“Speak, LORD, For Your Servant Hears”

Good morning. Today is Wednesday, the twelfth of January, 2022, in the first week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ be with you, today.

Day 23,316

Eleven days until Hamilton, if the show goes on.

Today’s header photo is courtesy of Paul Militaru, Romanian photographer. Please check out his beautiful photography at the link provided.

What I really need to work on this year, is staying focused. I am so easily distracted, and I don’t think I’m alone. Our culture is driving us in that direction. We had a discussion in our house church, last Sunday, about our attention spans, and how short they tend to be now. For a good indicator of that, see how long TV commercials are, now (if you even still watch them . . . almost everything we watch is on Netflix or Amazon Prime Video, now).

But I’ve been up since about 7:30, and still have not managed to start my devotional. I will say that I have listened to a Bible reading and done some praying, though, so there’s that.

It was nice being at the library, last night. I like all of my roles at the library, but Tuesday evening may be my favorite. That’s when I do shelving for four hours. It’s nice, because I’m by myself, either sorting books or media in a back room, and then pretty much alone in the stacks as I re-shelve the material. It’s quiet, and there’s a lot of time to ponder things. Plus I am always discovering new books I want to read or new movies/TV shows that I want to see. My “Want to Read” list on Goodreads has grown quite a bit, since I started this gig.

What’s on the agenda for today? I think I may have to make an in-person grocery trip. There are a few things we need, and Albertson’s doesn’t have them all. And Walmart Neighborhood Market doesn’t have any pickup times available today. Between being short-staffed, and people doing more pickups because of Omicron spread, they are being beat up pretty badly, these days.

I also plan to get on the treadmill at some point, today. I’ve been planning that all week, though, and it hasn’t happened, yet.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

And I tell you, 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.
(Luke 11:9-10 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for beautiful music, with which I can praise God, both in listening and in playing/singing
2. for the faithfulness of the Lord and His promises
3. for water, water to drink, water in oceans and lakes and rivers and waterfalls
4. that, even when I mistake or simply don't hear the "voice" of God, He keeps calling me (1 Samuel 3)
5. for the clear call of God for us to love one another, because "love is from God" (1 John 4:7)

Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the LORD in the presence of Eli. And the word of the LORD was rare in those days; there was no frequent vision.
 At that time Eli, whose eyesight had begun to grow dim so that he could not see, was lying down in his own place. 
The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the LORD, where the ark of God was. 
Then the LORD called Samuel, and he said, "Here I am!" 
and ran to Eli and said, "Here I am, for you called me." But he said, "I did not call; lie down again." So he went and lay down. 
And the LORD called again, "Samuel!" and Samuel arose and went to Eli and said, "Here I am, for you called me." But he said, "I did not call, my son; lie down again." 
Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD, and the word of the LORD had not yet been revealed to him. 
And the LORD called Samuel again the third time. And he arose and went to Eli and said, "Here I am, for you called me." Then Eli perceived that the LORD was calling the boy. 
Therefore Eli said to Samuel, "Go, lie down, and if he calls you, you shall say, 'Speak, LORD, for your servant hears.'" So Samuel went and lay down in his place. 
And the LORD came and stood, calling as at other times, "Samuel! Samuel!" And Samuel said, "Speak, for your servant hears." 
And Samuel grew, and the LORD was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground. 
And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba knew that Samuel was established as a prophet of the LORD. 
(1 Samuel 3:1-10, 19-20 ESV)

There’s a lot I could say about this passage, this morning. So much that my mind is kind of whirling around with all the thoughts. So I’m trying to focus on something. I’ll point out a couple of things.

First is the usage of the phrase, “not yet.” It occurs thrice in the passage. It first occurs in verse 3, where it says, “the lamp of God had not yet gone out.” This may be nothing more than a literal statement that a physical lamp was still burning that night. But I’m leaning toward reading more into that, considering the statement in verse 1 that “the word of the LORD was rare in those days.” That, in itself, displays the inadequacy of Eli and his “ministry,” and we find out, later, that his sons were pretty skeezy characters.

Nevertheless, there was still opportunity for God’s Word, because His “lamp” had not yet gone out.

The other usages both occur in verse 7. “Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD, and the word of the LORD had not yet been revealed to him.”

SERIOUSLY, ELI????

I mean, we don’t know how old Samuel was, at this point . . . no real clue. But how long had he been “ministering” with Eli, and he still did not know about God or His Word?? So Samuel is totally not to blame for not recognizing God’s voice, at this point.

Samuel mistakes God’s voice for Eli three times before Eli figures out what’s going on. Finally, Eli tells Samue what to do, Samuel does it, and the rest is history. He becomes one of the most famous prophets ever to exist in Israel.

How can we apply these things to ourselves, in our day and culture? First of all, I know about God and His Word. So I don’t have Samuel’s excuse when I don’t here His voice, or mistake His voice for someone/something else. There is so much “noise” in our world, today. Much of it is literal noise. This is why the disciplines of silence and solitude are so important. But they are also very neglected. I know I don’t practice them very often. And, truthfully, while it is difficult to find a place to practice those, I could go sit in a chair in my back yard, next to the pool and have “relative” silence. Sure there is noise, but there’s no coherent noise. And I could be alone for a while, assuming S doesn’t come out and bother me.

I know that I have felt/heard things in my spirit before, and wondered if that was God’s “voice” or just my own brain coming up with something. But I need to do better at knowing His voice and acting on it.

Second, we can learn something from Samuel, here. Obviously, he is still a child, more than likely pre-adolescent. And we have the teachings of Jesus that speak of us receiving the Kingdom “like a child.” Samuel was quick to obey, and when he finally understood what was happening, he did exactly what Eli (bless his heart) told him to do.

“Speak, LORD, for your servant hears.”

That’s my lesson for today. When I hear the voice of God (whether literal or figurative), that needs to be my response.

“Speak, LORD, for your servant hears.”


For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 
(Matthew 25:35 ESV)
He said also to the man who had invited him, 
"When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. 
But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 
and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just."
(Luke 14:12-14 ESV)
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 
For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. 
For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. 
But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. 
If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person's religion is worthless. 
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. 
(James 1:22-27 ESV)

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.
(1 John 4:7 ESV)


Father, as I walk through this world, in Your Kingdom, engaging with people and situations, I pray for the child-like faith of Samuel, to be able to jump up and say, “Speak, LORD, for Your servant hears,” whenever I hear Your voice. I do not believe I have ever heard Your voice, audibly, but I do believe that I have heard Your Spirit speak to me many times. Sadly, some of those times, I did not heed, and suffered for it. Oh, I did not necessarily “suffer,” in a physical way. Sometimes, it was in a spiritual sense. I have one instance in mind, over thirty years ago. My spiritual growth suffered because I did not do what I felt You telling me to do.

Father, Your lamp has not yet gone out in our world, in our land. Truthfully, I don’t believe it will. And Your Word is prevalent in our land, at least in this country. That doesn’t mean we are paying attention to it, though. Help me to be more aware of Your Word, and help me to find make time to practice silence and solitude so that I can meditate on and contemplate You and Your Word. My initial tendency is to feel overwhelmed and think that I don’t have enough time for all of this. But, truthfully, I have lots of time. I’m just not using it very wisely, sometimes. I pray for wisdom in that regard, as well.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

The LORD is near to all who call on him, 
to all who call on him in truth.
(Psalms 145:18 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

God In Present Tense

Good morning. Today is Wednesday, the fifth of January, 2022, in the second week of Christmas. It’s the twelfth day of Christmas.

May the peace of Christ be with you.

Day 23,309

Eighteen days until Hamilton!

It was a fine day, yesterday. My evening at the library was different than usual. I was asked, at the beginning, to cover in the computer center while the full-time librarian went on lunch break, so I didn’t get a lot of shelving done. In fact, I didn’t technically put anything on the shelves, last night, as the remainder of my time was spent sorting a cart of DVDs. While that task may sound simple, it’s more time-consuming than you might think. I have to open every case to check the DVD in the case and make sure it matches the bar code number on the case. Then I have to make sure all DVDs in a multiple set (such as a season of a TV show) are in the case. Then I have to make sure that each case has one of our sticky notes with places to indicate issues with the media (won’t play, skips, and so on). Then, before putting them back on the cart in alphabetical order by title, I have to lock each case with our magnetic locking device. That is occasionally a challenging task, as sometimes those locking mechanisms don’t want to work.

At any rate, I was able to get the full cart sorted and ready for someone to shelve this morning, and then walked the shelves to straighten up some, and picked up stray books along the way, which we mark as “used” in the system. If a book is taken off the shelf, but not checked out, it is marked “used” so that the librarians know that there was at least some interest in the book. This helps them when the “weeding” times come.

I’m up pretty early, this morning, and not sure why. I am working the full day, today, 9:15-6:15, and it is the first full day since my new devotional routine began. That may have something to do with why I couldn’t go back to sleep. I also signed up to work an extra shift tomorrow, from 10-2, to cover for someone. I don’t know who, but that doesn’t really matter. I’m always willing to work an extra shift if it doesn’t interfere with any other plans, and it is only a half day, so I’ll still have time to prep for our Chicken Stir-fry tomorrow evening.

Oops. I just remembered . . . I’m supposed to start soup in the crock pot, this morning. And my coffee cup is empty. Be right back.

Thanks for waiting. The soup is started. It’s Chicken Ranch Crockpot soup, today. Chicken breast, three cans of 98%fat free cream of chicken soup, and one packet of ranch dressing mix. Oh, and a can of water, using one of the soup cans.

Okay, here we go.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Little Things, by Daryl Madden

Little gifts of kindness
Of generosity
Bring light to this world
Through humility

Little acts of love
Through the trinity
Draw the world as One
Bound Spiritually

Little prayers of faith
Through divinity
Turns the worlds direction
Oh, so gradually

All these little moments
One day we will see
In another world
Flow to eternity

The little things in life
The world sees as small
Turns out in the end
Are the greatest, of all

This is something to remember when we feel like we can’t do anything to change the world because we are only one person. One person can change the world of one other person. Please check out Daryl’s other poetry on the link provided above.

But let all who take refuge in you rejoice;
 let them ever sing for joy, 
and spread your protection over them, 
that those who love your name may exult in you. 
For you bless the righteous, O LORD; 
you cover him with favor as with a shield. 
(Psalms 5:11-12 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for coffee
2. for little acts of love and kindness, spread around the world
3. for these quiet pauses, each morning
4. for colors; red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet, and all the combinations
5. that Jesus looks at me (and you) and sees good things
6. for Jesus's calling on me to follow Him
7. that God's Word is not just some literary artifact to be studied, but can be brought into present tense in our lives

The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, "Follow me." 
Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 
Philip found Nathanael and said to him, "We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph." 
Nathanael said to him, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" Philip said to him, "Come and see." 
Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, "Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!"
 Nathanael said to him, "How do you know me?" Jesus answered him, "Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you." 
Nathanael answered him, "Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!" 
Jesus answered him, "Because I said to you, 'I saw you under the fig tree,' do you believe? You will see greater things than these." 
And he said to him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man." 
(John 1:43-51 ESV)

When Jesus saw Nathaniel, he noted a good quality about him. What good qualities does Jesus see in us? I assure you that He does see good qualities in us. As hard as I am on myself, when I look within, I believe that Jesus, who can see all and knows me better than I know myself, looks upon me and sees some good things.

Yet I find within me things that I would have Him change. What things would you have Jesus change in you? I encourage you to talk about these things with Him, both the good things that He finds in you, as well as those things you would like to see changed.

Father, I am thankful, this morning, for the calling of Jesus on my life. Obviously, You found something in me that was worth having, or You would not have chosen me and called me. Yet, anything that You found was something that You already put there. This puts me back at Psalm 139 again. “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.” Show me the “greater things,” Lord. Let me see where You are working in this world that seems so lacking of Your presence. Help me do the little things that You place in my path, little things that can change the world of one of “the least of these.”

Glory be to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, so it is now and so it shall ever be, world without end. Alleluia. Amen.

(From Pray As You Go)


As I continue looking at the spiritual discipline of meditation, the question is posed, “What are some obstacles to meditation for people in secular careers?”

That is an interesting question, especially considering that the word “secular” did not come into use in that context until after the fifties. What, exactly, is a “secular” career? The opposite of a “sacred” career? Did not Brother Lawrence even consider the washing of dishes as “sacred?”

But I digress. It is not the purpose, here, to debate the difference between “secular” and “sacred.” I understand the meaning behind the question. All of my full-time jobs have been in a “secular” career. And while there may not be a large number of obstacles to meditation in these careers, they don’t have the advantage of having a career in some kind of ministry. For example, a pastor should have all kinds of time to meditate. Now whether or not he or she takes advantage of that is on them.

In contrast, someone working an 8-5 job in some kind of industry doesn’t have an abundance of time to stop and meditate during the day. However, those obstacles can be overcome. For example, last night, as I was walking the shelves of the library, I prayed, which can be a form of meditation. I could just as easily have gone over memorized passages of Scripture in my head, while glancing through shelves of books. The challenge is to not look at all the books and wonder, “Oh, that looks interesting; what is it about?”

One of the reasons I have, for many years, chosen to get up much earlier than I need to, is so that I can have the time to read and meditate on Scripture and other worthy writings, before I begin the tasks of my day. That’s what I’m doing right now, because I cannot guarantee that I will have a chance to have quiet reflection during my work day, even at a place like a library. Working the circulation desk is not always quiet.

But taking time to pause in the morning, like this, also helps me be more aware of times throughout the day when I can pause and reflect or pray. There is plenty to pray about, at least for me.

Meditation is an important discipline to engage in. It is a process of thinking through passages of Scripture that have been read, praying them back to the Lord, along with questions about what has been read. Is there something I need to ask Him? Is there an opportunity for the Holy Spirit to speak further into this passage, helping me understand it? And while there are certainly obstacles to this discipline, in “secular” careers, they can be overcome.

Father, help me to be more aware of times, during my day, when I can pause and reflect on things I have read earlier. Help me to rely on the Holy Spirit to draw my attention to these things and remember what I have read.


In Symphony of Salvation, Eugene H. Peterson describes Deuteronomy as “maybe the longest sermon ever.” Along with Leviticus, Deuteronomy probably stands as one of the least favorite books of the Bible to read. It is, essentially, “Moses, standing on the Plains of Moab with all Israel assembled before him, preaching.”

Peterson says that this sermon “does what all sermons are intended to do: Take God’s words, written and spoken in the past, take the human experience, ancestral and personal, of the listening congregation, then reproduce the words and experience as a single event right now, in this present moment.”

Peterson rejects that thought that God’s Word is just a literary artifact to be studied, or that human experience “is dead history merely to be regretted or admired.” It all must be brought into today, into context.

This commandment that I'm commanding you today isn't too much for you, it's not out of your reach. 
It's not on a high mountain—you don't have to get mountaineers to climb the peak and bring it down to your level and explain it before you can live it. 
And it's not across the ocean—you don't have to send sailors out to get it, bring it back, and then explain it before you can live it. 
No. The word is right here and now—as near as the tongue in your mouth, as near as the heart in your chest. Just do it! 
Look at what I've done for you today: I've placed in front of you 

Life and Good, 
Death and Evil. 

And I command you today: Love GOD, your God. Walk in his ways. Keep his commandments, regulations, and rules so that you will live, really live, live exuberantly, blessed by GOD, your God, in the land you are about to enter and possess. 
(Deuteronomy 30:11-16 MSG)

Notice how the words “today,” “here,” and “now” keep recurring. This sermon’s importance is highlighted by the fact that this is the last stop on their long journey to the Promised Land. Moses puts their entire experience, as well as the entirety of the commands of God, into present tense.

Be vigilant, 
listen obediently to these words that I command you 
so that you'll have a good life,
 you and your children, 
for a long, long time, 
doing what is good and right in the eyes of GOD, your God. 
(Deuteronomy 12:28 MSG)

“and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.”
(Psalms 50:15 ESV)

In the day of my trouble I call upon you, for you answer me.
(Psalms 86:7 ESV)

He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength.
(Isaiah 40:29 ESV)

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.
(2 Corinthians 12:9 ESV)


Today’s word in Pray a Word a Day is “creativity.” Albert Einstein is quoted as saying “Creativity is intelligence having fun.”

Kids are naturally creative, it seems. What happens to us, though? It seems like most of us lose that creativity when we get older. There are a handful of people, who seem almost “genius-like,” who never seem to grow up. And I don’t blame them, if “growing up” means losing your imagination.

How can the word “creativity” be used in prayer, today? I will be considering this as I walk through this day. For me, it lends itself to my desire to make more music this year. Making music, whether writing it or performing someone else’s creation, is, itself, creativity. Every time I play a song, regardless of who wrote it or when it was written, I create something new. That is worth considering, don’t you think?

Also, consider . . . we were created by the Master Creator, “in His image.”

Father, fan my creativity into flame today. Make my imagination soar. As I find time to meditate on Your Word, throughout this day, and as I am called upon to pray for the needs of whoever you put in my path, make me creative in these tasks. There is nothing wrong with creativity in prayer. Thank You for giving me an imagination, and I thank You that there is still the heart of a child lurking in there, somewhere.

Father, I continue to pray for relief in this pandemic. Numbers are soaring; hospitalization are at an all-time high; make us aware of the needs, and give us a miracle. I have been asked to pray for people who have Covid, Lord, and I do that. I am asking for a miracle for one family, today, if it is not too late. They need a miraculous healing, Father. I pray Your healing blessing upon them.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

The Kingdom of God is Within You

Good morning (probably afternoon by the time this is finished). Today is . . . must be Wednesday, because I worked at the library last night. Wednesday, the twenty-ninth of December, 2021. The fifth day of Christmas.

May the peace of Christ fill your body, soul, mind, and spirit, today.

We’ve been staying up really late and sleeping late, this week. This doesn’t make it any easier to remember what day it is, especially since C has been off work all week. She does have to work some on Friday, but only from home. It’s the year end, and things always change and/or roll out on December 31/January 1, so she has to be available.

We slept until after 9:00, this morning. It may have been close to 10:00. I really can’t remember. I cooked some breakfast for us all, because I was hungry, before sitting down to do my morning devotional, so it’s running pretty late today.

There is very little on our “agenda” for today. C has already cut up the extra ham and put it in the freezer. We never found anyone who needed it. I’m sure we could have if we had tried a little harder, but there were several interested parties, who never followed through with coming to get it. So it’s in our freezer for future meals.

C is planning to put up a new set of LED lights in S’s room, today. The old set has quit working, probably due to some cat activity in the room. Some people blame aliens, some blame gremlins. We always blame cats.

I have a small grocery order set to deliver between 1:00 and 2:00, and we have one box that needs to be taken to the UPS store to return to Amazon. And, of course, there will be Sonic drinks, at some point. We have had an issue, though . . . our closest Sonic seems to have run out of Sprite Zero, which is C’s drink of choice.

I might try to get some serious reading done today. I would like to get at least one more book finished before 2022. I’m currently reading The Last Wish, by Andrzej Sapkowski. This is the book that introduces the character known by many as The Witcher, aka Geralt of Rivera. The Witcher is a wildly popular video game series (I have played one of them) that has also now become an immensely popular Netflix series, now in its second season. The books are written in Polish, but have been translated to English. I’m a little less than a fourth of the way through it, currently.

I also checked out another book, last night. I was supposed to shelve it, but when I saw it, I realized that I “need” to read it. It is the latest by Paula Hawkins, author of The Girl On the Train, and is called A Slow Fire Burning. I have read both of Ms. Hawkins’s books, the other being Into the Water, which was also very good.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

I have two poems to share, this morning, to begin. The first is:

Lessons of Receiving, by Daryl Madden

Of our Gods great wisdom
His plan of conceiving
In nature surrounding
Are lessons of receiving

In humble flowers
Who open to light
Welcome the gift
With colors bright

Of trees standing tall
With branches raised
In calm and in storm
Arms stretched in praise

And of the pasture
Letting rain seep
To nourish the soil
Of roots growing deep

Why as His children
So difficult be
To accept the graces
That are blessed to me

We expect and we take
What’s given for free
Oh Lord, let me learn
From the flowers and trees

Let’s cherish each blessing
To receive gratefully
Well find in this way
We’ll live joyfully

I pray that we can receive these blessings and not simply expect and take what is freely given. In addition to cherishing each blessing, I also pray that we will cherish one another, in this Kingdom walk. Please check out Daryl’s poetry in the provided link.

The other is another one of Susan’s short poems.

Carpe Deum, by S. Michaels (LightWriters)

This is
your time, give
your all

©2021 S. Michaels
All Things Bright
(Haiku 2-3-2)

Please see more of her beautiful and inspiring Haikus at the provlided link.

As 2022 approaches, just around the bend, it is, indeed “your time.” It is my time, to give my all to Jesus. In the coming year, while I don’t do resolutions, and can’t rightfully say that these aspirations are truly “goals” (they have to be measurable to really be goals), I do have desires and aspirations for the new year. I want to read more books; I want to pray more consistently, and I want to do even better at this thing of “loving one another.”

And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. And he said, 
"Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. 
Remove this cup from me. 
Yet not what I will, 
but what you will." 
(Mark 14:35-36 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that Jesus said, "not what I will, but what You will."
2. that the Kingdom of God is within us
3. that we have this Helper, the Holy Spirit
4. that He who is in me is greater than he who is in the world
5. for Jesus, the Light of the world 

Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.
(Luke 17:21 KJV)

"If you love me, 
you will keep my commandments. 
And I will ask the Father, 
and he will give you another Helper, 
to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, 
whom the world cannot receive, 
because it neither sees him nor knows him. 
You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. 
"I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 
Yet a little while and the world will see me no more,
 but you will see me. 
Because I live, you also will live.
 In that day you will know that I am in my Father, 
and you in me, and I in you. 
Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, 
he it is who loves me. 
And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, 
and I will love him and manifest myself to him."
(John 14:15-21 ESV)
Little children, 
you are from God and have overcome them, 
for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. 
(1 John 4:4 ESV)

“Behold, the kingdom of God is within you.”

We spend so much energy looking all over the place for God’s kingdom. We buy up stacks of books (nothing wrong with books, mind you . . . some of my greatest inspirations have come from them) and flock to listen to inspirational speakers. But, “if we follow Jesus’s teachings, we need look no further for the kingdom than what we carry inside. Everywhere, all the time.” What we are so frantically searching for is right here, “in plain sight.” (Jacqueline F. Wheelock in Daily Guideposts 2021)


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

CHRISTMAS – DAY FIVE

INVITATION

Sing to the LORD, all the world! 
Worship the LORD with joy; 
come before him with happy songs! 
(Psalms 100:1-2 GNB)

I pause, briefly, as I consider the presence of the Lord and His Kingdom, here within me, and all around me.

BIBLE SONG

Of David. A psalm. 

I will sing of your love and justice; 
to you, LORD, I will sing praise. 
I will be careful to lead a blameless life— 
when will you come to me? 

I will conduct the affairs of my house 
with a blameless heart.
 I will not look with approval 
on anything that is vile. 

I hate what faithless people do; 
I will have no part in it. 
The perverse of heart shall be far from me; 
I will have nothing to do with what is evil. 

My eyes will be on the faithful in the land, 
that they may dwell with me; 
the one whose walk is blameless 
will minister to me.
(Psalms 101:1-4 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord's Messiah. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. 
When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: 
"Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, 
you may now dismiss your servant in peace. 
For my eyes have seen your salvation, 
which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: 
a light for revelation to the Gentiles, 
and the glory of your people Israel." 
The child's father and mother marveled at what was said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: 
"This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too." 
(Luke 2:25-35 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I read these passages again, I look for words or phrases that catch my eye or move my heart. I pray my thoughts, desires, needs, and feelings from these meditations, and enjoy the presence of the Lord.

I feel like caution is necessary in the reading of Psalm 101. While I do want to be “blameless” in my life and in my actions, and I do intend to sing of the love and justice of the Lord, the sentiment of hating what “faithless people do” can easily lead down a dark path. Mind you, I’m not being critical of God’s Word, here, but we also must remember that these are songs and prayers of a man who, even though he was a “man after God’s own heart,” was also guilty of rape, murder, and various other heinous sins.

So, how “blameless” was he, exactly? I, too, desire to have “nothing to do with what is evil,” but at the same time, if I am going to be any kind of inspiration or minister to others, I must find myself in the company of “evil” people, from time to time. And we cannot truly be only in the company of the “faithful in the land.”

I’m not really sure how to interpret this psalm, or how to apply it to my own life in the twenty-first century. I think that, as best I can, I need to walk blamelessly, and to avoid those things that are “vile.” But we all slip, sometimes, some of us more than others. We all fall into the devil’s traps. And part of the division that we are finding ourselves in the midst of right now is due to an oversimplification of the sentiments of this particular psalm (and others like it).

We also have to be careful in how we determine who those “faithful” are. For me, it is people who are truly trying to walk in the steps of Jesus Christ. Those are the people in whom I delight. Those are the people who are trying their best to do all those things Jesus said we should do for “the least of these.” Those are the “faithful” in whom I delight.

Father, I praise You for Jesus, the light for the revelation to the Gentiles and the glory of Your people Israel. I thank You that He has come to bring salvation to us, as well as show us the Kingdom. He has let us know that the Kingdom dwells within us. It is not over there, hiding. It is not in the great halls with the eloquent speakers. It is not in the “Christian” book stores. It is within me, and within every other person who has taken that step into the easy yoke of Jesus and begun to walk with Him in Your Kingdom.

Help me to display Jesus, the Light of the world, in my life and through my words and actions. I pray for the joy of salvation to be experienced by all people, everywhere. I pray for a deeper understanding of the Gospel, in the coming year. And I pray for any family members and friends who do not know the love of Jesus in their lives.

"Faithful God,
in our world,
where evil is serious,
pain is no illusion,
and our guilt is real,
open our eyes to see how justice and mercy take the shape of a Savior dying on a cross for us.
With Simeon,
may all people see that Your justice and mercy meet when Jesus is born for our salvation.
Amen."

BLESSING

"Let us praise the Lord, the God of Israel! 
He has come to the help of his people and has set them free."
(Luke 1:68 GNB)

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. 
Amen. 
(Revelation 22:21 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Come and See what God has Done

Good morning! Today is Wednesday, the twenty-second of December, 2021. 12/22/21, a palindrome. It is also the fourth Wednesday of Advent.

Peace of Christ be with you!

Day 23,295

Only three more days until Christmas!

I’m pretty sure that, as of right now, all the Christmas gifts have been delivered, except for one, which is now showing a delivery date of 12/28. Oh, well. Unfortunately, that particular one goes along with three or four of the other gifts. That’s no big deal, though. It will all come together, in due time. And, from past experience with Amazon, it could still change. I know they have, before.

We are talking about plans for Friday and Saturday, at least cooking plans. There’s a lot of cooking to be done, and the bulk of it will happen both Friday morning and Saturday morning. Not on purpose, I wound up with at least forty pounds of ham in the fridge. I ordered two whole hams from Albertson’s, earlier in the week, fully expecting a couple of hams that were approximately twelve pounds each. They delivered two hams that were approximately twenty pounds. Egad! My whole lower shelf in the fridge is filled with ham. And one twenty pound ham would have been plenty for both days. We may give one away. I don’t know.

Today is my last full work day until New Year’s Eve. In fact, my next work day, after today, will be next Tuesday, 12/28. And there is at least one meeting that I will be involved with, today. There is a Circulation staff meeting from 1-2, this afternoon. And then, if it happens, the Adult Services “stand up” meeting is at 2. That manager has been out for a bit, and isn’t scheduled back until 12/30, so that meeting may not happen. My monthly “one-on-one” with her was also scheduled for today, so I’m not expecting that to happen, either.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

And Jesus said to him, 
"'If you can'! 
All things are possible for one who believes." 
Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, 
"I believe; help my unbelief!" 
(Mark 9:23-24 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the belief that God has placed in my heart, even thought it is still tainted with unbelief
2. that God is love and whoever abides in love abides in Him
3. for the security that comes in living as one of His "sheep"
4. for the ability and willingness to lay down my life for my brothers and sisters, just as Christ laid down His life for us
5. for all the things that God has done

Anyone who does not love does not know God,
 because God is love. 
(1 John 4:8 ESV)
So we have come to know 
and to believe the love that God has for us. 
God is love, 
and whoever abides in love abides in God, 
and God abides in him. 
(1 John 4:16 ESV)
By this we know love, 
that he laid down his life for us, 
and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. 
(1 John 3:16 ESV)
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. 
(John 15:9-13 ESV)

Praise him with tambourine and dance;
praise him with strings and pipe! 
(Psalms 150:4 ESV)
And it was told King David, "The LORD has blessed the household of Obed-edom and all that belongs to him, because of the ark of God." So David went and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obed-edom to the city of David with rejoicing. 
And when those who bore the ark of the LORD had gone six steps, he sacrificed an ox and a fattened animal. 
And David danced before the LORD with all his might. And David was wearing a linen ephod. 
So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the LORD with shouting and with the sound of the horn. 
(2 Samuel 6:12-15 ESV)
A Psalm of David. A song at the dedication of the temple. 

I will extol you, O LORD, for you have drawn me up and have not let my foes rejoice over me. 
O LORD my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me. 
O LORD, you have brought up my soul from Sheol; you restored me to life from among those who go down to the pit. 
Sing praises to the LORD, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name.
 For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning. 
As for me, I said in my prosperity, "I shall never be moved." 
By your favor, O LORD, you made my mountain stand strong; you hid your face; I was dismayed. 
To you, O LORD, I cry, and to the Lord I plead for mercy: 
"What profit is there in my death, if I go down to the pit? Will the dust praise you? Will it tell of your faithfulness? 
Hear, O LORD, and be merciful to me! O LORD, be my helper!" 
You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, 
that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to you forever! 
(Psalms 30:1-12 ESV)

On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, 
"If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, 'Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.'" 
Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. 
(John 7:37-39 ESV)

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
(Acts 1:8 ESV)

But the fruit of the Spirit is 
love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; 
against such things there is no law. 
And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 
If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. 
(Galatians 5:22-25 ESV)

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

ADVENT – DAY TWENTY-FIVE

INVITATION

God, come back! 
Smile your blessing smile: 
That will be our salvation. 
(Psalms 80:3 MSG)

As I pause, this morning, I reflect on love. God’s love for us, made evident in the coming of Jesus. Our love for God, made evident in the way we live, as well as how we lay down our lives for the kingdom of God and for one another.

BIBLE SONG

You, LORD, showed favor to your land; 
you restored the fortunes of Jacob. 
You forgave the iniquity of your people 
and covered all their sins.

 I will listen to what God the LORD says; 
he promises peace to his people, his faithful servants— 
but let them not turn to folly. 
Surely his salvation is near those who fear him, 
that his glory may dwell in our land. 

Love and faithfulness meet together; 
righteousness and peace kiss each other. 
Faithfulness springs forth from the earth,
 and righteousness looks down from heaven. 
The LORD will indeed give what is good, 
and our land will yield its harvest. 
Righteousness goes before him 
and prepares the way for his steps. 
(Psalms 85:1-2, 8-13 NIV)

BIBLE READING

"But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, 
though you are small among the clans of Judah, 
out of you will come for me 
one who will be ruler over Israel, 
whose origins are from of old, 
from ancient times." 

Therefore Israel will be abandoned 
until the time when she who is in labor bears a son, 
and the rest of his brothers return 
to join the Israelites. 

He will stand and shepherd his flock
 in the strength of the LORD, 
in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God. 
And they will live securely, for then his greatness 
will reach to the ends of the earth. 
(Micah 5:2-4 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I read these passages again, slowly, I reflect on what the Lord might be saying to me through them. I look for words or phrases that catch my eye or move my heart, allowing my spirit to respond to the Lord in prayer and meditation. I enjoy His presence, this morning, preparing myself for the day ahead.

Father, I cannot get away from these passages on love and laying down our lives for one another. Teach me Your ways, Lord, that I might walk in Your path. Show me how to best lay down my life for the sake of my brothers and sisters and others in this world. Teach me how to love the way You have loved. Just as Jesus Christ laid down His life for me, show me how to do the same for others. In our culture, Father, this has become quite a challenge, over the past couple of years.

Time is short, Father, so I must bring this to a close. You are our great Shepherd, Father, and I am thankful for the security that this brings my soul. I find it easier and easier to obey that often-stated command, “Fear not,” as I find myself resting more and more in Your provision and safety. Thought this world is harsh, I find myself resting in the shadow of Your wings and in the cleft of the rock, where You have hidden me. But even as Job said, Lord, even if You see fit to slay me, yet will I trust You.

I will listen to what You say, Lord, and You promise peace to us. Only let us not turn to folly, Father. Let us not turn to folly and chase after the wind and vanities.

"God of place and time,
You chose the little town of Bethlehem to be the birthplace of David and of David's greater Son.
Make us aware of Your active purpose in our towns and neighborhoods,
so that we see them as places of promise in our time.
Amen."

BLESSING

"May the tender mercy of our God,
by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven,
shine on those living in darkness and guide our feet into the path of peace."
(based on Luke 1:78-79)

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

Sorrow and Sighing Will Flee

Good morning. Today is Wednesday, the fifteenth of December, 2021, the third Wednesday of Advent.

Peace of Christ be with you!

Day 23,288

Only ten more days until Christmas!

I woke up with allergies, this morning, so I’m feeling a bit stuffed up. It’s funny, because it didn’t start until about the time I got out of bed. A couple of sneezes, and my nose has been running like a sieve all morning. I’ve taken some Sudafed and DayQuil, though, so hopefully that will be settling down, soon. Fortunately, it is my Wednesday off work, so I don’t really have to go anywhere.

Other than a quick trip to an Amazon hub locker to pick up a Christmas gift that has been delivered..

Last night at the library was extra special. It was my shelving night, which I always enjoy, because it’s quiet and I’m pretty much alone, lost in the stacks of books (or DVDs, sometimes, but last night, it was all books). The extra special part happened around 7:00 PM. First, a little back story. A few weeks ago, the youth services manager (our library calls children “youth”) approached me and asked if I would like to participate in their monthly “story laboratory,” a thing where they start in the youth program room, but then go to different places in the library for a sort of “progressive storytime.”

When I interviewed for the library aide job, I had asked them if there would ever be opportunities for me to read to people. I was, initially, told no, that the part time aides didn’t really do that. However, Ms. Beverly remembered me asking that, and asked if I would like to participate in one of their Story Laboratory nights. I said yes, of course.

I didn’t know when it was coming, but thought it should be coming up. Well, it turned out, it was last night. Since I don’t work every day, she didn’t really have an opportunity to remind me, otherwise I would have dressed a little more “festively.” So what we did, last night, was several of us read portions of “The Night Before Christmas” from a pop-up book that was very cool. We had a small group of about four children and their mothers. I had so much fun! I got to read the bit where Santa calls out all the reindeer names.

Oh, and by the way . . . did you realize that its “Donder,” not “Donner??” I learned that last night. I made sure to enunciate that one clearly.

I also pointed briefly at my own beard when I got to the part about Santa’s beard being as white as snow, and said, “Just like mine!”

I have nothing on my agenda for today, other than the aforementioned trip to the Amazon hub locker. I’m planning to make chicken stir-fry for dinner tonight.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

You Can Steal, by Daryl Madden

You can steal my happiness
But you can’t steal my joy

You can take my trust away
But faith you can’t destroy

You can take my job today
But not my purpose be

You can make me miserable
But God loves you and me

Even if it’s comes to death
And you kill my body

Still I know that I can rest
In life eternally

My words are bold and I will fail
Through struggles to endure

Let me dwell upon this truth
Gods’ faith in me secure

I like this one because it reminds me of some of my favorite things that Dallas Willard said. One is his definition of joy, as “a pervasive sense of well-being.” The other is his statement that, in God’s kingdom, “this world is a perfectly safe place for us to be.” Please check out Daryl’s other poems, at the link provided.

And the ransomed of the LORD shall return and come to Zion with singing; 
everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; 
they shall obtain gladness and joy, 
and sorrow and sighing shall flee away. 
(Isaiah 51:11 ESV)
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.
(Isaiah 49:13 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for my coffee
2. for everlasting joy, and the eventual absence of sorrow and sighing
3. that You can calm the storms
4. for Your forgiveness; help me to always forgive others as You have forgiven me
5. that, no matter what I am going through, You are with me, and will never leave me or forsake me

Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
(Colossians 3:13 NIV)

Get rid of all bitterness, 
rage and anger, 
brawling and slander, 
along with every form of malice. 
Be kind and compassionate to one another, 
forgiving each other, 
just as in Christ God forgave you. 
(Ephesians 4:31-32 NIV)
Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy;

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

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

Amen.
(The Prayer of St. Francis)

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 43:2 ESV)
And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, 
"Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?" 
that is, 
"My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" 
(Matthew 27:46 ESV)
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 
As it is written, "For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered."
 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 
nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. 
(Romans 8:35-39 ESV)

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

ADVENT – DAY EIGHTEEN

INVITATION

How beautiful on the mountains 
are the feet of the messenger bringing good news, 
Breaking the news that all's well, 
proclaiming good times, 
announcing salvation, 
telling Zion, 
"Your God reigns!" 
(Isaiah 52:7 MSG)

As I pause during this quiet moment, I am pondering the eternal presence of God in my life. I am reveling in the truth that, no matter what I am going through, He is with me.

BIBLE SONG

You, LORD, showed favor to your land;
 you restored the fortunes of Jacob. 
You forgave the iniquity of your people 
and covered all their sins. 

I will listen to what God the LORD says; 
he promises peace to his people, his faithful servants— 
but let them not turn to folly.
 Surely his salvation is near those who fear him, 
that his glory may dwell in our land. 

Love and faithfulness meet together; 
righteousness and peace kiss each other. 
Faithfulness springs forth from the earth, 
and righteousness looks down from heaven. 
The LORD will indeed give what is good, 
and our land will yield its harvest. 
Righteousness goes before him 
and prepares the way for his steps. 
(Psalms 85:1-2, 8-13 NIV)

BIBLE READING

The desert and the parched land will be glad; 
the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. 
Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom; 
it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy. 
The glory of Lebanon will be given to it, 
the splendor of Carmel and Sharon; 
they will see the glory of the LORD, 
the splendor of our God. 

Then will the eyes of the blind be opened 
and the ears of the deaf unstopped. 
Then will the lame leap like a deer, 
and the mute tongue shout for joy. 
Water will gush forth in the wilderness 
and streams in the desert. 

And a highway will be there; 
it will be called the Way of Holiness; 
it will be for those who walk on that Way. 
They will enter Zion with singing; 
everlasting joy will crown their heads. 
Gladness and joy will overtake them,
 and sorrow and sighing will flee away.
(Isaiah 35:1-2, 5-6, 8A, 10B)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I leisurely read these passages again, I look for words or ideas that stir within me. I linger over them, giving them my full attention (hopefully). As I look for potential questions for God, I pray my life to Him, enjoying and resting in His presence.

Father, I see, this morning, that more than once I have read the promise that “sorrow and sighing” will “flee away.” While I don’t feel especially sorrowful, this morning, nevertheless, these words bring me great comfort. It seems that there is always something to “sigh” about, in this life, and the promise that You are with us, with me, through all things, brings great comfort. To know that, one day, the response of sighing over things will no longer be necessary or even desires, is very sustaining. We seem to have had much to sigh about in the past couple of years.

But the truth remains that, in Your kingdom, this world is a perfectly safe place to be. The truth also remains that, in Your kingdom, things are far better than we could ever imagine. I take note of the fact that You never promise us that we will not pass through the waters; You do not promise us that we will not walk through the fire. You do promise Your presence and that, when we do walk through the fire, we will not be burned. You also promise us that there is nothing in all of creation that can separate us from Your love.

I will listen to what You say, Father. You promise peace to us, Your faithful servants. Your salvation is near to those of us who fear You, and You will give what is good. However, let us also be aware that not everything we desire is, in fact, “good.”

May we walk in that way of holiness, that we may enter Zion with singing, that gladness and joy may overtake us, and sorrow and sighing flee away. May all this come about through Your Son and by Your Spirit.

"Incarnate Lord,
why do we easily consider our bodies as shameful or something to get beyond,
when You're quite fond of them?
Forgive us for trying to be more spiritual than You are by denying our human earthiness.
Overtake us with joy that You have come physically to this world,
taking a face and sharing our flesh,
for truly begin our Immanuel,
'God with us.'
Amen."

BLESSING

Blessed be the Lord, 
the God of Israel; 
he came and set his people free.
(Luke 1:68 MSG)

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Fear Not

Good morning. Today is Wednesday, the eighth of December, 2021, the second Wednesday of Advent.

Peace of Christ be with you!

Day 23,281

Seventeen days until Christmas. The gifts should begin arriving this weekend.

Today is the annual Christmas party/luncheon for the library staff. I’m rather excited for this. I haven’t been part of a “company” Christmas party in, well, decades. Well, except for C’s company Christmas parties. Perhaps I should say that I haven’t worked for a place that had a Christmas party in decades. That would be better. C’s company has not reinstated the Christmas party, yet, for this year, but we have been invited to a dinner with the CEO on a Monday night in the near future.

I took my gift exchange bag to work, last night, along with my Secret Santa gift for my person. I have my other Secret Santa gift in the closet, to give to them next Wednesday. I will take it up there on Tuesday evening again, as I do not work next Wednesday. I am not sure if or when it will be revealed who our Secret Santa is. I suppose after all the gifts are received would be a good time to do that.

C will be working from home today. She has a doctor’s appointment that she is en route to, currently. I may have failed to mention that she has broken a toe. So she is going to see her favorite foot doctor, this morning, to see if there is anything that needs to be done about it, other than waiting for it to heal.

That’s about it for today.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 
And the angel said to them, 
"Fear not, 
for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 
And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger." 
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 
"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!" 
When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us." 
(Luke 2:9-15 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the words, "fear not"
2. for the "good news of great joy"
3. that the good news is "for all the people"
4. that You "will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away"
5. for Your tender mercy and the light that guides our feet into the path of peace

Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus answered him, “Where I am going you cannot follow me now, but you will follow afterward.”
(John 13:36 ESV)

And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you.
(Psalms 9:10 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)


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

ADVENT – DAY ELEVEN

INVITATION

Light, space, zest— that's GOD! 
So, with him on my side I'm fearless, 
afraid of no one and nothing.
(Psalms 27:1 MSG)

As I pause during this quiet moment, I consider the “light, space, zest” that is God. I am in His presence; I rejoice in the good news of great joy that has been extended to all people.

BIBLE SONG

You, LORD, showed favor to your land; 
you restored the fortunes of Jacob. 
You forgave the iniquity of your people 
and covered all their sins. 
You set aside all your wrath 
and turned from your fierce anger.

 Restore us again, God our Savior, 
and put away your displeasure toward us. 
Will you be angry with us forever? 
Will you prolong your anger through all generations? 
Will you not revive us again, 
that your people may rejoice in you? 
Show us your unfailing love, LORD, 
and grant us your salvation. 
(Psalms 85:1-7 NIV)

BIBLE READING

"Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, 
because he has come to his people and redeemed them. 
He has raised up a horn of salvation for us 
in the house of his servant David 
(as he said through his holy prophets of long ago), 
salvation from our enemies 
and from the hand of all who hate us— 
to show mercy to our ancestors 
and to remember his holy covenant, 
the oath he swore to our father Abraham: 
to rescue us from the hand of our enemies, 
and to enable us to serve him without fear 
in holiness and righteousness before him all our days. 

"And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; 
for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, 
to give his people the knowledge of salvation 
through the forgiveness of their sins, 
because of the tender mercy of our God, 
by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven 
to shine on those living in darkness 
and in the shadow of death, 
to guide our feet into the path of peace."
(Luke 1:68-79 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I read these passages again, I look for ways in which God’s Word has moved me. I ponder and meditate on what has connected with my heart and my mind. I pray to the Lord what has moved me, praying my thoughts and my life to Him, and quietly enjoying being with Him, this morning.

First, Lord, I am grateful that Jesus is in the process of preparing places for us, so that, where He is, there we may also be. Even though he told Peter that he could not go where He was going, at the moment, Jesus did say that Peter could follow Him, would follow Him, later. You have not forsaken us who have put our faith, hope, and trust in You. All we must do is “be still and know” that You are God.

In a sense, I see the answers to the questions from Psalm 85 presented in Zechariah’s prayer in Luke 1. The psalmist asked if You would be angry forever. He asked if Your anger would be “prolonged through all generations.” Then he prayed to see Your unfailing love and Your salvation. That psalmist may have never seen those, while he lived on this earth, but Zechariah had some things to say about it, as he prophesied about his own son, John.

Zechariah saw that You had come to redeem the people, that You had provided “salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us.” He also made note that people would be enabled to serve You “without fear,” which is a constant thread in Your Word, even seen in the message that the angels brought to the shepherds in their announcement. The first words the angels said to the shepherds were, “fear not.” That message is an integral piece of Your Good News.

I love the ending of Zechariah’s prayer, as he continues to prophesy concerning his son, John. “

And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.” Thank You, Father, for the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of sin. Thank You for Your tender mercy, and Your light that guides our feet into the path of peace.

"Sure to come Savior,
I believe Your coming again will mean the righting of all that is wrong;
it will complete Your rescue plan and fully carry out Your redemption.
But that sweet comfort makes the waiting all that much harder.
Come quickly,
 Lord Jesus, 
and redeem Your people;
come quickly and rescue us.
Amen."

BLESSING

Stay with GOD! 
Take heart.
Don't quit.
 I'll say it again: 
Stay with GOD. 
(Psalms 27:14 MSG)

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

Soon

Good morning. Today is Wednesday, December 1, 2021, the first Wednesday of Advent.

Welcome to December.

Peace be with you.

Day 23,274

Twenty-four days until Christmas.

This afternoon, we will travel to east Texas, Henderson, to be exact, for the visitation/viewing for my Uncle Buddy, who passed away Monday morning. The funeral is tomorrow afternoon at 1:00 PM.

Uncle Buddy lived 30,551 days.

We plan to leave here between 2:00 and 2:30 PM, this afternoon, and will return tomorrow evening, after the graveside service is concluded.

I don’t really have any other news/happenings to report. C is working from home, today, instead of yesterday. She had already planned to go to the office yesterday, for some reason, and work from home today, so that makes it easier for us to be ready to leave, this afternoon. I’ll be making a quick trip to the grocery store, immediately following the completion of this blog, just to get a couple of things. Primarily, we are out of cat litter. And grapes.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Man is a shadow.
In vain does he heap up wealth.
My hope is in You!
(Based on Psalm 39:6-7)

Is not your fear of God your confidence,
and the integrity of your ways your hope?
(Job 4:6 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the hope that I have in You, through all things, whether "good" or "bad"
2. for the love and support of family and friends
3. for the promise of straight paths, when I trust in You
4. for Your Word, living and active, discerning my thoughts and the intentions of my heart
5. for the hope of Your return; we all say, "Come, Lord!"

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)

For the word of God is living and active,
sharper than any two-edged sword,
piercing to the division
of soul
and of spirit,
of joints
and of marrow,
and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
(Hebrews 4:12 ESV)


The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad;
the desert shall rejoice and blossom like the crocus;
it shall blossom abundantly and rejoice with joy and singing.
The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it,
the majesty of Carmel and Sharon.
They shall see the glory of the LORD,
the majesty of our God.
(Isaiah 35:1-2 ESV)

Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
and the ears of the deaf unstopped;
then shall the lame man leap like a deer,
and the tongue of the mute sing for joy.
For waters break forth in the wilderness,
and streams in the desert;
the burning sand shall become a pool,
and the thirsty ground springs of water;
in the haunt of jackals,
where they lie down,
the grass shall become reeds and rushes.
(Isaiah 35:5-7 ESV)

Behold, I am doing a new thing;
now it springs forth,
do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert.
(Isaiah 43:19 ESV)

For I will pour water on the thirsty land,
and streams on the dry ground;
I will pour my Spirit upon your offspring,
and my blessing on your descendants.
They shall spring up among the grass like willows by flowing streams.
(Isaiah 44:3-4 ESV)

No matter how dry and barren you feel, there is hope for “streams in the desert.” Our lives are waiting for the rain of God’s Spirit to come down on us; then we will “spring up among the grass like willows by flowing streams.”

Hope is the theme for the first week of Advent. There is always hope.


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

FIRST WEEK OF ADVENT – DAY FOUR

INVITATION

I pray to GOD—
my life a prayer—
and wait for what he’ll say and do.
(Psalms 130:5 MSG)

I pause during the quietness of this morning to reflect on the hope that dwells in my heart; hope that is based on the faith and trust that is a gift from God, my Father in heaven.

BIBLE SONG

For the director of music. Of the Sons of Korah. A psalm.

You, LORD, showed favor to your land;
you restored the fortunes of Jacob.
You forgave the iniquity of your people
and covered all their sins.
(Psalms 85:1-2 NIV)

I will listen to what God the LORD says;
he promises peace to his people, his faithful servants—
but let them not turn to folly.
Surely his salvation is near those who fear him,
that his glory may dwell in our land.

Love and faithfulness meet together;
righteousness and peace kiss each other.
Faithfulness springs forth from the earth,
and righteousness looks down from heaven.
The LORD will indeed give what is good,
and our land will yield its harvest.
Righteousness goes before him
and prepares the way for his steps.
(Psalms 85:8-13 NIV)

BIBLE READING

“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with their assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch.
“Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!'”
(Mark 13:32-37 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I remind myself of the Lord’s presence, I read these passages again, trying to take notice of how He might be speaking to me through His Word. I allow my heart to respond in prayer, taking refreshment in His presence.

God, You have shown us favor. You have forgiven our iniquity and covered our sins! You promise peace to us, Your servants. And that peace, You deliver, even when we do slip up and turn to folly. Help me to listen to what You say to me, to us.

I pray that Your glory would dwell in our land, and by “land,” I mean the entire world where Your Church exists. Anywhere there is a piece of Your Church, I pray that Your glory dwells. May love and faithfulness, righteousness and peace, all come together in that place where Your glory dwells. May faithfulness spring up from the earth, and righteousness rain down from the heavens. Give us what is good; give us only what is good, so that Your Church will yield its harvest in this world. May righteousness always go before You, as You walk among us.

Father, we know not when Jesus will return again. This, along with hope, is a recurring theme, this week. Our hope is in You, and our hope is strongly based on the promises of the return of our Savior, coming to set things right and usher in the new heavens and the new earth. Help us to be alert, to be on guard, to be watching faithfully, and waiting with great anticipation. May we not be found to be “asleep.” But may we also carry on our normal activities, doing the things that You have tasked us with, while we live our lives on this earth. Jesus stated that His return will be similar to when the floods came in the days of Noah, and people will be doing the things that they normally do. Keep us faithful and watchful, Father!

"Unexpected Savior,
You are coming again,
but this date,
already marked down by the Father,
isn't for me to know.
But I'm curious,
Lord,
desiring a timeline or diagram,
wanting to nail down a future that's out of my hands.
In place of my faithless need to control,
give me a watchful heart full of expectation and wonder.
Amen."

BLESSING

He who testifies to all these things says it again:
“I’m on my way!
I’ll be there soon!”
Yes! Come, Master Jesus!
The grace of the Master Jesus be with all of you.
Oh, Yes!
(Revelation 22:20-21 MSG)

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.

Known By God

Good morning. Today is Wednesday, the twenty-fourth of November.

May the peace of God reign in your life today.

Day 23,267

Thanksgiving is tomorrow!

We got the outside lights up, yesterday. And of course, one of them is already not lighting up. It’s possible it is just a bit loose in the connector. That happens sometimes, especially with a brand new set. We might have a chance to get the ladder back out, later today, and try to fix it. Of course, as well, it is the next to the top light on the house.

I finished a game on my PC, last night, after work. I got home from the library, cooked some eggs and toast for a quick dinner, and sat down to play Cyberpunk 2077. I knew I was close to the end, because, in a recent session, I reached one of those points where you get a warning asking if you’re sure you want to keep going, because there’s not going back from this point. Sure enough, I completed the story line.

As the ending approached, there were multiple choices to be made. There were at least three different choices as to who I wanted to take with me for the final fight, and then, at the very end, there was a very important choice, as well. I like the ending that I got, but am aware that, similar to Fallout 4, there are multiple ending possibilities. Makes me want to play the final sequence again, making different choices, just to see what happens.

But not for now. According to the Steam app, I have put 265+ hours into the game. Time for something different. Hahaha!

Today, I’m working from 9:15-6:15. I’m off tomorrow and Friday, for Thanksgiving holiday. I would have been off tomorrow, anyway. However, I will be working from 1:00-5:00 next Thursday. The circulation manager asked me if I would work that shift, since I’m going to be short hours on that pay period, and she needs help with coverage that day, so I said, “sure!”

Oh. I forgot to mention that we have another cat in the house. We got this one from the Watauga shelter, and she is already two years old and spayed, so we don’t have to worry about that. She is a tabby who looks a lot like S’s cat, Honey. We have decided that she will be called Magnolia. We will probably call her Maggie or Mags, for short.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

What Is A Blessing?, by Daryl Madden

What is a blessing?
But a share of
A taste of heaven
A gift of Gods’ love

Of nothing deserved
But one of pure grace
Let us receive it
With a grateful embrace

A treasure to cherish
Shared in many ways
If we are aware
We will be amazed!

Just a reminder
Of this message true
As a child of God
You’re a blessing too!
LUTHER'S MORNING PRAYER
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 kept me this night from all harm and danger; 
and I pray that You 
would keep me this day also from sin and every evil, 
that all my doings and life may please You. 
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.

I will give to the LORD the thanks due to his righteousness, and I will sing praise to the name of the LORD, the Most High.
(Psalms 7:17 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for all my friends and family; you are, indeed, a blessing to me
2. that I am alive and breathing, and have awakened to another new day
3. for the Light of Jesus Christ in my life
4. that I can sing praises to You and make music on various instruments
5. that You know me, intimately, as You know the number of and the names of all the stars in the heavens

And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.
(Luke 2:52 ESV)

For though by this time you ought to be teachers,
you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God.
You need milk,
not solid food,
for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness,
since he is a child.
But solid food is for the mature,
for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.
(Hebrews 5:12-14 ESV)

Father, make me more like Jesus, increasing in wisdom and stature and in favor with You and those around me. Make me mature in Your Word, living on the “solid food” that comes from constant immersion in it.

Arise,
shine,
for your light has come,
and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.
(Isaiah 60:1 ESV)

Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week,
Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb.
And behold, there was a great earthquake,
for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven
and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it.
His appearance was like lightning,
and his clothing white as snow.
And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men.
But the angel said to the women,
Do not be afraid,
for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified.
He is not here,
for he has risen,
as he said.
Come, see the place where he lay.
(Matthew 28:1-6 ESV)

“Awake,
O sleeper,
and arise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”
(Ephesians 5:14 ESV)

For you are all children of light,
children of the day.
We are not of the night or of the darkness.
(1 Thessalonians 5:5 ESV)

Father, may the Light of Christ shine on and through me, today.

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

LAST WEEK OF ORDINARY TIME – DAY FOUR

INVITATION

“Step out of the traffic!
Take a long, loving look at me,
your High God,
above politics,
above everything.”
(Psalms 46:10 MSG)

As I pause during this quiet morning, I am struck by the Light that is Jesus Christ. My heart’s desire is to be “alive and awake,” shining brightly, in this world of darkness, with the Light of Jesus. I stop to take a long, loving, look at my Father, who is present with me, at all times.

BIBLE SONG

Praise the LORD.

How good it is to sing praises to our God,
how pleasant and fitting to praise him!

The LORD builds up Jerusalem;
he gathers the exiles of Israel.
He heals the brokenhearted
and binds up their wounds.
He determines the number of the stars
and calls them each by name.
Great is our Lord and mighty in power;
his understanding has no limit.
The LORD sustains the humble
but casts the wicked to the ground.

Sing to the LORD with grateful praise;
make music to our God on the harp.
(Psalms 147:1-7 NIV)

BIBLE READING

The word of the LORD came to Jonah son of Amittai: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.”
But Jonah ran away from the LORD and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the LORD.
Then the LORD sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up. All the sailors were afraid and each cried out to his own god. And they threw the cargo into the sea to lighten the ship.
But Jonah had gone below deck, where he lay down and fell into a deep sleep. The captain went to him and said, “How can you sleep? Get up and call on your god! Maybe he will take notice of us so that we will not perish.”
(Jonah 1:1-6 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I leisurely read these passages again, I look for words or ideas that have stirred within me. I linger over them, giving them my attention. Is there something within about which I need to ask God? I pray my life to my Father and rest in His presence.

Do you know how many stars there are? Does anyone? God not only knows the number of stars, He “determines the number of stars and calls them each by name.” Yes, I do realize that this is poetry, not theology. But it gives us insight into the infinite wisdom, knowledge, and understanding of our God. “His understanding has no limit.”

If He knows every star and calls it by name, how much more does He know each of us? God Almighty, the Creator of everything that we can see and much that we cannot see, condescends to know us. He knows me better than I know myself. He knows everything that I am going to do and say today. He knows what I am going to think.

Yet, still He loves me. He remembers that we are only dust.

This causes me to do what Psalm 147:7 tells me to do. “Sing to the LORD with grateful praise; make music to our God on the harp.” I don’t have a harp, but I have instruments, and I can use them to make music to God. I also have a voice, with which I can sing praises to Him.

Father, I praise You for Your knowledge of us! You, who created everything, have made Yourself known to us, just as You know us. Someday, when we see You, face to face (as much as will be possible), we will know You as intimately as You know us. But, for now, we cannot handle such knowledge; it is too wonderful, we cannot attain it. As I go through this day, may this knowledge carry me through all challenges that I might face. Give me Your wisdom and shine in me with the Light of Jesus Christ. May His light be visible in me. All glory and praise to You, through the Son and by the Spirit.

"Father,
never let Your salvation,
Your free choice of me,
make me lax or arrogant toward others.
Never let me forget that You've chosen me for both a special relationship as Your child and a special service,
becoming a channel of blessing for all.
In Christ's Name,
amen."

BLESSING

Anyone who meets a testing challenge head-on
and manages to stick it out is mighty fortunate.
For such persons loyally in love with God,
the reward is life and more life.
(James 1:12 MSG)

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 Time for Everything

Good morning! Today is Wednesday, the third of November, 2021.

May the peace of God reign in your heart today!

Day 23,246

Nine days until C’s birthday!

And we have a birthday gift on the way. Besides the fact that we are taking a trip to Indianapolis the following week (after her birthday), we are getting a new garage door opener soon. I’m pretty sure the one that is currently installed, and not working, is the original one, installed in 1999.

Of course, the next order of business, garage-wise, is getting room to put a car in there. I told C that wasn’t happening for her birthday.

Last night was a fine evening at the library. I got a full cart of books sorted and shelved, and then there weren’t any more in the hall to sort, so I spent the last hour walking the shelves looking for stray books. If we find books that were pulled off the shelves but not checked out (we do prefer that the patrons not attempt to re-shelve them), they are marked “used” in the system and placed in the shelving area for the next day. This tells the librarians that there was at least some interest in the materials . . . someone at least touched them.

Every so often, some “weeding” is done, in which a librarian marks material for removal/discard (the official term is “deaccession”), based on when the last time it was checked out. Marking items “used,” at least shows that there was some interest in them.

While I was there, I discovered, thanks to the help of one of the assistant librarians, that our library holds one copy of the 1963 film, The Haunting, so I checked it out. This black and white film is based on Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House, which I recently finished.

I just remembered that I forgot to post my current read, yesterday. I am currently reading The Divine Embrace, by Robert E. Webber, subtitled, “Recovering the Passionate Spiritual Life.” I decided to dig deep into my “want to read” shelf on Goodreads. This was added to my list back in May of 2008. Seriously. That’s how far back my TBR list goes. I still had my copy of the book, too. So I’m reading it, now. I haven’t gotten very far into it, yet, but hope to make some serious progress over the next couple days.

I plan another trip to the grocery store, this morning, probably right after I finish the blog. I do believe it has finally quit raining for a while. I changed my mind. I’ve ordered Albertson’s for delivery, instead. Not leaving the house unless I have to.

Oh, and lest I forget, the Braves won the World Series, dominating last night’s game six with a score of 7-0.

Today is Cliché Day. I want all of you to get out there and give 110% today! Seize the day! And whatever you do, be sure and run upstairs when the chainsaw-wielding maniac is chasing you.

The word for today is maringouin, “a mosquito, especially a large swamp mosquito.” Why?? Why, dictionary.com, do you wish to put that image in my brain??

Today’s quote is from James Thurber, American author. “Love is what you’ve been through with somebody.”

Birthdays on November 3:

Stephen F. Austin, founder and colonizer of Texas, 1793-1836
Bob Feller, American HoF baseball pitcher, 1918-2010
Charles Bronson, American actor (Death Wish, White Buffalo), 1921-2003 (I met him once, in Colorado)
Marie McDonald McLaughlin Lawrie (aka Lulu), Scottish singer (To Sir With Love), 1948 (73)
Dwight Evans, American baseball player (Boston Red Sox), 1951 (70)
Roseanne Barr, American actress and comedienne, 1952 (69)
Jim Cummings, American voice actor (Winnie the Pooh), 1952 (69)
Kate Capshaw, American actress (Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom), born in Fort Worth, TX, 1953 (68)
Dennis Miller, American comedian (Saturday Night Live), 1953 (68)
Stuart Goddard (aka Adam Ant), English rocker (Goody Two Shoes), 1954 (67)

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Be sober-minded;
Cast all your anxieties
On Him who loves you.
(1 Peter 5)

Open to me
the gates of righteousness,
that I may enter through them
and give thanks to the LORD.
(Psalms 118:19 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that You have given me a thankful heart
2. that I am alive and breathing
3. for my job at the library
4. that there is a time and a season for every purpose under heaven
5. that You have given me a love for Your Word

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TWENTY-FOUR – DAY FOUR

INVITATION

Our God forever,
who guides us till the end of time.
(Psalms 48:14 MSG)

As I pause in the quietness of the morning, interrupted only by the amusing cat next to me, who is pawing at the front of the computer, non-stop, I consider the love and grace of God Almighty, who condescends to even think about us. What are we that He is mindful of us? Yet He is, even to the point that He desires for the children to be brought to Him.

BIBLE SONG

Your statutes are wonderful;
therefore I obey them.
The unfolding of your words gives light;
it gives understanding to the simple.
I open my mouth and pant,
longing for your commands.
Turn to me and have mercy on me,
as you always do to those who love your name.
Direct my footsteps according to your word;
let no sin rule over me.
Redeem me from human oppression,
that I may obey your precepts.
Make your face shine on your servant
and teach me your decrees.
Streams of tears flow from my eyes,
for your law is not obeyed.
(Psalms 119:129-136 NIV)

BIBLE READING

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:

a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
(Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I read these passages again, perhaps even out loud (in ancient times, Scripture was heard more than seen), I ponder how the Word of God has moved me, this morning. What has connected with my heart? What has my mind observed? I pray these things back to the Lord as I turn my thoughts toward Him and enjoy His presence.

The celebration of the love of God’s Word continues in Psalm 119. I love the thought in verse 131. “I open my mouth and pant, longing for Your commands.” Our desire for the Word of God in our lives should supersede any other desire. Reading and meditating on God’s Word should be like breathing to us, just as prayer should be. The love of one flows directly out of the love of the other, perhaps even feeding off of each other.

I love, also, the idea in verse 132, the the Lord always has mercy on those who love His name. Just as, I believe, all who love His name should be sorrowful when His Word is not heeded or obeyed (verse 136).

There is much love and appreciation for the passage from Ecclesiastes. Most people my age are familiar with the song, written by Pete Seeger, “Turn, Turn, Turn.” Here’s a beautiful version by him and Judy Collins.

I do love the wisdom of these words. There is, indeed, a time for each of these. The wisdom comes in knowing when those times are. When are the times to weep and mourn; when are the times to laugh and dance? There is way too much tearing down, right now, in our world. We need to do more building up. I love to embrace; I’m a hugger. But the last year has been a time to refrain from embracing. Probably the most difficult is knowing when is the time to speak and time to be silent.

For many years, I’ve loved the last line of the song, “a time for peace, I swear it’s not too late.” But there will not be everlasting peace until we are Home. But we could certainly be striving a little more for it.

Father, there is, indeed, a time for everything. I pray for wisdom to know when those times are. Help me to be, though, one who works more for peace then fighting. I pray that I might be willing to be silent when silence is needed, but also give me the right words when speaking is called for. Help me to be one who builds up more than tearing down. Thank You for the love You have placed in my heart, love for Your Word, love for You. I pray that the thirst for Your Word will always continue, driving me deeper and deeper into it. I pray with great sorrow, that Your Word and commands would be revered more, in this world, today.

I lift up a prayer, this morning, specifically for my aunt, uncle, and cousins. You know the circumstances, Father. Healing is needed and desired, physically and beyond. I pray for Your intervention.

"God for all time,
assure me that no matter the moment,
I belong to You.
Whatever the season -
whether in cold stillness,
budding brightness,
full bloom,
or loss and decay -
I trust all my times are in Your hands.
In my faithful Savior's name,
amen."

BLESSING

“You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution.
The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom.”
(Matthew 5:10 MSG)


Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer; you shall cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am.’ If you take away the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness, if you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday.
(Isaiah 58:8-10 ESV)

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
(Matthew 5:14-16 ESV)

May Your light shine in and through me, Father, as “borrowed light.”

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

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Break forth, like the dawn!
Light! Shine out in the darkness!
Gloom! Be as noonday!
(Isaiah 58)

Grace and peace, friends.

Just Love

Good morning! Today is Wednesday, the twenty-seventh of October, 2021

Peace be with you!

Day 23,239

Eleven days until Daylight Saving Time ends (in the U.S., at least).

I am currently reading The Haunting of Hill House, by Shirley Jackson. This was an impulse, because I had not planned on reading this book next, and hadn’t even thought about it. But it was on a cart of books to be shelved, last night, at the library. I am currently watching a Netflix series by the same name (although, from what I remember, it is only loosely based on the book), and decided to go ahead and read it again. Or maybe I’m reading it for the first time?? Oddly enough, I can’t find it on my reading list anywhere. I could have sworn that I had read it. Oh, well. There is only one book on my whole list with the word “haunting” in it, and it’s not this one.

C is working from home, today. I think she may have overdone it on a walk, yesterday evening. I haven’t had a lot of time to talk to her, yet, as she got up after I did. I didn’t sleep real well, myself, for some reason. I fell asleep fine, but woke up shortly before 2:00 AM and had a real hard time falling back asleep. I even cranked up my Kindle for a little bit. I need to come up with a better plan for eating dinner on Tuesday nights, especially when I am working on Wednesday morning. And I realized, this morning, that this is actually the first week, since the schedule changed, that I am actually working Wednesday after Tuesday night.

The Braves won game one of the World Series, 6-2. Game two is at 7:00 tonight.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

By goodness, kindness,
According to His mercy,
We have been redeemed.
(Titus 3)

Praise the LORD!
Oh give thanks to the LORD,
for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever!
(Psalms 106:1 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. to be alive and breathing
2. to be in Your presence
3. that You are gracious and righteous, and full of compassion (Psalm 116)
4. for the easy yoke of Jesus Christ
5. for the two greatest commands: Love You and love people

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TWENTY-THREE – DAY FOUR

INVITATION

One day spent in your house, this beautiful place of worship, beats thousands spent on Greek island beaches. I’d rather scrub floors in the house of my God than be honored as a guest in the palace of sin.
(Psalms 84:10 MSG)

As I pause, during the quietness of this morning, I ponder the Message version of that verse. How many of us would truly rather scrub floors than be an honored guest?

BIBLE SONG

I love the LORD, for he heard my voice;
he heard my cry for mercy.
Because he turned his ear to me,
I will call on him as long as I live.

The cords of death entangled me,
the anguish of the grave came over me;
I was overcome by distress and sorrow.
Then I called on the name of the LORD:
“LORD, save me!”

The LORD is gracious and righteous;
our God is full of compassion.
The LORD protects the unwary;
when I was brought low, he saved me.

Return to your rest, my soul,
for the LORD has been good to you.
(Psalms 116:1-7 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Better a dry crust with peace and quiet
than a house full of feasting, with strife.

A prudent servant will rule over a disgraceful son
and will share the inheritance as one of the family.

The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold,
but the LORD tests the heart.

A wicked person listens to deceitful lips;
a liar pays attention to a destructive tongue.

Whoever mocks the poor shows contempt for their Maker;
whoever gloats over disaster will not go unpunished.

Children’s children are a crown to the aged,
and parents are the pride of their children.
(Proverbs 17:1-6 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I read these passages again, I seek wisdom from the Holy Spirit. I pray for guidance as I meditate and pray over these Scriptures.

I really like verse 7 of the psalm. “Return to your rest . . .” The word translated “rest” means “quiet” or “a settled spot.” There might be some thinking that it means our final rest. I’m not leaning in that direction, but thinking in terms of, well, how I have been feeling, this morning; somewhat unsettled. The psalmist speaks to his own soul, telling it to return to that “settled spot,” because the Lord has been good to him.

How unsettled does one have to be to mock the poor and gloat over disaster? This is the verse from the Proverbs passage that screams out to me. It doesn’t just stand out; it jumps up and down and shouts.

“Whoever mocks the poor shows contempt for their Maker.” Oh, what a need for today’s Church to repent! At least half of it, anyway. For there are those who would turn a cold shoulder and deaf ear to the desperation of the immigrants. And gloating over a disaster? Our God declares that such a person will be punished.

I remember a certain “evangelical celebrity” who opined that a disaster that happened in a third world country was what they deserved.

How dare we!

And in full confession I will admit that there were times in my life, many years ago, when I might have actually wished that “bad things” would happen to people. I’m still tempted to be that way, but the Spirit has lifted me above such attitudes. Jesus says to love those who hate us and do good to our “enemies.” We are never given permission to pray or hope for bad things to happen to anyone.

I realize that there are prayers by David (or other psalmists), asking for the babies of enemies to be crushed on the rocks. And I will confess that I’m still not quite sure how to deal with those “imprecatory” psalms. But I certainly don’t feel comfortable praying such things.

This all boils down to (and you know I’m going to say this) those two commands that Jesus pointed out; those two “jobs” that we are given. If we are loving God and loving people, AND we are abiding by that “Golden Rule,” we most certainly would not be gloating over disasters or mocking the poor.

“Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets.”
(Matthew 7:12 NLT)

Just like those two commands that Jesus gave us, this, also, sums up the law and the prophets. And note that in both the Golden Rule, and the second greatest command, we are given permission consider ourselves. Jesus never tells us to love our neighbor in exclusion to ourselves, or even above ourselves (although we are instructed in some of Paul’s writings to consider others as more significant than ourselves). We are to treat others like we want to be treated.

So I can only surmise that there are a lot of “Christians” out there who want to be in poverty, being mocked by a group of people who think they are better than everyone else, and want others to gloat over them when “bad things” happen to them.

I saw a quote, this morning, that is attributed to John Lennon. It says: “It matters not who you love, where you love, why you love, when you love or how you love, it matters only that you love.” It’s a nice thought, but I don’t quite agree with it. I think all of those things actually do matter.

It matters “who you love,” because we are supposed to love everyone. It matters where I love, because I should be loving everywhere. It matters why I love, because, as the Biblical John said, “We love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). It matters when we love, because we should be loving always. Maybe the only one that really doesn’t matter is how I love, as long as I am loving. All that being said, I do understand the sentiment behind the statement, regardless if Lennon said it or someone else said it. And the sentiment, I can get behind. Just love.

Father, help us to do a better job of loving. I just can’t get away from this topic, can I? I do believe, though, that it is Your Spirit directing these thoughts. I’ll confess that I did sort of “wake up on the wrong side of the bed” this morning. But Your Spirit worked to calm my soul, especially as I read that beautiful passage from Psalms. But these thoughts of gloating over disaster and mocking the poor . . . Father, I simply cannot understand what is wrong with someone who would do such things! It flies in the face of Your commands to us, as well as the great and unimaginable mercy You have sown us! Forgive us, Lord! Grant us repentance! Help us to do better! The eyes of the world are on Your children, more than ever, right now.

In light of these things, Lord, I offer up prayers for accessible housing and shelter for all who are homeless and living in poverty right now.

"Our Father,
being an honoring child is a demanding call,
as is being an honorable parent.
I pray for relationships in my family and with others to be marked by warm respect,
committed love,
and fierce loyalty.
May my family be pleasing to You,
a proud legacy in my life,
and a beautiful witness to You.
Amen."

BLESSING

“You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.”
(Matthew 5:9 MSG)


Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.
(1 John 4:7-8 ESV)

Father, please remind me, today, that everyone with whom I come in contact is worthy of Your love, and, therefore, my love.

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

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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.