Abide and Receive

Today is Tuesday, the twenty-seventh of September, 2022, in the twenty-sixth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ abide within you today!

Day 23,574

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit will be updated today.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Dear Father in heaven, we thank you for your mercy and for your great goodness and power, revealed to us through the ages and in the present time. We live by your revelation, Lord God Almighty, for you perform wonders on earth and you reign in heaven so that heaven can bless and help us on our earthly pilgrimage. Grant that your loving-kindness and your justice may be revealed through all the world. Come, O Lord our God, bring the light for us who believe in you, and be the light for the whole world. Glory to your name, for you are indeed our Father in heaven and on earth, and you give certainty for our life in time and in eternity. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
I will praise you, LORD, with all my heart; 
before the "gods" I will sing your praise. 
I will bow down toward your holy temple 
and will praise your name 
for your unfailing love and your faithfulness, 
for you have so exalted your solemn decree 
that it surpasses your fame.
(Psalms 138:1-2 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. a new day; another opportunity to serve the Lord, to love Him, and to love others
  2. for the blessings of heaven that help us on our earthly pilgrimage
  3. for the promise of Jesus that, if we abide in Him, our prayers will be answered; the catch, of course, is that abiding bit
  4. that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son
  5. that truly, my soul finds rest in God

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.
(1 John 5:1-3 ESV)

If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater, for this is the testimony of God that he has borne concerning his Son. Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son. And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.
(1 John 5:9-12 ESV)

Here we have a strong testimony concerning Jesus Christ. He is life. He is the way to eternal life, the gift from God. Whoever has Jesus has life; whoever does not have Jesus does not have life. In fact, the one who does not believe in Jesus Christ, has made God out to be a liar.

I would not want to find myself in that position.

However, the other piece of this testimony gives us a criterion to know if we have Christ. It is love. If we truly love God, we will love whoever has been born of God. The love of God compels us to keep His commandments, which are totally wrapped up in those two commands that I keep harping on, here. And, says John, those “commandments are not burdensome.”


Father, I feel compelled to interject a prayer right now. I must confess that I sometimes find Your commandments to be burdensome. Loving You is not difficult. That part is not burdensome. I owe everything to You; I have nothing that I can call my own, other than, as Horatio Bonar once said, my sin. But loving others is sometimes burdensome. I do not blame them. I could, but I do not. I blame myself for continuing to judge people. I pray for Your Spirit to overwhelmingly intercede for me, to help me to be able to love others, unconditionally, and fully, with Your kind of love, the desperately sought-after agapao.


It is good to give thanks to the LORD, 
to sing praises to your name, O Most High; 
to declare your steadfast love in the morning, 
and your faithfulness by night, 
to the music of the lute and the harp, 
to the melody of the lyre. 
For you, O LORD, have made me glad by your work; 
at the works of your hands I sing for joy. 
How great are your works, O LORD! 
Your thoughts are very deep!
(Psalms 92:1-5 ESV)

Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked 
or stand in the way that sinners take 
or sit in the company of mockers, 
but whose delight is in the law of the LORD, 
and who meditates on his law day and night.
(Psalms 1:1-2 NIV)

Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him.
(Psalms 62:1 NIV)

We will not hide them from their descendants; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done.
(Psalms 78:4 NIV)


If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.
(John 15:7 ESV)

There is a truth that is constantly missed by many well-meaning people. God’s promises, at least most of them, have conditions. There is usually an “if” attached to the promise.

“What He is to us depends upon what we are willing to be to Him. ‘Come near to God and he will come near to you’ (James 4:8).” (Andrew Murray)

In the case of John 15:7, the condition is simple. Simple, yes, but perhaps a little more mystical than many are comfortable with. You see, the Father always hears the Son. The Son is in the Father, and the Father is in the Son. Therefore, if we are also abiding in Christ, we are in Him, and so our prayers will be heard, as well.

“Fully and wholly abiding in Him, we have the right to ask whatever we will, and the promise that it will be done is ours as well.” (Murray)

But, you might object, this does not appear to be the case. We must examine the state of our abiding. I have frequently discussed, with our brothers and sisters with whom we meet, why our prayers don’t seem to get answered, why we don’t see miracles like the saints of the New Testament Church saw.

Murray’s answer to that question is clear and concise. “Either we do not fulfill the condition, or God does not fulfill the promise.”

Since many believers are not willing to accept either part of that statement, they invent escape clauses. It must not have been God’s will. Jesus never said that.

But here’s the thing. And I do believe that there is nothing wrong with including “if it be Your will” in our prayers. However, if I am, as Murray stated, “fully and wholly abiding in Him,” then my prayers will be for God’s will, and I will not ask for anything that would not be His will. The only reason, ultimately, that my prayers do not get answered as I pray them, is that I am not fulfilling the condition.

And I am very quick to acknowledge that I, most of the time, fail to “fully and wholly” abide. This is why that verse in Psalms is my “life verse.”

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

My heart needs to be united, because it is divided. There are too many things demanding my attention. Now, the older I get, and the more I meditate on His Word, the less I give allegiance to anyone or anything other than God. But there are still sins that plague me, frequently. I struggle with those, as do most people. And I’m not ashamed to admit it. (I’ve discussed “shame” in other posts . . . it is toxic and disabling.) So I have no trouble acknowledging that the reason my prayers might not be answered is that I am praying outside the will of God because I am not abiding fully in Christ.

Recently, though, I have seen a couple prayers get answered. One of them, I confess, surprised me. Now why would that be, I wonder? Ah, we feeble and fickle humans. Our confidence runs so low that when God does answer a prayer, we are surprised.

If we have the confidence that we have been abiding, we should pray with expectation, not just hoping that God will answer, but believing that He will. But, again, it’s all tied in with that condition. If the condition is met, according to Jesus, the prayer will be answered.


Father, I know full well that I do not frequently succeed in “fully and wholly” abiding. I pray for Your help in this. You are my God. I worship You and I serve You. But my heart is divided, therefore, I continue to pray Psalm 86:11 to You, that You would teach me Your way, and that You would unite my heart. Hopefully, but the time I am ready to meet You face-to-face, my heart will be whole.

In the meantime, help me to abide in Christ, for more than just one reason. One is that I simply desire for that to be the case. I know that the fellowship with the Trintiy would be so precious and amazing if I am truly abiding. There is nothing like it in this world. But I also desire that my prayers be prayers that fully encompass Your will, on earth as in heaven, and that they would be answered in order that You would be glorified on the earth. That is the primary reason. Sure, I want to see my friends be healed and be successful and have good relationships in their lives. I want to see my friends protected from hurricanes (that’s a serious threat, right now, so I pray for their safety), and I want to see them be happy in their jobs. I desire for one friend to have a successful pregnancy to full term. But the ultimate reason for all of these is Your glory!

The Scriptures says that the earth will be filled with Your glory as the waters cover the seas. I pray that You would make this so, Father! All for Your name’s sake; all for Your glory.

Help me to abide in Christ.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another.”
(John 15:12-17 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

In the Watches of the Night

Today is Tuesday, the twentieth of September, 2022, in the twenty-fifth week of Ordinary Time.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,567

Only two more days until Autumn begins!! (Which, as has been duly noted, means absolutely nothing in Texas, as it is still 90 degrees outside.)

And, once again, the high temperature for yesterday was two degrees below the predicted high of 95. We are running about six degrees higher than the average for this time of year.

Today’s high is projected to be 96. The record high for this date occurred just last year, at 100 degrees.

C and Mama are currently at Mama’s doctor appointment, as she is seeing a new doctor here in Fort Worth, for the first time. I hope they like him.

I’ll be working my half-day, this evening, from 4:15-8:15, doing shelving. C will be working from home the rest of the day, after the doctor appointment, and I will probably go out and pick up Subway for lunch today.

There were only nine baseball games, yesterday, none of which involved my two favorite teams. However, the Mets, I am told, clinched a playoff berth, yesterday, when they beat the Brewers 7-2. I read that this was their first playoff appearance since 2016. Comparatively, though, six years isn’t such a long time. According to one source, the Mariners haven’t made the playoffs since 2001, and they are on track to get a Wild Card spot, this season.

The Astros clinched their division, yesterday, to be the second team that has clinched a division, this season. However, I’m confused, because Seattle has sixteen games left, and they are fifteen games out. So that “clinching” shouldn’t happen until Houston wins their next game or Seattle loses one, as Seattle’s E# is 1. If Houston has clinched, there should be an “E” next to Seattle.

Update: I’ve dug a little more deeply into that situation. If Houston lost the rest of their games (not likely) and Seattle won the rest of theirs (also not likely) they would be tied, in which case the head-to-head record would be used to determine the record. Houston beat Seattle 12-7 this season. So there you go.

The Dodgers won again, so their chance to beat the win record is still alive. They must win fifteen of their last sixteen games. They are, of course, still atop MLB with 102-44. The Nationals and Athletics both lost, so the Nats are still on the bottom, at 51-96. The Mets have a five-game win streak going, and the Pirates, Phillies, and Diamondbacks all have four-game losing streaks. The Dodgers have a run differential of +332, and the Pirates are at -214 (the Nats are at -213).

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord God, our Helper, we thank you for walking among us and for letting many experience your protection. Even when we are dying, you protect and help us so that we need not pass into death but may enter into life. So may our hearts be lifted up to you. Grant that the light in us remains undimmed, and that we may come before you in sincerity. Lord God, create good out of evil. Let light dawn in the darkness. Fulfill your promise, for our hearts are not concerned with human desires but with your promise. You will carry it out, and we will be able to say, "Our faith was not in vain, our hope was not in vain. Lord our God, you have blest us a thousandfold." Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; 
his greatness no one can fathom. 
One generation commends your works to another; 
they tell of your mighty acts. 
They speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty— 
and I will meditate on your wonderful works.
(Psalms 145:3-5 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. for the love of family and friends
  2. for the wonderful works of God, past, present, and future
  3. for my soul that desires to meditate on the Lord in the watches of the night
  4. for the steadfast love of the Lord, which is better than life
  5. for the admonishment to “be still before the Lord”

O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; 
my soul thirsts for you; 
my flesh faints for you, 
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. 
So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,
 beholding your power and glory. 
Because your steadfast love is better than life, 
my lips will praise you. 
So I will bless you as long as I live;
 in your name I will lift up my hands. 
My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food,
 and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips,
 when I remember you upon my bed, 
and meditate on you in the watches of the night; 
for you have been my help, 
and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy. 
My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.
(Psalms 63:1-8 ESV)

My eyes are awake before the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promise.
(Psalms 119:148 ESV)

“Arise, cry out in the night, at the beginning of the night watches! Pour out your heart like water before the presence of the Lord! Lift your hands to him for the lives of your children, who faint for hunger at the head of every street.”
(Lamentations 2:19 ESV)

In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God.
(Luke 6:12 ESV)

Initially, I am drawn, once again, to the “steadfast love,” or chesed, of God. In this case, the psalmist (reported to be David) says that the steadfast love, or mercy, of God is better than life. This stands to reason, because without that steadfast love, there would likely be no life.

But then I am drawn to the middle verses of this psalm; verses 5-7.

I have been physically satisfied (even beyond satisfied) by “fat and rich food.” This is the comparison that David gives for his soul when he remembers the Lord in his bed at night. He speaks of meditating on the Lord during the “watches of the night.”

This made me remember one of the prayers for Compline from the Book of Common Prayer.

“Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous, and all for your love’s sake. Amen.”

I remember reading a great book about that prayer, by Tish Harrison Warren, called Prayer in the Night: For Those Who Work or Watch or Weep.

I really want to get into the habit of practicing Compline and “examen” before I go to sleep each night. Tragically, I keep forgetting. Examen is the practice of a detailed examination of the conscience, typically done at the end of the day. As a spiritual discipline, though, it goes deeper than just checking the conscience. It examines the day; what went well, what didn’t go well? What could have been better? How did I react to certain situations?

These are the kinds of things that I think about when I consider the “night watch,” or remembering God “upon my bed.” I’ve gotten out of the habit of the “bedtime prayers” that I grew up with. It is something that I really need to get back into.


“Release yourself from the bondage of your own judgment. Love yourself without condition. Love yourself through the walls of defensiveness and the darkness of your deeds. Love yourself beyond whatever you deserve for such is the love of God.” ~ Adolfo Quezada, quoted in Spiritual Classics, by Richard J. Foster and Emilie Griffin


Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!
(Psalms 37:7 ESV)

“Be still” is translated “rest” in the KJV. The Hebrew word is damam, which can be translated “to be dumb,” or “to be astonished,” but also means “cease,” “hold peace,” “quiet self,” “rest,” “be silent,” and so on.

Is this not the same sort of thing that happens when we remember the Lord upon our beds, meditating on Him during the watches of the night?

How many of us go to sleep at night worrying about current events or things that happened during the day that trouble us? And how many times do these worries cause us lack of sleep?

This is one of the purposes of Compline and Examen. To quiet the soul before trying to sleep. One thing I do every night (now that I think about this) is to turn on a meditation app that I have on my phone. It’s called “Abide.” They have great, Scripture-based sleep meditations. I have a set of headband-headphones that I put on (so that it doesn’t bother my wife), and I start one of the meditations. They allegedly last up to forty minutes, but I have yet to make it to the end of one of them.

This isn’t the same thing as purposeful examination of the conscience and the day that preceded, but it certainly can’t hurt anything to fall asleep listening to Scripture.

This verse, though, instructs us to not worry about evildoers or those who prosper. Eugene Peterson translated that verse this way:

Quiet down before GOD, be prayerful before him. Don’t bother with those who climb the ladder, who elbow their way to the top.
(Psalms 37:7 MSG)

In this, we are shown patience and endurance by the Holy Spirit. Waiting requires great patience; resting in the Lord requires great patience and faith.


Father, help me to wait and rest better. I pray for Your Holy Spirit to remind me, each night, to examine the day, to check my conscience, to see how I could have done better, and also how I could have done worse. Help me to remember You on my bed, and meditate in the watches of the night. If I have trouble going back to sleep, simply draw my thoughts and meditations toward You in prayer.

Thank You for these words of worship and wisdom, and help me to apply them to my life today.

Even so, please come quickly, Lord Jesus!


“In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
I thank you, my heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, Your dear Son, that You have graciously kept me this day; and I pray that You would forgive me all my sins where I have done wrong, and graciously keep me this night. For into Your hands, I commend myself, my body and soul, and all things. Let Your holy angel be with me, that the evil foe may have no power over me. Amen.” ~ Martin Luther’s Evening Prayer

Grace and peace, friends.

A Pattern for Abiding

Today is Tuesday, the thirteenth of September, 2022, in the 24th week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ unite us all in harmony and love!

Day 23,560

There are only nine more days until my favorite season begins. The Autumnal Equinox is on September 22, this year. And soon, it will be my favorite month, the month of October. Our wedding anniversary falls in October, and C and I have a weekend planned, back in Glen Rose at our favorite cabin on the Paluxy River. We will be there, October 7-10.

The temperature reached 85, yesterday afternoon, a degree shy of the predicted 86. There was no rain, and there is none predicted over the next ten days. The highs are all 90 or above (none higher than 93), until September 22, when the predicted high is only 87. The record high for today’s date is 105, back in 2011.

The Texas Rangers split the double-header with Miami, yesterday. They won the first game 3-2, but lost the second 10-6. That makes them 61-80 on the season, and it got them in a tie with LA for third place. They are 30 games out of first place (eliminated from division contention), and 18 out of the Wild Card race (WCE# is 5). Today, they are back home to play the Athletics, at 7:05 CDT. Cole Ragans, who threw three innings of no-hit ball last time, will start. The Rangers have 21 games remaining.

The Boston Red Sox did not play, yesterday, and will begin a series with the Yankees tonight, in Boston, at 7:10 PM EDT. The Red Sox are 69-72 on the season, 16 games out of first place (E# 6), and ten games out of the Wild Card race (WCE# 13). They also have 21 games remaining.

The Dodgers, at 97-43 (MLB leading), are still the only team to have mathematically clinched a playoff berth. They have not clinched the division, yet, but the E# for San Diego, the second place team, is only 2. The Nationals are at 49-92, trailing MLB, but only two games behind the Athletics. The Cleveland Guardians have a four-game win streak going, while the Nationals, Braves (uh-oh), Rays (YAY!), Twins, and Reds all have three-game losing streaks. The Dodgers lead the run differential column, with +316, while the Pirates still have the bottom, with -211. The Rangers dropped to -17 with that second game, yesterday, and the Red Sox remain at -33.

Today being Tuesday, I will be at the library, shelving, from 4:15-8:15, this evening. This is also my “busy” week, so I will be working eight hours in circulation both tomorrow and Saturday. My Computer Center day is now Friday, every week.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, we know that we are your children, and in this certainty we gather in your presence as a community. Grant us your Spirit, the Spirit who works in us and frees us from the many evils that still torment us. Be with us and let the power of your great grace and mercy be in our hearts so that we may gain the victory and lead joyful lives on earth in spite of our many shortcomings, blunders, and sins. For your grace is great, much greater than all our failings. You are our God and Father, and we want to keep our consciences clear today and always through your grace. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
For it is by his grace you are saved, through trusting him; it is not your own doing. It is God's gift, not a reward for work done. There is nothing for anyone to boast of. 
(Ephesians 2:8–9 NEB)

Today I am grateful:

  1. for the power of God’s great grace and mercy in my life, that I might lead a joyful life here on earth, in spite of my imperfections
  2. for God’s gift of grace, by which I am saved
  3. for the unspeakable love that invites me to come and converse freely with God
  4. for the privilege of abiding in Christ
  5. that His power is made perfect in my weakness, about which I will gladly boast

"Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. 
"This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you."
(John 15:4-14 ESV)

Restore us, O God of hosts; let your face shine, that we may be saved!
(Psalms 80:7 ESV)

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

Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
(Psalms 37:4 ESV)

The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the LORD. All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the spirit. Commit your work to the LORD, and your plans will be established.
(Proverbs 16:1-3 ESV)

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
(1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 ESV)

But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
(Matthew 6:6 ESV)


“Abide in me,” says Jesus. I’ve discussed what “abide” means, in previous entries. It means to dwell, or live, in something, usually for an extended period of time. The NIV translates it “remain,” which isn’t a bad rendering of the word, either. The idea is to stay, to remain, to dwell, for a long time, in this case, preferably, permanently.

What joy it is to abide! What a privilege to be invited to do so! “As you enter a time of private prayer, let your first focus be to give thanks to God for the unspeakable love that invites you to come to Him and to converse freely with Him.” (Andrew Murray)

What I am attempting to do, every morning, here, is exactly that; to abide. My ritual remains relatively constant, although the appearance in this forum may change, from time to time. I begin with a prayer. Then I enter into a time of Bible reading/study. I seldom do any literal “study,” these days, as I have come to believe that that isn’t as important as I used to think. I realize that may sound like heresy to some . . . “study to show thyself approved,” and so on.

I rather enjoy the closing words of Ecclesiastes:

Besides being wise, the Preacher also taught the people knowledge, weighing and studying and arranging many proverbs with great care. The Preacher sought to find words of delight, and uprightly he wrote words of truth. The words of the wise are like goads, and like nails firmly fixed are the collected sayings; they are given by one Shepherd. My son, beware of anything beyond these. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh. The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.
(Ecclesiastes 12:9-14 ESV)

I will also point out that the word translated “study” in 2 Timothy 2:15, is only rendered so in the KJV. Both the NIV and the ESV say “Do your best.” The NLT says “work hard,” and the MSG says “concentrate.” All of these are acceptable translations, based on what I can tell from the Greek word in the text.

What I believe is that meditation and contemplation are as good as or better than literal “study,” whatever that means. Most people, when they speak of “study,” think it means to sit down and look at a passage of Scripture and read tons of commentaries about it and try to learn everything about it that they can. I suppose there is nothing wrong with this. However, I know one person who has studied very hard and probably knows the Bible better than anyone that I know. His heart, however, does not reflect intimate knowledge of the Trinity. He is not a very nice person. That, to me, is tragic, and it is why I believe that meditating on the Scriptures is at least as helpful, if not more so, than “study.” And you can work hard at meditation and contemplation, too.

Here’s what Murray says:

“Prepare yourself for prayer by Bible study. Read a few verses. Take what you readily understand and apply it. Then ask the Father to enlighten all of the passage to your heart and make it applicable.” (Emphasis added)

What he calls “Bible study” sounds a lot like meditation and contemplation to me.

And that’s what I try to do, here. After reading the Scripture passages that I quote above, I then spend a few moments sussing them out, generally typing while I’m thinking. Sometimes I use material from the various devotional books, but, lately, outside of those quote from Murray, it’s my own thinking emerging from my fingertips.

That may or may not be a good thing. But I tend to look at it as a form of meditation.

Then, I turn to prayer. The prayers that I type in here are generally related to what I have contemplated. There are also prayers from individuals that I lift up, as they have requested. I should probably do more of the bit where Murray suggests that we “Remember His greatness, holiness, and love.” He also recommends that prayers be specific. I try to do that, as well. “Let your prayer be specific, originating either from the Word you have just read or from spiritual needs that you are sensing at the time.”

One thing that is important, though. This prayer that begins in the private place should be carried out into the world. This does not, in my opinion, contradict the words of Jesus. Remember, in context, Jesus is warning His disciples against praying for show, as “the hypocrites” do. When we take the spirit of prayer out into the world, we are doing what Paul tells us at the end of 1 Thessalonians, praying “without ceasing.” We begin here, in the private room. But we don’t leave it there; we don’t stop there.


Father, it is truly a joy to be able to do this; to abide (help me to be more consistent at this), to pray (help me, there, also), to meditate on Your Word and to consider the greatness of Your mercy, love, and grace. When I consider all of these things, along with the moon, the stars, the magnificent heavens, along with the mountains and oceans that dwarf us on earth, I sing, along with the psalmist, “What is man that You are mindful of him?”

It is truly amazing that You, the Creator of all things, condescend to fellowship with us, Your creation. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too high; I cannot attain it.

I thank You that You have placed it in my heart to desire to delight in You. And this desire for delight is not totally driven by the desire to get whatever I want. Sure, I would love for my prayers to be effective, to be answered the way I pray them, so that everyone who gives me a prayer request gets what they want.

But that is not the driving force behind my abiding. You are. Christ is. The Holy Spirit is. It is a sincere desire to know You as fully as I can. Help me to abide better. Help me to pray better, to pray without ceasing, and to take this spirit of prayer out of this room with me. Let that color and influence everything that I do in my life.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!


"Have the patience and courage to begin again anew each day, and trust in God’s help; his mercy is new every morning. Then you will understand that life is always a matter of becoming or growing, and that you must always look forward to the greater things. Even though you stand in battle with dark powers, the victory will be yours, since in Christ every evil is overcome."
(Eberhard Arnold, Daily Dig from Plough.com)

Grace and peace, friends.

“LAZARUS, COME OUT!!”

Today is Tuesday, September 6, 2022, in the 23rd week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ be with you today!

Day 23,553 (the number of days since I was born)

To many people, today feels like Monday. My wife (known as “C” in this forum), for example, had to return to the office today after her long weekend. I, too, go to work today, but I’m always off on Monday. I’ll head in, this evening, at 4:15, for my weekly four-hour shift shelving returned books at the library.

We had another interesting weather day, yesterday. It was similar to Sunday, but the thunderstorm happened later in the day. Somewhere around 8:30 PM, we got a rousing thunderstorm, preceded by a nice rain. We received alerts that there was a severe warning in the area just north of us, but we did not get any severe weather at our house. Just like Sunday, though, the temperature dropped almost twenty degrees, this time taking almost three hours. Yesterday’s high was 90 degrees. I’m not sure how much rain we got yesterday evening, but we have received .88 inch in the last 72 hours. That may be it for a while, though, as there doesn’t appear to be any significant chance of rain over the next ten days. The temperatures continue to range from 87-92 for highs. The record high for today’s date is 102, occurring in 2012. I guess we got a break in 2000.

The Texas Rangers lost their ninth straight game, yesterday, unable to plate a run against the Astros. Final score, 1-0. Once again, Martin Perez pitched fairly well, but got no run support from his team. The Rangers, now 58-76, dropped to fourth place in the AL West, a half game behind the Angels. The Angels, Rangers, and Athletics are all eliminated from any chance of winning the division. The Rangers’ WCE# is 12. They have 28 games remaining.

The Red Sox lost to the Rays, 4-3, which is disappointing for several reasons. First, because the Red Sox lost; second because the Rays won; and third, because the Sox need to beat the Rays to keep any playoff hopes alive. The Sox are 67-69, in last place in the AL East. They remain 4.5 games behind the Orioles (who lost to Toronto, BOO), 14.5 out of first place, and 9 out of a Wild Card spot. Their division E# is 13, and their WCE# is 19. They have 26 games remaining.

In the Wild Card race, Baltimore is actually first behind the three current Wild Cards. But they are 4.5 games behind Toronto, to whom they just lost. They really need to win these next couple of games. Being the only other team in the AL East that I don’t seriously dislike, I would just as soon they make the Wild Card over Toronto and/or Tampa. If Boston or Texas can’t get in, Baltimore is my next choice.

The Dodgers lost a game, making their MLB leading record 92-42. With 28 games remaining, they must win 25 of those to break the record of 116 wins. They are 19 games ahead of the second-place team in the division, though, so, while they don’t mathematically have a playoff spot locked in, they virtually do. In other words, the Dodgers are coasting. The Nationals are making a serious run at not being the worst team. They have won four in a row, and are now only two games behind the Pirates, with a 48-87 record.

The Atlanta Braves and Toronto Blue Jays both have five-game winnings streaks. The Rangers have the longest losing streak, at nine games. The Dodgers have a +291 run differential, while the Pirates kept the worst, with -209.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Dear Father in heaven, how shall we thank you for all you give to us, your children, for the great wisdom and power you hold in readiness for us if we are childlike? We want to be glad in your presence. We do not want to weep and complain, though tears often threaten to come. We simply want to ask you to protect us, your children. Protect all your children on earth. Let the pain that breaks over them be taken away, for the sake of the whole world. Even when we must follow a hard road, let all the suffering we endure become part of the fight that brings in the kingdom of heaven, bringing your purpose to the earth and great mercy to the peoples, bringing to all the world the wonderful forgiveness that enables men to be reborn, until at last all are called your children. Sustain us. Help us. Bless us. May the Savior always live among us, reviving and strengthening us in body and soul. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”
(Mark 10:13-15 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. for children, and how they can teach us innocence and faith
  2. for the ways in which God protects His children
  3. that Jesus wept (John 11:35)
  4. that God can speak through anyone or anything He pleases
  5. that apart from God, I can do nothing

Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died." When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. And he said, "Where have you laid him?" They said to him, "Lord, come and see." 

Jesus wept. 

So the Jews said, "See how he loved him!" But some of them said, "Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?"
(John 11:32-37 ESV)

Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.” When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”
(John 11:41-44 ESV)

But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all. Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.” He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad.
(John 11:49-52 ESV)


“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
(John 15:1-5 NIV)


Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.
(Hebrews 13:2 NIV)

Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe.
(Proverbs 29:25 NIV)

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.
(Galatians 5:22-25 NIV)

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.
(2 Timothy 1:7 NIV)


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)

“The attempt to abolish wars and wickedness by the moral law is doomed to failure because of the fact of sinfulness.” ~ Dorothy L. Sayers


Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
(James 5:16 ESV)


“Jesus wept.” Sermons have been preached about the shortest verse in the Bible, John 11:35. Why did Jesus weep? We do not know. We are not given that information. In verse 36, the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” But that is just their conjecture. I mean, sure, yes, Jesus loved Lazarus. But that isn’t necessarily the reason Jesus wept.

I’m not going to try to figure it out. I’m not going to try to think of all the reasons that Jesus wept. I only want to see the reality in front of me, that Jesus wept. Jesus, God incarnate, fully God and fully human, expressed emotion. He wept, right there, “in front of God and everyone.”

And then, He did the unthinkable, the unimaginable.

“LAZARUS, COME OUT!!”

Even Mary and Martha didn’t fully grasp what was about to happen. “Lord, it’s going to stink in there!” was the objection that Martha gave when Jesus told them to roll away the stone.

Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?”
(John 11:40 ESV)

“LAZARUS, COME OUT!!”

What I would love to know is the thoughts of the people who were standing around the tomb, at that moment. The expressions on their faces. What they said to one another in quiet whispers. Did they snicker? Did they scoff? I bet their eyes got as big as saucers.

“What did He just say??”

“LAZARUS, COME OUT!!”

The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”
(John 11:44 ESV)

A little side speculation, here . . . how, exactly, did Lazarus come out? It says that his hands and feet were bound, so I’m thinking he didn’t exactly walk out. Maybe he shuffled? Did he hop? Or did he . . . float?

It’s not really important, that detail. What’s important is that he came out, alive. It says that many of the Jews that were on the scene believed in Jesus after this. I can’t help but notice that it doesn’t say “all” of the Jews believed. Some of them went back to the Pharisees to report on this.

And I love what Caiaphas said to them.

“You know nothing at all.”

Ooh, what a slap in the face that must have been.

But then, John lets us know that what Caiaphas said was prophecy, and that he didn’t speak it of his own volition.

To see the glory of God in our lives, all we must do is believe. This is expressed many times in Scripture. But here’s the thing. At that moment in time, when Jesus cried out, in a loud voice, “LAZARUS, COME OUT!!” the belief or unbelief of those watching was utterly irrelevant. Lazarus was coming out, whether they believed it or not.

We can see the glory of God all around us. But, if we believe, it will be more readily seen. We will see His glory in events and scenes in which we might not otherwise see it. And, even better, we might be involved in it.

The book of James tells us that the prayer of the righteous person has great power. What more exciting thing than to be involved in the glory of God being revealed through prayer? And prayer requires belief. I would not pray if I did not believe, plain and simple.


Father, I praise You for Your almighty power and glory. I praise You for the raising of Lazarus and the story that we have of that event. I thank You that Jesus showed His emotions, regardless of what reason there was for His weeping. If the reason were important, You would have told us. And maybe it was something as simple as the fact that He loved Lazarus, since those three where probably His closest friends, outside of the disciples.

Help me, Father, to believe, that I might see Your glory, daily. I’m not asking to see the dead raised, every day, or even lesser miracles, although that would be exciting to see. I just want to see Your glory in my world. Let me look at the world with eyes that believe, rather than eyes that scoff and are cynical. I have spent far too much time being sarcastic and cynical, in my life. Cynicism is worthless. Belief is everything. I do believe! Help my unbelief!

I pray for the righteousness of Christ to permeate my life to the point that my prayers are powerful. Not that I might gain any notoriety or fame, but that You might be glorified, and that Your glory might be seen in the world. I pray for the prayers of all the saints, that they might be powerful and effective, and that Your glory would be known and celebrated. Let the earth be filled with Your glory, as the waters cover the seas.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


"The originality and the authenticity of Christian spirituality consists in following a God who has taken on our human condition; who had a history like ours; who has lived our experiences; who made choices; who dedicated himself to a cause for which he had to suffer; who experienced successes, joys, and failures; and who yielded his life. This man, Jesus of Nazareth, is like us in every way except that he was without sin. In Jesus, all the fullness of God dwelt; so he is the only model for our life, as humans and as Christians." ~ Segundo Galilea
(Daily Dig from Plough.com)

Grace and peace, friends.

True Freedom

Today is Tuesday, August 30, 2022, in the 22nd week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ dwell in your soul!

Day 23,546

It is the last day of August. No it’s not. That’s tomorrow. Oops.

Princess’s (guinea pig) eye is much better! The vet said that there is basically just a scar there, now, which may take some time to go away. She recommended putting the ointment in the eye for another week, but we don’t have to go back and re-check.

Yesterday, we hit a high of 93. The forecast was for 95. The record high for that date, from 2011, was 104. I’m glad we aren’t breaking those records! Today’s high is forecast to be 89, and as of right now, the highest temp over the next ten days is 90. There appears to be much chance of rain and/or thunderstorms over the next ten days, with the highest chance of rain being tomorrow. Even after last Monday’s monsoons, we could still use some rain.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Dear Father in heaven, we thank you for moving our hearts so that we may know we are your children. Even in the midst of turmoil and evil, fear and pain, you bring us happiness; we can know that you are holding us with your right hand and will finally deliver us from all evil. Let your Spirit be at work everywhere. Give us patience when time is needed in our own hearts and in the hearts of all people, who also belong to you. Continue to strengthen us so that even the heaviest burden does not crush us and we may exult in hope because you right every wrong, to the glory of your name. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.
(John 10:27-28 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. that my eternal destiny is secure; I cannot be snatched out of God’s hand
  2. that, because of God’s strength in us, even the heaviest burden will not crush us
  3. for forgiveness; it is the great work of love among us who love poorly (Henri Nouwen)
  4. that the Truth (which is Jesus and no one or nothing else) sets us free
  5. for the miracle that is life

"Forgiveness is the name of love practiced among people who love poorly. The hard truth is that all people love poorly. We need to forgive and be forgiven every day, every hour increasingly. That is the great work of love among the fellowship of the weak that is the human family."
(Henri Nouwen)

So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
(John 8:31-32 ESV)

Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me.”
(John 8:42 ESV)

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. 
In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
(Proverbs 3:5-6 ESV)
The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; 
his mercies never come to an end; 
they are new every morning; 
great is your faithfulness. 
"The LORD is my portion," says my soul, "therefore I will hope in him." 
The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.
(Lamentations 3:22-25 ESV)

Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”
(Matthew 9:37-38 ESV)


There’s a lot of talk about freedom, these days. Having lived in the USA all my life, it has been impressed upon me that this is the “land of the free and the home of the brave.” But what is real, true freedom?

Jesus talked about freedom, and he related it to truth. He said something that has been quoted many, many times. “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” There are many people who have grabbed onto that statement.

However, I fear that many people are missing a key component of that “truth.” There was a condition that we tend to miss when we quote John 8:32. And that condition is seen in John 8:31. “If you abide in my word . . .”

To “abide” means to “live” or to “dwell.” The KJV uses “continue” to translate the Greek “meno,” which can also mean “to stay.”

There is so much to be unpacked, here, that I probably don’t have the time or space to do it. I’m sure entire books have been written on this. But there is one thing of which I am convinced. Very few of the people who are shouting the most loudly about “freedom” are abiding in the words of Jesus.

There seems to be some confusion about what “freedom” really means. In Jesus’s teachings, it does not mean the right to do whatever you please. And the way that I know that those people aren’t abiding in the words of Jesus is that they are not doing what Jesus commanded. They are not loving; not only not loving their neighbors, but most of them aren’t even loving “one another.” Essentially, we, as Western human beings, are mostly loving ourselves. We have a “me” problem.

Another result of abiding in the words of Jesus is that we will know the truth. The Greek word, there, is “aletheia,” which literally means “truth” or “verity.” And the same word is used when Jesus proclaims that He is the truth in John 14:6.

Jesus is the Truth. So, if we dwell, live, stay in His words, we will know Him, and He will set us free. And I think that the freedom of which Jesus speaks is more of a “freedom to” than a “freedom from.” Of course, Jesus sets us free from sin. But He also sets us free to serve.

When we experience the true freedom of Jesus Christ, the Way, the Truth, and the Life, we learn how to deny ourselves. We are free from selfishness and self-centeredness, and free to spend ourselves and our resources doing the things that Jesus commanded us to do. We are free to clothe the naked, feed the hungry, release people from slavery and oppression, care for the sick and the refugees and the widows and the orphans, and so on.

And we are free to love extravagantly, not unlike the woman who dumped a vial of perfume worth a year’s salary on Jesus’s feet.


Father, help me to truly abide in the words of Jesus, that I might be free to do the things that He has commanded us to do. I pray for the freedom to step outside of myself and my comfort zone, that I might serve others. Show me new ways to do this, as I continue to suss out the meaning of retirement life.

I pray for all of Your people in this world, in this land, that You might show us how to truly be free. Teach us to love sacrificially, like the woman who anointed Jesus. Teach us to care more about others than we care about ourselves. Teach us to care for “the least of these,” and, in doing so, care for Jesus, Himself, as He taught us.

Thank You for Your mercies that never end, for Your steadfast love that is fresh and new, eternally, every day. It never runs out; it is always new. Help us to abide in this, that we might know Jesus, and, in knowing Him, know You. May we experience, as much as we can handle it, the fullness of You, through the Son, and by the Spirit.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


"Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us in safety to this new day: Preserve us with your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."
(The Book of Common Prayer, Morning Collect for Daily Devotions)

Grace and peace, friends.

All Authority

Today is Tuesday, the twenty-third of August, 2022, in the 21st week of Ordinary Time.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,539

Weather. Wow. So, apparently, we received more rain in about twelve hours than we had received in the entire month of August since 1915. Based on a graphic I found at iweathernet.com, we got 9.5 inches at our house in, I would say, around thirteen to fifteen hours. Most of that came between 9:00 PM and midnight Sunday night and between about 8:30 and noon-ish yesterday morning. There was so much rain in such a short amount of time that we had water seeping into our house from underneath.

I had discovered a puddle by my side of the bed, when I went to bed Sunday night, but attributed it to one of our cats. It wasn’t real big, and I got it cleaned up and went on to bed. It did not reappear that night. When we left to take Princess (guinea pig) to the vet, yesterday morning, it started raining again. The closer we got to the vet, the harder it rained. And it got harder and harder as we sat in the exam room. It didn’t let up all the way home, and we live roughly ten miles from the clinic.

I came on back here to the study to continue my blog writing. I don’t remember what time, but at some point I got up to use the bathroom, and stepped in water just outside the bathroom door. There was a puddle there, as well as two other small puddles in the bathroom, and one larger one that ran along one bathroom wall. I went back over to where the puddle had been the night before, and, sure enough, it was back. Along with a good bit more water under the bed, along the headboard. The weird thing was that none of the exterior walls were even wet. All of this came from underneath, I guess.

I grabbed a bunch of towels and threw them down anywhere there was water. As they soaked up the water, the rain began to slow down, and there were no new puddles, from that time forward. As I interacted with other people on the book of face, I heard that others had it worse than we did. One person said he woke up to his kids’ room flooded.

Here are some photos from the Washington Post. That’s right. It was so bad we got national attention.

How did that get there??

So, the high temperature only reached 79, through all of that. Today, the chance of rain is much slimmer, however, there is a chance of more this evening. I seriously doubt it will be of that magnitude, though. The high today is supposed to reach 80. The record high for yesterday’s date was 105.

The Texas Rangers won the series as they beat the Twins 2-1, yesterday, with some help from the bat of Adolis Garcia, who now has a nineteen game hitting streak. They are now 56-66 (the first time they have been within ten games of .500 in a while), still in third place in the AL West. They are four games ahead of the fourth place Angels. They are 21.5 out of first place, and ten out of a Wild Card spot. They also have a three-game winning streak. Their next game is tonight, in Colorado, at 7:40 CDT.

The Red Sox didn’t play yesterday, and begin a series with Toronto, in Boston tonight.

The Dodgers lost a game, but still have the best MLB record, at 84-37. The Nationals remain the worst MLB team, at 41-82. The Cardinals continue to streak, now at eight games. Speaking of the Cardinals, slugger Albert Pujols is within seven home runs of 700. I’m pulling for him! He seems to be a pretty good guy. There are four teams with three-game losing streaks: The Twins, the Diamondbacks, the Angels, and the Pirates. The Dodgers have a +260 run differential, and the Nats have a -209. The Rangers improved to +5, and the Red Sox remain at -37.

There isn’t much on my agenda for today. Groceries have been ordered, I’ll run out and get Subway for lunch/dinner for the family (and Sonic drinks), and then I’ll go to work at the library at 4:15 for my weekly shelving shift.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, we thank you that you have given us an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We thank you that you have already begun to give us new vision, that already many things are being transformed, so that we may go gladly and confidently on our way with hope for whatever is still unsolved. May all this live in our hearts and fill us with thanks to you. We want to be courageous and keep in sight what still needs to be changed. Then we can take part as workers in your vineyard. May the light you have given us continue to shine in us and burn ever more brightly, as you have promised. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
(2 Peter 1:10-11 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that the flooding in our house was minor and easily cleaned up
2. that we have been given an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ
3. that "all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well" (Julian of Norwich)
4. that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8)
5. for the privilege and responsibility of prayer, and that this calling does not come through Moses or the law, but through Jesus Christ and His redemption

So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. And greater works than these will he show him, so that you may marvel. For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will. The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.”
(John 5:19-24 ESV)

“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”
(Psalms 46:10 ESV)

Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples." 
And he said to them, "When you pray, say: 
"Father, hallowed be your name. 
Your kingdom come. 
Give us each day our daily bread, 
and forgive us our sins, 
for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. 
And lead us not into temptation."
(Luke 11:1-4 ESV)

“All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.” ~ Julian of Norwich

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. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
(Romans 8:26-28 ESV)

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
(Hebrews 13:8 ESV)


Jesus has, once again, equated Himself with God, in John’s Gospel. There are some other interesting statements in this passage, as well. For example, in verse 21, Jesus declares that He (the Son) “gives life to whom he will.” And then, in verse 22, Jesus declares that the Father has handed over all judgment to Him. Jesus truly has all authority.

Just as He states at the end of Matthew’s Gospel.

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
(Matthew 28:18 ESV)

It has been said that “it’s all about Jesus,” and I believe this to be true. On the other hand, we can look at the relationship between the members of the Holy Trinity, and we see them all pointing toward one another, not at themselves. Jesus points to the Father and sends the Spirit to us (or maybe it’s the Father that sent the Spirit, but waited until after the ascension of Jesus to do so). The Spirit points to the Father and the Son, and the Father points to the Son and sends us the Spirit to dwell within us.

I remember reading a popular book called The Shack, a few years ago. I didn’t care for the book, for the most part. However, I do believe there is one thing the author got right, and that is the depiction of the love between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We humans cannot really even begin to comprehend this level of love. But we can try, and we can try to love the way God loves. We are supposed to, in fact.

There is another phrase that Jesus uses in that John 5 passage that should terrify some folks. In verse 23, Jesus says, “Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father.”

There it is. Boom.

If you believe that there are “many roads to God,” Jesus declares otherwise. If you believe you can “worship” God without going through Jesus, Jesus declares otherwise. Jesus declares Himself to be the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and says that no man comes to the Father but by Him.

If you do not believe these words of Jesus, then you cannot truly think that He was just a “good teacher.” I hearken back to words attributed to C.S. Lewis. There are only three possibilities when we deal with Jesus Christ. 1. He was exactly who He said He was. 2. He was a liar and deceiver. 3. He was insane. Those are the only three choices.

Please know that, as I type these things, I am not typing in arrogance, joyfully hoping that all who read it fail and miss out on the joy that comes in Christ. I try to express these things with humility, hoping that all who read it will know that joy and understand that this life in Christ is not at all tedious or difficult. On the other hand, it is impossible, so there’s that. But God has not made it difficult to find Him, and He desires fellowship in Christ with all people.

As I apply this to my prayer life, I have to know that my calling to prayer does not come through Moses or the law. There is no power for living in that. “Moses and his law have never given anyone the power to obey.” (Andrew Murray, Power in Prayer)

“My prayer life must be brought entirely under the control of Christ and His love. Then for the first time prayer will become what it should be: the natural and joyous breathing of the spiritual life by which the heavenly atmosphere is inhaled and then exhaled in prayer.” (Murray)


Father, I praise You for Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today, and forever. I thank You for the Son, who has come to set us free, and who gives us power to obey all things, especially in prayer. I thank You for the joyful privilege and responsibility of prayer, and I ask that You make it like breathing for me. Let it be that natural, and that I do it that willingly.

I submit myself to the authority of Jesus, as He has declared that all authority has been given Him by You. He has the power and authority of judgment, as well as the power and authority to give eternal life to whoever He wills. Help me to be a better vessel of the Gospel, as I share the love of You and Jesus, by the power of the Spirit, with people within my sphere of influence, my little “kingdom.” This does not mean that I have to quote bible verses to everyone I meet, but, rather, that I simply need to show the love that is commanded me by Jesus.

Help me to be a true disciple of Christ, who does the things that Jesus said to do, all completely in the love that is shed abroad by You, the Holy Trinity.

I also pray that, as I walk through this life, help me to “be still and know” that You are God. May I never be overwhelmed by the tasks and purposes that this life throws my way, but always be able to stop and be still, to meditate, contemplate, and just know Your presence, and in that presence know the fullness of joy that comes from knowing You.

Even so, come soon, 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.

Like A Child

Today is Tuesday, the sixteenth of August, 2022, in the 20th week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ reign in your heart!

Day 23,532

THREE DAYS until S turns 29!!

Surprisingly, we had another day when it didn’t hit 100 degrees! That’s six in a row, and we may be close to the end of the heat wave. It hit 99 again, yesterday, in spite of the predicted 100. Keep in mind that I’m tracking temperatures from Meacham Field Airport, rather than DFW, because it is closer to my house. DFW might be hotter. The record for yesterday’s date is 105.

For the ten-day forecast, today and tomorrow are predicted to be over 100, followed by eight days of below-100 temperatures, half of those possibly below 90! Bring it on! There is potential for rain on Thursday of this week, and several days next week.

We experienced something new, last night. While I was trying to get S’s cookie cake ordered from the “Great American Cookie Company” yesterday, I looked into the cookie company known as Crumbl. I had heard of them, but I don’t believe I had ever had any. I did, after much inconvenience, manage to get a cookie cake ordered online, for C to pick up on her way home from work Thursday evening.

But later in the evening, I decided I really wanted to try those Crumbl cookies. So I ordered a dozen. And they were delivered in about an hour.

I didn’t get a point of reference for size, there, but those cookies are at least four inches in diameter, maybe larger. So far, we’ve each had half a cookie. I had the raspberry cheesecake, last night. What we have there is milk chocolate chip, lemon poppy seed, raspberry cheesecake, peanut butter blossom, french silk pie, and caramel popcorn. There are four of us in the house, and we agreed that we would cut them all in half, so that everyone could try each kind. I’m going to try to trade my caramel popcorn for a lemon poppy. I might trade my peanut butter blossom for something, as well. I’m sure S would like to have that one.

Oh. I almost forgot. My half of the raspberry cheesecake was pretty amazing.

The Texas Rangers fired their manager, yesterday. In my opinion, this needed to happen a long time ago. Chris Woodward is out. Tony Beasley, who had been (I think) third base coach (?), will take over as interim manager, for now. And they won his first game, beating the Oakland Athletics 2-1. Granted, it’s just Oakland, but they always struggle with Oakland. They have now won three in a row, and are 52-63 for the season. They’re still in third place in the AL West, but are now 1.5 ahead of the Angels. They are 22 games out of first, and 9.5 out of a Wild Card spot. They play Oakland again, tonight, at 7:05, in Arlington. They have 47 games remaining.

The Red Sox did not play, yesterday, and begin a series in Pittsburgh tonight.

The Dodgers won again, and now have become the first team to win 80 games, this season. At 80-34, they have the best record in MLB. The Washington Nationals won a game, but remain the worst team, with a 39-78 record. The Atlanta Braves still have the longest winning streak, at seven games. The Oakland Athletics continue to have the longest losing streak, at nine games, and hopefully the Rangers can help them make it longer. The Dodgers, with a run differential of +251, are almost sixty runs ahead of the next team in that category. They are the only team with higher than 200 (in the plus, that is). The Nationals are the only team with higher than 200 in the minus, with -209. The Rangers are now at -1, and the Sox remained at -32.

It’s Tuesday, so I will be at the Hurst Public Library, this evening, from 4:15-8:15, shelving whatever there is to shelve.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

I was struggling, a bit, this morning, before I got around to this. I’ve been in the process of changing my email address, for several reasons, and was experiencing some difficulties, this morning, with various websites. Then I read this, from Lightwriters:

All of Your Times,” by S. Michaels

Seek My beautiful places
let all else fall away, let
all your times rest in My Care

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

The timing was perfect, and such great advice. Seek the beautiful places of the Lord, and let everything else fall away. That is so difficult, especially in these days of high technology and social media. But, upon reading this, I virtually felt weight rolling off of my shoulders like a cool, refreshing, summer rain. (Not that I know what that feels like!) “Let all your times rest in My care,” says the Lord.

Thank you, Susan!


Dear Father in heaven, we come before you to receive what we need as your children who cannot find help and guidance on our own, but only through your Spirit. Enlighten us by your Word, which you alone can give. You will give us your Word so that we can know with absolute certainty and clarity how to serve you. Your Word will show us the truth that is to be revealed on earth in Jesus Christ. Shelter us in your hands. Strengthen us especially during suffering, and free us from fear and trembling. Fill our hearts with patience and joy. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
Believe God, and he will recover thee: 
and direct thy way, and trust in him. 
Keep his fear, and grow old therein. 
Ye that fear the Lord, wait for his mercy: 
and go not aside from him, lest ye fall. 
Ye that fear the Lord, believe him: 
and your reward shall not be made void. 
Sirach 2:6-8 Douay-Rheims

Today I am grateful:

1. that I can daily come before the Lord to receive what I need
2. for grace, which is God acting in His power to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves
3. for Jesus's teachings on humility; may I learn to be more humble
4. for the progression of asking, seeking, and knocking, that leads to a deep abiding in the presence of the Lord
5. that, above all, God's purposes will stand and be accomplished

The verses quoted above are from an apocryphal book that is included in the Catholic Church canon.

And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.”
(John 2:16 ESV)

So the Jews said to him, “What sign do you show us for doing these things?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?” But he was speaking about the temple of his body. When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.
(John 2:18-22 ESV)

And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me. “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.”
(Matthew 18:3-6 NIV)

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
(Colossians 3:12-14 ESV)

Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand.
(Proverbs 19:21 ESV)

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
(1 Corinthians 13:12 ESV)

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.”
(Matthew 7:7-8 ESV)


Humility is something we all struggle with. And if you don’t think you’re struggling with it, then you need it worse than anyone else. Jesus tells us that we must enter the Kingdom like children.

Obviously, we cannot become young again, as hard as some marketers want us to believe we can. So what does Jesus mean? It’s a position of lowliness, for starters. Over and over, Jesus tells us that, if we want to be first (and who doesn’t?) that we have to be last.

But there’s a catch, here. Kind of like Catch 22. You know . . . you have to be certified crazy to get out of the Army, but if you want out of the Army, you’re not crazy. This catch is a little different. In order to be first, we must be last. But if we try to be last, just so we can be first, we’re missing the point.

We might be able to fool (we can, in fact, fool) our brothers and sisters in Christ, but we cannot fool God. He knows the heart, so if you’re working real hard to be last because you really want to be first, He knows the motivation behind your actions.

John the Baptizer nailed it when he said, “He must increase; I must decrease.”

Children are honest and authentic. They are, to a degree, naive, innocent. Until they learn otherwise from a nearby adult.

So we have to learn humility. I’ve found several ways to learn this. One is on the freeway. I have adopted the philosophy that it doesn’t matter if someone gets ahead of me on the freeway. I always drive with at least enough room for a couple of cars in front of me. In fact, my car has this cool feature that uses some kind of radar to determine the distance between me and the car in front of me. I have it set for the maximum possible distance, when my cruise control is activated.

I have to resist the temptation, when someone is driving like a jerk, to retaliate and refuse to let them in. But that is neither Christlike nor humble. It doesn’t matter if someone gets in front of me.

Now. When we read that passage about asking, seeking, and knocking, it threatens our humility. How do we reconcile Jesus’s promise and teaching in that passage with the need for humility. I have seen pride swell up when people quote that verse.

The requirement is that we must ask, knowing our status before God, knowing that we are not entitled to what we are asking for, and that, if we do receive it, it is not because we deserved it, but because of mercy and grace. It is strictly because of the generosity of the Giver.

There is a progression of events, here, as well, and I have Andrew Murray to thank for this. Asking, refers to the gifts for which I am praying. But I can ask for gifts with the Giver. So I have to seek the Giver. The word “seek” is used in Scripture to refer to looking for God. We are encouraged to seek Him while He may be found. “But,” says Murray, it is not enough to find God in a time of need without also coming into an abiding fellowship with Him.” And here is where “knock” comes into play. When we knock, we are “admitted to dwell with Him and in Him. Asking and receiving the gift thus leads to seeking and finding the Giver. This again leads to the knocking and opening of the door to the Father’s home and to His love.”

But there is one thing that is certain. Jesus wants us to know for sure that our asking, seeking, and knocking will not be in vain. But He also wants to be sure that we are asking, seeking, and knocking in humility.

It does not take a genius to see that humility is in short supply in this world, right now.

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

Father, humility is something that I struggle with, greatly. Some days, the struggle is harder than others. And there are some days where I probably don’t even bother to struggle with it. I pray for Your grace and guidance in this. And I know full well that praying for humility is about as safe as praying for patience, knowing that the only way to grow in humility is to have it tested.

But I am willing, Father, because I want to walk in humility; I want to decrease, so that You/Jesus/the Holy Spirit can be seen to increase.

I pray for Your Church, Lord, that we might all see the need for a deeper humility in these times. We must learn to be last, rather than struggling to be first. We must allow ourselves to decrease, that You might increase. There are many ways in which we can do this, and they differ with each individual. So show us all, Lord; teach us humility.

And teach, us, too, Lord, that it is Your purposes that will stand. When our own purposes butt up against Yours, it is we who will lose; we who will suffer. Your purposes will stand, so I pray that mine line up with Yours.

Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus!


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

Grace and peace, friends.

In the Name of Jesus

Today is Tuesday, the ninth of August, 2022, in the nineteenth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ dwell in your heart today!

Day 23,525

Ten days until S turns 29!!

Yesterday’s procedure went quite well, I think. And I must have been dreading it a lot more than I thought, because I was in better spirits, yesterday afternoon, than I have been in quite a while. Anyway, the procedure went smoothly, and they found only a couple of polyps, which were removed and sent to pathology. The doctor did not seem at all concerned that they might be cancerous. The nurses and techs were all very friendly and treated me very well. Best nap I’ve had in a long time. I tried to get them to give me some of that stuff to take home, but they wouldn’t do that. Propofol. That’s it. Best anesthesia ever.

Afterward, for lunch, I had a double cheeseburger (with a fried egg and bacon on it) and fries from OC Burger, followed by one of their gigantic chocolate chip cookies. It was delicious, and, at that moment in time, it was the best cheeseburger I’ve ever had. Hah.

Let’s see. Weather. It hit 101 yesterday, for our 41st day of triple-digit temperatures, this summer. Hopefully, there won’t be a streak to count, because it is not supposed to hit 100 today. In fact, the predicted high today is 97! And, if the forecast holds true, we have six straight days coming, below 100. And tomorrow, there is almost a 50% chance of rain! The record high for yesterday’s date is 106. The record low is 58. Now there’s a record I’d like to break!

There was no baseball that mattered to me, yesterday. I’ll take a look and see if any of my stats changed. Likely not. There were only seven games played, yesterday. The Nationals lost, so they will still be the worst in all of the categories. The Dodgers didn’t play, but will still be the best in all of the categories. The Rangers and Red Sox did not play, so they didn’t lose, and their run differentials didn’t get worse. For today, the Rangers play the Astros in Houston, and the Red Sox play the Braves in Boston. The only thing the Rangers have going for them is that Martin Perez is scheduled to pitch.

Since it is Tuesday, I’ll be working at the Hurst Public Library from 4:15-8:15, tonight, shelving books and/or DVDs. Good times.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God and our Father, we praise you because we are allowed to have community together in the name of Jesus, who has opened our eyes to see you and who has promised to be among us when we are gathered in his name. May our hearts remain unshadowed, even when our lives seem to grow difficult and the future looks dark. Protect us whenever we are tempted and have battles to fight. Deliver us. Make us free people who know we belong to you and who are allowed while still on earth to have a share in eternal life. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

“For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”
(Matthew 18:20 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the presence of Jesus, when we gather together in His name
2. that I belong to Jesus, and have freedom in Him that can never be taken away by any government or earthly power
3. that God is constantly showing me the path of life, as I seek the "ancient paths" (Jeremiah 6:13)
4. for the fullness of joy in His presence, the eternal pleasures at His right hand
5. for the promise of Jesus, that if we ask anything in His name, He will do it; may I understand this promise correctly and walk in it

For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.
(2 Corinthians 10:3-6 ESV)

“Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.
(2 Corinthians 10:17-18 ESV)

Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong. And do everything with love.
(1 Corinthians 16:13-14 NLT)

Anyone who wants to serve me must follow me, because my servants must be where I am. And the Father will honor anyone who serves me.
(John 12:26 NLT)

But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
(Matthew 7:14 NIV)

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)

“Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls.”
(Jeremiah 6:16 ESV)

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
(John 14:6 ESV)

“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.”
(John 14:12-14 ESV)

When we speak a person’s name, we are (or at least should be) speaking more than just a proper noun. Names conjure up different things for different people. I could say the name, Jimmy Carter, and it would mean something different to everyone. But to me, it brings thoughts of integrity, honor, and extreme generosity. It speaks of his character and his nature.

The name of Jesus Christ “means His nature, His person and work, His disposition and Spirit. To ask in the name of Christ is to pray in union with Him.” (Andrew Murray)

Later on in this same discourse, Jesus tells His disciples that if they abide in Him, they can ask whatever they desire. (John 15)

“As we live in Him, we receive the power to avail ourselves of the authority of His name.” (Murray)

One of the things that Jesus showed us, while He walked on the earth, is the nature of true prayer. “To pray in His name, we must pray as He prayed.” Not necessarily in exactly the same words. But in the same Spirit, certainly. He is my example, my teacher, and my intercessor. And through Him, one of my goals is to receive from the Father, just as He did.

Things to consider, though, when we are asking. 
Is the nature of my prayer of the flesh or of the Spirit? While there are certainly material things that the Lord wishes to grant us, we must consider the words of Paul, up at the top of this entry, remembering that we do not "wage war according to the flesh." 
Can it be said that I am praying "in union with Him," when I ask for something? This is where the "prosperity gospel," the "name-it-claim-it" theology falls completely apart. If I pray for a Maserati, am I praying in union with Jesus. Is there any possible rational need for a $215,000 car when there is so much poverty in this world?
Am I asking so that I will look good? Any boasting that I do must not be in myself, but in the Lord. If I commend myself, that is all the commendation I will get. If I pray to look good to others, that is all the reward I will receive, as well, according to Jesus.

According to Jesus, the Father honors those who serve. “No time or effort is too great to serve others through prayer and intercession.”

Praying in Jesus’s name requires much more than simply tacking on “in Jesus’s name” at the end of our prayers. This is a practice that has sadly cheapened pray, over the decades. There is nothing wrong with saying that. Nothing at all. However, if we think that the act of saying validates everything that we prayed, we need to think again.

Because praying in Jesus’s name means much more than that. It means praying in union with Him, which, to me, means praying for things that He would want. I just cannot make myself even imagine Jesus praying for a Maserati or a mansion. I can, however, easily see Him praying for a friend’s surgery recovery, or for a friend’s marriage, or for even something as small as success in a weight-loss journey.

So before I pray for something, I stop and think . . . (no, I’m not going to say “What would Jesus do?”) can I envision Jesus praying for this?

Today's sources:
YouVersion Bible app/reading plan
Daily Guideposts 2022
Power in Prayer, by Andrew Murray

Father, as I consider praying in the holy and mighty name of Your Son, I ask that I would always stop to think about things, about His character and nature, about His prayers, and about whether I can think of Him praying the things I’m about to pray. This, however, does not meant that I might simply confess to You the way I am feeling about something or someone, at the moment. But when it comes to what I ask for, I commit to evaluating those requests based on the Scriptures that we have before us.

I pray that You would always help us to remember that our battle is not against flesh and blood, and no human being is our enemy. Even in the physical realm, I commit to not considering any human being to be my true enemy.

I commit, as well, to not seeking to commend myself, or seeking the commendation of others, and only seeking Your commendation. May any boasting I do be in You, and You only, through the Son and by the Spirit.

I praise You that You have put me on the road to life; that You have shown me this path, and that in Your presence is that fullness of joy, and pleasures forevermore. May I be satisfied with these, Father.

As we seem to have departed from some of the more “ancient paths,” Father, I pray that You would help me to find them again. I will, as Jeremiah stated, seek those ancient paths, by looking back at teachers of old to see how they lived their lives and how they meditated and prayed. I also pray that You will help me pray only in union and agreement with Jesus Christ. Teach me to pray, Lord. Help me to keep on asking, seeking, and knocking for whatever I find to be needed.

And thank You for giving me everything I need for life and godliness.

Even so, come soon, 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.

Inseparable

Today is Tuesday, the second of August, 2022, in the eighteenth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you today!

Day 23,518

Seventeen days until S turns 29!

I realized early this morning that I totally forgot to update the weather for Sunday. After having a slight relief, as well as some rain, over the past couple days, Sunday was back up to 104 for a high. The forecast had called for 103. Yesterday, we hit right at 100, which was the forecast high. That puts us at a total of 36 days of 100+ temps, and a current streak of 2.

For the past few days, the forecast had called for below-100 temps beginning Friday, for about four days, but that is no longer the case. After projected highs of 103 today and Thursday, and 105 tomorrow, the next seven days are either 100 or 101.

The record high temperature for July 31 stands at 108. Unfortunately, the chart I am looking at doesn’t give me the date for that record.

The Texas Rangers lost to the Orioles, 7-2, last night, and were never really “in” the game. The starting pitcher got pulled from the game after only getting one out in the second inning. Apparently, he had some kind of muscle cramp in his left side. He left the game with the bases loaded and one out. The Rangers are now 46-56 on the season, still in third place in the AL West, twenty games out of first, and eight games out of the Wild Card race. Some of these numbers seem to be static, lately. They play Baltimore again tonight, at 7:05 CDT, in Arlington.

With the trade deadline looming today, the Rangers traded Matt Bush to the Brewers for one of their top prospect LH pitchers and a utility player.

The Boston Red Sox beat the Houston Astros 3-2. This puts them back at an even .500, 52-52, for the season. They are still in last place in the AL East, eighteen games out of first, and only three out of the Wild Card race. They play the Astros again tonight, at 7:10 CDT, in Houston. While batting practice was happening, the Sox traded catcher Christian Vazquez to the Astros. That really has to be weird, getting traded to the team you are getting ready to play against, while you are in their stadium.

There’s no loyalty in baseball, any more. We all know that the days of a player playing out his career with one team are long gone. The older I get, the harder it is to be a baseball fan. Sure, the fan loyalty is for a team, but you can’t help but get attached to certain players. As a Rangers fan, my two historical favorite players have been Ian Kinsler (we saw him get his first major league hit with the Rangers) and Elvis Andrus, with whom part of my family had a really sweet encounter the one time we went to Spring Training. Both of them are long gone. Kinsler, I believe, has retired, and Andrus now plays for the Rangers’ rivals, Oakland.

The LA Dodgers continue to be on top of MLB, by mere percentage points, with a 69-33 record. The Nationals remain on the bottom, at 35-69. The Mets still hold the longest current win streak, at seven games. The Pirates retain the longest losing streak, also at seven games. The Yankees hang on to the best run differential, having outscored their opponents, now, by 212 runs. The Nationals, on the other end, have been outscored by 172. The Rangers are now at +6, and the Red Sox are at -16.

It’s Tuesday, so I will be working at the library, this evening, from 4:15-8:15, shelving books and/or DVDs. This is my “heavy” week, so I will also be working Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Then, I have the dreaded colonoscopy scheduled for Monday, so Sunday is going to be super-weird, as I cannot eat any solid food after noon on Sunday, and have to drink the yucky prep stuff during the evening, and will likely not get very much sleep that night.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Father in heaven, we thank you that we may feel your leading, your lordship, for you have blessed us with every spiritual and heavenly gift in Christ. We thank you that we may be among those who receive true life always anew, who praise and glorify you, exulting even in difficult days. For it is just in the difficult days that we need to belong to those who are thankful and joyful, who always find new certainty in their lives. With them may we experience the good you give on earth so that humankind may be blest and come at last into your hands. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
(1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that I feel; this may sound vague, but I mean more than just physical sensations; I am grateful to be able to feel anything, whether it be physical or emotional
2. for the lordship and leadership of Christ in my life
3. that no matter who rejects me in my life, I am always accepted by God, in Christ; in Him, I belong
4. that, in Christ, we also have a family that can never be separated; the bond of the blood of Christ is permanent and unbreakable
5. for forgiveness; may I be faithful to forgive as I have been forgiven

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.
(2 Corinthians 1:3-7 ESV)

The “evangelical” church of today has most definitely shifted away from this mindset.

But now thus says the LORD, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.
(Isaiah 43:1-2 ESV)

Then they lifted up their voices and wept again. And Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her. And she said, “See, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law.” But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the LORD do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.”
(Ruth 1:14-17 ESV)

And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.
(Luke 15:20 ESV)

So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.
(John 16:22 ESV)

“Be on your guard, therefore, and let nothing disturb your peace. Do good under all circumstances, but with no care for any profit, or any blessedness, or any damnation, or any salvation, or any martyrdom; but all you do or omit should be for the honor of Love.” ~ Hadewijch of Antwerp

And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”
(Mark 11:25 NIV)

Through the Scriptures found above, we find a community that is inseparable. While we may be separated, physically, at times, the bond of the blood of Christ goes far beyond physical distance, and it even goes beyond the constraints of time. In Him, we are included in the family, the community of saints, past, present, and even future.

This is, indeed, a somewhat mystical concept, but I believe in it, wholeheartedly. Every time I take the Supper, I think about the spiritual connection with everyone else who has ever taken the Supper. There are many saints who have passed on, yet we are still connected with them.

And, as Ruth clung to Naomi, and refused to leave her side, we have that kind of connection with the community of saints. And that connection remains, even if we don’t like each other very much. There are a handful of people that I don’t care to spend any time with. But they are my brothers and sisters in Christ, and that bond is unbreakable, and, in that, I love them.

The word for today is “belong.” And I can see that idea running through several of the Scriptures that are shared today. The Church (the true body of Christ, not the institution made up by men) is a place where we belong, we can feel included. The Church should be a place where all feel welcome, regardless of race, sex, class, or anything. We should bond together the way Ruth and Naomi bonded. We should feel the same way about each other that Paul felt about the Corinthians, that our suffering can result in the comforting of other people.

We can “do good under all circumstances, as suggested by Hadewijch of Antwerp, and not care the slightest bit about any reward or recognition. Because we belong.

And, also because we belong, we can obey the command of Jesus in Mark 11:25. If I am praying, and I remember that I’ve got something against a brother or sister, I am commanded to immediately forgive that person.

“In prayer everything depends upon our relationship to God being clear. Our relationship with others must also be uninhibited. Love for God and love for our neighbor are inseparable; prayer from a heart that is not right with God or that cannot get along with others can have no real effect. Faith and love are interdependent.” (Andrew Murray)

We know the truth, that if God dealt with us according to what our sins deserved, not only would our prayers not be heard, we probably wouldn’t be alive. “The ground for answered prayer is God’s forgiving love.”

“If an injury or injustice is done to us, we must seek first of all to maintain a Christlike disposition – to be kept from a desire to defend our rights or to punish the offender.” (Emphasis mine)

Because we are accepted in this community of faith, because we are accepted by Christ, because we “belong” and are inseparable, we can truly live a life as suggested by Andrew Murray and Hadewijch of Antwerp.

I’m not sure what it would take to see the contemporary church live up to this, but, beloved, we are a long way away from it.

Today's sources:
Pray a Word a Day
Daily Guideposts 2022
Spiritual Classics, by Richard J. Foster and Emilie Griffin
Power in Prayer, by Andrew Murray

Father, I pray for myself, just as I pray for the Church, that we would be able to obey the commands of Jesus and live the kinds of lives that are suggested by Andrew and Hadewijch. The community of faith is severely divided. We need unity, badly. We seem to have fallen into the “me-verse” that the rest of the world has fallen into. The sad thing is that there are many alleged atheists who are doing a better job of taking care of others than the church is. That ought not be, Lord.

Please help us come together. I pray, if necessary, that pruning be done, and I believe that this is already happening, as people seem to be leaving the institutional “evangelical” church in droves. I believe they see through the facade and are tired of the “me-centricality” that is going on, right now.

We need to care more for one another; we need, Father, to obey the commands of Jesus to love You and love others. We need to exercise this truth of acceptance and belonging so that we feel like a community of saints, not a smattering of individuals doing their own thing.

Along with all of that, though, please help me to forgive those who are working against the unity that we need. I am struggling with that, Father, so I need the help of Your Spirit in this.

Even so, come soon, 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.

Compassion, Mercy, Forgiveness, and Faith

Today is Tuesday, the twenty-sixth of July, 2022, in the seventeenth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you today!

Day 23,511

24 days until S turns 29!

In the words of Sonny and Cher, “the heat goes on.” Wait. That’s not right, is it? Well, anyway, it does go one. Yesterday’s high was 103, for our thirtieth triple-digit day of this summer, and the tenth in the current streak. And, to make matters worse, those two days of below-100-temperatures in the forecast are now gone. (Sad face) And the chances of any rain have also diminished.

The average high and low for yesterday is 97/73 and the previous record high was 102, so we set a record yesterday. (I just started looking at those numbers, yesterday.) Today’s projected high is 104, and at 9:30, it was 88. The forecast for the next ten days has every day being at least 101, but today is the only day that is as high as 104. Of course, all of that could change tomorrow.

The Texas Rangers lost to the Mariners, last night, 4-3. They scored first, but fell behind an inning later and never caught back up. They are now 43-52, still in third place in the AL West. Still twenty games out of first, but now eight games out in the Wild Card race. They will face Seattle again, tonight.

The Red Sox managed to finally win a game, yesterday, beating the Cleveland Guardians, 3-1. This put them back over .500, at 49-48. Unfortunately, they won in those dreadfully ugly yellow uniforms. Who on earth thought that was a good idea?? Anyway, they are still in fourth place in the AL East, and still only a half game out of last place. Seventeen out of first, and three out of the Wild Card. They will face Cleveland again tonight.

The Nationals have won two straight games, but are still at the bottom of MLB, with a 33-65 record. The Blue Jays now have the longest current win streak, with six consecutive wins, and the Giants (since the Red Sox finally won) now have the longest current losing streak, at five games. The Nationals still have the worst run differential, but it has improved to “only” -159. The Rangers are at +6, and the Red Sox are at -10.

Today being Tuesday, I will be working at the library, this evening, from 4:15-8:15, shelving books. I have a suspicion that there will be a number of “youth” carts in the queue, still, as there were several there Saturday evening. So, if I check out another children’s book, that will be why. Hahaha!

Yes, that’s Kevin.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord God, we thank you for your Word, greatest and most glorious of all that comes to our human life. Every day we want to find more joy in your help, in what you are doing for us. Again and again we feel and rejoice in the new help, new strength, and new courage for life given by your Word. We seek and seek to find Jesus Christ, the eternal Life. He will surely come to establish your kingdom. Praise to your name, eternal, glorious, almighty God! Be with us poor, lowly people. Strengthen us in spirit, and enable us to persevere until everything is fulfilled that is promised by your Word. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
Your word, LORD, is eternal; 
it stands firm in the heavens. 
Your faithfulness continues through all generations; 
you established the earth, and it endures. 
Your laws endure to this day, 
for all things serve you.
(Psalms 119:89-91 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the Word of God that stands firm, no matter how badly we humans distort it and misinterpret it and take it out of context
2. for another day of living
3. for the power and privilege of prayer
4. for compassion and mercy; both that of God toward us and that which we are to extend to one another
5. for faith in the God who makes the promises, and faith that He answers prayer

Therefore I want you to know that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit. There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.
(1 Corinthians 12:3-7 NIV, emphasis mine)

All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.
(1 Corinthians 12:11 NIV, emphasis mine)


Today’s word, from Pray A Word A Day, is “compassion.”

“We can’t heal the world today, but we can begin with a voice of compassion, a heart of love, an act of kindness.” ~ Mary Davis

I can’t verify this, but I’m guessing that this Mary Davis is the author of Every Day Spirit: A Daybook of Wisdom, Joy and Peace.

While there are plenty of references to “compassion” in Scripture, I do like the gist of this quote. I can’t “fix” the world. Not only can I not do it myself, it certainly can’t be done in one day. And there’s another quote by Mary Davis that I found en route to looking up this one. “We all change the world whether we intend to or not. And we always change the world for the better when we plant the seeds of kind thoughts and words.”

Every day, I change the world a little bit. How I change it is up to me. I can change it for the better or I can change it for the worse. That voice of compassion, that heart of love, or that act of kindness can have somewhat of a “butterfly effect” on the world around me.

Sing for joy, O heavens, and exult, O earth; break forth, O mountains, into singing! For the LORD has comforted his people and will have compassion on his afflicted. But Zion said, “The LORD has forsaken me; my Lord has forgotten me.” “Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me.”
(Isaiah 49:13-16 ESV)

The KJV translates the word that is seen as “compassion” here as “mercy.” The two are, of course, closely related. But here’s the thing. God has compassion (mercy) on His afflicted people. We are supposed to act like God. And Jesus told His disciples in that verse that I keep quoting to love one another the way He had loved them.

Therefore, we ought always show compassion toward one another. What’s that verse I shared yesterday?

Everything.


If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared.
(Psalms 130:3-4 ESV)

For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.”
(Hebrews 8:12 ESV)

Speaking of compassion . . . God keeps no record of our sins. If He did, as the psalmist queried, “who could stand?”

So, here’s another question. Do we, as we are infinitely less than God, dare keep our own record?? And I’m not talking about keeping a record of my own sin! I’m talking about how we seem to be really good at marking the iniquities of others!

As Rick Hamlin states, “God knows about all my judgmental thoughts, my uncharitable impulses, and my efforts at loving my neighbor as myself.”

“But,” you might object, “you just said He doesn’t keep a record of those things!”

Maybe not. But then we have deal with some of the most frightening words Jesus ever spoke.

For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
(Matthew 6:14-15 ESV)

Are we willing to take a chance that Jesus didn’t mean exactly what He said, there?

(From Daily Guideposts 2022)


A prayer of Alan Paton, author of Cry, the Beloved Country:

"O Lord, open my eyes that I may see the need of others,
open my ears that I may hear their cries,
open my heart so that they need not be without succour,
let me not be afraid to defend the weak because of the anger of the strong,
nor afraid to defend the poor because of the anger of the rich.
Show me where love and hope and faith are needed,
and use me to bring them to those places.
And so open my eyes and my ears that I may this coming day be able to do some work of peace for Thee."

And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”
(Mark 11:22-24 ESV)

These statements were in answer to the disciples’ astonishment that the fig tree that He had cursed the day before had withered. And it tells us something very important. The faith that we have, faith that our prayers will be answered, is faith in God. My faith is not in my prayers! My prayers are just words. But if my faith is in God, then my prayers become powerful.

“The power to believe a promise depends entirely on our faith in the One who promises.” And the development of that faith depends on our relationship with Christ Himself.

“The connection between faith in God and faith in His promises will become clear when we think about what faith really is. It is often compared to the hand or mouth by which we take and appropriate what is offered. Faith is also the ear by which we hear what is promised, the eye by which we see what is offered. I must hear the person who gives the promise – the very tone of his voice gives me courage to believe. I must see him – in the light of his eye and his countenance, all fear fades away. The value of the promise depends on the one giving the promise; my knowledge of his character and dependability creates faith in his promise. In the case of God our Father, there can be no doubt as to His character and power to hear and answer and provide.”

(From Power in Prayer, by Andrew Murray)

Oh, and speaking of compassion again, check out the verse immediately following the above quote!

“And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”
(Mark 11:25 ESV)


Father, we are in desperate need of compassion in our society. We have, for far too long, now, made a practice of keeping a record of wrongdoings. We have forgotten how to have compassion on one another. We have forgotten the words of Jesus when He said, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Increase my faith in You, Lord, that I might fully believe Your promises, and that I might be one whose prayer is righteous, fervent, and effective. May I be one whose faith is such that, whatever I pray, I receive. And You know, Father, that I am not entering into “prosperity gospel,” or “name it/claim it” territory. Because I rarely pray anything for my own benefit. My prayers are almost always for others. And I don’t want prayers answered so that people will point fingers at me and say “What a great pray-er he is!” I want prayers answered so that You will be glorified through the Son and by the Spirit!

I echo the prayer of Alan Paton, this morning. Open my eyes, ears, and heart, that I might see the needs, hear the cries, and offer the compassion and succor to those who need it. And don’t we all need it, in some way?

Take my judgmental thoughts and my uncharitable impulses and do away with them, that they would be no more. Make it so that only love, charity, compassion, and forgiveness emerge from my heart and soul. May I believe with all my being the words that Russ Taff sang back in the eighties when he said, “I don’t care what label you may wear; if you believe in Jesus, you belong with me.” That’s the attitude I want in my heart, Lord, and only You can put it there, through the power of Your Holy Spirit. Refresh my spirit, Lord!

Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus!


Grace and peace, friends.