Values

Today is Saturday, the 7th of January, 2023, in the second week of Christmas.

I pray that the peace of Christ will enfold you, today.

Day 23,676

There are 46 days until the beginning of Lent.

As this year progresses, I intend to find that this daily blog contains more Scripture and prayer and less “talk.” We’ll see how that goes.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

May my heart be blameless in your statutes, 
so that I may not be put to shame.
(Psalms 119:80 NRSV)

A preacher friend and I shared a little joke, yesterday, around a serious prayer request. Yesterday’s “Wordle” was “belie,” a word that I don’t think I have ever used. This preacher, who also plays every day, put a prayer request on my daily Facebook post. “Pray that my behavior doesn’t belie my devotion to Christ.” After saying, “I saw what you did there,” I asked him to pray the same for me. This morning, I added the above verse to my response.

By the way, “belie” means, “(of an appearance) fail to give a true notion or impression of (something); disguise or contradict.”

Dear Father in heaven, accept us as your children, whose lives are under your protection and who turn to you for strength. In the midst of all the struggles and temptations in this world keep us certain of your love and goodness. Grant that we may help your name to be honored on earth and your salvation to spread over all the world. May we help that the hope you have given us brings light and strength for our own lives and for all whom you love in Jesus Christ. Amen.

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

Arise, shine, for your light has come, 
and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. 
See, darkness covers the earth 
and thick darkness is over the peoples, 
but the LORD rises upon you 
and his glory appears over you. 
Nations will come to your light, 
and kings to the brightness of your dawn. 
Isaiah 60:1–3, NIV

Today I am grateful:

  1. for the light that has come; for the glory of the Lord that rises upon us
  2. for the Word of God, that so strongly influences my prayer life
  3. for the abundant goodness of God
  4. for promises of answered prayer; how much better it is when we agree on what we are praying for
  5. for the motivation of God’s Holy Spirit, which eliminates selfishness

O sing to the LORD a new song;
 sing to the LORD, all the earth.
(Psalms 96:1 NRSV)
With my whole heart I cry; 
answer me, O LORD. 
I will keep your statutes.
(Psalms 119:145 NRSV)

Father, I would pray for this to be true. I cannot truthfully claim that I cry out to You with a “whole heart,” but it is my desire to do so.

Glory to You, Lord God of our fathers;
You are worthy of praise;
glory to You.
Glory to You for the radiance of Your holy Name;
we will praise You and highly exalt You for ever.
Glory to You in the splendor of Your temple;
on the throne of Your majesty, glory to You.
Glory to You, seated between the Cherubim;
we will praise You and highly exalt You for ever.
Glory to You, beholding the depths;
in the high vault of heaven, glory to You.
Glory to You, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit;
we will praise You and highly exalt You for ever.
(TeDeum)
Righteousness will go before him, 
and will make a path for his steps.
(Psalms 85:13 NRSV)
Then Jesus said to them, "Very truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world." 

"I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh." 
(John 6:32-33, 51 NRSV)

Father, give me this day my daily bread.

O how abundant is your goodness 
that you have laid up for those who fear you, 
and accomplished for those who take refuge in you,
 in the sight of everyone!
 In the shelter of your presence 
you hide them from human plots; 
you hold them safe under your shelter 
from contentious tongues. 
Blessed be the LORD, 
for he has wondrously shown his steadfast love to me 
when I was beset as a city under siege.
(Psalms 31:19-21 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.

"O God, who wonderfully created, and yet more wonderfully restored, the dignity of human nature: Grant that we may share the divine life of him who humbled himself to share our humanity, your Son Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen."
(The Divine Hours -The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

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)

If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.
(John 14:14 NRSV)

All these were constantly devoting themselves to prayer, together with certain women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, as well as his brothers.
(Acts 1:14 NRSV)


My counsel is this: Live freely, animated and motivated by God’s Spirit. Then you won’t feed the compulsions of selfishness.
(Galatians 5:16 MSG)


The same night he got up and took his two wives, his two maids, and his eleven children, and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. He took them and sent them across the stream, and likewise everything that he had. Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he struck him on the hip socket; and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. Then he said, “Let me go, for the day is breaking.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go, unless you bless me.” So he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” Then the man said, “You shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with humans, and have prevailed.” Then Jacob asked him, “Please tell me your name.” But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And there he blessed him. So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life is preserved.”
(Genesis 32:22-30 NRSV)


People are more important than property. Forgiveness is more important than property. Forgiveness is better than revenge. Worshiping God is more important than impressing our neighbors.

These are the “values” that we need to be building as we follow Christ. These are values that go along with Jesus’s two commands. They give us direction and purpose.


Father, I praise You for Your Word, which both inspires me and convicts me, daily. I thank You for the way in which it leads me into prayer, each day. I also thank You for giving me both mind and spirit to comprehend what Your Spirit is telling me, through Your Word.

I pray that, more and more, we, Your children, would find ourselves in agreement in matters of prayer, that we would have more effective prayers. Help us to assist in bringing about Your kingdom on earth, as we pray that Your will be done, and Your kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven.

Give me a unified heart, that I might cry out to You and give praise to You with a whole heart. Help me to walk with You like Enoch walked with You. Your Spirit is reminding me of this man, multiple times a day. Yes, I realize that Jesus is my ultimate goal and example, but I can’t get away from the very brief bit about Enoch in Genesis.

Finally, I ask that You would guide us toward a complete lack of selfishness, that we might consider people more important than property, as well as more important than getting our way. May we consider, as Paul tells us, all other people to be more significant than ourselves. May we be less concerned with keeping up with or impressing our neighbors than we are with loving our neighbors. And help us, dear Lord, to forgive. Let us never have thoughts of revenge, and remember that Your Word tells us that vengeance belongs to You.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


"Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us in safety to this new day: Preserve us with your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."
(The Book of Common Prayer, Morning Collect for Daily Devotions)

Grace and peace, friends.

Like Spokes in A Wheel

Today is Tuesday, the 3rd of January, 2023, in the second week of Christmas. It is the tenth day of Christmas.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you today and always!

Day 23,672

Three days until Epiphany.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Let your steadfast love become my comfort 
according to your promise to your servant.
(Psalms 119:76 NRSV)

Lord our God, we thank you that we may go to meet you with open hearts, with jubilant faith, and with this joyful shout, “God’s salvation is coming! Through Jesus Christ day is dawning on earth for all nations.” Stay with us and help us. Send us your Spirit to strengthen us, especially in times of trouble. Let all nations come before you. Let us tell all peoples, “Be comforted. The salvation of our God, who is also your God, is coming. In this salvation we will rejoice together forevermore to the glory of our God.” Amen.

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

The Lord has made proclamation to the ends of the earth: “Say to Daughter Zion, ‘See, your Savior comes! See, his reward is with him, and his recompense accompanies him.’” 
Isaiah 62:11, NIV

Today I am grateful:

  1. for the steadfast love of the Lord, that has become my comfort in all things
  2. for the salvation of God, through Jesus Christ, in which day is dawning on all peoples
  3. for the marvelous, infinite, matchless grace and mercy of God, which we do not deserve
  4. for the potential of prayer, and that God listens to us
  5. that our lives are not to be compartmentalized into “sacred” and “secular;” it is one life, lived before God. Give “Caesar” what is his, and give God what is his.

Love the LORD, all you his saints. 
The LORD preserves the faithful, 
but abundantly repays the one who acts haughtily.
(Psalms 31:23 NRSV)
You are my God, and I will give thanks to you; 
you are my God, I will extol you.
(Psalms 118:28 NRSV)
Our help is in the name of the LORD, 
who made heaven and earth.
(Psalms 124:8 NRSV)
This is the testimony given by John when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, "Who are you?" He confessed and did not deny it, but confessed, "I am not the Messiah." 

He said, "I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, 'Make straight the way of the Lord,'" as the prophet Isaiah said. 
Now they had been sent from the Pharisees. They asked him, "Why then are you baptizing if you are neither the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the prophet?" 
John answered them, "I baptize with water. Among you stands one whom you do not know, the one who is coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandal." 
This took place in Bethany across the Jordan where John was baptizing. 
(John 1:19-20, 23-28 NRSV)
When Israel went out from Egypt, the house of Jacob from a people of strange language, 
Judah became God's sanctuary, Israel his dominion. 
The sea looked and fled; Jordan turned back. 
The mountains skipped like rams, the hills like lambs. 
Why is it, O sea, that you flee? O Jordan, that you turn back? 
O mountains, that you skip like rams? O hills, like lambs? 
Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the LORD, at the presence of the God of Jacob, 
who turns the rock into a pool of water, the flint into a spring of water.
(Psalms 114:1-8 NRSV)
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
(Kyrie)

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.


He says, "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 NIV)
Test me, LORD, and try me, examine my heart and my mind; 
for I have always been mindful of your unfailing love 
and have lived in reliance on your faithfulness.
(Psalms 26:2-3 NIV)

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 4:6-7 NIV)


“Then give Caesar what is his, and give God what is his.”
(Matthew 22:21 MSG)


“If you are right with Him you will inevitably be right with all your fellow-creatures, just as if all the spokes of a wheel are fitted rightly into the hub and the rim they are bound to be in the right positions to one another.” (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, quoted in The C.S. Lewis Bible)


There was a time in my life, when I would only listen to “Christian” music. That’s what I called it, and people still call it that. There was this one time, I even had a copy of the “Christian Yellow Pages,” a directory that only included businesses that were run by alleged Christians.

I don’t do that any more. For one thing, I have come to believe that the adjective, “Christian,” should only be applied to human beings. Because only human beings, entities with a soul, can be “Christian.” The word, itself, first used as a derogatory designation for followers of Christ (Acts 11:26). I have heard it said that the word meant, “little Christs,” but I can’t find any official evidence of this.

But I digress. That’s not what this entry is really about.

I’m talking about the compartmentalization of our lives. We shouldn’t do it. Period. We don’t have a “sacred” life and a “secular” life. We have a life, and it is all to be lived under the authority of the Holy Trinity. Everything that we do, every act in which we participate, can be an act of worship.

I believe it was Brother Lawrence who found that he could worship God while washing dishes and doing kitchen chores. He wrote a book called The Practice of the Presence of God, in which he talks about things like that.

We do say that our citizenship is in heaven, and that is true (Philippians 3:20). And we eagerly pursue the prize/inheritance that awaits us, there. “But this passion for the unseen in no way detracts from their involvement in daily affairs: working well and playing fair, signing petitions and paying taxes, rebuking the wicked an encouraging the righteous, getting wet in the rain and smelling the flowers.” (Eugene H. Peterson, Where Your Treasure Is, quoted in God’s Message for Each Day)

Perhaps Paul said it best.

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
(Colossians 3:17 NRSV)


Father, I pray that I will be able to live my life in this way. As a follower of Christ, I believe that it is imperative that I do everything in the name of Christ, for the glory of You, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. This means that, even when washing dishes or cooking a meal for my family, I am acting in Your Name, and I am performing and act of prayer/worship. This means that when I am out and about, in public, interacting with people, other human begins, with souls, created in Your image, I must treat them as such; I must do everything in the name of Jesus, giving thanks to You through Him.

Help me to keep this at the front of my mind, and to remember that getting short or snarky with people is not acceptable, as a disciple of Jesus. It also means that I will consider others to be more significant than myself, as we are commanded to do by Your Word. Help me to be “right” with You, in order that I will be “right” with all of my “fellow-creatures.”

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!

"O God, who wonderfully created, and yet more wonderfully restored, the dignity of human nature: Grant that we may share the divine life of him who humbled himself to share our humanity, your Son Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen."
(The Divine Hours -The Prayer Appointed for the Week)
"Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought me in safety to this new day: Preserve me with your mighty power, that I may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all I do direct me to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen."
(The Divine Hours - The Concluding Prayer of the Church)

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
(Micah 6:8 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

All Is Well

Today is Sunday, the 25th of December, 2022, in the first week of Christmas. It is the first day of Christmas.

May the peace of the Christ-child be with you always!

Day 23,663

Seven days until 2023.

It is shortly after 11:00 AM when I begin this, this morning. It really doesn’t feel like Sunday, but it is. As predicted, yesterday, I did not make it to the 10:00 service, this morning. We were up around 8:30, and shortly after 9:00, I believe, we sat down to open all of our presents. I will update my other blog with the results of that, later, today. Hopefully. For now, I must get on with the important things for the day. However, one gift that I am most excited about is a new Bible. It is one that I can carry with me to my new church, because the use the NRSV in their worship services.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Teach me good judgment and knowledge, 
for I believe in your commandments.
(Psalms 119:66 ESV)

Because either one without the other doesn’t do a body much good.

Lord our God, you have sent light to shine on earth and have revealed your heavenly power in Jesus Christ, so that in spite of all the darkness and evil we may rejoice because we have a Savior. Reveal your power in our day. Let something be done anew toward the building of your kingdom on earth. Let something draw men’s hearts to you to give them light so that they may thank and praise you for all you have done and are still doing to bring the whole world into your hands. O Lord God, let men be moved by the opening of the heavens. May their hearts awaken and their sadness give way to joy in Jesus Christ the Savior. We are your children who are allowed to wait in expectation for you to set everything right. We can know that even in our troubled times your hand is at work to reveal your will, to make your will plain to all generations on earth, as you promised through Abraham. May your name be glorified, O Lord God. May your name be honored, your kingdom come, and your will be done on earth as in heaven. Amen.

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulder, and his name will be called "Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." 
Isaiah 9:6, RSV

Today I am grateful:

  1. for Christmas; for the birth of Jesus Christ, our Savior, the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace
  2. for the wonderful morning we have had together, this morning
  3. for the expectation, as we celebrate the birth of Christ, of His eventual return
  4. that our Light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon us
  5. that darkness has fallen into the dawn of redeeming grace
  6. for this indescribable gift of God!

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. 

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, "Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger." And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 

"Glory to God in the highest,
 and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!" 

When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us." And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.
(Luke 2:1-20 ESV)
Arise, shine, for your light has come, 
and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. 
For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, 
and thick darkness the peoples; 
but the LORD will arise upon you, 
and his glory will be seen upon you. 
And nations shall come to your light, 
and kings to the brightness of your rising.
(Isaiah 60:1-3 ESV)
The sun shall be no more 
your light by day, 
nor for brightness shall the moon 
give you light;
 but the LORD will be your everlasting light, 
and your God will be your glory. 
Your sun shall no more go down, 
nor your moon withdraw itself; 
for the LORD will be your everlasting light, 
and your days of mourning shall be ended. 
Your people shall all be righteous; 
they shall possess the land forever, 
the branch of my planting, the work of my hands, 
that I might be glorified.
 The least one shall become a clan,
 and the smallest one a mighty nation; 
I am the LORD; 
in its time I will hasten it.
(Isaiah 60:19-22 ESV)

“And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
(Matthew 1:21 NLT)

Thank God for this gift too wonderful for words!
(2 Corinthians 9:15 NLT)


how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to worship the living God!
(Hebrews 9:14 NRSV)


I have no deep words of wisdom, today. I simply encourage all to know this Christ, the Savior of the world, the Light of the world, the glory of the Lord, risen upon us, this day.

The Gospel of Christ is that the kingdom of heaven, the kingdom of God, is hear, now, and available for anyone who desires to walk in it.

This baby that we celebrate today became our salvation. Along with the heavenly host of angels, I proclaim, “fear not!”

All is well.


Father, thank You for Your indescribable gift. And thank You for drawing me into Your kingdom, for choosing me to believe, even before the foundations of the earth. Not only did You choose me (and all who would come to believe), You arranged my circumstances so that I would choose You. As I noted, from yesterday’s verse in Psalm 119, You have dealt well with Your servant, O Lord!

Saying “thank You,” seems hardly appropriate. May I live my life in such a way as to draw people into Your kingdom. May I demonstrate to people Your great love for all, as I follow the commands of my Savior to love You and love people. May I show them that there is nothing to fear, and that, indeed, in Your kingdom, all is well. In fact, in Your kingdom, things are far better than we could ever imagine.

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

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


Grace and peace, friends.

“Presence Changes Everything”

Today is Tuesday, the 20th of December, 2022, in the fourth week of Advent.

May the peace of Christ be with you always!

Day 23,658

FIVE days until Christmas!

Christmas is going to be strange, this year. As previously mentioned, our Christmas Eve celebration with C’s sister and family has been postponed until sometime in January, due to health concerns (S had Covid, and sister’s husband is having shoulder surgery today, I believe). And Christmas falling on Sunday is always different. I do plan on attending a Christmas Eve service at the Lutheran church, probably at 3:00 Saturday afternoon. S has actually said she wants to attend. They are only having one service on Sunday, at 10:00, but I don’t know if I will make it or not. It kind of depends on what time people get up and about and what time we get presents opened.

We’ve got the menu all planned out for Christmas, and I have the groceries set up to deliver this afternoon. We’ll be having ham, green bean casserole, corn casserole, mashed potatoes, sopapilla cheesecake, and teacakes. Maybe some rolls, too? Probably. That’s a lot of food for only four people. On Christmas Eve, we will have tamales that I bought from one of our librarians.

I believe I am waiting on one more present to wrap, and it is supposed to arrive tomorrow. A number of presents have also been delivered to our oldest daughter’s home in Indy, and we will have some kind of Zoom-ish call with them on Christmas morning.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Though the cords of the wicked ensnare me,
I do not forget your law.
(Psalms 119:61 ESV)

Lord our God, thank you for bringing us into glorious day. Let the rays of your grace, the grace of Jesus Christ, shine into our hearts so that we are truly born of the Spirit and serve you as your children at all times, also when hard days come. Through your might and your revelation pry us loose from all earthly things. Pry us loose from worries and from pleasures. We are your children, O Lord God. We come before you, our Father in heaven, and you will accept us so that we may be a people who prepare the way for you. May all the words you speak be a blessing to us and make us joyful in expectation for the day of Jesus Christ, which has begun in power and glory and will bring power and glory when all is fulfilled according to your merciful and perfect decree. O God, your children entreat you, “Accept us. Hear us. Set the light aflame in our hearts for the coming of your great day!” Amen.

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

This is the one about whom it is written: "I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you." 
Matthew 11:10, NIV

Today I am grateful:

  1. for John the Baptizer, and all who have gone forth, preparing the way
  2. for the Word of God, constantly revealed in our hearts
  3. for the joyful expectation of the coming of the Lord
  4. for the presence of God in my life; it changes everything
  5. that God Almighty, who dwells in a high and holy place, also condescends to dwell with us who are contrite and lowly in spirit (aka not proud)

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
(Colossians 3:1-3 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. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
(Colossians 3:12-17 ESV)

"Come, everyone who thirsts, 
come to the waters; 
and he who has no money, 
come, buy and eat! 
Come, buy wine and milk 
without money and without price. 
Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, 
and your labor for that which does not satisfy? 
Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, 
and delight yourselves in rich food.
 Incline your ear, and come to me; 
hear, that your soul may live; 
and I will make with you an everlasting covenant, 
my steadfast, sure love for David."
(Isaiah 55:1-3 ESV)
"Seek the LORD while he may be found; 
call upon him while he is near; 
let the wicked forsake his way, 
and the unrighteous man his thoughts; 
let him return to the LORD, that he may have compassion on him, 
and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. 
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, 
neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. 
For as the heavens are higher than the earth, 
so are my ways higher than your ways 
and my thoughts than your thoughts."
(Isaiah 55:6-9 ESV)
"For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven 
and do not return there but water the earth, 
making it bring forth and sprout, 
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, 
so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; 
it shall not return to me empty, 
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, 
and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it."
(Isaiah 55:10-11 ESV)

As the Father has loved me, 
so have I loved you. 
Abide in my love.
(John 15:9 ESV)
Martha said to Jesus, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died." 

Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died." 

The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, "Unbind him, and let him go." 
(John 11:21, 32, 44 ESV)

For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.”
(Isaiah 57:15 ESV)


Take a good look at that last verse from Isaiah. God Almighty, “the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy,” dwells in the “high and holy place.” He dwells in a place none of us can reach.

But He also dwells “with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit,” and, in that dwelling, seeks to “revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.”

What beautiful language, here; how encouraging and comforting!

This is the essence of humility. God, high and lifted up, whose name is Holy, will condescend to dwell with those who are humble. Not with those who are proud. We all need to hear this lesson.

Then, see the words of Jesus. “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.” Do you have even an inkling of an understanding how much the Father loves the Son?? Is it possible for us humans to even begin to comprehend the love that abides in the midst of the Holy Trinity??

Jesus loves us with that love!

I really had to stop and ponder that for a few minutes.

What does His presence mean for us? Consider that. If we are humble in heart, contrite in our presentation before Him, He dwells with us. It is true, of course, that God is present with us, with all of us, regardless of our state of heart. God is everywhere, all at one time, so He must be. But this “dwelling,” of which Isaiah speaks, is different. You can be “with” someone, but not dwell with them, not abide with them.

Mary and Martha needed that dwelling. But they had allowed their grief and worry to overwhelm them. Both of them complained to Jesus about His absence. Jesus, being God in human form, was not able to be everywhere, all at one time. “Lord, if You had been here, our brother would not have died!” they complained. At least they had that confidence about them. They had the sincere belief that, had Jesus been present, He would have healed Lazarus before he died.

But Jesus had bigger things in mind. He had a bigger lesson to teach.

Shawnelle Eliasen wrote what may be, in my opinion, the best Guideposts reading I have ever read. As she closes this reading out, after discussing Mary and Martha, and their reactions, she says:

"I often succumb to worry over my loved ones or over a tough circumstance I can't see the end of. My soul cries like a babe needing comfort. When I'm so disturbed that I'm distraught, I can be sure that I've not practiced being in the presence of Jesus.
"He brings hope. He works in ways I cannot fathom. Trusting the presence of Jesus is training myself to receive peace. . . .
"Presence changes everything."

And so it does.


Father, I praise You for Your presence. I pray that my heart will be contrite and my spirit of a lowly nature, that You would dwell with me. May I be not proud, Father, as I truly have nothing to be proud about. The only things that I would be able to boast of have come from You. Your presence truly does change everything, as Mary and Martha found in in a huge way.

May we know this presence, Father. Not just know about it, but experience it and dwell within it, ourselves. Help us to abide in the unfathomable love that Jesus describes, that love that is present in the midst of the Holy Trinity, and with which Jesus loves us. And help us to know the resurrection that comes from knowing and loving You. Jesus brought Lazarus forth from the grave. Help us to believe this and never forget it. Perhaps that is one thing that is truly worthy of “never forget,” unlike most things we are determined to “never forget.”

Now, when I am tempted to be distraught, or to allow worry to consume me, remind me of Your presence; remind me that the presence of Jesus resulted in a resurrection; remind me that Your presence changes everything.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner!

Grace and peace, friends.

The Cheerful Giver

Today is Monday, the 19th of December, 2022, in the fourth week of Advent.

The peace of the Lord be with you always.

Day 23,657

Six days until Christmas! I need to wrap some presents today. I suppose someone should get some stocking stuffers, too.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

When I think on my ways, 
I turn my feet to your testimonies; 
I hasten and do not delay
 to keep your commandments.
(Psalms 119:59-60 ESV)

Dear Father in heaven, we hope in you and in your promise, which we hold in our hearts as our most precious possession. Protect us when times grow hard. May your Spirit come. May your Spirit constantly reveal your Word and give your promise to the hearts of many so that they may share in the hope, the faith, and the struggle for the great day. On that day we will be allowed to rejoice, exulting with all people because your salvation comes for the whole world. Amen.

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

When the Lord brought us back to Jerusalem,
 it was like a dream! 
How we laughed, how we sang for joy! 
Then the other nations said about us, 
"The Lord did great things for them." 
Indeed he did great things for us; 
how happy we were! 
Psalm 126:1–3, TEV

Today I am grateful:

  1. for Christmas week
  2. for my cats; Luna is “helping” me write this
  3. for the hope we have in the promises of God, held dearly in our hearts as our most prized possessions
  4. that God loves a cheerful giver
  5. for the resources (blessings) God has given us, and for our willingness to share those with others

See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority.
(Colossians 2:8-10 ESV)


But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
(Matthew 6:3-4 ESV)

A man’s gift makes room for him and brings him before the great.
(Proverbs 18:16 ESV)

Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
(2 Corinthians 9:7 ESV)


And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.
(1 John 5:14 ESV)


Giving is always a touchy subject in the church. Who among us doesn’t feel hesitant when the preacher decides to preach on “stewardship?” Recently, the Lutheran church I have been attending had their yearly pledging of “Time, Talent, and Treasure.” It was mentioned in each of the Sunday morning services leading up to the big day (November 6, I believe), but not over-emphasized, in my opinion. And this church does things a little differently than what I am used to seeing. They don’t set the budget for next year until the pledges come in.

Most churches set the budget, then start begging for the money.

Now, I have no idea what the budget for this church looks like. It’s not a Baptist church, so there is no “business meeting” where everyone votes on it. I’m sure it is available, though. I have noted that this church is really big on community charity. More often than not, there are people hanging out in the fellowship hall (I don’t know what they call it, so that’s what I’m calling it), putting meals together after the morning worship service. We participated in their Angel Tree, buying gift cards for some of the local elementary school students. They sent boxes home for people to fill for those same schools. We didn’t get one, because, by the time we got to where they were handing them out, they were all gone.

C and I have not yet decided what our giving is going to look like, here. For the past year, we have been putting our “tithe” money aside in a special account, and have doled it out whenever needs were brought to our attention. This has enabled us to help numerous people and organizations. But I do want to begin to contribute to this church. Of course, we are not officially “members,” yet, and I’m not sure what that’s going to look like. I don’t know if C will want to be. And that’s not the topic of today’s writing.

There is one, really.

The topic is motivation for giving. Jesus told His disciples, in the Sermon on the Mount, that their giving should be so secretive that the right hand didn’t even know what the left hand is doing. He used extremes like that more than once. For example, that time He told His listeners to cut off their hands or poke out their eyes if they caused them to sin.

To better understand the verses that were quoted, let’s take a look at the first verse of the chapter.

“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.”
(Matthew 6:1 ESV)

The key phrase, in my opinion, is “in order to be seen by them.” And look. Jesus didn’t say, outright, “Don’t practice your righteousness before other people.” He said “Beware,” and then qualified that with “in order to be seen by them.”

Motivation is key.

I mean, later, He says that we should let our light shine, right? So that others would see our good works (did I talk about this yesterday?) and glorify our Father in heaven!

I once knew a man who took Matthew 6:3-4 so seriously that he only gave his church offerings in cash, anonymously. He also never declared his charitable giving on his taxes. More power to him, but I think he’s missing the point of Jesus’s teachings.

It’s all in the motivation. One time, I was in a gathering, a worship service put on by a prison ministry at a church that I wound up being worship leader at for a while. A lady who owned a local furniture store was brought up on stage and recognized for her contributions, her charity. I don’t know if she was a Christ-follower or not, but I suspect that she wasn’t. Her chest stuck out and she got all puffed up in pride as she was recognized. I’m not being critical of her, mind you. But she got her reward, right then. According to Jesus, if that is why we give, that will be the extent of our reward.

Whereas, if we give more privately, or give with the intent of our Father in heaven being glorified, He will reward us “in secret.”

So, to me, the bottom line, here, is not whether to give, publicly. It is the motivation. If I give publicly in order to be recognized publicly, that will be all the reward I get. But if I give publicly, so that God will get glory, or, even better, give privately, so that He will be glorified, then my reward will be much more satisfying, and much longer-lasting.

Don’t blow the trumpet when you give. Don’t convert all your dollars to quarters so your offering makes a lot of noise when you put it in the “coffer.”

And, for heaven’s sake, don’t give reluctantly. Give whatever you have decided in your heart, and do it cheerfully, not “under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”

And that, my friends, is why I never like sermons that try to guilt people into giving.


Father, I cannot thank You enough for the blessings with which You have blessed our family. And I also am so very grateful for the heart of generosity that You have given us. I would even go so far as to pray, now, that You would make us aware of some need, during this holiday season, as we have a good bit to work with, right now.

On that note, I continue to pray for the peace and comfort of all that I know who are grieving and mourning the loss of loved ones, right now. Some of them have not been unexpected, but a few of them have been totally unexpected, which makes the sadness even worse. Nevertheless, having loved ones, friends and/or family members pass away during November and December changes the perspective of holidays forever. I do pray that You would be especially present to all of these, and may You raise up saints all around them, that they might sit with them and share in their grief.

Help us all to have more of a giving spirit, and may we all be more concerned that You get the glory for our generosity, and not that we get recognized.

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

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days. Give a portion to seven, or even to eight, for you know not what disaster may happen on earth.
(Ecclesiastes 11:1-2 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Let Your Light Shine

Today is Sunday, the 18th of December, 2022, the fourth Sunday of Advent.

May the peace of Christ be with you always!

Day 23,656

Seven days until Christmas!

And our house is Covid-free! S tested negative, yesterday morning. They did it a day before we had planned, and I am glad. I got the news while I was at work at the library, and the rest of my day was fantastic.

Nevertheless, the family Christmas Eve celebration will remain postponed until early January, some time. I might suggest New Year’s Eve, but C and I will discuss that first.

Today’s header photo is from Paul Militaru. Please visit his site at the provided link.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

I entreat your favor with all my heart; 
be gracious to me according to your promise.
(Psalms 119:58 ESV)

Lord our God, our Father, out of reverent silence comes the praise that is due to you, O God in Zion. It is right for us to praise you and to keep our promises to you. People everywhere shall come to you, for you answer prayer. Protect us your children in the task you have given us. Watch over us so that we can serve you in the right way and receive from you the gifts we need in order to go toward your kingdom and witness to your name. Help us on every step of the way. May our lives be entrusted to your hands, and may we always find our strength in you, our God and Savior. Amen.

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

Praise awaits you, O God, in Zion; 
to you our vows will be fulfilled. 
O you who hear prayer, 
to you all men will come.
Psalm 65:1–2, NIV

Today I am grateful:

  1. that God hears and answers prayer
  2. for the strength that I find in Him and His presence
  3. that, though we, like sheep, all went astray, the Lord laid our iniquities on Christ Jesus; by His wounds we are healed (Isaiah 53)
  4. that darkness cannot overcome the Light
  5. that our home is Covid-free

Surely he has borne our griefs 
and carried our sorrows; 
yet we esteemed him stricken, 
smitten by God, and afflicted. 
But he was pierced for our transgressions; 
he was crushed for our iniquities;
 upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, 
and with his wounds we are healed. 
All we like sheep have gone astray; 
we have turned—every one—to his own way; 
and the LORD has laid on him 
the iniquity of us all.
(Isaiah 53:4-6 ESV)

If I take the wings of the morning 
and settle at the farthest limits of the sea, 
even there your hand shall lead me, 
and your right hand shall hold me fast.
(Psalms 139:9-10 NRSV)

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
(John 1:5 NIV)

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
(Matthew 5:14-16 NIV)

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
(John 8:12 NIV)


Then Manoah prayed to the LORD: “Pardon your servant, Lord. I beg you to let the man of God you sent to us come again to teach us how to bring up the boy who is to be born.”
(Judges 13:8 NIV)


Jesus said, at different times, recorded by different people, both, “I am the light of the world,” and “You are the light of the world.”

There are, of course, different definitions of “light.” When I looked it up, the first definition that came up was, “the natural agent that stimulates sight and makes things visible.” Okay, that’s interesting.

Next was, “an expression in someone’s eyes indicating a particular emotion or mood.” Probably not applicable in this case.

But the third one? “Understanding of a problem or mystery; enlightenment.” Very interesting.

“I am the light of the world.” “You are the light of the world.” In John 8:12 (“I am the light”), the word for “light” is “phos.” It means, “to shine or make manifest;” “luminousness;” “fire, light.”

It turns out that Matthew 5:14 uses the same Greek word.

I find it interesting that Jesus makes both statements. How does that work? Pardon me while I think “out loud,” here.

If we begin with the premise that Jesus is the light, and that if we follow Him, we will never walk in darkness, and we will also have that same light, then we become the light of the world, as well. We take on His light. Or, I suppose, it could be said that He shines through and in us.

In an oversimplification, it might be said that He hands over the light to us, but I don’t see that as quite accurate, because He is the light, and, therefore, cannot hand the light over to us.

I have to come to the conclusion that this is a great mystery. I’m looking up some other verses that deal with this meaning of light.

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.
(2 Corinthians 4:6 NIV)

But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light.
(Ephesians 5:13 NIV)

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light
(Ephesians 5:8 NIV)

And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.
(2 Corinthians 11:14 NIV)

“Everything that is illuminated becomes a light.” That NIV translation is interesting, because the other main translations say something to the effect of “everything that is illuminated becomes visible.”

I’m not helping myself here. Haha.

The mystery is this: When we begin following Christ, becoming believers in Him, He becomes light within us. God, in the presence of the Holy Spirit, dwells within us, becoming our light and making us the light of the world.

Jesus left this world, physically. He is no longer here in bodily presence, but only spiritually. We are His “body.” The Church is the Body of Christ. Therefore, the Church, and each individual within, is the light of the world, because we embrace the light of the world.

And, frankly, our job is not to understand this. Our job is simple. “Let your light shine before others.” Why? Not so that we can be noticed and boastful. “That they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” It’s all about the glory of God.


Father, help us to let our lights shine. Help us to understand that “letting our light shine” does not consist of trying to blind people with it or forcing it into their lives. That kind of behavior will not cause people to glorify You. Jesus encourages us, nay, commands us to let our light shine, so that people will see our good deeds. To me (and I will always entertain the notion that I might be wrong), those good deeds are the kinds of things that Jesus talked about in His story about the sheep and the goats; feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and in prison, working to free the oppressed, caring for widows, orphans, and refugees, things like that. Things of which it may be said, “Whenever you did it to the least of these, you did it to Me.”

I also believe that letting our light shine consists largely of following that “Golden Rule” and treating people the way we would like to be treated.

In short, Lord, letting my light shine means love; loving You and loving others, and doing it visibly, not from behind the curtains. Once again, though, intent is everything. If, by doing a good deed, I am seeking any kind of recognition other than Your glory, shut me down, faster than instantly. I don’t want to be guilty of that.

May You be glorified in Your Church, Father. May people see the Light of the world through us.

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

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Grace and peace, friends.

How Can I Love?

Today is Saturday, the 17th of December, 2022, in the third week of Advent.

May you know the peace of Christ, and His presence, today.

Day 23,655

Eight days until Christmas!

Due to circumstances involving the health of various people in our family, our Christmas Eve gathering has been postponed until January. C’s Covid test from the doctor’s office came back negative, so that’s good news. And it seems that the coughing is somewhat better, as I don’t recall any spells during the night, last night.

It’s my Saturday to work at the library, so I will be in there at 9:30, this morning. Next week, I only work two days, Tuesday and Wednesday. The library is closed Friday, Saturday, and Monday, for the Christmas holidays.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

The LORD is my portion; 
I promise to keep your words.
(Psalms 119:57 ESV)

Lord our God, we thank you that you have given us the light of life, that we can now learn how to live, and that through your great grace we may understand life in direct relationship with the Lord Jesus, who was crucified and who rose from the dead. Grant that the power of Christ may be made visible in us. Grant that his life may become our life, that we may leave behind all doubts and anxiety, even though we are often surrounded by darkness and night. Keep us in your Word. Let your will hold sway over all the world, for your will must be done in heaven, on earth, and down to the lowest depths. Let your will be done on earth as in all the heavens. Amen.

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

For it was life which appeared before us: we saw it, we are eyewitnesses of it, and are now writing to you about it. It was the very life of all ages, the life that has always existed with the Father, which actually became visible in person to us mortal men. 
1 John 1:2, Phillips

Today I am grateful:

  1. for the light of life, Jesus Christ, the life that “appeared before us,” of which John and His fellow disciples were eyewitnesses; the light that dwells within us, today
  2. that, because of this Light, we can, at least partially, understand our own lives, in relationship with Him
  3. for the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding
  4. for love; God’s love for us, our love for Him, our love for one another
  5. that our God is able to do abundantly far more than all we could ever ask or imagine

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious 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. 
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
(Philippians 4:4-8 ESV)

The point is this: the one who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the one who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.
(2 Corinthians 9:6 NRSV)


Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God.
(1 John 4:7 NIV)

Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.
(Romans 12:10 NIV)

I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 1:3-6 NIV)


For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name. 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.
(Ephesians 3:14-17 NRSV)


How do we accomplish this thing called love? Even the musicians know that there is something supernatural about love.

Are you ready for the thing called love
Don't come from me and you, it comes from up above
(Jerry Lynn Williams)

We cannot do it on our own. I dare say that the majority of us know this, by now, from experience. Who among us doesn’t have family members who stretch their capacity to love to its very limits?

Yet we are commanded to love one another. In fact, Jesus tells us, quite bluntly, that if we do not do this, then we do not love Him, and we do not love God. And not only are we commanded to love one another, we are commanded to “honor one another above yourselves.”

Wait. I not only have to love this person, I have to put them ahead of me???

I am a human, a jar of clay, made out of dust. I cannot do this. Not only can I not do this, the society, the world, in which I live encourages me to do the opposite.

I think Paul has some good news for us, though.

First, he assures us that we have not been left alone, and that God will finish what he started in us. When we became believers in Christ, the Spirit of God began to dwell within us and He began to work. And, out of the riches of His glory, He strengthens us in our inner being with power through that Spirit, so that, what? We may be rooted and grounded in LOVE!

Andrew Murray says that every believer should wake up with these words on their lips: “My Father will strengthen me today with His power as He is strengthening me even now in my inmost being through His Spirit.” (The Believer’s Daily Renewal, quoted in Power in Prayer) In addition, he says that “we are to be content with nothing less than the indwelling of Christ by faith, a life rooted in love and strengthened to know more of the love of Christ.”

Christ, in the presence of the Holy Spirit, dwells within us, daily. This is not negotiable. This is something that we truly have no control over, if we are true believers in Christ. It is a plain and simple fact. He is here. He dwells within me.

My role in this is to acknowledge and accept this truth and walk in it, daily. What I can control is my response to it. I can, in fact, ignore His presence. I know this from experience. You probably do, too, if you are honest with yourself.

Can I be aware of His presence 24/7. Not likely, because I do sleep during some of that. However, Frank Laubach believed that we could be aware of His presence by forcing our minds to be aware of Him at least once a minute, during our waking hours.

Trust me, I have not come anywhere close to accomplishing this, but I do believe it to be possible. I believe it because I also believe Dallas Willard’s claim that we, as human beings, have the unique ability to control what we allow our minds to focus on. We can direct our thoughts. Furthermore, we have the possibility of taking every thought captive to obey Christ (2 Corinthians 10).

This is how we love. This is how we can obey the commands of Christ to love one another, to put others before ourselves, and to love Him unconditionally. This is how we surrender.

“We bow to God the Father in the name of the Son. We ask Him to strengthen us through the Spirit for one purpose: that Christ may dwell in our hearts. The whole heart becomes the scene of the blessed operation of the Trinity through the inner and outer life. As our hearts grasp this truth, we give glory, through Christ, to Him who does more than we can ask or imagine by His Holy Spirit.” (Murray)


Most Holy Father, I ask for this very thing, today. I am finding myself more and more cognizant of Your presence, lately, and I am embracing this. I’m still frail and feeble, and still have moments where I fail. But I feel stronger in You. I feel more capable of love. Help me to keep working to set myself aside in favor of others, in all areas of my life. All areas.

Gayle Sayers famously said, “The Lord is first, my friends are second, I am third.” I would amend that middle part to say “everyone else is second.” I believe that is what You want from us, from me. I cannot control what anyone else does or says or thinks or believes. I can only control me, and I want to allow You to do that.

So strengthen me, Father, through the Spirit, in my inner being, that Christ may dwell in my heart through faith, and that I may be rooted and grounded in love.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
(Ephesians 3:20-21 NRSV)

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.
(Philippians 4:23 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Rise and Walk

Today is Monday, the 12th of December, 2022, in the third week of Advent.

I pray that the peace of Christ finds you, today!

Day 23,650

Thirteen days until Christmas. Tomorrow, the month will be more than half over.

The writing prompt for today is “Who do you envy?” Honestly, no one. I really try to avoid envy, as it is, as some know, one of those seven deadly vices. Envy causes no small amount of problems for people, and it manifests itself in a myriad of ways. Now, if you were to ask me who I admire, I might have many answers. But envy is a bad thing, and my mind won’t easily be changed on that subject.

Today’s header photo was taken by Paul Militaru, Romanian photographer. Please visit his site at the link provided to see more of his wonderful photos (especially his beloved Maya).

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

When I think of your rules from of old, 
I take comfort, O LORD.
(Psalms 119:52 ESV)

Lord our God, we thank you for allowing us to be called your children. We thank you for giving us the power to become more truly your children, so that there may be a witness to your name on earth, so that again and again in the name of Jesus Christ new power may come for body and soul, for the happy and unhappy, for all who are still following false paths, for all who suffer so much grief, fear, and need. We thank you and we praise your name. Help us on our way. Help us weak people who often grow anxious and afraid. Help us in everything. Help us especially in the concern we have deepest in our hearts, that your name may be honored, your kingdom come, and your will be done on earth as in heaven. Amen.

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God. 
John 1:11–12, NIV

Today I am grateful:

  1. for the right to become a child of God
  2. for the strength to be a witness to the name of Jesus on earth
  3. for the help God gives us as we walk on His path, especially when we are weak, anxious, and afraid
  4. that God will finish what He started
  5. for faith that is the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1)

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
(Philippians 1:6 ESV)

And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
(Philippians 1:9-11 ESV)


Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
(Hebrews 11:1 NRSV)

Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love, 
for his wonderful works to humankind.
(Psalms 107:8 NRSV)
Open my eyes,
 so that I may behold 
wondrous things out of your law.
(Psalms 119:18 NRSV)

When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be made well?” The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; and while I am making my way, someone else steps down ahead of me.” Jesus said to him, “Stand up, take your mat and walk.” At once the man was made well, and he took up his mat and began to walk. Now that day was a sabbath.
(John 5:6-9 NRSV)


God will finish what He started. That’s a paraphrase of Philippians 1:6. I remember an old song, from the early eighties, I think, by The Imperials. It was actually, I just learned, written by Phil Johnson. I also just learned that it was 1979, from the album, “Heed the Call.” It’s called “He Didn’t Lift Us Up to Let Us Down.”

Admittedly, it didn’t age, well. Heh. But the lyrics still fit. Here’s the chorus:

He didn't bring us this far to leave us
He didn't teach us to swim to let us drown
He didn't build His home in us to move away
He didn't lift us up to let us down

God will finish what He started. And this plays into the Hebrews 11 verse. Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. I haven’t seen the ending; I have not seen the finished product of what God has begun, either in the grand scheme of things, or in my own experience. But my faith, that assurance of things hoped for, gives me the conviction that He will do it, that He will finish the work.

Let’s be clear on something else. It is God who will finish the work, not me. This is where we manage to get way off course, sometimes, when we get this “bright idea” that God needs us to help Him finish the job. God never needs our help. What He does expect us to do, however, is “get up and walk.”

See the man at the pool in the passage from John 5. He was waiting for someone to carry him to the pool at Bethesda, so he could be healed. But Jesus came along, asked him if he wanted to be whole, and then told him to get up and walk.

He probably didn’t immediately run a marathon, mind you, but he got up and “began to walk.” This can apply to all areas of our lives. Does God want you to pray more? Then begin to pray. Just start. He will work in you what you need to excel at it. Does God want you to give more? (Time, talent, treasures?) Then just start. Kind of like the old Nike motto, “Just do it.” God will enable you, and He will bless the effort that you give in faith. Just don’t start trying to pray for hours at a time or give your whole month’s paycheck, right off the bat, okay? Just like the man who got up and began to walk, we must start slowly.

“Rise and walk each day in the confidence that He is with you and will help you.” (Andrew Murray, The Ministry of Intercessory Prayer, quoted in Power in Prayer)

But also walk in the confidence that He did not bring you this far to leave you.


Father, I thank You for this example from Scripture, along with others, where Jesus simply told the man to get up and walk. I pray that in whatever it is that we need to do for You, that You give us the faith and courage to start. Give us the confidence that You will finish what You have started in us, that You didn’t “lift us up to let us down.”

I know how difficult it is, as we look around this world, to remember this truth. Things don’t look good. They don’t look like You are in control, much of the time. But we must have confidence that You are in control, and that everything is working out according to Your plan.

Help us to pray, to give, to walk, and, eventually, to run and fly in Your kingdom.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
(Micah 6:8 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

“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.