Love, Yet Again

Today is Wednesday, December 23, 2020, in the fourth week of Advent.

Peace be with you!

Day 22,931

It is “Christmas Eve Eve.” And our last day of work for this week. So it feels like Friday, today.

The weather continues to be mild in DFW, but will be chilly in the mornings over the next few days. Christmas day looks to be around freezing in the morning, but up to sixty-two for the high.

It appears that my hopes for a New Year’s Eve snow have been eradicated. There might be some ice, from rain that happens the day before, as the temps drop below freezing, but then it is projected to clear up and be in the lower fifties for the high, both NYE and January 1.

I had a pretty good day, yesterday. The expedite portion of my job stayed rather slow, with only a couple people being active, so I was able to focus on clearing out unreceivables. I’m hoping today will be the same. That also makes it much less stressful.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Let nothing disturb you,
let nothing frighten you,
all things will pass away.
God never changes;
patience obtains all things,
whoever has God lacks nothing.
God alone suffices.

Amen.
(St. Teresa of Avila)

Scriptures and Prayers from The Divine Hours

Praise God from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, you heavenly hosts;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
(Traditional Doxology)

Today I am grateful:

  1. For my eyes; Lord help me to see more beauty around me
  2. For my ears; Lord help me to listen better
  3. That You were pierced for our transgressions
  4. That Your chastisement brought us peace
  5. That Your wounds brought us healing

Psalms 43:3-4 ESV
(3) Send out your light and your truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling!
(4) Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy, and I will praise you with the lyre, O God, my God.

“Splendor and honor and kingly power are yours by right, O Lord, our God,
For you created everything that is, and by your will they were created and have their being.”
(A Song to the Lamb)

Psalms 84:10 ESV
(10) 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.

Luke 1:30-38 ESV
(30) And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.
(31) And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.
(32) He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David,
(33) and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

(34) And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”

(35) And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God.
(36) And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren.
(37) For nothing will be impossible with God.”
(38) And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

Psalms 24:1-6 ESV
(1) A Psalm of David. The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein,
(2) for he has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers.
(3) Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD? And who shall stand in his holy place?
(4) He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully.
(5) He will receive blessing from the LORD and righteousness from the God of his salvation.
(6) Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek the face of the God of Jacob. Selah.

Isaiah 9:2 ESV
(2) The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone.

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.

"Purify my conscience,
Almighty God,
by your daily visitation,
that your Son Jesus Christ,
at his coming,
may find in me a mansion prepared for himself;
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God,
now and for ever.
Amen."
(The Divine Hours, The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

Psalms 63:3 ESV
(3) Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you.

Isaiah 53:1-9 ESV
(1) Who has believed what he has heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
(2) For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.
(3) He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

(4) Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.
(5) But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.
(6) All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

(7) He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.
(8) By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people?
(9) And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.

As I read this passage, this morning, I am moved, almost to tears. Sure, I have read this, perhaps, hundreds of times. But today, as I am considering my points of gratitude, I get stuck in verse 5.

Jesus did not meet the expectations of the masses when He arrived. Isaiah even describes Him as being “despised and rejected.” Also, according to verse 2, He wasn’t much to look at. All of those paintings that depict him as being so beautiful . . . nothing more than artistic liberty.

In spite of all of this, He fulfilled His purpose, bore our griefs and carried our sorrows. And then, the kicker. Verse 6. “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

In the words of Xochitl Dixon, my favorite Our Daily Bread writer, “Nothing is more beautiful than that.”

1 Corinthians 16:14 ESV
(14) Let all that you do be done in love.

John 13:34-35 ESV
(34) “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.
(35) By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

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

Psalms 145:1-9 ESV
(1) A Song of Praise. Of David. I will extol you, my God and King, and bless your name forever and ever.
(2) Every day I will bless you and praise your name forever and ever.
(3) Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable.
(4) One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts.
(5) On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.
(6) They shall speak of the might of your awesome deeds, and I will declare your greatness.
(7) They shall pour forth the fame of your abundant goodness and shall sing aloud of your righteousness.
(8) The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
(9) The LORD is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made.

Verse 8 mirrors what the Lord said to Moses, as He passed by so Moses could see his back, while hiding in the “cleft of the rock.” Jonah also quoted these words back to God in chapter 4 of his story. But Jonah was angry because God chose to spare a people whom he despised.

But verse 9 should make us all stop in our tracks. “The LORD is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made.”

Are we equally good to all? Do we only want God to show love to the people we like?

I shared 1 Corinthians 16:14 (above) on Facebook and Instagram today. Both with the caption, “I’m still working on this.” It’s true. As much as I preach love through this platform, I confess that I still struggle with doing everything I do in love. I also still struggle with loving all whom I know are loved by God.

I’m willing to bet we all struggle with this. But at least some of us are “struggling.” There are many who don’t even seem to consider it, spewing hatred at anyone who differs from them politically, theologically, sexually, or racially. And that’s all I’m going to say about that.

And I need to love those people, too. Period. Hard stop.

Father, You have brought me back around to love again, today. The fact that it keeps coming up tells me that I still have much to learn. I am grateful that I don’t read those Scriptures and say, “I’m doing pretty good.” Rather, I read them and say, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner!” And that is truly my prayer. Have mercy, Lord. Keep working on me, teaching me to love, and to do everything that I do in love. Help me to love with Your love, and show that to all around me, because You love them, too, as You show Your love and goodness to all You have created.

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!

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
(Micah 6:8 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Pray/Praise Where You Are

Today is Monday, October 26, 2020. Peace be with you.

Day 22,873

17 days until C’s birthday (that’s closer than Thanksgiving!)

Here in Texas, we are just barely into Autumn (a little over a month, but not much Fall-like weather during that time), and counties just west of us are having a “winter weather advisory!” In DFW, it is 52 degrees right now, and the temperature is projected to fall all day long, down to 38 degrees tomorrow morning. Tomorrow’s high is 42, and tomorrow night’s low is 42. And it’s going to be raining, apparently, most of that time.

At least I won’t have to water my lawn. I just hope it doesn’t freeze, up where I work, which is thirty miles northeast of here.

Yesterday was a pretty good day. We had a nice worship time, meeting in our hosts’ living room, rather than the back yard, because it was chilly outside. We were spread out pretty well, and everyone wore masks. We were able to sing a couple of songs, and I played their piano, so that was fun.

I forgot to mention, yesterday morning, that I had lost 2.6 pounds at WW on Saturday morning, for a total of 82.4 pounds lost since February! Our coach directly challenged me to not step on the home scale this week, as it does have an affect on my psyche, sometimes. I was really surprised that i lost that much. I was expecting to lost maybe a pound, because of what our home scale had read all week. So I have not stepped on it since Saturday morning.

I got ProTools and some accessories downloaded on the new PC, yesterday. I believe I might be ready to try it out by next weekend. I might get energetic enough to try it one night after work, but I certainly am not setting that as a goal.

The weekend was not good, as far as Coronavirus numbers go. Between Saturday and yesterday, there were over 140,000 new cases, far higher than most previous weekends. There continue to be no conversations from leadership concerning this.

This is the last week of October, and Halloween is Saturday. I am not sure what that is going to look like, but we have not bought any Halloween candy. We really don’t want it in the house. And then, I suppose, election day is a week from Tuesday.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

God, give me grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.

Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.

Amen.

Scriptures and Prayers from The Divine Hours

So be strong and courageous, all you who put your hope in the LORD!
(Psalms 31:24 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

  1. A new work week, full of opportunities to serve You and people; may I glorify You through it
  2. That You will keep Your Word, doing the things that You say You will do
  3. For the Holy Spirit, our Advocate/Helper and Your representative
  4. That we can pray and praise You wherever we are
  5. That You have freed me from my chains

The words of the LORD are pure words, like silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times.
You, O LORD, will keep them; you will guard us from this generation forever.
(Psalms 12:6-7 ESV)

Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved!
(Psalms 80:3 ESV)

You will restore me to even greater honor and comfort me once again.
(Psalms 71:21 NLT)

No, I will not abandon you as orphans—I will come to you. Soon the world will no longer see me, but you will see me. Since I live, you also will live. When I am raised to life again, you will know that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. And because they love me, my Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal myself to each of them.”
Judas (not Judas Iscariot, but the other disciple with that name) said to him, “Lord, why are you going to reveal yourself only to us and not to the world at large?”
Jesus replied, “All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them. Anyone who doesn’t love me will not obey me. And remember, my words are not my own. What I am telling you is from the Father who sent me. I am telling you these things now while I am still with you. But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.
(John 14:18-26 NLT)

Bless our God, O peoples; let the sound of his praise be heard,
who has kept our soul among the living and has not let our feet slip.
For you, O God, have tested us; you have tried us as silver is tried.
You brought us into the net; you laid a crushing burden on our backs;
you let men ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water; yet you have brought us out to a place of abundance.
I will come into your house with burnt offerings; I will perform my vows to you,
that which my lips uttered and my mouth promised when I was in trouble.
(Psalms 66:8-14 ESV)

If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.
But truly God has listened; he has attended to the voice of my prayer.
(Psalms 66:18-19 ESV)

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

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.

"Merciful God,
who sent your messengers the prophets
to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation:
Grant us grace to heed
their warnings and forsake our sins,
that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ
our Redeemer;
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God,
now and for ever.
Amen."
(The Divine Hours, The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD from the heavens; praise him in the heights!
Praise him, all his angels; praise him, all his hosts!
Praise him, sun and moon, praise him, all you shining stars!
Praise him, you highest heavens, and you waters above the heavens!
Let them praise the name of the LORD! For he commanded and they were created.
And he established them forever and ever; he gave a decree, and it shall not pass away.
Praise the LORD from the earth, you great sea creatures and all deeps,
fire and hail, snow and mist, stormy wind fulfilling his word!
Mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars!
Beasts and all livestock, creeping things and flying birds!
Kings of the earth and all peoples, princes and all rulers of the earth!
Young men and maidens together, old men and children!
Let them praise the name of the LORD, for his name alone is exalted; his majesty is above earth and heaven.
He has raised up a horn for his people, praise for all his saints, for the people of Israel who are near to him. Praise the LORD!
(Psalms 148:1-14 ESV)

In today’s reading from Our Daily Bread, Xochitl Dixon (one of my favorites) writes of a time when she and her husband were celebrating their twenty-fifth anniversary at La Playa. (That means “the beach.”)

As vendors went by, they politely declined to buy anything. One was a little more persistent, but still they declined, and Xochitl said to him, “I pray God will bless your day.”

The vendor, named Fernando, turned to them and said, “He has! Jesus changed my life.” As he knelt between their chairs, where they had been reading their Bibles on the beach, he said, “I feel His presence here.”

Fernando recited Psalms, and prayed for them, and together, they praised God and rejoiced in His presence.

On the beach.

The psalm above calls for everything in all of creation to praise God. From the highest heavens to the depths of the sea, all are called upon to praise God. It doesn’t matter where you are.

“Though God invites us to bring our needs before Him and trust He hears and cares for us, He also delights in prayers of grateful praise where we are. Even on the beach.”

There’s a song by one of my favorite Christian bands, The Lost Dogs. At least one person who reads this blog will know who they are, I think. They have a song that I really love, called “Pray Where You Are.” The lyrics go like this:

In the submarines and tanks
In the S&Ls and banks
In the cancer wards, the prisons, and the bars
On the earth and on the moon
In the closet, in your room
In the flophouses, the think-tanks and the farms
To the salesman forever trying to sell
To the faithful daughter walking to the well

(Chorus)
Oh, pray where you are
Pray where you are
In the fields and in the factories
There’s no limits, rules or boundaries
At work or school or driving in your car
Pray where you are

In the strip joints, in the church
On a desperate lost-child search
On the airplanes and the back roads and the rails
On the blacktops and the beach
Down the sewer and up the creek
In the penthouses and the pool halls and the jails
To the criminal with no one left to con
To the movie star whose day has come and gone

To the junky with his back against the wall
To the lawman as he breaks another law

In the desert, off the shore
In a peacetime, in a war
In the pentagon, the court rooms, and the malls
In the tents and in the caves
At the truck stops, by the graves
In our hopes and fears and struggles great and small
To the corner prophet no one seems to hear
To the president who prays for four more years

And here’s the song.

Could that not just as easily say “Praise Where You Are?”

You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
(Matthew 19:19 ESV)

Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything.
(1 John 3:18-20 ESV)

And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.
(1 John 5:14-15 ESV)

What shall I return to the LORD for all his goodness to me?
I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the LORD.
I will fulfill my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people.
Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his faithful servants.
Truly I am your servant, LORD; I serve you just as my mother did; you have freed me from my chains.
I will sacrifice a thank offering to you and call on the name of the LORD.
I will fulfill my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people,
in the courts of the house of the LORD— in your midst, Jerusalem. Praise the LORD.
(Psalms 116:12-19 NIV)

Father, there is so much to be thankful for and praise You for! There is also much to be praying about, as given to me by people that I know, every day. I pray that You would meet the needs of my friends who reach out to me for prayer every day. I pray for those unspoken requests that arise each day, that You would be Whoever and Whatever those folks need You to be in their lives. I pray for those who are grieving, that You would comfort them in their loss and surround them with Your presence. Thank You for Your all-encompassing goodness to me and my family.

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!

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 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

How A Follower of Christ Should Dress

Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.
(Colossians 3:12-14 NLT)

Today is Wednesday, October 14, 2020. Peace be with you!

Day 22,861

43 days until Thanksgiving

We had another wonderful day, yesterday. After having a late breakfast at the cabin, we set out to visit the rescue center/petting zoo. Unfortunately, we couldn’t even get a parking place, it was so crowded. So we went ahead and headed over to the Choctaw Casino, which was to be our second stop of the day.

After acquiring our “rewards cards,” we set out to find a slot machine that looked promising (as if any of them do). C and I both found machines that looked interesting or fun. I put a twenty in mine and started playing. Within minutes, I won $82. I kept playing, and did quite well. At one point, I was up to $203. I wound up cashing out with $100. All of this on an original $20 bet. So I actually won $80 yesterday! C didn’t do quite so well.

After the casino, we headed over to Beaver’s Bend State Park. We stopped at the visitor center/gift shop, where we got a map of trails (that we wound up not really using), paid for a day parking pass (only $10), and then started driving toward Broken Bow Lake. We stopped a several spots along the way, where we had some nice views of the lake, and then wound up at the spillway, which was a really cool place. Coming out of the spillway is a large stream, in a very serene and picturesque setting.

That’s C walking across there.

We also got some nice photos of the lake.

We walked along that dirt path that you can see in the third picture. It was a nice, level, peaceful walk. The weather was pretty much perfect.

After that, we started looking for a place to have our afternoon meal. We started at a place in the state park, called Foggy Bottom’s. But most of their menu was fried, and we just didn’t want to chance going down that road.

We wound up at a charming steakhouse in Broken Bow, called Oaks Steakhouse. The service was friendly and rather down-homey. The food was delicious, and the place just felt good. So good that we plan to go back there for lunch today. And, we plan to splurge on our WW points and split a piece of “Chocolate Explosion” cake. Or something like that. Price-wise, it’s about like a normal steakhouse. The small rib eye (8-9 oz) was $21 and some change. It included a trip to the salad bar and one side. We were extremely satisfied with the entire experience.

Today, as noted, we are going back to Oaks for lunch, and then, either back to the casino or try the petting zoo again. We haven’t decided, yet, but we might try to rent a boat. Depends on how adventurous we feel, and whether you have to have a boat license to rent one. We can rent a pontoon boat for a little over $200 for a couple hours.

Oh. I almost forgot. Update on the hot tub. It is, as it turns out, completely fried. We finally got some information from the Broken Bow Cabin Lodging folks (who have been extremely nice this whole time, by the way), and one of their maintenance guys even showed up at the cabin right before we headed out, yesterday, to let us know. They had to order an entire new mother board for the tub, around $800! They even tried hooking up two new control panels, but the faulty board fried both of them! When I talked to the office, they said they would refund $50 a night because of the broken tub! We are more than satisfied with that result, although, we would rather have had the hot tub to relax in.

Once again, though, I will strongly emphasize how friendly and courteous these folks have been. We are pleased with them and would gladly rent from them again.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

"Open, Lord, my eyes that I may see.
Open, Lord, my ears that I may hear.
Open, Lord, my heart and my mind that I may understand.
So shall I turn to You and be healed."
(Traditional)

Scriptures and Prayers from The Divine Hours

Let the whole world bless our God and loudly sing his praises.
Our lives are in his hands, and he keeps our feet from stumbling.
(Psalms 66:8-9 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

  1. The beauty of the area in which we are in, and how it displays Your majesty and glory
  2. That we still have a couple more days here
  3. That You have been with me, even from before my birth
  4. For the easy yoke of Jesus Christ
  5. For the “clothing” that we are to put on as followers of Christ (Colossians 3)

But as for me, I am poor and needy; please hurry to my aid, O God. You are my helper and my savior; O LORD, do not delay.
(Psalms 70:5 NLT)

O Lord, you alone are my hope. I’ve trusted you, O LORD, from childhood.
Yes, you have been with me from birth; from my mother’s womb you have cared for me. No wonder I am always praising you!
(Psalms 71:5-6 NLT)

“Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.”
(Psalms 46:10 NLT)

Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God!” This amazed them. But Jesus said again, “Dear children, it is very hard to enter the Kingdom of God. In fact, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!”
The disciples were astounded. “Then who in the world can be saved?” they asked.
Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But not with God. Everything is possible with God.”
(Mark 10:23-27 NLT)

Lord, through all the generations you have been our home!
Before the mountains were born, before you gave birth to the earth and the world, from beginning to end, you are God.
You turn people back to dust, saying, “Return to dust, you mortals!”
For you, a thousand years are as a passing day, as brief as a few night hours.
You sweep people away like dreams that disappear. They are like grass that springs up in the morning.
In the morning it blooms and flourishes, but by evening it is dry and withered.
We wither beneath your anger; we are overwhelmed by your fury.
You spread out our sins before you—our secret sins—and you see them all.
(Psalms 90:1-8 NLT)

Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom.
(Psalms 90:12 NLT)

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

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.

"Merciful God,
who sent your messengers the prophets
to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation:
Grant us grace to heed
their warnings and forsake our sins,
that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ
our Redeemer;
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God,
now and for ever.
Amen."
(The Divine Hours, The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world. Because of these sins, the anger of God is coming. You used to do these things when your life was still part of this world. But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language. Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds. Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him. In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us.
Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.
Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. 
(Colossians 3:5-16 NLT)

“Scripture reminds us that members of the church are designed to work together and watch out for each other like a team.” It matters how we interact with each other (see verses 13-14). One person’s actions can have a drastic impact on the entire community. “When we all embrace opportunities to serve each other, fully devoted to unity and peace, the church flourishes (v. 15).”

Verse 16 encourages/admonishes/instructs us to “let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill [our] lives.” We can, by obeying this teaching, “inspire and protect one another through loving and honest relationships obeying and praising God with grateful hearts – thriving together.”
(Xochitl Dixon, Our Daily Bread)

Father, as I find myself doing so often in this forum, I pray for Your Church. I pray that we would all heed the warnings and instructions given to us in Your Word; that we would clothe ourselves with mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, and that we would cover all of those with the outer garment of love. Your love. Let it saturate our beings, Father! And then, help us to live in peace with one another, not divided by such petty things as politics and legalism. May the message of Christ dwell in me, in all of its richness!

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 road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.
(Irish Blessing)

Grace and peace, friends.

Our Stories

Let me hear what God the LORD will speak, for he will speak peace to his people, to his saints; but let them not turn back to folly.
(Psalms 85:8 ESV)

Today is Wednesday (Hump Day), September 23, 2020. Peace be with you!

Day 22,840

Eighteen days until our Broken Bow vacation; nineteen days until our 35th wedding anniversary. Did I mention that, on our actual anniversary, we plan to drive over to Mena, Arkansas and visit the Queen Wilhelmena, which is where we spent our honeymoon? It should be a beautiful drive, in October, as part of it will be on the Talimena Scenic Drive.

Last night, C and I made Pecan-Crusted Buttermilk Chicken again. It was even better than the first time! What a delicious recipe! I think it was better this time, because C decided to cut the chicken breasts into smaller pieces, which made the oven cooking time be closer to what the recipe calls for. The first time, we had to cook in the oven much longer, and I believe the pieces were juicier, this time. And, as an added bonus, I have a piece left over to take for lunch today! Yum . . . I think I’ll take a can of Trappey’s Jalapeno Black-eyed Peas for a side dish.

The weather is nice today, with a projected high of 75, but Summer is not giving up without a fight. We’re due a couple of 90 degree days early next week. But the first day of October promises to be back in the mid-seventies. Broken Bow should be beautiful by the time we get there.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.
(The Jesus Prayer)

Scriptures and Prayers from The Divine Hours

Worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness; tremble before him, all the earth!
(Psalms 96:9 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. For the cooler weather
  2. For Your protection over my life and my soul
  3. That You are speaking peace to Your saints (Psalm 85:8)
  4. That You are ever reducing my anxiety concerning earthly things, and causing my mind to be set on things above
  5. That You give meaning to my life

Show us the light of Your countenance, O God, and come to us.
(based on Psalm 67:1)

Seven times a day I praise you for your righteous rules.
(Psalms 119:164 ESV)

Oh, guard my soul, and deliver me! Let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in you. May integrity and uprightness preserve me, for I wait for you.
(Psalms 25:20-21 ESV)

Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
(Matthew 10:37-39 ESV)

Let me hear what God the LORD will speak, for he will speak peace to his people, to his saints; but let them not turn back to folly. Surely his salvation is near to those who fear him, that glory may dwell in our land. Steadfast love and faithfulness meet; righteousness and peace kiss each other. Faithfulness springs up from the ground, and righteousness looks down from the sky. Yes, the LORD will give what is good, and our land will yield its increase. Righteousness will go before him and make his footsteps a way.
(Psalms 85:8-13 ESV)

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)

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.

"Merciful God,
who sent your messengers the prophets
to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation:
Grant us grace to heed
their warnings and forsake our sins,
that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ
our Redeemer;
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God,
now and for ever.
Amen."
(The Divine Hours, The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

“Your eyes have seen what the LORD did at Baal-peor, for the LORD your God destroyed from among you all the men who followed the Baal of Peor. But you who held fast to the LORD your God are all alive today. See, I have taught you statutes and rules, as the LORD my God commanded me, that you should do them in the land that you are entering to take possession of it. Keep them and do them, for that will be your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’ For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as the LORD our God is to us, whenever we call upon him? And what great nation is there, that has statutes and rules so righteous as all this law that I set before you today?
“Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children’s children— how on the day that you stood before the LORD your God at Horeb, the LORD said to me, ‘Gather the people to me, that I may let them hear my words, so that they may learn to fear me all the days that they live on the earth, and that they may teach their children so.'”
(Deuteronomy 4:3-10 ESV)

This passage, and others like it, illustrate the importance of “story” in our lives. Everyone has a story, and everyone should be willing to share that story with others. This truth, I believe, transcends any religious or political boundaries. It think it is true of all people in all cultures.

But for us, “as we tell of our great God’s majesty, mercy, and intimate love, our convictions and the faith of others can be strengthened by the confirmation of His enduring trustworthiness.”
(Xochitl Dixon, Our Daily Bread)

So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.
(Psalms 90:12 ESV)

As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field;
(Psalms 103:15 ESV)

The grass withers, the flower fades when the breath of the LORD blows on it; surely the people are grass.
(Isaiah 40:7 ESV)

While these last two verses may seem discouraging, taken at face value, I believe they are intended to motivate us. Yes, life, at least “physical” life, on this planet, is brief, like the grass and flowers of the field.

That can do either two things to us; it can motivate us to do something worthwhile with that brevity, or it can put is in a funk of despair, wherein we do nothing.

I confess I have been in both places, and likely will be again, before it is “all over.”

Today, though, I am motivated to make my life meaningful. How, you ask? I’ll shrug my shoulders. Not sure, yet. I just thought of it, so cut me some slack, okay? Haha!

Seriously, though, I believe God has a purpose for me still being here. I’ve been a firm believer, for many years, that I can’t die until God is finished with me. So, obviously, He is not finished with me, yet. I just need to be more “plugged in” to the Spirit. And maybe some of what I’m doing is exactly what I’m supposed to be doing. Praying for others every day and exhorting others to pray, as well.

Father, today, help me build my “story.” Help me to see opportunities to display Your grace and mercy in the midst of my circumstances. As the psalmist said, my cup runs over, it overflows. And what happens when my cup overflows? It splashes on to others around me! O, let that happen today, Lord! Thank You for bringing meaning to my life!

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!

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 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

We Work Together for God

Today is Thursday (sort of feels like Monday), August 20, 2020. 8/20/2020. Peace be with you!

Day 22,806

Eighteen days until Labor Day

Today is The Feast of St. Bernard. St. Bernard of Clairvaux is the patron saint of the Alps and mountaineers. This is because he devoted his life to the conversion of the people of the Alps. He died on this date in 1153.

What a marvelous day we had yesterday!! It began with a great visit to my doctor. She was thrilled at my progress, while we both acknowledged that there is a ways to go, but that was not the focus. Hopefully, I will get my bloodwork results later today, along with, hopefully, a reduction in medication. We discussed that for a few minutes.

As soon as I got home, S opened her presents. There were some X-Box 360 games (we moved that console to her room a month ago), some socks, and a book written by one of her Beach Body people. Then she was directed to the closet in the extra bedroom (still called “R’s room”) where, to her delight, a new smart TV awaited.

We got the TV set up in her room, and then I cooked breakfast for us all.

C and I watched an episode of The Umbrella Academy on Netflix during our breakfast. I’m a little fuzzy on the sequence of the next events. C rearranged some shelves in S’s room to put the TV in a better place, more securely, then she put a new bookshelf together in our bedroom (the one from IKEA). It seems very nice and pretty sturdy. At some point, some dear friends from church brought over fixin’s for strawberry shortcakes, along with a fresh Sonic drink for S! How sweet that was!!

Around 4:30, we called in our order to Martha’s Mexican Cocina. Smart points went to heck for that, let me tell you. S got her favorite, the soft cheese tacos with Spanish rice (lots of queso). I got my old favorite, Pollo Cozumel (grilled chicken in a creamy ancho poblano sauce). C got a chicken taco salad. There were also chips and queso. It was good, but C and I both agreed that it wasn’t as good as we remembered. I blame take-out. Food is always better at the restaurant. Except for pizza.

After dinner, we had some of the frozen chocolate peanut butter pie C made. It was delicious!

I’m not sure how accurate my tracking was, but I figured that I used 60 Smart Points. Haha! I get 35 in a day. But we get “weekly points” for just such occasions. The key is that I tracked it, and I’m okay with it. There is no stress or guilt feeling whatsoever. I will tell you, however, that I did not sleep as well, last night, from eating so much. It does make a difference. And my glucose reading was 123 this morning. Not overly high (no red flags), but the first time it’s been over 120 since July 5.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

“Enter, Lord Christ–
I have joy in Your coming.
You have given me life;
and I welcome Your coming.
I turn now to face You,
I lift up my eyes.
Be blessing my face, Lord;
be blessing my eyes.
May all my eye looks on
be blessed and be bright,
my neighbors, my loved ones
be blessed in Your sight.
You have given me life
and I welcome Your coming.
Be with me, Lord,
I have joy, I have joy.”
(Celtic Daily Prayer)

O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise. For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
(Psalms 51:15-17 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. For a wonderful day, celebrating S’s birthday
  2. That, as You open my lips, my mouth will declare Your praise
  3. That You daily bear us up (Psalm 68:19)
  4. That we are all Your servants, doing Your work together
  5. For Your care over the weak and needy in our world

Hide not your face from your servant; for I am in distress; make haste to answer me. Draw near to my soul, redeem me; ransom me because of my enemies!
(Psalms 69:17-18 ESV)

But I, O LORD, cry to you; in the morning my prayer comes before you.
(Psalms 88:13 ESV)

Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears us up; God is our salvation. Selah. Our God is a God of salvation, and to GOD, the Lord, belong deliverances from death.
(Psalms 68:19-20 ESV)

And as he reclined at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners were reclining with Jesus and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. And the scribes of the Pharisees, when they saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
(Mark 2:15-17 ESV)

For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him. He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken. On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rock, my refuge is God.
(Psalms 62:5-7 ESV)

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

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.

"Merciful God,
who sent your messengers the prophets
to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation:
Grant us grace to heed
their warnings and forsake our sins,
that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ
our Redeemer;
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God,
now and for ever.
Amen."
(The Divine Hours, The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way? For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not being merely human?

What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.
(1 Corinthians 3:1-9 ESV)

God doesn’t need our help to do anything. But “He equips us and invites us to partner with Him.” We must be careful, as Paul admonishes in this passage, to not got too caught up in which teacher/pastor/leader we follow. In Corinth, some were saying they were disciples of Apollos, while others declared allegiance to Paul. Paul is discouraging this. “What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed.”

We are all nothing but servants to the Lord. “We are God’s fellow workers.” We are partnered, together, with Him in this great work, whatever it is that He has given you to do. And whatever that task is, we should do it with all our might, and do it to His glory, and not for the glory of ourselves or any man.

(Xochitl Dixon, Our Daily Bread)

The LORD is a God who avenges. O God who avenges, shine forth. Rise up, Judge of the earth; pay back to the proud what they deserve. How long, LORD, will the wicked, how long will the wicked be jubilant? They pour out arrogant words; all the evildoers are full of boasting. They crush your people, LORD; they oppress your inheritance. They slay the widow and the foreigner; they murder the fatherless. They say, “The LORD does not see; the God of Jacob takes no notice.” Take notice, you senseless ones among the people; you fools, when will you become wise? Does he who fashioned the ear not hear? Does he who formed the eye not see? Does he who disciplines nations not punish? Does he who teaches mankind lack knowledge?
(Psalms 94:1-10 NIV)

“There is much anger today against the greedy and heartless wealthy. God is the avenger of those who have been oppressed in every age, and He will judge those who use the power of their money to enhance their lives at the expense of others.”

We should be quick to understand that there is nothing inherently evil about riches or money. In fact, Dallas Willard states that we should go ahead and make as much as we can. So that we can bless others with it!

It is the LOVE of money, the Bible says, that is the root of all evil. When we “overlove” money, “we give it a power over us that dehumanizes us.” George Herbert, in his poem “Avarice,” says, “Man calleth thee his wealth, who made thee rich; And while he digs out thee, falls in the ditch.”

While it may not seem like God is doing much judging, these days, as it seems that the rich and powerful are gleefully having their way, maybe there is judgment going on that we aren’t seeing. Rest assured, God will not be mocked. Judgment Day will come.

“Lord, I praise You for being a God who avenges the weak and marginalized. But this truth is a two-edged sword. It comforts me when I see the horrendous inequities in the world. Yet is also confronts me with my own complacency in my comfortable life and my indifference to those in need. Go on dealing with my heart until I change my life. Amen.”

(From The Songs of Jesus, by Timothy and Kathy Keller)

Father, I am grateful for the work that You have given me. My work has changed, over the years, shifting from the ministry of worship (thought still somewhat involved in that) to a ministry of prayer. I still feel like I stumble through the prayer ministry like I’m just learning to walk. But there are people in the journey with me, who pray alongside me, and I am grateful for this. Keep teaching me and don’t let me stop. And remind us, constantly, that there is no man to whom we owe our allegiance! I do not owe allegiance to any man or country, only to You, my Lord and my God!

I also praise You for Your care for the needy and disenfranchised. Help us, Your people to see them in the same light You do. Make us more generous, Father, with the resources You have given us. Once again, You do not need us to do anything. But You have invited us to partner with You in this work. And You have given us everything we need to succeed.

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!

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. 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 3:14-21 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Jesus Wept

Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust. Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.
(Psalms 143:8 ESV)

Today is Tuesday, August 4, 2020. Peace be with you!

Day 22,790

Fifteen days until S’s birthday!!!

Speaking of birthdays, I neglected to mention that this past Saturday was my Granddaddy’s birthday. He would have been 106 years old.

Today is the Feast of Saint John-Marie Vianney, the patron saint of priests.

We finished watching I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, last night. The Golden State Killer, Joseph James DeAngelo, Jr. was identified, charged, convicted, and sentenced. It was very interesting and moving to watch as surviving victims were interviewed as the trial went on. He was over seventy years old when captured, so he was frequently described as a pathetic little man as his victims from the seventies wondered how the person they saw in front of them was the “monster” that had destroyed their lives. I really want to read the book, now. I thought I had it on my Kindle, but I don’t, so I’ll have to get a copy.

US cases of Coronavirus have taken a drastic downturn over the last couple of days. Yesterday’s new case count was only 48,622. As recently as Saturday, we had over 70,000. Not sure what that means.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.
(The Jesus Prayer)

Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all that fills it; let the field exult, and everything in it! Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy before the LORD, for he comes, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness, and the peoples in his faithfulness.
(Psalms 96:11-13 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. For Your mercies, O Lord, new every morning
  2. For Your steadfast love, filling my soul this morning
  3. That vengeance belongs to You, and not us
  4. That I can direct my frustrations to You, and You change my heart
  5. That You are teaching me to pray

Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust. Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.
(Psalms 143:8 ESV)

Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting! And let all the people say, “Amen!” Praise the LORD!
(Psalms 106:48 ESV)

The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.
(Psalms 118:14 ESV)

And all the crowd sought to touch him, for power came out from him and healed them all.
And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said:
“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.
“Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied.
“Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.
“Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.
“But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.
“Woe to you who are full now, for you shall be hungry.
“Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.
“Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.”
(Luke 6:19-26 ESV)

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.

He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away.

Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; for the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.
(Psalms 1:1-6 ESV)

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

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.

"Merciful God,
who sent your messengers the prophets
to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation:
Grant us grace to heed
their warnings and forsake our sins,
that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ
our Redeemer;
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God,
now and for ever.
Amen."
(The Divine Hours, The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

When Saul returned from following the Philistines, he was told, “Behold, David is in the wilderness of Engedi.” Then Saul took three thousand chosen men out of all Israel and went to seek David and his men in front of the Wildgoats’ Rocks. And he came to the sheepfolds by the way, where there was a cave, and Saul went in to relieve himself. Now David and his men were sitting in the innermost parts of the cave. And the men of David said to him, “Here is the day of which the LORD said to you, ‘Behold, I will give your enemy into your hand, and you shall do to him as it shall seem good to you.'” Then David arose and stealthily cut off a corner of Saul’s robe. And afterward David’s heart struck him, because he had cut off a corner of Saul’s robe. He said to his men, “The LORD forbid that I should do this thing to my lord, the LORD’s anointed, to put out my hand against him, seeing he is the LORD’s anointed.” So David persuaded his men with these words and did not permit them to attack Saul. And Saul rose up and left the cave and went on his way.

Afterward David also arose and went out of the cave, and called after Saul, “My lord the king!” And when Saul looked behind him, David bowed with his face to the earth and paid homage. And David said to Saul, “Why do you listen to the words of men who say, ‘Behold, David seeks your harm’? Behold, this day your eyes have seen how the LORD gave you today into my hand in the cave. And some told me to kill you, but I spared you. I said, ‘I will not put out my hand against my lord, for he is the LORD’s anointed.’ See, my father, see the corner of your robe in my hand. For by the fact that I cut off the corner of your robe and did not kill you, you may know and see that there is no wrong or treason in my hands. I have not sinned against you, though you hunt my life to take it. May the LORD judge between me and you, may the LORD avenge me against you, but my hand shall not be against you.
(1 Samuel 24:1-12 ESV)

“When it seems others are getting away with wrongdoing, we struggle with the injustice. But with God’s mercy at work in our hearts and the hearts of others, we can forgive as He’s forgiven us and receive the blessings He’s prepared for us.”

Xochitl Dixon, Our Daily Bread

I believe this to be a very important passage, and in our current day, it seems even more so. Over the years, I have grown to a point where I am hesitant to mock or criticize people in leadership positions, especially in the Church. It’s easy to make fun of people like Benny Hinn and Joel Osteen. But should I do that?

I find myself being too critical of management at work. I shouldn’t be doing that, either. If I have helpful comments, there is nothing wrong with that. But if my spirit is speaking in anger and frustration, there is everything wrong with that.

David had an opportunity to kill his tormentor. All he did was cut off a corner of Saul’s robe, and he felt overwhelming guilt just for that! David’s frame of mind would be good for us to adapt in our lives.

I have some things to ponder as I move forward in this day. Things that have to do with thoughts and words about people in leadership positions, from company level all the way up to world leadership.

As we have noticed in various Psalms, my frustrations need to be directed to God, not at human beings. He is the one with the power, and He is also the one who can mold hearts like He molds the course of a river. And He can be trusted.

Jesus wept.
(John 11:35 ESV)

I don’t usually like Marci Alborghetti’s readings in Daily Guideposts. Something has changed, though.

And today’s has brought tears to my eyes.

Marci walks. And when she walks, she prays. One of the things she does is to write Scripture on the back of her jackets. One of the Scriptures, the shortest in the Bible is John 11:35, above.

I don’t know how far in advance these daily readings are written, but they have to be written in 2019, because the book is available to purchase before the beginning of 2020.

This means that Marci (and Daily Guideposts) had no idea what the world would look like in August of 2020!

God works in mysterious ways.

Marci writes, “I pray visibly by writing Scripture with an indelible marker on the back of my jackets. One of my favorites, given the state of our world, is ‘Jesus wept.’ It’s also the Bible’s shortest passage, so it can be written in large letters on my jacket.” (Italics mine)

“Given the state of our world,” she wrote. At least last year, sometime. I wonder if she is reading this today.

Why did Jesus weep? We don’t really know for sure, but we can speculate. “For His friends, for the city He loved, for Lazarus, for Himself, maybe, because He knew He would soon suffer and die?”

Marci’s young godson asked her what “wept” means.

“‘It means to cry.’

“‘Was Jesus sad?’ he wondered.

“‘Yes, he was sad that people hurt each other.’ I explained.

“‘I’m sad when someone hurts my feelings.’

“‘But Jesus was sad when anyone’s feelings got hurt.’

“He looked at me with just one word, ‘Wow.’

Wow, indeed.”

“Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied.

“Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.

“Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.

“But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.

“Woe to you who are full now, for you shall be hungry.

“Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.”
(Luke 6:21-25 ESV)

And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”
(Luke 19:41-44 ESV)

Most of us can probably envision Jesus weeping today. But we’d best be careful of the reason that we think He is weeping. Especially if that reason involves our political leanings.

Because Jesus isn’t political. He is Jesus and His way is the only way. He doesn’t support Republicans or Democrats. Nor does He necessarily condemn either.

Jesus shows us the way, and the only way is to follow Him.

For the record, yes, I believe that He weeps today, over the state of our world.

O Lord, teach me to weep. Teach me to weep for the right reasons. Show me the hurt and the pain. Not my own. Compared to most of the world, my life is easy. And I’m grateful for that, yes. But let me not take it for granted, nor let me get too comfortable in it. Show me, Father, that I might weep with Jesus.

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!

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
(Revelation 21:3-4 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

You Lighten My Darkness

Today is Friday! July 17, 2020. Peace be with you!

22,722

33 days until S’s birthday!

Yesterday afternoon was a little stressful, and will have a couple of things that carry over into this morning. I worked over a few minutes, trying to finish up an SOS that I was working, but the SOS website crashed, so I had to set it aside until today.

There’s a new-ish program that the McKinney factory is working on, and it is said to be worth four billion dollars. The people on that program seem to be hitting us extra hard with expedite requests. We seem to be keeping them placated, though.

Remember a few weeks ago when C ordered a new chair? We’re supposed to get that tomorrow. A new recliner from Rooms to Go. I’m not sure what we’re going to do with the old one. We already have one old recliner in the garage. Along with two old refrigerators. Maybe we should have a garage sale. Heh.

It is tempting to be under pressure with today’s devotional. I feel like the last three mornings have been very powerful, and I don’t want today’s to be any less so. But this is up to the Lord, isn’t it? He will show me what He will show me.

May ONLY Your will be done, on earth as in heaven!

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

God, my Father,
You have promised to remain forever with those
who do what is just and right.
Help me to live in Your presence.
The loving plan of Your Wisdom was made known when
Jesus, your Son, became man like us.
I want to obey His commandment of love
and bring Your peace and joy to others.
Keep before me the wisdom and love
You have made known in Your Son.
Help me to be like Him in word and deed.


(Prayer to Live in God’s Presence)

“Bless God in the great congregation, the LORD, O you who are of Israel’s fountain!”
(Psalms 68:26 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. For Your continuous presence in our lives
  2. That You raise the poor from the dust and lift the needy from the ash heap (Psalm 113)
  3. That You are there to light our way through the darkness (Psalm 18:28)
  4. For the command to praise You and sing for joy
  5. For the admonition to use “psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit” to sing and make music from my heart to You

Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. The troubles of my heart are enlarged; bring me out of my distresses. Consider my affliction and my trouble, and forgive all my sins.
(Psalms 25:16-18 ESV)

But I, O LORD, cry to you; in the morning my prayer comes before you.
(Psalms 88:13 ESV)

Who is like the LORD our God, who is seated on high, who looks far down on the heavens and the earth? He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap, to make them sit with princes, with the princes of his people. He gives the barren woman a home, making her the joyous mother of children. Praise the LORD!
(Psalms 113:5-9 ESV)

“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”
(Matthew 7:13-14 ESV)

A Song of Ascents. Of David.

If it had not been the LORD who was on our side— let Israel now say— if it had not been the LORD who was on our side when people rose up against us, then they would have swallowed us up alive, when their anger was kindled against us; then the flood would have swept us away, the torrent would have gone over us; then over us would have gone the raging waters. Blessed be the LORD, who has not given us as prey to their teeth! We have escaped like a bird from the snare of the fowlers; the snare is broken, and we have escaped! Our help is in the name of the LORD, who made heaven and earth.
(Psalms 124:1-8 ESV)

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

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.

"Merciful God,
who sent your messengers the prophets
to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation:
Grant us grace to heed
their warnings and forsake our sins,
that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ
our Redeemer;
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God,
now and for ever.
Amen."
(The Divine Hours, The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

For it is you who light my lamp; the LORD my God lightens my darkness. For by you I can run against a troop, and by my God I can leap over a wall. This God—his way is perfect; the word of the LORD proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him. For who is God, but the LORD? And who is a rock, except our God?— the God who equipped me with strength and made my way blameless. He made my feet like the feet of a deer and set me secure on the heights. He trains my hands for war, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze. You have given me the shield of your salvation, and your right hand supported me, and your gentleness made me great. You gave a wide place for my steps under me, and my feet did not slip.
(Psalms 18:28-36 ESV)

The LORD lives, and blessed be my rock, and exalted be the God of my salvation— the God who gave me vengeance and subdued peoples under me, who delivered me from my enemies; yes, you exalted me above those who rose against me; you rescued me from the man of violence. For this I will praise you, O LORD, among the nations, and sing to your name.
(Psalms 18:46-49 ESV)

“Whether we’re enduring the unpredictable storms in life or enjoying the stillness after the rains have passed, the peace of God’s constant presence lights our way through the darkness. Our living God will always be our strength, our refuge, our sustainer, and our deliverer.”

(Xochitl Dixon, Our Daily Bread)

For the director of music. According to gittith. Of Asaph.

Sing for joy to God our strength; shout aloud to the God of Jacob! Begin the music, strike the timbrel, play the melodious harp and lyre. Sound the ram’s horn at the New Moon, and when the moon is full, on the day of our festival; this is a decree for Israel, an ordinance of the God of Jacob.
(Psalms 81:1-4 NIV)

It is interesting to note that this is not just an “invitation” to worship God; it is a “decree,” and “ordinance,” a command, if you will.

Can we truly “rejoice to order?” Keller says we can and should.

“Since there are solid reasons why Christians ought to have joy, there are ‘valid means of awakening and ensnaring it.'” (Quote from Derek Kidner)

speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord,
(Ephesians 5:19 NIV)

In the above verse we are told “to use skillful music, to immerse ourselves in the psalms themselves, and to learn how to turn our hearts to God in gratitude moment by moment during the day.” In addition, Hebrews 10:25, a favorite verse of mine regarding the Church, commands us to “meet regularly with one another for public worship.”

I have experienced that there are certainly ways to rejoice on command. It is possible to “turn it on,” as it were. But it takes discipline and practice. It is not by any means “fake” when we do this. When I force myself to praise God and be grateful, I am not faking it. I am making myself obedient, and the gratitude and praise becomes real as I speak it.

“Lord, my mind has no inclination to fix itself on You and Your worthiness, purity, and beauty. My thoughts attach to useless things. Help me turn them toward You and Your grace habitually, all day, so that I can ‘make music in my heart’ (Ephesians 5:19) to You. Amen.”

(From The Songs of Jesus, by Timothy and Kathy Keller)

Father, I am truly grateful for the words that I have read this morning. I am thankful for Your constant presence in my life, that encourages me and lightens my darkness. For we do, indeed, live in some dark times. But with Your presence, the darkness becomes light, and we can find our way. Thank You for the gift of music, with which to praise You and make music from my heart to You! I pray for inspiration to do that more often. I also praise You for the writing of Xochitl Dixon, of Our Daily Bread, and ask that You richly bless her and her family!

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!

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
(Colossians 3:15-17 NIV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Embrace the Cup

Today is Thursday, June 25, 2020, in the Twelfth Week of Ordinary Time. Peace be unto you!

Day 22,750

Nine days until July 4th!

Eight days until the Hamilton movie on Disney+!

I don’t really have much news to report, so I’ll move on to the day’s devotions.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy;

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

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

Amen.
(The Prayer of St. Francis)

But we will bless the LORD from this time forth and forevermore. Praise the LORD!
(Psalms 115:18 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. That I have eyes with which to see, ears with which to hear, a tongue with which to taste, a nose with which to smell, and the ability to feel touch
  2. That I have a “heart” with which to feel emotions, and a brain with which to think
  3. That You are my hiding place
  4. That You are Father to the fatherless and Defender of widows (Psalm 68)
  5. That You are teaching me to embrace Your will, even (and especially) when it conflicts with mine

Turn to me and be gracious to me; give your strength to your servant, and save the son of your maidservant.
(Psalms 86:16 ESV)

You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with shouts of deliverance. Selah.
(Psalms 32:7 ESV)

Behold, God is my helper; the Lord is the upholder of my life.
(Psalms 54:4 ESV)

When he had entered Capernaum, a centurion came forward to him, appealing to him, “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, suffering terribly.” And he said to him, “I will come and heal him.” But the centurion replied, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I too am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard this, he marveled and said to those who followed him, “Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith. I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” And to the centurion Jesus said, “Go; let it be done for you as you have believed.” And the servant was healed at that very moment.
(Matthew 8:5-13 ESV)

But the righteous shall be glad; they shall exult before God; they shall be jubilant with joy! Sing to God, sing praises to his name; lift up a song to him who rides through the deserts; his name is the LORD; exult before him! Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation.
(Psalms 68:3-5 ESV)

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

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.

"Merciful God,
who sent your messengers the prophets
to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation:
Grant us grace to heed
their warnings and forsake our sins,
that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ
our Redeemer;
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God,
now and for ever.
Amen."
(The Divine Hours, The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

“Hear then the parable of the sower: When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path. As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”
(Matthew 13:18-23 ESV)

“Our loving Father nourishes our hearts with His Word. As His Spirit transforms our character, He makes sure the fruit of our deep-rooted faith becomes evident to people around us.”

(Xochitl Dixon, Our Daily Bread)


“And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”
(Mark 11:25 ESV)

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
(Ephesians 4:32 ESV)

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.
(Colossians 3:12-13 ESV)

Is it possible to over-emphasize these commands? I think not.


No one from the east or the west or from the desert can exalt themselves. It is God who judges: He brings one down, he exalts another. In the hand of the LORD is a cup full of foaming wine mixed with spices; he pours it out, and all the wicked of the earth drink it down to its very dregs. As for me, I will declare this forever; I will sing praise to the God of Jacob, who says, “I will cut off the horns of all the wicked, but the horns of the righteous will be lifted up.”
(Psalms 75:6-10 NIV)

The biblical “cup” symbolizes a trial or an ordeal. Jesus prayed that the “cup” could be removed from Him, before His crucifixion. That “cup” was the torture that He knew was coming.

This “cup full of foaming wine” is the “divine wrath on evildoers (verse 8), the ultimate ordeal of infinite punishment that made even the heart of the Son of God quail (Matthew 26:42).” Jesus, nevertheless, embraced this cup, fulfilling God’s will on our behalf.

We, His Church, are His reward (Isaiah 40:10). “When faced with an aspect of God’s will in our life that we want to run from, we must cling closely to Jesus and whisper, ‘Thy will be done.’ Then we can expect the joy of being with Him.”

“Father, I cannot begin to praise and thank You for Your inestimable gift. For Christ, my loving Savior, hath / drunk up the wine of Thy fierce wrath. What bitter cups were due to be / had he not drank them up for me. Amen.” (Italics adapted from The Poems of Robert Herrick: A Selection from Hesperides and Noble Numbers)

(From The Songs of Jesus, by Timothy and Kathy Keller)


Father, truly there are things every day that I do not wish to endure. But none of them would I ever consider to be a dreadful “cup” from Your hands. Perhaps there have been “cups” along the way that were more severe than I realized. Whatever the case, I remain with You, and pray for Your presence to be thick with me, always. May Your presence draw me closer and closer in, until the point at which I cross from this plane unto the next, and perhaps not even know the difference.

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!

“As for me, I would seek God, and to God would I commit my cause, who does great things and unsearchable, marvelous things without number:
(Job 5:8-9 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Teach Us To See and Hear

Today is Tuesday, June 9, 2020, in the Tenth Week of Ordinary Time. Peace be with you!

Day 22,734

Twelve days until Father’s Day

I realized this morning, that I had not given any update on my weight loss journey, lately. As of this past Saturday, after losing three pounds last week, I have lost 44.8 pounds since the first of February, when we began attending WW workshops. I’m very pleased with that, and people have begun to notice.

Yesterday, at work, was a little discouraging. It was pretty busy, but at the end of the day, I didn’t feel that I accomplished much, because there was more to do than when I started. But that feeling is not accurate, because I did accomplish a good bit. I need to adapt the mentality that I’m starting over every morning. Every day is a new day.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

"Father, I abandon myself
into your hands.
Do with me what you will.
Whatever you may do, I thank you.
I am ready for all, I accept all.
Let only your will be done in me
and in all your creatures.
I wish no more than this, O Lord.
Into your hands I commend my soul.
I offer it to you with all the love of my heart,
for I love you, Lord,
and so need to give myself,
to surrender myself into your hands
without reserve
and with boundless confidence,
for you are my Father."
Charles de Foucauld

Sing praises to the LORD, who sits enthroned in Zion! Tell among the peoples his deeds!
(Psalms 9:11 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. For feeling rested after a better night’s sleep
  2. For Your face shining upon us
  3. For Your awesome deeds
  4. For Your Word, which is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path
  5. That, in Your righteousness, You deliver me, rather than punish me, thanks to Jesus

To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments. A Psalm. A Song.
May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, Selah.
(Psalms 67:1 ESV)

By awesome deeds you answer us with righteousness, O God of our salvation, the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas;
(Psalms 65:5 ESV)

For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name.
(Luke 1:48-49 ESV)

In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”
And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation.
(Luke 1:39-50 ESV)

"I thank you with all I am,
I join heaven's chorus.
I bow toward your holy temple,
to praise your name.

By your love and fidelity,
you display to all
the glory of your name and promise.
As soon as I call, you act,
renewing my strength.

Around the world, 
rulers praise you
for your commanding word.
They sing of your ways,
'Great is your glory, Lord.'

Though high up,
you see the lowly;
though far away,
you keep an eye on the proud.

When I face an opponent,
you keep me alive.
You reach out your hand,
your right hand saves me.

Lord, take up my cause,
Your love lasts for ever.
Do not abandon
what your hands have made."
(Psalm 138:1-8 from THE PSALTER)

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.

O God, from whom all good proceeds:
Grant that by Your inspiration I may think those things that are right,
and by Your merciful guiding may do them;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit;
one God for ever and ever.
Amen.
(The Divine Hours, The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

Praise the LORD! Sing to the LORD a new song, his praise in the assembly of the godly! Let Israel be glad in his Maker; let the children of Zion rejoice in their King! Let them praise his name with dancing, making melody to him with tambourine and lyre! For the LORD takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with salvation. Let the godly exult in glory; let them sing for joy on their beds.
(Psalms 149:1-5 ESV)

“Our adoring Father created us and sustains the universe. He delights in us just because we’re His beloved children. He designed us, knows us, and invites us into a personal relationship with Him. What an honor! Our loving and living God is our reason for everlasting joy. We can rejoice in the gift of His constant presence and be grateful for every day our Maker has given us.”

(Xochitl Dixon, Our Daily Bread)

It might also be worth noting that we are also invited to sing, dance, and make music to our God, because He “takes pleasure in His people.”


And he said, “Go, and say to this people: “‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’
(Isaiah 6:9 ESV)

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
(Psalms 119:105 ESV)

And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.
(Acts 2:4 ESV)

These three verses may not seem to have anything in common, but the answer to the first problem, “keep on hearing, but do not understand,” is God’s Word, which is a “lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” I’m praying for God to keep opening my ears and heart to the voice of His Word, that the Holy Spirit will give me utterance to say the things that my little “kingdom” (my immediate sphere of influence) needs to hear.


In you, LORD, I have taken refuge; let me never be put to shame. In your righteousness, rescue me and deliver me; turn your ear to me and save me. Be my rock of refuge, to which I can always go; give the command to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress. Deliver me, my God, from the hand of the wicked, from the grasp of those who are evil and cruel. For you have been my hope, Sovereign LORD, my confidence since my youth. From birth I have relied on you; you brought me forth from my mother’s womb. I will ever praise you.
(Psalms 71:1-6 NIV)

I love psalms like this one. Of course, that sounds like I don’t “love” some others, which is not necessarily true. But I am drawn to descriptions of God as “refuge, rock, fortress,” and so on.

The psalmist (not identified in this one) cries out to God, because God is righteous. But if God is righteous, wouldn’t that lead us to think of judgment or punishment, rather than deliverance or salvation? Psalm 130:3 says, “If you, GOD, kept records on wrongdoings, who would stand a chance?” (Psalms 130:3 MSG)

“How can God love us and still be true to his own righteousness? The Bible is one long, great answer to that question. It happens only through Jesus.”

If we are in Christ, this confidence displayed by the psalmist in verse 5, his hope since his birth, is also our hope and confidence, by His grace.

“‘O Lord–you are more ready to hear than I am to pray, and you are inclined to give me more than I desire or deserve. Because I have taken refuge in Jesus’s saving work on my behalf, give me the protection and joy for which it would be presumptuous otherwise to ask.’ Amen.” (Quoted from The Collects of Thomas Cranmer)

(From The Songs of Jesus, by Timothy and Kathy Keller)


Father, open my ears to day, and please allow Your Word to be that lamp to my feet and light to my path, as well. May I hear Your Word in my heart and see the path that I am to walk. Give me the confidence that I should have in Christ, hope in Your work for me and in me. Help me to walk in the path that You have prepared for me in advance, as one of Your chosen people.

Lord, please shorten these days. Protect our families; protect our church families; protect our nation, and protect our world. We pray for this disease to end. And may we be quick to learn a valuable lesson from these days. Much of what we thought we needed, we truly don’t need. Teach us to see and hear.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. 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 3:14-21 ESV)

His Steadfast Love Endures Forever!

Today is Sunday, May 10, 2020. The Fifth Sunday of Easter. Peace be with you!

Day 22,704

Today is Mother’s Day! Happy Mother’s Day to my mother, my wife, and all you other mothers out there! May the Lord bring you peace and love today.

C went to the grocery store, yesterday, after our virtual WW workshop. She said the store was packed, and hardly anyone was wearing a mask or following “social distancing” guidelines. That is somewhat disturbing, and doesn’t bode well for this “re-opening” phase.

After she got home, we had our brunch (traditional post-WW-Workshop) of eggs and toast, with turkey sausage crumbles and cheese for S and me. C just likes eggs and toast. We watched an episode of Bosch (the detective, not the tool company) on Prime Video, then C went out and did yard work for the rest of the afternoon. That’s her way of “relaxing.” I don’t know . . . trimming hedges and mowing grass is not very relaxing to me, but to each his/her own, right?

We have our virtual church gathering, this morning at 10:15. This morning we will be covering some of the scriptures I used in yesterday’s blog entry, on the topic of sparrows and flowers. How much are we really worth?

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

(Just for the record, the verses and passages that I begin with each day are not random, though they may seem so. I get them from a series of books called The Divine Hours, by Phyllis Tickle. They follow a pattern of “fixed-hour prayer” for the church, with the idea that many people can be praying these verses during the same approximate period of time, each day. I do not include headings, such as “The Call to Worship,” “The Request for Presence,” “The Greeting,” and so on. The addition of the “Five Gratitudes” is my own doing.)

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. For the opportunity to worship with my brothers and sisters in Christ.
2. That Your steadfast love endures forever (Psalm 136).
3. That You are love (1 John 4.16).
4. That You are my refuge, a strong tower against my enemy (Psalm 61).
5. For sheltering me under Your wings.

. . . that they may know that you alone, whose name is the LORD, are the Most High over all the earth.
(Psalms 83:18 ESV)

But I will hope continually and will praise you yet more and more.
(Psalms 71:14 ESV)

The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.
(Psalms 118:22 ESV)

Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven. And they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple blessing God.
(Luke 24:50-53 ESV)

To the choirmaster. A Psalm of the Sons of Korah.
Clap your hands, all peoples! Shout to God with loud songs of joy! For the LORD, the Most High, is to be feared, a great king over all the earth. He subdued peoples under us, and nations under our feet. He chose our heritage for us, the pride of Jacob whom he loves. Selah. 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. The princes of the peoples gather as the people of the God of Abraham. For the shields of the earth belong to God; he is highly exalted!

(Psalms 47:1-9 ESV)

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

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.

“Remember, O Lord, what you have wrought in us and not what we deserve; and, as you have called me to your service, make me worthy of your calling; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.”
(The Divine Hours, The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

“O God, you make me glad with the weekly remembrance of the glorious resurrection of your Son my Lord: Give me this day such blessing through my worship of you, that the week to come may be spent in your favor; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
(The Divine Hours, The Concluding Prayer of the Church)

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever. Give thanks to the God of gods, for his steadfast love endures forever. Give thanks to the Lord of lords, for his steadfast love endures forever; to him who alone does great wonders, for his steadfast love endures forever; to him who by understanding made the heavens, for his steadfast love endures forever; to him who spread out the earth above the waters, for his steadfast love endures forever; to him who made the great lights, for his steadfast love endures forever; the sun to rule over the day, for his steadfast love endures forever; the moon and stars to rule over the night, for his steadfast love endures forever;
(Psalms 136:1-9 ESV)

So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.
(1 John 4:16 ESV)

Meant to be read antiphonally, Psalm 136 is a glorious recounting of the wonders of God, His creation, and His mighty acts in history. It includes the incessant reminder that “his steadfast love endures forever.” It is good for us to remind ourselves of both His majesty, creation, and mighty acts, as well as the fact that His love endures forever.

“We can rejoice because the everlasting love the psalmist sang about is the same continuing love our all-powerful Creator and Sustainer pours into the lives of His children today. No matter what we’re facing, the One who made us and remains with us strengthens us by asserting He loves us unconditionally and completely. Thank You, God, for the countless reminders of Your endless and life-transforming love!”
(Xochitl Dixon, Our Daily Bread)

For the director of music. With stringed instruments. Of David.
Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer. From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe. I long to dwell in your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of your wings. For you, God, have heard my vows; you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name. Increase the days of the king’s life, his years for many generations. May he be enthroned in God’s presence forever; appoint your love and faithfulness to protect him. Then I will ever sing in praise of your name and fulfill my vows day after day.

(Psalms 61:1-8 NIV)

David uses many images in this psalm. “God is his rock, a secure place where he can see things from God’s perspective.
God is his fortified tower, where he can take refuge from attackers.
God dwells in the tabernacle, where he can be met in worship.
God is like a mother bird, protecting her chicks under her wings.”

Jesus also claims these images for Himself. In John 2.12-21, Jesus is the Temple, “where we can come face to face with God.”

After this he went down to Capernaum, with his mother and his brothers and his disciples, and they stayed there for a few days.
The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there. And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.” His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.”
So the Jews said to him, “What sign do you show us for doing these things?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?” But he was speaking about the temple of his body.

(John 2:12-21 ESV)

In Luke 13.34-35, Jesus is “the mother bird, protecting his loved ones by sheltering them and enduring danger and pain while keeping them unharmed.”

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! Behold, your house is forsaken. And I tell you, you will not see me until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!'”
(Luke 13:34-35 ESV)

And in 1 Corinthians 10.1-4, Jesus is the Rock, “struck for us, so in Jesus we are kept safe from every enemy, even death.”

For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ.
(1 Corinthians 10:1-4 ESV)

“Lord, I praise you that I am truly, only, and finally safe in you. You are sovereignly working all things out for your glory and my good. You have removed my sin in Christ so my ultimate future is bliss. You hear my prayers and care for me. I thank you for being the rock that is higher than me. Amen.”
(From The Songs of Jesus, by Timothy and Kathy Keller)

Father, I cannot adequately express my gratitude for Your steadfast love that endures forever and never fails. Xhichotl Dixon’s words, today, fill me with joy and hope, reminding me of the great wonders You have done for Your people throughout time, and showing me that Your love endures, and that You ARE love! Fill me with Your agape love today, that I might be able to fully die to myself and live for You, in complete trust and faith of Your protection over me.
Lord, please shorten these days. Protect our families; protect our church families; protect our nation, and protect our world. We pray for this disease to end. And may we be quick to learn a valuable lesson from these days. Much of what we thought we needed, we truly don’t need. Teach us to know Your steadfast love that endures forever!
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.