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.

Psalm 86:11

Today is Thursday, the 12th of January, 2023, in the season of Epiphany.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you today!

Day 23,681

I had an unusually productive day, yesterday, and I’m feeling pretty good about it. I made a quick trip to the grocery store for some necessary items. After I had my lunch, I played my trombone for twenty to thirty minutes (yes, I got my new squirt bottle!). Then I walked on the treadmill for close to 45 minutes, after which I showered and cooked dinner for the family. Then after dinner, I went to my first choir practice at Living Word Lutheran Church. It was fun, but I’m going to be really busy with their schedule, especially since I signed up to be in their orchestra, as well.

For example, I will have to be at the church by 8:15, this coming Sunday, as the choir is singing in the 8:45 service. Then I need to stick around for the orchestra rehearsal, which begins immediately after the 11:00 service. Oh, and there’s a Saturday morning choir “retreat,” this weekend. Fortunately, the orchestra rehearsals are only the two weeks preceding the performance in a Sunday morning service. We will be playing in both services on Sunday, January 29 (and the choir is singing in both services, as well . . . that will be fun!).

No doubt, I will not be able to make every Sunday performance, but I will make as many as I can. There are also some weeknight services that I may or may not be able to make. There will be an Ash Wednesday service on February 22. It looks like I won’t be working that day, so I should be able to make that. However, there is also a service on Good Friday, and the choir is scheduled to sing a cantata that evening. I always work on Fridays, so I don’t know if I will be able to make that one.

But it has been a very long time since I have sung this kind of music, and I am enjoying it immensely. And looking ahead, I see that Andrew Peterson’s “Is He Worthy” is in our folder, and I am very excited about that! I love that song!

Just a quick note on our crazy weather. We have broken heat records for two days in a row, with temps at 82 on Tuesday (previous record was 77, in 2017) and 85 yesterday (previous record was 80, also in 2017). And then today’s high is projected to be thirty degrees lower, at 55. It will be below freezing tomorrow morning. But at least we are closer to the average temps for these days, now, which for today is 59/36.

In sad news, we lost Jeff Beck, yesterday. Beck was recognized by many as one of the premier guitar players of our lifetime. He died of a sudden case of bacterial meningitis, at the age of 78. Here is a video I like of Beck and Rod Stewart performing “People Get Ready.” Stewart once described Beck as being “on another planet.”

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

They have almost made an end of me on earth; 
but I have not forsaken your precepts.
(Psalms 119:87 NRSV)

Dear Father in heaven, you let us see and feel your great goodness toward us. Grant us the inner help to be victorious in the Savior, rejoicing to be by his side with faith and loyalty, and with the strength of soul that frees us from all burdens by laying them in your hands. Hear us as together we pray to you. All we ask and long for, all our concerns down to the very smallest, we lay in your hands in the one great request that your name be glorified on earth as it is in heaven. Amen.

Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you; 
he will never permit the righteous to be moved.
(Psalms 55:22 NRSV)

Today I am grateful:

  • for God’s great goodness toward us, His provision and His protection
  • that He will not allow us to be moved or shaken
  • for the blessing of singing praises to the name of the Lord
  • for the effectiveness of prayer
  • for the gift of faith, a heart that believes
  • for Psalm 86:11, “Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart to revere your name.”

Sing aloud to God our strength; shout for joy to the God of Jacob. 
Raise a song, sound the tambourine, the sweet lyre with the harp. 
Blow the trumpet at the new moon, at the full moon, on our festal day.
For it is a statute for Israel, an ordinance of the God of Jacob.
(Psalms 81:1-4 NRSV)
Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth; 
give me an undivided heart to revere your name.
(Psalms 86:11 NRSV)
My mouth will tell of your righteous acts, 
of your deeds of salvation all day long,
though their number is past my knowledge.
(Psalms 71:15 NRSV)
People will say, "Surely there is a reward for the righteous; 
surely there is a God who judges on earth."
(Psalms 58:11 NRSV)
The woman said to him, "I know that Messiah is coming" (who is called Christ). "When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us." 
Jesus said to her, "I am he, the one who is speaking to you."
(John 4:25-26 NRSV)
Summon your might, O God; show your strength, O God, 
as you have done for us before. 
Because of your temple at Jerusalem kings bear gifts to you. 
Rebuke the wild animals that live among the reeds, 
the herd of bulls with the calves of the peoples. 
Trample under foot those who lust after tribute; 
scatter the peoples who delight in war. 
Let bronze be brought from Egypt; 
let Ethiopia hasten to stretch out its hands to God. 
Sing to God, O kingdoms of the earth; 
sing praises to the Lord, 

[Selah] 

O rider in the heavens, the ancient heavens; 
listen, he sends out his voice, his mighty voice. 
Ascribe power to God, whose majesty is over Israel; 
and whose power is in the skies. 
Awesome is God in his sanctuary, the God of Israel; 
he gives power and strength to his people. Blessed be God!
(Psalms 68:28-35 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.

"Father in heaven, who at the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan proclaimed him your beloved Son and anointed him with the Holy Spirit: Grant that all who are baptized into His Name may keep the covenant they have made, and boldly confess him as Lord and Savior; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen."
(The Divine Hours, The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

“When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”
(Matthew 6:7-8 NRSV)

In your strength the king rejoices, O LORD, 
and in your help how greatly he exults! 
You have given him his heart's desire, 
and have not withheld the request of his lips.

 [Selah] 

For you meet him with rich blessings; 
you set a crown of fine gold on his head. 
He asked you for life; 
you gave it to him—length of days forever and ever.
(Psalms 21:1-4 NRSV)
O LORD, my strength and my stronghold, my refuge in the day of trouble, 
to you shall the nations come from the ends of the earth and say: 
Our ancestors have inherited nothing but lies, 
worthless things in which there is no profit. 
Can mortals make for themselves gods? 
Such are no gods!
(Jeremiah 16:19-20 NRSV)

So this is my prayer: that your love will flourish and that you will not only love much but well. Learn to love appropriately. You need to use your head and test your feelings so that your love is sincere and intelligent, not sentimental gush. Live a lover’s life, circumspect and exemplary, a life Jesus will be proud of: bountiful in fruits from the soul, making Jesus Christ attractive to all, getting everyone involved in the glory and praise of God.
(Philippians 1:9-11 MSG)


“But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and I will multiply my signs and wonders in the land of Egypt. When Pharaoh does not listen to you, I will lay my hand upon Egypt and bring my people the Israelites, company by company, out of the land of Egypt by great acts of judgment. The Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring the Israelites out from among them.”
(Exodus 7:3-5 NRSV)

“Whatever experiences we may have, we shall not regard them as miraculous if we already hold a philosophy which excludes the supernatural.” (C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock, quoted in the C.S. Lewis Bible)


Psalm 86:11 (quoted above) is my “life verse.” I don’t exactly remember when it became so, but I believe it was early in the time that we lived in our current home, so somewhere in the last two decades, as we have lived in this home for almost 24 years. It is the first bookmark in the Bible program on this computer on which I am typing.

It is a beautiful prayer, that features honesty and humility before the Lord. First, a request to “teach me your way, O LORD.” This is similar to many verses in Psalm 119, which I have been working through at the pace of roughly a verse a day. God’s “way” is seen in two places. It is seen in His Word (the written Word), and it is seen in His Word (the living Word, the Son of God).

The reason for the request is so that “I may walk in your truth.” This truth, just like the way, is found in both the written Word and the living Word. In fact, Jesus called Himself “the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” Jesus is “the Way.” And Jesus is “the Truth.” So, even though he did not realize it, the psalmist who wrote Psalm 86 (it is attributed to David) was asking to walk in the way of Jesus, the Messiah.

But it is the second phrase in this verse that gives me even more inspiration. The honesty and humility of it are refreshing. “Give me an undivided heart to revere your name.” To pray for an undivided heart is to admit that my heart is, in fact, divided.

And certainly it is. My heart is divided in so many directions. Perhaps I can honestly say that God takes up the biggest portion of it, but I’m not even sure that would be truthful. I want it to be. And I want to revere the name of the Lord with my whole heart, just like I want to be able to thank Him with my whole heart, as verse 12 of the same Psalm says.

While I may not pray this prayer daily, I have certainly prayed it many days since it became my life verse. And I will continue to pray it until I meet my Savior face to face, because, as long as this treasure of salvation is contained in this jar of clay, I will not reach the point where my heart is fully undivided.

“I do believe! Help my unbelief!”


Father, teach me Your way, that I may walk in Your truth. Your Way and Your Truth are both contained in Jesus. So teach me Jesus, that I may walk in Jesus. And then, please, by Your Holy Spirit, continue to work on my divided heart, unifying it, that I might properly revere and fear Your holy name.

I continue to think about Enoch, and desire to walk with You the way he walked with You. This, though, requires the second part of that verse to be true for me. So I’m back to that again.

You have made Scripture so very dear to me, Father, for all of my life. I have loved the Bible since before I was able to read. I am grateful for it, and for the impact it has had on my life. Nevertheless, there are still times, all too frequently, when I do not live by it or walk in it. This is the evidence of my divided heart, Father. So, once again, I pray, give me an undivided heart to fear Your name.

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.

So Much Wonder . . .

Today is Monday, the 9th of January, 2023, in the season of Epiphany. I will be attempting to follow the calendar, going forward, of the church I am attending, which is Lutheran.

May the peace of Christ find you hale today.

Day 23,678

It’s going to be a rather busy week, even though I only have two shifts at the library, this week. Part of that is because of new church involvement. S has a therapy appointment tomorrow morning, and is also scheduled for an activity on Thursday evening. I have my first choir practice Wednesday night, and a half-day choir “retreat” at the church on Saturday morning. There is also a men’s Bible study and breakfast on Saturday morning, before the choir retreat. But it starts at 7:30, and I’m not sure I can get myself up early enough to do all of that.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

My eyes fail with watching for your promise; 
I ask, "When will you comfort me?" 
For I have become like a wineskin in the smoke, 
yet I have not forgotten your statutes.
(Psalms 119:82-83 NRSV)

In Your mercy, Lord hear our prayers.

Lord our God, we thank you that we are allowed to live in your love. We thank you for your promise that all the suffering on earth shall come to an end. Hear us when we turn to you with all we have on our hearts. We are weak, but you are strong. May we hope and trust in your strength. May our life, with all its practical concerns, remain in your hands until the day when you will act in might and the whole world will know the forgiveness of sins and will praise and thank you evermore. Amen.

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord, because you know that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.
(1 Corinthians 15:57-58 NRSV)

Today I am grateful:

  • that we are allowed to live in the love of God, through Jesus Christ
  • for the promise that, one day, all suffering will end
  • for the knowledge that, in Christ, our labor is not in vain; may I be steadfast and immovable, always excelling in His work
  • for wonder
  • that the Lord on high is mighty and sovereign (Psalm 93)

Bless the LORD, O my soul, 
and all that is within me, 
bless his holy name. 
Bless the LORD, O my soul, 
and do not forget all his benefits—
(Psalms 103:1-2 NRSV)
Protect me, O God, for in you I take refuge. 
I say to the LORD, "You are my Lord;
 I have no good apart from you."
(Psalms 16:1-2 NRSV)
I love you, O LORD, my strength. 
The LORD is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer, 
my God, my rock in whom I take refuge, 
my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
(Psalms 18:1-2 NRSV)
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; 
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
(Psalms 51:7 NRSV)

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”
(Mark 1:9-11 NRSV)

Praise is due to you, O God, in Zion; and to you shall vows be performed, 
O you who answer prayer! To you all flesh shall come. 
When deeds of iniquity overwhelm us, you forgive our transgressions.
 Happy are those whom you choose and bring near to live in your courts. 
We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house, your holy temple. 
By awesome deeds you answer us with deliverance, O God of our salvation; 
you are the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas.
(Psalms 65:1-5 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.

"Father in heaven, who at the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan proclaimed him your beloved Son and anointed him with the Holy Spirit: Grant that all who are baptized into His Name may keep the covenant they have made, and boldly confess him as Lord and Savior; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen."
(The Divine Hours, The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

Amazement seized all of them, and they glorified God and were filled with awe, saying, “We have seen strange things today.”
(Luke 5:26 NRSV)

"Who is like you, O LORD, among the gods? Who is like you, majestic in holiness, awesome in splendor, doing wonders?"
(Exodus 15:11 NRSV)
Let all the earth fear the LORD; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him.
(Psalms 33:8 NRSV)

More majestic than the thunders of mighty waters, 
more majestic than the waves of the sea, 
majestic on high is the LORD! 
(Psalms 93:4 NRSV)

It was pretty easy to see today’s theme. Wonder. There are always times, in the lives of believers, when they simply must stop and look around. Now, while it is true that the verse from Luke 5 refers to the reaction of the crowd when Jesus healed the paralytic that was brought in by his four friends, Walking in Grace writer Rick Hamlin uses it as a springboard to think about a time when God arranged a scene of wonder for him to view, while out on a daily run.

I have seen, personally, many such scenes of wonder. Not while running. I don’t run. If you ever see me running, you should probably also run. Away from whatever I am running from.

I have seen majestic mountains in Wyoming, Colorado, Tennessee, and other places. I have seen waterfalls that have left me breathless, in Wyoming and Oregon. I have seen the beauty of the desert, and the majesty of the ocean. As the Newsboys song, “In Wonder” begins, “So much wonder . . .”

Often times in my life, I have simply been astounded that anyone could look around this creation and not believe in a Creator. Personally, I think it takes greater faith to believe that all of this is an accident.

But that’s not what I’m writing about today. Today, it is simply about wonder. So I encourage you . . . take a moment today, or sometime this week, and simply gaze at something in wonder. It might be the night sky. It might be a forest or a lovely park setting. It might be your children or grandchildren, for they, too, are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” It might even be your own hands. Have you ever done that? Have you ever just looked at your hands, moved your fingers, and been in awe of God’s majesty? I have.


Father, I celebrate the wonder of Your creation today. I praise You for all the beauty which You have given us, and much of it for no other reason than to lift you up and worship You. When I consider that there are creatures in the depths of the sea that no human eye will ever see, it makes me wonder even more. So much that You created simply for Your own pleasure. Perhaps, someday, when we are in Your presence, face to face, we will see some of these things, as we celebrate eternity with You.

I thank You for the calling that You gave us in Jesus Christ, the calling to be Your children. I pray that I will walk with You the way Enoch walked with You. I pray that I will follow the commands of Christ to love You and love my neighbor, and then to love the saints even more deeply.

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

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.

“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.

Power In the Blood

Today is Friday, the 25th of November, 2022, in the 34th week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you, today!

Day 23,633

30 days until Christmas!

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Give me understanding, 
that I may keep your law 
and observe it with my whole heart.
(Psalms 119:34 ESV)

Lord our God, we turn to you, for you are our help. Hear our prayer, we beseech you; let our cry rise to you so that you may send your mighty help in our generation. Continue to protect us from all evil, from death and destruction. Protect us because we are your children. As your children we turn to you, the almighty God, who can make everything work together for good. Be merciful to us, O Lord God. Help us for your name’s sake. Help, Lord, for you alone can bring everything to a good end. So we stand before you in Jesus Christ, holding to every word you have given us and knowing for certain that you hear us. Amen.

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

The Lord reigns, let the earth be glad; 
let the distant shores rejoice... 
The heavens proclaim his righteousness, 
and all peoples see his glory. 
Psalm 97:1, 6, NIV

Today I am grateful:

  1. for the wonderful day we had yesterday, celebrating Thanksgiving with family
  2. for the joy we experience as we observe the heavens declaring the righteousness of God
  3. for the blood of Christ, sacrificed for the cleansing of our sins and the creating of new life within us
  4. for the participation in that blood when we receive Communion at His table
  5. for the patience of the Lord

But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.
(2 Peter 3:8-10 ESV)

A Psalm of David. 

O LORD, I call upon you; hasten to me! 
Give ear to my voice when I call to you! 
Let my prayer be counted as incense before you, 
and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice! 

Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; 
keep watch over the door of my lips! 
Do not let my heart incline to any evil, 
to busy myself with wicked deeds 
in company with men who work iniquity, 
and let me not eat of their delicacies!

Let a righteous man strike me—it is a kindness; 
let him rebuke me—it is oil for my head; 
let my head not refuse it. 
Yet my prayer is continually against their evil deeds. 
When their judges are thrown over the cliff, 
then they shall hear my words, for they are pleasant. 
As when one plows and breaks up the earth, 
so shall our bones be scattered at the mouth of Sheol. 

But my eyes are toward you, O GOD, my Lord; 
in you I seek refuge; leave me not defenseless! 
Keep me from the trap that they have laid for me 
and from the snares of evildoers! 
Let the wicked fall into their own nets, 
while I pass by safely.
(Psalms 141:1-10 ESV)

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
(James 1:17 NIV)

And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.
(2 Corinthians 9:8 NIV)

See what great love the Father has lavished on 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 NIV)


“An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered.” ~ G.K. Chesterton, quoted in Spiritual Classics, by Richard J. Foster and Emilie Griffin


Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”
(Matthew 26:27-28 NIV)

For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life.
(Leviticus 17:11 NIV)


Every Sunday morning, the pastor that leads the Communion at Living Word Lutheran Church opens their arms and says, “You are all invited to this Table of Grace.” Then, for the next few minutes, the congregation, in orderly fashion, proceeds to the kneeling benches around the altar to receive the body and blood of Jesus.

For at least five years (maybe longer), Communion (or, as we came to call it, the Supper) has been the central piece of the worship time for me. Everything leads up to the climax of that moment, in my opinion. And in the Lutheran service, it all begins with the declaration of the forgiveness of sins. First we confess, then we worship in various ways, and we end it by receiving the body and blood of Jesus.

“See what great love the Father has lavished on us!” Observe the great blessing that He has given us, the truth that every good and perfect gift comes from Him. Also observe His great patience in holding off the end of times, because He is not willing that any should perish.

“When I partake of that blood, I have a part in the atonement that it established, the forgiveness it secured. I have a part in the life of Jesus, surrendered on the cross, raised from the grave, and now glorified in heaven. The spirit of Jesus’ life is the spirit of my life. How powerful, how heavenly must that life be that is nourished by the new wine of the kingdom and communion with the Son. May I ever be thankful that Jesus shed His blood for me.” (Andrew Murray, in The Lord’s Table, quoted in Power in Prayer)

Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!
(2 Corinthians 9:15 NIV)


Father, once again I am thankful for the cross, for the shed blood of Jesus Christ, that brings me into participation into the divine presence. I thank You for the mystery that is the body and blood of Jesus, present in the bread and wine of Communion. I pray that, as we receive this each week, we would realize more strongly the connectivity between us all, provided by and enabled by Your Holy Spirit.

As we take Communion each week, we are participating in something that is so much bigger than the congregation with whom we are worshiping. We are participating in something that spans the globe, and that also spans all time. When I consume the body and blood of Christ, I am consuming the same body and blood that John and Peter and James consumed. I am partaking in the same presence in which Polycarp and Ignatius and Clement and Augustine partook.

And I am connected, as well, with every believer who will walk the face of the earth in years to come. This mystery is similar to the mystery that is spoken of in Psalm 139; it is too wonderful for me, too high; I cannot attain it.

But I will, nevertheless, embrace it. So, this coming Sunday, Father, when I receive the bread and wine, the body and blood of Jesus, may I not take it lightheartedly or be aloof about it. May it carry with it the weight of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross, and may it empower me to live another week under the grace, and in His strength.

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

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


Grace and peace, friends.

Talking to Myself

Today is Monday, the 21st of November, 2022, in the 34th week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ rain down on you today!

Day 23,629

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

I have chosen the way of faithfulness; 
I set your rules before me.
(Psalms 119:30 ESV)

Lord God, whose might is over all the world, over heaven and over earth, we want to find strength in you, for you have given us thousands of proofs that you are with us, helping in all that happens. And when we meet with difficulties, we want all the more to find strength in you, we want all the more to hope in you and await your victory. Let your light shine into everything, in life and in death. For yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

Accept salvation as a helmet, and the word of God as the sword which the Spirit gives you. Do all this in prayer, asking for God's help. Pray on every occasion, as the Spirit leads. For this reason keep alert and never give up; pray always for all God's people. 
Ephesians 6:17–18, TEV

Today I am grateful:

  1. for the strength that I find in God, both when things are going well and when I find myself in difficult circumstances
  2. for words of Scripture that I can use to pray back to God, especially the Psalms
  3. that God alone is worthy of my worship, my praise, and my hope; I shall not put my trust and hope in any human
  4. that, if I wait on God, he gives me strength to run and not be weary, to walk an not faint (Isaiah 40)
  5. that talking to myself isn’t such a bad thing, after all; several of the psalmists did it (Psalm 103; Psalm 42; Psalm 146)

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)


For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, 
for my hope is from him. 
He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress;
 I shall not be shaken. 
(Psalms 62:5-6 ESV)

And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.”
(Matthew 19:17 ESV)

“There is none holy like the LORD: for there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God. Talk no more so very proudly, let not arrogance come from your mouth; for the LORD is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed.”
(1 Samuel 2:2-3 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 removed the high places and broke the pillars and cut down the Asherah. And he broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made, for until those days the people of Israel had made offerings to it (it was called Nehushtan).
(2 Kings 18:4 ESV)


Bless the LORD, O my soul,
 and all that is within me, 
bless his holy name!
 Bless the LORD, O my soul,
 and forget not all his benefits, 
who forgives all your iniquity, 
who heals all your diseases, 
who redeems your life from the pit, 
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, 
who satisfies you with good
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.
(Psalms 103:1-5 ESV)

Have you ever considered that David, King of Israel, “poet laureate” of the Bible, talked to himself?

That’s what he is doing in Psalm 103. And he does it in some other places, as well.

I feel like I’m in really good company, now, because I talk to myself all the time. Almost every time I turn on my video game and resume playing Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, I say, “What am I doing?” Out loud.

And who hasn’t, while roaming through the grocery store, muttered things like “Coffee, Coffee, Coffee?” (Thanks to Pastor Eibel of Living Word Lutheran Church for that one.) Supposedly, that actually helps you find the coffee. Something needs to, because they keep rearranging the grocery store for no good reason.

But here, in Psalm 103 (and other places), David is talking to himself, to his soul, reminding himself to “bless the Lord,” to praise the Lord, to give thanks to the Lord. What an appropriate psalm to read, as we approach Thanksgiving (at least here in the U.S.).

He then reminds himself of the benefits that God brings to his life.

He forgives all our iniquities
He heals all our diseases (sometimes here, sometimes after this life, but most especially, the disease of sin)
He redeems our lives from "the Pit" (the grave)
He crowns our lives with steadfast love and mercy so that our youth is renewed like the eagle

And that last one, of course, reminds us of Isaiah 40, also quoted up there.

Bless the Lord, O My soul. And also, soul, wait for Him alone, wait in silence for Him alone (Psalm 62).

Elsewhere, in Psalm 42, the Sons of Korah employ the same device. Whoever wrote that psalm is talking to himself, and encouraging himself.

Why are you cast down, O my soul, 
and why are you in turmoil within me? 
Hope in God; 
for I shall again praise him, 
my salvation and my God.
(Psalms 42:11 ESV)

We have all “tried to be good,” at some point or another, in our lives, right? At least I hope so. There do seem to be people in this world who never try to “be good,” but for most of us, that is, no doubt, a regular occurrence. And the Bible tells us to “be holy,” so we try to be holy.

But then, we get told by Jesus that there is only who is “good,” and that is God. And we get told in 1 Samuel (and other places) that there is no one holy but God. That truth can have one of two effects on us.

It can cast down our soul, and the psalmist in Psalm 42 was dealing with that, and was talking to himself to try to lift up his soul from being in turmoil. He is thirsty for God, He longs to meet with God, but something seems to be preventing him.

Note that, in the Isaiah 40 passage, it is God, alone, who gives power to the faint, and strength to him who has no might. And it is those who wait on God and only God who mount up with wings like eagles, who run and are not weary, walk and are not faint.

Andrew Murray reinforces this by telling us that we will not find many who can help us in this. “There will be plenty of fellow Christians who will entice you to put your trust in churches and doctrines, in schemes and plans and human devices, in special men of God, and in special ways of receiving grace.” (Waiting on God, quoted in Power in Prayer) But even the ark and the temple became stumbling blocks for Israel.

It is in God and God whom we must put our trust.

I leave you with the orphan Psalm 146, where, once again, a psalmist talks to himself and reminds himself that only God is worthy and deserving of his hope.

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)

Father, if talking to myself will remind me to praise You, thank You, and worship You; if it will remind me to not place my hope in any human or institution, but only in You, then I will talk to myself all the more. Hopefully, however, it will also result in my talking more to You and less to me.

I praise You for Your holiness and Your goodness, that, truthfully, only You are good, and only You are holy. My best efforts at being good and holy fall flat, Lord. But thanks to Your great grace, steadfast love, and mercy, I need not be downcast. My soul has reason to rejoice, because You lift me up; You give me strength when I am weak and weary; You give me power when I am powerless; You help me mount up like wings of eagles, walk and not faint, run and not be weary.

But only when I remember to wait on You. So help me to do that, constantly. Help me to remind myself, to talk to my soul, and pray to You without ceasing. Before I get out of bed, remind me to pray Scripture back to You. Before I go to sleep at night, remind me to pray Scripture back to You. And, should I wake up in the night, remind me to go to those precious “wonderful words of life” and cite them back to You as I remind myself of Your goodness and holiness.

Then, and only then, can I make any progress at all in what would otherwise be a hopeless venture to be “good” or “holy,” because I can only be good or holy in You, through Christ, and by the Holy Spirit.

Help me to remember to give thanks in all circumstances, and I pray for all of humanity, this week, that the human race would know You, acknowledge You, and give thanks and praise to You for all the benefits and blessings that You have lavished on us, even on those who refuse to acknowledge You.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and all that is within me, 
bless His holy name!

Grace and peace, friends.

Only Jesus

Today is Monday, the third of October, 2022, in the twenty-seventh week of Ordinary Time.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,580

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
(2 Corinthians 4:6 ESV)


Lord our God, our Father in heaven, we come to you as your children. Bless us, we pray. Bless us especially in days when fear tries to take hold of us. Let your help come down to us as you have promised, the great help in Jesus Christ, who shall come to redeem the whole world. Bless us through your Word. Renew us again and again to stand firm and true to you, for you are our help for redemption and reconciliation through Jesus Christ. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.
(2 Corinthians 5:18-19 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. that God is reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting our sins against us
  2. for the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 4:6); O, how I long to see my Savior’s face!
  3. for the account of the transfiguration of Jesus in Mark 9
  4. that the Lord has made known His salvation and revealed His righteousness to the nations
  5. for the promises of Jesus regarding prayer

Oh sing to the LORD a new song, for he has done marvelous things! His right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him. 
The LORD has made known his salvation; he has revealed his righteousness in the sight of the nations. 
He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness to the house of Israel. All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God. 

Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises! 
Sing praises to the LORD with the lyre, with the lyre and the sound of melody! 
With trumpets and the sound of the horn make a joyful noise before the King, the LORD! 

Let the sea roar, and all that fills it; the world and those who dwell in it! 
Let the rivers clap their hands; let the hills sing for joy together 
before the LORD, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with equity.
(Psalms 98:1-9 ESV)

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.
(Psalms 32:8 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)


And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became radiant, intensely white, as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus. And Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” For he did not know what to say, for they were terrified. And a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, “This is my beloved Son; listen to him.” And suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone with them but Jesus only.
(Mark 9:2-8 ESV)

"The tendency of all worship to decline from adoration to demand, and from the supernatural to the ethical, shows how strong a pull is needed to neutralize the anthropocentric trend of the human mind, its intense preoccupation with the world of succession, and its own here-and-now desires and needs." 
(Evelyn Underhill, quoted in Spiritual Classics, by Richard J Foster and Emilie Griffen)

“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.”
(John 14:12-14 ESV)


Today, I want to focus on that passage from Mark, as well as the quote from Ms. Underhill.

Evelyn nails it, in my opinion, in her quote about worship and how we humans tend to make it anthropocentric. That’s a fifty-dollar word that means we put ourselves at the center. And if anyone has been paying attention to modern worship songs, in the course of the last decade or so, they can see the truth in this. I would dare to guess that at least ninety percent of all contemporary worship songs use the pronouns “I” and “me,” rather than “we” or “us,” and the majority of those songs are also not directed to God, but, rather, address what He has done for “me” or what “I” want from Him.

Now, there is certainly nothing wrong with singing about God to each other. That is part of what corporate worship should be . . . retelling the Gospel story to one another. But there is simply too much “I” and “me” in those songs. We think too much about ourselves.

Sadly, this translates over into our daily lives, as well. Just look at the number of alleged Christians who have been screaming about their “rights” in the past few years.

When we gather to worship God, it should be all about Him.

When Jesus took His “inner circle” up on the mountain with Him, they observed His transfiguration. We are not told what they saw, but I can’t help but wonder if it resembled what John saw in Revelation.

Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength.
(Revelation 1:12-16 ESV)

We do know that verse 6 says, “they were terrified.” Terrified is probably one of, if not the, most intense words for “scared.” Quite literally, they were scared speechless. But Peter, being Peter, had to talk anyway, so he blurted out that thing about building tents. One for Moses, one for Elijah, and one for Jesus.

Moses appeared, representing the Law. Elijah appeared, representing the Prophets. After Peter spoke, a voice came out of the cloud: “This is my beloved Son; listen to him.”

Now, there are different ways to emphasize that statement. We could emphasize “listen.”

“This is my beloved Son; listen to him.”

Or, we could emphasize “him.”

“This is my beloved Son; listen to him.”

Based on what happens next, I think the emphasis should be placed on “him.” Why?

And suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone with them but Jesus only.
(Mark 9:8 ESV)

Beloved, I believe (and trust me, I did not come up with this on my own, it comes from the best sermon on the transfiguration that I have ever heard, by Pastor Kari Malinak of Living Word Lutheran Church, in Grapevine, TX) that this event serves to tell us that Jesus supersedes the Law and the Prophets, and that, from this point forward, we should be listening to Him.

Jesus, Himself, tells us, multiple times in the New Testament, that following His commands fulfills the Law and the Prophets. I’m not saying we should not continue to read and study those. What I’m saying is that if we place more importance on the Old Testament Law than we put on the words of Jesus, we are in error. The voice that came from the cloud (presumably the Father) has told us to listen to Jesus.

So let us live our lives under the influence of Jesus Christ, and let our worship reflect this, as we focus, not on ourselves, but on the Holy Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.


Father, I thank You for Jesus. Those words sound so inadequate. But I don’t know how to express it better. I am thankful for everything that Jesus has done and everything He represents. I thank You for His teachings, His Words, and I thank You for the account of this transfiguration, in which You illustrated to His disciples, and through them, to us, that it is Jesus, and only Jesus to whom we should listen.

Help us to be less like Peter, simply blurting things out when we should be silent. Help us to be more like Jesus in all of our lives. Help us to stop being so self-centered about everything we do, and begin to obey the commands that Jesus gave us, to love You with all of our being, and to love others as ourselves. Help us to fully surrender our “rights,” that we might consider others as more significant than ourselves, as Your Word instructs us to do. Help us to clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, patience, and gentleness.

Mostly, just help us.

Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus!


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

Grace and peace, friends.

Today Forever

Today is Monday, the nineteenth of September, 2022, in the twenty-fifth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ dwell in your soul!

Day 23,566

Only three days until Autumn begins!

The Queen’s funeral is going on, as I type this, and S is in the living room watching it. I suppose it is fitting that it is happening on September 19, which is already a sad day for me, as it is the day that Rich Mullins was killed in an auto accident, twenty-five years ago. This all rather overshadows “Talk Like A Pirate Day.”

We had a nice day, yesterday. The church gathering was good, and we had Applebee’s for lunch afterward. We watched an episode of Call the Midwife (C and Mama have been watching them, but I hadn’t seen any, yet) during lunch, then spent the rest of the day relaxing (after taking out the trash bins).

The high temperature yesterday wound up being three degrees below the predicted high of 95. Does that count as a cold front? That’s four degrees higher than the average for the day. Today’s high is projected at 95 again, as is tomorrow’s. Saturday’s high is 97, and then it begins to drop, going down below 90 for the last three days of the ten-day forecast. Unfortunately, Saturday is the day we plan to take the truck to Mineral Wells to move furniture. Hopefully, the truck doesn’t fall through, this time.

The record high temp for today is, once again, 98, back in 2005.

The Texas Rangers, after losing again to the Tampa Bay Rays, 5-3, have been officially eliminated from any hopes of playoff contention for this season. They are 63-83 for the season, with sixteen games remaining. They are 32.5 games out of first place and 17.5 out of the Wild Card race. And they dropped back to fourth place, a game behind the Angels. They are off today, and begin a series with the Angels, in Arlington, tomorrow.

The Boston Red Sox came back with a vengeance and beat the Royals 13-3, yesterday. This puts them at 71-75 for the season, with sixteen games remaining. They are still in last place in the AL East, 5.5 behind the Orioles. They are 17 games out of first place and are now officially eliminated from the division race. They are 9.5 out of the Wild Card race and their WCE# is 8. They, too, are off today, and begin a series in Cincinnati tomorrow.

The Astros and Dodgers are still the only two teams to have clinched playoff berths, and the Dodgers are the only team to have clinched their division.

The Dodgers kept their chances alive with another win, yesterday, to make their MLB-leading record 101-44. They must win sixteen of their remaining seventeen to break the win record. The Nationals and Athletics both lost, so the Nationals remain the worst, at 51-95, 1.5 behind the A’s.

The Mets have the longest current win streak, at four games. The Pirates and Phillies both have four-game losing streaks. The Dodgers now have a run differential of +329, and the Pirates are at -214. The Rangers are at -22, and the Red Sox gained back the nine runs they lost yesterday (plus one) and are now at -34.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God and our Father, we thank you for all the light you let shine on earth to gladden our hearts. Your light shows us how to live in your creation with open eyes and open hearts, accepting in a childlike way all the good gifts from your hand. How much good you send to many sorrowful hearts, and how much strengthening to those in weakness, poverty, and sickness! Grant that we may recognize what comes from you, that we are not cast down in spirit but mount up again and again on wings like eagles. May we learn to say at all times, "Through how much need has not our merciful God spread out his wings to protect us!" Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel.”
(Exodus 19:4-6 ESV)

And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
(Mark 12:30-31 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. for the light from God that shines to gladden our hearts and strengthen us in our sorrows and weaknesses
  2. that the Lord abounds in steadfast love (mercy) to all who call upon Him
  3. that He is merciful and gracious and slow to anger (shouldn’t we be the same??)
  4. for every good and perfect gift that comes down from the Father of lights
  5. that my thoughts are drawn toward eternity

So he delivered him over to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus, and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called The Place of a Skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them. Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” Many of the Jews read this inscription, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and it was written in Aramaic, in Latin, and in Greek. So the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but rather, ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews.'” Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written.”
(John 19:16-22 ESV)

I have frequently wondered about the eternal destiny of Pilate. He was very close to believing, I think. He knew there was something more to Jesus than what was visible.


Be gracious to me, O Lord, for to you do I cry all the day. 
Gladden the soul of your servant, 
for to you, O Lord, do I lift up my soul. 
For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, 
abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you. 
Give ear, O LORD, to my prayer; listen to my plea for grace. 
In the day of my trouble I call upon you, for you answer me. 
There is none like you among the gods, O Lord, 
nor are there any works like yours. 
All the nations you have made 
shall come and worship before you, O Lord, 
and shall glorify your name. 
For you are great and do wondrous things; you alone are God. 
Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth;
 unite my heart to fear your name.
 I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, 
and I will glorify your name forever. 
For great is your steadfast love toward me; 
you have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol.
(Psalms 86:3-13 ESV)
But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, 
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. 
Turn to me and be gracious to me; 
give your strength to your servant, 
and save the son of your maidservant.
(Psalms 86:15-16 ESV)

This has long been a favorite psalm of mine, and I can’t remember how long ago it was that I chose verse 11 as my “life verse.” That’s the verse in italics, above. It’s probably been a little over twenty years, because I seem to remember being in this house when I did that, and we have lived her for 23 years, now.

I’m still working, or should I say He is still working, on that united heart bit. And as for giving thanks with my whole heart, I’m still working on that one, too. What I want to focus on this morning, though is that steadfast love that is mentioned in this psalm. The word that is used in the Hebrew language is chesed. The KJV translates that word as “mercy.” The Strong’s entry on that word is as follows: “kindness; by implication (towards God) piety; rarely (by opposition) reproof, or (subjectively) beauty:—favour, good deed(-liness, -ness), kindly, (loving-) kindness, merciful (kindness), mercy, pity, reproach, wicked thing.”

Then verse 15 also tells us that God is merciful and gracious and slow to anger. As I read this psalm, this morning, my thoughts were drawn to questions about our own behavior in this world. If God shows mercy, steadfast love, and is merciful and gracious and slow to anger, are we not directed to be like Him?


Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.
(James 1:17 ESV)


And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.
(1 John 5:11 ESV)

“I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”
(John 10:28-30 ESV)

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Romans 8:37-39 ESV)

For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
(2 Corinthians 4:17-18 ESV)

“Eternal life.”

How often do we consider the words “eternal” and “eternity?” The first definition of eternity is somewhat oxymoronic. “Infinite or unending time,” it says. The fact that it includes the word “time” makes me chuckle. I prefer the second definition, which, to me makes it clearer: “a state to which time has no application; timelessness.”

The first thing I always type in this blog is the date. Many people are interested in what “holiday” is featured for the day. Some holidays are official, some not so much. For example, today is “Talk Like A Pirate Day.” Shiver me timbers. I also remember this as the day that Rich Mullins died. It will, from this day forward, be remembered as the day that Queen Elizabeth II was buried.

We remember birthdays. We mark years. I remember significant years in my life.

In eternity, none of those will matter. Eternity will be one infinite day. It will be “today” forever. There will be no more tomorrow, and there will be no more yesterday. Or, perhaps “yesterday” will be remembered as a vague time when we were walking on earth. I have no idea if we will remember this life.

Great. Now my brain hurts.

The burdens of time, these “light momentary afflictions” that we must endure, are temporary. When we worry about them, we do ourselves a grave disservice (no pun intended). We steal joy from ourselves by allowing ourselves to be ruled by them. Yes, we must pay attention, and we must, to a degree, abide by them. It would be to my best interest to be at work on time on days when I am scheduled.

I find some words of Paul in Galatians to be quite interesting.

But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more? You observe days and months and seasons and years!
(Galatians 4:9-10 ESV)

But, then, it is also important to note that, when Paul was writing these letters to the churches, they were all quite sure that Jesus would be returning in a couple of years, at the most.

“Eternal life.” Today forever. My soul rejoices at the hope!


Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.
(Psalms 1:1-2 ESV)

Andrew Murray focuses on meditation, from this passage. He says, “Through meditation the heart holds and appropriates the Word of God.” The intellect takes in the words when we read, but they must get into the heart, and the way this happens is through meditation.

It is important to meditate on God’s Word because “whatever the heart truly believes, it embraces with love and joy and thus influences the life.”

Meditation was a lost art, for a long time, in modern Christianity. It is still shunned by many well-meaning Christians because of its Eastern implications. But meditation was encouraged, even demanded, as far back as Old Testament times.

But before we try to meditate, we must “present ourselves before God.” You see, the words on the pages of a Bible mean nothing without His presence, without the influence of the Holy Spirit. They are just words. “It has no power to bless apart from Him.” As it brings us into His presence, then we can begin to meditate on it and hide it away in our hearts. This is done in “quiet restfulness,” during which our minds need not expend energy, as we do in “study.”

And then, meditation leads to prayer, as it, by nature, “provides subjects for prayer.” I can attest to the truth of this, as I have many times been led into prayer by meditating on a specific passage of Scripture. In fact, every day, in this blog, I am led to prayer by the passages on which I meditate.

Today, I’m meditating/contemplating/pondering eternity.


Father, my soul rejoices, this morning, as I consider eternal life, and the implications within. Much of what we believe about eternity is speculation, as You have not provided an abundance of information about it. You have told us that there would be no pain, no sickness, and no tears, which is what causes me to question whether we will, in fact, remember our lives on earth. Such knowledge is too high for me, I cannot attain it.

All I know for sure is that I look forward to it with great anticipation. And I know that this eternal life comes from Your Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ, the Word, the Way, the Truth, and the Life. All praise to You for giving us this life, Father, and for drawing us into it as You have.

As we grow closer to the time when this will come to pass, I pray that You draw us away from earthly things that do not matter, special days, years, and even memories. Not that I want to forget loved ones or anything like that. I just don’t want to be focusing on things that relate to time, which will no longer be a factor in our lives. I love the concept that was brought into my mind today, the idea that, when we enter eternity, it will be an endless day, it will be “today” forever.

Even so, please come quickly, Lord Jesus!


He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.
(Revelation 22:20-21 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.