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.

Oh, How I Love Your Word

Today is Tuesday, the second of November, 2021.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,245

Ten days until C’s birthday!

It seemed like a busy day, yesterday. Part of that was because I didn’t finish yesterday’s blog until after noon. Then I went to the grocery store, but right after I got home, C texted me to tell me that S had a prescription ready at CVS. So I went back out to pick that up. Then, I had lunch, at a little after 2:00 PM. I had already started washing the bed linens, earlier, and they were dry not too long after that, so I had a little time to relax before I needed to put the sheets back on the bed. Then I swept the floor, and by the time I finished that, it was time to start cooking dinner, because C was on her way home.

Today, there’s not a lot to do. I work this evening, 4:15-8:15, so I’m planning to cook “lunch” at around 2:00 or so, planning to have it ready to eat by 3:00. Then I’ll have a light snack after I get home from work. I don’t have to work tomorrow or Thursday, so I may stay up later tonight.

Nothing else is planned. Oh, and C is working from home today, her normal day to do that.

The World Series continues tonight at 7:00, in Houston. The Braves lead the series 3-2.

I realize that I haven’t (and don’t usually) said anything about football. I’m not much of a football fan, and it’s still baseball season. But the Dallas Cowboys are 6-1, so far, this season! Granted, they are in one of the worst divisions in the NFL, and they are the only team in their division with a winning record, but they have played some pretty good teams, along the way. While I don’t actively root for the ‘boys, I have some good friends who do, so I wish for their happiness. Dallas plays Denver (4-4) this Sunday afternoon.

Today is Deviled Egg Day. I do love those, but I likely will not have any today.

The word for today is busk, “to entertain by dancing, singing, reciting, juggling, etc., on the street or in a public place.” I was familiar with the word, but did not know that it included activities other than singing or playing an instrument. Makes sense, though.

Today’s quote is from e.e. cummings, American poet. “The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.”

Birthdays on November 2:

Daniel Boone, American frontiersman, 1734-1820. 
Marie Antoinette, Queen of France (Let them eat cake), 1755-1793
James Knox Polk, 11th U.S. President, 1795-1849
Warren G. Harding, 29th U.S. President, 1865-1923
Burt Lancaster, American actor, 1913-1994
Ray Walston, American actor (My Favorite Martian), 1914-2001
Jay Black, American pop singer (Jay and the Americans), 1938-2021
Stefanie Powers, American actress, (Girl from U.N.C.L.E., Hart to Hart), 1942 (79)
Keith Emerson, English musician (Emerson, Lake & Palmer), 1944-2016
J.D. Souther, American singer/songwriter (Heartache Tonight, New Kid in Town), 1945 (76)
Carter Beauford, American drummer (Dave Matthews Band), 1957 (64)
k.d. lang, Canadian country singer, 1961 (60)
David Schwimmer, American actor (Friends), 1966 (55)
Jay Black is the singer
Keith Emerson on keys

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

All have received gifts;
Use them to serve each other,
As stewards of grace.
(1 Peter 4:10)

Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
for his steadfast love endures forever!
(Psalms 118:1 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the gifts that You give
2. for opportunities to use those gifts
3. that we can count on Your guidance, forever
4. for Your Word and all of its benefits to my life
5. for the strength found in relationship

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TWENTY-FOUR – DAY THREE

INVITATION

that this is God, our God forever and ever. He will guide us forever.
(Psalms 48:14 ESV)

I pause, during this quiet moment, to reflect on Your great and wonderful gifts, and Your constant guidance, always available to us, forever.

BIBLE SONG

Oh, how I love your law!
I meditate on it all day long.
Your commands are always with me
and make me wiser than my enemies.
I have more insight than all my teachers,
for I meditate on your statutes.
I have more understanding than the elders,
for I obey your precepts.
I have kept my feet from every evil path
so that I might obey your word.
I have not departed from your laws,
for you yourself have taught me.
How sweet are your words to my taste,
sweeter than honey to my mouth!
I gain understanding from your precepts;
therefore I hate every wrong path.
(Psalms 119:97-104 NIV)

BIBLE READING

I said to myself, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure to find out what is good.” But that also proved to be meaningless. “Laughter,” I said, “is madness. And what does pleasure accomplish?” I tried cheering myself with wine, and embracing folly—my mind still guiding me with wisdom. I wanted to see what was good for people to do under the heavens during the few days of their lives.
(Ecclesiastes 2:1-3 NIV)

I denied myself nothing my eyes desired;
I refused my heart no pleasure.
My heart took delight in all my labor,
and this was the reward for all my toil.
Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done
and what I had toiled to achieve,
everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind;
nothing was gained under the sun.
(Ecclesiastes 2:10-11 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I become more aware of God’s loving presence, I read these passages again, looking for anything in His Word that has caught my heart’s attention. Is there a command to be obeyed? Is there comfort to be savored? As I meditate on these things, I pray them to God and rest in His presence.

The first thing that catches my attention is the first verse of the Psalms passage. “Oh, how I love Your law!” I like the way Peterson paraphrases this, so that we aren’t using the word “law” literally.

Oh, how I love all you’ve revealed; I reverently ponder it all the day long.
(Psalms 119:97 MSG)

There are several different words used to describe God’s Word, throughout Psalm 119; law, commands, statutes, precepts, word. All of those could be defined, as Peterson does, “all You’ve revealed.”

I have been a Bible reader since before I was able to read. That may sound contradictory, but remember, people were reading Scripture to me before I was able to read. I have loved “God’s Word” as long as I can remember. Even through the darkest parts of my life, some of which were of my own making, it was always the Bible that drew me back to the path. Sure, His Holy Spirit is involved, no doubt. But even He drew me back via the precious Word of God.

Do not mistake me . . . I do not “worship” the Bible. I worship the God who revealed Himself through the Bible. But I do love the Bible, just as the psalmist who penned Psalm 119 did.

The Word of God, rightly applied, gives us more wisdom than anyone around us; our enemies, our teachers, our elders, even. It helps us stay away from evil paths. Or, when our feet have strayed onto an evil path, it gently maneuvers us back. It teaches us to hate those evil paths.

One of my favorite passages regarding God’s Word is found in Psalm 19.

The revelation of GOD is whole
and pulls our lives together.
The signposts of GOD are clear
and point out the right road.
The life-maps of GOD are right,
showing the way to joy.
The directions of GOD are plain
and easy on the eyes.
GOD’s reputation is twenty-four-carat gold,
with a lifetime guarantee.
The decisions of GOD are accurate
down to the nth degree.
God’s Word is better than a diamond,
better than a diamond set between emeralds.
You’ll like it better than strawberries in spring,
better than red, ripe strawberries.
(Psalms 19:7-10 MSG)

The Teacher, in the meantime, continues to find everything to be meaningless, “a chasing after the wind.”

Father, I know that not everything in life is meaningless. Many of the tasks, however, in which we constantly find ourselves engaged, are truly a chasing after the wind. This is true; it is known. Many of those things, though, are, more or less, harmless, in the big picture. What is not meaningless is relationship with You, which we are able to enhance and grow through a healthy attitude toward Your Word. I praise You for Your Word, in which You have revealed Yourself further to us. I say “further,” because You have, in fact, revealed Yourself quite extensively through nature and Creation, to those of us who are looking at it wisely. But the revelation of Yourself through Scripture, through Christ, by the Holy Spirit, is invaluable and priceless, worth more than pure gold, sweeter than pure honey (or strawberries). I love Your Word, Father, I do. Thank You for placing that love of it in my heart at such an early age. Thank You for placing people in my path, people who cared for me and loved me and read Your Word to me and taught Your Word to me. I cannot thank You enough for those blessings.

I pray that You would continue to give Your people a love for and commitment to the communities in which we have landed. I pray that You continue to equip us to serve in unique and effective ways.

"Everlasting God,
I shop for pleasure,
looking to consume happiness;
I hustle for meaning,
striving to make a difference.
But the more I consume the less I enjoy,
and the harder I work the more life slips out of my reach.
Help me understand the simple truth that none of my work or worry,
nor any of life's pleasures,
does any good without Your blessing.
Amen."

BLESSING

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
(Matthew 5:10 ESV)

Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.
(1 Peter 4:9 ESV)

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil.
(Ecclesiastes 4:9 ESV)

submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.
(Ephesians 5:21 ESV)

I want to take a moment to boast (I don’t normally do this kind of thing) about the relationship that my wife and I have. That whole passage from Ecclesiastes 4 is worthy of visiting.

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
(Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 ESV)

I feel like we have been lifting each other up, constantly, for over thirty-six years, now. And, since my retirement, this has even been enhanced more. When we discussed the possibility of me taking early retirement, I heartily agreed to become, more or less, a “house-husband,” taking care of menial household chores, on my days off, while C continues to work full time. For the record, it is still roughly four years until she is eligible for early retirement. But I have gladly taken on tasks such as laundry, sweeping floors, keeping dishes clean (which I helped with a lot already), trash removal, and things like that. I have tried to keep the house somewhat neat, and it has been quite rewarding for me. I don’t hate it at all. Because I am doing it out of love for my wife.

There are different ways to describe a marriage. The Ecclesiastes passage may not even be describing marriage, per se, but simply a good partnership. But that’s what marriage is, right? Most definitely a “good partnership.” Some say that one plus one, in a marriage, doesn’t make two, but makes one. I don’t disagree with that, but I would also entertain the thought that one plus one equals infinity, because I believe that we two together are infinitely stronger than one of us alone. And when Jesus is in the middle of us, it is infinity times infinity. “A three-stranded rope isn’t easily snapped” (The Message).

Father, I praise You for this relationship, and look forward to what You are going to continue to do in our midst, in the years that we have left.

“Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord GOD: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations to which you came. And I will vindicate the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them. And the nations will know that I am the LORD, declares the Lord GOD, when through you I vindicate my holiness before their eyes.”
(Ezekiel 36:22-23 ESV)

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.

Enjoy!

Today is Monday, the first of November, 2021.

May the peace of God reign in your hearts today.

Day 23,244

Six days until Daylight Saving Time ends

Welcome to November! I’m sad that October is over, but fall carries on. And the tree in our front yard is still green.

We had a wonderful time, last night, at our friend’s house. Her chili, as always, was delicious, but the fellowship was deliciouser. It was truly refreshing to get to see some faces that we have not seen in many a moon. There were a few hugs, as well. We got to meet her new grandchild, finally, too. Most everyone sat out on the driveway, in a big circle, for most of the time. It was joyous!

As the new day moves along, and the new month begins, I have a few things to get done today. Some may get pushed into tomorrow, and maybe some even to Wednesday or Thursday. I’m washing the bedclothes, this morning, and will get the floors swept later today (that task will be a regular Monday thing, now that my schedule has settled down, some). The yard needs mowing, but I need to get an attachment for the lawn mower before I do that. C likes to mow the yard, but she has not had enough recovery time to do that, yet.

There are other things that I need to do, some straightening and putting away, perhaps cleaning out some things and “de-cluttering” a little. But this is my week where I only work two days and only four hours on one of those (tomorrow). So there is literally no hurry on any of these things.

As soon as I get done with this, I will be heading to a grocery store to get a few things. I think I’ve previously mentioned that I am planning to “normalize” trips to the store on Mondays and Thursdays, and avoid the big grocery runs on Saturdays and Sundays.

We plan to go to FBC Mineral Wells, this coming Sunday morning for their first worship service back in their remodeled sanctuary. S is really looking forward to this.

Oh. The Astros won last night, so the World Series will continue in Houston tomorrow night. The Braves lead the series 3-2.

I think I’m also planning to have lunch with C on Thursday. We briefly discussed that yesterday. I haven’t gotten to do that in a long time. Sadly, the place we used to go get a Japanese lunch closed a few years ago. We’ll have to figure something else out.

Today is Scented Candle Day. Perhaps I will light one, later.

The word for today is columbarium, “a sepulchral vault or other structure with recesses in the walls to receive the ashes of the dead.” That’s probably because today is also All Saints Day.

Today’s quote is from Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach, and Austrian novelist. “We don’t believe in rheumatism and true love until after the first attack.”

Birthdays on November 1:

Stephen Crane, American author (Red Badge of Courage), 1871-1900
John W. Peterson, American songwriter (Night of Miracles, Love Transcending, Hallelujah! What A Savior!), 1921-2006
Gordon R. Dickson, Canadian-American science fiction author, 1923-2001
Gary Player, South African pro golfer, 1935 (86)
Marcia Wallace, American actress (Carol on the Bob Newhart Show), 1942-2013
Richard "Kinky" Friedman, American singer/songwriter, novelist, and politician, 1944 (77)
Jim Steinman, American songwriter and producer (Bonnie Tyler's "Total Eclipse of the Heart"), 1947-2021
Dan Peek, American pop vocalist and guitarist, (America), 1950-2011
Lyle Lovett, American singer/songwriter (Joshua Judges Ruth, Pontiac), 1957 (64)
Fernando Valenzuela, Mexican HoF MLB pitcher (Dodgers), 1960 (61)
Rick Allen, British one-armed drummer (Def Leppard), 1963 (58)
Matt Chapman, American cartoonist and voice actor (Homestar Runner), 1976 (45)
Coco Crisp, American baseball player (2007 Boston Red Sox), 1979 (42)
John W Peterson
Rick Allen is the drummer
Matt Chapman, one of the “Brothers Chaps,” turns 45 today.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Living and active,
sharper than a two-edged sword,
is the Word of God.
(Hebrews 4)

Praise the LORD!
I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart,
in the company of the upright,
in the congregation.
(Psalms 111:1 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that You have given me a thankful heart
2. that You have led me to make my gratitude public, "in the company of the upright"
3. that Your hands made me, formed me, and gave me understanding
4. for the encouragement found in Scripture to enjoy life (reading Ecclesiastes right now)
5. that You have provided me with a life that is enjoyable
6. for music, color, beauty, and all the senses

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TWENTY-FOUR – DAY TWO

INVITATION

For that is what God is like. He is our God forever and ever, and he will guide us until we die.
(Psalms 48:14 NLT)

As I pause to prepare myself for these meditations, I consider what our God is like, giving thanks to Him for His nature and His attributes. He is loving and kind, patient and forgiving; He shows compassion on His people, remembering that we are dust.

BIBLE SONG

Your hands made me and formed me;
give me understanding to learn your commands.
May those who fear you rejoice when they see me,
for I have put my hope in your word.
I know, LORD, that your laws are righteous,
and that in faithfulness you have afflicted me.
May your unfailing love be my comfort,
according to your promise to your servant.
Let your compassion come to me that I may live,
for your law is my delight.
May the arrogant be put to shame for wronging me without cause;
but I will meditate on your precepts.
May those who fear you turn to me,
those who understand your statutes.
May I wholeheartedly follow your decrees,
that I may not be put to shame.
(Psalms 119:73-80 NIV)

BIBLE READING

I, the Teacher, was king over Israel in Jerusalem. I applied my mind to study and to explore by wisdom all that is done under the heavens. What a heavy burden God has laid on mankind! I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind.
What is crooked cannot be straightened;
what is lacking cannot be counted.
I said to myself, “Look, I have increased in wisdom more than anyone who has ruled over Jerusalem before me; I have experienced much of wisdom and knowledge.” Then I applied myself to the understanding of wisdom, and also of madness and folly, but I learned that this, too, is a chasing after the wind.
For with much wisdom comes much sorrow;
the more knowledge, the more grief.
(Ecclesiastes 1:12-18 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I leisurely read these passages again, I search for words or ideas that stir within me. I linger over them and give them full attention, praying these thoughts to God, and resting in His presence.

The acknowledgment that we are made and formed by God’s hands, and then given the gift of understanding, that we may learn His commands, is a great beginning. I truly believe that we cannot even begin to learn His commands unless He first grants us this gift of understanding. The knowledge that I am “fearfully and wonderfully made,” found in Psalm 139, at least for me, results in great humility. I suppose it could cause some to go the wrong direction and become arrogant about it. But I see every day, every breath of life, as a gift from the God who made me, formed me, and gave me understanding.

The Teacher took on a pretty daunting task when he decided to “explore by wisdom all that is done under the heavens.” I mean, who has that kind of time on their hands, right? But, if these were, in fact written by Solomon, then I guess, as King, he had the time. He continues, though, in his assessment that it is all meaningless, “a chasing after the wind.” And, truthfully, most of the activities of humanity are, indeed, the equivalent of chasing after the wind.

But look! At one point, he even decided that applying one’s self to the “understanding of wisdom, and also of madness and folly,” even those are “a chasing after the wind.” And then he nails closed the coffin with these words, “For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief.”

Again, I don’t think we can overstate the problems with reading only chunks of Ecclesiastes like this. If we stopped here, we would think that this Teacher decided to never do anything at all, because everything is chasing after the wind.

But you know what? Sometimes, chasing after the wind is a jolly good time! And any serious reader of the Bible knows that (I haven’t looked ahead to see if we will read this particular part of the book) the old Dairy Queen mantra was borrowed from the writings in Ecclesiastes, as the Teacher eventually comes to the conclusion that the best thing we can do is “Eat, drink, and be merry.”

One of the big lessons that we can learn from the writings of the Teacher is that there is a danger of getting too serious about things. And I agree. While I am serious about reading Scripture and gaining intimacy with my Father in heaven, I also recognize the need to simply have a good time and enjoy life. There’s nothing wrong with seeking wisdom and knowledge (as long as we don’t make it habit to seek those things on Facebook or Twitter). But the writer of Ecclesiastes makes a strong point when he says that much sorrow comes along with much wisdom, and knowledge produces grief.

Therefore, I will balance my pursuit of wisdom and knowledge with frivolous, time-wasting pursuits of fun and entertainment. As well as times of productive work. That is necessary, too.

Father, I praise You that I am fearfully and wonderfully made; that Your hands have made me, formed me, continue to form me, and given me both the understanding and the desire to learn Your commands and more about You. I pray that these desires will only increase as I get older and, hopefully, wiser. However, I do pray, based on the reading in Ecclesiastes, that I do not take too seriously the desire to acquire wisdom and knowledge. Both are important, but let me enjoy life along the way, as well. You know . . . may I never forget, while in these pursuits, to “stop and smell the roses.” “And let me live whole and holy, soul and body, so I can always walk with my head held high” (Psalm 119:80 The Message).

And while I’m at it, I praise You for music, color, beauty, and all the senses with which I am able to take in the wonder and complexity of creation.

"Great God,
without You any search to find meaning is futile,
any quest to name the reason for living a dead end.
Turn me today to Jesus,
who is the Word that speaks purpose into life under the sun,
the wisdom at the center that gives significance to my days.
In His name I pray,
amen."

BLESSING

God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
(Matthew 5:10 NLT)

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,
(Hebrews 12:1 NIV)

For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people,
I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.
I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.
I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people,
and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength
he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms,
far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.
(Ephesians 1:15-21 NIV)

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”
For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.
(Psalms 91:1-4 ESV)

As an apple tree among the trees of the forest,
so is my beloved among the young men.
With great delight I sat in his shadow,
and his fruit was sweet to my taste.
He brought me to the banqueting house,
and his banner over me was love.
(Song of Solomon 2:3-4 ESV)

In that day the branch of the LORD shall be beautiful and glorious,
and the fruit of the land shall be the pride and honor of the survivors of Israel.
And he who is left in Zion and remains in Jerusalem will be called holy,
everyone who has been recorded for life in Jerusalem,
when the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion and cleansed the bloodstains of Jerusalem from its midst by a spirit of judgment and by a spirit of burning.
Then the LORD will create over the whole site of Mount Zion and over her assemblies a cloud by day,
and smoke and the shining of a flaming fire by night;
for over all the glory there will be a canopy.
There will be a booth for shade by day from the heat,
and for a refuge and a shelter from the storm and rain.
(Isaiah 4:2-6 ESV)

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!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

Utterly Meaningless

Today is Sunday, the thirty-first of October, 2021. It is Halloween.

Day 23,243 (the number of days since I was born)

Seven days until Daylight Saving Time ends (fall back . . . you can’t say you weren’t warned!)

There are a number of reasons that today is significant. As already mentioned, it is Halloween. I really enjoy this “holiday” (I don’t really consider it a holiday, because we don’t get the day off from work, if it falls on a work day.), and the celebrations have been going on for a few days, already. I saw some very cool costumes at the library yesterday, as we had a family event yesterday afternoon. My favorite was the son of one of the other library aides (who, next week, will no longer be an aide, but a part time assistant librarian!) who came dressed as a dalek from Dr. Who.

That’s not his costume, of course . . . that’s just an image to show you what a dalek looks like.

Another reason this day is significant is that, 504 years ago, Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the church at Wittenberg, thus beginning the Protestant Reformation. Therefore, today is deemed “Reformation Day.”

But, for us, today is the most special because, twelve years ago, today, our oldest daughter, R, got married to J. So we wish them a “Happy Hallowversary” every year on this day!

I think I already mentioned that our church group is not gathering this morning. At this point, I don’t have any plans to attend elsewhere. We will also not be home to hand out candy, this evening, which is probably a good thing, because it means we did not buy any candy, and the last thing we need is overflow Halloween candy laying around our house. Those bite-sized candy bars find a way of always falling in my mouth, you know. Yesterday, at the library, I “accidentally” ate three giant Lemonheads.

We will be going to a friend’s house for “Halloween chili” tonight. That’s one of our favorite events of the year. I think S might even be planning to dress up as a kitten. I might wear my “wizard costume,” which consists of a black trench coat, a felt hat, and a walking stick. Impressive, eh?

There are no other plans for today. And my next shift at the library is Tuesday evening. Did I mention that I got my Covid booster last Thursday? I can’t remember if I did. But I was really tired all day yesterday, and felt a little icky Friday night. But at one point Friday night, I finally got up and took some Advil, so I felt pretty normal yesterday, but just really tired. My left arm is still marginally sore, but not too bad.

The Braves won again, last night, to take a 3-1 lead over the Astros, in the World Series. I’m hoping they can put it away tonight. I suppose I should be more interested in it, if I’m truly a fan of baseball. But I’m not, and it is what it is, right?

I may have forgotten this, yesterday, but I’m still reading The Haunting of Hill House, by Shirley Jackson. I’m close to finishing and should finish it this afternoon.

On to what’s truly important.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Finding Light, by S. Michaels (LightWriters)

October ending
seasons come and go,
the River winds on
 
Selah (Psalm 19:8)
©2021 S. Michaels
Strong Tower(Haiku/5-5-5 & Psalms/Proverbs Faith Notes)

I will give thanks to you,
O LORD,
among the peoples;
I will sing praises to you among the nations.
(Psalms 108:3 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that, though seasons come and go, Your love remains steadfast and sure
2. for the love of family and friends
3. that You are my God and will be my guide, "even to the end" (Psalm 48:14)
4. that the earth is filled with Your love; remind me to look for it every day
5. that I'm not stuck living in the past, but am freely moving forward with You; all praise to You, through the Son and by the Spirit

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TWENTY-FOUR – DAY ONE

INVITATION

For this God is our God for ever and ever; he will be our guide even to the end.
(Psalms 48:14 NIV)

I pause, during this quiet moment, to reflect on my life. It is filled with love, both Yours, and that of family and friends. When I forget about that love, and focus on self and negativity, please remind me of the love.

BIBLE SONG

You are my portion, LORD;
I have promised to obey your words.
I have sought your face with all my heart;
be gracious to me according to your promise.
I have considered my ways
and have turned my steps to your statutes.
I will hasten and not delay
to obey your commands.
Though the wicked bind me with ropes,
I will not forget your law.
At midnight I rise to give you thanks
for your righteous laws.
I am a friend to all who fear you,
to all who follow your precepts.
The earth is filled with your love, LORD;
teach me your decrees.
(Psalms 119:57-64 NIV)

BIBLE READING

“Meaningless! Meaningless!”
says the Teacher.
“Utterly meaningless!
Everything is meaningless.”

What do people gain from all their labors
at which they toil under the sun?
Generations come and generations go,
but the earth remains forever.
The sun rises and the sun sets,
and hurries back to where it rises.
(Ecclesiastes 1:2-5 NIV)

What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.
(Ecclesiastes 1:9 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I read these passages over again, I look for words or phrases that stir my heart. I either silently, or possibly out loud, repeat them, meditating, forming prayers in my spirit.

I do love Psalm 119, as long as I am not expected to read the entire chapter (176 verses!) in one sitting. Almost every verse in the psalm mentions, in some form or fashion, the Word of God. It is a symphony of praise, and epic poem, to God’s Word. If you have a version in which the chapter is broken up into groups of eight verses, you see a Hebrew letter designated at the beginning of each group.

If you could read Hebrew (I can’t), you would notice that each verse of that group of eight verses begins with that Hebrew letter that is at the top of the section or stanza. Oddly, we do not know who wrote this psalm.

In the section I’m reading today, although the NIV does not feature this, the Hebrew letter is Heth. The KJV shows it as CHETH, which may be more accurate, because each of the verses begins with a word that starts with ch.

I love the thought of God as my “portion” (v. 57). To me, this indicates that God is enough. He is all I need.

I don’t know that I could ever honestly say that I have actually sought the face of the Lord “with all my heart” (v. 58). It is most definitely something to which I aspire, though.

Verses 63 and 64 also speak to me. I consider anyone who fears the Lord and follows His precepts to be my friend. That does not mean that everyone who claims to be “Christian” will be my friend. There are many who use that label who obviously do not either fear God or follow His precepts. And the statement that the earth is filled with God’s love is something that we all need to be reminded of, frequently. I make mention of this in the prayer following today’s invitation.

I always love getting into Ecclesiastes. It’s a fun book to read, even if it is a bit confusing, sometimes. While its authorship is commonly attributed to Solomon, I am not 100% convinced that this is the case. To me, it is not clear who wrote it, and I have no guesses at all as to who else it might have been, other than Solomon.

And you know what? I really don’t care who wrote it. “The Teacher” wrote it. Some (the respectable Matthew Henry included) would argue that the fact that it says “Son of David,” and “king in Jerusalem” prove that it is Solomon, as he fits both of those descriptions. However, the words “king in Jerusalem,” may describe David, not “the Teacher.”

If read in the wrong spirit, one might immediately find Ecclesiastes to be an exercise in futility, and somewhat depressing. I mean, the thought that “everything is meaningless” can be somewhat discouraging, right?

Some translations, such as KJV and ESV, use the word “vanity,” rather than “meaningless.” The Message uses the word “smoke.” I rather like that. The Hebrew word literally means “emptiness” or “vanity,” so those translations are pretty much correct. But another word could be “unsatisfactory.” I like that, too. It could even be said to mean “transitory.”

Why does the Preacher/Teacher say this? He gives examples. We go to work every day. What gain do we get from this? In our modern day, we get paid with the currency of the land. What do we do with that? We pay bills, we buy things. But, ultimately, it is nothing. In fact, in these days, it’s all pretty much pretend money, anyway. I hardly ever see cash, and the only think I use it for, any more, is to tip my Sonic carhop when I’m at one of the few Sonics that won’t turn on mobile tipping.

We have reached an era that, for many of us, cash is “meaningless” or “vanity.” That scares a lot of people who take Revelation way more literally than they should.

The Teacher looks at generations that come and go, while the earth just keeps on turning. I am alive today. I have lived twenty-three thousand, two hundred and forty-three days (it looks a lot longer when I type it). That’s a lot of days. Or is it?

If you take the creation story literally (which I both do and do not . . . don’t hurt yourself trying to figure that out), the earth has been in existence for somewhere between six and eight thousand years. If you believe some scientists, it has been in existence for billions of years.

I’m just going to go with the six thousand number. If that is correct, and it would be the minimum time that the earth and universe have been in existence, that is more than two million days.

That kind of makes my 23,243 pretty petty, doesn’t it?

So I’m alive today. I might live another twenty or thirty years. Or less or more. Only God knows. But then I will be gone. No one knew me before 1958. And very few will remember me after I’m gone. A handful, likely. And when they’re gone, no one will remember me.

Meaningless. Vanity. Everything is utterly meaningless.

The sun comes up; the sun goes down, and then it runs back around so it can come up again. It’s a meaningless cycle.

“Time keeps on slipping, slipping, slipping . . . into the future.”

And then, the Teacher nails the coffin shut by telling us that there is, quite literally, “nothing new under the sun.”

Hah! He never got to see iPhones, right?

See?? Are you depressed yet??

I’m not, actually. Because I kind of understand where he is coming from and where he is going. But you have to read it all in context, and, frankly, it’s rather unhealthy, mentally, to read only the few verses that are highlighted today, and just stop. That really does leave us in a dark, dark place.

If I look only at these things, then, yes, it can be very depressing. But I do not only look at these things. I can honestly, and happily, in fact, look at all the devices of this world, both physical and not, and proclaim, along with this Teacher, that they are “utterly meaningless,” nothing but “smoke” and mirrors.

In the grand scheme of things, in the broad picture of eternity, everything in this room, where I am sitting, that I can see with my eyes . . . all meaningless. “It’s all gonna burn!” Perhaps these words that I am typing are even meaningless.

Unless, one day, someone happens to stumble across this blog, and it miraculously leads them into a faith relationship with Jesus Christ. At that point, it will mean everything in the world to one person.

And that’s kind of why I’m doing it. One of the reasons that I keep it up. That, and my mother enjoys reading it.

So, while we don’t come up with any firm purpose from today’s reading, we must know that knowing God and His wisdom is what provides the only real meaning in life. What is the meaning of life? As much as I like to say it, it is not, in fact, “42.” It is to know God, and to fear Him. To spread His love to everyone . . . to “pass it on.” It is to follow Jesus Christ into territories that make us uncomfortable, and to set aside many of these things that truly are meaningless and vanity, that we might walk in His Kingdom and follow in His steps.

Father, I praise You, even for the meaninglessness of the material world around me. I do thank You for many of these material things; things which can, in fact, be used to provide meaning to an otherwise meaningless existence. But let us not get too attached to these things, which will not survive us for very long. Some of these things may outlast me, physically, but as we live with You for eternity, they will, in fact perish. May we use them wisely and “hold on loosely” to them, always being aware that someone else may need them more than we. Keep me aware of any needs that I might be able to provide with the resources You have provided us. And let us not think to heavily on the thoughts that all is vanity or utterly meaningless, as we might truly find ourselves in a dark place, mentally and emotionally. There is really no reason for us to go there, in light of the fact that our world, our universe, is filled with Your love!

May we, Your people, be filled with resurrection hope and joy. May we all be equipped to share the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, whenever opportunities arise.

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.

"God of heaven and earth,
what is the purpose of it all?
The endless cycle of life brings with it questions that don't find answers in the available light under the sun.
With You,
however,
I get the larger view beyond this world.
I trust You,
God in heaven,
for everything I need for life under the sun -
including intellectually satisfying answers to my biggest questions.
Amen."

BLESSING

Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
(Matthew 5:10 NIV)

Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.
(John 17:17 NIV)

But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.
(John 16:13 NIV)

Then he released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, delivered him to be crucified.
(Matthew 27:26 ESV)

“Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven;”
(Luke 6:37 ESV)

When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said to her, “Woman, you are freed from your disability.”
(Luke 13:12 ESV)

There’s a common word in these three verse, at least in the Greek text. The word that is translated “released,” “forgive/forgiven,” and “freed,” is all one Greek word, “apoluo.” Literally, it means, “to free fully, relieve, release, dismiss.”

So from this fact, we can get the following truth.

“If you don’t forgive, you won’t be released. You’ll stay bound and imprisoned.” But the same word speaks of healing. So forgiveness is linked to healing and the lack of forgiveness to the lack of healing. Those who cannot forgive cripple themselves. And the same word speaks of moving on and being sent forth for the purposes of God. If you don’t forgive, you won’t be able to move on or to let go of the old. Nor will you be able to be sent forth and fulfill God’s calling for your life.”

(From The Book of Mysteries, by Jonathan Cahn)

I read those words, and I think of the many people that are close to my age who do nothing on social media other than moan and complain about how things used to be. They are constantly mocking younger generations, thinking themselves to be superior because they know how to write in cursive and can drive a stick shift.

These folks need to wake up! They are stuck in the past, unable to move on, to let go of things that simply don’t matter any more! And they appear so very hateful and angry all the time, with no hint of forgiveness or release. I pity them; my heart hurts for them. I am so very grateful to God that He has allowed me to not get stuck in that mode. I frequently skip over a lot of those “Who remembers _______?” posts that I see on Facebook. Yeah. I remember. But I don’t live there any more. I live in 2021, where nobody needs to know how write in cursive any more. Where the only reason to drive a stick shift is if you have a fancy sports car.

And just to prove I’m not stuck in the past, here is some really nice music that I discovered, this morning. I’m not one of the “old guys” who are constantly saying that all of today’s music is “crap.” Thanks to Derri Daugherty of The Choir, for the recommendation.

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!

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.

Refreshed and Refreshing

Good morning! Today is Tuesday, the twenty-sixth of October, 2021.

May the peace of God reign in your life today!

Day 23,238

Twelve more days until Daylight Saving Time ends.

Hard to believe that there are only five more days until November! But Halloween is this coming Sunday night. For the record, we have not purchased any Halloween candy. We do not plan to be home for at least part of the night, Sunday night. I will discuss with C (we haven’t even talked about it) whether we want to get any. If we do, and have some left over, I’m sure I will take it to the Library next Tuesday evening.

Speaking of library, I work today, from 4:15-8:15 PM, doing shelving. Easy shift, and I enjoy shelving (not that I don’t enjoy any of my duties). Tuesday night shelving is the time when I am pretty much alone for the whole shift, working, more or less, in the shadows. Peaceful and serene. Plus, surrounded by, you know, books.

The Tuesday shift is kind of strange, still. It’s like I have a whole day off, but still have a shift at work.

I didn’t leave the house, yesterday, other than to check the mail and bring the trash bins back up from the street, after the garbage pickup. Today, I will probably go out around noon. We need a few things from the grocery store (I may start planning grocery trips on either Monday or Tuesday, and Thursday, going forward), and I’ll probably pick up lunch for all of us, since C is working from home today.

The World Series begins tonight, at 7:00 (ish) PM, broadcast, of course, on Fox. Which means, if you watch, you have to listen to Joe Buck. That’s one good reason not to watch. I doubt I will watch, anyway (I’ll be at work when it starts), but I do want the Braves to win.

As recognized every year on October 26, today is Howl at the Moon Day. But the moon isn’t full, it is only “waning gibbous,” whatever that means.

The word for today is revenant. In the context of the season, it means, “a person who returns as a spirit after death; ghost.” So that’s what that means! And here I thought it had something to do with bears!

Today’s quote is from Henry Ward Beecher, American clergyman. “I never knew how to worship until I knew how to love.”

Significant birthdays on October 26:

C.W. Post, American manufacturer of breakfast cereal, 1854-1914
Mahalia Jackson, American gospel singer, 1911-1972
Jackie Coogan, American actor (Uncle Fester on The Addams Family), 1914-1984
Bob Hoskins, English actor (Smee in Hook), 1942-2014
Hillary Clinton, U.S. 1st Lady, Senator, Secretary of State, 1947 (74)
Bootsy Collins, American guitarist and singer (Parliament, Funkadelic), 1951, (70)
Lauren Tewes, American actress (Julie on Love Boat), 1953 (68)
Cary Elwes, English actor (Princess Bride), 1962 (59)
Natalie Merchant, American singer/songwriter (10,000 Maniacs), 1963 (58)
Keith Urban, New Zealand-Australian country singer, still married to Nicole Kidman, 1967 (54)
Seth MacFarlane, American animator (Family Guy), 1973 (48)
Jon Heder, American actor (Napoleon Dynamite), 1977 (44)
Cary Elwes in his best role (my opinion)
Jon Heder

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Grace of God appeared,
Bringing salvation for all;
We wait for our Hope.
(Titus 2)

Oh give thanks to the LORD;
call upon his name;
make known his deeds among the peoples!
Sing to him, sing praises to him;
tell of all his wondrous works!
Glory in his holy name;
let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice!
Seek the LORD and his strength;
seek his presence continually!
(Psalms 105:1-4 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for all of Your wondrous works; may I faithfully make them known among the peoples
2. for the gift of music, with which I can sing praises to You
3. that You have caused my heart to seek You and rejoice
4. that You have given me/us a generous heart, eager to share with others and refresh them
5. for the stark realization that life is not a competition; I am not out to "beat" anyone

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TWENTY-THREE – DAY THREE

INVITATION

For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness.
(Psalms 84:10 ESV)

As I pause in the quietness of this moment, I reflect on the presence of the Lord and the strength He provides in my life. Imperfect as I am, I can only imagine how life would be without Him in it.

BIBLE SONG

The LORD remembers us and will bless us:
He will bless his people Israel,
he will bless the house of Aaron,
he will bless those who fear the LORD—
small and great alike.

May the LORD cause you to flourish,
both you and your children.
May you be blessed by the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.

The highest heavens belong to the LORD,
but the earth he has given to mankind.
It is not the dead who praise the LORD,
those who go down to the place of silence;
it is we who extol the LORD,
both now and forevermore.
Praise the LORD.
(Psalms 115:12-18 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Be sure of this: The wicked will not go unpunished,
but those who are righteous will go free.

Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout
is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion.

The desire of the righteous ends only in good,
but the hope of the wicked only in wrath.

One person gives freely, yet gains even more;
another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.

A generous person will prosper;
whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.
(Proverbs 11:21-25 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I read these passages over again, I look for words and/or phrases that speak to me. I pray for the Holy Spirit to guide my meditations and prayers, as I seek the Lord and His strength, this morning.

The passage from Psalms contains encouragement, as well as a good prayer to be prayed for just about anyone. First, we get the encouragement that the Lord remembers and blesses those who fear Him. At first, it is specific to the Israel, even down to the house of Aaron. But verse 13 is more general, directed toward all who fear His name, both “small and great alike.”

The prayer of verses 14 and 15 is a wonderful blessing to pray over someone. I plan to incorporate that into my own prayers.

In Proverbs, we see some comparisons between the wicked and righteous, the generous and stingy, with the humor of verse 22 thrown in.

We are assured that the “wicked will not go unpunished.” We may not live to see the ultimate punishment of the wicked, and I’m not sure I would want to, anyway. I’ve discussed that, previously.

Also of interest is the verse about the desire of the righteous (verse 23). Note that all of our desires, if we are righteous, end only in good. It doesn’t say that our desires are necessarily good, nor does it say that we will get everything we desire. It says that our desires will end only in good. This reminds me of a popularly quoted verse, Romans 8:28. Many people are familiar with it. The Lord works all things for good. It does not say that everything that happens is “good,” but that He works it out for good.

Then we get a couple of comparisons between the generous and stingy. The generous give, yet keep getting more. I can say from experience that this is true. God has blessed my family. By many standards, we are wealthy. We aren’t millionaires, but we have more than enough. We are eager and quick to share those blessings, and, as a result, God continues to bless. I boasted about Him and His provision, at the start of my retirement, just the other day.

When you share God’s resources and blessings with others, you are, as worded in verse 25, “refreshing” them. By doing so, God will, in turn, “refresh” you. Just for kicks, I looked up “refresh.” This is what I found: “give new strength or energy to; reinvigorate.” Think of this in terms of poverty or need. If you give something to someone who is in desperate need, you give them “new strength or energy;” You “reinvigorate” them. You can be sure that God will then do the same for you.

Father, as I read these passages from Your Word, I am encouraged. My prayer life receives new direction and purpose as I make plans to pray more blessing over people I know and love. I am also encouraged to continue to seek You and Your strength daily, as well as sing more praises to You. My heart is full as I consider Your blessings in my life, especially in light of how You have also made me more generous, holding on loosely, as it were, with open hands. You are amazing, and Your grace is, frequently, unbelievable, incomprehensible. May I continue to share those blessings with other; may I continue to be generous. All praise and glory to You, through the Son and by the Spirit!

May You give us the strength to follow the call of the Gospel into our communities and workplaces. May You provide peace in our communities.

"Wise God,
people name this wisdom of the ages differently -
karma,
the law of attraction,
the golden rule -
but it all comes from You.
Thank You for Your refreshing grace that jumpstarts the flow of grace to others,
Your attractive goodness that enables me to do good to my neighbor,
and Your generosity that moves me to share with those in need.
In Jesus' name,
amen."

BLESSING

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
(Matthew 5:9 ESV)

“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
(Matthew 6:34 ESV)

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
(2 Timothy 4:7 ESV)

but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
(Isaiah 40:31 ESV)

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.
(1 John 2:15-17 ESV)

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.

The Path of Love

Good morning! Today is Monday, the twenty-fifth of October, 2021.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,237

Only thirteen days until Daylight Saving Time ends.

We had a great time, yesterday morning, with our church group. While we had the gathering over Zoom, this time, due to some folks being unavailable for in person gathering, it was a great discussion over 1 John chapter 5. We had actually read that passage the week before, but we had spent so much of our time catching up on each other and “fellowshipping” that we only managed to discuss a couple of verses. So we read it again and discussed more verses that caught our attention. I think we all left feeling like we had made some significant progress in understanding some of the more difficult verses of that chapter. It was awesome.

After church, we had our usual Applebee’s lunch. C and I watched the first episode of a Hulu original, called “Only Murders in the Building.” It features Steve Martin, Martin Short, and Selena Gomez, who all play characters who live in an apartment building in New York City. All three are obsessed with the same true crime podcast (which featured Tina Fey). When a murder happens in their building, the all become quite interested in it, and decide to start their own podcast.

We got a new “cat tree” yesterday evening, delivered by Amazon. C really liked that it came yesterday evening, and had to be assembled. It gave her something to do that felt productive. We put it where the old one was, and moved the old one over by the back door, at least for the time being. So far, they have laid on the old one by the back door. Haha! I have yet to catch one of them in the new one. However, C told me that at least two of them were inside one of the compartments of the new one while she was trying to put it together. Helping, you know.

Nothing much on the agenda for today. That’s something I still need to work on . . . planning my days around my work schedule. There is some laundry to be folded, and dinner to be cooked later, after C alerts me that she is on her way home.

Earlier, this morning, I decided to have my coffee out on the back deck, in one of our new lounge chairs that I got C for our anniversary. It was very nice out there. Borderline too cool, but not quite. I drank my coffee and read a few chapters of the book I am currently reading. Which reminds me . . . I believe I have decided to share that each day. What I am reading, currently, I mean. So, for today it is this:

The World Series begins tomorrow night, Braves v. Astros in Houston. My attitude about it has changed a bit, as I discovered, yesterday, that Ron Washington, former favorite coach for the Texas Rangers, is third base coach for the Atlanta Braves. This actually gives me a bit of a reason to care. So I will be actively cheering for the Braves, this year. Doesn’t mean I’ll watch a lot, but who knows?

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

When We Look at the Cross, by Daryl Madden

When we look at the cross the truth to sink in
In wounds that He bears we see our sin

When we look at the cross what do we see?
Our sins swallowed up by His great mercy

When we look at the cross our treasure in store
Of eternal life for death is no more

When we look at the cross we are drawn above
For we are consumed in His passion of love

A Psalm for giving thanks.

Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth!
Serve the LORD with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!
Know that the LORD, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him;
bless his name!
For the LORD is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.
(Psalms 100:1-5 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that You are good, Your steadfast love enduring forever, and Your faithfulness to all generations
2. that we are Your people, the sheep of Your pasture
3. that You can turn our "hard rocks into springs of water" (Psalm 114)
4. that if we obey the commands of Jesus (love God and love people), we won't have to worry about those seven things that God detests in Proverbs 6:16-19
5. for all of Your creation, living things, both great and small
6. that my cup overflows
7. for Your blessings on the peacemakers

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TWENTY-THREE – DAY TWO

INVITATION

A single day in your courts is better than a thousand anywhere else! I would rather be a gatekeeper in the house of my God than live the good life in the homes of the wicked.
(Psalms 84:10 NLT)

I take a moment, during this peaceful morning, to contemplate what I see when I look at the cross of Jesus. Do I see my sins in His wounds, swallowed up by His mercy? Do I see the treasure of eternal life, promised by our Father? Am I drawn above, consumed in His passion?

BIBLE SONG

When Israel came out of Egypt,
Jacob from a people of foreign tongue,
Judah became God’s sanctuary,
Israel his dominion.

The sea looked and fled,
the Jordan turned back;
the mountains leaped like rams,
the hills like lambs.

Why was it, sea, that you fled?
Why, Jordan, did you turn back?
Why, mountains, did you leap like rams,
you hills, like lambs?
Tremble, earth, at the presence of the Lord,
at the presence of the God of Jacob,
who turned the rock into a pool,
the hard rock into springs of water.
(Psalms 114:1-8 NIV)

BIBLE READING

There are six things the LORD hates,
seven that are detestable to him:
haughty eyes,
a lying tongue,
hands that shed innocent blood,
a heart that devises wicked schemes,
feet that are quick to rush into evil,
a false witness who pours out lies
and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.
(Proverbs 6:16-19 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I remind myself that I am in the presence of God, indwelt by His Spirit, I linger over these passages, seeking inspiration for meditation and prayer. I ask the Spirit to guide me in His truth, that I might walk effectively in His Kingdom.

Psalm 114 presents interesting visual imagery. This is all about celebrating Israel’s deliverance from slavery in Egypt. Oddly enough, the division between Israel and Judah is years in the future. Yet there is a distinction made in this psalm. Both are considered dwelling places of the Lord, though, Israel His “dominion” and Judah His “sanctuary.”

It is easy to envision the events in verse 3. We can easily see the Red Sea “fleeing,” as it parted for Israel to walk through on dry ground. We can also see the Jordan “turning back,” as it was also divided so that the people of Israel could cross over into the Promised Land.

Verse 4 is a little more difficult, at least for me, to picture. I don’t remember anything significant happening to mountains and hills in the journey of Israel. Maybe someone can assist me, here?

Verse 7 calls for the earth to tremble at the presence of the Lord. Would that there was more of this that happened. Maybe that’s what happened to the mountains and hills. Perhaps they trembled in His presence. For He did, indeed, turn the rock into springs of water, to provide sustenance and refreshment for His people.

The Proverb selection presents an interesting literary device. And if you read more of Proverbs, you will see this used several times. It begins saying that there are six things that God hates, and then amends it to say “seven that are detestable to Him.” There are some who say that this means that the seventh is the more detestable of the group. And Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase might actually provide a little support to that idea.

Here are six things GOD hates, and one more that he loathes with a passion:
eyes that are arrogant,
a tongue that lies,
hands that murder the innocent,
a heart that hatches evil plots,
feet that race down a wicked track,
a mouth that lies under oath,
a troublemaker in the family.
(Proverbs 6:16-19 MSG)

Let’s look at them.

First, in the NIV, “haughty eyes.” The Message says “eyes that are arrogant,” and the KJV says “a proud look.” I think that’s pretty self-explanatory, but I might add that, in my opinion, I get the idea that it means looking down on someone, thinking that we are better than they are.

Second, NIV says, “a lying tongue.” MSG says “a tongue that lies,” and KJV says “a lying tongue.” Again, self-explanatory. God doesn’t like lies. Elsewhere, the Bible says that a lie is an abomination in the eyes of God (Proverbs 12:22). However, it is worth noting that the Hebrew midwives lied, as did Rahab the harlot. Both were rewarded for their deceitfulness. So the motivation behind the lie is important. Corrie ten Boom’s family was deceitful when they hid Jews in their crawlspace.

Third, NIV says, “hands that shed innocent blood.” All of the other main translations are very similar, if not exactly the same. I think it safe to say that “murder” is the operative idea, here. And God is very clear about this in His laws.

Fourth, NIV says, “a heart that devises wicked schemes.” Again, the other translations are very similar. I get the idea of plotting to harm someone, or to steal from them. Perhaps scamming them. There are many hearts out there who are constantly devising “wicked schemes.” I mean, who among us has not received a phone call about extending our automobile warranty?? My mother even gets those, and she has never owned a car! There’s also the ones about lowering your credit card’s interest rate. And let’s not forget the emails about package tracking numbers on things we have not ordered.

And let me say this. These types of schemes prey on the “elderly,” especially those who may not be quite so tech-savvy. They are not stupid by any stretch of the imagination. But they might fall more easily for such scams, at least until they are more aware of what they are.

Personally, when I’m feeling a little bit snarky (and less Christlike, admittedly), I might answer the phone (I don’t normally answer if I don’t recognize the number) and mess with whoever is on the other end. I have succeeded in getting cussed out be several of them, which makes me laugh.

The fifth thing is “feet that are quick to rush into evil.” Now this one might sting a little bit more. At least, hopefully, when we are tempted to sin, we drag our feet a little, at least trying to resist. But I’ll be honest . . . there have been times in my life when there was little to no hesitation. The idea came into my head, and my feet said, “Let’s go!” According to the author of Proverbs (presumably Solomon), God hates this.

The sixth thing is “a false witness who pours out lies.” That’s the NIV. The Message says “a mouth that lies under oath,” and the KJV is similar to the NIV, as is ESV and NLT. This is more than just lying, as this has already been covered with number 2, “a lying tongue.” This has more to do, I think with the idea behind number four. Lying under oath is an attempt to subjugate (boy that’s a hard one to spell) the truth. It probably has a close relationship to number four, though, as it likely involves a “wicked scheme.” Now, I have, for many years, associated the commandment that says “you shall not bear false witness against your neighbor” as being more associated with gossip than lying under oath.

And that brings us to number seven, which, according to some, God loathes with even more passion than the other six. “A person who stirs up conflict in the community.” Peterson renders this “a troublemaker in the family.” But the ESV and KJV may nail this one even better. “One who sows discord among brothers.” I have no trouble believing that this, in God’s eyes, is the most detestable item in this list of seven things. The “community,” the “family,” the “brothers,” is what makes up the Church. And I believe it safe to rest assured that God Almighty loathes any sowing of discord among the brothers and sisters that make up the Church.

Occasionally, in reading Paul’s letters, you might run across some names at the end, names of people who do just that. At one point, he even speaks of handing someone over to Satan. There is no love lost over people like that in Scripture. And I believe that some serious retrospection is always good, in that regard. Have I sowed discord among brothers? With a heavy heart, I have to confess that, at various times in my past, this may have happened. But I don’t think it was planned or schemed.

And this is where this all comes together. There are people in this world whose main purpose in life is to cause trouble and steal the joy of other people. And the person who lives with that goal in mind is one who pretty much sums up all seven of these things that the Lord hates. Are these people true believers, Christians? I am not wise enough to answer that question, and only God knows the answer to this. That’s kind of like wondering if Judas was saved. Far be it from me to try to guess that answer, although Jesus did opine that it would have been better for him if he had never been born.

And the positive answer to all seven of these things is summed up in one command that Jesus gave us. Love your neighbor as yourself.

Consider it, for a moment. If you are successfully loving your neighbor, you won’t look down on them, thinking that you are better; you won’t lie to them (at least not maliciously); you certainly won’t murder them; you won’t devise wicked schemes to relieve them of their money or property; you won’t rush into evil deeds (this may or may not involve another person); you won’t bear false witness against them or gossip about them, and you won’t try to cause trouble in the family or the community.

If we love God and love people, the way Jesus instructed us, commanded us, none of these seven things will be an issue for us.

Father, thank You for bringing these things to mind, today. I always need reminders about such things, as well as reminders of how I’m doing at loving You and loving others. For the most part, I seem to be having a better time of it, lately. Your Holy Spirit has been guiding me down the path of love. This, of course, makes me think of an old song by The Cowsills. But, God, You have the means and desire to make us follow this path, and I pray for all of humanity, especially in my own country, that You would lead us down this path. I can’t expect a whole lot from those who are unbelievers, although I dare say that some of them are doing a better job of loving others than Your Church is. Or maybe it’s those who are pretending to be Your Church. You alone can make that distinction, as You are the one who is responsible for pulling the weeds. We aren’t wise enough to do that. Above all, Father, please help us to avoid, like the plague, any hint of stirring up discord among Your Church.

Help us, Lord, to see Your work in the world around us. Give us eyes to see, ears to hear.

"God of grace and truth,
make me whole,
a person of integrity who heals and makes peace.
I pray for eyes that see what's best in others,
a graceful and candid mouth,
hands that never twist but hold up truth,
a heart that aims to encourage,
and feet that pursue my neighbor's best.
Amen."

That’s a really good prayer, and I’m going to save it for later use.

BLESSING

God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God.
(Matthew 5:9 NLT)

O LORD, how manifold are your works!
In wisdom have you made them all;
the earth is full of your creatures.
Here is the sea,
great and wide,
which teems with creatures innumerable,
living things both small and great.
(Psalms 104:24-25 ESV)

A Psalm of David.

The LORD is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
(Psalms 23:1-6 ESV)

So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered.”
(Genesis 32:30 ESV)

The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.
(Numbers 6:24-26 ESV)

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
(Matthew 5:8 ESV)

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
(2 Corinthians 3:18 ESV)

Father, please show me Your face. And help me to be Your face to someone else today.

Come on, everybody together; Come on, let me show you the way; Come on, we can do much better; Follow down the path of love.

Grace and peace, friends.

Fear and Delight

Good morning! Today is Saturday, the twenty-third of October, 2021.

May the peace of God reign in your life today!

Today’s header photo is courtesy of photographer Paul Militaru. Please check out his photography blog.

Day 23,235

Fifteen days until Daylight Saving Time ends.

And it’s only twenty-five days until we fly to Indianapolis! We need to find someone to check up on or stay with our kitties while we’re gone, though.

I had a great day at the library, yesterday. It wasn’t super-busy, and others have said that Friday was usually the slowest day of the week, even pre-pandemic. The computer center had people in it for most of the day, though, and there was a bit of an influx between 5:00 and closing time, at 6:00. The manager says that’s fairly normal, and I figure maybe people have just gotten off work and run over to the library to do whatever they need to do. I’m starting to notice “repeat customers,” too.

When I got to work, yesterday, there were three “candygrams” in my mailbox. One from my manager, one from the assistant director, and one from the Community Services manager who is our director’s boss. That was very nice.

My interlibrary loan book has been extended for another week, so I now have until next Friday to finish it. I might finish over this weekend, but at least my anxiety level about it has been decreased significantly.

Another anxiety decrease/elimination occurred last night when the Red Sox failed to score a run in Game Six of the ALCS, sending the Astros to the World Series. Again. Sigh. In the spirit of the current culture of our nation, I have to assume that, since my team didn’t win, the other team cheated. That’s how we think, now, right?

I’m joking, of course. But there is something awful fishy about how the Red Sox bats just quit working for the last three games. That almost reeks more of game-fixing than cheating on either team’s part. But, in the words of one of the songs from Hamilton, “that’s one less thing to worry about.” I doubt that I will watch any of the World Series, as I couldn’t possibly care less who wins. I guess I could root for Mookie Betts, but that would require me to root for the Dodgers, and I don’t want to do that.

There’s always next year.

C has an old friend from high school coming over today, so I will be hiding away in the study for most of the day. I have a grocery order to pick up at Kroger between 1:00 and 2:00 PM, and might pick up some lunch for S and me, during that time. Otherwise, I have no significant plans for the day.

There are a lot of “holidays” to choose from today. I choose Make A Difference Day. What can you and I do today, to make a difference in someone’s life?

The word for today is verst. “a Russian measure of distance equivalent to 3,500 feet, or 0.6629 mile (1.067 kilometers).”

Today’s quote is from Peter Drucker, American businessman, and I 100% agree with it. “Most of what we call management consists of making it difficult for people to get their work done.”

Significant birthdays on October 23:

Emmanuel, marquis de Grouchy, French general and marshal (only because I like his name), 1766-1847
Milton "Gummo" Marx, American actor and comedian, 1892-1977
Frank Sutton, American actor (Gomer Pyle, Sgt Carter), 1923-1974
Johnny Carson, American comedian and TV host (The Tonight Show), 1925-2005
Ellie Greenwich, American singer/songwriter (Da Doo Ron Ron, Leader of the Pack), 1940-2009
Pele, Brazilian football player, Player of the Century, 1940 (81)
Michael Crichton, American author (Jurassic Park, The Andromeda Strain), 1942-2008
Alfred "Weird Al Yankovic" Matthew, American comedian and parody singer, 1959 (62)
Sam Raimi, American filmmaker (Spiderman, Evil Dead), 1959 (62)
Cat Deeley, English TV presenter (So You Think You Can Dance), 1976 (45)
Ryan Reynolds, Canadian actor and comedian (Deadpool, Van Wilder), 1976 (45)
Emelia Clarke, English actress (Game of Thrones, Daenerys Targaryen), 1986 (35)
Ellie Greenwich co-wrote this song
My favorite Weird Al song

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Can Be A Prayer, by Daryl Madden

A simple intention
With a heart to care
Feeding the birds
Can be a prayer

A moment of dawning
Of light to appear
Watching the sunrise
Can be a prayer

Feeling so grateful
For food we prepare
Making our breakfast
Can be a prayer

A time of blessing
With God that we share
Any moment we live
Can be a prayer

Isn’t that a beautiful poem?? And so true! Any activity we do can be a prayer, with the right mindset behind it. I believe it may have been Brother Lawrence who said that the most non-spiritual tasks, such as washing the dishes, can be prayer.

It is good to give thanks to the LORD, to sing praises to your name, O Most High;
to declare your steadfast love in the morning, and your faithfulness by night,
to the music of the lute and the harp, to the melody of the lyre.
(Psalms 92:1-3 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that any activity we do can be a prayer
2. for Your steadfast love in the morning, and Your faithfulness by night
3. for the music You have placed in my soul, that I might sing Your praises
4. that, because I fear You and delight in Your commands, I do not fear bad news
5. that, in You, I will never be shaken

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TWENTY-TWO – DAY SEVEN

INVITATION

Blessed be God, who has not turned away my prayer, nor his loving kindness from me.
(Psalms 66:20 WEB)

I pause, this morning, to give thanks to the Lord for my life and all its blessings. His grace is overwhelming.

BIBLE SONG

Praise the LORD.

Blessed are those who fear the LORD, who find great delight in his commands.

Their children will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed.
Wealth and riches are in their houses, and their righteousness endures forever.
Even in darkness light dawns for the upright, for those who are gracious and compassionate and righteous.
Good will come to those who are generous and lend freely, who conduct their affairs with justice.

Surely the righteous will never be shaken; they will be remembered forever.
They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the LORD.
Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear; in the end they will look in triumph on their foes.
(Psalms 112:1-8 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Then Job replied to the LORD:
“I know that you can do all things;
no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’
Surely I spoke of things I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me to know.

“You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak;
I will question you,
and you shall answer me.’
My ears had heard of you
but now my eyes have seen you.
Therefore I despise myself
and repent in dust and ashes.”
(Job 42:1-6 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I grow more aware of God’s presence with me, I read these passages over again. What speaks to me? What stirs my spirit within me?

The psalm is simply beautiful. It is so stirring. Ironically, if asked to list favorite Psalms, 112 would not come to mind. It should, though.

I do believe that I have a healthy fear of the Lord, and that I delight in His commands. Especially when those commands are boiled down to what Jesus said summed up the law and the prophets. And I also consider myself “blessed.” That is not a boast of my circumstances. Rather, it is a boast of my God. Yes, my circumstances are, for the most part, wonderful. But a lot of that is in my spirit, in my perspective. There are things that could certainly be better. C could be healing better/faster. We could have a better life going for S, with her autism, considering her future.

But here’s the thing. Verse 3: “Wealth and riches are in their house.” This is not, in my opinion, just about money and material goods. The Hebrew word translated “wealth” implies “enough.” And we most certainly have enough. Even with my retirement and going to a part time job, we have enough. We have not had to dip into our savings yet! And that’s with me having to pay over $500 a month for COBRA insurance, until January 1, when I will get on C’s health insurance.

Verse 4: “Even in darkness light dawns for the upright, for those who are gracious and compassionate and righteous.” And verse 5 speaks loudly to me: “Good will come to those who are generous and lend freely, who conduct their affairs with justice.” This is huge, to me. We have, for many years, now, been generous (C probably thinks I am overly-generous, sometimes) with the blessings we have been given. As stated in the above paragraph, we have enough, more, even, than enough. So, when the opportunities arise, we share that bounty. We tip generously, when we go to restaurants. I try to tip, when I have cash available, grocery pickup/delivery people. They don’t make a lot of money.

Again, I am not boasting of my works. It sounds like I am, but I am only attempting to illustrate the principals being taught. I am boasting in my God and His faithfulness. He keeps His promises. He blesses those who fear Him. And, even when things turn dark, we can see the light, if we focus on Him, rather than on those circumstances. As Job said, a few days ago, “shall we receive good from God, and not trouble?” (I’m sure that’s a terrible paraphrase.)

“Surely,” says verse 6, “the righteous will NEVER be shaken!” (emphasis mine) I don’t know about that part about being remembered forever. Not on earth, at least. But that’s why “story” is so important. I wish I had more stories from my parents and grandparents. That’s one reason to write things down. That’s one reason to pass things down to our children and their children. But we will not be shaken. Not ultimately, not permanently.

Sure, things will happen that shake me, momentarily. But I will bounce back, quickly, eyes on my Father, not my circumstances. And then I will give thanks and sing praises to His name. And because of these things, I can say, confidently, as in verse 7, that I don’t fear bad news. Note: It does not say that I won’t get bad news! It says that we will have no fear of it. There’s a difference.

Remember the words of Dallas Willard. If we are in Christ; if we fear the Lord, and delight in His commands, “this world is a perfectly safe place for us to be.” God won’t keep bad things from happening to us, as Tish Harrison Warren observed in Prayer in the Night. He didn’t even keep bad things from happening to Himself! But, in Him, the world is a safe place to be.

I love Job’s response to the Lord in the final chapter of the book. He is humble, as we need to practice. “Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know,” he said. What would this world look like if more of us were that honest? I don’t know if we need to go as far as despising ourselves, but a measure of repentance would certainly be helpful.

If you keep reading beyond the featured passage, you see that the Lord chastises Job’s “friends.” He says to Eliphaz, “I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has.” (emphasis mine) Oddly, He does not mention Elihu, the younger of the group, who waited until last to speak.

You will also see, at the end, that all of Job’s fortunes were restored, and then some. Because, throughout all of this testing, Job never waivered in his faith. He questioned, yes. He questioned the reasons that all of these terrible things were happening to him, and requested audience with the Almighty. But never once did he, as his former wife suggested, “curse God and die.”

When we fear God and delight in His commands, we are blessed. Wealth and riches will fill our houses. Good will come to us (when we are generous). We will never be shaken. We will have no fear of bad news.

Father, I praise You with all my being, this morning, for these truths. We all know that “bad” things (by our own definitions) will come in our lives. But if we know You, fear You, and delight in Your commands, those “bad” things will be turned around for good. We will not be, ultimately, shaken. Your grace, Your mercy, Your steadfast love and faithfulness . . . there aren’t enough words for me to thank You and praise You enough. I will sing to You as long as I have breath (and beyond, for I don’t believe I will need breath in heaven). Thank for Your blessings, and I also thank You that You have brought us to a place where we focus on the blessings we have, not on those we don’t have.

Father, I pray for unity and holiness within Your Church. Heal us, O Lord!

"Saving God,
before my very eyes,
visibly portray Jesus Christ crucified.
Humbled before the cross,
seeing Your suffering,
may I die to myself and come alive to You.
As I find life in Your death,
let me taste Your joy in my sorrow.
Amen."

BLESSING

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
(Matthew 5:8 WEB)

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
(1 Thessalonians 5:11 NIV)

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
(Matthew 25:40 NIV)

Blessed are those who
fear the Lord and find delight
in His commandments.
(Psalm 112:1)

Grace and peace, friends.

The Holiness of Earth

“One of the blunders religious people are particularly fond of making is the attempt to be more spiritual than God.” (Frederick Buechner)

Today is Thursday, October 31, 2019. Peace be with you.

Today is Halloween/All Hallow’s Eve. Today is also Reformation Day, commemorating the nailing of the 95 Theses to the door of the church at Wittenberg, by Martin Luther.

Day 22,512

12 days until C’s birthday!!

Today is also R & J’s tenth anniversary!

And Tessie’s (dog) ninth birthday!

Today is a very special day around here!

Well, history was, indeed made, last night. The kind of history that can never be exceeded. It can be tied, but never beaten. In a bizarre World Series, the home team lost every game. The Washington Nationals also won their first ever World Series Appearance. The last time that happened was in 2002 when the Angels won. I don’t know what to call them anymore. LA? Anaheim? California? Fallen? Hahaha! Anyway, the Nationals came back from an early Astros lead to take game 7 6-2. I saw the last out, because S woke us up from a very nice sleep to hurry and come see it.

So baseball is over. There are 103 days until Spring Training begins. 😀

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

The LORD reigns; let the peoples tremble! He sits enthroned upon the cherubim; let the earth quake!
Psalm 99:1

Today I am grateful:
1. That the Lord reigns.
2. For baseball, and for a very entertaining World Series. And I certainly think it’s okay to be grateful for baseball.
3. For the ways that God has blessed this family over the decades.
4. That the Lord is the Alpha and Omega, who is and was and who is to come, the Almighty (Revelation 1:8)!
5. That we, in all of our flesh and earthiness, are made holy by God.

Let the assembly of the peoples be gathered about you; over it return on high. 
The LORD judges the peoples; judge me, O LORD, according to my righteousness and according to the integrity that is in me. 

Psalm 7:7-8
Save us, O LORD our God, and gather us from among the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name and glory in your praise. 
Psalm 106:47
Let all the earth fear the LORD; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him!
Psalm 33:8
Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever. 
As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the LORD surrounds his people, from this time forth and forevermore. 
For the scepter of wickedness shall not rest on the land allotted to the righteous, lest the righteous stretch out their hands to do wrong.

Psalm 125:1-3
“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”
Revelation 1:8

(From Faith That Matters)

All Is Holy, by Frederick Buechner

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.
John 1:14

This is another one I will quote in its entirety, because I can’t do it just with paraphrase.

“John 1:14 is what incarnation means. It is untheological. It is unsophisticated. It is undignified. But according to Christianity, it is the way things are.

“All religions and philosophies that deny the reality or the significance of the material, the fleshly, the earthbound, are themselves denied. Moses at the burning bush was told to take off his shoes because the ground on which he stood was holy ground (Exodus 3:5), and incarnation means that all ground is holy ground because God not only made it but walked on it, and and slept and worked and died on it. If we are saved anywhere, we are saved here. And what is saved is not some diaphanous distillation of our bodies and our earth, but our bodies and our earth themselves. Jerusalem becomes the New Jerusalem coming down out of heaven like a bride adorned for her husband (Revelation 21:2). Our bodies are sown perishable and raised imperishable (1 Corinthians 15:42).

“One of the blunders religious people are particularly fond of making is the attempt to be more spiritual than God.”

Father, you make all things holy. You make all things beautiful in your time. Make us holy; make us beautiful. Today.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

Grace and peace, friends.

When I Am Afraid . . .

Today is Wednesday, October 30, 2019. Peace be with you.

Day 22,511

13 days until C’s birthday!

I’m running a little late this morning, so I need to get on to the important things. But I will say that the Nationals came back to win game six, last night, 7-2. So the series is tied 3-3 and game seven will be tonight. Also, we are on the verge of World Series history, as never before has the home team lost every single game! Because of that, I kind of want the Nationals to win tonight. But I won’t be upset if they don’t.

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

Love the LORD, all you his saints! The LORD preserves the faithful but abundantly repays the one who acts in pride.
Psalm 31:23

Today I am grateful:
1. That the person involved in an accident at work yesterday was not injured (at least not seriously).
2. For the discovery of a new podcast yesterday that features the music that I have always loved so much (True Tunes)
3. For the sweet mercies of God, new every morning
4. That the Lord will answer and deliver me when I am afraid.
5. That he is my refuge in times of trouble (even in times of peace).

To you, O LORD, I call; my rock, be not deaf to me, lest, if you be silent to me, I become like those who go down to the pit.
Psalm 28:1
Your way, O God, is holy. What god is great like our God?
Psalm 77:13
Oh, guard my soul, and deliver me! Let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in you.
Psalm 25:20
Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by. 
I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me. 
He will send from heaven and save me; he will put to shame him who tramples on me. Selah. God will send out his steadfast love and his faithfulness!

Psalm 57:1-3

As I said, I’m running short on time this morning. I will simply leave you with these verses, which I did read in Daily Guideposts.

In the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by.
Psalm 57:1
When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. 
In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me? 

Psalm 56:3-4
I sought the LORD, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.
Psalm 34:4
The LORD is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me? 
The LORD is on my side as my helper; I shall look in triumph on those who hate me.

Psalm 118:6-7

Are you afraid? Trust in the Lord. He will answer and he will deliver.

Father, thank you for the promise of deliverance. Thank you that, when I call out to you, you are right there, hearing me, ready to deliver. May I always be quick to call on you in trouble, rather than trying to fix things myself.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing. (Zephaniah 3:17)

Grace and peace, friends.

The Road Less Traveled

Today is Tuesday, October 29, 2019. Peace be with you!

Day 22,510

14 days until C’s birthday!

Yesterday seemed like a hard day. I worked physically harder than usual, having to work several larger shipments that also took a lot of time. Hopefully today will be easier. Then I did that thing where I wake up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom and couldn’t go back to sleep. I’ve been struggling a lot with that lately.

The World Series continue tonight, in Houston. Again, I don’t know whether to think the trend of the home team losing is going to continue or not. I believe it is unlikely that the Astros are going to lose two more games at home after taking a 3-2 lead. Stranger things have happened, though.

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

God has gone up with a shout, the LORD with the sound of a trumpet. 
Sing praises to God, sing praises! Sing praises to our King, sing praises! 
For God is the King of all the earth; sing praises with a psalm! 
God reigns over the nations; God sits on his holy throne.

Psalm 47:5-8

Today I am grateful:
1. For coffee and breakfast.
2. For the words of God, in which I can trust.
3. That the Lord does not treat us as we deserve, but removes our sins from us as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103).
4. That God is leading me down new paths every day.
5. That God is also walking down those paths with me.

I rise before dawn and cry for help; I hope in your words.
Psalm 119:147
Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!
Psalm 115:1
The righteous flourish like the palm tree and grow like a cedar in Lebanon. 
They are planted in the house of the LORD; they flourish in the courts of our God.

Psalm 92:12-13
He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. 
For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; 
as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. 
As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him. 
For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.

Psalm 103:10-14

(From Our Daily Bread)

A Road Not Traveled, by David H. Roper

And I will lead the blind in a way that they do not know, in paths that they have not known I will guide them. I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground. These are the things I do, and I do not forsake them.
Isaiah 42:16

The great poet Robert Frost once wrote, “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”

But truthfully, any road that I take has never been traveled . . . by me.

David Roper writes of people asking him if he has a “five-year plan.” I’ve heard similar questions in job interviews. “Where do you see yourself in five years?” David’s answer: “How can I plan five years ‘down the road’ on a road I’ve never traveled?”

David notes that “God doesn’t stand at a juncture and point the way: He’s a guide, not a signpost. He walks with us, leading us down paths we never envisioned. All we have to do is walk alongside Him.”

We walk in his kingdom, in the “easy yoke” of Jesus Christ, which means that Jesus does all the hard lifting. But we never know where we are going. I remember, when I was in seminary, encountering students from all over the country. Many came from states such as Alabama or Georgia, and proclaimed, definitively, that they were going right back where they came from when they go their degree. I always wondered, rarely aloud, “What if God sends you somewhere else?” Remember the humorous old song, “Please Don’t Send Me to Africa?”

We never know where God is going to lead us. All of the roads in front of us are untraveled. Kind of like a mountain stream. You can never step into the same stream twice. Why? Because when you step back into it, it’s different water. It may be in the same place, but it’s a different stream. So it goes with life. I may drive down the road between my house and Kroger several times a week. But every time I drive it, it’s a different time, a different day, and different people are on it with me. Every moment of life is different, and we need to not only embrace that truth, but celebrate it.

Let’s walk with God today, and see where he takes us!

Father, than you that you are leading me, and thank you that you are walking with me. I praise you that you go ahead of us and make those rough places into level ground, and turn those dark places into light. Help me to trust you in this.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21)

Grace and peace, friends.