The Cry of the Weak, in Need of A Savior

Good morning. Today is Saturday, January 4, 2015. 92 days until Opening Day.

Today’s Word of the Day is “pantophagist.” That sounds scary. And perhaps it should. A “pantophagist” is defined as, “A human being or animal that devours things (esp. food) of all kinds; an omnivore.” The fact that it has to be qualified with “esp. food” is the most disturbing part, I think.

Today is Pop Music Chart Day. I used to care about such things, back in the days when KFJZ 1270 AM was the reigning pop/rock radio station in the DFW area (we could pick that up in Mineral Wells). I would faithfully grab the “KFJZ Top 20” from the local record store every week to see how my favorite songs were doing. Today, the Billboard Hot 100 is topped by Taylor Swift, with “Blank Space.”

This is followed by “Uptown Funk!” by Mark Ronson (featuring Bruno Mars) and “Take Me To Church,” by Hozier. Surprisingly, I actually like all three of those songs. Do you like any of the Billboard Hot 100 songs? Do you even care? 🙂

Yesterday was an interesting day, to say the least. I’m not going to go into a lot of detail, here, but suffice to say that we certainly experienced some blessings yesterday, that were completely unexpected. One of these involved increased care for Christi’s mom, at no extra expense, due to Medicare, which is a huge answer to prayers. Another involved switching TV providers, which will save us a bit of money each month.

Then we went to church. After we got things set up, we had our usual “Anchor” prayer gathering, and the usual six people were there. It was a neat time, as we prayed for each other, then spent some time praying for the main event of the evening, which was to be our worship and prayer gathering. I expressed that I was very nervous about the evening ahead, which was certainly true. As each person prayed over our service, all the topics that we would be praying about were covered, and there was a strong feeling that something special was about to happen.

I believe it truly did. The only “hitch” in the entire service was right at the beginning, when the wireless mic that the pastor was trying to use wouldn’t work. He was talking briefly at the beginning, to explain what the night was going to be about. Then he started losing his voice. Someone brought him a glass of water, and then the sound engineer got the mic working. After that, everything went very smoothly. I felt very much at ease, during the times when it was my turn to lead prayers, and the words that I spoke seemed to come out of nowhere! I have great confidence that the Holy Spirit led me through the whole thing, step by step. The songs went perfectly with the prayers. Afterward, I commented to a few that it was the most humbling thing I have ever experienced. Humbling, because I know that, as I deliberately “stepped out of the way,” so to speak, and allowed God to work, it all went very well. I believe it was a great way to kick off the new year for The Exchange.

After church, we stopped by Subway to get dinner, and then went home, where I watched Baltimore beat the Steelers in the first round of the playoffs. That was certainly fun.

Today, after Christi gets the groceries (she wound up not doing that yesterday, as we spent a long time on the phone with AT&T regarding the TV service), we are going to the gym! Another way to kick off 2015. We may or may not go bowling today. We will certainly make sure we leave time for rest this evening, because the coming week will be the first full five-day work week we’ve had in quite some time. We definitely need to rest up for that!

(Source: I Love History)

It was on this date in 1896 that Utah became the 45th state of the United States of America.

Today’s birthdays include Sir Isaac Newton (physicist), Jacob Grimm (folklorist), Louis Braille (teacher/inventor), James Bond (ornithologist), Sterling Holloway (character actor), Don Shula (football coach), Dyan Cannon (actress), Julian Sands (actor), Matt Frewer (Max Headroom), Michael Stipe (R.E.M. singer), Robin Guthrie (Cocteau Twins guitarist), and Julia Ormond (actress).

Matt Frewer is an actor who has had many roles in his career. However, the one I remember him most for is Max Headroom, that strange eighties icon. He turns 57 today, just a few months before I will turn the same age.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

(From Knowing Jesus)

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”
And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

Luke 1:26-38

The angel’s announcement to young Mary (perhaps just a teenager at the time), was astonishing in several ways. The first, and probably most astonishing, was that this young girl would give birth to a son while still a virgin. This son would not be a mere human son, but would be “the Son of the Most High.”

We found, in yesterday’s reading, that the name Jesus means “God saves.” We can trust him for our salvation. Because he is “Son of the Most High,” we can also trust him as Lord, as he “exercises divine power for us.” When we confess our belief in Jesus as Savior and Lord, “we enter into a new relationship with God. He forgives us and we relinquish all our rights.” Well, at least that’s what is supposed to happen. How often do we attempt to insist on those “rights” that we have supposedly given up?

The angel’s announcement also teaches us that Jesus’s mission is tied to Old Testament prophecies. “God keeps his promises to his people in all ages and generations, even though it may appear at times that he is doing nothing.”

Trying to understand everything that the angel announced to Mary, sometimes makes me feel rather ignorant. I started on this journey, years ago, by calling on his name, thereby becoming “saved.” But, even now, some forth-plus years later, I’m still learning. In the last few years, I’ve learned how little I knew and understood about prayer, and praying in his name. “His name combines both saving and intercessory power.” I’ve learned how small my faith in him really is, especially as I grow into this ministry of intercessory prayer. I’ve learned more about worship in the past few years than I’ve understood during the rest of my life. Yet, I am aware that there is still much to learn. What I have discovered about service to others, in the name of Christ, in recent times, is staggering. At the age of 56, and getting close to 57, I am aware of how much I simply do not know or understand, and that is very humbling.

“Jesus’s exalted position as God’s Son guarantees our security and our freedom from worry and fear.” That is a huge statement! How many of us truly grasp this? I know I don’t, because I find myself being afraid and/or worrying on pretty much a daily basis! So, based on that, what have I truly learned? I can’t help but think that my God is asking the same question, all the time shaking his figurative head.

This Jesus, though, is currently at the right hand of the Father, and he prepares a place for us. “One day he will usher in his everlasting kingdom on earth, not as the suffering Servant but as the triumphant King of Kings and Lord of Lords.”

“When he comes, our glorious King,
All his ransomed home to bring,
Then anew this song we’ll sing:
Hallelujah! What a Savior!”

(Philip P. Bliss)

For further thought:
What appears most striking to you about Gabriel’s announcement to Mary?
How can meditating on Jesus’s mission and position deepen your relationship with him?

“Grant, O Lord, a deeper understanding of
who Jesus is and what he can do for me.
Thank you for saving me by faith and giving
me a place in your everlasting kingdom.”

Today’s reading from Solid Joys is “Hope for Imperfect People.”

For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.
Hebrews 10:14

“This verse is full of encouragement for imperfect sinners like us, and full of motivation for holiness.”

Note that the phrase “he has perfected” is in past tense. It does not say, “he is perfecting.” It says, “he has perfected.” This means that our current standing with our Father in heaven is that we are perfected and completed by the “single offering” of Jesus Christ! It is not because I am perfect at this time, because I’m not. In fact, it is precisely because I am not perfect, but in the process of being made holy, that I am “moving away from [my] lingering imperfection toward more and more holiness.”

Confused yet?

If my faith makes me “eager to forsake sin and make progress in holiness,” then that same faith can, in the midst of my imperfection, “look to Christ and say: ‘You have already perfected me in your sight.'” That faith looks to Christ and says, “Today I have sinned. But I hate my sin. For you have written the law on my heart, and I long to do it. And you are working in me what is pleasing in your sight. And so I hate the sin that I still do, and the sinful thoughts that I contemplate.”

This is faith that saves. “it is not the boasting of the strong. it is the cry of the weak in need of a Savior.”

And it is in that weakness that I trust Jesus Christ; trusting him in his exalted position that is discussed in the segment above from Knowing Jesus. (I love it when two or more unrelated sources work together in my devotions!) It is in this weakness that I trust that Christ is preparing a place for me. It is in this weakness that I look to him to strengthen me against those fears and worries that he has already freed me from.

“Hallelujah! What a Savior!”

Father, Hallelujah! What a Savior, indeed! I thank you for Jesus, who has guaranteed me freedom from fear and worry (even though I still, too often, submit myself to those same fears and worries). I thank you that I am perfect and complete in your eyes, because of one single offering that Christ made with his life. I thank you that he defeated death by rising from the grave. I thank you that I can boldly utter these ridiculous phrases without a single care that anyone thinks I’m a fool. Father, I implore you to continue to draw me away from my “lingering perfection,” and toward a more perfect holiness. Lead me toward surrender in 2015.

I pray for this day, that our activities will be productive and safe (and even, perhaps, fun). I pray that you drive us toward a more healthy year, this year. I pray for continued provision as we work our jobs. I pray that we will get good rest this evening as we settle in for the “long haul” of work days without holidays. May you teach us all about your grace and mercy. Give Stephanie more understanding of your place in her life.

Teach us your way, that we may walk in your truth.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing,
so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

Romans 15:13

Grace and peace, friends.

Weakness

Good morning. It is pre-Friday, May 8, 2014. I’m going in at 7am, this morning, so I must hurry.

Today is No Socks Day. That’s really not fair. Perhaps I can ditch my socks after work. Our pastor will like this. For some reason, he hates socks. 😀


Keep praying for Christi and her jobless situation. I think she might still have a chance at BNSF, but, for some reason, they got concerned about her ability to communicate with the “techies.” But there was never an opportunity for her to talk about that in the interviews. Hopefully, they are setting up another interview to deal with this. The person responsible for setting up interviews at Etherios has been out of the office for a few days, so perhaps that is why she has not heard anything from them.

My status at work is finally fixed, and I am no longer in El Segundo. This means I can do all parts of my receiving job (I’m still not approved to initiate an undeliverable report, but those don’t happen too often). I was very excited yesterday afternoon!


TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

(From The Divine Hours)

Know that the LORD, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Psalm 100:3
For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him.

Psalm 62:5
Your decrees are very trustworthy; holiness befits your house, O LORD, forevermore.
Psalm 93:5
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD! We bless you from the house of the LORD.
Psalm 118:26
To you I lift up my eyes, O you who are enthroned in the heavens!
Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maidservant to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the LORD our God, till he has mercy upon us.
Have mercy upon us, O LORD, have mercy upon us, for we have had more than enough of contempt.
Our soul has had more than enough of the scorn of those who are at ease, of the contempt of the proud.

Psalm 123


Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness! You have given me relief when I was in distress. Be gracious to me and hear my prayer!
Psalm 4:1
Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell what he has done for my soul.
I cried to him with my mouth, and high praise was on my tongue.
If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.
But truly God has listened; he has attended to the voice of my prayer.
Blessed be God, because he has not rejected my prayer or removed his steadfast love from me!

Psalm 66:16-20
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


Today’s reading in Reflections for Ragamuffins is “The Way of Weakness.”

If you’re like me, and you are sometimes, you really struggle with asking people for help. It is difficult to receive something from someone who seems to have it all together. It makes me feel “unnecessary, unneeded, and (heaven forbid!) WEAK!

But look at how Jesus comes to us! He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. (Isaiah 53:7) He comes “in the way of weakness, giving us the chance to love him and making us feel that we have something to give him.” He allowed this image “of a dumb, helpless animal to be applied to himself.”

All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

Isaiah 53:6


Father, I know that Jesus was not really “weak.” That is simply an image that he allowed to be placed upon him. The word “meek” describes him much better. Nevertheless, I pray to you that I might not be afraid to appear to be weak. As I work on establishing the true root of my identity (you), my appearance to other people is going to matter less and less. I pray that you continue to work this out in me, and I pray for the wisdom to learn it. Teach me your ways, that I may walk in your truth.

I pray for this day. As I drive in early, I pray for travel safety to and from work. I pray that the day will go smoothly, and that we might get away on time this afternoon. I pray for Christi’s day, that she might get some positive news to keep her uplifted. I also pray that you draw her closer to your heart today. I also pray for Stephanie, that you would show your overwhelming love to her today.

Your grace is sufficient.


Don’t be afraid to appear weak. Cast your cares on him, who cares for you.

Grace and peace, friends.

Strength In Weakness

For my account of yesterday’s events follow THIS LINK.

We experienced another great worship service at The Exchange yesterday morning. The worship was intense and invigorating, and the message was amazing. Thank you, Joel, for that word! His message was on “Spiritual Burnout,” and he used the familiar passage in 1 Kings when Elijah ran from Jezebel right after defeating the 400+ prophets of Baal. His main point was that, “Even when we are burned out, God never gives up on us.” Believe me, I have seen that truth in my life. I have experienced “spiritual burnout” more than once in my life, and I know that God has not given up on me. I have received evidence of that fact at least twice in the last six weeks, as I have heard two different messages now in which I believe God told me that my original calling from him is still valid! It is very reassuring to hear that.

Later yesterday evening, we went back for a “Night of Worship.” It was a good time of worship and prayer, as we sang some worship songs, and prayed together, both individually, and in groups. We prayed for ourselves, individually, then prayed for the church, the community, and our country as we gathered in groups. It was a very meaningful time. We didn’t know several of the songs, so that had a slight effect on our worship time, but it was still good.


Today’s Bible readings from Discovering the Bible, by Gordon L. Addington:
2 Corinthians 11:16-33
16 I repeat, let no one think me foolish. But even if you do, accept me as a fool, so that I too may boast a little. 17 What I am saying with this boastful confidence, I say not with the Lord’s authority but as a fool. 18 Since many boast according to the flesh, I too will boast.
2Co 11:19 For you gladly bear with fools, being wise yourselves! 20 For you bear it if someone makes slaves of you, or devours you, or takes advantage of you, or puts on airs, or strikes you in the face. 21 To my shame, I must say, we were too weak for that!
But whatever anyone else dares to boast of–I am speaking as a fool–I also dare to boast of that. 22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they offspring of Abraham? So am I. 23 Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one–I am talking like a madman–with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. 24 Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; 26 on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; 27 in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. 28 And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant?
30 If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. 31 The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, he who is blessed forever, knows that I am not lying. 32 At Damascus, the governor under King Aretas was guarding the city of Damascus in order to seize me, 33 but I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall and escaped his hands.

Paul is resorting, momentarily, to the same tactics used by the false apostles that the Corinthians were listening to. “Since many boast according to the flesh, I too will boast,” he says. He says several times in the passage that he is speaking as a fool, or as a madman. He goes through this incredible list of trials that he has been through for the sake of the gospel of Jesus Christ. And at the end of all those, he adds the “daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches.” So not only is he suffering beatings and imprisonments, he is also experiencing a high anxiety for the churches in the area. Nevertheless, at the end, he says he really only wants to boast of the things that make him appear weak. Because, as he has said elsewhere, when he is weak, the Lord is shown to be strong.

Joel 3

This is a passage of future judgment on the nations. After he has restored the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem, the Lord says he will gather the nations of the world to the “Valley of Jehoshaphat.” Later in the chapter, that place is called the “valley of decision.” Its location is unknown. But in this place, he will punish the nations of the world, bringing judgment upon them for their treatment of Israel and the Lord. The are called out for war, and he says “the sun and moon are darkened, and the stars withdraw their shining.” (v. 15) The Lord is seen as “roaring from Zion,” but as a “refuge to his people, a stronghold to the people of Israel.” The last few verses speak of a glorious future for Jerusalem. It will be holy and “strangers shall never again pass through it.” (v. 17) The ensuing description sound a lot like heaven to me. If that is the case, then “Israel” in these verses equals the “new Israel,” which is the Church, the body of Christ.

Psalm 146
1 Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD, O my soul!
2 I will praise the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.
3 Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation.
4 When his breath departs, he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish.
5 Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD his God,
6 who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, who keeps faith forever;
7 who executes justice for the oppressed, who gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets the prisoners free;
8 the LORD opens the eyes of the blind. The LORD lifts up those who are bowed down; the LORD loves the righteous.
9 The LORD watches over the sojourners; he upholds the widow and the fatherless, but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.
10 The LORD will reign forever, your God, O Zion, to all generations. Praise the LORD!

The last few of the Psalms are glorious praise Psalms, singing of praise to the Lord, and his trustworthiness as he is our strength, our fortress, and our refuge. This one admonishes us to not trust in men, because even the richest of princes cannot provide us with salvation. Salvation is in the Lord alone. The Lord’s benefits are listed in verses 8-9.


Father, I thank you for the great worship we sent up to you yesterday, and the great message that was brought down to us. I thank you that you do not give up on us, no matter what we are experiencing. I did not choose this race. You chose it for me. And the beauty in that is that, in that choosing, you also provided me with everything that I need to finish this race. It is simply up to me to avail myself of these resources. I do not trust in any man for my salvation, Lord. I do not trust in men for my provision. I do not trust in men for my protection. I trust in you alone! As we move forward, Father, I ask that you make us even more aware of your presence in our lives, your influence in our lives and family, and your protection over all of us. I ask for your holy arm to make itself known in all the branches of our family, from this house to Rachel and Justin, to Carol and Don, to my parents, and even to members of Christi’s step families. You are sovereign Lord, and you control all things. Let it be known, Lord. Let your great name be known in all the world!

I pray, as always, as this week starts, that it will be a good one. Let it be stress-free for Christi, Lord. I pray that her week will go smoothly. They have a big project going live this next weekend, and I pray that you help her keep her head through all that goes on. I pray for success for the project, and that her company might prosper. I also pray for success for my work, during this week, and that we might prosper as well. Finally, I pray for the nation, Lord, that you would show our leaders the right paths to take.


If we must boast, let us boast in the Lord, and how he is made strong in our weaknesses.

Grace and peace, friends.