This Is the Way; Walk In It

Good morning. Today is Tuesday, the ninth of November, 2021.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,252

Three days until C’s birthday!

Not a lot has happened, to speak of, since I finished yesterday’s blog. We did have a pool guy come and look at our panels to see why the indoor panel wasn’t connecting properly with the outside panel. Turns out that connection isn’t really “wireless” like we thought it was. And the wire that connects the two is pretty much shot. About two feet of the wire is exposed, as it comes out of a plastic conduit to attach to the outdoor box, and that has had sunlight exposure for, oh, around twenty years, now. Ironically, after the guy left, I went to the back door to look at the inside panel, and it was, once again, connected. He must have wiggled the wire or something.

Anyway, we have a few options, and he is going to get us estimates on all of them. Well, not the first option . . . I think we have ruled out trying to “fish” a new wire all the way through all of that conduit and down through the wall at the back door. That would be very difficult, and might not work at all. The other options, though, involve attaching an antenna to the box outside, and either having a remote in the house or using phone apps to control the equipment. I think my first choice would be the phone app. There might actually be an option that enables both the remote and the phones. He’s going to check on that, too.

After some careful thought, I decided, yesterday evening, to go back and revise my answers on my WW app. I decided to tell it that I am not “living with” type 2 diabetes. And, in truth, I don’t believe that to be false. I’m not “living with it.” It is controlled, quite well. In fact, just two days ago, my glucose reading was below 80, which is actually below recommended levels before eating breakfast. Anyway, what this did was lower my daily allotment of points down to 25, but allow me to, once again, have fruit at zero points. I still get avocados at zero points, too! One thing that seems true, across the board, though, is that tuna is no longer zero for any of us. That’s sad, because we eat a lot of tuna. But it is still very low in points, a whole twelve-ounce can (nine ounces after draining) comes in at only three points. And my black-eyed peas are still zero points, so one of my favorite lunches is still very low in points. Yes. I mix black-eyed peas and tuna. Don’t judge until you’ve tried it.

Today is my half day at work, from 4:15-8:15, this evening. I plan to head up to a grocery store, right after I finish this, to get more (you guessed it) bananas and grapes. Then I’m going to get Subway for lunch for us (C works from home today). That way S can have the second half of her ham sandwich for dinner tonight, and C can do whatever she wants, and I will throw something together after I get home. I won’t be staying up too late tonight, as I work again, full shift tomorrow, 9:15-6:15.

I am still currently reading The Divine Embrace: Recovering the Passionate Spiritual Life, by Robert E. Webber. It’s slow going, as it is rather dense. But it is interesting, and I believe it will be, in the long run, helpful.

Today is World Freedom Day, commemorating the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Iron Curtain. “If you don’t know what it means to be afraid to voice your opinion, then you can consider yourself very lucky to live in a place where liberty is a priority as well as a basic human right. And like all good things, liberty should be celebrated, and that’s what World Freedom Day is all about.”

The word for today is serein, “fine rain falling after sunset from a sky in which no clouds are visible.” I just realized that my “word of the day” link is a day behind, but I don’t really care. I don’t think I have ever experienced, or at least noticed serein.

Today’s quote is from Edith Wharton, an American author. “True originality consists not in a new manner but in a new vision.”

Birthdays for November 9:

Gail Borden, American manufacturer, inventor of condensed milk, 1801-1874
Hedy Lamarr, Austrian-American actress (Samson & Delilah) and inventor (radio guidance system for Allied torpedoes), 1914-2000
Whitey Herzog, American baseball manager, 1931 (90)
Carl Sagan, American astronomer, 1934-1996
Bob Gibson, American HoF baseball pitcher, 1935-2020
Mary Travers, American folk singer (Peter, Paul and Mary), 1936-2009
Tom Fogerty, American musician, brother of John (Creedence Clearwater Revival), 1941-1990
Susan Tedeschi, American blues musician (Tedeschi Trucks Band), 1970 (51)
Tom Fogarty played rhythm guitar
Susan Tedeschi, singer. Married to Derek Trucks, the guitar player next to her. He is the nephew of Butch Trucks, founding member of the Allman Brothers Band.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

The Morning Moon, by Daryl Madden

A page of life
Will be here soon
A prayer within
The morning moon

A being of
Two sides to see
An offer here
Which will I be?

To let the dark
Now fade away
Rejoice within
The light this day

Still the silence
Of the soul
Align my will
To Your control

As birds prepare
Their symphony
Lord let my song
Be one with Thee

You will say in that day:
“I will give thanks to you, O LORD,
for though you were angry with me,
your anger turned away,
that you might comfort me.”
(Isaiah 12:1 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, which is what turned Your wrath away from us
2. for the nice weather we have been having, lately
3. that our Teacher, the Holy Spirit, is not hidden from us; He is always there, telling us which way to walk
4. that You, in Your longing to be gracious to us, have arisen and shown compassion upon us
5. for Jesus, the Way, the Truth, and the Life

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TWENTY-FIVE – DAY THREE

INVITATION

Come to me,
all who labor and are heavy laden,
and I will give you rest.
(Matthew 11:28 ESV)

As I pause during this quiet moment, I reflect on the propitiation of Christ, and its effect on God’s wrath for sin.

BIBLE SONG

A song of ascents.

Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion,
which cannot be shaken but endures forever.
As the mountains surround Jerusalem,
so the LORD surrounds his people
both now and forevermore.

The scepter of the wicked will not remain
over the land allotted to the righteous,
for then the righteous might use
their hands to do evil.

LORD, do good to those who are good,
to those who are upright in heart.
But those who turn to crooked ways
the LORD will banish with the evildoers.
Peace be on Israel.
(Psalms 125:1-5 NIV)

BIBLE READING

This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says:
“In repentance and rest is your salvation,
in quietness and trust is your strength,
but you would have none of it.”
(Isaiah 30:15 NIV)

Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you;
therefore he will rise up to show you compassion.
For the LORD is a God of justice.
Blessed are all who wait for him!
People of Zion, who live in Jerusalem, you will weep no more. How gracious he will be when you cry for help! As soon as he hears, he will answer you. Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them. Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”
(Isaiah 30:18-21 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I remind myself that I am in the presence of the Lord, I read over these passages again, noticing how the Lord might be speaking to me through them. I will dwell, briefly, in meditation, over any word or phrase that jumps out at me. I will contemplate the wonderful truth found therein, praying my thoughts to God, my life to Him. I will take refreshment in His presence.

The comparison of us who trust in the Lord to Mount Zion, “which cannot be shaken but endures forever,” is huge. Who among us has been “shaken?” And what does that mean?

The Hebrew word in that verse is translated “removed” in the KJV. I think “removed” carries a little bit better connotation than “shaken.” In terms of my faith, I have certainly been “shaken,” many times in my life.

But I have not EVER been “removed!”

I have not fallen away; been carried away. I have not lost my faith.

Make no mistake . . . this is not because of the strength of my faith or my trust. This is because of the strength of the Lord God Almighty. He has held me fast; He has kept me from ultimately falling away; when I stray from the path, He brings me back, He preserves me. The Lord is my Light and my Salvation. Whom, then, shall I fear?

Because of His great power and His very great and precious promises, I am like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken.”

Hallelujah!

I will pray, along with this unnamed psalmist, that the Lord will “do good to those who are good, to those who are upright in heart.” Of course, we know, from Jesus, that there is none good, but God. Nevertheless, we who walk in Him can be, by association, considered to be “good,” because we have the righteousness of Christ imputed unto us.

Where do we find our strength? The Lord says, through the prophet Isaiah, “in repentance and rest,” and, “quietness and trust.” But then, we see that His people “would have none of it.”

Do we find ourselves in the same place, today? To some degree, I believe we do. We still feel like we always have to be “doing.” And the Christian life, this walk with Christ is not something we do. It is something we be. Yes, there is action that needs to be taken. But it begins with being. Our salvation is not based on something we do. It is utterly, entirely based on what God did.

What has God done? Among other things, He has risen up and shown us compassion (Isaiah 30:18). Why? Because He longs to be gracious to us!

I’m intrigued by verses 20 and 21. Verse 20 speaks of “teachers” not being hidden any more. What I am getting from this is not physical, human “teachers.” The Hebrew word in that verse has some interesting meanings. In most cases, the word is considered a verb, which means “to throw,” or “shoot.” I’m also seeing “point” as a possible meaning. And isn’t this what teachers do? They point to what we need to be learning. They are indicators.

I will confess that I might be reading way more into this than is there, but here’s what I am getting from these two verses.

God, in His longing to be gracious, has risen up and shown us compassion. He has given us “indicators,” signposts, perhaps, a “voice behind” (verse 21) us that says, “This is the way; walk in it.”

If you’re like me, and you are sometimes, you don’t always walk in that way. I know I don’t. Why? Because I’m not paying attention to the “teachers,” the “pointers,” the indicators that are right in front of me. They are not hidden from me. The way in which I should walk is not a mystery! Truthfully, there is no mystery to it.

This doesn’t give me the exact detail of everything I need to do, obviously. There’s not going to be a sign at every corner, that says, “Buy this car. Go to this school. Buy those bananas.” We do have to make some decisions, and a lot of those decisions have no bearing, whatsoever, on how our lives are going to turn out.

But we have many, many directions and pointers. Many are in Scripture, and if we have looked at His Word, and read it, and digested it, then, when important decisions have to be made, we should be able to hear that voice telling us “This is the way; walk in it.”

Father, I praise You that Your Holy Spirit, among other “signs” that You have given, is right there with us, all the time, telling us “This is the way; walk in it.” I pray for the wisdom and discipline to listen and heed His whisperings along the way. I am eternally grateful for Your graciousness and compassion, shown to us in many, many ways, but most especially in the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross. We cannot thank You enough. We can try, though. And I will try; I will utter thanksgiving on a daily basis, and will never run out of things for which to be thankful. Thank You for giving me a heart that is full of gratitude. Help me to walk in the way that the Holy Spirit tells me. Help me to walk in the ways that Your Word has already told me.

I pray for the call upon us to follow Christ into our communities, workplaces, and wherever else we go. May His light shine in and through us, all the time. This means we must, MUST, set aside our own preferences and “rights,” sacrificing for the good of others, loving others as we love ourselves, and loving our brothers and sisters in Christ as You have loved us. I pray for the peace and well-being of our communities, our cities, our states, our countries, our world, Your Church.

"Saving God,
startle me with the wonder of Your forgiveness,
the joining of justice and compassion in Jesus.
Because of Your mercy in the cross of Jesus,
You will not hold against me any of my sins.
Let me rest in the just verdict of Your salvation,
free forever from condemnation.
Amen."

BLESSING

Let your steadfast love come to me,
O LORD,
your salvation according to your promise;
(Psalms 119:41 ESV)

Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.
(John 6:27 ESV)

Then he said to me,
“This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel:
Not by might,
nor by power,
but by my Spirit,
says the LORD of hosts.”
(Zechariah 4:6 ESV)

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

Father, I pray for Your Church, that we might, indeed, arise and shine. Rescue us, Lord! Unite Your Church in Your truth, and Your truth alone. We are scattered, Lord, as sheep without a shepherd. We have committed idolatry by following after men instead of You. Save us, O God! Cast off the scales from our eyes; show us Your truth. Jesus is Truth; Jesus is Life; Jesus is Way. Take our eyes off of politics and politicians and conspiracies. Help us regain an attitude of humility and sacrifice for our fellow man.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.
(Jude 1:24-25 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Censers and Empty Phrases

Today is Saturday, November 9, 2019. Peace be with you!

Day 22,521

Only three more days until C’s birthday!! (We’re kind of already celebrating!)

Yesterday’s doctor visit went well. I haven’t gotten any results, yet, from the blood work, but it’s a weekend, so it may be Monday before I see those. I’m expecting the results to be mostly good. Of course, I’m taking medications for almost everything, so that probably won’t change. We talked briefly about diet, and I asked some questions about Keto, which a lot of my friends are into. She said a couple of things. First, it is very difficult to maintain, and second, she doesn’t recommend Keto for diabetics. She does, however, recommend a low carb/low sugar diet. Just not trying to get into ketosis. And guess what!! Eggs are great!!! That’s awesome, because the “incredible, edible egg” is one of my favorite foods. While they are higher in cholesterol, I’m taking meds to control that, and, she said, it’s kind of weird how the body works, because the fat consumption that results from me not eating so many carbs will take care of that, naturally.

We also talked a bit about my sleeping trouble. I don’t have any trouble (usually) falling asleep, but every night, when I inevitably have to get up to use the bathroom, I struggle to fall back to sleep. She recommended that I start taking Melatonin. So, I’ve got some on order with our Kroger Click List for today.

I did get a brief scolding for my slight weight gain since last visit. I have to find a way to get some exercise in. I’m eating better for the past couple of weeks, at least for breakfast and lunch. Dinners are sometimes an issue. Got to work on that.

R & J are coming down, later today, and we’ll have lunch to celebrate C’s birthday. We’re thinking about Hoffbrau for steaks. Maybe I’ll get some steamed vegetables instead of a baked potato.

At 10:00, this morning, I have a meeting with our pastor and one other guy (should be two, but the other one can’t make it). It is a meeting about our “scattered” church meetings. In a short time (maybe sooner than I realize), we will truly be scattered, as we split into three different home church groups. And yours truly will be leading one of those home groups. That’s what this meeting is about. For the past two “scattered” Sundays, each of us has been leading one of the groups that all met at the same house. Sort of “trial runs,” I guess. Now, we just get to see how we’re going to figure out who goes to what group. That could be tricky. Me being the self-deprecating kind of person I am, I figure no one will want to come to mine. On the other hand, if ours meets at a cool house (it won’t be our house, I don’t think), maybe people will want to come. Hopefully, the Spirit will put the perfect groups together.

Today is World Freedom Day. We tend to take our freedom for granted in a place like the USA. But there are many countries in the world that don’t have the same kind of freedoms we have. The day, itself, commemorates the fall of the Berlin Wall, thirty years ago today.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

Praise the LORD! Praise the name of the LORD, give praise, O servants of the LORD!
Psalm 135:1

Today I am grateful:
1. For the continuation of the weekend and birthday celebrations.
2. For the freedom that Christ brings to our lives (Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 2 Corinthians 3:17)
3. That there’s an angel in heaven, offering up incense “with the prayers of the saints” (Revelation 8:3-4).
4. That the Lord knows what I need before I ask him.
5. For the PA that I usually see at my doctor’s office.

In your righteousness deliver me and rescue me; incline your ear to me, and save me!
Psalm 71:2
O LORD, I am your servant; I am your servant, the son of your maidservant. You have loosed my bonds.
Psalm 116:16
This is the LORD’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.
Psalm 118:23
What shall I render to the LORD for all his benefits to me? 
I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the LORD, 
I will pay my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people.

Psalm 116:12-14

There are two readings about prayer, today, that have spoken to me. I’ll try to summarize them together. But first, the scripture readings.

Let my prayer be counted as incense before you, and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice!
Psalm 141:2
When the Lamb opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. 
Then I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets were given to them. 
And another angel came and stood at the altar with a golden censer, and he was given much incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar before the throne, 
and the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, rose before God from the hand of the angel. 
Then the angel took the censer and filled it with fire from the altar and threw it on the earth, and there were peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake.

Revelation 8:1-5
And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. 
Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

Matthew 6:7-8

The first reading was from Our Daily Bread.

In his book, Purpose in Prayer, E.M. Bounds said, “Prayers are deathless. The lips that uttered them may be closed in death, the heart that felt them may have ceased to beat, but the prayers live before God, and God’s heart is set on them and prayers outlive the lives of those who uttered them; outlive a generation, outlive an age, outlive a world.”

We see evidence of this in the scene depicted by John the Revelator. An angel came and stood before God, with a “golden censer.” A censer is an incense burner, typically suspended by several chains, so as to swing it around, spreading around the smoke of the incense. The angel was “given much incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints.” And then, in verse 7, “the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, rose before God from the hand of the angel.”

Can we simply ponder that for a minute? Who are “the saints?” We believe that this does not only speak of people who have been “sainted” by the Church. We believe that we are all considered to be “the saints.” So what is happening here is that our prayers, your prayers, my prayers, are being offered up to God, along with the smoke of the incense. This lends credence to Bounds’s statement about prayer. Once a prayer is uttered, it never dies. It rises up to the heavens (“up” is figurative . . . it’s just where we think “heaven” is), and is offered before Almighty God.

No, I don’t understand this. I never have. In all my years of being a believer in Jesus, and a Bible student/reader, I have NEVER comprehended how our God can coherently pay attention to millions upon millions of prayers! Of course one advantage that he has over us is that he is outside of time. Time is something in which we humans exist. God does not exist in time, as we know it.

But I digress. The point is, our prayers are heard. Our prayers do not die at the ceiling, or when the atmosphere ceases. They rise up to God, along with all the other prayers of the saints.

Now, to the second part, from Faith That Matters. “Jesus promises us that god would respond to our needs,” says James Bryan Smith. But, in Matthew 6, right before he gives us the “Lord’s Prayer,” Jesus cautions us to not believe that our eloquence will get us heard any more effectively. I grew up in a Southern Baptist Church, very traditional. Every Sunday morning, we had a Call to Worship, a pastoral prayer, three hymns, an offering (with “special music,” usually), a sermon, another prayer, an invitation, announcements, and a closing prayer. Truthfully, there was some comfort in knowing that this was how it was going to be every Sunday. Some of those pastoral prayers (and not just from that pastor, this has been true for most of my life) got quite lengthy and wordy. The tone of voice was also sometimes altered, so as to sound more “holy,” I guess. Sometimes, other men in the church would be called upon to pray. They, too, would put on their “holy voices” and pray eloquently, sometimes quite loudly, and sometimes quite longly.

But the truth is, none of that is necessary, nor does it gain any favor with God. Jesus warned us against using “empty phrases” in our prayers. “Our most gracious heavenly Father, we thank you for this day.” How many prayers did I hear that started like this? No, those aren’t bad words to pray. Nothing wrong with them. But if we pray them just because that’s how we think a prayer should start, they are “empty phrases,” and give no results.

In fact, prayers, truly effective prayers can consist of one sentence. (You don’t even have to say, “In Jesus’s name, Amen” at the end!) Consider this one: “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” (Luke 18:13) What about this one: “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:39) And sometimes, all we can manage is “God, help!!”

“Martin Luther said that we should never prescribe measure, manner, time, or place in our prayers because he believed that we should trust in God’s wisdom, which is higher than ours.” In other words, don’t tell God how he should answer your prayer.

The thing is, God looks in our hearts and sees what we need (see the preface to the Lord’s Prayer, above). And the answer to the prayer may not come the way we think, or even quite want. But it will come.

Some time before he passed from this world, my father discovered that the best prayer that we can pray is “Thy will be done.” Jesus gave us that one. He gave it to us in that model prayer from Matthew 6. He also prayed it, himself in Matthew 26. You can’t go wrong with that prayer, especially if you sincerely mean it.

The words of Jesus’s model prayer can be “empty phrases.” But they don’t have to be. There are certain churches that recite it at every single service. I use a book called The Divine Hours as part of my daily routine. It has scripture verses (some of them are quoted above, right after my gratitude list) and written prayers. And, in it, we recite the Lord’s Prayer several times a day. I’ll admit . . . some days I rush through it, almost not thinking. Those times are when it’s “empty phrases.” But there are other times that I say it thoughtfully, even interjecting my own thoughts in the middle of it. And, you can most certainly rephrase it in your own words to make it more personal. Dallas Willard did that: “Dear Father always near us, may your name be treasured and loved, may your rule be completed in us – may your will be done here on earth in just the way it is done in heaven. Give us today the things we need today, and forgive us our sins and impositions on you as we are forgiving all who in any way offend us. Please don’t put us through trials, but deliver us from everything bad. Because you are the one in charge, and you have all the power, and the glory too is all yours – forever – which is just the way we want it!”

James Bryan Smith keeps a prayer journal. As he looks back on some of the entries, he notices several things. “One, God eventually answers all my prayers; two, the answers rarely resemble my requests; and three, the answers are always better.”

So, when we pray, we should remember that, first of all, those prayers do make it to God, trust that; second, he will answer them, sometimes in ways that we don’t expect, and third, his answers will always be better.

Because he’s smarter than us.

Father, I praise you for your great wisdom! I pray that you might impart a little bit of that upon me each day. I thank you that you hear our prayers, and that you know what we need even before we can ask. Purify our hearts, that our prayers will be pure, as well. May they rise up like sweet incense to be offered by an angel before your throne! And may we trust that you know the better answers than we do.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

I Cry To You, Lord!

Today is Wednesday, November 9, 2016. One day until our Glen Rose vacation! Three days until C’s birthday!

Quote of the Day

“True love is like ghosts, which everyone talks about and few have seen.” – Francois de La Rochefoucauld

Word of the Day

Syncretism noun [sing-kri-tiz-uh m- the attempted reconciliation or union of different or opposing principles, practices, or parties, as in philosophy or religion.

Today is World Freedom Day.

It would appear that Donald Trump will be the new POTUS. All I’m going to say about that is that I am committed to praying diligently for our President, no matter who it is.

There were other things weighing heavily on our hearts, yesterday, that were, in some ways, more immediately important than the Presidential election. We made the very difficult decision to say goodbye to our 18 1/2 year old black cat, Screamer. He had grown increasingly arthritic, wasn’t getting around well, had become increasingly incontinent, and had developed cataracts, as well. We took him to the animal hospital, where a doctor validated our decision. What also validated our decision was when they gave him the first shot that just sedates him, making him fall asleep. He was immediately more relaxed than we had seen him in probably a year. He had obviously been in quite a bit of pain, or at least discomfort. We stayed with him until he was unconscious, love on him a few minutes and then left him with the doctor.

Screamer
Screamer

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

Awake, my glory! Awake, O harp and lyre! I will awake the dawn! Psalm 57:8
Restore us, O God of hosts; let your face shine, that we may be saved! Psalm 80:7
My lips will shout for joy, when I sing praises to you; my soul also, which you have redeemed. Psalm 71:23
Summon your power, O God, the power, O God, by which you have worked for us. Psalm 68:28

(From Praying With the Psalms)

A Song of Ascents. Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD!
O Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my pleas for mercy!
If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared.
Psalm 130:1-4

There is nothing so severe in our lives that it cuts us off from God. “There is no sin so powerful that it removes a person from the greater power of forgiveness.” As Romans 8 states, nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. There is ample testimony, both biblical and extra-biblical, of troubled, suffering, and afflicted people who found their lives changed through prayer.

“‘Lord, from the depths to Thee I cried: my voice, Lord, do Thou hear: unto my supplication’s voice give an attentive ear. . . . I wait for God, my soul doth wait, my hope is in His word. More than they that for the morning watch, my soul waits for the Lord’ Scottish Psalter, ‘Lord, from the Depths’). Amen.”

Father, our hearts are heavy, as we endured sorrow yesterday. But your grace and mercy go above and beyond sorrow, stronger than anything we can possibly endure in this life. Teach us to hope in you, to cry out to you in times of trouble, suffering, and affliction. Let us hear your tender voice of help and forgiveness, and let us live our lives in the strength that you have given us in your Holy Spirit.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

“In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” . . . Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him. (Isaiah 30:15, 18)

Grace and peace, friends.

Pharisee vs. Child

“If we continue to focus solely on the sinner/saint duality in our person and conduct, while ignoring the raging opposition between the Pharisee and the child, spiritual growth will come to an abrupt standstill.”~~Brennan Manning

Good afternoon. It is Sunday, November 9, 2014. Welcome to the weekend edition.

Today is World Freedom Day. It was designated in 2001 by George W. Bush to celebrate the fall of the Berlin Wall and the reunion of loved ones who had been separated for decades the Iron Curtain.

As I mentioned Friday, I had to work yesterday, as it was my “scheduled” Saturday. These days, we can’t through a Saturday without five for six people there, so it’s kind of pointless to have one person “scheduled” to work it. All of us have complained that it’s not fair for one person to be forced to take a day off during the week to avoid overtime on the Saturday, when five other people come in for support and all get overtime pay. At any rate, it was my last scheduled Saturday for the year, because I had switched my December 20 date with another guy so I could go to the doctor last Monday without having to use a PTO day. So, in this case, the policy worked out in my favor. I got my new medication yesterday, by the way. He has prescribed “atorvastatin” for me, which is generic for Lipitor. Interesting thing, though. I got a message from my father, who was diagnosed with Inclusion Body Myositis a number of years ago, and he advised me to let my doctor know about his condition, as there are theories out there that statin drugs might trigger Myositis, and it may or may not be hereditary. I’m not worried yet, but there is reported evidence that statins do cause muscle damage. After doing a little research on my own, I believe that what my dad has is sporadic IBM, which is not hereditary. Hereditary Inclusion Body Myopathy usually presents earlier, in the young adult years. Nevertheless, there may be increased susceptibility to IBM, based on genetic composition. So I will go ahead and let my doctor know about this.

Enough about that stuff. I got sidetracked. I was talking writing about work, wasn’t I? Well, it was a pretty tough day, yesterday. There was a decent amount of receiving to do, left from Friday, but there was a huge amount of “make ready” that needed to be done, and every time I went over to get some, by the time I got the cart finished, the QC people had already filled up what I emptied, and then some. There were four others there, besides me, and, at the end of the day, there were still three of us there. We didn’t get finished until about 4:45, which was ten hours from the time I got to work. I didn’t get home until after 6:00, so I missed church and the Pastoral Assist Team meeting last night. And I was exhausted, as well.

Today, we are going over to some old friends’ for lunch. A few people we used to go to church with back in the South Haltom/Wings of Freedom days are getting together. Hopefully, we will share some good memories and get caught up with people. Unfortunately, we are already having drama about whether Stephanie goes with us. Always somethin’.

(Source: Christian History Institute)

On this date in 1793, William Carey landed “in Calcutta, India, to begin his missionary career.”

Today’s birthdays include Nikki Blonsky, Lou Ferrigno, Carl Sagan, Hedy Lamar, Mary Travers, Tom Fogerty, Adam Dunn, Bob Gibson, Spiro Agnew, Susan Tedeschi, Gail Borden, Dmitry Ivanovsky, Sargent Shriver, Thomas Ferebee, Dorothy Dandridge, and Whitey Herzog.

Several good ones, today. Mary Travers, of course, was the “Mary” in the trio, Peter, Paul, and Mary. (Interesting note: I looked to see if there should be commas in their name. Two albums had one comma, “Peter, Paul and Mary,” and two had no commas, “Peter Paul and Mary.” I decided to use the Oxford comma in mine. 🙂 ) Here is their song, “Stewball.” Mary passed in 2009.

Tom Fogerty was a guitarist in Credence Clearwater Revival. He passed in 1990. Here is their song “Bad Moon Rising.”

Finally, Susan Tedeschi is a blues guitar player/singer and is married to Derek Trucks, nephew of Butch Trucks, who is a founding member of the Allman Brothers Band. Susan and Derek formed the Tedeschi Trucks Band, and here is a live recording of their song, “Bound for Glory.” Derek is the lead guitar player. Susan sings.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

(From The Divine Hours)

Oh come, let us sing to the LORD; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!
For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods.
In his hand are the depths of the earth; the heights of the mountains are his also.
The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land.

Psalm 95:1-5
God shall bless us; let all the ends of the earth fear him!
Psalm 67:7
But you, O LORD, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head.
I cried aloud to the LORD, and he answered me from his holy hill. Selah.
I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the LORD sustained me.

Psalm 3:3-5
May the glory of the LORD endure forever; may the LORD rejoice in his works,
Psalm 104:31
For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. My heart faints within me!
Job 19:25-27
Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
For behold, those who are far from you shall perish; you put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to you.
But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord GOD my refuge, that I may tell of all your works.

Psalm 73:25-28
The Prayer Appointed for the Week
O God, whose blessed Son came into the world that he might destroy
the works of the devil and make us children of God and heirs of eternal life:
Grant that, having this hope, I may purify myself as he is pure;
that, when he comes again with power and great glory,
I may be made like him in his eternal and glorious kingdom;
where he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Today’s reading in Reflections for Ragamuffins is “The Pharisee Within.”

“The Pharisee who pardons himself is condemned. The tax collector who condemns himself is acquitted. To deny the Pharisee within is lethal.” Why does this one insist on looking to outside sources for peace and happiness?

Brennan writes of a man who stood at a prayer meeting he was attending, and said, “I just want to thank God that I have nothing to repent of today.” Brennan says, “His wife groaned. What he meant was that he had not embezzled, blasphemed, fornicated, or fractured any of the Ten Commandments.” While it might be true that he had “distanced himself from idolatry, drunkenness, sexual irresponsibility, and similar things,” he had yet to break through to inner freedom.

“If we continue to focus solely on the sinner/saint duality in our person and conduct, while ignoring the raging opposition between the Pharisee and the child, spiritual growth will come to an abrupt standstill.”

Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared;
but we know that when he appears we shall be like him,
because we shall see him as he is.
And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.

1 John 3:2-3

Father, I pray, first of all, that I might be able to truly pray the words of Psalm 73:25-28. “Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.” Sadly, I am still falling short of that ideal. There are too many things on this earth that I still desire, and I am constantly frustrated that I don’t have enough time for all of them. I thank you that I still manage to find time for you every day. But I pray that these times will become more meaningful and less hurried, as I find myself having to do some days. May my focus during these times be sharp, and may the things that I see you telling me each day stay with me throughout the days and beyond, affecting changes in my life that only you can do. I pray, secondly, that you would make me so very aware of the Pharisee within me, and deal with that way of thinking with your Spirit. I believe that you have accomplished a measure of inner freedom within me, as I become more like “the child” and less like “the Pharisee.” Yet, there is still much room for improvement, as I constantly find myself judging people unfairly, which shows that I, for some insane reason, think I am better than them. I am NOT better than ANYONE!! I pray that you help me realize that 24/7, so that I will stop this insane judging of others, especially those who are my brothers and sisters in Christ! You are my freedom, you give me my strength. May I depend on this each day.

I pray for the rest of this day. I pray that Stephanie will feel better, as she is experiencing her monthly cramps. I pray for relief for her. I pray that Christi and I will have a good time in fellowship with old friends. May our time together be peaceful, fruitful, and loving. May your grace fill our afternoon. Then may our evening be filled with good rest as we prepare for the week of work that is ahead.

I pray a special prayer for Alicia, today, who is remember her mother’s birthday. She misses her mother dearly, Lord, and I pray that you would fill her life with your peace and comfort and that someone would be alongside her today, to help her bear the terrible sadness. She needs some positive things in her life, Lord, and I pray that you would fill her with your blessing!

Your grace is sufficient.

May we all do battle with that Pharisee within us and allow the “child” to prevail, that we might experience true inner freedom in Christ.

Grace and peace, friends.