Which Side Are You On?

Today is Wednesday, the 8th of February, 2023, in the season of Epiphany.

May the peace of the Lord be with you always!

Day 23,708

It has been thundering since late last night. It is milder, this morning, but last night, between 10:00 and 11:00 PM, it was quite loud. It has been raining for most of that time, as well, pretty heavily, at times. It has slowed down for the moment, though. I’m hoping it will stop by around 10:30 AM, because I have to take S to see her therapist at 11:00.

That’s pretty much the only thing I have to do today, until choir practice, this evening. I’ll be cooking Beefy American Goulash (from Emily Bites) for dinner, tonight, which will result in having a couple of leftover servings, which will be nice for tomorrow’s lunch. This has become the family’s favorite, I do believe.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Go away from me, you evildoers, 
that I may keep the commandments of my God.
(Psalms 119:115 NRSV)

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

Dear Father in heaven, you are among us and we can call you Abba, dear Father. In the joy of being your children we want to lay our lives into your hands to be made good and happy. Care for us like a shepherd pasturing his flock so that we can have community with one another. Help us to realize that you have many children here and everywhere, and that again and again you take a child by the hand saying, “You are mine. I am caring for you.” We thank you that your eyes watch over all the world. We thank you that your rule is over all humankind and will bring good to all people, wherever they may live. May this happen soon through our Savior. We call to him, “Lord Jesus, come. Come soon! May your hand keep us all close to the Father in heaven.” Amen.

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, “Abba! Father!” it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ—if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.
(Romans 8:14-17 NRSV)

Today I am grateful:

  • for the rain we have received overnight, into this morning
  • that the Spirit bears witness with my spirit, that I am a child of God
  • that I am able to praise the Lord, both on musical instruments, and with my lips and my tongue
  • for new mercies each morning; “great is Thy faithfulness”
  • that the Lord does NOT take sides in human arguments; The Lord is on HIS side

Your power and your righteousness, O God, 
reach the high heavens. 
You who have done great things, O God, 
who is like you? 
You who have made me see many troubles and calamities 
will revive me again; 
from the depths of the earth you will bring me up again. 
You will increase my honor, and comfort me once again. 
I will also praise you with the harp 
for your faithfulness, O my God; 
I will sing praises to you with the lyre, 
O Holy One of Israel. 
My lips will shout for joy when I sing praises to you;
 my soul also, which you have rescued. 
All day long my tongue will talk of your righteous help, 
for those who tried to do me harm
 have been put to shame, and disgraced.
(Psalms 71:18-24 NRSV)

Once when Joshua was by Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing before him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you one of us, or one of our adversaries?” He replied, “Neither; but as commander of the army of the LORD I have now come.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped, and he said to him, “What do you command your servant, my lord?” The commander of the army of the LORD said to Joshua, “Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place where you stand is holy.” And Joshua did so.
(Joshua 5:13-15 NRSV)

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things.
(Galatians 5:22-23 NRSV)

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases, 
his mercies never come to an end; 
they are new every morning; 
great is your faithfulness. 
"The LORD is my portion," says my soul, 
"therefore I will hope in him."
(Lamentations 3:22-24 NRSV)
Out of my distress I called on the LORD; 
the LORD answered me and set me in a broad place.
(Psalms 118:5 NRSV)

I’m seeing a couple of different things, this morning, and I’m going to try to bring them together. I may or may not succeed.

First and foremost is the passage from Joshua 5. This has stood out to me for a number of years, now, especially as I grow more and more weary of the political morass in this nation. There is a very important truth that we need to understand, here. God is not on anyone else’s side! God is not on the Republican side; God is not on the Democrat side; God is not on the Tea Party side. God is on God’s side.

Joshua mistakenly assumed that the angel he saw was on one side or the other. The angel quickly set him straight. “Neither,” he said,” but as commander of the army of the LORD I have now come.” Now, it may appear, from subsequent events, that the Lord was on Israel’s side. But that is only because that action was part of the Lord’s plan to accomplish His own purpose.

I have seen, all too often, humans from one persuasion or another, declare, “God is on our side!”

No. He is not. But if you happen to align yourself with God’s side and purposes, it may appear that He is. Rather than deciding on a “cause” and begging God to support your cause, it is better to ascertain what God’s “cause” is and join up with Him. That is one of the few positive things I brought away from the old “Experiencing God” study a few decades ago. We need to be looking to see what God is doing around us, and join in.

Instead, we all too often decide what we want to do and expect Him to join us. That ain’t gonna happen, folks. Unless we get “lucky” and what we decide to do is what He is already doing.

Now, on a positive note, we see that His steadfast love never fails and that His mercies are new every morning. In His mercy, He remembers that we are dust (this has become a favorite concept of mine, of late), and so when we start this silliness about God being “on our side,” He is patient with us, I believe. But He also reminds us of the fruit of the Spirit, which is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness (or generosity), gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control.

If we strive to exercise those qualities in our lives every day, we should wind up on the right “side,” which is God’s side, not any other human’s side. But if we find that we have inadvertently taken up with the wrong side (which is anyone’s side but God’s), we have the assurance that, when we cry out to Him in our distress, He will place our feet in “a broad place.”

So consider . . . which side are you on?


Father, I thank You that You do not take “human sides,” but that You are on Your side. I pray for the wisdom and strength to always be on Your side. It is so very easy to become swayed by human arguments and policies and “causes,” when, in fact, Yours is the only “cause” that is worthy of my support. And I believe that cause to be the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which tells us that Your kingdom is here, now, and available for all to join in.

I pray that You will give me the ability to show this kingdom to all around me. I pray that You will, by the power of the Spirit, enable me to display the fruit of the Spirit in my life, at all times. There are pieces of that fruit that I struggle with, mightily. Patience is one of those. Self-control and gentleness are others. Goodness/generosity, I do pretty well at, I think. I’m not too bad with the joy and peace parts, either, usually. But when my anxiety gets the better of me, those suffer, as well.

But it all starts with love. I don’t think it’s an accident that “love” is mentioned first. So help me love, Father, always. And that has been a major prayer of mine for a while, now, as You continue to drive me toward that kind of love for You and for others. Our world needs a Love Revolution, Father.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


Praise the LORD! 

Praise the LORD, O my soul! 
I will praise the LORD as long as I live; 
I will sing praises to my God all my life long. 

Do not put your trust in princes, 
in mortals, in whom there is no help. 
When their breath departs, 
they return to the earth; 
on that very day their plans perish. 

Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob, 
whose hope is in the LORD their God, 
who made heaven and earth, 
the sea, and all that is in them; 
who keeps faith forever; 
who executes justice for the oppressed; 
who gives food to the hungry. 
The LORD sets the prisoners free; 
the LORD opens the eyes of the blind. 
The LORD lifts up those who are bowed down; 
the LORD loves the righteous. 
The LORD watches over the strangers; 
he upholds the orphan and the widow, 
but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin. 

The LORD will reign forever, 
your God, O Zion, for all generations. 

Praise the LORD!
(Psalms 146:1-10 NRSV)

Grace and peace, friends.

The Incomprehensible

Today is Tuesday, the 7th of February, 2023, in the season of Epiphany.

May the peace of Christ enfold you today!

Day 23,707

Our weather continues to display signs of drunkenness. After a high of 73, yesterday, I awoke to a temperature of 61 degrees, and falling (the temperature, not me). That will be the highest temperature of the day. It should get down to around 45 degrees during the night, tonight. There is an 87% chance of rain today, and 85% chance tomorrow. This is fine, as we need the rain, and it’s not supposed to freeze this week. The next ten days are predicted to be anywhere from the low fifties to the low seventies. The average temps for this time of year are upper fifties for highs and mid-thirties for lows. We aren’t setting any records, though, as the record high for today is 77, in 1974, and the record low is 22, in 2014. I should think we should be getting close to the time when the record lows will be from 2021.

It’s my night at the library, tonight, so I’ll be working from 4:15 to 8:15, this evening. It’s also our Subway day, so I’ll be trekking over to Subway around noon today, to pick up lunch and dinner for the family. We missed it last week, because of the winter “storm.”

That’s about all I have today. Got a few chores to do, and should probably practice a little bit. Need to keep my trombone chops going (or keep improving them), and have a new vocal song to learn for February 26.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

You are my hiding place and my shield; 
I hope in your word.
(Psalms 119:114 NRSV)

May this ever be true in my life.

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

Dear Father in heaven, living source of all that is eternal in us, we come to you and plead with you to strengthen the gifts you have given us. Grant us the light of life in which we can walk in spite of the many burdens and uncertainties of our earthly life. Protect us from deception and disappointment. Strengthen our hope for your steadfast, firm, and eternal rule in us, in many others, and finally in all people. Amen.

Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 3:13-14 NRSV)

Today I am grateful:

  • that God is my hiding place and my shield (Psalm 119:114)
  • for the gifts that God has given me; may He strengthen those within me
  • for the Word of God, lamp to my feet, light to my path (Psalm 119:105)
  • for freedom in Christ
  • that the Lord delivers me from all my fears (Psalm 34:4)
  • for the Psalms

I rise before dawn and cry for help; 
I put my hope in your words.
(Psalms 119:147 NRSV)
I sought the LORD, 
and he answered me, 
and delivered me from all my fears.
(Psalms 34:4 NRSV)
Your word is a lamp to my feet 
and a light to my path.
(Psalms 119:105 NRSV)
So if the Son makes you free, 
you will be free indeed.
(John 8:36 NRSV)
So thank GOD for his marvelous love, 
for his miracle mercy to the children he loves.
(Psalms 107:31 MSG)

I have a lot of thoughts going through my head, this morning, as I consider the Scripture verses that have spoken to me.

I like Eugene H. Peterson’s words, in Answering God, quoted in today’s reading of God’s Message for Each Day. “It is not possible to comprehend God. Merely to utter the name ‘God’ is to be plunged into mystery.”

I agree. We cannot comprehend God, and as soon as someone claims that they have, they lose all credibility. However, we are not roaming around in the dark, “where all cats are gray.” While we cannot comprehend God, there are things about Him that are knowable. We tend to call these things “doctrine.” Even so, there is a rather large amount of disagreement over those doctrines.

One of the great things about C.S. Lewis’s book, Mere Christianity, which I am currently reading again, along with a group of people from my church, is that what he is trying to describe fits the title perfectly. He is not interested in “denominational” differences. He says, right off the bat, that he is not going to present one communion over another. He happened to be of the Church of England, but I believe that is only mentioned once in the book, and that at the beginning.

He describes “mere Christianity,” or, in a sense, the basic beliefs which most denominations agree upon, as a large hall. The important thing is to get into that hallway. The various denominations or “communions,” as he calls them, are represented by doors that come off of that hallway. He advises us to be kind to people who have either landed in different rooms than we, or people who have made it into the hallway, but not yet found which door they need to go through.

Evelyn Underhill defines worship as simply “the response of the creature to the Eternal.” This response comes almost naturally (most definitely naturally to non-human creatures), and is, perhaps, enhanced by the fact that we do not and cannot comprehend God, as Peterson notes.

So we seek Him, and we cry out to Him, as we worship Him. We do not comprehend, and perhaps we should not attempt to. Part of the act of worship is simply doing nothing more than contemplating His beauty. Any attempt to understand or comprehend Him detracts from this, and could result in what Underhill called “egotistic piety.”

So we thank Him for His marvelous love, that “miracle mercy,” as Peterson paraphrases in Psalm 107:31.

Jesus declared that if we continue in His Word, we would know the truth and the truth would make us free. Jesus also declared that He was the Truth (the Way, the Truth, and the Life). Therefore, it is Him that we will know, and He who will set us free. And if He has set us free, then we are “free indeed.” The Greek word that is translated “indeed,” is ontos, which can be translated as “indeed, certainly, of a truth, verily, really.”

There seems to be some disagreement as to what “free” means, in this case. I will give my opinion, noting that it is nothing more than that. However, as Paul once said, I believe that I, too, have the Holy Spirit.

I believe that, in Christ, I have been made free, indeed, and that I am free from trying to comprehend something that is incomprehensible. There is a contingent of society that refuses to believe something that it cannot understand. I find this laughable, as those same people get in their car and drive to work every day, and I guarantee you that many of them don’t really understand how that works. Or maybe they get on an airplane and fly to a particular destination. And I guarantee you that they breathe, and don’t understand how that works, either!

As C.S. Lewis points out, I don’t have to understand how my dinner nourishes me in order to enjoy it.

So I don’t have to comprehend God to enjoy Him. And there are certainly times when I thoroughly enjoy simply contemplating His beauty.


Father, I praise You, even though I do not fully understand You. And I thank You that I don’t have to. Well, I can’t, that’s the truth, but I don’t have to try to. I am free from that, as well as free from other things, because of Jesus Christ. So I praise You for the Son, who has set us free, indeed, because He is the Truth, and He has shown us truth, that we may become free in Him.

I praise You for Your inexpressible beauty. This beauty is made known to us in so many ways, not the least of which is Your Creation. How I love to sit and watch the ocean, and even better, catch a sunrise or sunset over the ocean. How I love to watch a waterfall, one, perhaps that is not so readily visible without a bit of a journey. The reward is worth it. In these things, as well as in the majestic mountain ranges, I see Your beauty. I celebrate that beauty in worship.

Thank You for Your Word, which is a lamp for my feet, which lights up my path. Help me to always continue in that Word, and never forsake it. I have truly loved Your Word since before I was able to read it. I praise You for being that kind of Presence in my life for that long, Lord.

You are glorious and beautiful, and I long to be in Your Presence for eternity.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


Grace and peace, friends.

Life or Death

Today is Monday, the 6th of February, in the season of Epiphany.

May the peace of Christ be with you always!

Day 23,706

I think I did pretty good at the reading, yesterday morning. It was a good service, all around. The young lady who played guitar and sang did a marvelous job singing “Blessed Assurance.” And the music director and I nailed down a song for me to sing on February 26. But I mentioned that in yesterday’s blog entry because I didn’t finish it until I got home from church.

Our C.S. Lewis Mere Christianity discussion group continues to go well. We are having some great discussion/conversation, and don’t ever seem to be able to get through all the material, each week. We will not be meeting this coming Sunday evening because of some important sports event. Either that or because it’s Lincoln’s birthday. One of those.

Things are back to normal (whatever that means) after last week’s winter storm. C is back in the office, this morning, and I plan a grocery trip after I finish my devotional, this morning.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

I hate the double-minded, 
but I love your law.
(Psalms 119:113 NRSV)

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

Dear Father in heaven, we come before your presence with thanksgiving and rejoice that you are with us on earth. Even though we have many struggles and temptations and even though problems crowd in upon us, we know that we are in your hands and that everything must go according to your will. Hold us securely in your hand. Help us to bear all that we find hard, for we know you are in control and you lead everything to a good end. The darker and more difficult it may seem, the more clearly your hand will reveal the victory in those whose lives are founded in eternity, whose lives cannot end in sorrow but will end in your glory. Amen.

I will exult and rejoice in your steadfast love, 
because you have seen my affliction; 
you have taken heed of my adversities, 
and have not delivered me into the hand of the enemy; 
you have set my feet in a broad place.
(Psalms 31:7-8 NRSV)

Today I am grateful:

  • for the knowledge that, even though we have struggles, temptations, and problems, God’s will must come to pass, and we are firmly in His hands.
  • for milder temperatures this week, along with some predicted rain
  • that the Lord placed it in my heart to choose life over death; may I be faithful to follow His commands
  • that winter weather is a sign of good things to come
  • that I’m not worrying about things I cannot control

A Song of Ascents. Of David. 

O LORD, my heart is not lifted up, 
my eyes are not raised too high; 
I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. 
But I have calmed and quieted my soul, 
like a weaned child with its mother; 
my soul is like the weaned child that is with me.
 O Israel, hope in the LORD 
from this time on and forevermore.
(Psalms 131:1-3 NRSV)
Surely, this commandment that I am commanding you today is not too hard for you, nor is it too far away. It is not in heaven, that you should say, "Who will go up to heaven for us, and get it for us so that we may hear it and observe it?" Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, "Who will cross to the other side of the sea for us, and get it for us so that we may hear it and observe it?" No, the word is very near to you; it is in your mouth and in your heart for you to observe. 

See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, death and adversity. If you obey the commandments of the LORD your God that I am commanding you today, by loving the LORD your God, walking in his ways, and observing his commandments, decrees, and ordinances, then you shall live and become numerous, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to possess. But if your heart turns away and you do not hear, but are led astray to bow down to other gods and serve them, I declare to you today that you shall perish; you shall not live long in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess. I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live, loving the LORD your God, obeying him, and holding fast to him; for that means life to you and length of days, so that you may live in the land that the LORD swore to give to your ancestors, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.
(Deuteronomy 30:11-20 NRSV)

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. And even the hairs of your head are all counted. So do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.
(Matthew 10:29-31 NRSV)


"Law, in his terrible, cool voice, said, . . . 'If you have not chosen the Kingdom of God, it will make in the end no difference what you have chosen instead.' Those are hard words to take. Will it really make no difference whether it was women or patriotism, cocaine or art, whisky or a seat in the Cabinet, money or science? Well, surely no difference that matters. We shall have missed the end for which we are formed and rejected the only thing that satisfies. Does it matter to a man dying in a desert by which choice of route he missed the only well?" 
(C.S. Lewis, from "A Slip of the Tongue," The Weight of Glory, quoted in The C.S. Lewis Bible, in reference to Deuteronomy 30:15-20)

I have long admired the words of Psalm 131, one of the songs of ascent. “I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me.” That’s a challenge for us humans, isn’t it? But consider the words of C.S. Lewis, in relation to the passage from Deuteronomy 30. We have two choice; life and death. It truly doesn’t matter which form of “death” we choose, if we do not choose life.

A man might think to himself, “I’ve only had a little bit of a temper problem, or I just participated in a little bit of office gossip. I haven’t murdered anyone!” C.S. Lewis would also argue, in a passage from Mere Christianity that our group has not yet gotten to, that that doesn’t matter, either. The internal effect of both sins is the same.

I have long argued that, from God’s perspective, a sin is a sin is a sin; doesn’t matter if it’s a little white lie or adultery or murder or going a little bit faster than the speed limit. Certainly, speeding, from man’s perspective, is not as bad as murder, and it should not be! But we aren’t talking about that.

If I am striving to not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me, I need not worry about all of those considerations. I need not worry about what I’m going to eat, drink, or wear, and need to remember that I am more valuable to God than “many sparrows.”

We just had a bit of rough weather, last week. It wasn’t nearly as bad as “Snovid 21,” but most people were stuck at home for at least two full days. In this respect, we can also choose between “life and death.” We can complain about the weather (and I will admit that I got mildly depressed by Thursday evening, simply from being stuck at home), or we can look forward to what winter weather heralds . . . spring flowers.

Here’s the thing . . . once again; two choices. Life and death. There is only one aspect in which that decision is truly a “life or death decision,” and that is our choice about whether to follow Christ or not. But there are many smaller choices in our lives that lean toward life and death. Choosing life means choosing to look forward to spring flowers, rather than dwelling in the midst of the dreary winter weather. Choosing life means not getting upset when the Internet doesn’t work, and being grateful for the other blessings from God. Choosing life means not stressing about national politics when I have heaven to look forward to. Choosing life means believing that God will take care of me because I’m more valuable than a bunch of birds. Choosing life means not worrying about the things we can’t control.

Remember the words of Moses:

I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live, loving the LORD your God, obeying him, and holding fast to him; for that means life to you and length of days, so that you may live in the land that the LORD swore to give to your ancestors, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.
(Deuteronomy 30:19-20 NRSV)


Father, I thank You that I have chosen life, and that, because of Your grace and mercy in my life, as well as the direction of Your Holy Spirit, I continue to lean toward choosing life in daily situations. I confess that I still get upset over “footstool problems,” but I also acknowledge that You are working on and in me, actively, because I seem to be getting better at these things. I pray that You continue to do so. I pray for the ability to submit to You in all things, and to always believe and act as though I believe that others are more significant/important than myself. In this way, I can love others as Jesus has loved us. I believe this is possible, and desire it in my life.

Help me to be one who cheerfully displays the Gospel of Christ, that Your Kingdom is available now for all who desire to walk in it. And help me, above all things, to show love; love for You and love for others.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.
(John 10:10 NRSV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Story

Today is Sunday, the 5th of February, 2023. It is the fifth Sunday after Epiphany.

May the peace of Christ surround you today.

Day 23,705

Yesterday may have been the busiest day I have ever experienced at the library. The book drops stayed full, pretty much all day. But the three of us in circulation stayed on it and got it done. There were a lot of new library cards given out, and it seems that we noted an unusual number of couples coming in to get cards together. One particular couple that I worked with were very excited about it, and that made me very happy. Several of them had recently moved to the area and provided leases as their proof of address. And in two of the couples, the woman had an out of state ID/DL. But, as long as they have the lease with their name on it, that serves as proof of address and they can get a card.

One thing for sure, we were never bored, yesterday.

I’m up early, this morning, as I am reading the Scripture lesson in the 8:45 service at Living Word Lutheran Church. So I need to be at the church by 8:25. Then I am meeting with the music director at 10:00 to discuss what solo I will sing on February 26. After that, I will come home, because I will have received communion in the early service.

So on to the important stuff.

Update: I’m finishing this after the morning service, back at home. The reading went well, and the director and I have chosen a song that I will sing on February 26.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

I incline my heart to perform your statutes forever, 
to the end.
(Psalms 119:112 NRSV)

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

Lord our God, keep us in your Spirit. Surround us with your protection, so that in body and soul we may praise your might and be joyful even in a world full of evil. Shine into our hearts, that we may discern what is right and good and eternal. May you do more than we can ask or understand for those who still walk in darkness far away from you. May your eternal mercy enfold them, and may the earth be filled with thanks to you, the Creator and Father of us all. Amen.

To the leader: according to Muth-labben. A Psalm of David. 

I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart; 
I will tell of all your wonderful deeds. 
I will be glad and exult in you; 
I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.
(Psalms 9:1-2 NRSV)

Today I am grateful:

  • for a good day at the library job, yesterday
  • for the wonderful deeds of the Lord, for which I am able to give thanks and praise, daily
  • for my musical talent and ability, that helps me give thanks and praise to the Lord
  • that, when I find myself afraid, I can put my trust in Him, “In God, whose word I praise” (Psalm 56:4)
  • for a wonderful worship service, this morning
  • for my story, so far . . . it’s not over, yet

O come, let us sing to the LORD; 
let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! 
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; 
let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!
(Psalms 95:1-2 NRSV)
To the leader: on Lilies, a Covenant. Of Asaph. A Psalm. 

Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, 
you who lead Joseph like a flock! 
You who are enthroned upon the cherubim, 
shine forth before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh. 
Stir up your might, and come to save us! 
Restore us, O God; 
let your face shine, that we may be saved.
(Psalms 80:1-3 NRSV)
A Psalm. A Song for the Sabbath Day.

 It is good to give thanks to the LORD,
 to sing praises to your name, O Most High; 
to declare your steadfast love in the morning, 
and your faithfulness by night, 
to the music of the lute and the harp, 
to the melody of the lyre.
(Psalms 92:1-3 NRSV)
In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; 
I am not afraid; what can flesh do to me?
(Psalms 56:4 NRSV)
"Do to others as you would have them do to you. 
"If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful."
(Luke 6:31-36 NRSV)
How can young people keep their way pure? 
By guarding it according to your word. 
With my whole heart I seek you; 
do not let me stray from your commandments.
 I treasure your word in my heart, 
so that I may not sin against you. 
Blessed are you, O LORD; 
teach me your statutes. 
With my lips I declare all the ordinances of your mouth.
 I delight in the way of your decrees as much as in all riches. 
I will meditate on your precepts, 
and fix my eyes on your ways.
 I will delight in your statutes; 
I will not forget your word.
(Psalms 119:9-16 NRSV)

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.

"Set me free, O God, from the bondage of my sins, 
and give me the liberty of that abundant life 
which you have made known to me in your Son 
our Savior Jesus Christ; 
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)

Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, 
but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
(Proverbs 31:30 NRSV)
God is in the midst of the city; 
it shall not be moved; 
God will help it when the morning dawns.
(Psalms 46:5 NRSV)
A capable wife who can find? 
She is far more precious than jewels.
(Proverbs 31:10 NRSV)

“That’s why I tell stories: to create readiness, to nudge the people toward receptive insight.”
(Matthew 13:13 MSG)


Who doesn’t love a good story? The popularity of movies and television bears this out. Story is important. One reason is that we all have a story. There’s not a single person who has ever lived who did not have a story.

Some of us, however, are reticent to share that story, for some reason.

I shared part of my story, just this morning. I had a conversation with the music director, while we were going over some music, in which I shared a brief overview of my journey as music minister/worship leader.

The way we connect with others is, so often, through story. Connections are not authentic when one person is not interested in the other person’s story.

We find God through story. The revelation comes to us through story, both through Old and New Testaments.

One reason story is so essential to us is that it is how life happens. Life . . . "has a narrative shape--a beginning and end, plot and characters, conflict and resolution. Life isn't an accumulation of abstractions such as love and truth, sin and salvation . . . ; life is the realization of details that all connect . . . : names and fingerprints, street numbers, . . . God reveals himself to us . . . in the kind of stories we use to tell our children who they are and how to grow up as human beings." 
(Eugene H. Peterson, Leap Over A Wall, quoted in God's Message for Each Day)

Over time, I will share parts of my story in this forum. My story is who I am. The parts of it are what make me who I am today.

Part of my story involves two women who, I believe, embody the two verses from Proverbs, up there. My wife and my mother. My story would be incomplete without either one. Well, obviously, it wouldn’t exist without a mother. But you know what I mean. While everyone has a mother (or had one) not all mothers fit the description of a “woman who fears the Lord.” Mine does, as does my wife. And both figure quite heavily into my story, which would likely be much shorter without either one.

I challenge all who read this to think about their story, today, and in the days ahead. How would you share it with someone else? Would it be different for someone who is not a Christ-follower? I should think so. There is nothing wrong with having a different version of your story, based on your “audience.”


Father, I am grateful for my story, so far. I am grateful that You have always been part of my story, even from before I was born. In fact, I believe that You are part of my story from before the foundations of the earth. Thank You for the contributions that my parents and my wife have made to this story. As well as for the parts that have involved other people along the way. But my parents and my wife, specifically, have been a most important piece of it.

I know that I have led a somewhat privileged life. I won’t try to deny that. And I’m grateful for that. I do my best to take that and share it, though, as You bring me opportunities. Help me to always be willing to do so. Let not that privilege become entitlement. I do not deserve anything, nor am I owed anything. I owe all to You.

As for the rest of my story, You have already written it. May I be a willing participant, submissive to both You and others, as well. Help me to always consider others more significant than myself, in this life, thereby being a servant both to You and my fellow human beings.

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

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but be filled with the Spirit, as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, singing and making melody to the Lord in your hearts, giving thanks to God the Father at all times and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ.
(Ephesians 5:18-21 NRSV)

Grace and peace, friends.

When Christ Displaces Worry

Today is Saturday, the 4th of February, 2023, in the season of Epiphany.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,704

I neglected (actually forgot) what yesterday was, until about halfway through the day, someone on my Facebook feed reminded me. It was February 3, 1959, that the plane carrying Richie Valens, J.P. Richardson (The Big Bopper), and Buddy Holly crashed in Iowa, killing all three of them. It was later to be deemed “the day the music died,” by Don McLean in “American Pie.” I was not quite a year old when that happened.

I had a fine day at the library, yesterday. It was steady in the computer center, but never got overwhelming. I’m expecting a hectic day in circulation today, as the outside book drop sorter is still not in working order, yet. We got a “new” sorter a couple weeks ago, but have had issues getting it working. I think it may be close. The thing is, all outside book drop items will go in our old “emergency” bin, which doesn’t sort, and also doesn’t clear. So we have to manually clear everything that comes in. With the extreme weather we had this week, causing the library to be closed for two whole days and open late on Thursday, I expect a lot of people to be getting caught up today.

That and it is “Bring your child to the library day,” today. Hee.

That’s all I’ve got, so on to the real reason I’m here.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Your decrees are my heritage forever; 
they are the joy of my heart.
(Psalms 119:111 NRSV)

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

Lord our God, help us who have listened in the name of Jesus Christ and heard the good tidings. Help us come with our whole hearts to the Savior, who leads us into your arms. Hear our pleading and let your countenance shine over the world. Let a new age come soon. Send your salvation into the world to the glory of your name, so that the truth we have learned about you becomes a reality in our hearts and our whole life can be genuine, rooted in the truth, leading us into heaven, to the honor of your name. Hear us, O Lord our God. We entrust ourselves and our daily lives to you. We want to be faithful. Help us to be your children, mindful at every step that we belong to you. Amen.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
(John 14:6 NRSV)

Today I am grateful:

  • for Jesus, the way, the truth, and the life
  • for the love of reading instilled in me at a very early age by my parents (and others)
  • for the Word of God, “recorded for a generation to come, so that a people yet unborn may praise the Lord” (Psalm 102:18)
  • for the peace that displaces worry when I am faithful to pray
  • for the sovereignty of God in all things

O sing to the LORD a new song; 
sing to the LORD, all the earth.
(Psalms 96:1 NRSV)
With my whole heart I cry; 
answer me, O LORD. 
I will keep your statutes.
(Psalms 119:145 NRSV)
So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, 
do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to all the generations to come. 
Your power and your righteousness, O God, 
reach the high heavens. 
You who have done great things, O God, 
who is like you?
(Psalms 71:18-19 NRSV)
Let this be recorded for a generation to come, 
so that a people yet unborn may praise the LORD:
(Psalms 102:18 NRSV)

Then Jesus cried out as he was teaching in the temple, “You know me, and you know where I am from. I have not come on my own. But the one who sent me is true, and you do not know him. I know him, because I am from him, and he sent me.”
(John 7:28-29 NRSV)

To the leader: on Lilies, a Covenant. Of Asaph. A Psalm. 

Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, 
you who lead Joseph like a flock! 
You who are enthroned upon the cherubim, 
shine forth before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh. 
Stir up your might, and come to save us! 
Restore us, O God; 
let your face shine, that we may be saved. 

But let your hand be upon the one at your right hand, 
the one whom you made strong for yourself. 
Then we will never turn back from you; 
give us life, and we will call on your name. 
Restore us, O LORD God of hosts; 
let your face shine, that we may be saved. 
(Psalms 80:1-3, 17-19 NRSV)
"Our hearts, O Lord, are restless until they rest in You!" 
(The Cry of the Church - The Divine Hours)

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.

"Almighty and everlasting God,
you govern all things both in heaven and on earth:
Mercifully hear the supplications of your people,
and in our time grant us your peace;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God,
for ever and ever.
Amen."
(The Prayer Appointed for the Week - The Divine Hours)

One who forgives an affront fosters friendship, 
but one who dwells on disputes will alienate a friend.
(Proverbs 17:9 NRSV)

Do to others as you would have them do to you.
(Luke 6:31 NRSV)

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you.”
(John 15:12-14 NRSV)

love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor.
(Romans 12:10 NRSV)


Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.
(Philippians 4:6-7 MSG)


I confess: I (and I’m confident that I am not alone) do not always allow Christ to displace worry at the center of my life.

Surprise! I’m not perfect.

By the way, if you ever see me acting like I think I am, you have my permission to call me out on it.

But I have experienced what happens when I do allow Christ do displace that worry. It can be described with one word. “Peace.” Peterson paraphrases it, above, as “a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good.” The traditional translations call this a “peace that passes understanding” or something like that.

Last night, we were waiting on a grocery order from Kroger. Keep in mind that we had winter weather conditions for roughly three days. From Monday evening until about noon on Thursday, everything was covered in ice. Not snow. No, we don’t get that luxury in DFW, Texas. We get ice. Sleet, freezing rain, very little actual snow.

And for the other eleven months and 25 days of the year, we don’t have any of that. So we naturally are not prepared/equipped for such. It basically shuts us down. Make fun of us if you want, but I won’t make fun of you when it gets to 117 degrees in Portland, Oregon and all your grocery store freezers stop working.

Anyway . . . back to my grocery order. I put it in on Thursday afternoon (or maybe even late Thursday morning, I can’t quite recall). The earliest delivery time (I wasn’t about to set foot in Kroger after that ice storm) was between 4-6 PM on Friday. C was planning to work from home, so that would work. I work at the library until 6:15 on Fridays.

Yesterday, at 4:47 PM, I got a text stating that the delivery would not arrive until around 7:30 PM. Okay. Not surprised by that. I’m sure the store was exceedingly busy. I had seen Facebook posts from people who went to Walmart and said that everyone else in Fort Worth was there, too.

7:30 came and went. Finally, at 7:51, I got a text that a shopper had started shopping my order. I anxiously awaited texts telling me things that they were out of. The only one I got was on the bread, accompanied by this photo.

You can see, way down there at the end, that there is something. She asked if I wanted a replacement, and I said, “If you can find one.” She found some Pepperidge Farm bread, and I said, “great! That will work fine!”

Everything else was delivered as ordered! At roughly 8:55, we got our delivery.

Why am I telling you all of this? To illustrate the point of that passage in Philippians. Throughout this whole process, I vacillated between worry and peace. Whenever I would begin to worry about whether we would even get the delivery at all, the Spirit reminded me that God is in control of all things, and I experienced peace. Accompanying that peace was also great patience. I never got impatient during the waiting time. And the result was that we received everything we ordered, with only the bread being substituted.

That’s what happens when you allow Christ to displace worry at the center of your life. Not the part about your groceries being delivered. That’s peripheral. It’s the part about the peace. Not letting the worry reign.

I promise you that won’t happen every day for me. But I also tell you that I’m getting progressively better at it, as I learn to trust Him in everything.

Here’s the thing: God is sovereign. Either you believe that or you don’t. If you believe it, you don’t worry about who is President or King or whatever. You don’t worry about Democrats, Republicans, Communists, or Socialists. You don’t worry about “bad things” happening to you. They will. You can be sure of that. But, if you believe in the sovereignty of God, you will have peace. Because you know, in the depths of your soul, as I said a couple days ago, “God’s got this.”

"The world has design and order. I can plan, hope, believe. The confusion and conflict that convulse history are bounded by a larger clarity and peace." 
(Eugene H. Peterson, Where Your Treasure Is, quoted in God's Message for Each Day)

Father, I praise You for who You are. I praise You for Your sovereignty in all things. You alone are worthy of our praise. You are worthy of all glory, blessing, and honor. I thank You for the peace that fills my soul today. I pray that I can experience this peace every day. I know that I will slip up and allow worry to reign, sometime. Forgive me for when those times happen, and let the Spirit remind me of Your sovereignty in all things. I thank You for the positive experience of last night, that reminds me that, in Your kingdom, things are far better than I can ever imagine.

I pray for all of Your children, especially in this country, that they would be more in tune with Your sovereignty; that they would realize how foolish it is to worry over things like politics and other things that become idols to us. Help us to throw down our idols and worship only You. Help us to lay aside all our worries and allow Christ to displace them at the center of our lives. May Christ be the center of everything.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


Trust in the LORD with all your heart, 
and do not rely on your own insight. 
In all your ways acknowledge him, 
and he will make straight your paths.
(Proverbs 3:5-6 NRSV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Humility, Again?

Today is Friday, the 3rd of February, 2023, in the season of Epiphany.

May the peace of the Lord be with you always!

Day 23,703

As far as I know, the library will be open regular hours, today. So I will be heading out between 8:45 and 9:00. The street outside our house looks relatively clear, now. It’s still below freezing, right now, but barely. I have no idea what kind of day to expect, although I do expect that I will be asked to take on a few extra responsibilities, which is fine. Tomorrow is my Saturday at circulation, and I have a feeling it’s going to be busy.

C is working from home again, today, but mostly because A) it’s her normal work from home day, and B) she’s had a pretty bad headache for a couple days. My guess is that it is stress-related, from work.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

The wicked have laid a snare for me, 
but I do not stray from your precepts.
(Psalms 119:110 NRSV)

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

Dear Father in heaven, we may come to you, for you have counted us as your children. Our hearts long to come to you, our God and Savior. May your Word bless us and restore us. Give us courageous hearts to bear the distress of our times. Let a light arise in our days so that people care about your will. Then the need on earth shall come to an end, your name shall be honored, and your will be done. Lord God, you alone are our help. Be merciful to us. Stretch out your hand so that all people may turn to you and to your commandments, and your will may be done on earth. Amen.

for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.
(Galatians 3:26-27 NRSV)

Today I am grateful:

  • to be going back to work, this morning
  • for the hope of the light of God shining in our world
  • for God’s Word, that imparts understanding to us (Psalm 119:130)
  • for the Holy Spirit in our lives, “rivers of living water”
  • for compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience; may I be clothed in those today (Colossians 3:12)

O come, let us sing to the LORD; 
let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
 Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; 
let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise! 
For the LORD is a great God, 
and a great King above all gods.
(Psalms 95:1-3 NRSV)
I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God; 
incline your ear to me, hear my words.
(Psalms 17:6 NRSV)
The unfolding of your words gives light; 
it imparts understanding to the simple.
(Psalms 119:130 NRSV)

At the set time that I appoint I will judge with equity.
(Psalms 75:2 NRSV)

On the last day of the festival, the great day, while Jesus was standing there, he cried out, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, ‘Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.'” Now he said this about the Spirit, which believers in him were to receive; for as yet there was no Spirit, because Jesus was not yet glorified.
(John 7:37-39 NRSV)

When my soul was embittered, when I was pricked in heart, 
I was stupid and ignorant; 
I was like a brute beast toward you. 
Nevertheless I am continually with you;
 you hold my right hand. 
You guide me with your counsel, 
and afterward you will receive me with honor. 
Whom have I in heaven but you? 
And there is nothing on earth that I desire other than you.
 My flesh and my heart may fail, 
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. 
But for me it is good to be near God; 
I have made the Lord GOD my refuge, to tell of all your works. 
(Psalms 73:21-26, 28 NRSV)

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.

"Almighty and everlasting God,
you govern all things both in heaven and on earth:
Mercifully hear the supplications of your people,
and in our time grant us your peace;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God,
for ever and ever.
Amen."
(The Prayer Appointed for the Week - The Divine Hours)

Since there will never cease to be some in need on the earth, I therefore command you, “Open your hand to the poor and needy neighbor in your land.”
(Deuteronomy 15:11 NRSV)


I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
(Ephesians 4:1-3 NRSV)

Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are.
(Romans 12:16 NRSV)

As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.
(Colossians 3:12 NRSV)

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.
(James 4:10 NRSV)


GOD guards you from every evil, he guards your very life.
(Psalms 121:7 MSG)


What sticks out to me, this morning, is Colossians 3:12. We are to cloth ourselves with “compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.” While a lot of us might be mostly okay with kindness, and maybe even compassion, I dare say that most folks hesitate at the humility and meekness bit, especially since, in Western culture, meekness is ignorantly confused with weakness.

But it’s not. Jesus was “meek,” but He most definitely was NOT weak.

And patience? We seem to have completely forgotten what that means. One might have thought that a global pandemic would have made us kinder, more thoughtful, perhaps more patient. One would be wrong.

But there is that verse in Colossians, anyway, one that has stood out to me for almost forty years, now. How am I doing with it. Not a lot better than most folks, I fear. But I’m trying. And each day, when I remember (so not necessarily “each day”), I ask the Holy Spirit to clothe me in those things, especially if I’m having to leave the house and interact with other humans.

Today is no different.

Oh, and before I move on, I want to point out what the next verse in James says, the one after the one I quoted up there.

Do not speak evil against one another, brothers and sisters. Whoever speaks evil against another or judges another, speaks evil against the law and judges the law; but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is one lawgiver and judge who is able to save and to destroy. So who, then, are you to judge your neighbor?
(James 4:11-12 NRSV)


Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, most holy Trinity, I ask You today to both fill me and clothe me, inside and out, with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. May I display those qualities toward everyone with whom I come in contact today. May Your presence in my life be visible in all things, today, Father.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, 
have mercy upon us.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
have mercy upon us.
O, Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
grant us Your peace.
(Agnus Dei)

Grace and peace, friends.

Finding Purpose

Today is Thursday, the 2nd of February, 2023, in the season of Epiphany.

May the peace of Christ fill you today!

Day 23,702

It is day four of the winter storm, and we haven’t left the house since Monday. I feel like I’m writing a diary that will be used in a horror film. There is a chance that I might venture out, this afternoon, but I don’t know. We have enough food in the house, but there are a couple of things we have run out of . . . sugar, shredded cheese, sour cream . . . but I have everything I need for tonight’s dinner. Bread is running short, as well. I figure that if I do go out and try to get some groceries, 1) the store will be crowded, and 2) the shelves will be pretty empty. I mean, the stores haven’t been able to get trucks, probably. It is currently 31 degrees, still below freezing, and expected to reach 37, later today.

The library is supposed to open at noon today, and stay open until 5:00 PM. I’m not scheduled to work until tomorrow morning at 9:15. It will likely be below freezing again, at that time, but the skies are supposed to clear up.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

I hold my life in my hand continually, 
but I do not forget your law.
(Psalms 119:109 NRSV)

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

Dear Father in heaven, we thank you that you lead us on all our paths. Together we praise your name. We plead with you, stay with us, especially when the world grows darker. Stay with us and send down your power. Send your power in answer to our prayers. For all people we pray, “Father in heaven, these are our brothers and sisters in spite of their failures and sins.” Help them, O God. May they soon come to recognize who you are, what you do, and what you will still do, so that the whole world can be joyful and all people on earth may know the blessing of being your children. Amen.

And the ransomed of the LORD shall return, and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.
(Isaiah 35:10 NRSV)

Today I am grateful:

  • that we should get a break in our “winter storm” today
  • that the Word became flesh and lived among us
  • that God has a purpose and plan for each one of us
  • that God watches out for us, much more closely than any of us are aware
  • for the amount of beautiful music that there is in this world

Rejoice in the LORD, O you righteous, 
and give thanks to his holy name!
(Psalms 97:12 NRSV)
A Prayer of David. 

Incline your ear, O LORD, and answer me, 
for I am poor and needy.
 Preserve my life, for I am devoted to you; 
save your servant who trusts in you. 
You are my God;
(Psalms 86:1-2 NRSV)
Blessed be the LORD, 
for he has heard the sound of my pleadings.
(Psalms 28:6 NRSV)
"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, 
for they will be filled."
(Matthew 5:6 NRSV)
And the Word became flesh and lived among us, 
and we have seen his glory,
 the glory as of a father's only son, 
full of grace and truth.
(John 1:14 NRSV)
You have dealt well with your servant, O LORD, 
according to your word. 
Teach me good judgment and knowledge, 
for I believe in your commandments. 
Before I was humbled I went astray, 
but now I keep your word. 
You are good and do good; 
teach me your statutes. 
The arrogant smear me with lies, 
but with my whole heart I keep your precepts. 
Their hearts are fat and gross, 
but I delight in your law. 
It is good for me that I was humbled,
 so that I might learn your statutes. 
The law of your mouth is better to me 
than thousands of gold and silver pieces.
(Psalms 119:65-72 NRSV)
"My soul thirsts for the strong, living God and all that is within me cries out to him." 
(The Divine Hours - The Small Verse)

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.

"Almighty and everlasting God,
you govern all things both in heaven and on earth:
Mercifully hear the supplications of your people,
and in our time grant us your peace;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God,
for ever and ever.
Amen."
(The Prayer Appointed for the Week - The Divine Hours)

Take care that you do not forget the LORD your God, by failing to keep his commandments, his ordinances, and his statutes, which I am commanding you today. When you have eaten your fill and have built fine houses and live in them, and when your herds and flocks have multiplied, and your silver and gold is multiplied, and all that you have is multiplied, then do not exalt yourself, forgetting the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, who led you through the great and terrible wilderness, an arid wasteland with poisonous snakes and scorpions. He made water flow for you from flint rock, and fed you in the wilderness with manna that your ancestors did not know, to humble you and to test you, and in the end to do you good. Do not say to yourself, “My power and the might of my own hand have gotten me this wealth.” But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, so that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your ancestors, as he is doing today. If you do forget the LORD your God and follow other gods to serve and worship them, I solemnly warn you today that you shall surely perish. Like the nations that the LORD is destroying before you, so shall you perish, because you would not obey the voice of the LORD your God.
(Deuteronomy 8:11-20 NRSV)

So now, O Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you? Only to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments of the LORD your God and his decrees that I am commanding you today, for your own well-being.
(Deuteronomy 10:12-13 NRSV)

You shall put these words of mine in your heart and soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and fix them as an emblem on your forehead. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, so that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land that the LORD swore to your ancestors to give them, as long as the heavens are above the earth.
(Deuteronomy 11:18-21 NRSV)


“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.”
(John 3:16 NRSV)

Does he not see my ways, and number all my steps?
(Job 31:4 NRSV)

For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the entire earth, to strengthen those whose heart is true to him.
(2 Chronicles 16:9 NRSV)

Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten in God’s sight. But even the hairs of your head are all counted. Do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.
(Luke 12:6-7 NRSV)


Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you, The days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day.
(Psalms 139:16 MSG)


"Our lives are not puzzles to be figured out. Rather, we come to God, who knows us and reveals to us the truth of our lives. The fundamental mistake is to begin with ourselves and not God. God is the center from which all life develops." 
(Eugene H. Peterson, Run with the Horses, quoted in God's Message for Each Day)

I dare say if you were to go to the self-help section of a book store (if you can find a book store), you would find countless volumes of books that have been written about finding one’s purpose in life. Even in a “Christian” book store, I believe that would be the case, except that those books would have the word “God” or “Jesus” somewhere in the title.

We expend quite a bit of money and energy, in this culture, with this “puzzle.” But I believe Peterson’s words to be spot on.

It turns out that I read the referenced book by Peterson, back in 1992. I remember nothing about it. I will probably read it again, in the near future, but that would require me to come up with another copy of it, because I no longer have that one.

This all lines up with Scripture, though, that tells us how much God loves us and how much He cares for us and watches over us. Jesus’s teaching on how much more valuable we are than sparrows or flowers is stunning. Sadly, there are humans on this planet who don’t see humans being more valuable than other animals. Regardless of how stupid we can be, sometimes (and remember . . . God remembers that we are “dust”), we are the crowning piece of His creation.

God values us more than birds or flowers or cows. And He has a purpose in mind for each of us. We don’t find that purpose by beginning with ourselves, or by reading a book from the self-help section of the bookstore (even the “Christian” ones). We find our purpose by starting with God.

This may be a bit radical, but I fully believe that, if we follow the commands of Jesus, and being with loving God with our heart, soul, mind, and strength, our purpose will come to us. We may not even be aware of it, but it will come and we will walk in it. This is similar, in my opinion to spiritual gifts. I have believed, for many years, now, that “spiritual gift inventories/tests” are a waste of time.

For one thing, those tests are easily manipulated to obtain the answer you would like it to give you. For another thing, I do not believe that we all have a “permanent” spiritual gift. Scripture says that the Spirit doles out these gifts as He sees fit. What this says to me is that you might have one gift one day, and another gift the next day, depending on your circumstances.

This does away with the excuse for not helping out in a certain situation by saying “That’s not my gift.”

I believe our purpose in life is similar. If we love the Lord, read and meditate on His Word, and pray regularly, I believe that we will walk in His purpose for us, and we won’t even have to be aware of it. It’s a matter of trusting in His will and His sovereignty over our lives.

So, if you’re wondering what your purpose is, start with God. Trust in Him and let Him guide you to it. And then simply walk where He guides you.


Father, I thank You for the way You have loved us and worked in our lives. You have made it almost easy for us to walk in our purpose, if only we follow Your will for us, which is to love You with all of our being, and then to love one another as Christ has loved us.

I thank You that Your love for us resulted in a solid way for us to be involved with and related to You. You have given us the means to participate in Your divine nature, and You have embedded part of that nature within us, that we might truly follow You.

I pray for each one who is struggling to find purpose in their lives, that You would show them that all they need to do is follow You and trust You, and then walk in Your kingdom.

Even so, come quickly, 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.

A Great and Awesome God

Today is Wednesday, the 1st of February, 2023, in the season of Epiphany.

May the peace of Christ bless you today!

Day 23,701

Once again, my header photo is courtesy of Romanian photographer Paul Militaru. Please visit his site at the link provided and take in his magnificent photos of the land in which he lives.

It is now officially my least favorite month of the year. I have severely disliked February for almost 40 years, for a variety of reasons, none of which I will share here, today. This year, February seems to have stolen the last two days of January, at least in DFW, Texas. We continue to be in winter weather, and we are officially in an “Ice Storm Warning,” until 6:00 AM tomorrow. The library is closed again, today. They say they are going to open at 10:00 tomorrow morning, but I’m skeptical. There is a 78% chance of more stuff falling from the sky today, and it may not get above freezing until after 9:00 AM tomorrow. It doesn’t matter that much to me, because I’m not scheduled to work again until Friday, but I do care about the safety and well-being of the best group of co-workers I’ve ever worked with.

Well, that may not be 100% true. I did have a pretty awesome crew to work with when I was the loading supervisor at Tex-Pack Express. But they are definitely my best group of work associates in almost 40 years. I’m still in contact with one of them, all these years later, shoutout to Robert Warden.

C continues to work from home today. I’m not sure what her plans are for tomorrow. She may be asked to come in later, around noon or so. I’m pretty sure she won’t be trying to get out and drive at 6:15 AM.

I thought I would share the video of our church orchestra playing, this past Sunday morning. I’m the bald head trombone player on the right. You can see the top of my head over the cellist’s music stand.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Accept my offerings of praise, O LORD, 
and teach me your ordinances.
(Psalms 119:108 NRSV)

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

Lord our God, we thank you that we may be your children and may be led by your hand. Give us patience and faith, especially when our way on earth seems difficult and life is full of grief and hardship. You are light. You show us the right path. You go before us in the self-denial and patience taught us by your Word. Protect us on all our ways. May your kingdom grow among us until it can be plainly seen that you, O God, are truly with us doing your work and bringing us joy, even though what we do seems fruitless. But your work endures. In your work we rejoice, and we want to give thanks to you every day. Amen.

See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.
(1 John 3:1 NRSV)

Today I am grateful:

  • that we are safe and warm; praying for all who may not be so fortunate
  • for patience and faith, “especially when our way on earth seems difficult”
  • for the love that the Father has given us, “that we should be called children of God”
  • that we have nothing to fear in any circumstance of life; our God fights for us
  • that our God listens to us: “Everything we say, every groan, every murmur, every stammering attempt at prayer: all this is listened to” (Eugene H. Peterson)

Worship the LORD in holy splendor; 
tremble before him, all the earth.
(Psalms 96:9 NRSV)
To the leader: 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 NRSV)
Seven times a day I praise you for your righteous ordinances.
(Psalms 119:164 NRSV)
O guard my life, and deliver me; 
do not let me 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 NRSV)

Jesus answered, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be astonished that I said to you, ‘You must be born from above.’ The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
(John 3:5-8 NRSV)

Praise the LORD, all you nations! 
Extol him, all you peoples!
 For great is his steadfast love toward us, 
and the faithfulness of the LORD endures forever. 
Praise the LORD!
(Psalms 117:1-2 NRSV)
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.

"Almighty and everlasting God,
you govern all things both in heaven and on earth:
Mercifully hear the supplications of your people,
and in our time grant us your peace;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God,
for ever and ever.
Amen."
(The Prayer Appointed for the Week - The Divine Hours)

Do not fear them, for it is the LORD your God who fights for you.”
(Deuteronomy 3:22 NRSV)

From there you will seek the LORD your God, and you will find him if you search after him with all your heart and soul. In your distress, when all these things have happened to you in time to come, you will return to the LORD your God and heed him. Because the LORD your God is a merciful God, he will neither abandon you nor destroy you; he will not forget the covenant with your ancestors that he swore to them.
(Deuteronomy 4:29-31 NRSV)

So acknowledge today and take to heart that the LORD is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other.
(Deuteronomy 4:39 NRSV)

Now this is the commandment—the statutes and the ordinances—that the LORD your God charged me to teach you to observe in the land that you are about to cross into and occupy, so that you and your children and your children's children may fear the LORD your God all the days of your life, and keep all his decrees and his commandments that I am commanding you, so that your days may be long. Hear therefore, O Israel, and observe them diligently, so that it may go well with you, and so that you may multiply greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey, as the LORD, the God of your ancestors, has promised you. 

Hear, O Israel: 
The LORD is our God, the LORD alone. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart. Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. Bind them as a sign on your hand, fix them as an emblem on your forehead, and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
(Deuteronomy 6:1-9 NRSV)

Have no dread of them, for the LORD your God, who is present with you, is a great and awesome God.
(Deuteronomy 7:21 NRSV)


O sing to the LORD a new song; 
sing to the LORD, all the earth.
(Psalms 96:1 NRSV)
My foot stands on level ground; 
in the great congregation I will bless the LORD.
(Psalms 26:12 NRSV)

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God.
(Colossians 3:16 NRSV)

Let mutual love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.
(Hebrews 13:1-2 NRSV)


“I’ll live in them, move into them; I’ll be their God and they’ll be my people.”
(2 Corinthians 6:16 MSG)


Over and over again, in Moses’s long sermon series that is the book of Deuteronomy, Moses tells the people, “Do not fear them,” or some variation of that statement. The “them” for Israel was the different nations they would encounter as they entered the Promised Land.

The “them” for us is entirely different. I’m not rampaging through a new, foreign land, destroying every people in my path. My troubles pale in comparison to what the children of Israel went through. In fact, the majority of my “troubles” would fall under the category of what I have, in the past, referred to as “footstool” problems. I don’t remember where I got that . . . but I will say that I did not originate that idea.

Today, it’s the fact that the trash didn’t get picked up this week because of the winter weather we are experiencing. So it sits until next Tuesday. But at least we are allowed four extra bags that can be set out at the curb, next week. But that doesn’t help the recycling. Our recycling bin will be completely full, which will cause us to have more trash.

Footstool.

Last week, it was the police drama outside on my street, that caused me to not be able to park in my driveway until well after 11:00 PM.

Footstool.

Earlier in our lives, though, it was the challenge of raising and autistic daughter, who is now an adult who still lives with us. There were times during those years that I admit that we forgot to not be afraid of “them,” because the Lord will fight for us.

“Them” is different for everyone. But one thing is the same for all of us (and I’m speaking of Christ-followers, here). And that is the truth of Moses’s statement to Israel.

Do not fear them, for it is the LORD your God who fights for you.”
(Deuteronomy 3:22 NRSV)

And then, in chapter 7, verse 21, he adds this little bit, “for the LORD your God, who is present with you, is a great and awesome God.”

This is why we can “sing a new song” (Psalm 96:1). This is why “my foot stands on level ground” (Psalm 26:12). This is why the word of Christ can dwell in us richly (Colossians 3:16).

And this . . . this is why we can (and must) “let mutual love continue” (Hebrews 13:1).

It is a beautiful thing. Our God has said, and I believe Him because He said it, “I will live in them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people” (2 Corinthians 6:16).

Yes. Our God is a great and awesome God! So do not fear “them,” whoever your “them” is. Have no dread of “them.” God is bigger and stronger, and He dwells with us.

To use more modern terminology, He’s got this.


Thank You, Father, that You are a great and awesome God! Praises to You for choosing to dwell with us and in us, so that we have nothing to fear, no “them” to dread. I pray for all of my brothers and sisters who seem to live in a constant state of fear over “them.” May their hearts be filled with Your love, and their eyes be opened to the truth that we have nothing to fear or dread in this world. Let us remember that, in the words of Dallas Willard, in Your kingdom, things are far better than we could ever imagine.

Let us love one another with the love with which Christ has loved us. Let us love You with all of our beings, heart, soul, mind, and strength, and in doing these two things, fulfill all of the Law and Prophets. May the Word of Christ dwell richly within us as we walk through this world. And keep our feet on level ground in You, that we might not slip or stumble.

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

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


Grace and peace, friends.

New Things

It is Tuesday, the 31st of January, 2023, in the season of Epiphany.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you today!

Day 23,700!

Late again, today. Here it is after 11:00 and I’m barely getting started. The ground is covered with sleet, outside, and it is currently 25 degrees. The projected high is 29. Tonight’s low is 21, and tomorrow’s high is 32 (or 31, depending on which app I look at). The “winter storm warning” now goes until noon on Thursday, February 2.

The library is closed today and tomorrow, and is scheduled to open at 10:00 on Thursday. I don’t work on Thursdays, so I will be in on Friday morning. That means I will only have 8 hours on the week, instead of 20. I am scheduled to work this coming Saturday, though, so I may need to set a reminder to go to work on Saturday. Haha!

Thursday, by the way is Groundhog Day. Of course, how it looks in DFW Texas is irrelevant to that. Punxsutawney Phil lives in Punxsutawney, PA.

I was “proactive” enough to think about ordering something to make for dinner tomorrow and Thursday (just in case I didn’t work tomorrow)(and S doesn’t have Club Metro, anyway, on Thursday), but I totally forgot to have something in mind for tonight, in case I didn’t work tonight. But I have decided, and others have agreed, to cook eggs and bacon tonight. Breakfast for dinner.

As for choir practice tomorrow night, that remains to be seen. I haven’t yet heard if it will happen, but I may not try to get there, anyway. It’s about 15 miles away, for me, and there is at least a 60% chance of more snow/sleet tomorrow.

The big question is, can we survive two days without Sonic drinks??

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

I am severely afflicted; 
give me life, O LORD, 
according to your word.
(Psalms 119:107 NRSV)

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

Lord our God, we worship you, for you come to meet us everywhere and you reveal your glory on our earth. May we become worthy of you, people who can represent you with our whole being. Give us the strength to endure, even through struggles and temptations. Be merciful to us at all times through Jesus Christ our Savior. May we remain body and soul in his hands, that at last we may come to you, our Father in heaven, as your true children, reborn through the Holy Spirit. Amen.

For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until her vindication shines out like the dawn, and her salvation like a burning torch.
(Isaiah 62:1 NRSV)

Today I am grateful:

  • that God meets us everywhere
  • that I don’t have to try to get out to go to work in this weather
  • that God is constantly doing new things
  • that God is not limited by my ignorance or despair
  • that, as His disciples, we will be like Jesus, someday

O come, let us sing to the LORD; 
let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! 
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; 
let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!
(Psalms 95:1-2 NRSV)
To the leader: 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 NRSV)
A Song of Ascents. 

To you I lift up my eyes, 
O you who are enthroned in the heavens! 
As the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, 
as the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress, 
so our eyes look to the LORD our God, 
until he has mercy upon us. Have mercy upon us, O LORD, 
have mercy upon us, 
for we have had more than enough of contempt.
(Psalms 123:1-3 NRSV)
I will give to the LORD the thanks due to his righteousness, 
and sing praise to the name of the LORD, the Most High.
(Psalms 7:17 NRSV)

I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.
(John 14:13-14 NRSV)

Rise up, O LORD, and go to your resting place, 
you and the ark of your might. 
Let your priests be clothed with righteousness, 
and let your faithful shout for joy. 
For your servant David's sake 
do not turn away the face of your anointed one. 

The LORD swore to David a sure oath
 from which he will not turn back: 
"One of the sons of your body 
I will set on your throne. 
If your sons keep my covenant 
and my decrees that I shall teach them, 
their sons also, forevermore, 
shall sit on your throne."
(Psalms 132:8-12 NRSV)
"Keep my, Lord, as the apple of your eye 
and carry me under the shadow of your wings." 
(The Divine Hours - The Small Verse)

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.

"Almighty and everlasting God,
you govern all things both in heaven and on earth:
Mercifully hear the supplications of your people,
and in our time grant us your peace;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God,
for ever and ever.
Amen."
(The Prayer Appointed for the Week - The Divine Hours)

A disciple is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully qualified will be like the teacher.
(Luke 6:40 NRSV)

Train children in the right way, and when old, they will not stray.
(Proverbs 22:6 NRSV)

For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another. We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us: prophecy, in proportion to faith; ministry, in ministering; the teacher, in teaching; the exhorter, in exhortation; the giver, in generosity; the leader, in diligence; the compassionate, in cheerfulness.
(Romans 12:4-8 NRSV)

Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received.
(1 Peter 4:10 NRSV)


I am about to do a new thing; 
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? 
I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.
(Isaiah 43:19 NRSV)

"The gospel message says: 'You don't live in a mechanistic world ruled by necessity; you don't live in a random world ruled by chance; you live in a world ruled by the God of Exodus and Easter. He will do things in you that neither you nor your friends would have supposed possible. He is not limited by anything you think you know about him; he is not boxed into the cramped dimensions of your ignorance or your despair. As Isaiah says, "I am about to do a new thing."'"
(Eugene H. Peterson, Five Smooth Stones, quoted in God's Message for Each Day)

Let’s consider this a bit more.

God will do things in us that neither we nor our friends would think possible. The most amazing of those things is our salvation. God came to earth as a man, fully God and fully human. He lived a perfect life, died on the cross, and was resurrected three days later. Then He ascended into heaven, where he waits at the Father’s right hand, and sent the Holy Spirit to dwell within us.

He put part of Himself in us, His children. He clothed us in the righteousness of Christ (I believe I waxed on about that a bit, yesterday).

Because of that righteousness of Christ, we have the ability to pray to Him, and He will answer our prayers, because “the prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective” (James 5:16).

Each one of these is a “new thing,” and God hasn’t stopped doing new things. I realize that the writer of Ecclesiastes said that there is nothing new under the sun.

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

There are a couple of things to consider in that. One is that “The Teacher” was speaking from a perspective of almost despair. “Vanity of vanities! All is vanity,” he said. The other is that, in my opinion, he is mostly speaking of human events. I could be wrong about that.

But I am surprised by the grace of God, pretty much every day. I started to say “every time I turn around,” but that would be a bit exaggerative. And the reason I consider these “new things” is because they haven’t happened before. Not to me. Every second that I live is a “new thing.” As I am typing this paragraph, it is 12:45 PM. Whatever happens to me at 12:46 PM has never happened before. And it will never happen again.

Oh, sure, I will drink water again, but I will never have that drink of water again. That’s kind of like how a river is never the same river, from minute to minute. And it will never be the same river again.

I’m probably getting philosophically absurd, here. But my point is that life with God is ever new. It never stays the same. He never stops working in our lives, and He never stops working in our world, in our “history.”

Time, as we know it, is a human construct. God is not “boxed in” to that human construct. He is not limited by our ignorance or despair, as Eugene said, up there. And how arrogant are we that we believe that our ignorance limits God? Oh, sure, we don’t call it “ignorance,” because we think we are smart. But it truly is. Most of what we think is true about God is ignorant. And God is not limited by what we think about Him.

I, for one, am very grateful for that. We would be in big trouble if what I saw a lot of people on Facebook posting about God was truth.

God is God and we are not. Therefore, we should remain humble and accept what He gives us in His infinite wisdom. And He is constantly doing something new. If we would but pay attention, keep our eyes open, keep our hearts open to His will, and maybe shut up for a minute, the blessings that we would experience would be incredible.

The last amazing, new thing that I want to focus on is from Luke 6:40, up there. While we, as disciples, will never be greater than our teacher, Jesus says that we will be like Him, when “fully qualified.” What does “fully qualified” mean? I’m not sure that will ever happen in this life, but I think it means when we have learned from Him, and have succeeded in walking in His steps, in His “easy yoke,” and when we fully reflect His image to the world.


God, our Father in Heaven, I worship and adore You. I give due reverence to Your name. I pray for Your will to be done on earth as in heaven, and for Your kingdom to be fully realized. I thank You for the new things that You are constantly doing, in our world, and in our lives. I pray for all who do not believe in You, or believe that, while You exist, You are not active in human affairs. May their hearts and minds be open to see You as You are.

Help us in our arrogance and ignorance, Father. We believe many things about You, some of which may or may not be true. I am grateful that You are not limited by anything, especially by our foolish misconceptions about You. Your plan is in place, and it will be carried out, and it will be carried out in Your perfect timing. Help us to fall in line and walk in that timing. Help us to get our of ourselves and care about someone else, for a change.

And help us to love like You love, Lord.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


Grace and peace, friends.

Clothed in Righteousness

Today is Monday, the 30th of January, in the season of Epiphany.

May the peace of Christ be with you always!

Day 23,699

The weather, apparently, is confused and thinks it is February. But it is two days early. We are having a “winter storm” today and tomorrow, maybe edging into Wednesday. I wouldn’t really call it a “storm,” but whatever. The temps will barely get above freezing today and tomorrow, with lows in the twenties. Wednesday morning, it is predicted to be 21, but will get up to 37 and stay above freezing. The rest of the week will be back to typical spring-like weather. There is some chance of freezing rain and snow today and tomorrow and Wednesday morning. Obviously, at this point, I have no idea if the library will be open tomorrow or Wednesday. I’m supposed to work Wednesday, this week. I missed the last Wednesday I was supposed to work, due to the cold I got.

The morning at church went fabulously! The orchestra sounded good, and the choir anthem was most beautiful, enhanced by the cello and violin that played along with us. Sunday morning at 8:15 was the first time we had gotten to practice with the strings.

C tried to go to work, this morning, but after sliding a bit, and seeing one accident in front of her, she turned around and came home. I don’t expect tomorrow to be any better.

The Super Bowl will be between the Eagles and the Chiefs. Couldn’t possibly be more boring for me. I probably won’t watch. I’m not one of those who will watch the SB just because it is on.

Update: At approximately 12:30 PM, it is sleeting outside. Not snowing, because this is Texas.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

I have sworn an oath and confirmed it, 
to observe your righteous ordinances.
(Psalms 119:106 NRSV)

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

Lord God, we kneel before you and worship you, for you do mighty deeds in heaven and on earth and allow us to become your children and your servants. You have done great things for many people, enabling them to serve you, and you will do still more. For you have promised that all our paths will be made straight. You have promised that all we do may be a service to you through Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world, whom we follow. He will be revealed to the whole world, so that the nations will be called to serve you and your will may be done on earth as in heaven. Praised be your name, Lord our God! We open our hearts to you. In death and in life we are yours. Amen.

Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! 
For I am God, and there is no other. 
By myself I have sworn, 
from my mouth has gone forth in righteousness 
a word that shall not return: 
"To me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear."
(Isaiah 45:22-23 NRSV)

Today I am grateful:

  • a wonderful morning of worship, yesterday
  • for the opportunity to, once again, serve God through music
  • that the Lord mercifully hears the supplications of His people and grants us His peace
  • that we, His children are clothed in Christ and His righteousness
  • “that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18)

"Bless God in the great congregation, 
the LORD, O you who are of Israel's fountain!"
(Psalms 68:26 NRSV)
Have regard for your covenant, 
for the dark places of the land are full of the haunts of violence.
(Psalms 74:20 NRSV)
As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness; when I awake I shall be satisfied, beholding your likeness.
(Psalms 17:15 NRSV)
To the leader: according to Mahalath. A Maskil of David. 

Fools say in their hearts, 
"There is no God." 
They are corrupt, they commit abominable acts; 
there is no one who does good.
(Psalms 53:1 NRSV)

“Be on your guard! If another disciple sins, you must rebuke the offender, and if there is repentance, you must forgive. And if the same person sins against you seven times a day, and turns back to you seven times and says, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive.”
(Luke 17:3-4 NRSV)

A Psalm of Asaph. 

Truly God is good to the upright, 
to those who are pure in heart. 
But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled; 
my steps had nearly slipped. 
For I was envious of the arrogant; 
I saw the prosperity of the wicked. 

For they have no pain; 
their bodies are sound and sleek. 
They are not in trouble as others are; 
they are not plagued like other people. 
Therefore pride is their necklace; 
violence covers them like a garment. 
Their eyes swell out with fatness;
 their hearts overflow with follies. 
They scoff and speak with malice; 
loftily they threaten oppression. 
They set their mouths against heaven, 
and their tongues range over the earth. 

Therefore the people turn and praise them, 
and find no fault in them. 
And they say, "How can God know?
 Is there knowledge in the Most High?" 
Such are the wicked; 
always at ease, they increase in riches. 
All in vain I have kept my heart clean 
and washed my hands in innocence. 
For all day long I have been plagued, 
and am punished every morning. 

If I had said, "I will talk on in this way," 
I would have been untrue to the circle of your children.
 But when I thought how to understand this, 
it seemed to me a wearisome task, 
until I went into the sanctuary of God;
 then I perceived their end.
(Psalms 73:1-17 NRSV)
Bless the LORD, O my soul, 
and do not forget all his benefits—
(Psalms 103:2 NRSV)

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.

"Almighty and everlasting God,
you govern all things both in heaven and on earth:
Mercifully hear the supplications of your people,
and in our time grant us your peace;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God,
for ever and ever.
Amen."
(The Prayer Appointed for the Week - The Divine Hours)

Besides this, you know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; the night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; let us live honorably as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.
(Romans 13:11-14 NRSV)

I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my whole being shall exult in my God; for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation, he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
(Isaiah 61:10 NRSV)

for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.
(Galatians 3:26-27 NRSV)


I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us.
(Romans 8:18 NRSV)


This is encouragement at its finest. But I want to start before that. Earlier, up there, we have the admonition to forgive. Not just to forgive, but to forgive someone, even if they sin against us seven times in one day!

“Hold on, Jesus! You just don’t understand!”

Oh, really?

We are admonished by Paul, because the day is getting closer. We are called upon, as children of God, of His kingdom, to live honorably, not in quarreling and jealousy. We are commanded to forgive. In Christ, we are covered in robe of righteousness; His righteousness! We are clothed with garments of salvation, and we are clothed in Christ.

We simply need to let that sink in a little bit, don’t we? If I am clothed in Christ, in His righteousness, how can I not forgive?? How can I stand to live in quarreling and jealousy? Yet, we find ourselves doing exactly that. It baffles me (I’m pointing fingers at myself, here, don’t worry).

But then, we are given Romans 8:18. We get so caught up in events around us; we get surrounded by political garbage, and it captures our attention. Never mind my opinions; in the big picture, my opinions mean nothing. But in the midst of this chaos, Paul tells us to remember that “the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us.”

Now I have heard it said, and believe it to be true, that Paul, and all of the other apostles who wrote Scripture, really believed that Jesus was coming back in a year or two.

Two thousand years later (I’m rounding), do we still believe it? Do we still believe that Jesus is coming back, or have we given up? Are we trying, once again, to save ourselves through human actions and interactions? Are we depending on humans (politicians??) to save us, to “save America?”

That’s impossible. There is no human being who can “save America.” I will remind you . . . there is no “America” in the Bible, nor will there be one in “heaven.” There will only be God’s Kingdom, and it will be occupied by all of us who are clothed in the righteousness of Christ.

I need to get my robes straightened out, smoothed over, maybe even cleaned up a bit. Or maybe I have forgotten them, entirely. I hope not.

We pray, daily (some of us, at least), “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who have trespassed against us.” If we are properly wearing the robes of righteousness of Jesus Christ, that should not cause us any anxiety.


Father, I thank You for the encouragement that the blessings of future glory, yet to be revealed, far outweigh (even infinitely?) the sufferings and chaos that we experience in this life. Help us to remember this. Help us to remember that we are clothed in Christ and His righteousness, and help us to let that color everything we do, say, and think. Most of all, help us to be forgiving, just as You have forgiven us in Christ.

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

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.
(Hebrews 12:1-2 NRSV)

Grace and peace, friends.