June 25, 2021

His truth is a shield and a buckler.
Psalm 91:4 (ASB)
One of the most haunting scenes in the gospels is found at the end of John 18. At his trial, Jesus said, "For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice," to which replied, "What is truth?" There is much more that might have been said here, but Pilate had already moved on. Truth is subjective, he seemed to be saying, so there's no point in giving it another thought.

I suppose from a human point of view, truth is subjective. With our imperfections and limitations, we are never able to see the complete picture of anything. And so as we learn more and look more deeply (or from a different angle), our truth changes. It's sort of like the law of gravity: It remains the same, but our experience of it would be very different if we were on the moon.

Jesus said, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”
 John 8:31-32
Prayer after thinking about today's devotion:
From the cowardice that shrinks from new truths, 
from the laziness that is content with half-truth, 
from the arrogance that thinks it knows all truth, 
O God of truth, deliver us.
✙ 
After your own thanksgivings & petitions, close with the Lord's Prayer.
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June 24, 2021

Patrick's Breastplate

He said, “If now I have found favor in your sight, O Lord, I pray, let the Lord go with us.”

Exodus 34:9

I arise today
through the strength of heaven;
light of the sun,
splendor of fire,
speed of lightning,
swiftness of the wind,
depth of the sea,
stability of the earth,
firmness of the rock.
I arise today
through God's strength to pilot me;
God's might to uphold me,
God's wisdom to guide me,
God's eye to look before me,
God's ear to hear me,
God's word to speak for me,
God's hand to guard me,
God's way to lie before me,
God's shield to protect me,
God's hosts to save me
from snares of the devil,
from temptations of vices,
from every one who desires me ill,
far and near,
alone or in a multitude.
I summon today all these powers between me and evil,
against every cruel merciless power that opposes my body and soul.
Christ shield me today
against poison, against burning,
against drowning, against wounding,
so that reward may come to me in abundance.
 St. Patrick

And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people by the forgiveness of their sins.
 Luke 1:76-77
Prayer after thinking about today's devotion:
Christ with me, 
Christ before me, 
Christ behind me, 
Christ within me, 
Christ beneath me, 
Christ above me, 
Christ at my right, 
Christ at my left,
Christ in the heart of all who think of me, 
Christ in the mouth of all who speak to me, 
Christ in the eye of all who see me, 
Christ in the ear of all who hear me.
 St. Patrick
✙ 
After your own thanksgivings & petitions, close with the Lord's Prayer.

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June 23, 2021

Truer to Our God

So I will bless you as long as I live; I will lift up my hands and call on your Name.
Psalm 63:4
Yesterday, the selected text led me to wonder about the nature of life. And the answer the Bible provided was that to live is to be loved by God—not just for the brief years of my biological existence, but from everlasting to everlasting. But while life on earth endures, I am called upon to bless God, to thankfully praise God, and to bring all my concerns to God. That's my purpose in this life.

My appreciation of prayer is one of the things that changed during the pandemic. Though unable to meet in person, we had a church prayer meeting every weeknight via zoom. Though much of these meetings consisted of chit-chat, a major portion was also taken up in prayer.

June 22, 2021

What Is Life?

As for mortals, their days are like grass; they flourish like a flower of the field; for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more. But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting.
Psalm 103:15-17
Existential questions—sounds like a fancy term, but we all ask them. What is life? What is the meaning of life? Is this all there is? What's the point of it all? These are the questions we ask when things aren't going well, when someone we love has died, when we're faced with terminal illness, when a relationship ends, when we're alone and have time to think. These are the questions many of us were asking during the deepest isolation of the covid pandemic.

The Bible tells us that we can expect threescore and ten years—fourscore if we're lucky—and then "we fly away" [Ps. 90:10]. But in those days, few people even reached the lower of those two milestones. 

June 21, 2021

A Beautiful Promise

With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.

Isaiah 12:3
Onward, ye pilgrims that journey to Zion,
sing and be joyful, whatever betide;
trust in Jehovah, your Lord and your shepherd,
all that is needed his love will provide.

Think of the promise, the soul-cheering promise,
left to encourage the young and the old,
they shall draw water from wells of salvation,
beautiful promise, more precious than gold.

Ye that are thirsty and faint in the desert,
come to the wells of salvation so free;
drink of their waters, their life-giving waters;
come, there’s a welcome for you and for me.

You who are nearing the valley and shadow,
looking by faith to the bright golden shore,
precious to you are the wells of salvation,
sweeter their waters than ever before.

Think of the promise, the soul-cheering promise,
left to encourage the young and the old,
they shall draw water from wells of salvation,
beautiful promise, more precious than gold.
 Fanny Crosby (1881)
Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.
 Matthew 11:28
Prayer after thinking about today's devotion:
Thank you, God, for your promise of salvation and renewal. Let me drink deeply of your living water that I may never thirst again.
✙ 
After your own thanksgivings & petitions, close with the Lord's Prayer.

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June 20, 2021

June 20 Worship

The church says that today is the Fourth Sunday after Pentecost. But most people know it as Father's Day. We sang a couple of Father's Day hymns today and said a prayer for the men of our church. The scripture reading was from 1 Samuel 17, and the sermon was about David and Goliath, using the Karate Kid as an illustration.

Here's the video of today's service, followed by the order of worship, then the sermon text:

The Nearness of God

Seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near.

Isaiah 55:6
Who hath believed the tidings? Who?
Or felt the joys our words impart?
Gladly confessed our record true,
and found the Savior in their heart?
Planted in nature’s barren ground,
and cherished by our Sovereign's care,
There shall th’immortal Seed be found,
the Root divine shall flourish there.

See, the Desire of Nations comes,
nor outward pomp bespeaks him near:
A veil of flesh our God assumes,
a servant’s form he stoops to wear.
He lays his every glory by;