Prepare the Way

Today is Monday, the sixth of December, 2021, the second Monday of Advent.

May the peace of Christ be with you!

Day 23,279

Nineteen days until Christmas. I’m planning to get some Christmas gifts ordered today. We have some lists to look at, for S and R.

Yesterday was a fine day. Our Zoom gathering was okay, and lunch was pretty good. I placed a grocery order with Albertson’s, for delivery later in the afternoon, and C went out to get a few things, including some produce items that Albertson’s seemed to be out of. Albertson’s also made a somewhat silly substitution, in my opinion, which is causing me to have to make an additional trip to a store, today. I had ordered a fifteen ounce can of tomato sauce, Hunts brand. Rather than substitute a house brand of the same size, they substituted one can of Hunts eight ounces. That does me no good. They should have substituted two cans, at least, so I had my fifteen ounces.

In their defense, I do have the ability to go in and check substitution options. I suppose I will have to start doing that with every item, since they do not give me the option of rejecting their substitutions, like some stores do.

We finally got our Christmas ornaments on the tree, yesterday. Here are a few pics of the tree, featuring our new ornaments for this year.

New ornament from Indianapolis
New ornament from Indianapolis
S picked this one, from Indianapolis
The whole tree
Magnolia under the tree

I really don’t have anything else on my “plate” for today. I’ll try to come up with something at least semi-productive.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

When a man's ways please the LORD, 
he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him. 
(Proverbs 16:7 ESV)
Trust in the LORD, and do good;
 dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. 
Delight yourself in the LORD, 
and he will give you the desires of your heart. 
Commit your way to the LORD; 
trust in him, and he will act.
(Psalms 37:3-5 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the peace of the season
2. that You are my light and my salvation
3. that I have neither poverty or riches in my life, but that I have enough
4. for help in recognizing the things that are vanity
5. that, because You are my light and my salvation, I have nothing to fear in this world

Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity.
(Psalms 119:37 KJV)

O men, how long shall my honor be turned into shame? 
How long will you love vain words and seek after lies? 
Selah.
(Psalms 4:2 ESV)
Remove far from me falsehood and lying; 
give me neither poverty nor riches; 
feed me with the food that is needful for me,
(Proverbs 30:8 ESV)
Vanity of vanities, 
says the Preacher, 
vanity of vanities! 
All is vanity.
(Ecclesiastes 1:2 ESV)

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

ADVENT – DAY NINE

INVITATION

The LORD is my light and my salvation—
so why should I be afraid? 
(Psalms 27:1 NLT)

I pause during this quietness to center in on the presence of the Lord, and to block out distractions that call for my attention.

BIBLE SONG

Endow the king with your justice, O God, 
the royal son with your righteousness. 
May he judge your people in righteousness, 
your afflicted ones with justice.
(Psalms 72:1-2 NIV)
May he rule from sea to sea 
and from the River to the ends of the earth. 
May the desert tribes bow before him 
and his enemies lick the dust. 
May the kings of Tarshish and of distant shores 
bring tribute to him. 
May the kings of Sheba and Seba 
present him gifts. 
May all kings bow down to him 
and all nations serve him.
(Psalms 72:8-11 NIV)

BIBLE READING

In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar—when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and Traconitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene— during the high-priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet: 

"A voice of one calling in the wilderness, 
'Prepare the way for the Lord, 
make straight paths for him. 
Every valley shall be filled in, 
every mountain and hill made low. 
The crooked roads shall become straight, 
the rough ways smooth. 
And all people will see God's salvation.'" 
(Luke 3:1-6 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I read these passages again slowly, I look for words or phrases that stir my heart and soul within me. I slowly repeat them, praying my thoughts, desires, and feelings, and enjoy the presence of the Lord.

Father, Jesus is our King. And while I realize that Psalm 72, likely written by Solomon, was composed as a song/prayer for the physical king of Israel, at the time, I can easily transfer the thoughts forward to refer to Jesus. I do know that Jesus will judge Your people in righteousness, because He is the embodiment of righteousness. I am confident that He will judge the afflicted with justice and mercy.

I look forward to the day when Jesus will rule “from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth.” All the earth will one day bow before Him, and His enemies will, indeed, “lick the dust.” Along with the psalmist, I pray that “all kings bow down to Him and all nations serve Him.” What a day that will be when these things come to pass. As we celebrate the peace of the Advent season, this is a part of our future that we have to look forward to.

As ancient Israel prepared for the first Advent of Jesus Christ, Your servant John began to preach. In fact, Jesus had already come as the baby, as the Christ-child. John the Baptizer began preparing human hearts for His kingdom. He sought, just as we do today, to “prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for Him.” As we anticipate the second coming of our Savior, we acknowledge the effects of His coming. “Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low. The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth.” We pray for these things to come to pass as we endeavor to prepare our world for His return.

As I ponder these, things, Father, turn my heart and my eyes away from vanity, from everything that the “preacher” considered to be vanity, in Ecclesiastes. May we not be people who love vain words and seek after lies. I am grateful that You have given me neither poverty nor riches (though some would say we are “rich”), but that you have provided enough for our needs, along with some extra that we might give away, in order that others might be blessed.

I praise You that You are my light and my salvation, and that I have nothing to fear in this world.

"Father,
 I am weary of all that is wrong with the world -
murder of the innocents,
a smeared and wrecked creation,
tyrant-oppressed poor,
hunger-withered children,
exploited women,
forgotten elderly,
invisible homeless.
I long to see that all these enemies -
Yours and mine -
will be, once and for all,
condemned,
and all things crooked made straight.
Set me to making way for Your justice with renewed vigor.
In Jesus our Deliverer's name we pray,
amen."

BLESSING

Wait patiently for the LORD.
 Be brave and courageous. 
Yes, wait patiently for the LORD. 
(Psalms 27:14 NLT)

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

A Conscious Experience of His Salvation

It’s Thursday morning, which is the day before Friday. That’s a good thing. I’m looking forward to some R&R this weekend. For some reason, I’m really tired this week. If you want to see the baseball updates and other stuff, check out Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit.


Father, show me something new today.


Today’s Bible readings from Discovering the Bible, by Gordon L. Addington:
Matthew 4:12-25
12 Now when he heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew into Galilee. 13 And leaving Nazareth he went and lived in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, 14 so that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:
15 “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles– 16 the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned.”
17 From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

This is the beginning of Jesus’s ministry. Notice the message he preached is exactly the same as John’s. Only this time, the “kingdom of heaven,” was right in front of them!

18 While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. 19 And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” 20 Immediately they left their nets and followed him. 21 And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and he called them. 22 Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.

Here, Jesus calls his first disciples. Peter and Andrew are first, followed by James and John. There must have been something about him that caused them to obey and follow so “immediately.” If Jesus were to appear to me and tell me something, would I be that quick to follow?

23 And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people. 24 So his fame spread throughout all Syria, and they brought him all the sick, those afflicted with various diseases and pains, those oppressed by demons, epileptics, and paralytics, and he healed them. 25 And great crowds followed him from Galilee and the Decapolis, and from Jerusalem and Judea, and from beyond the Jordan.

Jesus’s ministry gained popularity as he traveled around Galilee. Was it the teaching? Was it the healing? I know how people are; they flocked to him for the healing, but some would benefit from the teaching, as well.

Micah 3
There is a sense of arrogance that has been displayed by the “heads of Jacob.” But here, Micah accuses them of hating good and loving evil (v. 2). And the evil that is described in verse 3 is atrocious. I can only hope that it is metaphorical. The Lord will hide his face from them; he will not answer them (v. 4). And because the “prophets” continually cry “peace,” while they are filling their bellies, but deny those who have nothing to eat, 6 Therefore it shall be night to you, without vision, and darkness to you, without divination. The sun shall go down on the prophets, and the day shall be black over them; 7 the seers shall be disgraced, and the diviners put to shame; they shall all cover their lips, for there is no answer from God. I’m guessing that verse 8 refers to Micah: But as for me, I am filled with power, with the Spirit of the LORD, and with justice and might, to declare to Jacob his transgression and to Israel his sin.
The arrogance reaches its height in verse 11 as the priests and prophets only “preach” for money, but say, “Is not the LORD in the midst of us? No disaster shall come upon us.” The result is in verse 12: Therefore because of you Zion shall be plowed as a field; Jerusalem shall become a heap of ruins, and the mountain of the house a wooded height. Because of who? Look again…because of the greedy priests and prophets.

Ecclesiastes 6
The “preacher” continues to speak of what he considers to be vanity. It might be worth noting that “vanity” in this case means something more than what we consider vanity in our day. When I think of “vanity,” I think of someone who likes themselves a lot, but the older meaning of the word is more along the lines of “useless.” Things that are done “in vain.” For no purpose. And the first thing recorded in chapter 6 is a man who is given “wealth, possessions, and honor, so that he lacks nothing of all that he desires, yet God does not give him the power to enjoy them, but a stranger enjoys them.” (v. 2) It is said that, even though a man live two thousand years, under these circumstances, a stillborn child is better off than he. “All the toil of a man is for his mouth, yet his appetite is not satisfied.” (v. 7) I’m not sure if this book can get less cheerful! But there is so much truth in it. This man knew very well the human condition. 11 The more words, the more vanity, and what is the advantage to man? 12 For who knows what is good for man while he lives the few days of his vain life, which he passes like a shadow? For who can tell man what will be after him under the sun?


Prayer from The Valley of Vision

FIRST DAY EVENING: THE TEACHER

O God,
We bless you,
our Creator, Preserver, Benefactor, Teacher,
for opening to us the volume of nature where we may read and consider your works.
You have this day spread before us the fuller pages of revelation,
and in them we see what you would have us do,
what you require of us,
what you have done for us,
what you have promised to us,
what you have given us in Jesus.
We pray for a conscious experience of his salvation,
in our deliverance from sin,
in our bearing his image,
in our enjoying his presence,
in our being upheld by his free Spirit.
Let us not live uncertain of what we are,
of where we are going.
Bear witness with our spirit that we are your children;
And enable each one to say, ‘I know my Redeemer.’
Bless us with a growing sense of this salvation.
If already enlightened in Christ, may we see greater things;
If quickened, may we have more abundant life;
If renewed, let us go on from strength to strength.
Give us closer abiding in Jesus that we may
bring forth more fruit,
have a deeper sense of our obligations to him,
that we may surrender all,
have a fuller joy,
that we may serve him more completely.
And may our faith work by love
towards him who died,
towards our fellow-believers,
towards our fellow-men.


Father, do we only come to you for healing? Do we only come to you because you provide us food for our mouths? Do we only come to you for what we get out of you? Alas, I fear that this is true so much of the time. Lord, I hear people say they don’t like to attend church services because they don’t get anything out of them. But that is not why I attend church services. I attend them that I might worship you with other believers! I don’t care what I get out of it; anything I “get” is a bonus, because I am there to “give!” I am there to give worship, honor, and praise to you! Sometimes I leaved changed. Sometimes I don’t. But I have worshiped you, and that is the purpose. And through that worship, I am empowered; I am rejuvenated. In what other relationship do we grow by giving? When I worship you, I am filled! When I empty myself, I am strengthened!
I pray for the state of our modern world, Lord, especially the “religious leaders” that are so greedy and pompous. I pray for all “preachers” who lead people astray and then proclaim that you are in their midst. Should I pray that you bring them down? Rather, I would pray that you change them; lead them into truth, so that they lead people correctly. I would rather see truth than vengeance.
Make me a kinder person, Father. Let your Holy Spirit flow into my heart and out of my expressions. Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing to you, Father! Let no harsh words come out of my mouth. I still catch myself speaking and then, later, thinking, why did I say that?? I am ashamed, sometimes, at the words that come out of my mouth. Fill me, Lord. Fill me with your Spirit.

I pray for this day, as always. I pray that Christi will have a better day, and that she will not have to work such long hours. I pray for her physical strength, her spiritual strength, and her state of mind. I pray for those above her, that they would have wisdom. I also pray for my day at work. Let us have a successful day today. I pray that Stephanie will have a grand time at Champ Camp today. Also, thank you for reminding me of that so I could go wake her up in time!

I continue to pray for Diane, Gina, and their family. Give them healing and comfort. Keep their faith strong.


The phrase “a conscious experience of his salvation” really stuck out in that Puritan prayer. I like that. We need that “conscious experience.” Look for that today.

Grace and peace, friends.