Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven, But . . .

Today is Wednesday, the fifth of October, 2022, in the twenty-seventh week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of our Lord be with you, today.

Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, began yesterday at sunset and continues until sunset today. I believe that it is strongly possible that Jesus was born on this day (not the exact date, of course, because Yom Kippur is a “movable feast”).

Day 23,582


Mighty God, we thank you for sending your light into all the world to reveal that you are the Father of all, to show us that you are leading them to yourself, the good and the bad, those who are near to you and those who are far away. We thank you that through all this your name may be acknowledged and honored. We thank you that we may live from your hand and that everyone may see your work on earth and be filled with praise. May the light which you have sent to earth in Jesus Christ shine brightly for us and penetrate our hearts so that we open ourselves to it with joy, and worship the Savior. Bless us and give us your Spirit; without your Spirit we can do nothing. May we receive help from you every day. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

He says: “It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.”
(Isaiah 49:6 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. that salvation was brought to the Gentiles as well as the people of Israel
  2. that, by His blood, the Lamb of God “ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation,” and made them “a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth” (Revelation 5:9-10)
  3. that I can “make a joyful noise to the LORD” (Psalm 100)
  4. that if we pray persistently, not losing heart, the Lord hears us and answers
  5. for cool Autumn mornings

May the glory of the LORD endure forever; may the LORD rejoice in his works, who looks on the earth and it trembles, who touches the mountains and they smoke!
(Psalms 104:31-32 ESV)

Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped.
(Revelation 5:11-14 ESV)

A Psalm for giving thanks. 

Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth! 
Serve the LORD with gladness! 
Come into his presence with singing! 
Know that the LORD, he is God! 
It is he who made us, and we are his; 
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. 

Enter his gates with thanksgiving, 
and his courts with praise! 
Give thanks to him; bless his name! 

For the LORD is good; 
his steadfast love endures forever, 
and his faithfulness to all generations.
(Psalms 100:1-5 ESV)

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

Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.
(Romans 12:10 ESV)

Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.
(Hebrews 13:1-2 ESV)

And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. . . . And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?" 
(Luke 18:1, 7-8 ESV)

Sometimes, it is difficult to not lose heart. Life is a struggle; this journey of faith is an even bigger struggle. We see things going on around us that are unbelievable.

The ironic thing about this is that people from all sides of life can look at my last statement and agree with it. I have a certain point of view from which I view the world and its events. You may have a different point of view, and yet both of us see things that are beyond belief.

So losing heart can be a real struggle, in this world. But Jesus would have us pray persistently, even to the point that He used a “worldly” judge to illustrate His point. Personally, I don’t believe it is possible for us to annoy God. He’s not like that judge, who finally gave in because the woman just wouldn’t shut up. Our God actually enjoys giving things to His children, not unlike grandparents who love to shower their grandkids with gifts.

How often do we miss that last little question at the end of verse 8, though? “Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”

I love what Eugene Peterson has to say about this passage. “Prayer, which is simply a conversation with God, isn’t conversation regulated by social or class distinctions. Rather, it’s a conversation in which all men, women, and children, widows and judges, kings and beggars, the literate and the illiterate, poor and rich, the wise and fools, saints and sinners are equals. They are all peers with equal access to God.

“Then Jesus steps out of the story and asks us a question, especially those of us who have gotten so used to not being listened to by anyone of importance that we’ve quit asking God for what we need. What Jesus asks is this: ‘How much of that kind of persistent faith will the Son of Man find on the earth when he returns?’ (verse 8).

“Will you and I finally give up and quit praying because the deaf ear of the world has so flattened our expectations of being heard by God? Or will we have the kind of persistent faith the widow had?”

(From Conversations: The Message Bible with its Translator)

I believe there are more questions to be asked. When Jesus returns, will He find the kind of faith that is being hospitable without grumbling? Will He find the kind of faith that attempts to outdo one another in showing honor, rather than demanding it? Will He find brotherly love?

I shared a Loretta Lynn song in my other blog yesterday. I’m not sure who wrote the song, but I’ve heard multiple people sing it, from pure country by Ms. Lynn, to rough blues by Darrell Mansfield. “Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven, but Nobody Wants to Die.”

When Jesus returns, will He find people who have been willing to die?

Father, I pray that when Jesus returns, if I am still here, that He will find faith. I pray that I will be persistent in prayer, persistent in loving You, persistent in loving my neighbor, and persistent in honoring others above myself. These are hard things for humans, Lord. Human nature wants everything now, without having to wait (at least that’s the way the 2022 humans are). Human nature wants to be first (just look at how we drive, Father). Human nature is all about me, me, me.

I pray that You take this nature away from me. Give me patience that I might be willing to wait and abide; give me love, that I might love You and others; give me joy that nothing can steal; give me peace that passes all understanding; give me kindness in all areas of my life; and may the rest of the fruit of the Spirit be visible in my life, as well. In short, make me willing to die to myself and live to You and You alone.

All glory to You, Father, through the Son and by the Spirit.

Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.

Merry Christmas!

It’s Wednesday, September 26, 2012. Today is “Johnny Appleseed Day.” As noted yesterday, “Yom Kippur” began at sundown yesterday and goes through nightfall tonight. What’s the difference between “sundown” and “nightfall?” Anyway, I believe that there is some significance to Yom Kippur that is not widely held. You see, I believe that there is a strong possibility that Jesus was born on Yom Kippur. I did not come up with this theory, I heard it somewhere else, not even sure I can remember where or when. Most people readily accept the probability that Jesus was not born anywhere close to December 25. It’s a widely known fact that there was a festival on that day that celebrated the return of the sun after the shortest day of the year. Much speculation (and that’s really all we can do) has placed his birth in late September/early October. Yom Kippur is one of those holidays that comes on a different day each year, like Easter. In late September/early October. How cool would it be if Jesus, the one who provided atonement for mankind, was born on the “Day of Atonement?” For a further bonus, if you count backwards from Yom Kippur, 40 weeks, the human gestation period, in the case of this year, you get December 21. So, it’s entirely possible, that by celebrating on December 25, we just might be celebrating the “immaculate conception.” Hmmm? Just food for thought on this Wednesday morning.

On this date in 1580, Francis Drake became the first British navigator to circumnavigate the earth.
On this date in 1957, West Side Story, composed by Leonard Bernstein, opened on Broadway.
On this date in 1969, The Brady Bunch premiered. It was the story of a lovely lady who was living with three very lovely girls…
On this date in 1888, T.S. Eliot was born.
On this date in 2008, Paul Newman died. I completely forgot that he was dead. Wow.
On this date in 1820, Daniel Boone died. I did not forget that he was dead.
And on this date in 1971, Jim Palmer won his 20th game of the season, pitching for the Baltimore Orioles (who, by the way, are in the running for the American League east division championship this year). This made the 1971 Orioles the first team since the 1920 White Sox to have four 20 game winners.

Not much to report from yesterday. It was a pretty normal day. Other than Christi continues to hurt pretty badly. Last night, her hip was hurting so bad she could hardly walk. It’s better this morning, she says. We think it may have something to do with the way she is sitting at work. She pretty much stays in the same meeting room all day, so there’s not much movement.

Our lifehouse meeting last night was good. We talked for a bit on how we feel God has worked in our lives over the past year. It’s kind of a yearly thing, as we just started our meetings back up a couple weeks ago. Next week we’re off, then we start looking at a DVD series by Francis Chan.

The Rangers lost to the A’s last night in the 10th inning. They are back to only 4 games ahead of the A’s with 8 games remaining. The Angels are only 2 games behind the A’s. In the National League, the Atlanta Braves clinched at least a wild card spot, which makes four teams in the NL that have clinched playoff spots. As of today, there are still NO teams in the AL that have clinched a spot. I can’t stand this. Talk about an exciting finish. So, technically, there’s still a chance that the Evil Empire might not even make the playoffs. I can dream, right?

Father, I pray that you will show me a glimpse of you this morning as I look into your word and meditate on your precepts.

Today, I’m reading Psalm 118. This is a Psalm of thanksgiving.

1 Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!

When we recognize that the Lord is on our side (not the side of any “cause,” mind you, but he is for the redeemed), we have nothing to fear.
5 Out of my distress I called on the LORD; the LORD answered me and set me free.
6 The LORD is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?
7 The LORD is on my side as my helper; I shall look in triumph on those who hate me.

We see that the Lord is more trustworthy than men.
8 It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man.
9 It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in princes.

14 The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.
15 Glad songs of salvation are in the tents of the righteous: “The right hand of the LORD does valiantly,
16 the right hand of the LORD exalts, the right hand of the LORD does valiantly!”

Included in this psalm is the verse Jesus quoted about being the cornerstone, as well as a verse that is quoted by any number of preachers almost every Sunday morning.
22 The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.
23 This is the LORD’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.
24 This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Also included in this psalm is the cry of the people as Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the foal of a donkey.
26 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD! We bless you from the house of the LORD.
27 The LORD is God, and he has made his light to shine upon us. Bind the festal sacrifice with cords, up to the horns of the altar!

And it closes out the same way it opens.
29 Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!

Psalm 118 made me think of this old Michael W Smith song.

Today’s reading in My Utmost For His Highest is called “The Unblameable Attitude.” The verse is Matthew 5:23, which says, So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you… In the middle of these readings that have the word “Go” in them, we get this one. This verse was also included in the reading from two days ago.

What is being spoken of here is sensitivity to the Holy Spirit. We are not being told to rack our brains before giving our offering, to see if there’s anything in our memory that must be taken care of. If I’m about to give my offering, whatever it may be, and the Spirit reminds me about some unfinished business with a brother, then I need to be sensitive to that reminder and go take care of it.

Notice that Jesus doesn’t mention the other person. “You go.” Once again, we get to the point about our “rights.” “The stamp of the saint is that he can waive his own rights and obey the Lord Jesus.” Also note that the idea is that my brother has something against me, not the other way around. In other words…if I have offended a brother and not made reconciliation, I must make an attempt to rectify this before making my offering. It doesn’t have to be a successful attempt, although, if he is truly a brother, he must accept my efforts to make things right.

The chain of obedience is clear. I’m making a sacrificial offering; the Spirit reminds me; I go and humbly make reconciliation; I return to make my “glad, simple, unhindered, offering” of my gift to God. Attitude is everything in this. I cannot afford to be begrudging in this. If God leads me in this way, I must go humbly and willingly, with no complaint. This is “The Unblameable Attitude.”

Father, as I get ready to head into this day, I first thank you that your steadfast love endures forever. I praise you that you are on the side of the redeemed. Not MY side. No. And truly, you are on YOUR side. But you do great wonders for the redeemed, for which Christ has died. As I ponder the fact that there is truly nothing man can do to me that will permanently harm me, I praise your name. I will not fear. That is a bold statement, considering that I probably will, at some point, fear. But it is a truth that, as one of your redeemed, there is truly nothing that should cause me to fear. I will take refuge in you, Lord. You are my strength and my song and you are my salvation.

May I have the “unblameable attitude” spoken of in today’s reading. If you remind me, by your Spirit, that there is someone who has something against me, give me the courage to take care of it. Don’t let me be distracted, however, by trying to drum up old memories of relationships from the past. Simply let me be sensitive to the promptings of your Spirit.

I pray for this day. I continue to pray for relief for Christi from her pain. i pray that her day will go smoothly, and that there will be no stress at her work place today. I pray that her hip will continue to feel better today. I also continue praying that the injection tomorrow will accomplish what it is supposed to. I pray for my work day today. May our work go smoothly and without issue today. Reveal something of yourself to all of us during this day. May we stay focused and in an attitude of prayer as we work today. I also pray that Stephanie will have a good day today. Draw her attention to you and to your word during this day.

Give me faith and focus as I go into my private prayer time. May you hear my cry today as I call out to you.

Your grace is sufficient.

Today’s topic is not an easy one. It requires faithfulness and humility. It requires that we surrender our rights. But a true saint can do this, with the help of God’s Spirit.

Grace and peace, friends. Oh…and “Merry Christmas!” 🙂