Great Are You, Lord

Today is Sunday, the 11th of December, 2022, the third Sunday of Advent.

May the peace of Christ fill your heart today!

Day 23,649 (the number of days since I was born)

Fourteen days until Christmas!

WordPress has decided to start adding prompts, every day, when we open up the page to compose our blog entry. Today’s was “What is your favorite cartoon?” I’ve been ignoring these, but maybe I will start answering them. Depends on how I feel. But my favorite cartoon show has always been Looney Tunes/Merry Melodies, and my favorite recurring character in Looney Tunes is Marvin the Martian. I have a corner in my study that is dedicated to him.

Some of them are a tad dusty. And yes, that is a “Fallout” Crate box on top of my desk in the study. Fallout 4 is my all-time favorite PS4 game.

I have take a second Covid test, this morning, approximately three days since the first one, which was Thursday night. It was negative. I don’t know if I will take another or not. I suppose it depends on how I feel. We have not tested S again, and probably won’t for another couple of days. She continues to feel pretty miserable, but the fever has been down for a whole day, now. C has a nasty cough, but, otherwise doesn’t feel bad.

As for going to church, this morning, I do need to take the gift cards for their Angel Tree, as those are due today. I have not yet decided if I will stay for the worship service.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

The insolent utterly deride me, 
but I do not turn away from your law.
(Psalms 119:51 ESV)

Admittedly, I have not had much experience with this. I was trolled once on TikTok, just days after I started posting my gratitude lists on that forum. I simply laughed and moved on. As the psalmist says, even under derision or scoffing, I will not turn away from God’s Word.

There are a lot of prayers, this morning, as I look back through my prayer book. Once again, it is filled with people who have lost loved ones during this holiday season. It saddens me to see so much loss, this year. My heart is burdened for the folks who have experienced such loss. And I just saw a report that said the body of the missing person was found. More tragedy and sadness.

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)

Dear Father in heaven, look on us as your children, and grant that we may feel in you the highest good for time and eternity. Even if we have to deny ourselves and make great sacrifices, you remain our treasure, our riches, our love, and our joy. Give us strength as a gathered people ready to serve you. Grant us your Spirit whenever we do not understand what we should do. Shelter us always in your hands, and allow us to see your miracles in souls and in bodies. For you are our God, the Almighty, and you find the way to help in everything. Amen.

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

Keep me safe, my God, 
for in you I take refuge. 
I say to the Lord, 
"You are my Lord; 
apart from you I have no good thing. 
Psalm 16:1–2, NIV

Today I am grateful:

  1. for the comfort that God gives us, so that we might, in turn, comfort others (2 Corinthians 1)
  2. that God is my refuge, my fortress, a strong tower to which I can run and be safe
  3. that our enemy is not flesh and blood; we ought not be fighting amongst ourselves
  4. that the righteousness of God is not far off
  5. for the Light of God, that has shone upon us in darkness
  6. for the Word that gave life to everything that was created (John 1:4)

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
(Ephesians 6:12 ESV)

"Listen to me, O house of Jacob, 
all the remnant of the house of Israel, 
who have been borne by me from before your birth,
 carried from the womb; 
even to your old age I am he, 
and to gray hairs I will carry you. 
I have made, and I will bear; 
I will carry and will save."
(Isaiah 46:3-4 ESV)
"Remember this and stand firm, 
recall it to mind, you transgressors, 
remember the former things of old; 
for I am God, and there is no other; 
I am God, and there is none like me, 
declaring the end from the beginning 
and from ancient times things not yet done, 
saying, 'My counsel shall stand, 
and I will accomplish all my purpose,' 
calling a bird of prey from the east,
 the man of my counsel from a far country. 
I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass;
 I have purposed, and I will do it. 

"Listen to me, you stubborn of heart, 
you who are far from righteousness:
 I bring near my righteousness; it is not far off, 
and my salvation will not delay;
 I will put salvation in Zion, 
for Israel my glory."
(Isaiah 46:8-13 ESV)

"Because of God’s tender mercy, 
the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us,
 to give light to those who sit in darkness 
and in the shadow of death, 
and to guide us to the path of peace.”
(Luke 1:78-79 NLT)
In the beginning the Word already existed. 
The Word was with God, and the Word was God. 
He existed in the beginning with God. 
God created everything through him, 
and nothing was created except through him. 
The Word gave life to everything that was created, 
and his life brought light to everyone.
(John 1:1-4 NLT)

“But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”
(Matthew 6:6 NRSV)


There’s a song that is running through my head, this morning, one of the more popular worship songs that our little fellowship group has sung. The song is called “Great Are You, Lord,” and was, I believe, originally recorded by a group known as All Sons and Daughters. The writers of the song are Jason Ingram, David Leonard, and Leslie Jordan. Here are the lyrics.

You give life, You are love
You bring light to the darkness
You give hope, You restore
Every heart that is broken
And great are You, Lord

It's Your breath in our lungs
So we pour out our praise
We pour out our praise
It's Your breath in our lungs
So we pour out our praise to You only

And all the earth will shout Your praise
Our hearts will cry, these bones will sing
Great are You, Lord

Musically, it’s an interesting song, to me, because it doesn’t hit the tonic chord of the key (A) until the first beat of the bridge, which is the part that begins “And all the earth will shout your praise.” I love playing it, and really pound that tonic chord when we finally get to it. It’s like the ultimate breath of fresh air and relief.

Here’s a YouTube of the song:

I guess it’s because I’m seeing verses about light and life, this morning, that causes me to be thinking about this song. He gives us life. It is the life of Christ (the Word) that has given us life, first in creation, and then as we receive new life in Him.

He is the Light of the World, shining His light on all of us, that we might truly see. And then that we might either reflect or refract that light into the world around us. In the Daily Guideposts 2022 reading, this morning, author Lynne Hartke describes the sunrise shining through an icicle hanging on her house. She was outside in sixteen-degree weather just so she could see that. That’s how God’s light, the light of Jesus Christ should be shining through us.

Then there’s this line in that song, “It’s Your breath in our lungs.” Here’s the thing. Even the air that we breathe belongs to Him! So the breath in my lungs belongs to God! Because of this, we must, we are compelled to, “pour out our praise to You only!”

Over and over, the theme of the song echoes the title. “Great are You, Lord!” And I, too, echo that phrase to Him.


Great are You, Lord! Almighty God, heavenly Father, You are great! Your greatness cannot be truly comprehended. We do the best we can with our finite minds and hearts, but it is only a fraction of Your greatness that we understand. Help us, O God, to know it more. Help us to know You more, to comprehend that which is incomprehensible. Just as Paul prayed in Ephesians, help us to know that which is unknowable.

May my fellowship with You, this morning, be adequate to get me through this day, walking with You. Take charge of my life, and allow me to surrender completely to You. What does surrender look like? It looks like giving up, giving it all up to You, falling on my knees when there is nowhere else to go.

As I consider all of the mourning and grieving that is going on around me, right now, it breaks my heart, Father. I pray for Your Holy Spirit to be living and active in the lives of everyone who has experienced loss in the past few months, as well as for everyone who has lost loved ones around this time of year, in the past. May You comfort them with Your perfect peace, and cause their minds to be stayed on You.

I cry out to You, Lord! Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus! Your creation groans in anticipation. Please do not delay any longer! Nevertheless, not my will, but Thine, be done. You have said that Your purpose will be accomplished. I believe this and trust in it.


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.

Grace and peace, friends.

I Can Wait

Today is Tuesday, the 6th of December, 2022, in the second week of Advent. The theme of this week is Peace.

May that peace of Christ overwhelm you today!

Day 23,644

Nineteen days until Christmas!

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

I will keep your law continually, 
forever and ever, 
and I shall walk in a wide place, 
for I have sought your precepts.
(Psalms 119:44-45 ESV)

Lord our God and Father in heaven, be with us and let your face shine upon us, for we are your children. In the midst of all human planning we are your children who seek you alone, who seek your will, your kingdom, and everything you have promised to humankind. Fill our thoughts and feelings with your power so that our lives on earth may belong to you, so that with our whole will we may put every thing we have and are into your hands. For we want to be your children, to have one will with you, Almighty God. We want your kingdom. This is our will, O Lord our God, and it is your will too. Therefore it must come to pass, to the glory of your name. Amen.

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

"Come!" say the Spirit and the bride. "Come!" let each hearer reply. Come forward, you who are thirsty; accept the water of life, a free gift to all who desire it. 
Revelation 22:17, NEB

Today I am grateful:

  1. for the water of life, a free gift to all who desire it
  2. that God alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress (Psalm 62)
  3. for the ongoing presence of God, which encourages me to “fear not” (Isaiah 41:10)
  4. for the promise of rest from Jesus Christ (Matthew 11)
  5. that our God is able to do far more than we could ever ask or imagine (Ephesians 3)

For God alone my soul waits in silence; 
from him comes my salvation. 
He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; 
I shall not be greatly shaken.
(Psalms 62:1-2 ESV)

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
(Matthew 11:28-30 ESV)

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
(Ephesians 3:14-19 ESV)

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


“Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”
(Matthew 18:18-20 ESV)


But you need to stick it out, staying with God’s plan so you’ll be there for the promised completion.
(Hebrews 10:36 MSG)

I pray to GOD—my life a prayer— and wait for what he’ll say and do.
(Psalms 130:5 MSG)

Endings are better than beginnings. Sticking to it is better than standing out.
(Ecclesiastes 7:8 MSG)

So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.
(James 1:4 MSG)


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


“Endings are better than beginnings.” That’s Eugene Peterson’s The Message version of that verse. The NRSV doesn’t change it a whole lot.

Better is the end of a thing than its beginning; the patient in spirit are better than the proud in spirit.
(Ecclesiastes 7:8 NRSV)

In that section, there are four verses that deal with the concept of “sticking it out.” If we stick with it, we will be there for the completion, and see God’s work to its fulfillment. As shown in Psalm 130, this requires prayer, and it requires waiting. That has been a theme for multiple days, as I focus on the Advent season, this year.

We’ve talked about Advent being a season of waiting. We consider the people in ancient days, waiting for the arrival of the Savior. But we also consider ourselves, as we live “in between” the first and second Advents of Jesus. We, too, find ourselves waiting.

I have also addressed the fact that we don’t wait so well, here in the Western world. A lot of that has to do with the last phrase in that verse from Ecclesiastes. We are a bit too “proud in spirit,” here. We like to stand out.

But there is a connection between waiting (which, essentially equals patience) and walking humbly. This past Sunday, Pastor Eibel preached a message from one of my favorite Scripture passages (I have a lot of them, this is just one), Micah 6.

“With what shall I come before the LORD, and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?” He has told you, O mortal, 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 6:6-8 NRSV)

The word translated “humbly” in verse 8 is “tsana.” It is only used twice in the entire Old Testament. The other place is Proverbs 11:2. The KJV translates that verse thusly:

When pride cometh, then cometh shame: but with the lowly is wisdom.
(Proverbs 11:2 KJV)

Most other translations use the word humble or a variation of it.

Pastor Eibel also said that the word could mean “attentive, thoughtful, or understanding.” I’m not sure where he got that, but I like the thought. Here’s how Eugene Peterson translates Micah 6:8.

But he’s already made it plain how to live, what to do, what GOD is looking for in men and women. It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor, be compassionate and loyal in your love, And don’t take yourself too seriously— take God seriously.
(Micah 6:8 MSG)

“Don’t take yourself too seriously–take God seriously.”

I believe that echoes what Pastor Eibel said about walking with God in attentiveness, thoughtfulness, or understanding. As we walk with Him, we consider who He is, what He has done, and our radical dependence upon Him.

All of this fits right in with Peterson’s rendering of Ecclesiastes 7:8. “Sticking to it is better than standing out.” Taking God seriously is better than taking myself too seriously. Waiting, while walking humbly (or attentively, thoughtfully, with understanding) is better than trying to get out of things.

As we wait for the return of Christ (keeping in mind that everything that Paul wrote was written in anticipation of said return happening within a year or two), it is imperative that we wait in patience (in reality can it be called “waiting” at all, if we are not patient?), not trying to stand out, but rather sticking to God’s plan. And, for heaven’s sake, don’t try to “help.”

If you are ever tempted to “help” God with His plan, go back and read the story of Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar and see how that worked out.

And while we are waiting, Pastor Eibel also gave us a few questions to ask.

What do I deserve? (Death, eternal condemnation)
What do I have? (Jesus, forgiveness of sin, all the blessings)
What am I promised? (the presence of God, the glory of Heaven, eternity with Him)

I can wait.


“Lord, may your Spirit rest upon me and never depart. Prove your mighty power in my life day by day, in such a way that others will see that God is almighty to save and to keep.” (Andrew Murray, Absolute Surrender, quoted in Power in Prayer)


Father, I am so thankful for Your Word and all that it can teach us. I am also thankful for godly men and women who study Your Word and teach us from it. The words of Pastor Eibel, this past Sunday, were tremendously inspiring. And, as I combine them with other words from Scripture, this morning, I am even more inspired.

Your Word gives me the patience to wait, and to try harder than ever to “walk humbly” with You. Help me to walk in humility, in lowliness, not taking myself too seriously, but taking You very seriously. Help me to walk attentively, thoughtfully, and with understanding. I need the presence of the Holy Spirit, constantly, to be able to do this.

So help me be aware of Your presence, that which is promised by You, that You will never leave or forsake us, that You will strengthen us, You will help us, and You will uphold us. Help me to “stick it out,” rather than trying to stand out. When I try to stand out, I make it about me, and it’s not about me, it’s about You, about Christ, about the Spirit.

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

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


Holy, holy, holy!
Lord God Almighty!
Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee;
Holy, holy, holy!
Merciful and mighty
God in three Persons
Blessed Trinity!

Grace and peace, friends.

“Comfort My People”

Today is Monday, the 5th of December, in the second week of Advent.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you today!

Day 23,643

20 days until Christmas!

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

I will keep your law continually,
 forever and ever,
(Psalms 119:44 ESV)

When I read a verse like this, I am reminded that, because of Jesus, the “law” consists of a couple of basic commands, love the Lord with all your being, and love your neighbor as yourself. In addition, we are to love the community of saints with an even more intense love.

Lord our God, dear Father, you have made yourself known on earth so that we may love you and be loved by you. Give us your Spirit, we pray. Give us your Spirit to strengthen us in the life and work you offer us. Watch over us on all our ways. Wherever your children are sighing and calling for you, protect and guide them with your mighty hand. Let your kingdom spread over the whole world, over all people, over all races and nations, that we may become united as servants of Jesus Christ to your honor. Amen.

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

Then the sovereignty, power and greatness of all the kingdoms under heaven will be handed over to the holy people of the Most High. His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all rulers will worship and obey him. 
Daniel 7:27, NIV

Today I am grateful:

  1. that God has made Himself known to us on earth, that we may love Him and be loved by Him
  2. for the Spirit who strengthens us in our daily lives
  3. for God’s watchfulness over us
  4. that the Lord comforts the brokenhearted and crushed in spirit
  5. that God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever (Psalm 73)

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
(Ephesians 2:1-10 ESV)

Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. 
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, 
and cry to her 
that her warfare is ended, 
that her iniquity is pardoned, 
that she has received from the LORD's hand 
double for all her sins. 

A voice cries: 
"In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD;
make straight in the desert a highway for our God. 
Every valley shall be lifted up, 
and every mountain and hill be made low;
 the uneven ground shall become level, 
and the rough places a plain. 
And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, 
and all flesh shall see it together,
 for the mouth of the LORD has spoken." 

A voice says, "Cry!" 
And I said, "What shall I cry?" 
All flesh is grass, 
and all its beauty is like the flower of the field. 
The grass withers, the flower fades 
when the breath of the LORD blows on it; 
surely the people are grass. 
The grass withers, the flower fades,
 but the word of our God will stand forever.
(Isaiah 40:1-8 ESV)
Have you not known? Have you not heard? 
The LORD is the everlasting God, 
the Creator of the ends of the earth. 
He does not faint or grow weary; 
his understanding is unsearchable. 
He gives power to the faint, 
and to him who has no might he increases strength. 
Even youths shall faint and be weary, 
and young men shall fall exhausted; 
but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; 
they shall mount up with wings like eagles; 
they shall run and not be weary; 
they shall walk and not faint.
(Isaiah 40:28-31 ESV)

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
(Psalms 147:3 NIV)


So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.
(John 16:22 NIV)

The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
(Psalms 34:18 NIV)

Whom have I in heaven but you? 
And earth has nothing I desire besides you. 
My flesh and my heart may fail, 
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
(Psalms 73:25-26 NIV)

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
(Matthew 5:4 NIV)


He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
(Matthew 17:20 NIV)


There is much mourning around us, during this season, a seemingly inordinate amount, in my opinion. I know of many families who have lost, or are anticipating the loss of, loved ones in the past couple of months. This makes holiday seasons even more difficult than they might already be.

Many of us do not realize that the days from Thanksgiving until the end of the year are not all joyful and happy for everyone. I know of one family who simply does not celebrate Thanksgiving because of a tragedy that occurred many years ago.

Most recently, in the past week, a north Texas family lost a daughter in a senseless killing. Some of you may have heard about Athena Strand. Her family will be struggling to know any joy this Christmas.

There is much talk of healing hearts in today’s Scripture readings. The Lord is, indeed, close to the brokenhearted and crushed in spirit. He will comfort those who mourn.

I have always been fond of Psalm 73:25-26, cited above. Whom do I have besides God? What on earth could I possibly desire besides Him?

But it all comes down to faith. In order to experience the comfort of God in our brokenheartedness, we must experience faith; we must possess faith. And the way we get more or stronger faith is through prayer. There is a link between prayer and faith. And one of the best ways to work through this is to pray God’s Word back to Him. This is best done through Psalms, which is why people such as Dietrich Bonhoeffer referred to the Psalms as the Prayerbook of the Bible.

“It is as we take His Word, bringing it before Him, asking Him to make it living and real to us, that the power will come to fully believe it and receive it as our own. It is in prayer, in living contact with the living God, that faith to trust God and to accept all that He says will become real to us.” (Andrew Murray, in Believing Prayer, quoted in Power in Prayer)


Father, I pray for those who are mourning, during these months, especially for the family of Athena Strand, in the loss of their precious daughter. We will never pretend to understand tragedies such as this in our world, and I have no words of comfort for this family, other than to pray for Your comfort in their spirits.

I do have confidence, however, that You are indeed close to the brokenhearted and that You save the crushed in spirit. I pray for Your presence in their lives, today. I pray for Your presence in the hearts and souls of others who have lost dear ones in the past month or so. I pray that they might be able to find some spark of joy in the season and in Your Spirit.

I pray for stronger faith, Father, as I pray Your Word back to You. You are, indeed, the strength of my heart and my portion forever. I pray that You would teach me Your way, that I may walk in Your truth, and that You would unite my heart to fear Your Name.

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

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


What can I give him,
Poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd
I would bring a lamb,
If I were a wise man
I would do my part--
Yet what I can I give him,
Give my heart.
(Christina Rossetti)

Grace and peace, friends.

I Need Thee Every Hour

Today is Sunday, the 4th of December, 2022, in the second week of Advent.

May the peace of Christ be with you today!

Day 23,642

21 days until Christmas!

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

And take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth, 
for my hope is in your rules.
(Psalms 119:43 ESV)

Lord our God, strengthen our hearts today through your Word. You are our Father and we are your children, and we want to trust you in every aspect of our lives. Protect us on all our ways, and grant that we may always watch and wait for the coming of your kingdom, for the future of our Lord Jesus Christ. Keep us from becoming confused by present-day events. Help us to remain free, that we may serve you and not be led astray, no matter what happens in the world. Grant us your Holy Spirit in everything, for without your Spirit we can do nothing. Help us, and accept our praise for the many ways you have given us help. Amen.

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth. I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown. 
Revelation 3:10–11, NIV

Today I am grateful:

  1. for a good Night of Worship, last night
  2. for travel safety for loved ones
  3. for the future grace that we hope for, in Christ Jesus
  4. that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14)
  5. that, after all these years, and all of my flaws and failings, God still has a use for me

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.
(Ephesians 1:3-6 ESV)

For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.
(Ephesians 1:15-21 ESV)

Praise the LORD! 
Praise God in his sanctuary; 
praise him in his mighty heavens! 
Praise him for his mighty deeds; 
praise him according to his excellent greatness! 

Praise him with trumpet sound; 
praise him with lute and harp! 
Praise him with tambourine and dance; 
praise him with strings and pipe! 
Praise him with sounding cymbals; 
praise him with loud clashing cymbals!
 Let everything that has breath praise the LORD! 
Praise the LORD!
(Psalms 150:1-6 ESV)

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)

For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
(Isaiah 9:6 NRSV)

“Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means, “God is with us.”
(Matthew 1:23 NRSV)


On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.
(Acts 1:4 NIV)


Advent is a season of waiting. We begin the second week, today, and the theme of the second week is “peace.” But we continue to wait. We are not, as the disciples in Acts 1, waiting for the “gift my Father promised,” as that gift has been bestowed.

Yet we continue, as Scripture demands from us, to wait on the Lord. We have the Holy Spirit, and we have the presence of Jesus Christ with us, constantly. But we wait for the Lord to work that out in its fullness within us.

I was moved by another Daily Guideposts reading, this morning, describing how intensely we need Jesus in our lives. We don’t just need Him when we are tempted; we don’t just need Him when we are challenged. We need Him all the time, every minute of every hour of every day.

I remember an old hymn (I’m old, so I remember a lot of those).

I need Thee every hour, most gracious Lord;
No tender voice like Thine can peace afford.

Refrain:
I need Thee, oh, I need Thee;
Every hour I need Thee;
Oh, bless me now, my Savior,
I come to Thee.

I need Thee every hour, stay Thou nearby;
Temptations lose their pow’r when Thou art nigh.

I need Thee every hour, in joy or pain;
Come quickly and abide, or life is vain.

I need Thee every hour; teach me Thy will;
And Thy rich promises in me fulfill.

I need Thee every hour, most Holy One;
Oh, make me Thine indeed, Thou blessed Son.
(Annie S. Hawks, 1872)

And here’s a quote from Lynne Hartke’s reading in Guideposts, today:

“I need Jesus at home with me in the planning of parties. Jesus hanging out as I shop. Jesus with me as I pay bills. Jesus lingering in the kitchen during Christmas baking. Jesus breathing peace into all of the details of an overloaded calendar. Jesus, God with us. With me.” (Lynne Hartke, Daily Guideposts 2022)


Father, I confess my constant need of Jesus. I confess that there are times when I forget this, and I allow my human emotions, fears, and anxieties, and even lusts to overcome. But You have overcome. Jesus, You have overcome, so that we might overcome. And by Your blood and by Your Word, we can overcome, as well.

Thank You, Father, for all of this. Help me to wait on You. Help me to rest in what You have already done, and in what You have yet to do. Help me to be patient in waiting for You to continue what You have begun in me.

I need You every hour.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


Grace and peace, friends.

Reflecting the Grace and Glory

Today is Saturday, the 3rd of December, 2022, in the first week of Advent.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you today!

Day 23,641

22 days until Christmas!

We are having a Night of Worship, tonight, for the first time in what must be at least two years. I’ll be playing keyboard alongside a couple of friends who play guitar. We all sing, so each of us will be “leading” several songs. Here is one of the songs I will be leading.

Today’s header photo was taken by Paul Militaru. Please visit his site at the link provided to view his inspiring photography.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Let your steadfast love come to me, O LORD, 
your salvation according to your promise; 
then shall I have an answer for him who taunts me, 
for I trust in your word.
(Psalms 119:41-42 ESV)

I crave Your steadfast love, O Lord, like a newborn craves its mother’s milk. No one is taunting me, right now, but I still desire Your Word to be imbedded in my heart, that I might always have an answer for anyone who questions my faith and devotion.

Lord our God, we thank you that you let light shine out every day and every year. Thank you that we may always look to you, whose right hand will bring order into everything and set all things right, even in difficult times. May our hearts receive strength to persevere and go on praising you, for you remain, no matter what happens on earth. You are our God, you have sent us the Savior, and we can draw close to you. You have made us the firm promise that your day is coming when truth and justice will arise on earth to the glory of your name. May the hearts of many people turn to you so that they worship you and call to you for help, to the glory of our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace. 
Luke 1:76–79, NIV

Today I am grateful:

  1. for the light of God that shines out, daily, in us and through us
  2. that, no matter what happens on this earth, our God remains and is faithful
  3. that, because of Jesus Christ, we can draw close to God; may He draw us closer and closer
  4. that the Lord takes pleasure in His people, and adorns the humble with salvation (Psalm 149)
  5. that it’s not about me, but it’s about Jesus; it may be for me, but it’s not about me

Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.
(Galatians 6:2-3 ESV)

But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
(Galatians 6:14 ESV)

And he said to me, “Son of man, eat whatever you find here. Eat this scroll, and go, speak to the house of Israel.” So I opened my mouth, and he gave me this scroll to eat. And he said to me, “Son of man, feed your belly with this scroll that I give you and fill your stomach with it.” Then I ate it, and it was in my mouth as sweet as honey.
(Ezekiel 3:1-3 ESV)

Praise the LORD! 
Sing to the LORD a new song, 
his praise in the assembly of the godly! 
Let Israel be glad in his Maker; 
let the children of Zion rejoice in their King! 
Let them praise his name with dancing, 
making melody to him with tambourine and lyre! 
For the LORD takes pleasure in his people; 
he adorns the humble with salvation. 
Let the godly exult in glory; 
let them sing for joy on their beds. 
Let the high praises of God be in their throats 
and two-edged swords in their hands, 
to execute vengeance on the nations 
and punishments on the peoples, 
to bind their kings with chains 
and their nobles with fetters of iron, 
to execute on them the judgment written! 
This is honor for all his godly ones. 
Praise the LORD!
(Psalms 149:1-9 ESV)

And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?
(Matthew 16:26 NLT)

Then Joshua said to Achan, “My son, give glory to the LORD, the God of Israel, by telling the truth. Make your confession and tell me what you have done. Don’t hide it from me.”
(Joshua 7:19 NLT)

But the king will rejoice in God. 
All who swear to tell the truth will praise him, 
while liars will be silenced.
(Psalms 63:11 NLT)

So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
(1 Corinthians 10:31 NLT)


Then they came to Capernaum; and when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the way?” But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another who was the greatest. He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.” Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.”
(Mark 9:33-37 NRSV)


I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
(Ephesians 3:16-19 NRSV)


Surrender. We do not like that word, we westerners. We bristle with pride when we are called upon to surrender anything that we believe is a “right.” We love our “rights,” especially in the US of A.

We also like glory. Oh, how we love to be noticed and applauded. We love the glory. But here’s the thing. If we are followers of Christ, the glory is not to be ours. And one of the main things we are called to do is, in fact, to surrender.

As a person who has lived in Texas all my life (so far), I see the struggle lived out right in front of me, daily. One of the biggest stages where this is worked out, in reality, is on the highways. Watching people drive is a great indicator of their level of maturity. People become monsters when they get behind the wheel, it’s rather strange. Monsters with a two-ton weapon in their hands.

I was intensely moved by today’s reading in Daily Guideposts 2022. Here is the piece of it that struck me the hardest.

"We aren't designed to compete with His glory; we're made to reflect His grace.
"Through my own, much humbler experiences, I know that not a single talent I possess is mine alone. Rather, they were given to me for His specific purpose. God opens the doors He wants opened and closes the ones He wants closed. I don't know His plans. I do know I will give my utmost for what is asked of me and leave the rest up to Him." 
(Erika Bentsen, Daily Guideposts 2022)

We humans, who drive like bats out of hell, are made to reflect His grace. Next time you get behind the wheel of a car, think about that, and consider how much grace you reflect in your driving habits. Or any other habits, for that matter. How do you respond when the people at the restaurant get your order wrong? Again. (I’m point the finger back at myself on that one, so I’m not just preaching at those who will read this.) How do you respond when the grocery store leaves something out of your delivery order?

How do I respond when the Internet doesn’t work right?

Ouch. Ouch. Ouch. I’m stomping on my own toes, people.

One of the biggest things I’ve learned in the past couple of decades is that it’s not about me. Pretty much nothing is about me. This past Sunday, in a sermon entitled “For You,” Pastor Kari Malinak, Discipleship Pastor at Living Word Lutheran Church, said that God’s plan of salvation isn’t about you; it’s for you.

Nothing God does is about me. The talents that I have, that, as Erika so aptly stated, cannot be called my own, because they were given to me “for His specific purpose.” I have musical talent with which I have been gifted. Admittedly, it appears to be somewhat genetic, as both my parents also had musical talent. Nevertheless, it is a gift from God, and it is not so that I can receive glory.

When I was an adolescent, I wanted to be a rock star. I mean, who doesn’t, right? I finally outgrew that a few years ago. (That was supposed to be funny.) But, later in life, I realized that this talent that I was given was for the specific purpose of leading others to lift up the name of Jesus in worship. It’s not about me. It is for me, yes, but not about me.

It is always about Jesus.

When Jesus took those three disciples up on the mountain and they witnessed His transfiguration, during that event, Moses and Elijah appeared alongside Him. Moses represented the Law; Elijah represented the Prophets. And then, suddenly, as quickly as they appeared, Moses and Elijah were gone.

Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!” Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more, but only Jesus.
(Mark 9:7-8 NRSV)

“Only Jesus.”

It is all about Him. It may be for you and me, but it is about Jesus.

So, today, when I get out on the highway, I’m going to think about this when someone cuts me off in traffic or drives too slow in front of me. I’m going to graciously leave space between me and the car in front of me, so that someone can change lanes if they need to, or if they suddenly realize that they need to be over there, somewhere.

When I got to a restaurant, I’m going to remember that if I have to wait longer than I think I should have to wait (boy, we Americans hate waiting), or if they get my food order wrong. And, should a piece of technology suddenly stop working properly, I’m going to remind myself that it is an inanimate object and, as such, bears me no ill will. It’s not personal.

In short, I am going to remind myself that I am supposed to be reflecting the grace and glory of our Father in heaven.


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.

Father, I confess that I constantly forget that it’s not about me. I can try to blame our society, but that doesn’t really fly. I have no one to blame but myself. Society doesn’t hold a gun to my head and force me to be a jerk to people. I have full control over my mind and my emotions, and it is up to me to own that. As a famous blues song once said, it’s “Nobody’s Fault but Mine.”

And, in the same manner, the talents that I have are not mine at all, but Your gifts to me. And I praise You for those talents. Tonight, when I am playing and singing in this Night of Worship, I pray that I, along with the other people participating, will make it all about You and none of it about us. Let us praise and worship You and give You all the glory as we worship You. Even though some of the songs we may sing are about “me,” let us realize that it is because of You that we are even able to exist, from day to day.

I also pray that the whole world would see this truth, and acknowledge that we owe all to You. Someday, that will come to pass, as it is Your will, on earth as in heaven. But we would love to see this happen sooner than later, and would prefer to see it be voluntary.

Thank You, Father, for all You have done for us and help us to remember that it is not about us. May we reflect Your glory and grace in all aspects of our lives. Word of God, speak.

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

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.

To Sleep, Perchance to Dream

Today is Friday, the 2nd of December, 2022, in the first week of Advent.

May the peace of Christ surround you, today!

Day 23,640

23 days until Christmas!

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Let your steadfast love come to me, O LORD, 
your salvation according to your promise;
(Psalms 119:41 ESV)

Lord God, our hearts are full of praise and thanks for your promise. You comfort and help us with this promise every day, enabling us to hold true through all distress. Remember us in these times, and let the cry, “Hosanna,” arise often in our hearts. Let a bright light shine out now as you once let it shine around the Lord Jesus, showing him as King and Savior. Protect us and bless us. Bless our land and all those appointed to govern. May your Spirit be with them so that they may carry out your will. For your will must be done and shall surely happen. In this we trust, and in this we hope. We praise you, O Lord our God. Hosanna! Hosanna in the highest! Amen.

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

The Lord has done it this very day;
 let us rejoice today and be glad.
Lord, save us! 
Lord, grant us success! 
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. 
From the house of the Lord we bless you. 
Psalm 118:24-26, NIV

Today I am grateful:

  1. for hope; without it, we perish
  2. for the promises of God; He will do what He says He will do, I believe it
  3. for the light of Christ, that shines in our hearts
  4. for sleep, perhaps the ultimate exercise of faith
  5. for fellowship with the Father, through the Son, and by the Spirit

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

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 
If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.
(Galatians 5:16-26 ESV)
Praise the LORD! 
Praise the LORD from the heavens; 
praise him in the heights! 
Praise him, all his angels;
 praise him, all his hosts! 

Praise him, sun and moon, 
praise him, all you shining stars! 
Praise him, you highest heavens, 
and you waters above the heavens! 

Let them praise the name of the LORD!
 For he commanded and they were created. 
And he established them forever and ever; 
he gave a decree, and it shall not pass away. 

Praise the LORD from the earth, 
you great sea creatures and all deeps, 
fire and hail, snow and mist, 
stormy wind fulfilling his word! 

Mountains and all hills,
 fruit trees and all cedars! 
Beasts and all livestock, 
creeping things and flying birds! 

Kings of the earth and all peoples, 
princes and all rulers of the earth! 
Young men and maidens together, 
old men and children!

 Let them praise the name of the LORD, 
for his name alone is exalted; 
his majesty is above earth and heaven. 
He has raised up a horn for his people, 
praise for all his saints,
for the people of Israel who are near to him. 
Praise the LORD!
(Psalms 148:1-14 ESV)

In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat— 
for he grants sleep to those he loves.
(Psalms 127:2 NIV)
I lie down and sleep; 
I wake again, because the LORD sustains me.
(Psalms 3:5 NIV)
In peace I will lie down and sleep, 
for you alone, LORD, make me dwell in safety.
(Psalms 4:8 NIV)
He will not let your foot slip— 
he who watches over you will not slumber; 
indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
(Psalms 121:3-4 NIV)
When you lie down, you will not be afraid; 
when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.
(Proverbs 3:24 NIV)

In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.
(Ephesians 3:12 NIV)

Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.
(Mark 11:24 NIV)


Faith is surrender; faith is fellowship.

Sleep may very well be the best example of faith that we encounter.

Seriously, think about it. When you go to sleep, you are the most vulnerable that you will ever be. You are at the mercy of the universe when you go to sleep.

What prevents us from sleeping? In my experience, it is usually anxiety, one of the enemy’s most powerful tools, alongside shame. If he can get us worrying about something, sleep evades us.

But look at those verses above, that deal with sleep. The Lord grants sleep to those He loves. We can sleep because He sustains us. He makes us dwell in safety. In contrast, the Lord, Himself never sleeps nor slumbers, which gives us more confidence in His “watchcare” over us. That’s a word I used to hear a lot in peoples’ prayers.

And that verse in Proverbs telling us that, because of our faith and confidence in the Lord, when we lie down, we will not be afraid and our sleep will be sweet.

Sleep is surrender. It is sweet surrender, because, when we sleep, our body heals itself from the day’s abuse.

Faith is surrender and fellowship. Faith does not equal sleep, but does sleep equal faith? Perhaps not, but I believe that sleep is a result of faith. When we fall asleep, we are exercising faith in God to care for us, to watch over us, to protect us in our most vulnerable state.


Father, I thank You for sleep. I had a pretty good night of sleep, last night. There have been some nights, recently, when my sleep was not so good. Does that indicate a lack of faith? Does that show my faith to be weak? Perhaps so, because, as I wrote up there, fitful sleep or lack of sleep sometimes indicates a lack of faith, because it is anxiety over things that keeps me from sleep.

Help us to cast all our cares on You, Lord, for You care for us. Help us to have the confidence to surrender to sleep before You, knowing that You, who watches over Israel, slumbers not, nor sleeps. Help us, Your human children, to deal in a more effective way with our anxieties that display a lack of faith. And help us, by faith, to not only surrender to You, but also have fellowship with You, through the Son, and by the Spirit.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


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

Amen.
(St. Teresa of Avila)

Grace and peace, friends.

Carnal or Spiritual?

Today is Thursday, the 1st of December, 2022, in the first week of Advent. The last month of the year.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you, as we approach the celebration of His birth.

Day 23,639

24 days until Christmas!

Today’s header photo was taken by Paul Militaru. Please visit his site to see more of his wonderful photography!

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Behold, I long for your precepts; 
in your righteousness give me life!
(Psalms 119:40 ESV)

Father, it is only in Your righteousness that I can have life! You are the source, You are the center of all things. I love Your Word. You overwhelm me.

Lord our God, we thank you for letting hosannas rise from people’s hearts and for letting us cry out to you all the more fervently in dark times. Help us, O Almighty God, and help your king, Jesus Christ, to his final victory. For he shall be victor, bringing grace, peace, life, and victory for all that is good, on earth as in heaven. He shall be victor at all times in our lives, enabling us to keep faith in trouble, fear, and need, yes, even in death. Hosanna to the victor, Jesus Christ, the victor you have chosen! O Almighty God, proclaim him on earth. Let all the people know he is on his way, to the glory of your name. Amen.

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

Say to Daughter of Zion, "See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey." The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, "Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!" 
Matthew 21:5, 9, NIV

Today I am grateful:

  1. for the Word of God and His righteousness that give me life
  2. for the grace, peace, life, and victory that Jesus brings and will bring on earth as in heaven
  3. that the whole law is fulfilled in “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Galatians 5:14)
  4. for the season of Advent; the season of hopeful waiting
  5. that the Lord leads me in right paths, that He directs my steps; may I be faithful to follow that leading

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. 
For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love. 
For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another. 
(Galatians 5:1, 6, 13-15 ESV)
Praise the LORD! 
For it is good to sing praises to our God; 
for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting. 
The LORD builds up Jerusalem; 
he gathers the outcasts of Israel. 
He heals the brokenhearted 
and binds up their wounds. 
He determines the number of the stars; 
he gives to all of them their names. 
Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; 
his understanding is beyond measure. 
The LORD lifts up the humble; 
he casts the wicked to the ground. 

Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving; 
make melody to our God on the lyre!
(Psalms 147:1-7 ESV)

Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; 
let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
(Psalms 96:11 NRSV)

he restores my soul. 
He leads me in right paths for his name's sake.
(Psalms 23:3 NRSV)

then the LORD God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being.
(Genesis 2:7 NRSV)

The human mind plans the way, but the LORD directs the steps.
(Proverbs 16:9 NRSV)

The LORD will guide you continually, and satisfy your needs in parched places, and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters never fail.
(Isaiah 58:11 NRSV)


For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For this reason the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law—indeed it cannot, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
(Romans 8:5-8 NRSV)


What is the “lesson” for today? I confess that there are some days when I look at the conglomeration of Scriptures presented by my various devotional sources and scratch my head. Then I simply try to listen, to hear the Spirit and what He might be saying to me.

That passage in Romans has always troubled me. Not because of whether I believe it or agree with it; that’s not an issue. It’s because I find myself edging into carnality way too often, which causes me anxiety.

However, Andrew Murray (yeah, him again) made a statement that helps and comforts me. “A love of prayer is one of the marks of the Spirit.” (From Living a Prayerful Life, quoted in Power in Prayer)

I think that we harm ourselves, emotionally and spiritually, but getting too caught up in the debate as to whether we are “carnal or spiritual.” It is similar to those who are constantly doubting their salvation experience.

I remember, as a youth at Calvary Baptist Church in Mineral Wells, Texas, there was this guy who walked down the aisle several times a month to “rededicate” his life. I get it, of course, we all want to be found sincere and faithful in our faith. And the beauty of being “Protestant” (I realize that there are those who think that Baptists are not “Protestant,” but the truth of the matter is, you are either Protestant or Catholic, so if you aren’t Protestant, you must be Catholic, and Baptists are definitely not Catholic), is that we don’t have to constantly be verbally confessing our sin to a priest.

I’ve heard stories about Martin Luther, the father of Protestants, and his struggle with confession. I don’t have a source, right this minute, but it is said that he would go to confession, leave the booth, get out of the room, and remember something else and go right back to the booth to confess some more. The stress and anxiety caused by this has to be unbearable.

I remember being told, in some Baptist churches, that, if I had unconfessed sin in my life, God wouldn’t hear my prayers. That is nothing more than typical religious manipulation and guilt-mongering.

But I digress.

Back to the anxiety caused by debating oneself concerning spirituality or even salvation. The very fact that one is debating the issue with oneself is a good sign. The carnal person wouldn’t care. The carnal person would not be grieving over his own sin. I know I do that. And, as Murray stated, I do love prayer. I love God’s Word, and I love prayer.

I do confess that I allow a lot of earthly things to cloud my vision, sometimes, and I am far too easily distracted. Or maybe, even as C.S. Lewis said, I am “far too easily pleased.”

Modern technology, while possessing no evil (or good, for that matter), inherently, does have the capacity to derail us and distract us, frequently. I can’t tell you how many times I have been distracted or delayed in the writing of this blog by seeing (1) on the Facebook tab, or a little red dot on the email tab, indicating that there is a new email to look at. I have my best success when I totally close those tabs and wait until I’m finished writing to look at them.

This doesn’t make me “carnal.”

To be carnal is to have one’s mind set on the things of the flesh. That’s all one thinks about. And, as I previously stated, that person wouldn’t even debate the matter with himself. He would simply do whatever he has his mind set on, which is things of the flesh.

If one is struggling with it, one is probably in pretty good shape, spiritually. We can all do better, of course, right? I know I can. But if I were carnal, I wouldn’t even be interested in “doing better.” I would be content to dwell in my sinful state.


Father, I thank You that You have placed within me a love of prayer and a love for Your Word. I confess that my mind is not always united in this. I find that my attention is divided, all too often. So I pray that You would help me to conquer this by Your Spirit, giving me the ability to shut out what doesn’t matter, at least for an amount of time that would allow me to accomplish what needs to be accomplished, in the realm of the Spirit.

I also pray that You would help me control my own mind, as brother Willard says we can do. When “carnal” thoughts come into my mind, help me to shut them out with Your Word and Your Spirit.

And even more importantly, help me to know that it is You who works the changes in us, when we need to be more disciplined and spiritual. Help me to persevere in prayer and in faith.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


Grace and peace, friends.

Indescribable

Today is Wednesday, the 30th of November, 2022, in the first week of Advent. The last day of November.

May the peace of Christ dwell in your soul, today.

Day 23,638

25 days until Christmas!

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Turn away the reproach that I dread, 
for your rules are good.
(Psalms 119:39 ESV)

Lord our God, let your miracles be done among us, and bless us through your deeds. Bless us in Jesus Christ, the Savior of so many people. May your kingdom come to us and at last bring the great miracles that carry out your will and that do what is pleasing to you. Lord God, Father in heaven, we praise you! In you we live, in you we believe, in you we hope, in you we want to live day by day and hour by hour. May your name be honored among us, for you are our God and the God of all the world. Let your light shine among all people so that many millions and whole nations may glorify your name, for in the last days the nations shall come and worship you. So protect and bless us today and in the coming time, and again and again let something happen to bring us new life and strength. Amen.

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

Shout for joy to God, all the earth! 
Sing the glory of his name;
 make his praise glorious...
Come and see what God has done, 
his awesome deeds for mankind! 
Psalm 66:1–2, 5, NIV

Today I am grateful:

  1. for the awesome deeds that God has done for mankind
  2. for the theme of this first week of Advent; hope
  3. for the light of God that shines through His people, when they are faithful to walk in His commands
  4. for good news
  5. for the indescribable love with which our Father loves us

But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: 
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." 
The LORD is good to those who wait for him, 
to the soul who seeks him. 
It is good that one should wait quietly 
for the salvation of the LORD.
(Lamentations 3:21-26 ESV)
Let us test and examine our ways, 
and return to the LORD! 
Let us lift up our hearts and hands to God in heaven:
(Lamentations 3:40-41 ESV)
"I called on your name, O LORD, 
from the depths of the pit; 
you heard my plea, 
'Do not close your ear to my cry for help!' 
You came near when I called on you; 
you said, 'Do not fear!'
(Lamentations 3:55-57 ESV)
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 while I have my being. 

Put not your trust in princes,
in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation. 
When his breath departs, he returns to the earth; 
on that very day his plans perish. 

Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, 
whose hope is in the LORD his 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 sojourners; 
he upholds the widow and the fatherless, 
but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin. 

The LORD will reign forever, 
your God, O Zion, to all generations. 
Praise the LORD!
(Psalms 146:1-10 ESV)

“‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.” Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”
(Mark 9:23-24 NIV)

“True faith is much more complex and powerful than the easy answer.” ~ Isabella, in Pray A Word A Day


Love each other with brotherly affection and take delight in honoring each other.
(Romans 12:19 TLB)
Depart from evil, and do good; 
seek peace, and pursue it. 
The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, 
and his ears are open to their cry.
(Psalms 34:14-15 NRSV)

For this very reason, you must make every effort to support your faith with goodness, and goodness with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with endurance, and endurance with godliness, and godliness with mutual affection, and mutual affection with love. For if these things are yours and are increasing among you, they keep you from being ineffective and unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For anyone who lacks these things is short-sighted and blind, and is forgetful of the cleansing of past sins.
(2 Peter 1:5-9 NRSV)


First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.
(1 Timothy 2:1-2 ESV)

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
(Galatians 5:22-23 ESV)


Our God is indescribable. The works of His majesty defy description. We try, but we fall short.

Another thing that is indescribable is the love that He has for us.

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.
(1 John 3:1 ESV)

He pours this love into us, through Jesus Christ, and the indwelling of His Holy Spirit. How tragic is it when we fail to spread that love around us?

Andrew Murray makes a bold statement concerning intercession. “It is only love that can enable us for the work of intercession.” (From Absolute Surrender, quoted in Power in Prayer) I had honestly never considered this before.

I can’t remember how many years it has been since the Lord drew me into the ministry of intercessory prayer. It was definitely a drawing of the Holy Spirit, and I felt it quite deeply. I contemplated it long and hard, and it might even be said that I resisted it. After all, the main thrust of my life, up to that point, had been worship.

But that is where God led me, and continues to lead me. I will be quick to confess that I don’t think I’ve done a great job of it. At least until more recently, that is. (Don’t be mistaken, I am still not “tooting my own horn,” here.) And I believe that one thing that has made the difference, in the past couple years is this concept of loving one another.

A couple years ago, I was listening to a podcast called “True Tunes,” in which John Joseph Thompson was interviewing Amy Grant, who had recently turned sixty (how on earth was that possible??). In this podcast, Amy said something that changed my life; changed my perspective on everything.

She said that people were always asking her opinions about things, and her response had become to say that she has two jobs. You probably know where I’m going with this. Those two jobs are (say it with me) love God and love people. That’s what the commands of Jesus boil down to, right? Even Paul says that to love fulfills the entire law. Jesus said that loving God and loving one’s neighbor as oneself fulfills the entirety of the Law and the Prophets.

Amy went on to say that her opinion about certain things, especially “hot topics,” is not in the job description for those two jobs.

Mic drop.

I felt like that eighties song by Dead or Alive, “You spin me right round, baby, right round, like a record, baby . . .” And from that day forward, I have adopted that philosophy. I believe it’s biblical, and I believe it is spot on.

I have opinions. Occasionally, I share them. But I try to keep the political ones to myself, because what I think about controversial issues is not part of my “job description.” And, moving forward into 2022, and thinking about 2023, this is even more important. Because I am asked to pray for people for whom I have sharp disagreements in opinion. But that doesn’t matter. I am called to love them.

And, as Andrew Murray stated, I can only truly be successful at intercession if I have love. In that quote up there from 1 Timothy, Paul urges us make “supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings” for “all people!” I believe I may have addressed this recently in another blog entry.

The Greek word for “all” is “pas.” Here are the Strong’s definitions for it: “pas; including all the forms of declension; apparently a primary word; all, any, every, the whole:—all (manner of, means), alway(-s), any (one), × daily, + ever, every (one, way), as many as, + no(-thing), X thoroughly, whatsoever, whole, whosoever.”

In other words, “all” means “all.”

I cannot successfully intercede for “all people” unless I love “all people.” And this is, without a doubt, the most difficult thing that we have been called to do. It seems like a burden, right?

But here’s the thing. And I could easily drift off into a discussion about “burnout,” here. If I am walking with Christ, properly, nothing is ever a burden. Things are only burdensome when we allow them to be, and when we try to take them on in our own power or strength. What did Jesus say about burdens?

“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
(Matthew 11:28-30 NRSV)

The love of God is amazing . . . it is truly indescribable. And it is the same love with which we are called to love “all people,” and to intercede for “all people.” What joy it gives me to consider this! What pleasure I get out of considering that love and considering the task of intercession! It is indescribable.

You show me the path of life. 
In your presence there is fullness of joy; 
in your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
(Psalms 16:11 NRSV)

Father, I thank You for these revelations. I thank You for that testimony from Amy Grant from that podcast. I thank You for causing me to listen to it, and for making me pay attention to it. I thank You that, since then, You have increased my capacity for loving others. I’m far from perfect, and I still struggle with loving some people, but I also confess and acknowledge that You expect me to love those people, as well. So help me, Father.

I do believe! Help my unbelief!

As we prepare to launch into another year, Lord, things still are pretty upside-down in this nation and in this world. We are still suffering the effects of a pandemic that began almost three years ago, and, in spite of our thinking, may not truly be over. But there is one of those opinions that doesn’t figure into my job description. Lord, I’m seeing a lot of people spout out some pretty outlandish opinions, but You have called me to love them, anyway, and You have called me to intercede.

So I continue to acknowledge this calling, and I commit myself to it even more, today, than before. I still love to worship You, and look forward to doing this on Saturday night, with the brothers and sisters who gather for Night of Worship. But intercession is where You are directing me, with the emphasis on loving one another.

With that in mind, I pray for Your Church, especially in America, that we would do a better job of fulfilling that command from Jesus. First, that we would love You with all of our being. Second, that we would love our “neighbor” as ourselves. And, third, that we would love one another, brothers and sisters in Christ, more intensely and more intentionally. Pour Your love into us, that we might pour it out to others!

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

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


Grace and peace, friends.

The Full Revelation of the Father’s Love

Today is Tuesday, the 29th of November, 2022, in the first week of Advent.

May the peace of Christ be with you today!

Day 23,637

26 days until Christmas!

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Confirm to your servant your promise, 
that you may be feared.
(Psalms 119:38 ESV)

Lord, we are frail and fickle people, who constantly need reminding. Thankfully, You remember that we are dust and are patient with us. As we see Your promises confirmed, it boosts our faith. Have mercy on us, Father.

Lord our God, we call to you, “Abba, dear Father!” because your Spirit draws us to Jesus Christ the Savior and to his gospel. We call to you for we belong to your kingdom. Give us strength to remain steadfast through all the troubles of our lives. Let your hand remain over us and over the warring nations. Your hand directs, your hand carries out the thoughts of your heart. May the time soon come when you will bring everything to fulfillment and give peace on earth. In expectation we praise your name, for you will bring this time and you will bring it soon. For your kingdom must come, your will must be done on earth as in heaven, and everything must go according to your plan. Amen.

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

I assure you that the man who believes in me will do the same things that I have done, yes, and he will do even greater things than these, for I am going away to the Father. 
John 14:12, Phillips

Today I am grateful:

  1. for the hope and promise of peace on earth
  2. that the will of God must be done on earth as in heaven
  3. that the Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love (Psalm 145)
  4. that the Lord is good to ALL (Psalm 145)
  5. for the ability to sing songs of praise to God
  6. for the promise of the Holy Spirit dwelling within us

So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.
(Galatians 3:24-26 ESV)

A Song of Praise. Of David. 

I will extol you, my God and King, 
and bless your name forever and ever. 
Every day I will bless you 
and praise your name forever and ever. 
Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised, 
and his greatness is unsearchable. 

One generation shall commend your works to another, 
and shall declare your mighty acts. 
On the glorious splendor of your majesty, 
and on your wondrous works, I will meditate. 
They shall speak of the might of your awesome deeds, 
and I will declare your greatness. 
They shall pour forth the fame of your abundant goodness
 and shall sing aloud of your righteousness. 

The LORD is gracious and merciful, 
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. 
The LORD is good to all, 
and his mercy is over all that he has made. 

All your works shall give thanks to you, O LORD, 
and all your saints shall bless you! 
They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom 
and tell of your power, 
to make known to the children of man your mighty deeds, 
and the glorious splendor of your kingdom. 
Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, 
and your dominion endures throughout all generations. 

[The LORD is faithful in all his words 
and kind in all his works.] 
The LORD upholds all who are falling 
and raises up all who are bowed down.
 The eyes of all look to you, 
and you give them their food in due season. 
You open your hand; 
you satisfy the desire of every living thing. 
The LORD is righteous in all his ways
 and kind in all his works. 
The LORD is near to all who call on him, 
to all who call on him in truth. 
He fulfills the desire of those who fear him; 
he also hears their cry and saves them. 
The LORD preserves all who love him, 
but all the wicked he will destroy. 

My mouth will speak the praise of the LORD, 
and let all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever.
(Psalms 145:1-21 ESV)

I will give to the LORD the thanks due to his righteousness, 
and I will sing praise to the name of the LORD, the Most High.
(Psalms 7:17 ESV)
I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart;
 I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.
(Psalms 9:1 ESV)
I will praise the name of God with a song; 
I will magnify him with thanksgiving.
(Psalms 69:30 ESV)

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.
(Ezekiel 36:26-27 ESV)


The Lord promises a new heart, a new spirit, within us, and to put His Spirit within us. The Holy Spirit enables us to walk in the ways and words of the Lord, and to follow the commands of Christ.

Through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, we are also opened to “the full revelation of the Father’s love and the grace of Jesus.” (Andrew Murray, in The Indwelling Spirit, quoted in Power in Prayer)

Oh, to know “the full revelation of the Father’s love!” Is that even possible? And, if it were possible, would any of us be able to handle it?

Paul prays, in Ephesians 3, that the readers of his epistle would “have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”

That’s a beautiful prayer, and somewhat astonishing, because it almost contradicts itself. He is praying for us to know something that is not knowable, something that “surpasses knowledge.”

But here’s the thing: our hearts were created to be God’s dwelling place. So, if, by the power of Christ’s blood, and the indwelling Spirit, we open ourselves fully to His revelation, I believe we can experience that love to its fullest. I echo brother Murray’s prayer, this morning.

“O my Father! I thank you that your Spirit wells in me. Let His indwelling be in power, in the living fellowship with yourself, in the growing experience of His renewing power, in the ever fresh anointing that witnesses to His presence and the indwelling of my glorified Lord Jesus. May my daily walk be in the deep reverence of His holy presence within me and the glad experience of all He works.”

I also believe that this giving of a new heart and new spirit, of which Ezekiel speaks, is not necessarily a one-time thing. I believe that this refreshing is something that must happen to us on a daily basis. Why do I think that? Because I’m still a sinner. As long as I dwell in this place and in this “mortal coil,” I will still be enticed by, and frequently fall to, sin. Therefore, this renewal must happen every day. This is the sanctification process of which I spoke yesterday, and it is crucial to note that, though I am forgiven, though I have “the entire forgiveness of all of my sins,” my sinful heart has not yet been perfected. Therefore, it must be constantly renewed and refreshed until that day when I am fully transformed.


Father, I thank You for the presence of Your indwelling Spirit. I pray for Him to work in power within me, constantly refreshing my heart when I fail to walk in Your commands. May I receive this refreshing, and may I be able to experience the full revelation of Your love and the grace of Jesus Christ in my life.

I thank You for the ability that You have granted me to play instruments in praise to You and to sing praises to You with my mouth. This has been a valuable thing to me for most of my life. As we prepare to worship You, this coming Saturday night, I pray in advance for everyone who will attend the Night of Worship. Prepare their hearts to encounter You through Your Holy Spirit. I pray for those of us who will be playing and leading, that our hearts will be ready, and that our experience of worship will be like no other.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!


Here’s one of the songs I will be leading this Saturday night at Night of Worship.

Grace and peace, friends.

“The Entire Forgiveness of All Your Sins”

Today is Monday, the 28th of November, 2022, in the first week of Advent.

May the peace of Christ find you, today!

Day 23,636

I have an appointment at the vein clinic, this morning, at 11:30, so I’m a little short on time, this morning, as I had a grocery order delivered around 9:00. So, this may not get finished before noon, today.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; 
and give me life in your ways.
(Psalms 119:37 ESV)

As I try to quiet my soul and get into Your presence, this morning, Father, I pray that You would, indeed, turn my eyes away from “worthless things.” There are a number of things that could fall into that category. May Your Spirit lead me, and continue to give me life as I walk in Your Kingdom.

Lord Jesus, our Savior, we look upward to heaven, for you will come from heaven in the glory of the Father. May we remain true to our calling, watching and praying every day and every hour, waiting for you, who will bring into order everything on earth. Bless us and bless our land. Grant us the joy to see you working through your servants toward the salvation of the peoples. Be with us and bless us. May your living Word work in our hearts so that every Sunday, every festival, and every day from now on may be a day of joy. Protect us. Bless us. May your name be praised in our hearts! Amen.

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

Watch, then, because you do not know when the master of the house is coming – it might be in the evening or at midnight or before dawn or at sunrise. If he comes suddenly, he must not find you asleep. What I say to you, then, I say to all: Watch! 
Mark 13:35–37, TEV

Today I am grateful:

  1. for the rain that we have received over the past week (sharing in this gratitude with others who were praying for more)
  2. for the beautiful weather forecast for today
  3. for the healing properties of being in nature, observing Your creation
  4. for the healing powers of music as it works in our lives
  5. that the Lord “will not cast off forever,” but will (and does) have compassion on us, “according to the abundance of His steadfast love” (Lamentations 3:31-33)
  6. for the forgiveness of sin, the beginning of the process of sanctification

Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.
(Galatians 3:7-9 ESV)


For the Lord will not cast off forever,
 but, though he cause grief, 
he will have compassion 
according to the abundance of his steadfast love; 
for he does not afflict from his heart or grieve the children of men.
(Lamentations 3:31-33 ESV)

If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
(1 John 1:9 NRSV)


Forgiveness. What does that mean? And do we believe that our sins have been forgiven?

Every Sunday morning, at the beginning of the worship service at Living Word Lutheran Church, after the processional hymn, one of the pastors says something like this:

“By the mercy of God we are united with Jesus Christ, and in him we are forgiven. As a called and ordained minister of the Church of Christ and by his authority, I therefore declare to you the entire forgiveness of all your sins, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

The first time I heard that, I got both chill bumps and tears. It seems like such a simple statement. But to hear it confidently proclaimed to us is significant and stirring, at least to me.

Forgiveness blots out our sins. It erases them. It literally changes our past, at least in the eyes of God. Nothing can change my past in my own mind. I cannot, it seems, manage to forget the sins I have committed. Trust me, I have tried. And I have dealt with the biggest tool in the devil’s toolbox several times in this forum; shame. Because our enemy tends to dig up some of those heinous things we have done at the most inopportune moments.

But God (there’s those two words again, just about my favorite combination of words in the whole Bible), according to His own Word, has forgotten our sins. This is a mystery. How is the One who is all-knowing able to do that?? I don’t know, but I must believe it.

In His forgiveness, God, in His mercy, acquits us of all of our sins (“the entire forgiveness of all your sins”), and no longer considers us guilty. He has cast them as far as the east is from the west. He has thrown them into the Mariana Trench. It is literally (and I don’t throw that word around like some do) as if they never happened.

But here is what forgiveness does not do. It does not take away the sinfulness of our hearts; it does not sanctify us. Rather, it begins this process.

So, in order for us to move forward in the process of sanctification, it is necessary that we first believe that we have been forgiven. It is necessary that I hear the words of that pastor who has authoritatively declared it to me, and believe it with all my heart. Then I can move forward, feeling no guilt or shame, and not having to worry about feeling “worthy.”

So, “Confess your sins to God, and experience forgiveness now as you spend time in prayer.” (Andrew Murray, in The Lord’s Table, quoted in Power in Prayer)


Father, I thank You, I praise You, and glorify Your Name for the forgiveness of my sins, for the entire forgiveness of all my sins! I cannot praise You enough for this. I pray, however, that the process of sanctification would be allowed to move along in me. Help me to take my eyes away from “worthless things,” and keep them on You; help me to keep my mind stayed on You, that I might be kept in “perfect peace,” according to Your Word. But first, help me to believe in that forgiveness. Your Word has declared it; Your ministers have declared it. Help me to believe it, wholeheartedly.

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

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


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

Grace and peace, friends.