but we have His very words in John 17, in that “high priestly prayer,” which I like to call the “real Lord’s Prayer.”

Note that Jesus said He was not praying for the “world.” He was praying for His disciples. First, He was praying for the eleven that were remaining after Judas had done his “job.” But then? Then He prayed for you and for me!

And He continues to do so, according to the writer of Hebrews.

Now, back to this idea from Andrew Murray. If we consider what he says about the “Christian life,” then prayer becomes “not a matter of strain or anxious care but rather an experience of what Christ does through us. It is a participation in the life of Christ, which ascends to the Father as prayer. We can begin to pray not only trusting in the merits of Jesus and in the intercession by which our unworthy prayers are made acceptable, but in that union by which He prays in us and we in Him.”

This is all truly mind-boggling, if you think about it.

We (humans) have made the struggle in the Christian life to be all about doing and not doing. We have made it about “right living.” We are no better than the Pharisees in the New Testament, who made “remember the Sabbath and keep it holy” into literally thousands of petty little rules to follow.

This is not to say that “right living” isn’t important. But it is not the primary struggle. When we make the struggle about that, we become legalistic. We stand in the pulpit and condemn Christians who would dare to view an R-rated movie (I’m not making that up, I heard it said in a sermon). We shout from the pulpit that “you can’t be a Christian and vote Democrat in America!” I’m not making that one up either.

The last time I checked, the only qualification for being a Christian is believing in Jesus. My opinion about anything else doesn’t figure into that, whatsoever.

I shudder to think what the response might be if I were to try an experiment on social media and post, “You can’t be a Christian and _________.”

But I digress. You see, this is not the struggle, even though we seem to have made it so. As Murray so eloquently stated, the struggle is abiding in Christ, resting in Him, and finding our life and righteousness to be in Him. If I can succeed in that, the “right living” will take care of itself. But, alas . . . we westerners have, as usual, put the proverbial cart before the horse.

Take encouragement, as I am, this morning, that Jesus, our Savior, not only interceded for us a couple thousand years ago, but continues to do so, as He sits at the right hand of the Father. Not only that, but the Holy Spirit also intercedes for us!

That’s it. There is nothing else to say after that.


Father, my heart is full, this morning, as I consider these truths. I confess that, all too often, I have fallen prey to the legalism that comes with making the struggle of our lives be about following rules and right living. But then I read these words that remind me that my Savior prayed for me! And that my Savior continues to pray for me! And the Holy Spirit prays for me!

Father, thank You! I praise You! And, at the same time, I hang my head in shame, because there have been too many times when I have failed to remember these things. It’s not like I’ve never read those verses before. I’ve probably read John 17 literally hundreds of times. And I’m sure that I have made note of the fact that Jesus prayed for all of us who would believe because of the testimony of that handful of disciples with which Jesus started the Revolution.

Help us, Lord! We are in desperate need of Your help, today. We are fractured and splintered, and have been for centuries. People have made plenty of excuses for the many “denominations” into which Christianity has been divided. But it is tragic. We have not succeeded in being “one.” We need Your Spirit, Lord, to intervene. Now, more than ever, it needs to be seen that Your Church is united. Yet it seems to be more divided than ever before. Help us, Lord. May the prayers of Jesus Christ be answered in their fullness.

Give us the wisdom to make our struggle be about abiding and resting in Christ, and receiving our life and righteousness from Him, not from trying harder to live right.

All glory to You, through the Son and by the Spirit.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon.
(John 15:7 MSG)

Grace and peace, friends.

Light In Our Hearts

Today is Thursday, September 8, 2022, in the 23rd week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ be with you today!

Day 23,555

No time for trivial matters today.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord God, our Father in heaven, we turn to you in these times when we are under so much stress and temptation. Let your light glow in our hearts to give us firmness, patience, and perseverance throughout the time of testing, no matter how long it lasts. Your hand can change everything. Your hand can shorten the time we must wait until your light shines out of the darkness of death and evil, until your light reveals your life to your children and to the whole world. You are our God and Father as you have promised, and remaining at your side, we look to you in faith and trust. You will bring about goodness, justice, and mercy as you have promised, and so fulfill your will. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
"Has God forgotten to be merciful? 
Has he in anger withheld his compassion?" 
Then I thought, "To this I will appeal: 
the years when the Most High stretched out his right hand. 
I will remember the deeds of the LORD; 
yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. 
I will consider all your works 
and meditate on all your mighty deeds."
(Psalms 77:9-12 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. for the deeds and miracle that God has done in history
  2. for the light of God in our hearts that can give us patience and perseverance through times of testing
  3. for the presence of God through all of the difficult times we endure; nothing can separate us!
  4. that, if we are fully trusting in the Lord, we do not fear “bad news”
  5. that there is always time to pray

“Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.”
(John 12:27-28 ESV)

And Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.”
(John 12:44-50 ESV)


And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet.
(Matthew 24:6 ESV)

“When you go out to war against your enemies, and see horses and chariots and an army larger than your own, you shall not be afraid of them, for the LORD your God is with you, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt.”
(Deuteronomy 20:1 ESV)

For the righteous will never be moved; he will be remembered forever. He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the LORD. His heart is steady; he will not be afraid, until he looks in triumph on his adversaries.
(Psalms 112:6-8 ESV)

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)

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


They say to God, ‘Depart from us! We do not desire the knowledge of your ways. What is the Almighty, that we should serve him? And what profit do we get if we pray to him?’
(Job 21:14-15 ESV)


When we look around and begin to think that God has “forgotten to be merciful,” or “withheld His compassion,” we must stop and meditate on His deeds of the past. Our enemy will take those thoughts and run with them, if we let him. This is one of the great values of the book we call the Bible. In the Old Testament, we have many, many stories that tell us of the great deeds of God, throughout history, for His people.

Even Jesus’s heart was troubled, at times, but He had good reason for His troubled heart. Seriously, He was about to endure more pain and suffering than any human has probably ever endured. All for our sake. So, yes, His heart was troubled. But what did He say? “But for this purpose I have come to this hour.”

When the events of the world would draw us into darkness (and I confess that I have allowed that to happen, from time to time), Jesus would tell us that He has come into the world as light, so that, when we believe in Him, we do not remain in darkness.

Two thousand years ago (give or take), Jesus told us that we would always be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. But then He also told us to not be alarmed, because this has to happen.

Even as far back as the book of Deuteronomy, we are told to not be afraid if our enemy’s army appears to be larger than ours. “The LORD your God is with you,” Moses said to Israel.

In the Psalms, we are told that the righteous will never be moved, and that the righteous person shouldn’t be afraid of bad news, because his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord.

Jesus provides this righteousness for us. We have no righteousness of our own. And in His righteousness, we can live like this, never being moved, not fearing bad news, not being afraid of our enemy. That famous passage in Romans 8 gives us so much encouragement, because, truly, nothing can separate us from His love! And hear this, because not even my sin can separate me from His love.

And knowing these things, we ought always remember that there is time to pray. There is always time to pray. We may, in our own ignorance and selfishness, proclaim that we simply cannot find enough time in the day to spend more than five minutes in prayer.

This is foolishness. A man will find time to do the things that he wants to do, that he truly desires to do. When someone says, “I don’t have time to pray,” what they are really saying is, “I don’t want to pray.”

“The holy and most glorious God invites us to come to Him, to converse with Him, to ask Him for the things we need, and to experience the depth of blessing there is in fellowship with Him.” (Andrew Murray) If God is everything to us, if we delight in Him, we will find joy in this.

“We must acknowledge that we disrespect and dishonor God when we say we cannot find time for fellowship with Him.” (Murray)

May God convict us of our sin of prayerlessness and cause us to find joy in the fellowship with Him.


Father, I praise You for the encouragement in the Scriptures featured today. May we always know that You never leave us, that we are always in Your presence. And may that presence be even more heightened when we are experiencing troubling or trying times. This world can seriously be a dark place, but Jesus has come to us to shed light on us, that His light might emanate from our hearts, shining on this dark world, that we might not dwell in darkness.

Let our light shine on the world around us, that they might see Your light in us!

Help us to be more serious and intentional about prayer, Father. Give us the desire to pray more, that we might find the time to do so. Let us pray without ceasing, as Paul said to us. Let our prayers be like breathing, something that we simply do naturally, almost without thinking about it.

May our first response to any event in our lives be prayer, whether it be something good or something “bad” or threatening.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


"Apocalypse does not mean simply fear. Rather, it means fear that turns to joy. It is joy when the old world of sorrow and death is overthrown. For Christianity, this way of escape lies on the horizon of the present transient world. Other religions imagine an endlessly repeating cycle (and endlessly repeating misery). But Christianity waits in confidence for history to culminate in a mighty goal. In earlier times, for the first Christians, this waiting was like a torch in the night." ~ Hanna-Barbara Gerl-Falkovitz
(Daily Dig from Plough.com)

Grace and peace, friends.

Rest

Today is Thursday, September 1, 2022, in the 22nd week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ dwell in your soul today!

Day 23,548

We have a pretty good chance of rain, today, mostly this afternoon. The temperature is expected to be in the mid-eighties, and the rain chance is 57%, but less than an inch is expected. It would be much better if it were a slower rain than we got last a week ago, Monday. The highs for all ten days of the ten-day forecast are below ninety, which is fantastic. The record high for this date was 107, back in 2000.

I realize I haven’t posted much about baseball, recently. Part of that is because of time restraints, but my interest is waning, as the season nears its end. About the only thing I’m really interested in, at this moment, is hoping that Albert Pujols makes 700 home runs before the end of this season. He currently has 694.

The LA Dodgers have won 90 games, six ahead of the next team, which, unfortunately, is the Houston Astros. They would have to win 27 of their remaining 33 games in order to break the season record 116 wins. Doable, yes; but not likely, as they are winning about 70% of their games, right now. The Washington Nationals are still on the bottom, with a 44-86 record. With 32 games left, they will likely lose over 100 games.

The Astros, Mariners, Rays, and Padres all have three-game winning streaks going on. The Giants are in the midst of a seven-game losing streak. The Texas Rangers have lost four straight, two having come at the hands of the Astros, in their recent two-game series.

The Dodgers have outscored their opponents, so far, by 286 runs, while the Nationals have been outscored by 216. The Rangers are somehow still in the positive, having outscored their opponents by three runs. The Red Sox have been outscored by 54 runs.

The Rangers are still in third place in the AL West, but won’t necessarily finish there. At 58-71, they are only two games ahead of the Angels. Meanwhile, the Red Sox look like they will finish last in the AL East, currently at 63-68, six games behind the Orioles. The Rangers have 33 games left, while the Sox have 31 remaining.

I’ll be spending the day in the computer center, today, from 11:15-8:15. I have chicken taco soup in the crockpot, which will be ready by the time C gets home from work, this evening. This may be my last Thursday to work, as I will soon be switching back to Fridays. That may not happen until after next week, however. We aren’t sure, just yet. Because of the city’s pay schedule, whenever it does happen, I may wind up having to work a Thursday and a Friday, consecutively. It’s complicated. Heh.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Dear Father in heaven, open our hearts to see what is good in our lives. May the light in our hearts shine clearly so that we see, recognize, and live in accordance with what comes from eternity and belongs to our true nature, brought to us through Christ. Keep us from being blinded and deafened by experiences that will pass by. Help us to rise above them even in suffering and to wait patiently for what is becoming new and perfect. Praise to your name that we too can say, "The old has passed away; see, everything has become new!" Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
(I am currently not including the link because it doesn't seem to be working at the moment)

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

Today I am grateful:

  1. for the gentle rain that falls outside, as I write this
  2. that the Father opens my heart to see what is good in my life
  3. for the rest that Jesus gives when we come to Him
  4. that, because of Jesus, we can draw near to God when we come with a sincere heart
  5. for the ultimate protection of the Lord; the waters will not sweep over me, the flames will not burn me; all will be well

Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
(John 9:3-5 ESV)


“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
(Matthew 11:28-30 NIV)


let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.
(Hebrews 10:22 NIV)

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”
(Joshua 1:9 NIV)

But now, this is what the LORD says— he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.”
(Isaiah 43:1-2 NIV)

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
(1 Thessalonians 5:11 NIV)


Jesus was the light of the world as long as He walked here. When He left this plane, He passed that light on to His followers. As we follow Him, we have the assurance of His strength and help, through the Holy Spirit. We also have this promise of rest and “easy yoke” from Jesus. I have spoken many times of this, in this forum, and will, no doubt, speak of it again, for this is an important concept that we need to grasp.

The work to which God appoints us is not difficult, as long as we follow the commands of Jesus. As long as we come to Him when we are weary, He will give us rest. Rest is important for everyone. And as long as we walk with Him in His easy yoke, the work will not be burdensome. Anyone who experiences what has been called “burnout,” has not been walking in this easy yoke, but, rather, attempting to do the work, more or less solo.

We also have the admonishment, alleged to be the most oft-stated command in Scripture, to not be afraid. God has promised His presence with us wherever we go. He has redeemed us; He has set us free; do we truly believe that He has redeemed us only to abandon us and allow us to fail? My beloved, this cannot be! Look at the promises in Isaiah. When we pass through the waters, He will be with us; when we walk through the rivers, they will not sweep over us; when we walk through the fire, it will not burn us.

How easily we forget! How easily we allow our unbelief to creep in. I am no less guilty than anyone.

Therefore, I encourage you as we are admonished in 1 Thessalonians 5:11. I encourage you who are walking in this journey with me. Do not fear, for He is with you. Come to Jesus when you are weary, and He will give you rest. Walk in His easy yoke, and you will not be burdened. Do not be discouraged, for He will be with you wherever you go. He has called you, and He has redeemed you, and He will be with you and protect you.


Father, I praise You for these words of encouragement from Your Word. I thank You for the easy yoke of Jesus, and for His promise of rest when we are weary. Help us to avail ourselves of these promises and truths. Thank You for Your promises of Your presence and protection. Remind us that, no matter what can possibly happen to these jars of clay, our souls are eternally safe. Therefore, we shall not fear. We believe, Lord! Help our unbelief!

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
(Isaiah 41:10 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Seen Vs Unseen

Today is Thursday, the 25th of August, 2022, in the 21st week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you!

Day 23,541

We hit 88 degrees, yesterday, for a high. It still felt rather humid out there, at one point, and the sky was looking like it might rain some more on us, but it didn’t. The record high for yesterday’s date is 105. Today’s projected high is 91. It looks like (hopefully) we have topped out at 43 total days of 100+, and the longest streak, at least in my area, was 14 days. The forecast is predicting more thunderstorms and rain (hopefully no monsoons) next week, beginning around Tuesday.

Nathaniel Lowe drove in a career-high five runs, yesterday, and Adolis Garcia extended his hitting streak to 21 games, as the Rangers obliterated the Colorado Rockies, 16-4. At one point, it was 9-0, as the Rangers scored two in the first and seven in the second. Martin Perez had a great game. The bullpen lost the shutout in the seventh, when the Rockies got their only four runs. But the Rangers stormed back with three in the eighth and four in the ninth. Matt Moore came in and closed it out in the bottom of the ninth with three-up-three-down. Perez gave up only four hits and had seven strikeouts, over six innings.

The Rangers are now 57-67, still in third place in the AL West, still 22.5 games out of first place and ten games out of a Wild Card spot. They are off today, and will be back home tomorrow for a weekend series with the Detroit Tigers. They were 4-2 on this recent road trip.

Boston lost their third consecutive game, 3-2, against the Blue jays, in ten innings. They are now four games under .500, at 60-64, in last place in the AL East, sixteen games out of first place, and seven out of a Wild Card spot. They play Toronto again, tonight, in Boston.

The Dodgers won again, and are now at MLB-leading 86-37. The Nationals won a game, but are still at the bottom with 42-83. The Rays are at the top of the streaks with five consecutive wins, while the Twins, Angels, and Pirates are still duking it out for the longest losing streak, all at five games. The Dodgers now have a +275 run differential, while the Nats are at -209. The Rangers are now at +16 after yesterday’s romp, and the Red Sox went down to -44.

Since this is Thursday, I will be spending my eight-hour shift in the Computer Center of the Hurst Public Library, from 11:15-8:15. It’s an odd shift, especially figuring out the eating schedule. I typically get “lunch” at 4:00 PM, and then I will eat “dinner” after I get home, which makes my dinner really late. The same thing happens on Tuesdays, but I don’t go in until 4:15, so I have a normal lunch on Tuesdays.

I have Slow Cooker Chicken and Stuffing, from Emily Bites, in the crockpot, and it will be ready whenever C gets home from work. This is a delicious recipe, and pretty easy to make. The most “difficult” part is stirring together the sour cream and cream of chicken soup, and then stirring together the stuffing mix and the chicken broth. It’s all layered in the crock pot, and that’s all the preparation that is involved. You basically have five ingredients and three steps. Boom. And the family loves it.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Grant us your Spirit, Lord our God, that we may discern your good, acceptable, and perfect will. Give us joy in fighting on your side, so that what is good, acceptable, and perfect may be given to the world. Wherever we are and whatever work we do, give us zeal to serve you and be guided by you so that your will may be done and your kingdom come, so that already today we may find happiness even though only in hope. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
(Romans 12:2 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for answered prayers
2. for cooler temperatures
3. that the "work of God" is to believe on the One whom He has sent, that is Jesus
4. that Jesus is the "bread of life" 
5. that, as we look to things that are unseen, rather than things that are seen, we are daily being renewed in our spirit
6. for Jesus's declaration that we must take up our cross and deny ourselves, die to ourselves, to follow Him

Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal." Then they said to him, "What must we do, to be doing the works of God?" Jesus answered them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent." So they said to him, "Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform? Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, 'He gave them bread from heaven to eat.'" Jesus then said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world." They said to him, "Sir, give us this bread always."
 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. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day."
(John 6:27-40 ESV)

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
(2 Corinthians 4:16-18 ESV)

The righteous flourish like the palm tree and grow like a cedar in Lebanon. They are planted in the house of the LORD; they flourish in the courts of our God. They still bear fruit in old age; they are ever full of sap and green, to declare that the LORD is upright; he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.
(Psalms 92:12-15 ESV)

“Listen to me, O house of Jacob, all the remnant of the house of Israel, who have been borne by me from before your birth, carried from the womb; even to your old age I am he, and to gray hairs I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save.”
(Isaiah 46:3-4 ESV)


I struggled for a few minutes, this morning, trying to figure out where the Lord was leading me with these various Scripture readings from various sources.

Then I keyed in on this idea of looking at things that are unseen, rather than things that are seen. If we keep our eyes on things that are seen, we remain selfish. We react to things differently, focusing on “I, I, me, me, me.” We focus on “what I’ve done,” and we also seem to focus too much on “what God has done for me.”

While there is definitely value in recognizing what God has done for me, we become hyper focused on the self. This is not helped by the modern trend of worship music to sing about “I” and “me,” rather than “us” and “we.”

One of the results of this trend is, for example, what I am seeing on social media today. When the news broke that many people would have at least part of their student loans forgiven, people who claim to be following Jesus became indignant. “I worked hard and paid for my school.” “I don’t want my tax dollars to pay off other peoples’ student loans.” And so on.

In my opinion, these sentiments are extremely un-Christlike. And very selfish and self-centered. Again . . . “I, I, me, me, me.”

These are people who have their eyes on what is seen, rather than on what is unseen.

When we keep our sight on the unseen, we realize that whatever we are going through at the moment, “this light momentary affliction,” is “preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.” (Emphasis added)

Only the things that are unseen are eternal, says Paul. Everything that is seen is transient, temporary. Why focus on those things? When we keep our eyes on the unseen, we are daily being renewed from within, even though our outward bodies are dying, wasting away. There is also much effort, in this culture, to preventing that outward wasting away, which is, of course, a dubious effort.

I thought of the prayer of St. Francis, as I was reading my devotions and thinking of these things. It is very other-centered, rather than self-centered. It prays for the ability to spread love, pardon (also known as forgiveness), faith, hope, light, and joy. And it points my feelings outward, that I might console, rather than be consoled, that I might understand, rather than be understood, and that I might love, rather than be loved.

In short, the prayer is a desire to die to self and be born to eternal life. When we focus on the things that are seen, on “I, I,” and “me, me, me,” we fail to do this. And this is what Jesus calls us to do . . . to die to self.

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”
(Matthew 16:24-25 ESV)


Father, my heart echoes the prayer of St. Francis this morning. I have had my share of being selfish and focusing on what is seen, rather than on what is unseen. You have been working on this in my soul for many years, now, and I believe that You have delivered me from being self-centered. Yet I find that I still manage to slip back into that habit, sometimes.

I pray for Your Spirit to dwell strongly within me, to help me keep focusing on what is unseen, on what is eternal, rather than on things that are transient and will perish, along with the rest of this physical world.

Help me to die to myself, to use the resources that You have given me to help others. I rejoice at the possibility that my “tax dollars,” that which I have “rendered to Caesar,” might be used to help someone else out of a financial bind. I cannot fathom any child of God being so selfish as to complain about that. Dear God, help us get outside of ourselves and stop being so selfish! Does Jesus weep when we complain so?

Help me . . . help all of us who call Your name and follow Jesus, to die to ourselves, to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Him, walking in His “easy yoke,” to live in Your Kingdom in this world.

Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus!


Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy;

O Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Amen.
(The Prayer of St. Francis)

Grace and peace, friends.

What Is Your “Why?”

Today is Thursday, the eleventh of August, 2022, in the nineteenth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ be in your soul today!

Day 23,527

Only EIGHT more days until S turns 29!!

The temperature only got up to 98, yesterday, and it rained again, which, once again, dropped the temperature significantly between 5 PM and 7 PM. C said it rained so hard that she had to use her windshield wipers on high. It didn’t rain that much at our house. The ten-day forecast shows only three days over 100, and more chance of rain next week.

Last night, I made Beefy American Goulash for dinner. It was definitely a hit. And there was enough left over for a couple more servings. I plan to take one for lunch at work today. Oh. that reminds me . . . I have to start soup in the crock pot for tonight’s dinner. Be right back.

I’m back. Thanks for waiting.

The Texas Rangers exploded (not literally) in the top of the tenth inning, last night, to beat the Houston Astros 8-4. The game was tied 3-3, going into the tenth. The Rangers are now 49-61 for the season, still in third place, 21 games out of first place, and nine games out of a Wild Card spot. They have another game against the Astros, this afternoon, at 1:10 CDT, in Houston. Then they are back at home for three games against the Mariners and four against the Athletics.

The Boston Red Sox score was also 8-4. Unfortunately, the Sox were on the short end of that stick. The Braves won the game. Boston is now 54-58 for the season, sinking further into last place, seventeen games out of first place, and five games out of a Wild Card spot. They begin a four-game weekend series with the Orioles, tonight, in Boston. Oops. That was an assumption. This must be one of those weird make-up games for a game that was cancelled because of the pre-season lockout. It’s only one game, followed by a three-game series with the Evil Ones. And look! The Orioles have moved into third place! Shout out to kristianw84.

The LA Dodgers continue to roll on. They are on top of all three categories that I track, here. 77-33 record, five full games ahead of the Mets (the Yankees remain in fourth place), +236 run differential, and a TEN GAME win streak going! Vin would be proud. The Nationals remain on the bottom in two categories, with a 37-76 record, and a run differential of -200. I was wondering what the worst run differential in history was. The 1899 Cleveland Spiders had a run differential of -723. Anyway, the only category that the Nats aren’t the worst in is losing streak, currently owned by the Athletics with a five-game losing streak. The Red Sox have a four game losing streak. They now have a -36 run differential, while the Rangers keep bouncing around zero, and now have a +1.

It’s Thursday, so I’ll be working an eight-hour shift at the library computer center today, from 11:15-8:15.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, grant that we may be your watchmen, who can understand what you mean for our time. We thank you for all you have already done, for every change to the good among the nations. For the nations must bow to your will so that nothing happens unless accomplished by you. Judge us wherever necessary. Open our eyes to see where we are wrong and where something does not go according to your Spirit. Be with us and give us strength. Raise up more watchmen everywhere, in every place and in every home. Wherever something happens to move people's hearts, let the watchmen proclaim, "This comes from God. It does not matter how much we suffer. This comes from Jesus Christ, who suffered and died, but who rose again." Raise up such watchmen among young and old everywhere on earth, to the glory of your name. Let there be a people who go to meet you with shouts of joy and thanksgiving. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!” Listen! Your watchmen lift up their voices; together they shout for joy. When the LORD returns to Zion, they will see it with their own eyes.
(Isaiah 52:7-8 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the good news, the Gospel of peace, and that our God reigns
2. for the willingness to open my eyes and allow God to show me when I am wrong
3. that God alone is who I wait for to satisfy the longings of my soul
4. that I strive for integrity and uprightness in my life
5. that His grace is sufficient in all things

So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
(2 Corinthians 12:7-10 ESV)

Though the fig tree should not blossom, 
nor fruit be on the vines, 
the produce of the olive fail 
and the fields yield no food, 
the flock be cut off from the fold 
and there be no herd in the stalls, 
yet I will rejoice in the LORD; 
I will take joy in the God of my salvation. 
GOD, the Lord, is my strength; 
he makes my feet like the deer's; 
he makes me tread on my high places. 
(Habakkuk 3:17-19 ESV)

“You have also heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not break your vows; you must carry out the vows you make to the LORD.’ But I say, do not make any vows! Do not say, ‘By heaven!’ because heaven is God’s throne. And do not say, ‘By the earth!’ because the earth is his footstool. And do not say, ‘By Jerusalem!’ for Jerusalem is the city of the great King. Do not even say, ‘By my head!’ for you can’t turn one hair white or black. Just say a simple, ‘Yes, I will,’ or ‘No, I won’t.’ Anything beyond this is from the evil one.
(Matthew 5:33-37 NLT)

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.
(Psalms 1:1-2 ESV)

Do not scoff at prophecies, but test everything that is said. Hold on to what is good.
(1 Thessalonians 5:20-21 NLT)

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
(1 Peter 5:8 ESV)

May integrity and uprightness preserve me, for I wait for you.
(Psalms 25:21 ESV)


Here, we see a link between Jesus’s words in Matthew concerning making oaths (let your yes be yes and your no be no), and this verse in Psalm 25 about integrity and uprightness.

The psalmist is asking for a true heart, a pure heart, because that is how we must draw near to God. Don’t misunderstand . . . we do not need to be totally without sin before we can approach God, because that is impossible. Even though all our sins are forgiven and wiped clean, we are still not completely without sin. It is the motivation of the heart that is in question here.

“To meet with the Holy One, our heart must be wholly given over to His will.” (Andrew Murray) When we first begin to wait upon God, we find out how treacherous our hearts really are. It is difficult to dispense with ulterior motives when praying. I find myself questioning my own motives, frequently, when I pray.

Why, for example, do most popular prayer “formulae” begin with “adoration” or “praise?” Pardon my cynicism, but I think it’s because we foolishly believe that we can “butter up” God. You know . . . “If I praise Him first, maybe He’ll answer my prayer.” Are we so naive that we don’t realize that He can see right through that?

The question also arises, what are we waiting for? When we pray, do we desire God’s gifts and actions more than we desire Himself? These are hard questions, I know. Trust me, I know, because I have grappled with them, myself, and still do. I pay attention to the words I pray. Sometimes I catch myself uttering silly, meaningless phrases, “vain repetitions,” when I pray. And when I do, I stop, immediately and confess. Sometimes, I even stop saying words for a few minutes and simply contemplate.

I don’t believe this is shameful, though, beloved. It is human. It is the normal behavior of us who are dust. And He remembers that we are dust.

I do long “for a sense of His holy presence and nearness.” Sometimes, I thirst for a manifestation of God’s power. But what is equally important is to know for whom we wait. I am not waiting on any human being to satisfy the longings of my soul. I am waiting for God and God alone, because it is He alone who is able, He alone who is worthy.

This just took an unexpected turn.

The prayer word of the day is “why.” I think the article intended it to be a question of “why,” as in “why is this happening to me?” And that, of course, is valid. However, this morning, I choose to look at it differently. And that, hopefully, will explain why I included it.

In the Weight Watchers community, it is strongly encouraged that we have a “why” in our mindset. Why am I doing this program? What is my reason? What is my “why?”

So what is my “why?”

Why do I continue to believe when so many of my old friends seem to have left the path? Why do I wait upon the Lord?

It is because I have experienced the nearness of God. I cannot prove it. I cannot even prove that God exists, just as an atheist cannot prove that He doesn’t. But I can firmly say, as Paul says,

But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me.
(2 Timothy 1:12 ESV)

And,

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)

Does this mean I never have doubts? Oh, heck no. I certainly do. And I’m honest enough to admit it, unlike some. Frankly, I don’t believe anyone who says that they have never doubted.

Nevertheless, I am convinced of the same things of which Paul is convinced. And I know that it is on God alone that I wait. It is God and God alone who is worthy of my allegiance, my adoration, my praise, and my worship. He alone is worthy of my service, which works itself out in service to other humans.

My “why” is because He is faithful and has been faithful to me, for sixty-four years, through my unfaithfulness and my doubts. As I said above, I have experienced His nearness, His presence. I have felt His embrace. Scoff if you will, but that is something that can never be taken away from me.

Today's sources:
Pray a Word a Day
YouVersion Bible reading plan
Daily Guideposts 2022
Power in Prayer, by Andrew Murray

Father, I am so grateful for You. You have been faithful to me, all these years, in spite of my own unfaithfulness. I still, to this day, sometimes wander off the path, and You are always there to guide me back, usually gently. And I remain convinced of Your care for me, Your love for me, and that nothing can ever separate me from Your love.

You alone are worthy of my praise. You alone created all these things that we sometimes think belong to us. Yours is the glory; Yours is the honor; Yours is the praise. It is on You alone that I wait.

I know that You will never leave me or forsake me, and, consequently, do not feel that I need to ask for that.

What I do ask is that I would be able to reflect Your love to the world. Help me to have those “beautiful feet” that spread the Gospel of peace to the world, that tell the world that You reign. Let me be a channel of Your grace and mercy to all people, and not just to the ones who I think deserve it. I believe You want us to love everyone as best we can, the way You have loved us.

Hallelujah, my God! All glory to You! Who can satisfy my soul like You? You are my “fountain;” You are my King.

Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus!


Grace and peace, friends.

Opportunity Knocks Constantly

Today is Thursday, the twenty-eighth of July, 2022, in the seventeenth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ be with you today!

Day 23,513

22 days until S turns 29!

My weather chart for yesterday looks a lot like the day before. The high temp was 103 again. That’s three straight days of 103 for a high. Keep in mind that I am getting my information from the nearest airport which is not DFW Airport, but Meacham Field in Fort Worth. I saw other information, yesterday, which had one more day of 100+ temps than I am showing. I have 32 days total, with a current streak of twelve. Today’s high is predicted to be 102.

We have now had no rain for 54 days. The ten-day forecast promises no relief.

The Texas Rangers kept Jon Gray in the game one inning too long, yesterday, and they lost 4-2 to complete the sweep by the Seattle Mariners. The Rangers are now 43-54, eleven games below .500, somehow still in third place in the AL West. They are still twenty games out of first place (the cheaters lost again), and 9.5 out of the Wild Card race. They begin four-game series in LA with the Angels today.

The Red Sox, after going ahead 6-5, couldn’t hold the lead, and lost to the Cleveland Guardians, 7-6. They are now 49-50, and remain in last place in the AL East, seventeen games out of first place and 4.5 out of the Wild Card race. They have another game with Cleveland today.

The Dodgers have overtaken the Evil Empire (I have been waiting to be able to say that!) by .003 percentage points, with a 65-32 record. While the Yanks have won one more game, they have also lost one more, which accounts for the percentage difference. The Nationals continue to have the worst MLB record, at 34-66. The Chicago Cubs now own the longest win streak, at six games, and the Giants continue to have the longest losing streak, now at seven. The Yankees maintain the highest run differential, at +196, and the Nationals keep the lowest, at -160. The Rangers are now at +3, and the Red Sox are at -16.

Today being Thursday, I will be working from 11:15 to 8:15 in the computer center at the library.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, we come into your presence, pleading with you to bring the world what it needs, so that people may be freed from all their pain and enabled to serve you. Let the power of Jesus Christ be revealed in our time. For he has taken on our sin that justice might arise on earth, that all might have life and might see your salvation, which you will bring when the time is fulfilled. Let your power be revealed in the world, and let your will be done, your name be kept holy, and all wrongs be righted in this turbulent and difficult age. O Lord our God, you alone can help. You alone are the Savior of all peoples. In your great mercy you can bring peace. We look to you. And when we consider your Word, we remember the mighty promises you have given, promises which are to be fulfilled in our time. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
Now we find that the Law keeps slipping into the picture to point the vast extent of sin. Yet, though sin is shown to be wide and deep, thank God his grace is wider and deeper still! 
(Romans 5:20 Phillips)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the senses, which allow me to have enjoyment in things in this life
2. for poetry . . . there are many poets who inspire me in this world
3. for the many opportunities that will come my way, to serve the Lord, today; may I be faithful and keep my eyes open for them
4. for the intricate connection between prayer and God's Word
5. that our Father will always be accessible to those who walk in Christ

On This Day, by S. Michaels, LightWriters

Let there be a change
the north west wind speaks
the willows drink deep

©2022 S. Michaels
A Season of Singing
(Haiku 5-5-5)

That’s an example of one of the poets who inspires me. Please check out her website for more beautiful imagery and poetry.


So with yourselves, since you are eager for manifestations of the Spirit, strive to excel in building up the church.
(1 Corinthians 14:12 ESV)

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.
(Ephesians 5:15-16 NIV)

If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people; If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.
(2 Chronicles 7:13-14 KJV)

“Seek the LORD while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
(Isaiah 55:6-9 ESV)

Evening and morning and at noon I utter my complaint and moan, and he hears my voice.
(Psalms 55:17 ESV)

And when Moses went into the tent of meeting to speak with the LORD, he heard the voice speaking to him from above the mercy seat that was on the ark of the testimony, from between the two cherubim; and it spoke to him.
(Numbers 7:89 ESV)

Opportunity is the word of the day. Opportunity is defined as “a set of circumstances that makes it possible to do something.”

In the Scripture passages above, there are opportunities galore. Opportunity is something my day is full of. It has been said by someone that “Opportunity knocks but once.” That may be true in some cases, because some great opportunities may only come to us one time. But opportunity, in general, happens constantly. Everywhere I look, if I’m paying attention, opportunity presents itself.

For example, in the Isaiah 55 passage, we are told to “seek the LORD while he may be found.” It’s not like He is hiding from us. He is available for us to find Him. For a season, at least. Seeking the Lord is one way of “making the most of every opportunity.”

Another way of making the most of those opportunities is in prayer. Now, we must be careful to note that that passage in 2 Chronicles, the one that well-meaning Christians love to quote when things are going bad in the nation, is directed to a specific people for a specific time. “My people,” in this case, is Israel. It is fair, as well, to say that “My people,” in this day and age, is the Church (capital C). What is not accurate or true is to think that “My people” represents a particular country, today.

Nevertheless, the encouragement to pray goes out to all people, to everyone who calls the name of Jesus. One of the ways that we seek the Lord (while He may be found) is through prayer. Side note: God will always be found by His own people. The Psalmist recognized that opportunities to pray were constant. In Psalm 55, he speaks of praying “evening, morning, and noon,” which is a way of saying “all the time.”

In Psalm 119:164, the psalmist says, “Seven times a day I praise you for your righteous rules.” That information led the Church, through history, to implement “fixed hour prayer.” By the sixth century, the monastic orders had implemented seven fixed times of prayer. Benedict added an eighth time in the sixth century. So they had Matins at midnight, Lauds at 3 AM, Prime at 6 AM, Terce at 9 AM, Sext at noon, None at 3 PM, Vespers at 6 PM, and Compline at 9 PM. Consequently, there was “opportunity” to pray every three hours.

Needless to say, the average Christian who works for a living cannot follow such a rigid schedule. However, it gives us the realization that we can truly, as Paul admonished us, “pray without ceasing.”

And we are not restricted, as Moses was, to a specific place to speak to God. Isn’t that wonderful? We can meet with God whenever and wherever we want, as well as whenever and wherever He wants.

Prayer and God’s word are inseparable. Attempting to experience one without the other will diminish both.

“A prayerful spirit is the spirit to which God will speak. A prayerful spirit will be a listening spirit waiting to hear what God will say.”

“The Word gives you a subject for prayer. It shows you the path of prayer, telling you how God would have you come. it gives yu the power for prayer – courage in the assurance that you will be heard. And it brings you the answer to prayer as it teaches what God will do for you.”

But prayer also prepares our hearts to hear God through His Word.

God should be the aim of my heart, the one object of my desires. Through prayer and His Word, He abides in me, and I in Him.

"Lord, make me willing to be used by Thee. May my knowledge of my unworthiness never make me resist being used by Thee. May the need of others always be remembered by me, so that I may ever be willing to be used by Thee.
"And open my eyes and my heart that I may this coming day be able to do some work of peace for Thee."
(Alan Paton, author of Cry, the Beloved Country)
Today's sources:
Pray A Word A Day
Daily Guideposts 2022
Spiritual Classics, by Richard J. Foster and Emilie Griffin
Power in Prayer, by Andrew Murray

Father, I praise You that You are always right there, ready for me to find, and waiting for me to both speak and listen to You. While there will come a time when those who do not believe will no longer be able to find You, You will always be found by us who call the name of Christ.

I thank You for the many, many opportunities that will come my way today. I pray for the readiness to utilize them, and pray for the willingness, as Alan Paton prayed, to be used by You. Every day that I walk into that library, I will be faced with dozens of opportunities to serve You by loving someone. May I be faithful to fulfill that responsibility.

I thank You for Your Word and for prayer, and the way that they are inextricably linked. It is true that prayer prepares me to receive Your Word and all of its benefits, but Your Word also prepares me to pray and gives me subjects for prayer, as well as answers my prayers. I really praise You for the book of Psalms, as it constantly gives me material for prayer, as well as a source of praise to You.

I pray for Your healing in the Church, Father. I pray that You would heal the division that has been brought on by people seeking peace in men rather than You. I pray that we would stop aligning ourselves with politicians and start loving You with all our being and loving one another the way Christ has loved us.

Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus!


“When opportunity knocks a pessimist dials 911;
when opportunity knocks an optimist sets the table.”
Matshona Dhliwayo

Grace and peace, friends.

Confess Your Own Sins

Today is Thursday, the twenty-first of July, 2022, in the sixteenth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ dwell in your hearts today!

Day 23,506

29 days until S turns 29

The skies teased us, yesterday evening. As I was driving home from my day at the library, the sky was dark with clouds, teasing of rain. While one of my HS friends (who lives in Denton) posted a picture of some light rain later in the evening, we saw none in my area. I will say that it felt slightly cooler, since the sun was hidden. Nevertheless, the high temperature hit the projected 109 degrees, for our twenty-fifth day of triple-digit temperatures. The current streak sits at five days.

We were hoping for a break today, but this morning, the projected high for today is 102. The positive in that is that there is also a 46% chance of rain in today’s forecast. In the next ten days, the first day that is projected to be below 100 is Saturday, July 30.

Baseball resumes for at least two teams today, as the Texas Rangers and Miami Marlins play a “make-up” game. One game. The other two are scheduled later in the season.

Since it’s Thursday, I’ll be at the library Computer Center today, 11:15-8:15. The taco soup is in the crockpot.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord God, our souls long for you and for your glory, for the day when it shall be said, "All is accomplished! Now your kingdom comes. Now your day appears. When we look back on all that has happened to us, everything becomes clear." We thank you that we can live without fear, again and again refreshed and renewed, waiting for the good you give on earth. Show us the way we have to go. Grant your blessing in our hearts so that in need and death, in fear and distress, we may always have light and strength. You are our salvation, Lord our God. From you comes the salvation of our souls. We trust you today and every day. We praise your name, and in you we hope for the day you hold in readiness for the whole world, the day when light will dawn in every heart. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; 
my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. 
Even the sparrow has found a home, 
and the swallow a nest for herself, 
where she may have her young – 
a place near your altar, Lord Almighty, my King and my God. 
Blessed are those who dwell in your house; 
they are ever praising you. 
(Psalm 84:2–4 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the constant refreshing and renewing that comes from the Lord
2. that I can live life without fear ("can" being the operative word, there)
3. for light and strength and salvation
4. for connections in life, that enable us to work together to do great things
5. for a sense of humility, especially before the Lord, that enables me to confess my own sins and shortcomings

Now concerning food offered to idols: we know that “all of us possess knowledge.” This “knowledge” puffs up, but love builds up. If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know. But if anyone loves God, he is known by God.
(1 Corinthians 8:1-3 ESV)

Food will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do. But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, will he not be encouraged, if his conscience is weak, to eat food offered to idols? And so by your knowledge this weak person is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died. Thus, sinning against your brothers and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.
(1 Corinthians 8:8-13 ESV)


Today’s word, from Pray A Word A Day, is connect.

“I can do things you cannot, you can do things I cannot; together we can do great things.” ~ Mother Teresa

Connections are inevitable. I’ll confess to you a “secret” (tongue firmly planted in cheek, there, because it’s not really a secret to anyone who knows me). I don’t really like people.

But here’s the thing, and it kind of shocks me. I just had a conversation, last night, with one of my library friends, who was gushing over my ability to connect with people in the library. I’m deeply humbled by her assessment of me, and explained it away because I’m in the environment of my dreams in that place. I mean, it’s a building full of books, for crying out loud! And, for the most part, I’m having conversations with people about books (sometimes music, but mostly books).

But here’s the thing. Going back to where I said I don’t really like people. I still believe in trying to be kind to people. and, as I said, connections are inevitable. Unless you live as a hermit in a cave, somewhere, and are able to completely survive on your own, connections are inevitable. By the way, I don’t know one single person who could survive without anyone else. Not one. I’m sure there are some out there, but I don’t know them.

If you believe you are one of them, I will prove you wrong.

“Connecting with other people can provide new knowledge and understanding,” says the writer of today’s reading. Not only, as Mother Teresa said, are there things you can do that I cannot, there are things that you know that I don’t know. This is yet another reason that we all need one another, and that is so very important that the Body of Christ stop being so ridiculous and get unified.

We have a mission on this earth, which has several parts. And believe it or not, the most important part, according to Jesus, Himself, is NOT telling everyone you meet about Jesus! Yes, I’ve actually met people who say that the Bible says that we are supposed to do exactly that.

It doesn’t.

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know what Jesus said is the most important part of our mission.

And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
(Matthew 22:37-40 ESV)

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
(John 13:34-35 ESV)

Making disciples, of course, is also an important part of the mission. But honestly, if we can’t manage to love one another as Christ has loved us, we aren’t going to do (and we aren’t, as it is easy to see) a very good job of making disciples.

We seem to be just a tad too busy pointing out other peoples’ sins, at the moment. I wonder . . . does that make us feel better about ourselves?

It’s possible that I’ve strayed a little, here. We were talking about connections. But in order for us to be connected and do those “great things” that Mother Teresa spoke of, we have to “get together.”


Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
(James 5:16 NIV)

Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.
(Jeremiah 29:12 NIV)

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.
(1 John 5:14 NIV)

As James writes to believers, he tells them to confess their sins to one another. What does he not tell them to do? He does not instruct them to “confess” the sins of everyone else!

I’m applying this principle to something I said above, about how “Christians” seem to be too busy pointing out the sins of others.

James says we need to confess our own sins. I need to be concerned about my own sins, not the sins of the person across the street. It hurts my soul to see how much enjoyment some folks have in pointing out the sins of others. There is almost a sense of glee about them. Again, I suppose it makes them feel better about themselves. But that’s been a problem with people forever, I guess. In order to feel better about ourselves, we compare ourselves with someone else, but we just make sure we aren’t comparing ourselves with someone, you know, better than us.

And then we wonder why God isn’t answering our prayers . . .

I’m reminded, her of something Paul said in 1 Corinthians, which I have been reading through, lately.

What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside.
(1 Corinthians 5:12-13 NIV)

And that, coupled with what Jesus tells us,

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
(Matthew 7:1-5 NIV)


Father, I pray for the Body of Christ. As recent years have gone by, I have watched it being splintered by politics and politicians. It hurts my soul to see this, because I love the Church. I have always loved the Church. You have deepened my understanding of who/what the Church truly is, over the years, as well as deepening my love for her. I have come to believe that one cannot love Jesus without loving His Bride. Jesus loves the Church. If I say I love Jesus and don’t love the Church, I am a liar.

I pray desperately for unity. The division is horrific. Sins that have been covered up for decades are coming to light and “mega-churches” are being brought down because of sinfulness and abuse. “Leaders” are being discredited right and left, and the world watches while the “church” (small “c”) crumbles. But Your Church is alive and well, Father, I truly believe this.

I believe massive pruning is happening, as You said it would. And, just as it would hurt if I cut off one of my own limbs, it is painful to experience and watch. Help us, Father! Give us the strength to survive and thrive in Your mercy and grace. I pray that the ones who are making the most noise would be silenced, and that real truth would prevail.

Help us to love You and love one another. Help us to stop being so eager to point out the sins of others, when Your Word tells us exactly the opposite. Help us to take care of our own “bodies,” as well as Christ’s “Body,” and teach us how to leave the judging to You.

Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus.


"O Lord,
you have mercy on all.
Take away my sins,
and mercifully kindle in me
the fire of your Holy Spirit.
Take away my heart of stone
and give me a heart of flesh,
a heart to love and adore you,
a heart to delight in you,
to follow and to enjoy you, for Christ’s sake.
Amen."
(Prayer for A Renewed Heart, St. Ambrose)

Grace and peace, friends.