Are You Ready?

Good morning. Today is Monday, the twenty-ninth of November, 2021. First Monday of Advent.

Day 23,272

Twenty-six days until Christmas.

I have received unpleasant news, this morning, news which will have an impact on Christmas and Thanksgiving celebrations for years to come. My Uncle “Buddy,” Robert Vinson, has passed away, this morning. He was my mother’s twin brother. At this point, I don’t know of any arrangements, but there will likely be a funeral later this week, which may mean that I miss a day at the library. Unless they decide on Saturday.

Brother Daryl Madden has shared a couple of poems with me, this morning. You who are regular readers are familiar with him and his inspirational/comforting poetry. Here are a couple which he has shared with me today.

Still You

Still raw is your passing

You’re in a better place
Your hope in gift of faith
Is answered by His grace

Still here is our sorrow

In random burst of tears
Drifting in our loss
Your emptiness felt here

Still in life’s reflection

The love to us you shared
We see your shadow cast
In many ways, you cared

Still we walk our path

With joy and sorrow, feeling
In prayer, we’ll be with You
A new way you’ll be healing


Still we’ll remember you

Etched within our heart
For now, your closer still
Through love that you’ll impart

Death is Nothing

Death is nothing. Nothing at all

It does not count. There is no wall

I’ve only slipped. In the room next

Nothing’s happened. Be not perplexed

As is the same. As was it be

You are you. And I am me

The old life lived. Together in love

Remains untouched. Unchanged above

Whatever we were. To each other

That we are still. And not another

Why should I be. Out of your mind
Just because. The eye is blind


As I am. I wait for you

So very near. Round corners view

All is well. Nothing is hurt

Nothing is lost. This truth assert

In moment brief. And all will be

As was before. Our joy to see

How we shall laugh. In embrace so sweet

When very soon. Again we’ll meet!

Thank you so much, Daryl!

We had a nice, restful day, yesterday. I spent about an hour at a local tire shop, though, getting tires rotated and air pressure checked. What prompted that was when the tire pressure light came on in my car, on the way back from Mineral Wells, Thursday evening. I checked the pressure on Friday, during the day, and all the tires had about the same pressure. The two fronts were exactly the same, and the two rears were almost exactly the same. This indicated that I likely didn’t have a leak.

I was planning to take care of it Saturday evening, after work, but it was raining, so I decided, since my car was long overdue for tire rotation, to take it to the tire shop that is open on Sundays and have them take care of it. So for $15, I got a tire rotation and all four tires checked and aired up.

Most of today will be spent getting caught up on various chores, such as laundry and grocery shopping and sweeping the floor. It’s good to be back to a regular schedule.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Catch A Breath, by Daryl Madden

Before our day begins
Time to start performing
Take a step outside and
Catch a breath of morning

For a seed of beauty
A gift of the spawning
To dwell within the light
Catch a glimpse of dawning

Let it settle in
Worldly time to cease
In silence of the soul
Draw a taste of peace

Know that loves abounding
Blessings our God shares
With gratitude to offer
A whisper of prayer

Please check out Daryl’s other inspirational poems at the link above.

I wait for the LORD,
my soul waits,
and in his word I hope;
my soul waits for the Lord
more than watchmen for the morning,
more than watchmen for the morning.
(Psalms 130:5-6 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the hope that comes in waiting for You
2. for many good memories with my uncle
3. that Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path
4. that I am one of the sheep of Your pasture, that You have made me, and I am Yours
5. that You are making us ready; may we walk in the hope and expectation that You have granted us

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
(Psalms 119:105 ESV)

A Psalm for giving thanks.

Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth!
Serve the LORD with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!
Know that the LORD, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!
For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.
(Psalms 100:1-5 ESV)

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”
And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden,
but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.'”

But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die.
For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.
Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.
And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.
But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?”
And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.”
He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?”
The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.”
Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

The LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life.
I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”
(Genesis 3:1-15 ESV)

You might wonder why we are reading the account of the fall of man during our Advent celebration. It all comes down to verse 15, where we get the first glimpse of Jesus Christ and His Gospel. The first glimmer of hope, the one who would “bruise the head” of our enemy. Jesus will come and undo the work of Satan, but not without great cost. Therein lies our hope, and hope is one of the central messages of Advent.

I thank You, God, that You are generous and the giver of all good things. I thank You that You have always had a plan for us and for the world, that You revealed this plan to us through Your prophets, and that this plan finds its fulfillment in Jesus Christ.

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

FIRST WEEK OF ADVENT – DAY TWO

INVITATION

I am counting on the LORD;
yes, I am counting on him.
I have put my hope in his word.
(Psalms 130:5 NLT)

As I pause in the quiet, this morning, I am pondering life, itself, and its brevity. Eighty-three years may seem like a long time, but my sixty-three seems so very brief, as I look back. Life is fragile, but we have hope in Christ Jesus, hope of life eternal. Sixty or eighty years is merely a grain of sand in comparison.

BIBLE SONG

Of Solomon.

Endow the king with your justice, O God,
the royal son with your righteousness.
May he judge your people in righteousness,
your afflicted ones with justice.
May the mountains bring prosperity to the people,
the hills the fruit of righteousness.
May he defend the afflicted among the people
and save the children of the needy;
may he crush the oppressor.
May he endure as long as the sun,
as long as the moon, through all generations.
May he be like rain falling on a mown field,
like showers watering the earth.
In his days may the righteous flourish
and prosperity abound till the moon is no more.
(Psalms 72:1-7 NIV)

BIBLE READING

“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.
“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.”
(Matthew 24:36-42 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I leisurely read these passages again, I look for words or ideas that stir within me. I linger over them, meditating on them and giving them my full attention. Is there something for me to ask God about? I pray my life to Him, and rest in His presence.

Psalm 72 is one of those that, on the surface, appears to be about an earthly king. Solomon appears to be voicing a prayer/song for himself, in third person. However, I believe it is also valid to attribute this to Jesus, based on the language it contains.

We do want Jesus to judge His people in righteousness, and His afflicted ones with justice. We desire prosperity for His people. We hope for the defense of the afflicted, and that the children of the needy will be saved. We also pray for all oppressors to be crushed. We believe that Jesus will endure longer than the sun and moon and all the stars, beyond all generations.

But then we shift gears a little bit, as the passage from Matthew 24 concerns the second coming of Jesus. We know this, because it is Jesus, Himself, voicing the words.

We hear that no one knows the hour or the day that Jesus will return. In fact, it would appear that even Jesus, Himself, does not know, but only the Father knows. We read that life will be going on, business as usual, when the Son appears. Just like in the days of Noah, the people “knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away.” And, He says, this is exactly how His second coming will be.

That is somewhat unnerving, I think. We won’t see it coming until it does. So all of this guessing and predicting, all of the books that have been written, trying to predict when it will happen, all useless. I find it interesting and enlightening that, even though Jesus gives all these signs before He says that, He still, at the end says that no one will know when it’s going to happen.

His main advice? “Keep watch.” “Be ready.” We get the same advice from Luke 12:40.

You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”
(Luke 12:40 NIV)

Father, help us to be ready. And while we are getting ready, may we not focus on the things that we cannot know. May we not waste time and energy trying to figure out what Jesus, Himself, doesn’t even know! Just let us be ready. What does being ready mean? It means simply keeping watch. Yes, Jesus gives us signs, and we can watch for them. But trying to predict when it’s going to happen is pointless. May our eyes be fixed on You; may our attention be on Your Word and on those who need it; may we focus on doing the things that Psalm 72 prays that Jesus, our King, will do, which is helping in the deliverance of the needy and afflicted, and crushing the oppressors.

Help us to see You in all things, as we walk in Your creation, and as we look around us.

I thank You for the life of my Uncle Buddy. I pray for my mother, Aunt Barbara, and for Johnny, Jayne, and Joan, my cousins. I also pray for their children and grandchildren, as they all grieve the loss of husband, brother, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather.

"Coming Savior,
You are the Word,
the wisdom,
and the very image of the Father.
Ready my ears to hear Your word of truth,
my heart to learn the ways of Your wisdom,
and my eyes to see the beauty of Your likeness.
Amen."

BLESSING

He who is the faithful witness
to all these things says,
“Yes, I am coming soon!”
Amen!
Come, Lord Jesus!
May the grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s holy people.
(Revelation 22:20-21 NLT)

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, 
have mercy upon us.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
have mercy upon us.
O, Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
grant us Your peace.
(Agnus Dei)

Grace and peace, friends.

Hope

Good morning! Today is Sunday, the twenty-eighth of November, 2021. The first Sunday of Advent.

May the peace of God reign in your life today.

Day 23,271

Twenty-seven days until Christmas!

It was a rainy, chilly evening, yesterday. We still haven’t put the ornaments on our Christmas tree, yet, but we may do that tonight. That depends, to some degree, on how S feels, later today. She is a bit “under the weather” (whatever that means) because she got a flu shot AND a Covid-19 booster on Friday. I probably would not have chosen to do both of those on the same day, myself. But she had a little fever during the night last night.

It was a pretty quiet day at the library, yesterday. It was busy enough, but nowhere close to a typical Saturday. However, several other library staff folks opined that it was pretty busy for a Saturday after Thanksgiving.

Today, our church gathering will be via Zoom. I anticipate that, afterward, we will resume our traditional Sunday lunch from Applebee’s.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Two Truths of Advent, by Dayl Madden

Come listen beloved
Two truths be aware
The birth of our Lord and
His return drawing near

The first is the answer
For the second, prepare
His incarnate dwelling
Be within you here

A time of waiting
Of joy to share
Of anticipating
The Word to appear

In this Advent season
Let our way be clear
Not to the store
But one body in prayer

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for,
the evidence of things not seen.
(Hebrews 11:1 KJV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for my faith, which is Your gift to me
2. for the peace in my soul, this morning
3. for the joy that is in my soul, as well
4. for Your very great and precious promises, and the anticipation of their fulfillments
5. for hope, without which we no reason to live

The plans of the heart belong to man,
but the answer of the tongue is from the LORD.
(Proverbs 16:1 ESV)

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor,
Mighty God,
Everlasting Father,
Prince of Peace.
(Isaiah 9:6 ESV)

And the angel said to them,
Fear not,
for behold,
I bring you good news of great joy
that will be for all the people.”
(Luke 2:10 ESV)

Come, thou long expected Jesus,
born to set thy people free;
from our fears and sins release us,
let us find our rest in thee.
Israel’s strength and consolation,
hope of all the earth thou art;
dear desire of every nation,
joy of every longing heart.

Born thy people to deliver,
born a child and yet a King,
born to reign in us forever,
now thy gracious kingdom bring.
By thine own eternal spirit
rule in all our hearts alone;
by thine all sufficient merit,
raise us to thy glorious throne.

Today, we begin the season of Advent. I used to think that this was solely looking forward to the celebration of the coming of Jesus, as a baby, which we, of course, celebrate on December 25 each year. But there’s more to it. We are also, in celebrating Advent, which means “coming” or “arrival,” looking forward to the second coming of Jesus Christ. At His second coming, He will “return to renew and redeem every part of fallen creation.” (Timothy and Kathy Keller)

The LORD is God,
and he has made his
light
to shine upon us.
Bind the festal sacrifice with cords,
up to the horns of the altar!
(Psalms 118:27 ESV)

But far be it from me to boast
except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ,
by which the world has been crucified to me,
and I to the world.
(Galatians 6:14 ESV)

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

WEEK ONE OF ADVENT – DAY ONE – FIRST SUNDAY OF ADVENT

INVITATION

I wait for the LORD,
my whole being waits,
and in his word I put my hope.
(Psalms 130:5 NIV)

During this quiet moment, I reflect upon the promises of God and anticipate their fulfillment. I remember, and I rejoice.

BIBLE SONG

Of David.

In you, LORD my God,
I put my trust.

I trust in you;
do not let me be put to shame,
nor let my enemies triumph over me.
No one who hopes in you
will ever be put to shame,
but shame will come on those
who are treacherous without cause.

Show me your ways, LORD,
teach me your paths.
Guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my Savior,
and my hope is in you all day long.
Remember, LORD, your great mercy and love,
for they are from of old.
Do not remember the sins of my youth
and my rebellious ways;
according to your love remember me,
for you, LORD, are good.
(Psalms 25:1-7 NIV)

BIBLE READING

“‘The days are coming,’ declares the LORD, ‘when I will fulfill the good promise I made to the people of Israel and Judah.

“‘In those days and at that time
I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David’s line;
he will do what is just and right in the land.
In those days Judah will be saved
and Jerusalem will live in safety.
This is the name by which it will be called:
The LORD Our Righteous Savior.'”
(Jeremiah 33:14-16 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I slowly read these passages again, I look for words or phrases that catch my eye or move my heart. I slowly repeat them, praying my thoughts, desires, needs, and feelings to the Lord, enjoying the presence of my Lord and Savior.

I see several words in Psalm 25, and most of them are related. In verses 4 and 5, I see the words “show,” “teach,” “guide,” and then “teach,” again. Those verbs all point to the words “ways,” “paths,” and “truth,” which are also related, in this context. The Lord’s ways, paths, and truth all mean, essentially, the same thing. And because of all of these, the psalmist finds that his “hope” is in the Lord, “all day long.”

My life verse, Psalm 86:11, makes a similar request of God.

Teach me your way,
O LORD,
that I may walk in your truth;
unite my heart
to fear your name.
(Psalms 86:11 ESV)

As I meditate and ponder these verses, it occurs to me that these prayers, from Psalms, may also apply to Jesus Christ. After all, He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. So if I am asking God to show me His Way, or teach me His Path, and guide me in His Truth, Jesus is the answer to all of those.

And He is the “righteous Branch” of which Jeremiah speaks. He will, as stated, “execute justice and righteousness in the land.” This, I believe, leads us toward hope in the second coming.

Father, as we enter into this Advent season, may we ponder all truth as it relates to our hope in Christ, both as we remember and celebrate His coming as Your Son, and as we anticipate the fulfillment of the promises regarding His return to set everything right. I pray that our varying opinions on what that means, “setting everything right,” will be unified, eventually. For myself, I am ready for whatever it means, because it means I will be with Him for eternity. It also means that all the things about which I am wrong (because I’m sure there are many) will be made clear and plain. I echo the psalmist’s prayers, though: Show me Your ways, teach me Your paths; guide me in Your truth. Unite my divided heart that I might fear Your name, and increase my hope in You.

May we all experience true fellowship with our coming Savior, as well as spiritual renewal and refreshment.

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Your Name. May Your kingdom come, and Your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; for Yours are the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

"Living God,
I confess the slant of my heart to hate You and my neighbor.
But that sounds so harsh -
I'm not that bad, am I God?
Yet if I am brutally honest I see that I'm in deeper than I dare admit,
unless I am born again by Your Spirit.
Fill me with the greater hope this Advent season that in Christ's love I am on my way to new life.
In the Savior's name,
amen."

BLESSING

He who testifies to these things says,
“Yes, I am coming soon.”
Amen.

Come, Lord Jesus.
The grace of the Lord Jesus
be with God’s people. Amen.
(Revelation 22:20-21 NIV)

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.
(Romans 15:13 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

The First Day of Christmas

Today is Friday, Christmas day, December 25, 2020, the first day of Christmas.

Peace be with you!

Day 22,933

Seven days until 2021!

What a wonderful time it has been!! It would be all too easy to bemoan the inconveniences of this season, but we have chosen not to do that.

Divine providence worked things out so that we could all be together, yesterday, at my mother’s house in Mineral Wells. At least that is how we are looking at it.

R was supposed to have to work yesterday, and was planning to make driving trips to our house and Grandma’s house, today. Then she got word that they would be allowed to log off early on Christmas Eve, and began planning to make those drives yesterday.

And then, yesterday morning, there was a power outage at her work location, and they were subsequently given the day off, as they could not do anything, even though working remotely. So she and J met us at at Grandma’s house, where we were able to sit safely outside and exchange our gifts. It was a joyous time!

After the gift exchange and much conversation, they left, and C, S, and I (yes, S went, as she has discovered that there is a certain kind of mask that she can tolerate), had our lunch and chatted a while longer. We headed back to Fort Worth about 5:00 PM.

This morning, we got up and exchanged our own gifts here. It was a lovely time, after which I cooked up some eggs, toast, and accessories for breakfast. Around mid-afternoon, we will start cooking our dinner, which will consist of our favorite Pecan-crusted Buttermilk Chicken, along with the corn casserole we discovered before Thanksgiving, and some green beans. No healthified green bean casserole. That just didn’t cut it.

It’s been a wonderful time, though, and a most joyous Christmas.

A few of my gifts will be incorporated into my daily routine. One of those is called Seeking God’s Face: Praying with the Bible through the Year, by Philip F. Reinders. It actually starts with Advent, moves on to Christmas, and then through the rest of the Church calendar. Since today is Christmas, I will begin using that devotional/prayer book today! It will likely replace The Divine Hours in my morning routine.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

“The twelve-day Christmas season, beginning on Christmas Day, may be the healing remedy needed to reclaim this holiday from merchants and marketers. After all the annoying ads and repetitive jingles fade, when everyone else is burned out on Christmas or has moved on to year-end reviews or gym memberships, now the follower of Jesus can focus on the meaning of the Christmas miracle.

“It’s a season of light in darkness, where we are taken deeper into the growing light of the Word made flesh. Reflecting on the birth of Jesus, we have time to delight in the how of incarnation as we’re also led into the deeper wonder of its meaning for our world.”

(Excerpt from the Introduction to the Christmas season in Seeking God’s Face: Praying with the Bible through the Year)

The format for Seeking God’s Face is as follows: He begins with an Invitation, which looks like it may be the same for all twelve days of Christmas. Following the invitation, a time of quiet is called for. After that is a “Bible Song,” which will be a passage from the Psalms. Following the Bible Song is a Bible Reading, from the New or Old Testament. Another period of quiet is after that. Then there is a segment called “Dwelling,” in which we are called to read the Bible reading again, in the style of Lectio Divina. Then there is a time of “Free Prayer,” and suggestions are provided, but not required. We may, at that point, pray whatever is on our hearts. After the Free Prayer, there is a written prayer, taken from such sources as the Heidelberg Confession, Westminster Confession, and so on. The time is concluded with a blessing.

There is no set time for this, as it can be done at any time of day that we choose. However, it is recommended that it be done at roughly the same time every day. There is also no specified time limit, as it can take as long as we need it to. One thing to consider is that, just as when using The Divine Hours, it is entirely possible that others are also praying in the same way, along with us.

Also, fear not, for my gratitude will come at the end, from now on, I think.

Psalms 100:1-2 NIV
(1) Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.
(2) Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.

Psalms 97:1-6 NIV
(1) The LORD reigns, let the earth be glad; let the distant shores rejoice.
(2) Clouds and thick darkness surround him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.
(3) Fire goes before him and consumes his foes on every side.
(4) His lightning lights up the world; the earth sees and trembles.
(5) The mountains melt like wax before the LORD, before the Lord of all the earth.
(6) The heavens proclaim his righteousness, and all peoples see his glory.

Luke 2:1-14 NIV
(1) In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world.
(2) (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.)
(3) And everyone went to their own town to register.

(4) So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David.
(5) He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.
(6) While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born,
(7) and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

(8) And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.
(9) An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.
(10) But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.
(11) Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.
(12) This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

(13) Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

(14) “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

One thing that I am dwelling on, this morning, is that bit in verses 13 and 14. This “great company of the heavenly host . . .” What did that look like? If the initial angel who brought the Good News to the shepherds had to calm them down by saying “Do not be afraid,” when he appeared by himself, can you even imagine the reaction of the shepherds when a “great company of the heavenly host” appeared??

And was this great company also angels? We’ve always assumed that, but it does not say that. What did they look like? What did they sound like? Were they singing? Because we also assume that they were singing. Was it all in unison, or was there a myriad of beings all shouting that phrase, seemingly randomly?

I won’t get answers to these questions until I meet my Savior face-to-face, and by then, odds are I won’t care at all. These are not theological questions. They are simply curiosity brought on by the reading and pondering of the Word.

The words that stick out to me, this morning, are “joy” and “peace,” because those are what I have in my heart today!

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Your Name. May Your kingdom come, and Your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; for Yours are the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

Jesus Christ, our newborn King:
we rejoice that you came among us in all your glory,
taking on our life so that we might share in yours.
In your conception and birth you've come to remove our sin -
ours since we were first conceived -
delivering us to the hope of new life.
Make your home among us today and always.
Amen.
(Heidelberg Confession 36)

“Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come to his people and redeemed them.”
(Luke 1:68 NIV)

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

Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!
(2 Corinthians 9:15 ESV)

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.
(Isaiah 9:6-7 ESV)

Praise the LORD. Praise the LORD, my soul.
I will praise the LORD all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.
Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings, who cannot save.
When their spirit departs, they return to the ground; on that very day their plans come to nothing.
Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD their God.
He is the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them— he remains faithful forever.
He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets prisoners free,
the LORD gives sight to the blind, the LORD lifts up those who are bowed down, the LORD loves the righteous.
The LORD watches over the foreigner and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.
The LORD reigns forever, your God, O Zion, for all generations. Praise the LORD.
(Psalms 146:1-10 NIV)

“It may take a long time or a lifetime, but all prayer that engages God and the world as they truly are will eventually end in praise.”

(From The Songs of Jesus, by Timothy and Kathy Keller)

As I read that Psalm to close out today’s devotional it is fitting. This psalm praises God for justice. Not personal justice, mind you. Justice for the oppressed, the hungry, the prisoner, the blind, the “bowed down,” the fatherless, the foreigner, and the widow.

He cared enough for all of these that the events described earlier in the entry occurred a couple thousand years ago; events which culminated in a great company of the heavenly host appearing to a rag-tag group of Bethlehem shepherds, and shouting (or singing), “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

Father, I praise You for this event! I praise You for the birth of our Savior, inconspicuous as it was, in the little town of Bethlehem. I praise You for the great company of heavenly host that announced this to the most insignificant of people. Your grace and mercy in this event is stunning, almost beyond comprehension. And the really great thing is that I don’t have to comprehend it. I need only believe it and embrace it. And embrace it, I do! Thank You, O great heavenly Father, for Your inexpressible, indescribable gift!

I pray for peace in our nation, peace in our world. I pray for racial injustice to end, and I pray for the pandemic to be over. Above all else, though, I pray for Your will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven. For Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Today I am grateful:

  1. For the wonderful time we had at Mama’s house, yesterday
  2. For the joyful Christmas morning we had today
  3. For Your inexpressible, indescribable gift
  4. For new tools to engage in Your Word each day
  5. For the justice You provide for the oppressed, the hungry, the prisoner, the blind, the “bowed down,” the fatherless, the foreigner, and the widow (Psalm 146)

Grace and peace, friends.

Not Mine, but Yours

“Prosperity and security are not ultimately your accomplishments but God’s gifts.”
“If you know that the one who loves you unfailingly is in complete charge of history, you will be able to sleep well.”
(Tim Keller)

Today is Sunday, November 29, 2020. Peace be with you.

Day 22,907

26 days until Christmas

Today is the First Sunday of Advent.

I was pleasantly surprised at my results at WW, yesterday. I was expecting to lose weight, but I wound up losing 3.6 pounds! I am now at 93.2 pounds lost since the beginning of February, with only 6.8 pounds to go to reach my “mini-goal” of losing 100 pounds by the end of 2020. With four more weigh-ins left in the year, that is totally possible.

C also registered a loss, which thrilled her, as she was expecting a gain. The weekly topic for the workshop was celebrating good things. It’s about gratitude, which I practice daily, already, so I was all over that topic. Our “exercise” for the morning was to think of “three good things” that we could say about the last twenty-four hours.

The truth is that mindset has everything to do with weight loss. If we have a good, positive mindset (not meaning that we have to never say anything negative, mind you), when things don’t go as planned, we will react better. For example, there was a time in my past when, had I “only” lost .4 pounds, like last Saturday, I would have been discouraged and upset. But last week, when I weighed in, and the result was “only” .4, I simply shrugged it off. Because a loss is a loss, no matter how small. A loss is a “win.”

I have been practicing daily gratitude for over a year, now, coming up with at least five things every morning for which I am grateful. They are frequently repeated, but that’s okay. That doesn’t mean I couldn’t think of anything else. It means that was what was on my heart for that day.

This morning, we have our Zoom church gathering. I’m guessing lunch will be Applebee’s again, today, as we haven’t planned anything else. Also, we still haven’t put up the Christmas tree, so that will probably happen after lunch today. C may go for a walk. The high today is only projected to be 52, so it will be cool out, but it’s not supposed to rain. We actually have a freeze warning over the next two days!

The U.S. finished yesterday with 143,373 new cases of Coronavirus, almost three times the next country, which was Brazil, with 51,922. I truly wonder what the rest of the world is thinking of us, right now. I also wonder if we care at all. We had 1216 deaths, yesterday. Texas claim to have had 6096 new cases.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

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

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

God be in me this day
God ever with me stay
God be in the night
Keep us by Thy light
God be in my heart
God abide, never depart.
(David Adam)

Scriptures and Prayers from The Divine Hours

Praise the LORD! I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart, in the company of the upright, in the congregation.
(Psalms 111:1 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. That I am alive and well, this morning
  2. That You, O Lord, are Most High over all the earth (Psalm 83:18)
  3. That my hope in You will never wane
  4. That my “accomplishments” are not really mine; they are Yours
  5. For the grace and mercy lavished on me throughout my life; all glory to You!!

that they may know that you alone, whose name is the LORD, are the Most High over all the earth.
(Psalms 83:18 ESV)

But I will hope continually and will praise you yet more and more.
(Psalms 71:14 ESV)

The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.
(Psalms 118:22 ESV)

For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.
(Matthew 24:37-39 ESV)

Give the king your justice, O God, and your righteousness to the royal son!
May he judge your people with righteousness, and your poor with justice!
Let the mountains bear prosperity for the people, and the hills, in righteousness!
May he defend the cause of the poor of the people, give deliverance to the children of the needy, and crush the oppressor!
May they fear you while the sun endures, and as long as the moon, throughout all generations!
May he be like rain that falls on the mown grass, like showers that water the earth!
In his days may the righteous flourish, and peace abound, till the moon be no more!
May he have dominion from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth!
(Psalms 72:1-8 ESV)

Even so, come, Lord Jesus.

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Your Name. May Your kingdom come, and Your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; for Yours are the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

"Merciful God,
who sent your messengers the prophets
to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation:
Grant us grace to heed
their warnings and forsake our sins,
that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ
our Redeemer;
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God,
now and for ever.
Amen."
(The Divine Hours, The Prayer Appointed for the Week)
"Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father,
you have brought me in safety to this new day:
Preserve me with your mighty power,
that I may not fall into sin,
nor be overcome by adversity;
and in all I do direct me to the fulfilling of your purpose;
through Jesus Christ my Lord.
Amen."
(The Divine Hours, The Concluding Prayer of the Church)

O LORD, you are my God; I will exalt you; I will praise your name, for you have done wonderful things, plans formed of old, faithful and sure. For you have made the city a heap, the fortified city a ruin; the foreigners’ palace is a city no more; it will never be rebuilt. Therefore strong peoples will glorify you; cities of ruthless nations will fear you. For you have been a stronghold to the poor, a stronghold to the needy in his distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat; for the breath of the ruthless is like a storm against a wall, like heat in a dry place. You subdue the noise of the foreigners; as heat by the shade of a cloud, so the song of the ruthless is put down.
On this mountain the LORD of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined. And he will swallow up on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the LORD has spoken. It will be said on that day, “Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the LORD; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”
(Isaiah 25:1-9 ESV)

Advent: Prepare For The Coming Of The Word

For you are our Father, though Abraham does not know us, and Israel does not acknowledge us; you, O LORD, are our Father, our Redeemer from of old is your name. O LORD, why do you make us wander from your ways and harden our heart, so that we fear you not? Return for the sake of your servants, the tribes of your heritage.
(Isaiah 63:16-17 ESV)

We have become like those over whom you have never ruled, like those who are not called by your name.
(Isaiah 63:19 ESV)

as when fire kindles brushwood and the fire causes water to boil— to make your name known to your adversaries, and that the nations might tremble at your presence! When you did awesome things that we did not look for, you came down, the mountains quaked at your presence. From of old no one has heard or perceived by the ear, no eye has seen a God besides you, who acts for those who wait for him. You meet him who joyfully works righteousness, those who remember you in your ways. Behold, you were angry, and we sinned; in our sins we have been a long time, and shall we be saved? We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away. There is no one who calls upon your name, who rouses himself to take hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us, and have made us melt in the hand of our iniquities.
(Isaiah 64:2-7 ESV)

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge— even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you— so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
(1 Corinthians 1:3-9 ESV)

Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come. It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his servants in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to stay awake. Therefore stay awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning— lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake.”
(Mark 13:33-37 ESV)

A Song of Ascents. Of Solomon.
Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.
It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.
Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them!
He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.
(Psalms 127:1-5 ESV)

“Prosperity and security are not ultimately your accomplishments but God’s gifts.” Because of this, working late hours, getting up early for more work, burning that “candle at both ends,” are all vain activities. The Lord gives sleep and rest to His children.

In the same way, being a “helicopter” parent will not ensure the health, prosperity, and happiness of our children. “Unless the Lord enters their lives, all our watching is in vain.”

“If you know that the one who loves you unfailingly is in complete charge of history, you will be able to sleep well.” If you are overworking and stressed out, you have forgotten who God is!

Apart from me you can do nothing.
(John 15:5 ESV)

(From The Songs of Jesus, by Timothy and Kathy Keller)

Most Holy Father, my “accomplishments” really are not mine. Everything I have, everything I have done; it all comes from You! I praise You for Your activity in my life; I thank You for the things You have done in my life and for my life. Not to us, O Lord! Not to us, but to Your great Name be the glory!!

I pray for peace in our nation, peace in our world. I pray for racial injustice to end, and I pray for the pandemic to be over. Above all else, though, I pray for Your will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven. For Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
(Isaiah 9:6 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Forever Enduring

Today is Friday, November 27, 2020. Peace be with you!

Day 22,905

28 days until Christmas

It’s the day after Thanksgiving, a day we traditionally have off from work. We finished getting the Christmas lights up on the top of the house, yesterday afternoon, and they look lovely. I will try to get a good picture tonight (after dark) and post it in tomorrow’s blog.

Our Thanksgiving dinner (which wound up being actual “dinner,” rather than lunch) was so delicious! And we have leftovers enough for today’s lunch, as well. Counted thirteen Smart Points for the meal.

We love our Pecan-crusted Buttermilk Chicken, but that corn dish?? Oh, my word, it was delicious!!! I can see us making that regularly, going forward.

We had a nice phone conversation with my mother in the early afternoon (right after our “brunch” of eggs and toast), and then another great phone conversation with R, when she called later in the evening. That was a lengthy call, and it was a delightful conversation. I think we solved all of the world’s problems during it.

Not really. I think only Jesus can do that.

About the only thing in the plans for today is putting up the Christmas tree. The box is already in the front foyer. We just have to rearrange some furniture in the living room and assemble the tree. Then we will hang our assortment of personal Christmas ornaments. We don’t have one, yet, for 2020. I wonder if there’s a plague doctor Christmas ornament.

Haha!!! There is! There are several, actually. I’m ordering this one.

Note that “2020” is on a roll of toilet paper. Perfect!!

Great. That picture will probably be the one that is randomly selected to show up next to my blog entry on Facebook. Hahaha!

Oh. And there will surely be Sonic drinks today, as we were not able to get them yesterday. S tried to get us to go get drinks at Jack in the Box. Uhuh. Not even a close substitute.

We (the U.S.) “only” reported 108,291 new cases of Coronavirus, yesterday. I can’t help but wonder what that number will look like in a couple weeks. Especially after “Black Friday” today. Texas only reported 4434. For some reason, I’m skeptical of that number, as California and Illinois both had over ten thousand.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

"O my God,
Thou fairest, greatest, first of all objects,
my heart admires, adores, loves thee,
for my little vessel is as full as it can be,
and I would pour out all that fullness before thee in ceaseless flow.

When I think upon and converse with thee
ten thousand delightful thoughts spring up,
ten thousand sources of pleasure are unsealed,
ten thousand refreshing joys spread over my heart,
crowding into every moment of happiness.

I bless thee for the soul that has created,
for adorning it, sanctifying it,
though it is fixed in barren soil;
for the body thou hast given me,
for preserving its strength and vigour,
for providing senses to enjoy delights,
for the ease and freedom of my limbs,
for hands, eyes, ears that do thy bidding;
for thy royal bounty providing my daily support,
for a full table and overflowing cup,
for appetite, taste, sweetness,
for social joys of relatives and friends,
for ability to serve others,
for a heart that feels sorrows and necessities,
for a mind to care for my fellow-men,
for opportunities of spreading happiness around,
for loved ones in the joys of heaven,
for my own expectation of seeing thee clearly.

I love thee above the powers of language to express,
for what thou art to thy creatures.

Increase my love, O my God, through time and eternity."
(The Valley of Vision, Praise and Thanksgiving)

Scriptures and Prayers from The Divine Hours

Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually!
(Psalms 105:4 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. For Your continual presence
  2. That my cup overflows
  3. That You know how foolish I am, yet You continue to show Your steadfast love to me
  4. That we have Your unlimited, infinite, never-ending resources available to us in any struggle or trial that we encounter
  5. For the intercession of the Holy Spirit, when we know not what to pray
  6. That You surround Your people as the mountains surround Jerusalem
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, 
have mercy upon us.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
have mercy upon us.
O, Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
grant us Your peace.
(Agnus Dei)

O God, you know how foolish I am; my sins cannot be hidden from you.
(Psalms 69:5 NLT)

Though we are overwhelmed by our sins, you forgive them all.
(Psalms 65:3 NLT)

He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?’ He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ So the servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ But he said, ‘No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.'”
(Matthew 13:24-30 ESV)

You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your presence.
For all our days pass away under your wrath; we bring our years to an end like a sigh.
The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away.
Who considers the power of your anger, and your wrath according to the fear of you?
So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.
(Psalms 90:8-12 ESV)

Make haste, O God, to deliver me! O LORD, make haste to help me!
(Psalms 70:1 ESV)

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Your Name. May Your kingdom come, and Your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; for Yours are the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

"Merciful God,
who sent your messengers the prophets
to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation:
Grant us grace to heed
their warnings and forsake our sins,
that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ
our Redeemer;
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God,
now and for ever.
Amen."
(The Divine Hours, The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

And they brought in the ark of God and set it inside the tent that David had pitched for it, and they offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before God. And when David had finished offering the burnt offerings and the peace offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the LORD and distributed to all Israel, both men and women, to each a loaf of bread, a portion of meat, and a cake of raisins.
Then he appointed some of the Levites as ministers before the ark of the LORD, to invoke, to thank, and to praise the LORD, the God of Israel. Asaph was the chief, and second to him were Zechariah, Jeiel, Shemiramoth, Jehiel, Mattithiah, Eliab, Benaiah, Obed-edom, and Jeiel, who were to play harps and lyres; Asaph was to sound the cymbals, and Benaiah and Jahaziel the priests were to blow trumpets regularly before the ark of the covenant of God. Then on that day David first appointed that thanksgiving be sung to the LORD by Asaph and his brothers.
Oh give thanks to the LORD; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples! Sing to him, sing praises to him; tell of all his wondrous works! Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice! Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually!
(1 Chronicles 16:1-11 ESV)

“Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually.” Notice that the same exact words appear a bit above, from today’s Divine Hours reading, with an address of Psalm 105:4. The song that they sang when the Ark of the Covenant was restored was made into a psalm.

It’s not bad advice to follow. It’s great advice to follow in a time such as this, when all of the “normal” trials and troubles we face are compounded by a world-wide pandemic.

We are not left on our own to fight this fight. If we try to fight in on our own, we’re just . . . well . . . forgive me, but it’s flat-out stupid. We have the resources, the unlimited, infinite, never-ending resources of the Lord God Almighty available to us. Why on earth would we enter into any kind of struggle or fight alone?

“God is present; God is strong; He’s looked after us in the past and will do so again.

“Our God will get us through.”

(Sheridan Voysey, Our Daily Bread)

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.
(Romans 8:26 ESV)

Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.
(Psalms 42:11 ESV)

Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer;
from the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I,
for you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy.
(Psalms 61:1-3 ESV)

May all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you! May those who love your salvation say evermore, “God is great!”
But I am poor and needy; hasten to me, O God! You are my help and my deliverer; O LORD, do not delay!
(Psalms 70:4-5 ESV)

A Song of Ascents.
Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever.
As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the LORD surrounds his people, from this time forth and forevermore.
For the scepter of wickedness shall not rest on the land allotted to the righteous, lest the righteous stretch out their hands to do wrong.
Do good, O LORD, to those who are good, and to those who are upright in their hearts!
But those who turn aside to their crooked ways the LORD will lead away with evildoers! Peace be upon Israel!
(Psalms 125:1-5 ESV)

In the ancient days of Jerusalem, being surrounded by mountains was the best possible place to be, security-wise. And we see in this psalm that the Lord surrounds His people in the same way.

“Trusting God provides a superior vantage point. It helps us see our own sin and see that wickedness only pays in the short term. Trusting God is also the way to eventually get breathtaking sights of God himself.”

Isaiah’s world was changed forever after the experience recorded below.

In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said:
“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!”
And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!”
Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.”
And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.”
(Isaiah 6:1-8 ESV)

“Most of all, trusting God means connecting yourself to the one person who will endure forever. And that means you will endure as well (verse 1). In a world in which seemingly everything changes and nothing lasts, fix your mind on that.”

When I am fully trusting in the Lord, I cannot be moved or shaken.

“Lord, I find the relentless transitions and changes of life exhausting. But you do not change, and you are my dwelling place. Help me calm my heart through this truth. ‘For his mercies, they endure; Ever faithful, ever sure.‘” (Italics from “Let Us With A Gladsome Mind,” by John Milton)

(From The Songs of Jesus, by Timothy and Kathy Keller)

Father, there’s a lot in today’s readings, a lot on which to focus. I pray for my trust in You to be strong and unshakable. May I have “breathtaking sights” of You in my life. I also pray that You will keep me seeking You and Your face, throughout the remainder of this life, both in times of struggle and trial, as well as in good times. For so often do we forget to seek You when things are going well, seemingly forgetting that it is because of Your great mercy and love that things do go well.

I pray for peace in our nation, peace in our world. I pray for racial injustice to end, and I pray for the pandemic to be over. Above all else, though, I pray for Your will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven. For Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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.

Delightful and True

Today is Tuesday, November 17, 2020. Peace be with you.

And I really mean that. I hope you can find some peace today.

Day 22,895

Nine days until Thanksgiving

Yesterday was not a very good day for me. There was no particular event that occurred that made it so. It was just a mindset that I seemed to be in. Perhaps it was depression. I’m not sure, because I don’t really know what true depression feels like. I just know that, multiple times during the day, I just felt down and/or sad.

I believe it’s a combination of things. The pandemic has many of us exhausted. The recent election fiasco (and I say that from a mostly middle-of-the-road point of view) amplified it by dozens of times. And Thanksgiving is not going to be great, this year. We will make it the best we can. And I’m sure there are folks who will go right on ahead with their plans, regardless of the risks. My family has chosen the safe route.

I’m hoping for a better day today.

The U.S. had 162,346 new cases of Coronavirus, yesterday. A Bloomberg article said that the numbers increased 38% in the last seven days, with no sign of plateau. Texas topped the nation with 11,879 new cases.

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

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

"Open, Lord, my eyes that I may see.
Open, Lord, my ears that I may hear.
Open, Lord, my heart and my mind that I may understand.
So shall I turn to You and be healed."
(Traditional)

Scriptures and Prayers from The Divine Hours

Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell what he has done for my soul.
(Psalms 66:16 ESV)

In spite of the way I have been feeling, this is still true for me. I will still declare the wonderful works of my God, both in my life and in our world and history. And I will still express gratitude, no matter how down I become.

Today I am grateful:

  1. That I am alive and breathing
  2. That, no matter how depressed or sad or despondent I get, You are still my King
  3. That “You are my strength when I am weak, You are the treasure that I seek; You are my all in all”
  4. That Your Word is faithful and true and delightful, and that I love it
  5. That You have “the whole world in Your hands”

May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us,
Selah.
that your way may be known on earth, your saving power among all nations.
(Psalms 67:1-2 ESV)

Your statutes have been my songs in the house of my sojourning.
(Psalms 119:54 ESV)

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
(Psalms 51:7 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.”
(John 12:44-48 ESV)

Hear my prayer, O LORD; give ear to my pleas for mercy! In your faithfulness answer me, in your righteousness!
I remember the days of old; I meditate on all that you have done; I ponder the work of your hands.
I stretch out my hands to you; my soul thirsts for you like a parched land.
Selah.
Answer me quickly, O LORD! My spirit fails! Hide not your face from me, lest I be like those who go down to the pit.
Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust. Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.
(Psalms 143:1, 5-8 ESV)

Psalm 143 is perfect for the way I have been feeling.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Your Name. May Your kingdom come, and Your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; for Yours are the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

"Merciful God,
who sent your messengers the prophets
to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation:
Grant us grace to heed
their warnings and forsake our sins,
that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ
our Redeemer;
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God,
now and for ever.
Amen."
(The Divine Hours, The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

Of David.
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.
Hear the voice of my pleas for mercy, when I cry to you for help, when I lift up my hands toward your most holy sanctuary.
Do not drag me off with the wicked, with the workers of evil, who speak peace with their neighbors while evil is in their hearts.
Give to them according to their work and according to the evil of their deeds; give to them according to the work of their hands; render them their due reward.
Because they do not regard the works of the LORD or the work of his hands, he will tear them down and build them up no more.
Blessed be the LORD! For he has heard the voice of my pleas for mercy.
The LORD is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.
The LORD is the strength of his people; he is the saving refuge of his anointed.
Oh, save your people and bless your heritage! Be their shepherd and carry them forever.
(Psalms 28:1-9 ESV)

“How we long to prevent bad things from happening! If only we could. But in our weakness, God promises we can always call to Him to be our Rock (vv. 1-2). When we don’t have the strength, He’s our shepherd and will carry us forever (vv. 8-9).”
(Anne Cetas, Our Daily Bread)

“And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.'”
(Matthew 25:40 ESV)

Whoever despises his neighbor is a sinner, but blessed is he who is generous to the poor.
(Proverbs 14:21 ESV)

Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.
(1 John 3:18 ESV)

Tsadhe.
Righteous are you, O LORD, and right are your rules.
You have appointed your testimonies in righteousness and in all faithfulness.
My zeal consumes me, because my foes forget your words.
Your promise is well tried, and your servant loves it.
I am small and despised, yet I do not forget your precepts.
Your righteousness is righteous forever, and your law is true.
Trouble and anguish have found me out, but your commandments are my delight.
Your testimonies are righteous forever; give me understanding that I may live.
(Psalms 119:137-144 ESV)

What does this psalm mean when it says that God is “righteous?” One meaning is that God is “completely just and fair; He never exploits or abuses.” And His Word surely displays that same righteousness. God is righteous, and His Word is righteous.

The idea of righteousness rubs against the grain of our modern culture, which is growing more and more averse to any kind of authority. We might think that God’s Word seems exploitive and unfair.

But the testimony of millions, past and present, is that “if you trust God’s Word, ‘thoroughly testing’ it in the crucible of your life over the years (verse 140), you will find it not only true (verse 142) but also delightful (verse 143). You will come to love it (verse 140).”

I am one of those millions who will staunchly deliver that testimony. The Word of God is faithful and true, and worthy of my trust. In Him I put my hope and trust; in Him do I stand and rest, never to be shaken.

“Lord, there were once many things in Your Word that seemed too harsh and severe to me, but as time has gone on, they have become fewer. Your Word has proven true. Open doors for me to tell others, in this most suspicious of all cultures, that the Word of the Lord can be trusted. Amen.”

(From The Songs of Jesus, by Timothy and Kathy Keller)

Yes, and Amen, Lord! I am grateful for Your Word, and for all that it means to me and all that it has done for me in my life. You are righteous and Your Words are righteous. Help me, as the Divine Hours prayer mentions, to hear, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest Your Words.

I pray for peace in our nation, peace in our world. I pray for racial injustice to end, and I pray for the pandemic to be over. Above all else, though, I pray for Your will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven. For Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Train me, GOD, to walk straight; then I’ll follow your true path. Put me together, one heart and mind; then, undivided, I’ll worship in joyful fear. From the bottom of my heart I thank you, dear Lord; I’ve never kept secret what you’re up to.
(Psalms 86:11-12 MSG)

Grace and peace, friends.

We Love What Vanishes

“Man is in love, and loves what vanishes.” ~ W.B. Yeats

Today is Friday, October 23, 2020. Peace be with you!

Day 22,870

34 days until Thanksgiving

It’s going to be an Autumn-like weather day, today, here in north central Texas. It is currently in the lower seventies, and will drop all day, down to a low tonight in the mid-forties. It looks like it may rain for most of the day, as well. I’m not crazy about driving in rain, but I don’t mind this kind of weather at all.

The US had 74,301 new Coronavirus cases, yesterday. Texas lead the way again with 6197. According to one chart, the highest count the US has had was over 75,000, back in July. That same chart only had 69,000+, yesterday.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord my God, I believe in you, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. 
Insofar as I can, insofar as you have given me the power, 
I have sought you. 
I became weary and I labored. 
O Lord my God, my sole hope, help me to believe and 
never to cease seeking you. 
Grant that I may always and ardently seek out your countenance.
 Give me the strength to seek you, 
for you help me to find you and you have more and more 
given me the hope of finding you. 
Here I am before you with my firmness and my infirmity. 
Preserve the first and heal the second. 
Here I am before you with my strength and my ignorance. 
Where you have opened the door to me, 
welcome me at the entrance; 
where you have closed the door to me, 
open to my cry; 
enable me to remember you, 
to understand you, 
and to love you. 
Amen.
(Prayer to Seek God Continually, St. Augustine of Hippo)

Scriptures and Prayers from The Divine Hours

Exalt the LORD our God, and worship at his holy mountain; for the LORD our God is holy!
(Psalms 99:9 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. That it is Friday. It has been a stressful week, for a variety of reasons, some work-related, some personal
  2. For Your presence through all of the stress
  3. That Your faithful love endures forever (Psalm 136)
  4. That, because of Your faithful love, I do not need the approval of people to be satisfied
  5. That You are in the heavens and do whatever pleases You (Psalm 115:3)

Be pleased, O LORD, to deliver me! O LORD, make haste to help me!
(Psalms 40:13 ESV)

But deal well with me, O Sovereign LORD, for the sake of your own reputation! Rescue me because you are so faithful and good.
For I am poor and needy, and my heart is full of pain.
(Psalms 109:21-22 NLT)

The LORD is compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.
(Psalms 103:8 NLT)

Before daybreak the next morning, Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray.
(Mark 1:35 NLT)

The LORD is close to all who call on him, yes, to all who call on him in truth.
He grants the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cries for help and rescues them.
The LORD protects all those who love him, but he destroys the wicked.
(Psalms 145:18-20 NLT)

Morning, noon, and night I cry out in my distress, and the LORD hears my voice.
(Psalms 55:17 NLT)

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Your Name. May Your kingdom come, and Your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; for Yours are the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

"Merciful God,
who sent your messengers the prophets
to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation:
Grant us grace to heed
their warnings and forsake our sins,
that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ
our Redeemer;
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God,
now and for ever.
Amen."
(The Divine Hours, The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

“Here is a simple, rule-of-thumb guide for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you, then grab the initiative and do it for them. Add up God’s Law and Prophets and this is what you get.”
(Matthew 7:12 MSG)

Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.
(Ephesians 4:31-32 MSG)

Not to us, LORD, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness.
Why do the nations say, “Where is their God?”
Our God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him.
But their idols are silver and gold, made by human hands.
They have mouths, but cannot speak, eyes, but cannot see.
They have ears, but cannot hear, noses, but cannot smell.
They have hands, but cannot feel, feet, but cannot walk, nor can they utter a sound with their throats.
Those who make them will be like them, and so will all who trust in them.
(Psalms 115:1-8 NIV)

I am immediately drawn into this reading, today, when Timothy and Kathy Keller make reference to Ray Bradbury’s tale, Something Wicked This Way Comes. I am a lifelong fan of Bradbury, a master of whatever genre you want to call it. I’m not sure if it is fantasy or horror or what. But I have always loved his writing, and Something Wicked is one of my favorites of his.

It is noted that Bradbury quoted W.B. Yeats in the front of the book, saying, “Man is in love, and loves what vanishes.” In his story, “each person has a particular secret desire which they think will bring fulfillment – restored youth, sex with the beauty of their fantasies, athletic prowess, lots of money.” (It is also noted that some of this is more applicable to the 1983 movie version of the story.)

The problem is that when they give up everything for their dreams, they find that they are enslaved rather than satisfied.

This is very similar to the Biblical teachings on idolatry. Also sounds a lot like addiction, doesn’t it?

“Anything more important to you than the real God is an alternate god. Idols have no power (verses 5-7) to give you the love, forgiveness, and guidance you need.” Ironically (or perhaps paradoxically is better), they do have the power to make you just like them, which is to make you “spiritually blind and unable to see as well as spiritually lame and unable to change.”

A side note from me, verse 3 is one of my favorite verses in the whole Bible, about God. “Our God is in heaven; He does whatever pleases Him.”

Boom.

Mic drop.

“Lord, I confess that I make an idol out of people’s approval. Let me be so satisfied with Your love that I no longer respond to people out of fear of displeasing them but only in love, seeking what is best for them. Remove my idols of approval – which can never give me the approval I need. Amen.”

(From The Songs of Jesus, by Timothy and Kathy Keller)

Father, I would add to the prayer about approval that You would keep me from any other idols that would subvert You from the most important place in my life. You have already directed my heart away from the love of “stuff.” I still, at times, find myself getting overly angry about situations, as well as overly judgmental toward certain people. Remove these idols of self-serving from my soul, Father, please. May I serve only You, but may that service work itself out in the form of service to others. “Not to us, but to Your name be the glory.”

I pray for peace in our nation, peace in our world. I pray for racial injustice to end, and I pray for the pandemic to be over. Above all else, though, I pray for Your will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven. For Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

Stand Still and Watch

“But you will not even need to fight. Take your positions; then stand still and watch the LORD’s victory. He is with you, O people of Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid or discouraged. Go out against them tomorrow, for the LORD is with you!”
(2 Chronicles 20:17 NLT)

Today is Thursday, October 22, 2020. Peace be with you!

Day 22,869

35 days until Thanksgiving

Yesterday, there were 63,663 new cases of Coronavirus in the U.S., with Texas leading the pack with 6414. Certainly not the numbers we’re looking for.

C is going back to work today. She is still battling headaches, but, over all, feeling much better. What I didn’t mention was that her doctor’s office advised her, on Monday, to go get a Covid test. So she couldn’t return to work until the results came in. Of course, as we expected, they were negative (thank you, Jesus). We weren’t really terribly concerned, but, of course, there is always that possibility, isn’t there?

I know someone, personally, who has had Coronavirus. I spoke with him yesterday, and he said it was pretty bad. He was in the hospital for four days. Needless to say, we are very thankful that C does not have the virus.

It’s been a somewhat stressful week, coming back off of our vacation. Most of the time, I’ve been dealing with it pretty well, but got a bit upset about something yesterday, and wound up having to (or at least I felt like I needed to) apologize to someone. It’s all good, but I certainly could have reacted better.

And that’s why I do the things I do on these mornings. I’m working to develop, or to allow God to develop, these characteristics within me that more mirror the mind and character of Jesus.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

You are my Shepherd,
Therefore, I lack for nothing; I have everything I need.
You give me peace and rest by leading me away from 
the hustle and madness of the crowds.
You refresh my soul.
You lead me down the right path,
to the glory of Your name.
Even though my journey takes me through deep darkness,
troubles, and world-wide pandemics,
I will fear no evil,
because You are with me!
Knowing that You are present at all times comforts me.
You bless me right in front of non-believers,
and I will share those blessings with them.
You have chosen me for a purpose,
and anointed me for that purpose.
My cup truly overflows, spilling onto all around me.
Your grace and mercy will follow me and surround me,
all the days of my life, and beyond,
as I dwell in Your house for all eternity.
Thank you, my Savior and my Shepherd!
(My version of Psalm 23)

Scriptures and Prayers from The Divine Hours

O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise.
(Psalms 51:15 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. For another day of life
  2. That righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne, and that mercy and faithfulness go before You (Psalm 89:14)
  3. That I daily walk in Your presence
  4. That You fight our enemies for us; we need only be still and silent and see Your deliverance
  5. That, to get us to our “true country,” to live with You, You will “shake and destroy death itself” (Timothy and Kathy Keller)

Send out your light and your truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling!
(Psalms 43:3 ESV)

O LORD God of hosts, who is mighty as you are, O LORD, with your faithfulness all around you?
(Psalms 89:8 ESV)

Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; steadfast love and faithfulness go before you.
(Psalms 89:14 ESV)

And so I walk in the LORD’s presence as I live here on earth!
(Psalms 116:9 NLT)

Then he turned to his host. “When you put on a luncheon or a banquet,” he said, “don’t invite your friends, brothers, relatives, and rich neighbors. For they will invite you back, and that will be your only reward. Instead, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. Then at the resurrection of the righteous, God will reward you for inviting those who could not repay you.”
(Luke 14:12-14 NLT)

But let the godly rejoice. Let them be glad in God’s presence. Let them be filled with joy.
Sing praises to God and to his name! Sing loud praises to him who rides the clouds. His name is the LORD—rejoice in his presence!
Father to the fatherless, defender of widows—this is God, whose dwelling is holy.
(Psalms 68:3-5 NLT)

Morning, noon, and night I cry out in my distress, and the LORD hears my voice.
(Psalms 55:17 NLT)

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Your Name. May Your kingdom come, and Your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; for Yours are the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

"Merciful God,
who sent your messengers the prophets
to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation:
Grant us grace to heed
their warnings and forsake our sins,
that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ
our Redeemer;
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God,
now and for ever.
Amen."
(The Divine Hours, The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

“The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.”
(Exodus 14:14 NIV)

“‘You shall not fear them, for it is the LORD your God who fights for you.'”
(Deuteronomy 3:22 ESV)

“But you will not even need to fight. Take your positions; then stand still and watch the LORD’s victory. He is with you, O people of Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid or discouraged. Go out against them tomorrow, for the LORD is with you!”
(2 Chronicles 20:17 NLT)

God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.
(Ephesians 2:8-9 NLT)

There is a common theme in these verses. Even in the New Testament passage from Ephesians.

It is a theme that we forget, all too often.

God will fight for us; God will deliver us; we do not have to do the hard work. He has got it firmly in His hands. We need only to stand and watch.

The Exodus passage has several different words, in different translations. The NIV says that we only need to be “still.” The NLT says “stay calm.” And the ESV says “be silent.” Eugene Peterson, in The Message, is not so polite about it. “Keep your mouths shut!”

Hahaha!

But the point is well taken. I think all of the translations are valid. Rather than getting ourselves all worked up, even angry and shouting, all we have to do is stand and watch God do His thing.

Yes, there are things we need to do. We not completely off the hook. The disciples were told to “watch and pray.” And, most importantly, as the second-greatest command is given, we are to love one another.

I believe there is too much fighting going on, when there needs to be more staying calm, keeping our mouths shut, and being still, praying. God’s purpose and will will prevail! We can be sure of this.

I love the 2 Chronicles passage. “Stand still and watch the Lord’s victory!” That’s what we need to do.

When Israel came out of Egypt, Jacob from a people of foreign tongue,
Judah became God’s sanctuary, Israel his dominion.
The sea looked and fled, the Jordan turned back;
the mountains leaped like rams, the hills like lambs.
Why was it, sea, that you fled? Why, Jordan, did you turn back?
Why, mountains, did you leap like rams, you hills, like lambs?
Tremble, earth, at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob,
who turned the rock into a pool, the hard rock into springs of water.
(Psalms 114:1-8 NIV)

Here are some examples of the Lord fighting for His people. The sea fled, the mountains shook.

“God’s love for us shakes the world, because nothing can come between us and God’s love (Romans 8:38).”

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Romans 8:38-39 NIV)

“To get us to our true country to live with Him, He will shake and destroy death itself (1 Corinthians 15:56-57).”

“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
(1 Corinthians 15:55-58 NIV)

We do not have to fight against death! Our Father has already done this, in the person of Jesus Christ, and He has won the battle.

When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
(John 19:30 ESV)

(From The Songs of Jesus, by Timothy and Kathy Keller)

Father, I needed these words, this morning. I need to be reminded that You will fight for us, that You are fighting for us, and that all we must do is stand and watch Your victory. It is not tied up in politics; it is not tied up in any kind of “moral” battle that we think we have to fight. You are doing the fighting, and You have already obtained the victory over death, itself, in order that we might be ushered into the country of resurrection. So while we are living in the country of death (because we do still live in that already defeated world), help us to remember that You have won the victory. Help us to do the things that we need to do, watching and praying, as the day approaches when ultimate peace will be ours, in You.

I pray for peace in our nation, peace in our world. I pray for racial injustice to end, and I pray for the pandemic to be over. Above all else, though, I pray for Your will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven. For Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

“As for me, I would seek God, and to God would I commit my cause, who does great things and unsearchable, marvelous things without number:
(Job 5:8-9 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Making the Wrong Right

Who can be compared with the LORD our God, who is enthroned on high? He stoops to look down on heaven and on earth.
(Psalms 113:5-6 NLT)

Today is Wednesday (Hump Day), October 21, 2020. Peace be with you!

Day 22,868

36 days until Thanksgiving

We cooked our Pecan-crusted chicken last night, and it was as delicious as ever. There was plenty left over, as usual, so I’ll be taking some to work today, for lunch. Not sure what else I will have with it. I always take a few dill pickle spears with me, but I may take a can of green beans, as well.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

"Open, Lord, my eyes that I may see.
Open, Lord, my ears that I may hear.
Open, Lord, my heart and my mind that I may understand.
So shall I turn to You and be healed."
(Traditional)

Scriptures and Prayers from The Divine Hours

Praise the LORD! Praise, O servants of the LORD, praise the name of the LORD!
(Psalms 113:1 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. To be alive and breathing
  2. For this morning time of prayer and meditation, preparing my spirit for the day ahead
  3. For Jesus, the Light of the world, so that I am not walking in darkness
  4. For the faithful companionship of “pets”
  5. That You, who are great above all the heavens, exalted above all nations, and outside of time, stoop down to have regard for Your creation

Prove me, O LORD, and try me; test my heart and my mind.
(Psalms 26:2 ESV)

Creation and creatures applaud you, GOD;
your holy people bless you. They talk about the glories of your rule, they exclaim over your splendor,
Letting the world know of your power for good, the lavish splendor of your kingdom.
(Psalms 145:10-12 MSG)

Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy!
He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.
(Psalms 126:5-6 ESV)

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

Your righteousness, O God, reaches the high heavens. You who have done great things, O God, who is like you?
You who have made me see many troubles and calamities will revive me again; from the depths of the earth you will bring me up again.
You will increase my greatness and comfort me again.
I will also praise you with the harp for your faithfulness, O my God; I will sing praises to you with the lyre, O Holy One of Israel.
My lips will shout for joy, when I sing praises to you; my soul also, which you have redeemed.
And my tongue will talk of your righteous help all the day long, for they have been put to shame and disappointed who sought to do me hurt.
(Psalms 71:19-24 ESV)

At dusk, dawn, and noon I sigh deep sighs—he hears, he rescues.
(Psalms 55:17 MSG)

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Your Name. May Your kingdom come, and Your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; for Yours are the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

"Merciful God,
who sent your messengers the prophets
to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation:
Grant us grace to heed
their warnings and forsake our sins,
that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ
our Redeemer;
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God,
now and for ever.
Amen."
(The Divine Hours, The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.
(1 Timothy 1:12-17 ESV)

Praise the LORD. Praise the LORD, you his servants; praise the name of the LORD.
Let the name of the LORD be praised, both now and forevermore.
From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the LORD is to be praised.
The LORD is exalted over all the nations, his glory above the heavens.
Who is like the LORD our God, the One who sits enthroned on high, who stoops down to look on the heavens and the earth?
He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap;
he seats them with princes, with the princes of his people.
He settles the childless woman in her home as a happy mother of children. Praise the LORD.
(Psalms 113:1-9 NIV)

Two brief topics this morning.

First, the passage from 1 Timothy. There is a story, from Our Daily Bread, in which the London Times once posed the question to its readers, “What is wrong with the world?” This allegedly happened around the end of the nineteenth century.

Many answers were received, and, not surprisingly, most pointed fingers and blamed others, as is the custom of humanity.

The legend goes, though, that the most unusual answer was received from author, poet, and philosopher G.K. Chesterton, who simply wrote, “Dears Sirs, I am.”

The truth of this legend is still up for debate. Nevertheless, it is a worthy contemplation. Just as Paul called himself “Chief of Sinners,” we should consider ourselves first, when answering the question, “What is wrong with the world?”

Sadly, I have “friends” and family that would answer that question with a conjured word, such as “demoncrats.” I have “unfollowed” most of them on Facebook. I have resisted the temptation to shoot back at them, “As if Republicans are any better.”

I remember a quote from a book I read, recently, by Pete Greig. The book is called How to Pray: A Simple Guide for Normal People. One of the statements that stood out most to me was, “Clenched fists and pointing fingers close our hands to grace.”

So, when considering what is wrong with the world, we should all be willing to start at home. Like Paul, and, perhaps, G.K. Chesterton, we should all be willing to say, “I am.”

The second topic comes from Psalm 113. It is simply the thought that this God, Creator of everything we see, who is exalted high above all nations, and sits outside of time, has condescended (“stooped” in most translations) to have regard for us.

Psalm 8:4 puts it like this: “what are mere mortals that you should think about them, human beings that you should care for them?” (NLT)

This same God stoops down to us. And then He picks up the poor and needy from the dust and the ash heap, and sets them with princes.

He cares for those who have been “left behind” by this world of greed and selfishness, and He admonishes us to do the same. And He illustrated this by becoming “small,” Himself.

I cannot even imagine what it must have been like the first time that Jesus, the human being, experienced physical pain.

This outlandish plan of God, throughout history, resulted in the opportunity of a lifetime. Because He condescended, because He “stooped,” because He became one of us, we can walk in His kingdom!

Then, instead of being what is wrong with the world, we can become what is right with the world! And, just in case anyone is confused, that has absolutely nothing to do with politics!

“Lord Jesus, I praise You that one infinitely greater than the universe with all its galaxies would become a tiny infant who needed to be fed and carried and changed. And You did it for [us]. That humbles my heart and yet lifts it to the stars as well. Thank You, Lord. Amen.”

(From The Songs of Jesus, by Timothy and Kathy Keller)

Father, I praise You, as well, for the fact that You have stooped from the highest heaven to have regard for us, Your lowly creation. I pray that we would stop thinking so highly of ourselves, and that we would work harder to become what is right with the world. But at the same time, may we acknowledge our responsibility for what is wrong with the world. We are the sinners. Help us to stop pointing fingers, calling names, and help us to unclench our fists, that we might be more open-handed toward those about whom You care most.

I pray for peace in our nation, peace in our world. I pray for racial injustice to end, and I pray for the pandemic to be over. Above all else, though, I pray for Your will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven. For Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless. Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.
(James 1:26-27 NLT)

Grace and peace, friends.

The Cosmic Wild Goose Chase

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
(Matthew 6:33 ESV)

Today is Tuesday, October 20, 2020. 10/20/2020. Heh. Peace be with you!

Day 22,867

37 days until Thanksgiving

Once again, as I set out to create a new habit, Facebook and email are closed until this Scripture and prayer time is finished. No distractions other than my own mind. May God fill it with Himself, this morning.

Yesterday was challenging, for sure, being the first day back from vacation. I began with 781 emails to sift through. Most of them were easily deleted, as they were “bot” emails, serving no other purpose than to notify of a status change on an expedite that had been submitted. Many of them were part of a customer service distribution list, and did not pertain to me, personally. It still took a while, though, to go through them all.

Even with that, it certainly could have been worse. And today will be better.

I think C is feeling some better, this morning, but she will continue to work from home. I’m feeling pretty good, just having some seasonal allergy issues, but they are mild, at this point.

I seem to be sleeping better, as I have begun some brief meditation techniques right before going to sleep, which help to calm me down. Breathing has become something that I am more aware of, lately. I’m trying to learn how to relax more through breathing deeply. There seems to be a big benefit in that.

Apparently, the World Series will consist of the Tampa Bay Rays and the Los Angeles Dodgers. The only way that series could be more boring is if it were the Yankees and Dodgers. It’s being played in Arlington, this year, at the new Globe Life Field, the first time in history that the series has been held at a neutral location. But it holds no excitement for me, just as baseball, in general, has not interested me, this year. Lest you think I’m a “sore loser,” it really has little to do with the fact that both of my favorite teams wound up dead last in their respective divisions. Rather, it has much to do with the state of the world, right now.

Also, I am not “depressed.” I’m just focused on more important things.

Speaking of more important things.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Heavenly Father, I come to You this morning to give You all the praise and honor that is due unto You alone. Thank You Lord, for Your goodness towards us all.

Father, let Your presence be felt in our lives today. We give You all our cares and burdens and we trust that You will take care of us. Help us, dear Lord, to keep our minds and heart focus on You today, so we will be able to receive Your peace that surpasses all understanding.

Today, we choose joy despite of what may be going on in our lives. Lord, strengthen us in Your power and might so that we may be a blessing to others who are hurting.

Psalm 16:8 – I have set the LORD always before me. Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
(Morning Prayer for the Lord’s Blessings)

Scriptures and Prayers from The Divine Hours

Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually!
(Psalms 105:4 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. That I am alive and awake
  2. For the blessings of Your righteous Word
  3. That it is Your pleasure to give us the Kingdom (Luke 12:32)
  4. That when we seek Your kingdom first, we shall lack nothing
  5. That I have no fear of bad news, because I walk in Your paths

O LORD, do good to those who are good, whose hearts are in tune with you.
(Psalms 125:4 NLT)

Seven times a day I praise you for your righteous rules.
(Psalms 119:164 ESV)

As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field;
for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more.
(Psalms 103:15-16 ESV)

“And I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God, but the one who denies me before men will be denied before the angels of God.”
(Luke 12:8-9 ESV)

God has spoken in his holiness: “With exultation I will divide up Shechem and portion out the Vale of Succoth.
Gilead is mine; Manasseh is mine; Ephraim is my helmet; Judah is my scepter.
Moab is my washbasin; upon Edom I cast my shoe; over Philistia I shout in triumph.”
Who will bring me to the fortified city? Who will lead me to Edom?
Have you not rejected us, O God? You do not go forth, O God, with our armies.
Oh, grant us help against the foe, for vain is the salvation of man!
With God we shall do valiantly; it is he who will tread down our foes.
(Psalms 60:6-12 ESV)

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

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Your Name. May Your kingdom come, and Your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; for Yours are the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

"Merciful God,
who sent your messengers the prophets
to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation:
Grant us grace to heed
their warnings and forsake our sins,
that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ
our Redeemer;
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God,
now and for ever.
Amen."
(The Divine Hours, The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

Now, therefore, thus says the LORD of hosts: Consider your ways. You have sown much, and harvested little. You eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm. And he who earns wages does so to put them into a bag with holes.
“Thus says the LORD of hosts: Consider your ways. Go up to the hills and bring wood and build the house, that I may take pleasure in it and that I may be glorified, says the LORD. You looked for much, and behold, it came to little. And when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why? declares the LORD of hosts. Because of my house that lies in ruins, while each of you busies himself with his own house.
(Haggai 1:5-9 ESV)

“Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
(Luke 12:32-34 ESV)

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
(Matthew 6:33 ESV)

Praise the LORD! Blessed is the man who fears the LORD, who greatly delights in his commandments!
His offspring will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed.
Wealth and riches are in his house, and his righteousness endures forever.
Light dawns in the darkness for the upright; he is gracious, merciful, and righteous.
It is well with the man who deals generously and lends; who conducts his affairs with justice.
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.
He has distributed freely; he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever; his horn is exalted in honor. The wicked man sees it and is angry; he gnashes his teeth and melts away; the desire of the wicked will perish!
(Psalms 112:1-10 ESV)

Once again, there are two sets of readings that seem to converge. One from Daily Guideposts 2020, and the other from The Songs of Jesus.

First, from Haggai, we get the idea that we should not be looking after our own “house” while the “house” of God lies in ruins. Today, because of the indwelling Holy Spirit and the sacrifice of Jesus, God does not dwell in a “temple” made of brick and mortar. His “house” is our soul.

So we can take this admonition from Haggai and relate it to this concept of, as John Ortberg calls it, soul keeping. We need to tend to our souls as God’s house before we look after our own interests.

You see, according to the Luke passage, it is God’s pleasure to give us the kingdom! All that He has is ours. This allows us to be generous and give to the needy without worry. We are also warned by Jesus, in the Luke passage that “where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” There is no faking this, either.

If our treasure is on earth, where moths and rust destroy, we will be stingy people, refusing to give to the needy, yelling at them to “get a job!” And our reward will be sparse.

But if we seek first His Kingdom, all “these things” will be added to us. “These things,” “the kingdom,” all that our Father owns will be our reward/inheritance.

Psalm 112 continues to describe the person who follows after God and enjoys His presence. He has wealth and riches (not just money, people), and his “righteousness endures forever” (verse 3). Even in darkness, he will have light (verse 4). He is generous (verses 4 and 5).

I love verses 6 and 7; he will never be shaken, and he has no fear of bad news. It does not say that he will never get bad news, does it? But it doesn’t scare him, because he knows Who is in control and that God will take care of him.

In contrast, those who do not follow God will see their desires melt away and perish (verse 10).

“Lord, I thank You that You give us the bread of life. All around me people are looking for meaning, satisfaction, freedom, connection. But these are all aspects of deep spiritual hunger, and only Your grace and Your face can satisfy that. Keep me from their cosmic wild goose chases. Let me taste and see that You are good. Amen.”

(From The Songs of Jesus, by Timothy and Kathy Keller)

Father, I praise You for these words of encouragement, this morning. I thank You that You have diverted me from those “cosmic wild goose chases.” I thank You for being with me, always, that Your presence is all around me, as well as within me, via Your Holy Spirit. Thank You for Your guidance, each day, and that You have guided my heart toward generosity. Make me even more open-handed, Lord, toward those who are needy. Show me who I can help. Your Kingdom is here; Your kingdom belongs to us; we shall lack nothing. You are my Shepherd.

I pray for peace in our nation, peace in our world. I pray for racial injustice to end, and I pray for the pandemic to be over. Above all else, though, I pray for Your will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven. For Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
(Psalms 16:11 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.