“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.

What Do You Know?

Today is Sunday, the 27th of November, 2022, in the first week of Advent.

May the peace of Christ fill you with joy today!

Day 23,635

28 days until Christmas!

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Incline my heart to your testimonies, 
and not to selfish gain!
(Psalms 119:36 ESV)

Father, as my heart, mind, and soul are drawn into Your Word, this morning, I pray for what this verse from Psalms asks. Incline my heart toward Your Word, and not toward any selfishness.

Lord our God, dear Father in heaven, we thank you that we may be your children, led by you. We thank you for guiding us in times of grief and never forsaking us. Now, as of old, you are with us, Lord our God, and you show us the way in every situation. Protect us in this present time, and grant us strength to go on patiently even when our lives hold much suffering and distress. We thank you for your guidance and rejoice in your help for our time. Reveal your hand in power, for soon, very soon, your right hand will change everything. Amen.

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

Good and upright is the Lord;
 therefore he instructs sinners in his ways. 
He guides the humble in what is right 
and teaches them his way. 
Psalm 25:8–9, NIV

Today I am grateful:

  1. that we have been given the right to become children of God (John 1:12)
  2. that our God is with us, just as He was with His people of old; and that we are, in Christ, as close to the Father as Christ, Himself is
  3. for the compassion the Lord has on us, His children, that He remembers that we are dust (Psalm 103)
  4. that I know the Lord, who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth
  5. for the great “cloud of witnesses” (Hebrews 11-12)

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.
(Galatians 2:20-21 ESV)

A Psalm of David. 

Hear my prayer, O LORD; 
give ear to my pleas for mercy! 
In your faithfulness answer me, in your righteousness! 
Enter not into judgment with your servant, 
for no one living is righteous before you. 

For the enemy has pursued my soul; 
he has crushed my life to the ground; 
he has made me sit in darkness like those long dead. 
Therefore my spirit faints within me; 
my heart within me is appalled. 

I remember the days of old; 
I meditate on all that you have done; 
I ponder the work of your hands.
 I stretch out my hands to you; 
my soul thirsts for you like a parched land. 
Selah. 

Answer me quickly, O LORD! 
My spirit fails! 
Hide not your face from me, 
lest I be like those who go down to the pit. 
Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, 
for in you I trust. 
Make me know the way I should go,
 for to you I lift up my soul. 

Deliver me from my enemies, O LORD! 
I have fled to you for refuge. 
Teach me to do your will, 
for you are my God! 
Let your good Spirit lead me
 on level ground! 

For your name's sake, O LORD, preserve my life! 
In your righteousness bring my soul out of trouble! 
And in your steadfast love you will cut off my enemies, 
and you will destroy all the adversaries of my soul, 
for I am your servant.
(Psalms 143:1-12 ESV)

As a father has compassion on his children, 
so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; 
for he knows how we are formed,
 he remembers that we are dust.
(Psalms 103:13-14 NIV)
My dwelling place will be with them; 
I will be their God, 
and they will be my people.
(Ezekiel 37:27 NIV)

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!
(Philippians 2:5-8 NIV)


Thus says the LORD: 
"Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, 
let not the mighty man boast in his might, 
let not the rich man boast in his riches, 
but let him who boasts boast in this, 
that he understands and knows me,
 that I am the LORD 
who practices steadfast love, 
justice, 
and righteousness in the earth. 
For in these things I delight, 
declares the LORD."
(Jeremiah 9:23-24 ESV)
"Be still, and know that I am God. 
I will be exalted among the nations, 
I will be exalted in the earth!"
(Psalms 46:10 ESV)

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
(Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV)


I’m sitting here, this morning, in a sort of meditative silence. I’m struggling to find words to put on this “page,” to express what I am feeling. The Scriptures may have to speak for themselves.

The season of Advent is finally upon us. It is a season of waiting, as we begin to “wait” in expectation, on the celebration of the birth of Jesus. This is not a “biblical” season. In fact, we are never expressly commanded to recognize or celebrate that birth, anywhere in Scripture. The only thing that the Bible really tells us to commemorate is the death of Christ through the Supper or Communion.

Nevertheless, we celebrate Christmas, with great joy. We understand (at least most of us) that Jesus wasn’t really born on December 25. And, frankly, I don’t believe that He minds that we celebrate it then.

But what do I know?

There’s that phrase. We say that a lot. It’s a sort of admission that I might be wrong about something.

This hearkens back to that verse in Jeremiah 9. I believe I have focused on this, recently, but here it is again, today.

What do you know?

That reminds me of a famous line from Game of Thrones. “You know nothing, Jon Snow.” I always loved that line.

And, truly, if we don’t know the Lord, who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth, we know nothing, right along with Jon Snow.

I believe I know Him. It has been a lifelong journey, and it continues until I no longer walk this earth. Someday, I will know Him fully, even as He knows me, if Paul knew what he was talking about.

Do you know Him?


Father, I pray that all would know Christ, and, through Him, know the Father. I am grateful for the hymn in Philippians 2, that describes how Jesus didn’t hold on to His own divinity, but poured Himself out for our sake. I thank You that You have drawn me into relationship with You, that I might know You. I desire to know You more and more.

I am looking forward to a worship service, this morning, that heralds the beginning of Advent, Father. I pray that we will lift our hearts to you in glorious worship, today. May all glory be given to You, in all the earth.

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.

Unbroken Fellowship

Today is Saturday, the 26th of November, 2022, in the 34th week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ fill your body, soul, and spirit, today!

Day 23,634

Advent begins tomorrow, and there are 29 days until Christmas!

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lead me in the path of your commandments, 
for I delight in it.
(Psalms 119:35 ESV)

Lord our God, in our times too you hear the prayers and cries of your children. We need to cry out, for humankind has not become your own but still lives in pain and under judgment, and many thousands have to die or undergo terrible things. They should be yours, every one of them. They should all be your children. So we cry out to you: Reveal and glorify your name on earth so that a new time may come and great wonders may be done by your hand. May your name be honored, your kingdom come, and your will be done on earth as in heaven. Amen.

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains would tremble before you! As when fire sets twigs ablaze and causes water to boil, come down to make your name known to your enemies and cause the nations to quake before you! 
Isaiah 64:1–2, NIV

Today I am grateful:

  1. for a very restful day, yesterday
  2. for the heart of gratitude that God has developed in me
  3. for rain received this week
  4. for the constant presence of Christ among us
  5. for the available relief from worry and anxiety; may I avail myself of this more often
  6. for the possibility of unbroken fellowship with Jesus

A Maskil of David, when he was in the cave. A Prayer. 

With my voice I cry out to the LORD; 
with my voice I plead for mercy to the LORD. 
I pour out my complaint before him; 
I tell my trouble before him. 

When my spirit faints within me, 
you know my way! 
In the path where I walk 
they have hidden a trap for me. 
Look to the right and see: 
there is none who takes notice of me; 
no refuge remains to me; 
no one cares for my soul. 

I cry to you, O LORD; 
I say, "You are my refuge, 
my portion in the land of the living." 
Attend to my cry, 
for I am brought very low! 
Deliver me from my persecutors, 
for they are too strong for me! 
Bring me out of prison, 
that I may give thanks to your name! 
The righteous will surround me, 
for you will deal bountifully with me.
(Psalms 142:1-7 ESV)

Then he said, “Come no closer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.”
(Exodus 3:5 NRSV)

For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.
(Jeremiah 29:11 NRSV)

Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.”
(Matthew 18:19-20 NRSV)


And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. A windstorm arose on the sea, so great that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him up, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!” And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, you of little faith?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a dead calm. They were amazed, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him?”
(Matthew 8:23-27 NRSV)

Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 4:5-7 NRSV)


For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
(Galatians 2:19-20 NRSV)


A couple days ago, one of the central passages was one where Jesus said, “In the world you will have trouble, but I have overcome the world.” (Paraphrased)

We are entering one of the most anxious seasons of the year. The holidays are a source of anxiety for many people, and for many different reasons. I’m not even going to begin to try to list them all.

The psalmist appears to be a bit anxious in Psalm 142, doesn’t he? And Jesus’s disciples were certainly anxious in that little boat in Matthew 8. What makes their anxiety even more preposterous is that Jesus was in the boat with them! And they knew it!

We find ourselves in that same “boat,” don’t we? We start worrying about things (I’m not exempt from this, believe me), and Jesus is with us, in the form of the Holy Spirit. Okay, the Holy Spirit is not “Jesus,” and vice versa. But all of them are “God,” as they make up the Holy Trinity. That’s another one of those mysteries that we will simply be unable to comprehend until we meet Him face-to-face.

Jesus also gave us many promises of His presence, one of which is above, in Matthew 18. Now, granted, these days it seems to be quite difficult to get two or more to agree about anything! But Jesus promises His presence in our midst.

In Galatians, we have that wonderful and popular verse that declares that our lives are actually lived by faith in Christ, as we are crucified in Him, and He lives through us. “It is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me.”

Many people desire the gifts of the Holy Spirit, but what is their motivation? Sometimes we seek Him for “obtaining more power for work, more love in our life, more holiness in the heart, more light on Scripture or on our path.” I fear, sometimes, as well, that many seek the Holy Spirit for attention; if you have the more visible gifts of the Spirit, people will notice you.

Andrew Murray says, “But all these gifts are subordinate to the great purpose of God. The Father bestowed the Spirit on the Son, and the Son gave Him to us for the purpose of revealing and glorifying Christ Jesus in us.

“The heavenly Christ must become for us a real and living personality who is always with us and in us. Our life on earth can be lived every day in unbroken fellowship with our Lord Jesus.” (Andrew Murray in Living a Prayerful Life, quoted in Power in Prayer, emphasis added)

I want to emphasize that one sentence even more.

“Our life on earth can be lived every day in unbroken fellowship with our Lord Jesus.”

Now, to be clear, this is not something that is easy or can happen automatically. This is one of those things that reflects the need for Spiritual Disciplines in our lives. We have to practice this presence, as indicated by Brother Lawrence in his book, The Practice of the Presence of God. Frank Laubach also had the belief that it was possible to acknowledge the presence of God constantly in one’s life. He wrote a little pamphlet called The Game with Minutes, in which he encourages us to acknowledge God’s presence at least one second in every minute of our waking day.

Again, this is not something that is easy to accomplish, because we are “trained” differently. We are accustomed to being anxious. In fact, we seem to be encouraged to be anxious about things. We are taught to always be in a hurry (at least in Western society; there are other societies that are much better at time management than we are). We are encouraged to always be accomplishing something. My own wife struggles with this. She feels guilty for simply sitting and relaxing for any length of time, on weekends.

But anxiety is a mental thing. Again, Dallas Willard tells us that humans have the unique capability to control what we allow our minds to dwell on. Therefore, we also have the ability to direct our minds to dwell on Christ and His presence in our lives. We can have that unbroken fellowship of which Andrew Murray speaks!


Father, I thank You for the possibility of unbroken fellowship with Jesus! I pray that I might realize this through the practice of the Spiritual Disciplines in my life. I realize that this is not something that can happen instantly, nor is it automatic. Perhaps it should be almost automatic for the believer/follower of Christ, but, alas, because of worldly influences, it is not.

Help me to practice this rightly. Let Your Spirit remind me, constantly, of Your presence in my life. I pray for the influence of the Trinity, constantly, daily. And then let this influence, this presence, shine out from me like the brightest of lights in a world that seems so dark.

There are many of us, Father, who look around us and simply see a world that is “on fire.” “The world is burning,” we seem to be saying, constantly. But let us not focus our eyes on this. Rather, let us focus our minds, our spirits, our souls, on Your presence, so that we might light our world on a different kind of fire!

I desire that unbroken fellowship, Father, but I’m not whole-hearted enough. I pray that You “fix me,” because I’m broken. As are we all, Lord. Heal our brokenness with the salve of Your grace and mercy, and fix our eyes on You, the author and perfector of our faith.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


The LORD bless you and keep you; 
the LORD make his face to shine upon you, 
and be gracious to you; 
the LORD lift up his countenance upon you, 
and give you peace.
(Numbers 6:24-26 NRSV)

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.

Thank You

Today is Thursday, the 24th of Thanksgiving (oops) November, 2022, in the 34th week of Ordinary Time.

I got a little ahead of myself, there.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you today, and cause you to be thankful.

Day 23,632

And, yes, today is Thanksgiving, in the U.S. Canada already had theirs. And this year, Thanksgiving falls on one of those days that I always think Thanksgiving should be on, November 24, 25, or 26. The weather is not the best, today. It’s chilly and rainy, out there. Which doesn’t really bother us, so much, as we aren’t planning to go anywhere. But there are people planning to travel to our house.

And, it is 31 days until Christmas. Believe it or not, I actually have two Christmas presents, already.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Teach me, O LORD, the way of your statutes; 
and I will keep it to the end.
(Psalms 119:33 ESV)

O Lord God, give us new hearts, teach us a new way on earth, so that through your commandments all people may act in accordance with your Word and may become one. Only you can do this, working through your promised Holy Spirit, and you will do it in order that the earth may become a paradise, a heavenly kingdom pleasing to you. Let your words be written in our hearts, and help us to fulfill your commandments in our daily life. Only by carrying out your commandments may we foolish, sinful people be made perfect, our sins be forgiven, and everything become right and good in your sight. Stay with us, Lord God, our Father. Help us in everything. Let something new, something pleasing to you, soon come into our time. Put your commandments into our hearts, that peace may be restored to the glory of your name. Amen.

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them...For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven. 
Matthew 5:17, 20, NIV

Today I am grateful:

  1. for this day, when our hearts are specifically drawn to giving thanks to God; may we be thankful beyond today
  2. for the promise that our God is always doing something new
  3. for the hope and promise of peace
  4. that the perfect love of our God casts out fear
  5. that the Lord is my perfection, Jesus is my righteousness; in Him, I am made blameless
  6. that God, in His mercy, does not remember our sins, once we have laid them at the foot of the cross

To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David. 

Deliver me, O LORD, from evil men; 
preserve me from violent men, 
who plan evil things in their heart 
and stir up wars continually. 
They make their tongue sharp as a serpent's, 
and under their lips is the venom of asps. 
Selah. 

Guard me, O LORD, from the hands of the wicked; 
preserve me from violent men, 
who have planned to trip up my feet. 
The arrogant have hidden a trap for me, 
and with cords they have spread a net; 
beside the way they have set snares for me. 
Selah. 

I say to the LORD, You are my God; 
give ear to the voice of my pleas for mercy, O LORD! 
O LORD, my Lord, the strength of my salvation, 
you have covered my head in the day of battle. 
Grant not, O LORD, the desires of the wicked; 
do not further their evil plot, or they will be exalted! 
Selah. 

As for the head of those who surround me,
 let the mischief of their lips overwhelm them! 
Let burning coals fall upon them! 
Let them be cast into fire, 
into miry pits, no more to rise! 
Let not the slanderer be established in the land; 
let evil hunt down the violent man speedily! 

I know that the LORD will maintain the cause of the afflicted, 
and will execute justice for the needy. 
Surely the righteous shall give thanks to your name; 
the upright shall dwell in your presence.
(Psalms 140:1-13 ESV)

‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’
(Jeremiah 33:3 NIV)


For who is God, but the LORD? 
And who is a rock, except our God?
— the God who equipped me with strength 
and made my way blameless.
(Psalms 18:31-32 ESV)

But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”
(Luke 10:41-42 ESV)

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.
(1 John 4:18 ESV)


And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.
(Ephesians 5:18-21 ESV)


My gratitude, on this day, is immense. Perhaps I am focusing more on it, today, since it is the day of Thanksgiving. As anyone knows, who has regularly read this blog, I am grateful, every day, as a practice of spiritual discipline. But today, that gratitude is heightened.

As I read the various Scriptures today, I find that I am most grateful for things like the promise of Jeremiah 33:3, the promise that, if I call to the Lord, earnestly, and in humility, He will answer; He will show me things that I have not known. And trust me, there is plenty that I do not know. The older I get, the more I know that I don’t know much.

I am also very grateful (is it possible to be “very” grateful?) for the truth of the passage from Psalm 18.

Let’s talk about “perfection,” for a minute. The harder we work to be “perfect,” the farther short we fall from the goal. And, it causes us great stress and anxiety, two things that Scripture tells us are bad. Jesus has told us to be anxious for nothing, because worrying cannot add a second to our lives or an inch to our stature. In fact, medical science has shown us that worry and anxiety not only do not lengthen our lives, they shorten them!

Great. There’s another thing to be anxious about!

But, as the psalmist tells us, God has made our way “blameless” (some translations say “perfect.” I rather like the way Eugene Peterson said it:

Is not this the God who armed me, then aimed me in the right direction?
(Psalms 18:32 MSG)

Exactly how has God made me perfect or blameless? How has He pointed me in the right direction? Through Jesus Christ.

Who didn’t see that coming?

Seriously, though, it is the righteousness of Christ, imputed to our account, that has made us blameless. This is one of those mysteries. I love mysteries. The Communion Table (the church we are currently attending calls it the “Table of Grace”) is a mystery. How is the bread and wine also the body and blood of Christ? I don’t know. But He said it is, so it is. Once again, God said it, and I believe it.

God has also told us that the righteousness of Christ has become our righteousness. He has, in Jesus, removed all of our sin from us.

And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption,
(1 Corinthians 1:30 ESV)

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
(2 Corinthians 5:21 ESV)

Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
(Philippians 3:8-11 ESV)

For as high as the heavens are above the earth, 
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; 
as far as the east is from the west, 
so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
(Psalms 103:11-12 ESV)

Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love. He will again have compassion on us; he will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.
(Micah 7:18-19 ESV)

For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.”
(Hebrews 8:12 ESV)

How much more encouragement do we need? And why? Why can’t we get this? Why can’t we embrace this? This is something that I must contemplate. It must have to do with arrogance and selfishness or something.

But there it is. And I am so very thankful for these truths today. God remembers my sin no more. None of it. He doesn’t remember that thing I did when I was a teenager, even though I can’t seem to forget it. He doesn’t remember the awful way I treated someone (many times, sadly), even though those memories pop into my brain at the most inopportune times. God forgets our sins, intentionally. His ability to do that is, quite frankly, unfathomable.

I am driven, as Paul, to declare,

Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!
(2 Corinthians 9:15 ESV)


Father, my cup overflows, this morning. As we get ready to partake of the table that You have prepared for us, we are thankful for all of the things that I have mentioned, this morning. And, in addition, not only have You prepared a table for us, You have given us, in abundance, that we might share with others. And I am grateful that You have given us generous hearts, that we might share with “the least of these,” whom Jesus proclaims represent Him in this world.

I pray for all the world, this morning, that all would know Your presence; that all would know Your great salvation through Jesus Christ. I pray that Your Kingdom will come and Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. I pray that everyone would know the joy of realizing this great forgiveness of sin, the healing from anxiety and worry, Father. Help us to know Your great love for us, and be thankful in all circumstances.

I pray for the many people I know, this morning, who have lost, or are about to lose, loved ones. It is such a difficult thing to lose a family member around holidays. It taints the holidays forever. I pray for comfort and peace for those, Father, that Your grace and mercy would overflow in their hearts.

I praise You that Christ is our righteousness, and that, when You look at us, You look through His sacrifice, through His blood, and You see His perfection. This does not, of course, clear us to do whatever we please. On the contrary, it motivates us to try to do better in this world. At least it should.

Thanks be to You for Your indescribable gift, Father! And may You be glorified in all the earth, today and every day.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


Grace and peace, friends.

“Take Heart; I Have Overcome the World”

Today is Wednesday, the 23rd of November, 2022, in the 34th week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ be with you today!

Day 23,631

Thanksgiving is tomorrow!

Today’s header photo was taken by Paul Militaru, Romanian photographer. Please visit his site at the link provided.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

I will run in the way of your commandments when you enlarge my heart!
(Psalms 119:32 ESV)

Some translations of the above verse have the second part saying something like, “You have broadened my understanding.”

Lord our God, we thank you for ruling us with your shepherd’s staff so that again and again we can be refreshed and can delight in what you are doing for us. We thank you that we can have eager, joyful faith even when sorrows come, looking again and again to the good you give us. We are thankful and want to be thankful always. Be a mighty Lord over the peoples, we pray, and protect our country. Show your sovereignty by guarding the flock close beside you and by pouring out your grace to give life to the dying and resurrection to those who have died. O Lord God, hear and bless us. May your will be done on earth as in heaven, so that your kingdom may break in and everything may come right, according to your great purpose. Amen.

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

I am the good shepherd, who is willing to die for the sheep. When the hired man, who is not a shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees a wolf coming, he leaves the sheep and runs away; so the wolf snatches the sheep and scatters them. 
John 10:11–12, TEV

Today I am grateful:

  1. for the Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ
  2. that “The Lord is my shepherd, I have all that I need” (Psalm 23:1 NLT)
  3. that God knows everything there is to know about me, even before I do, say, or think it; yet still He loves me
  4. that Jesus, in spite of what we think we see, has overcome the world
  5. for the forgiveness of God, with which we must also forgive all

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.
(2 Peter 1:3-4 ESV)

For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain.
(2 Peter 1:16-18 ESV)

To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David. 

O LORD, you have searched me and known me! 
You know when I sit down and when I rise up; 
you discern my thoughts from afar. 
You search out my path and my lying down 
and are acquainted with all my ways.
 Even before a word is on my tongue,
 behold, O LORD, you know it altogether. 
You hem me in, behind and before, 
and lay your hand upon me. 
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
 it is high; I cannot attain it. 

Where shall I go from your Spirit? 
Or where shall I flee from your presence? 
If I ascend to heaven, you are there! 
If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! 
If I take the wings of the morning 
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, 
even there your hand shall lead me, 
and your right hand shall hold me.
 If I say, "Surely the darkness shall cover me,
 and the light about me be night," 
even the darkness is not dark to you; 
the night is bright as the day, 
for darkness is as light with you. 

For you formed my inward parts; 
you knitted me together in my mother's womb. 
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. 
Wonderful are your works; 
my soul knows it very well. 
My frame was not hidden from you, 
when I was being made in secret, 
intricately woven in the depths of the earth. 
Your eyes saw my unformed substance; 
in your book were written, every one of them, 
the days that were formed for me, 
when as yet there was none of them. 

How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! 
How vast is the sum of them! 
If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
 I awake, and I am still with you. 

Search me, O God, and know my heart! 
Try me and know my thoughts! 
And see if there be any grievous way in me, 
and lead me in the way everlasting! 
(Psalms 139:1-18, 23-24 ESV)

And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
(Matthew 22:39 ESV)

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
(John 16:33 ESV)

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.
(Colossians 3:12-13 ESV)


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


Last night, in Chesapeake, VA, a shooter left seven people dead at a Walmart store, including himself.

This past Sunday, five people were killed and many more injured when a lone gunman opened fire at an LGBTQ club in Colorado Springs.

On November 13, three UVA football players were killed by a gunman.

On November 12, four Idaho students were stabbed to death while they slept.

“In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

The four news items I have listed above are not there to make any kind statement about guns or weapons or even violence. They are to illustrate the turmoil that is quite easy to see in our world, these days.

As some have indicated, it seems as though the world is burning. Are these not “signs of the times,” though?

I am far from a doomsday prophet. Nor am I a fear-mongerer. In fact, I am quite the opposite. I do not want to instill peace and hope into everyone’s minds.

“How can you see hope in any of this?” you may ask. And well, you might.

But I see it in the words of Jesus. He knew. He was able to tell us, through His disciples, two thousand-plus years ago that we will have “tribulation.” But then, He reminds us, He has overcome the world. Note that that statement is in present tense.

“I have overcome the world.”

Not, “I will overcome the world.”

Even before He died on the cross and was resurrected from the grave, Jesus Christ had already overcome the world.

And He has given us all we need to do the same. We have all we need to “rise above” the world and overcome. This doesn’t mean that we are going to get rich and always be healthy. This is not a “name-it-claim-it” religion or a “prosperity gospel” (which is no gospel at all).

Peter tells us, in the Scriptures above, that we have received everything we need for “life and godliness.” David, in the most famous of psalms, says, “The Lord is my shepherd, I have all that I need.” I lack nothing. Period.

And just relish that Psalm 139. Read it and read it again and love the words of David, telling us how deeply our God knows us, and how there is nowhere we can go where we are not in His presence!

He has overcome the world. Even though there be shootings and stabbings, murders and arsons and whatever else, out there. He has overcome the world, and we can, right along with Him.

That is why I’m not afraid. Sure, I say that . . . sometimes I do let fear creep in. But in the long run, in the “Big Picture,” I am not afraid. Because my Savior has overcome the world; and my God knows me more deeply than I know myself, and He loves me, still.


Thank You, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, for these encouraging words in some of the darkest times. It is tempting to look around and lose hope. It is tempting to despair. But I refuse. I will lift my eyes up to the heavens and give You thanks, praising You that You, Jesus, have overcome this world, and that You, Holy Spirit, dwell within my soul, and that You, Almighty Father, really do have “the whole world in Your hands!”

There is nowhere I can go that You are not. There is nothing that I can do, say, or think, that surprises You (even though I certainly surprise myself, sometimes). I praise You for these thoughts and truths, Lord. And for this knowledge that is too high; so high that I cannot attain it. Yet You have revealed it to us and given us everything we need for “life and godliness.” All we have to do is make full use of what You have given us, and depend fully on You for our lives.

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.

For All People

Today is Tuesday, the 22nd of November, 2022, in the 34th week of Ordinary Time.

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

Day 23,630

Thanksgiving is the day after tomorrow!

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

I cling to your testimonies, O LORD; 
let me not be put to shame!
(Psalms 119:31 ESV)

Lord Jesus, hear our prayer and reveal your hand in our days. May those things be done that bring your future nearer and that let the world see you as the Savior who can lead us to our Father. Bless your Word within us. May our hearts be strengthened, and may we always live in your presence. We draw our life from your Word, from your promise, and we set our hope on you, our Lord and Savior. Show your might, Lord Jesus, and carry out the will of God over all the world, so that we may rejoice when we see God’s glory appear and his will being done on earth as in heaven. Amen.

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

Be patient, then, my brothers, until the Lord comes. See how patient a farmer is as he waits for his land to produce precious crops. He waits patiently for the autumn and spring rains. 
James 5:7, TEV

Today I am grateful:

  1. for this time of year, when many people’s thoughts turn toward thanksgiving; may they continue giving thanks, going forward
  2. for the strengthening of my heart through God’s Word and presence in my life
  3. that we draw life from His Word, and His promises
  4. for the challenge in 1 Timothy to pray for all people
  5. for the confidence that the Lord will fulfill His purpose for me, whatever that may be

Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." 
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.
(1 Peter 5:5-9 ESV)
I give you thanks, O LORD, with my whole heart;
 before the gods I sing your praise; 
I bow down toward your holy temple 
and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness, 
for you have exalted above all things
 your name and your word. 
On the day I called, you answered me; 
my strength of soul you increased. 
(Psalms 138:1-3 ESV)
The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; 
your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever. 
Do not forsake the work of your hands.
(Psalms 138:8 ESV)

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

praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,
(Ephesians 6:18 ESV)

Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
(James 5:13-16 ESV)


“Most of the inconveniences that make men swear or women cry are really sentimental or imaginative inconveniences–things altogether of the mind.” ~ G.K. Chesterton, quoted in Spiritual Classics, by Richard J. Foster and Emilie Griffin


As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”
(1 Peter 1:14-16 ESV)

that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,
(Ephesians 1:17-18 ESV)


Paul and James give various and multiple admonitions to pray. And both of them are challenging to us.

First is Paul’s instruction (urging) to pray (supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings) “for all people.” Not just the people you like; not just your family; not just your brothers and sisters in Christ.

All people.

As I’ve seen it said many times, “All means all.”

Paul goes on, though, and includes (even though he has already said “all”) “kings and all who are in high positions.” Why? “That we may lead a peaceful and quiet life.”

Has anyone noticed that things in this country (I live in the United States) have been anything but “peaceful and quiet” for a number of years? Could it be that we, the “faithful” (I use that term loosely) have not been obeying this “urging” from Paul? I dare say that at least half of the “Christian” community has NOT been praying for our President, over the past couple of years. And, just to be clear, praying for him to die or be removed from office doesn’t count.

I’ll confess. I have not been diligent to pray consistently for our public servants, our elected officials. I’ll admit that. I have, from time to time, when reminded, lifted up our President and everyone surrounding him. But I don’t do it enough, and Paul’s admonition, here, convicts me. I need to spend more time praying for him, for the governor of the state in which I live, for those who serve in our city.

But along with that, looms that three word phrase, “for all people.” That’s a lot. I recently heard that the world finally passed eight billion in population.

No wonder Paul tells us to “pray without ceasing.”

But, in all seriousness, we have to, at some point, acknowledge that it is virtually impossible to pray “for all people.” And, frankly, I don’t think saying, “Dear God, I pray for all people” quite cuts it. I mean, it can’t hurt, but still . . .

So how do we do this?

I was moved by Daily Guideposts 2022 writer Rick Hamlin, today. My initial reaction was that what he was about to say was silly. But the more I read it, the more it made sense. Before he goes to sleep each night, he starts at the beginning of the alphabet and works his way, all the way through Z, naming someone for each letter. Sometimes, it’s the same person for some letters, each night. Sometimes, they change. Yes, he struggles with X, sometimes, but manages to come up with something. And, when he gets to Y, he is reminded to pray for himself. Because, as much as I hesitate to do so, at times, it is acceptable to pray for yourself.

I may or may not begin to employ that practice, but it makes me think . . . what better way to fall asleep, than at least trying to follow Paul’s urging to pray “for all people.”

We are also admonished to be sure and pray “for all the saints.” Again, an impossible task, but I can pray for all the ones I know, can’t I? And, finally, James has some things to say about the effects of prayer. Prayer will save the one who is sick; prayer will bring about forgiveness. He tells us to confess our sins and pray, that we may be healed. And then comes that wonderful, popular phrase, in verse 16.

The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
(James 5:16 ESV)

Or, as many of us once learned it in KJV,

The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. 

So let us pray. Pray, as much as we can, “for all people.” Pray for kings, princes, presidents, governors, mayors, chiefs of police . . . pray for pastors, for Sunday School teachers, missionaries, and music leaders. Pray for one another, and don’t forget to pray for yourself.

And, to quote Andrew Murray (who didn’t see this coming?), “Let us ask Him to show us what holiness is: first His, and then ours; to show us how He has set His heart upon it as the one thing He wants to see in us: His own image and likeness.” (From The Path to Holiness, quoted in Power in Prayer)


Father, I confess that I have not been faithful enough in prayer. Sure, I pray for people, and especially when they give me a prayer request in my daily post asking for those. But I confess that I do not do enough spontaneous prayer, and certainly not enough praying “for all people.” Remind me, Father, throughout this day, and especially before I fall asleep, tonight, to pray for as many people as I can. Let the prayers be genuine, though, not just a list of “bless so-and-so” for a half an hour. Maybe, if that is all I can think of, then it’s okay. Nothing wrong with praying for someone to be blessed. But what I am asking for is to be able to remember specifics. And, perhaps, bring a person to mind, someone of whom I have not thought in a while.

I pray for the community of saints, today, that we would collectively remember these injunctions to pray for all people, and especially those who are in high positions in whatever land we find ourselves in, so that, as Paul said, we might live peaceful and quiet lives.

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

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


"We got to pray
just to make it today."
M.C. Hammer

Grace and peace, friends.

I Was Glad When They Said . . .

Today is Sunday, the 20th of November, 2022, in the 34th week of Ordinary Time. It is the last Sunday after Pentecost, the last Sunday before Advent begins. It is also Christ the King Sunday.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you today!

Day 23,628

Four days until Thanksgiving!

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Put false ways far from me and graciously teach me your law!
(Psalms 119:29 ESV)

Lord our God, we come to you burdened and driven by every kind of need and oppression, but you will bring light into every situation; in your great goodness and faithfulness you will continue to help. We come to you because you are our help. We want to draw strength from your Word so that we can remain steadfast in these times, awaiting your help and already finding joy and certainty in our expectation. For your kingdom is coming, and your will is being done on earth as in heaven. Amen.

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

LORD, my strength and my fortress, my refuge in time of distress, to you the nations will come from the ends of the earth and say, “Our ancestors possessed nothing but false gods, worthless idols that did them no good.”
(Jeremiah 16:19 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. that God is my strength, my refuge, and my fortress and my help
  2. that His will is being done on earth as in heaven
  3. for His steadfast love which endures forever
  4. for the words in Scripture, “But God . . .”
  5. that, because of the blood of Christ, and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, we have access to the Father and are as close to Him as Jesus is

Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. For 
"Whoever desires to love life 
and see good days, 
let him keep his tongue from evil 
and his lips from speaking deceit; 
let him turn away from evil and do good; 
let him seek peace and pursue it. 
For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, 
and his ears are open to their prayer. 
But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil." 
(1 Peter 3:9-12 ESV)

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, because they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water.
(1 Peter 3:18-20 ESV)

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
 for his steadfast love endures forever. 
Give thanks to the God of gods,
 for his steadfast love endures forever. 
Give thanks to the Lord of lords, 
for his steadfast love endures forever; 

Give thanks to the God of heaven, 
for his steadfast love endures forever. 
(Psalms 136:1-3, 26 ESV)

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
(Hebrews 10:24-25 ESV)

A Song of Ascents. Of David. 

I was glad when they said to me, 
"Let us go to the house of the LORD!" 
Our feet have been standing 
within your gates, O Jerusalem!

 Jerusalem—built as a city
 that is bound firmly together, 
to which the tribes go up,
 the tribes of the LORD, 
as was decreed for Israel,
 to give thanks to the name of the LORD. 
There thrones for judgment were set,
 the thrones of the house of David. 

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem! 
"May they be secure who love you! 
Peace be within your walls 
and security within your towers!"
 For my brothers and companions' sake 
I will say, "Peace be within you!" 
For the sake of the house of the LORD our God, 
I will seek your good.
(Psalms 122:1-9 ESV)

“And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.”
(Matthew 10:42 ESV)


For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.
(Ephesians 2:18 ESV)

This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him.
(Ephesians 3:11-12 ESV)

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
(Ephesians 2:4-7 ESV)


“But God . . .” Two of my favorite words in all of the Bible, right up there with “fear not.”

We were dead in trespasses and sins, without hope of any kind. “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, . . . made us alive.”

Not only have we been made alive, we have access to the Father, because of the blood of Christ and the presence of the Holy Spirit, whom He sent when He ascended to the Father.

Before Jesus came, there was a heavy, thick veil between the Holy Places and the Holy of Holies. Only the High Priest was allowed to enter the Holy of Holies, and he could only enter once a year. If anyone dared to enter that place at any other time, they were struck dead.

But, when Jesus died on the Cross,

And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split.
(Matthew 27:51 ESV)

“When Christ died, the veil was rent in two. Christ Jesus not only entered into God’s presence by His blood, but He opened a new and living way through the rent veil of His flesh for every believer to enter.” (Andrew Murray, The Believer’s Call to Commitment, quoted in Power in Prayer)

Furthermore, “The access through Christ brings us as near to God as Christ is, in an intimate, divine fellowship that passes all understanding.” (Ibid, emphasis added)

So, because of these things, let us, indeed, consider how we might stir up one another to love and good works; let us encourage one another, especially on this day, when we gather together for worship. And let us proclaim, along with David,

I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the LORD!” 


Father, let us be glad as we enter into the house of the Lord, today, wherever we choose to worship. As we attend the service at Living Word Lutheran Church, I pray that Your Spirit will be evident in everything that happens there. May we celebrate the intimate, divine access that we have to You, because of the blood of Jesus Christ and the presence of the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus sent to be our helper when He ascended to You.

Let us rejoice, Father, and let us encourage one another with these words today. And may this access, this close presence with You be felt, in Christ, every day, every hour, every minute, and with every breath that we breathe.

Things are dark in this world, right now, Lord, but we know that, we believe that (or at least some of us do) You are in control of all things, and we have the confidence that Your will is being done on earth as it is in heaven, not matter what our eyes tell us. Our faith is in You; our Hope is in You; our trust is in You!

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


This is the day that the LORD has made; 
let us rejoice and be glad in it. 
(Psalms 118:24 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends!

It Sings the Conqueror’s Song

Today is Saturday, the 19th of November, 2022, in the 33rd week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ be with you today!

Day 23,627

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

My soul melts away for sorrow; 
strengthen me according to your word! 
(Psalms 119:28 ESV)

I don’t have great sorrow, today. But I always need strengthening by His Word. And certainly, not everything is perfect, on this lazy morning.

Lord our God, we come to you poor and yet rich, weak and yet strong, with the prayer that your promise may be fulfilled in Jesus Christ, our dear Lord and Savior. Let the time come when the heavens open and a new light shines over the earth, a time when people will praise and thank you and receive everlasting peace and happiness with you. Remember the many people who come into need these days. Remember our nation and all who work for the good of our country. Bless them and help them. And help the dying, O Lord our God; grant that they come to you, for they are yours. Your help will bring life out of death, joy out of grief and need. May your name be honored, dear Father in heaven, may your kingdom come and your will be done on earth as in heaven. Amen.

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise;
 God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong. 
1 Corinthians 1:27, RSV

Today I am grateful:

  1. that, though we may, at times, appear to be poor and weak, in Christ, we are rich and strong
  2. for all the saints who work for good in this world
  3. that the Lord does not cast us off in our “old age”
  4. for Psalm 71 (go read it)
  5. for faith, the central piece of salvation, the gift of God

How Many? by Daryl Madden

How many prayers
Will it take ‘til I know?
That You truly love me
Unconditionally so

How many trials
Will I have to face here?
‘Til I can fully trust
In You without fear

How many things
Will I have to pursue?
‘Til I know all I need
Are the gifts blessed by You

How much of my ego
Will I have to release?
To live my life in You
As one who knows Your peace

How many times
Must I read the Bible through?
Until I live my life
One, with heavens view

How many souls
Will You have to send me?
To practice forgiveness
Grace and humility

How many moments
Will it take til I hear?
All those questions don’t matter
Just to love with Me here

What a beautiful poem! It captures the way I feel, so often, perfectly. How many times must I fail before I fully know the love that our Father has for me? And that one line, “How much of my ego will I have to release?” So convicting! Please visit Daryl’s site at the link provided, to see more of his inspirational poetry.


So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.
(1 Peter 2:1-3 ESV)

Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.
(1 Peter 2:13-17 ESV)

For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.
(1 Peter 2:21-23 ESV)

Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.
(Jeremiah 33:3 ESV)

Praise the LORD!
 Praise the name of the LORD, 
give praise, O servants of the LORD, 
who stand in the house of the LORD, 
in the courts of the house of our God! 
Praise the LORD, for the LORD is good; 
sing to his name, for it is pleasant! 
(Psalms 135:1-3 ESV)
For I know that the LORD is great, 
and that our Lord is above all gods. 
Whatever the LORD pleases, 
he does, in heaven and on earth, 
in the seas and all deeps. 
He it is who makes the clouds rise 
at the end of the earth, 
who makes lightnings for the rain 
and brings forth the wind from his storehouses. 
(Psalms 135:5-7 ESV)
The idols of the nations are silver and gold,
 the work of human hands. 
They have mouths, but do not speak; 
they have eyes, but do not see; 
they have ears, but do not hear, 
nor is there any breath in their mouths. 
Those who make them become like them, 
so do all who trust in them. 
(Psalms 135:15-18 ESV)


My soul yearns for you in the night, my spirit within me earnestly seeks you. For when your judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness.
(Isaiah 26:9 NRSV)

In you, O LORD, I take refuge; 
let me never be put to shame. 
In your righteousness deliver me and rescue me;
 incline your ear to me and save me. 
Be to me a rock of refuge, 
a strong fortress, to save me, 
for you are my rock and my fortress. 

Rescue me, O my God, from the hand of the wicked, 
from the grasp of the unjust and cruel. 
For you, O Lord, are my hope, 
my trust, O LORD, from my youth. 
Upon you I have leaned from my birth; 
it was you who took me from my mother's womb. 
My praise is continually of you. 

I have been like a portent to many,
 but you are my strong refuge. 
My mouth is filled with your praise, 
and with your glory all day long. 
Do not cast me off in the time of old age; 
do not forsake me when my strength is spent. 
For my enemies speak concerning me, 
and those who watch for my life consult together.
 They say, "Pursue and seize that person 
whom God has forsaken, 
for there is no one to deliver." 

O God, do not be far from me; 
O my God, make haste to help me! 
(Psalms 71:1-12 NRSV)
O God, from my youth you have taught me, 
and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds. 
So even to old age and gray hairs, 
O God, do not forsake me, 
until I proclaim your might 
to all the generations to come. 
Your power and your righteousness, O God, 
reach the high heavens. 

You who have done great things, 
O God, who is like you? 
You who have made me see many troubles and calamities 
will revive me again; 
from the depths of the earth 
you will bring me up again. 
You will increase my honor, 
and comfort me once again. 
I will also praise you with the harp 
for your faithfulness, O my God; 
I will sing praises to you with the lyre, 
O Holy One of Israel. 
My lips will shout for joy 
when I sing praises to you; 
my soul also, which you have rescued. 
(Psalms 71:17-23 NRSV)

“‘But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you, delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles—to whom I am sending you to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.'”
(Acts 26:16-18 ESV)

“The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”
(Exodus 14:14 ESV)


There’s a lot of Scripture, today. And a lot of different thoughts presented.

As followers of Christ, we are told to put away “all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander.” All. No exceptions. If, at any time, we find ourselves experiencing or practicing any of these things, we should immediately repent.

I have long loved that little verse from Jeremiah 33. “Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.” While I realize that the Lord was speaking directly to Jeremiah when He said that, I see no reason that it should not be true for us, as well. Jesus told us to ask, seek, and knock. I take that as a similar injunction. All we need to do is call.

However, we must be calling in sincerity and obedience. If we are not being obedient to the commands of Christ, then we have no right to expect an answer. Nevertheless, sometimes, in His grace and mercy, He answers, anyway.

I also love the verse from Isaiah. My soul yearns for the Lord, and not just during the night, all the time. And I like how he says “my spirit within me earnestly seeks you.” This almost indicates that it might be happening, even without my knowledge. Or even if my flesh is not seeking.

I find, as well, that I can identify with the psalmist who wrote Psalm 71. Especially as I find myself getting into that area known as “old age.”

It all comes down to faith. Jesus’s words to Paul, in the book of Acts, indicate this, as He ends His little speech with, “those who are sanctified by faith in me.” Faith is the central piece of the plan of salvation. Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us that we saved by grace, “through faith.”

“Because God is a spiritual and invisible being, every revelation of Him, whether in His works, His Word, or His Son, calls for faith.” (Andrew Murray, in The Path to Holiness, quoted in Power in Prayer)

See the little verse from Exodus, where Moses is telling the people of Israel that the Lord will fight for them. “You have only to be silent,” he tells them, or, as in some translations, “be still.” Faith can be hindered by effort. Not always, mind you, but probably more often than not.

Look at the example of Abraham and Sarah. God promised Isaac to them. But they decided God needed a little help, and Ishmael was the result of that.

Another thing that hinders faith is the need or “desire to see and feel.” Murray says, “If you believe, you will see.” When all appears to be dark, faith dictates that we continue to believe in Jesus “as our all-sufficiency, in who we are perfected before God.” (Murray)

And I love this statement he makes about faith: “In conscious weakness, in the presence of its enemies, it sings the conqueror’s song.”

If it looks like God is not doing what He has promised to do, it is time for faith to hold fast and firm, and sing “the conqueror’s song.” And, for goodness sake, don’t try to help Him!


Father, I thank You for giving me faith. Your Word declares that it is a gift from You, so that we have no cause for boasting. I will gladly declare my weaknesses that You may be known as strong! I will gladly declare my poverty, so that I might be seen to be rich in You.

I praise You, in great joy, for the truth that You will fight for us, and we only need to be still and silent. Remove from us that feeling that we have to help You, as that rarely ends well. Remind us that we need to wait on You, which, while that does not always require being still and doing nothing, sometimes it does.

Help us, too, as Your children, to put away all of those negative things mentioned by Peter. There is no place for malice or hypocrisy or deceit or slander or envy in the life of Your children, Lord.

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

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


The LORD bless you and keep you; 
the LORD make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; 
the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.
(Numbers 6:24-26 NIV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Stop. Think (and Pray). Dismiss.

It’s . . . (what day is this??) Wednesday, that’s it! Wednesday, the 16th of November, 2022, in the 33rd week of Ordinary Time.

In case you don’t get the “Ordinary Time” reference, it’s a Church calendar thing. The season of Advent will be upon us soon, beginning November 27th, four Sundays before Christmas, which happens to fall on Sunday, this year.

May the peace of Christ reign in your hearts today!

Day 23,624 (the number of days since I was born)

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

My soul clings to the dust; 
give me life according to your word! 
(Psalms 119:25 ESV)

Lord our God, we come to you in community of faith and trust, in expectation that you will act. May our hearts be strengthened in all the pain and in all the conflicts of our world. Reveal your will, Almighty God, and protect those you have appointed as our leaders and rulers. Let your will be made plain to them. O Lord God, help your people in these times and give them strength to wait expectantly for what is good, to live and serve in this expectation. Grant your help to all who strive for this. We can all tell of the help that comes from you, for you always support us with your power, also in hard times. Amen.

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

To have faith is to be sure of the things we hope for, to be certain of the things we cannot see. 
Hebrews 11:1, TEV

Today I am grateful:

  1. that my first vein treatment went smoothly, no complications, and very little pain; hoping the rest go that well
  2. for the community of saints, of faith and trust in the Lord, expecting Him to act
  3. that, with every temptation that comes our way, God provides us a way out, a way of escape
  4. for the illuminating quality of love
  5. that we, as human beings, can control what we allow our minds to dwell on

Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?
(James 4:11-12 ESV)


“Judging others makes us blind, whereas love is illuminating. By judging others we blind ourselves to our own evil and to the grace which others are just as entitled to as we are.” — Dietrich Bonhoeffer in The Cost of Discipleship


No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.
(1 Corinthians 10:13 NIV)

In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army. They destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem. One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful, and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, “She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.” Then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he slept with her. (Now she was purifying herself from her monthly uncleanness.) Then she went back home. The woman conceived and sent word to David, saying, “I am pregnant.”
(2 Samuel 11:1-5 NIV)

"And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think 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. 

"This, then, is how you should pray: 

"'Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.'"
(Matthew 6:5-13 NIV)

When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed.
(James 1:13-14 NIV)


"And now, O Lord, what do I wait for? 
My hope is in you. 
Deliver me from all my transgressions."
(Psalms 39:7-8 NRSV)

Judgment. It’s not one of the “seven deadlies,” but it definitely spawns from at least one of them.

Just for review, what are those seven “vices,” as I like to refer to them? I didn’t come up with that, myself. It comes from a very good book I once read about the “seven deadly sins,” called Glittering Vices.

  1. Envy
  2. Vainglory (pride)
  3. Sloth
  4. Avarice (greed)
  5. Anger
  6. Gluttony
  7. Lust

Under which one of those would judgment fall? Could it be all of them, perhaps? I just now thought of that.

Judgment could definitely be caused by envy. Perhaps you are envious of the position or popularity of another individual. This could cause a reaction of publicly judging them, pretending to disapprove of their popularity.

The probable main vice that judgment would spring from, though, in my opinion, is pride. I think I’m a better Christian than that person who does or thinks differently than I. Therefore, I judge them.

Judgment is also (or can be, at least) lazy. Someone acts in a certain way, and our immediate response is judgment, without bothering to do the work to find out what is behind the action. Our society is really bad about this, these days. We can’t be bothered to find out the truth, so we make snap judgments.

Greed can spawn judgment, just like envy. Envy and greed are closely related. I want everything. I want it all. Someone I know of has more than me, so I am judgmental.

I am angry about the way someone votes or believes, so I judge them.

I feel guilt over my own gluttony, so when I see someone else grabbing for everything they can get, I judge them.

As for lust, well, another reason we judge people is to make ourselves feel better about our own sins. I’m lustful, but maybe I’m not as lustful as that guy over there. Remember the Pharisee who prayed, “I thank God I’m not like that tax collector?”

So, yeah. Being judgmental could easily spring from any of the seven deadly vices.

And, in the bigger picture, it really doesn’t matter which one it is coming from. What matters is that we fall prey to it. And we direct it toward our own brothers and sisters in Christ. Remember the words of brother James, concerning the tongue.

With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse those who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this ought not to be so.
(James 3:9-10 NRSV)

And while we are remembering words, perhaps more importantly, we should remember the words of our Savior.

“Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get.”
(Matthew 7:1-2 NRSV)

Then, just a few verses later, He said,

“In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets.”
(Matthew 7:12 NRSV)

Judgment. Plain and simply, we are told not to do it. Period.

We make excuses as to why it’s okay. But it’s not okay.

I am guilty of it, almost every day. It’s like I can’t help myself, sometimes. I fall into the trap. I feel like quoting Paul.

Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?
(Romans 7:24 NRSV)

Who? I’ll tell you who! In fact, Paul tells us who in 1 Corinthians 10:13, quoted above. God, that’s who! Judging is a temptation. It’s one of those that is quick and almost silent when it comes. We see or hear something, and the judgment pops into our brain, and before we can stop it, it’s out our mouths.

But James says this ought not to be so! And Paul says that God provides a way of escape for any temptation.

I also love what Dallas Willard says about this, in regard to our minds. He says that we, as human beings, have the unique quality of being able to control what our minds dwell on. And he is dead on about that.

We play victim, too often. The thought pops into my brain, and I let it out through my mouth, like I had no choice. But I always have a choice. Always. There is always a way of escape.

Who doesn’t remember what they always taught us to do if we find ourselves on fire?

  1. Stop
  2. Drop
  3. Roll

Fortunately, I’ve never been on fire, because I’m not sure I would have the presence of mind to do that. It would probably look more like this.

  1. Scream
  2. Run
  3. Scream and run

Maybe when that judgmental thought (especially in regard to a brother or sister saint) should evoke a similar response.

  1. Stop
  2. Think (and pray)
  3. Dismiss the thought

I’m aware that this looks easier than it is. I know, from experience, how quickly it happens. And how it feels, usually, afterward. Feelings of regret after opening my big mouth (actually my mouth is rather small) are not pleasant at all.

My beloved, we are supposed to love one another. Go back up and read that quote from Bonhoeffer again. Love is illuminating. Judgment is blinding. Let us love, that we might see. Let us love one another that we might be unified in the Name of Christ, that the world might see the beauty of following Christ. What example are we showing the world by our constant judging and backstabbing? What example are we displaying when we don’t treat others the way we would like to be treated?


Lord, have mercy! Christ have mercy! Father, have mercy!

Teach us to love, rather than judge. Tame our tongues, Father! Let not blessing and cursing come out of the same mouth! Help us to love one another the way Christ has loved us. Help us to follow that “golden rule,” and treat others the way we would like to be treated.

I pray that Your Spirit would dwell within me, filling me, so that, when thought of judgment come into my mind, I would be quick to stop, think and pray, and then dismiss the thought before it can do any harm.

Perhaps a thought that we need to espouse is the idea of “harm no one.” Maybe if we thought that more often, we would not harm anyone with either words or deeds. And maybe we could even get to where we don’t even have judgmental thoughts. That’s harder, I think. But possible.

To work toward that, Father, I pray that You help me exercise that control that I can have over what I let my mind dwell on. And when I see that person with whom I disagree, help me to feel love, not judgment, especially if he or she is a brother or sister in Christ.

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.