Faith and Knowledge

Today is Thursday, the twenty-ninth of September, 2022, in the twenty-sixth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you today!

Day 23,576

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit will be updated following this blog, today.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Dear Father in heaven, grant us your Spirit so that here on earth we may be united with you in Jesus Christ the Savior. May truth dawn on us with its light, bringing joy no matter what happens to us. May all the pain in our lives be turned into birth pangs of a new life in which we can rejoice as people you have created, people prepared for the struggle on earth, who are called into battle and led to victory. Grant that we may not be blinded by the surrounding darkness. Shed a clear light on the new life that is coming. May we see what has already happened because Jesus Christ came to the earth and remains on earth, and may we see what is still to come through him, the Savior. O God of wonders, keep us aware of the wonders that increasingly surround us, until all the pain on earth is finally overcome and we men glorify your love and your great goodness. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.
(John 16:21-22 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. that all of the grief and suffering we see in the world will eventually be turned into joy
  2. that we are not blinded by the darkness that surrounds us
  3. for the faith of a child, but also for knowledge that comes with growth and maturity
  4. that You do not hide Yourself from us
  5. for new beginnings

Beloved, do not imitate evil but imitate good. Whoever does good is from God; whoever does evil has not seen God.
(3 John 1:11 ESV)

And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your Teacher. And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.
(Isaiah 30:20-21 ESV)

Oh come, let us sing to the LORD; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!
(Psalms 95:1-2 ESV)

For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.
(1 Timothy 4:4-5 ESV)

So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.”
(John 11:41-42 ESV)


“Do not imitate evil but imitate good.” Seems simple enough. Except when we can’t agree on what is evil and what is good. Paul told Timothy that everything created by God is good, and, as long as we receive it with thanksgiving, it’s not to be rejected.

There are some things that are evil, and there are some things that are good. And there are quite a few things that are neutral, with no inherent good or evil attached to them. What makes a thing “good” or “evil” is the intent with which it is used. If it is used to harm another, it becomes evil.

The major difference, here, though is thanksgiving. Gratitude is key. I’ve been expressing daily gratitude for at least a couple years, now. One writer said that his aunt told him, “If you never lose your sense of thanksgiving, you will always find a sense of happiness. Gratitude will change your attitude for the better.” (Scott Walker, Daily Guideposts 2022).

That, of course, sounds rather cliche and overly simplistic, but there is truth to it. I’ve been attempting to maintain that “attitude of gratitude” for some time, now. Some days it is easier than others. Today, it is more of a struggle, for personal reasons. Nevertheless, it is there, and I will express it, and, in the expressing, will move my heart in the right direction.

We are to sing to the Lord, we are to “come into His presence with thanksgiving.” Note that this particular passage doesn’t say anything about any other offering than thanksgiving. Sometimes, it is enough to simply be grateful for the gifts that God has given us.

So, to imitate what is good, we begin by being grateful. I, personally, would find it difficult to truly give thanks to God for something with which I intend to do harm.

Two good things, for which I am grateful, are faith and knowledge. There is a difference between those two. The faith of a child requires little to no knowledge. But as we grow and mature, we gain knowledge. Does that increase or decrease our faith? I suppose that depends upon the person. For me, the more knowledge I obtain, the greater my faith. I can’t explain that. But that “faith of a child” becomes faith that is more mature. “I believe” becomes “I know,” which, in the case of things like the existence of God, is still based on faith. Because I cannot prove to you that God exists. Nevertheless, I know He does.


Father, I praise You for faith, and I praise You for knowledge. I like them both. I love having faith, but I also really enjoy gaining knowledge, which, in my case, increases my faith. The more I know about You, the more I believe in Your Word and Your Truth.

I pray that my faith continues to increase as I continue to get older. I also pray that my sense of gratitude and thanksgiving will not only continue, but will also grow. I pray that this sense of gratitude will also increase my satisfaction of You and my life. May I always be satisfied in You and in Christ.

I pray for Your constant guidance in my life. May I always be looking to You to tell me which way to go in my life. And, as always, I pray for more love for others. Help me to clothe myself with the compassion, patience, kindness, humility, and grace that are mentioned in that Colossians passage. May I imitate good, rather than evil, in my life.

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

Even so, come soon, Lord 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. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
(Philippians 4:8-9 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Kindness

Today is Wednesday, the twenty-eighth of September, 2022, in the twenty-sixth week of Ordinary Time.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,575

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God and our Father, we thank you for all the blessings you have brought into our lives and for everything we still hope to receive from your goodness. We thank you that through your Spirit you will work more and more in us and in all people, so that we are not held back by any human considerations but can go toward a higher goal. Keep us in your care. In all our special concerns may each of us experience your comfort and help, so that we may rejoice with the praise of your name always in our hearts. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; 
his love endures forever. 
Let the redeemed of the LORD tell their story— 
those he redeemed from the hand of the foe, 
those he gathered from the lands, 
from east and west, from north and south.
(Psalms 107:1-3 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. for the goodness and love of the Lord, which endures forever
  2. for the hope of future grace and future goodness
  3. that God is my refuge and my fortress
  4. for the kindness of God, displayed in Christ Jesus; this inspires kindness in us (at least it should)
  5. for the fruit of the Spirit, listed in Galatians 5; may it be visible in me today
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High 
will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. 
I will say to the LORD, 
"My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust."
(Psalms 91:1-2 ESV)

And now I ask you, dear lady—not as though I were writing you a new commandment, but the one we have had from the beginning—that we love one another. And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, so that you should walk in it.
(2 John 1:5-6 ESV)

The LORD reigns; 
he is robed in majesty; 
the LORD is robed; 
he has put on strength as his belt. 
Yes, the world is established; 
it shall never be moved. 
Your throne is established from of old; 
you are from everlasting. 
The floods have lifted up, O LORD, 
the floods have lifted up their voice; 
the floods lift up their roaring. 
Mightier than the thunders of many waters, 
mightier than the waves of the sea, 
the LORD on high is mighty! 
Your decrees are very trustworthy; 
holiness befits your house, O LORD, forevermore.
(Psalms 93:1-5 ESV)


This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says: “‘”You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive.” For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.’ But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. For truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.
(Matthew 13:13-17 ESV)


Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
(Colossians 3:12 NIV)

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
(Galatians 5:22-23 NIV)

And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.
(Ephesians 2:6-7 NIV)

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
(2 Peter 1:5-8 NIV)


Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.
(Galatians 5:24-25 NIV)


Father, today I see the conflict between walking in the flesh and walking in step with the Spirit. I see that we, as Your children, are either doing one or the other. I fully believe that it is possible to waver between the two, from day to day. I pray that I will walk in the Spirit today. Help me to display the fruit of the Spirit, today, and I especially pray for the characteristic of kindness to be more visible today.

You have called us to love one another. Part of loving is showing kindness. One person was quoted as saying “It costs nothing to be kind.” While that may not be 100% true, the sentiment is understood. We must be kind, if we are to be seen as Your children. Help us to crucify our flesh with its passions and desires. Help us to walk in step with Your Spirit, and to pray according to the desires of Your heart.

I pray that the desires of Your heart would be the desires of my heart. The way I get to this is through abiding; abiding in Christ, abiding in Your Word, and they abiding in me. Just as Christ is in You and You are in Christ, let me be found to be in You, as well, and You in me.

Help me to clothe myself, today, with compassion, kindness, gentleness, patience, and humility.

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.

Abide and Receive

Today is Tuesday, the twenty-seventh of September, 2022, in the twenty-sixth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ abide within you today!

Day 23,574

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit will be updated today.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Dear Father in heaven, we thank you for your mercy and for your great goodness and power, revealed to us through the ages and in the present time. We live by your revelation, Lord God Almighty, for you perform wonders on earth and you reign in heaven so that heaven can bless and help us on our earthly pilgrimage. Grant that your loving-kindness and your justice may be revealed through all the world. Come, O Lord our God, bring the light for us who believe in you, and be the light for the whole world. Glory to your name, for you are indeed our Father in heaven and on earth, and you give certainty for our life in time and in eternity. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
I will praise you, LORD, with all my heart; 
before the "gods" I will sing your praise. 
I will bow down toward your holy temple 
and will praise your name 
for your unfailing love and your faithfulness, 
for you have so exalted your solemn decree 
that it surpasses your fame.
(Psalms 138:1-2 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. a new day; another opportunity to serve the Lord, to love Him, and to love others
  2. for the blessings of heaven that help us on our earthly pilgrimage
  3. for the promise of Jesus that, if we abide in Him, our prayers will be answered; the catch, of course, is that abiding bit
  4. that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son
  5. that truly, my soul finds rest in God

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.
(1 John 5:1-3 ESV)

If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater, for this is the testimony of God that he has borne concerning his Son. Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son. And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.
(1 John 5:9-12 ESV)

Here we have a strong testimony concerning Jesus Christ. He is life. He is the way to eternal life, the gift from God. Whoever has Jesus has life; whoever does not have Jesus does not have life. In fact, the one who does not believe in Jesus Christ, has made God out to be a liar.

I would not want to find myself in that position.

However, the other piece of this testimony gives us a criterion to know if we have Christ. It is love. If we truly love God, we will love whoever has been born of God. The love of God compels us to keep His commandments, which are totally wrapped up in those two commands that I keep harping on, here. And, says John, those “commandments are not burdensome.”


Father, I feel compelled to interject a prayer right now. I must confess that I sometimes find Your commandments to be burdensome. Loving You is not difficult. That part is not burdensome. I owe everything to You; I have nothing that I can call my own, other than, as Horatio Bonar once said, my sin. But loving others is sometimes burdensome. I do not blame them. I could, but I do not. I blame myself for continuing to judge people. I pray for Your Spirit to overwhelmingly intercede for me, to help me to be able to love others, unconditionally, and fully, with Your kind of love, the desperately sought-after agapao.


It is good to give thanks to the LORD, 
to sing praises to your name, O Most High; 
to declare your steadfast love in the morning, 
and your faithfulness by night, 
to the music of the lute and the harp, 
to the melody of the lyre. 
For you, O LORD, have made me glad by your work; 
at the works of your hands I sing for joy. 
How great are your works, O LORD! 
Your thoughts are very deep!
(Psalms 92:1-5 ESV)

Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked 
or stand in the way that sinners take 
or sit in the company of mockers, 
but whose delight is in the law of the LORD, 
and who meditates on his law day and night.
(Psalms 1:1-2 NIV)

Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him.
(Psalms 62:1 NIV)

We will not hide them from their descendants; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done.
(Psalms 78:4 NIV)


If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.
(John 15:7 ESV)

There is a truth that is constantly missed by many well-meaning people. God’s promises, at least most of them, have conditions. There is usually an “if” attached to the promise.

“What He is to us depends upon what we are willing to be to Him. ‘Come near to God and he will come near to you’ (James 4:8).” (Andrew Murray)

In the case of John 15:7, the condition is simple. Simple, yes, but perhaps a little more mystical than many are comfortable with. You see, the Father always hears the Son. The Son is in the Father, and the Father is in the Son. Therefore, if we are also abiding in Christ, we are in Him, and so our prayers will be heard, as well.

“Fully and wholly abiding in Him, we have the right to ask whatever we will, and the promise that it will be done is ours as well.” (Murray)

But, you might object, this does not appear to be the case. We must examine the state of our abiding. I have frequently discussed, with our brothers and sisters with whom we meet, why our prayers don’t seem to get answered, why we don’t see miracles like the saints of the New Testament Church saw.

Murray’s answer to that question is clear and concise. “Either we do not fulfill the condition, or God does not fulfill the promise.”

Since many believers are not willing to accept either part of that statement, they invent escape clauses. It must not have been God’s will. Jesus never said that.

But here’s the thing. And I do believe that there is nothing wrong with including “if it be Your will” in our prayers. However, if I am, as Murray stated, “fully and wholly abiding in Him,” then my prayers will be for God’s will, and I will not ask for anything that would not be His will. The only reason, ultimately, that my prayers do not get answered as I pray them, is that I am not fulfilling the condition.

And I am very quick to acknowledge that I, most of the time, fail to “fully and wholly” abide. This is why that verse in Psalms is my “life verse.”

Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name.
(Psalms 86:11 ESV)

My heart needs to be united, because it is divided. There are too many things demanding my attention. Now, the older I get, and the more I meditate on His Word, the less I give allegiance to anyone or anything other than God. But there are still sins that plague me, frequently. I struggle with those, as do most people. And I’m not ashamed to admit it. (I’ve discussed “shame” in other posts . . . it is toxic and disabling.) So I have no trouble acknowledging that the reason my prayers might not be answered is that I am praying outside the will of God because I am not abiding fully in Christ.

Recently, though, I have seen a couple prayers get answered. One of them, I confess, surprised me. Now why would that be, I wonder? Ah, we feeble and fickle humans. Our confidence runs so low that when God does answer a prayer, we are surprised.

If we have the confidence that we have been abiding, we should pray with expectation, not just hoping that God will answer, but believing that He will. But, again, it’s all tied in with that condition. If the condition is met, according to Jesus, the prayer will be answered.


Father, I know full well that I do not frequently succeed in “fully and wholly” abiding. I pray for Your help in this. You are my God. I worship You and I serve You. But my heart is divided, therefore, I continue to pray Psalm 86:11 to You, that You would teach me Your way, and that You would unite my heart. Hopefully, but the time I am ready to meet You face-to-face, my heart will be whole.

In the meantime, help me to abide in Christ, for more than just one reason. One is that I simply desire for that to be the case. I know that the fellowship with the Trintiy would be so precious and amazing if I am truly abiding. There is nothing like it in this world. But I also desire that my prayers be prayers that fully encompass Your will, on earth as in heaven, and that they would be answered in order that You would be glorified on the earth. That is the primary reason. Sure, I want to see my friends be healed and be successful and have good relationships in their lives. I want to see my friends protected from hurricanes (that’s a serious threat, right now, so I pray for their safety), and I want to see them be happy in their jobs. I desire for one friend to have a successful pregnancy to full term. But the ultimate reason for all of these is Your glory!

The Scriptures says that the earth will be filled with Your glory as the waters cover the seas. I pray that You would make this so, Father! All for Your name’s sake; all for Your glory.

Help me to abide in Christ.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another.”
(John 15:12-17 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Of Evil and the Holy Spirit

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

May the peace of Christ abide in you today!

Day 23,573

I’ll be updating Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit immediately following this blog.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, we are your children, who come before you and stand in your presence. Be with us and be our light in all situations of life, in all hardships and grief. Be our light, as you have always been. Reveal your power so that the world may know you as we have come to know you. Give us joyful readiness to persevere until your day comes, for the brightness of your day will shine through all darkness and will end all evil, to the glory of your name. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 
(1 Corinthians 13:4-8 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. for the descriptions of love in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8; if we consider that Scripture tells us that “God is love,” then we can also associate these same character traits with God
  2. for the brightness of the Lord’s day, which shines though all of the darkness
  3. that the Lord has cast all our sins “into the depths of the sea” (Micah 7:19)
  4. for Jesus’s assurance that the Father will give us the things that we ask for
  5. that the Lord will deliver those who love Him (Psalm 91)

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 

If anyone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother. 
(1 John 4:7-11, 20-21 ESV)

It could not possibly be clearer.


He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High 
will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. 
I will say to the LORD, 
"My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust."
(Psalms 91:1-2 ESV)
Because you have made the LORD your dwelling place— 
the Most High, who is my refuge— 
no evil shall be allowed to befall you, 
no plague come near your tent. 
For he will command his angels concerning you 
to guard you in all your ways. 
On their hands they will bear you up, 
lest you strike your foot against a stone.
(Psalms 91:9-12 ESV)
"Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him;
 I will protect him, because he knows my name. 
When he calls to me, I will answer him; 
I will be with him in trouble;
 I will rescue him and honor him. 
With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation."
(Psalms 91:14-16 ESV)

“If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
(Luke 11:13 ESV)

This verse is at the end of the talk wherein Jesus told His disciples, “ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” (verse 9)

The principle at work, here, is worthy of consideration. “If you then, who are evil,” He said. This might shock us. He just called His disciples “evil.” But we are, at our roots, evil beings. In our unregenerate state, we are, simply put, bad.

This doesn’t mean we are all, you know, serial killers or rapers, or something like that. (For the record, I will no longer use the word “rapist,” after watching a comedian on TikTok say that she thinks the word should be “raper,” which sounds more like “murderer or killer,” as opposed to “rapist,” which sounds like “therapist, artist, or florist.”) We don’t all do terrible, horrible things. But here’s the thing . . . we could.

Don’t ever think that you are not capable of doing some very bad things. We all need to remember that phrase, “There, but for the grace of God, go I.”

So we are evil, yet we know how to give good gifts to our children. The comparison, then, is made with God. And, in this instance, the “gift” is specifically the Holy Spirit. And this business of asking, seeking, and knocking is none other than prayer. Prayer is what makes it happen.

Andrew Murray says, “Of all the gifts of the early church to which we should aspire, there is none more needed than the gift of prayer–prayer that brings the Holy Spirit into the midst of believers.”

“Prayer,” Murray says, “links the King on the throne with the church at His feet.” I love that line. It’s powerful and true. While it is also true that Jesus Christ is our link to the Father, the means of communication between us is, and always has been, prayer.

The Holy Spirit comes to us in answer to our prayers, and we get our divine strength and power from the Holy Spirit. “Where there is much payer, there will be much of the Spirit; where there is much of the Spirit, there will be ever-increasing prayer.” (Murray)


Father, I am asking; I am seeking; I am knocking. Help me to be more faithful in prayer; more consistent. Bring the Holy Spirit down on Your Church, that we might have the strength and power that is spoken of. Help us to know, to have confidence in Jesus’s words that You will give us the gift of the Holy Spirit when we ask. Yes, I realize that the Spirit dwells within each of us, beginning on the day when we believe in Christ. But, for some reasons, we lack power, much of the time.

So, while it may not be entirely accurate to ask You to send the Spirit, I know that we need the power and might of the Spirit in our lives. You understand what we mean when we pray, even if our words aren’t quite right. In fact, we have the confidence that it is the Holy Spirit who intercedes on our behalf when we don’t quite know how to voice our prayers.

Thank You for Your great love and infinite mercy, Father. Thank You for the promises that You give us, promises of deliverance for those who love You; promises of safety for those who dwell in Your Word and abide in You. Help us to avail ourselves of these promises, and to abide by the conditions by which they will occur. Help me to abide in You and in the Words of Christ; help me to walk in Him, daily.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.
(The Jesus Prayer)

Grace and peace, friends.

When “Bad Things” Happen

Today is Sunday, the twenty-fifth of September, 2022, in the twenty-sixth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ find you well and whole, today!

Day 23,572

I’ll be updating Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit after this is completed.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, our Father, we look deep into your mighty Word and see the glory of the new world you will create according to your justice and truth. We thank you for giving us this joy on earth in the midst of all our toil and striving. We look deep into your Word. You make all things new. To this hope our lives are directed, to this hope you have called us, and we want to be faithful forever. Praise to your name, for you have already done great things for us! Keep us in your Word. Let many find the light, for in this light they may look to you in simple faith and constancy until the end, when throughout the world we may see your glory and your grace. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more...And he who sat upon the throne said, "Behold, I make all things new." Also he said, "Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true." 
(Revelation 21:1, 5 RSV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. that things went so very smoothly, yesterday, moving things from Mama’s house to our house
  2. for the two young men who helped us move the heavy stuff
  3. that Jesus Christ will make all things new and that His words are trustworthy and true
  4. that when Jesus appears, we will be like Him
  5. that I am one of God’s children

“Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. For he who is least among you all is the one who is great.”
(Luke 9:48 ESV)


Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.
For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. . . . We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. 
And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us. 
(1 John 3:2-3, 11, 14-18, 23-24 ESV)
Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations. 
Before the mountains were brought forth, 
or ever you had formed the earth and the world, 
from everlasting to everlasting you are God.
(Psalms 90:1-2 ESV)
So teach us to number our days 
that we may get a heart of wisdom. 
Return, O LORD! How long? 
Have pity on your servants! 
Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, 
that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. 
Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, 
and establish the work of our hands upon us; 
yes, establish the work of our hands! 
(Psalms 90:13-14, 17 ESV)

We are all God’s children. We must receive each other in His name. Yes, Jesus was referring to a literal child, at that point, but the lesson goes beyond that. Whoever is the least will be great. Whoever is last will be first.

Why is this so hard for us to grasp? It has become apparent to me that the best measure of peoples’ understanding of this teach of Jesus is seen in the way they drive. I have seen “Christians” share things on Facebook that hurt my soul. They are meant to be funny, but they are not funny to me. “You will run over every traffic cone before I will let you in front of me,” says one meme.

That attitude violates at least two of Jesus’s teachings. 1) the last shall be first and the first shall be last, and 2) “whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”

I like this bit about “what we will be has not yet appeared.” It’s true. We have no real clue what we will be like when we meet Jesus, face to face, other than these statements that tell us we will be “like Him.”

And, again, John visits the subject of loving one another. As any frequent reader of this blog knows, this is something that I harp on, constantly. And for good reason, I think. It is something that the Bible harps on, especially in the New Testament. Jesus talks about it a lot. Paul talks about it. James talks about. John talks about it. Over and over and over.

You would think we would have gotten it down by now.

I believe Psalm 90 pinpoints a reason that we might struggle so much with the concept. Verse 14. “Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.” I believe that if we are satisfied with God’s steadfast love, His chesed, we will find it much easier to love one another.


When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.
(Isaiah 43:2 NLT)

This verse gives us beautiful truth; it gives us great encouragement. But part of the truth is in the word “when,” in this verse. It is necessary to notice that it does not say “if.” We are going to go through deep waters, through rivers of difficulty; we are going to walk through fire (hopefully not literally). And some of my favorite Psalm verses, which speak of God’s deliverance, tell us that He will deliver us “out of” our troubles, trials, and tribulations.

God will not keep “bad things” from happening to us. “God did not keep bad things from happening to God himself.” (Tish Harrison-Warren, Prayer in the Night) He has never made any kind of promise that indicates that He would keep bad things from happening to us. But He has promised that He would be with us during those “bad things,” and that we would not be consumed.


Father, I am thankful that I am one of Your children. I am also grateful that I have no issue at all being considered Your “child.” Help me, I pray, continue down this path of being less so that You can be more, of decreasing that You might increase. You have taught me that the last shall be first, and it has translated into other parts of my life. But the humanity within me bucks against that; everything I have seen and learned from this world would have me think the opposite, that I need to be first and make others get behind me. But this is not the teaching of my Savior.

Help me to keep getting better at love others, as well. It is not hard to love others when they are displaying their neediness, their desperation in their circumstances. It is hard to love others when they are displaying their self-confidence and their own lack of love toward others. This is a challenge for me, I confess. It is hard to love a “hater.” Help me with this, Father. It is hard for me to love someone whom I see ridiculing and mocking those with whom they do not agree. Help me with this, Father, because Jesus makes no distinction. I am to love all equally (with the exception that my love for the saints is to be even stronger, and some of those with whom I struggle are, indeed, saints).

I thank You that You are always near, and that You have promised to be with us when we walk through “rivers of difficulty,” and through the fires of oppression. Help us to see “bad things” through Your perspective, rather than strictly our own.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
(2 Corinthians 13:14 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Of Agapao and Sheep

Today is Saturday, the twenty-fourth of September, 2022, in the twenty-fifth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ dwell in your soul!

Day 23,571

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Dear Father in heaven, we long to be your children and to grow closer and closer to eternal life with all its goodness and truth. In your love to us your children, bless us as we walk on earth under great stress and temptation. Keep us from going astray, and let what you have placed in our hearts grow toward perfection, to your glory and your honor. May our hearts always know the joy that our struggle and suffering are not in vain, that if we are faithful, we may bring forth the fruit of righteousness. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.
(John 12:24-25 NIV)

  1. for the joy of knowing that any struggle and suffering we endure in this life are not in vain
  2. that the crimson stain of our sin is washed whiter than snow
  3. for the perfect, inexplicable love that our Father has for us
  4. for the fact that there is nothing that we can do to either diminish or increase that love
  5. that God does not get angry with us for our sins (thanks to Jesus’s blood on the Cross)

“Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.”
(Isaiah 1:18 ESV)


My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.
(1 John 2:1-6 ESV)

Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.
(1 John 2:9-11 ESV)

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.
(1 John 2:15-17 ESV)

1 John is such a wonderful book. There is so much good material in there. Chapter 2 deals with several different subjects. Verse 6 gives us a good way to measure our relationship with Christ. If we abide in Him, we will be walking “in the same way in which he walked.” Unfortunately, it appears that the only part of Jesus’s walk that some folks noticed is the bit where He upended the tables of the money-changers and chased them off with a whip.

Personally, I’m drawn more toward His compassion toward the woman caught in adultery (and I still want to know where the man was in that scenario; it seems a lot of things haven’t changed in a couple thousand years); I’m drawn to His compassion to the woman who had been bleeding for twelve years, who was healed by the touch of His garment; I’m drawn to the blind man, to whom Jesus said, “What do you want me to do for you?”

Verses 15-17 present a tough order. But looking at the Greek text, the word that is translated love is “agapao,” which we call “agape.” That is the highest form of love possible. Unconditional love. We are being told not to give that kind of love to the world and its desires. I don’t believe that this is saying that we cannot enjoy things in the world. But we are not to be obsessed with them, or love them unconditionally. That kind of love is reserved for God and other people.

Nevertheless, I will still admit that this is a struggle for me, at times. The world can be a lot of fun, and it can be very satisfying. I mean, face it, our enemy is not going to come at us with beets and brussel sprouts. (Apologies to anyone who likes beets and brussel sprouts.) And sin is, to be honest, rather beautiful on the surface. So there’s our danger. And we simply need to remember that our highest allegiance is not to the world, it is not to a nation (there are quite a few people who really need to hear that), not to a government or a tribe or a language. Our highest allegiance is to God and God alone.


I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
(John 10:11 ESV)

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”
(John 10:27-30 ESV)

First, I want to direct us back to the 1 John passage, verse 2 of chapter 2. There’s that fifty-dollar theology word, “propitiation.” That is a rare word that is translated the same in the KJV as it is in other versions. It can also mean “atonement.” But I will never forget one definition of that word that I once heard in one of our “lifehouses,” back in our Exchange days. It was said that “propitiation” means “God isn’t angry with us anymore.” Sure, that is a drastic over-simplification of the word, but it is also true.

Now, take that thought and look at Jesus’s words about being a “good shepherd.” Can you even imagine a shepherd being angry with his sheep? I cannot. I’ll confess, I don’t know much about sheep, other than what I have learned in Bible studies, but I simply cannot fathom a shepherd being angry with his sheep.

If we are His sheep, and He is our shepherd, He is not angry with us. When we go astray, He goes out of His way to bring us back. And, while there may be consequences for our going astray (I have heard that a shepherd would, at times, have to go so far as to break a sheep’s leg to keep it from going astray, after which the shepherd must carry the sheep on his own shoulders until the leg heals), that doesn’t mean that our shepherd is angry with us.

God loves us with a love that is inexplicable. That word up there, agapao, is virtually impossible for a human being to achieve. I think we can come close, but that is the love with which our Father loves us. And there is absolutely nothing that I can do to change it. I cannot sin so badly that God will love me less; nor can I perform so amazingly wonderfully that He will love me any more than He already does.

So what I do is, I rest in that. I embrace that. It draws me into deeper relationship with Him. And I love Him back as best I can, as a human being.


Father, I praise You and thank You for Your love for us, that agapao that we can scarcely mimic. I thank You for the propitiation for our sins that means that, because of the work of Jesus Christ and His sacrifice for us, You are not angry with us; our sins have been forgiven, they are atoned, forever and ever. All glory to You, Father!

Help us to love one another with that same love, Lord! Help us to walk in the way that Jesus walked; and may we focus more on the loving ways that He treated people than with the rare times when He expressed anger. Give us that love for one another.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
(Colossians 3:14 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Displacing Worry with Christ

Today is Friday (I had to think a minute), the twenty-third of September, 2022, in the twenty-fifth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you today!

Day 23,570

I’ll give a quick update on my cyst removal surgery, yesterday. It went very well, as far as I can tell, with no complications or anything. I’m a little sore, but not in any kind of terrible pain. I can take extra strength Tylenol through the weekend, and then I can take Ibuprofen. I have to leave the bandage on through Saturday, and then need to replace it every day. I go back in two weeks to get the stitches out.

I may not have mentioned that this was happening . . . I don’t remember. But the two cysts were very close together, right on top of my head. They are sending them to pathology, which is routine.

It’s Friday, so I will be in the Computer Center at the library today, from 9:15-6:15. If time allows, I will update Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit, after I finish my devotional.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Our dear Father in heaven, we thank you that you have given us the Lord Jesus on high and that we are allowed to be with him and find joy even while still surrounded by all that must fade and perish. For in Jesus Christ you hold us by the hand through anxiety, need, and death. Grant that he may be with us as we continue our pilgrimage. Grant us your Spirit, for we are poor in spirit and in soul. Give us your Holy Spirit from on high. Just in our weakness we come to know what strength and victory you bring through the Lord Jesus, our Savior. The Lord Jesus is our Savior for body, soul, and spirit for ever and ever. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
Therefore it is said, "When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men." 
(Ephesians 4:8 RSV)
Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
(Romans 5:3-5 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. for God’s love, poured into our heart through the Holy Spirit
  2. that we can have joy, even though we are surrounded by everything that must fade and perish
  3. for the peace that comes when we allow Christ to displace worry in our lives
  4. that prayer is more than just asking God for stuff; it is fellowship with Him
  5. that “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1)

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.
(1 John 1:1-4 ESV emphasis added)

Three times, in those four verses, the author of this little epistle declares that he is an eyewitness to the life of Jesus Christ. And the reason that he is writing this is given, “so that you too may have fellowship with us.”

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
(1 John 1:5-10 ESV)

I see this as more of a comparison than an outright command that we must confess sin. If we agree with God (assent or acknowledge) that we have sinned, we will be forgiven; if we claim that we are sinless, we are delusional, “and the truth is not in us.”


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)

For your ways are in full view of the LORD, and he examines all your paths.
(Proverbs 5:21 NIV)

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
(Jeremiah 29:11 NIV)

If I think too much about the Lord examining all my paths, it might create the anxiety that I am not supposed to have, according to Philippians 4. On the other hand, knowing that my “ways are in full view of the Lord” can bring comfort to me. There is no hiding from God; there is nowhere I can go where God is not. And even though I’m not perfect, even though my thoughts sometimes go places where they should not, I know that my God is already there, and that there is nothing that I can do, say, or think that changes His love for me.

The Philippians passage says, “in every situation.” Interestingly, the Greek word that is translated “every situation” in NIV and “everything” in ESV and NLT is simply “pas.” That word essentially means “all.” There is no further object indicated. This explains why the KJV is translated “every thing.” I like Eugene Peterson’s translation.

Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns.
(Philippians 4:6 MSG)

We worry about so much, these days. The Christian Church is fraught with worry, and those worries seem to be over such meaningless things. There is an implication here, since we are told that if, instead of worrying, we pray, we will have peace, then the opposite also applies; if we worry instead of praying, we will not have peace.

And that peace that results from praying instead of worrying transcends all understanding. Peterson’s translation here is also wonderful, to me. “It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.”

I forgot to finish my thought up there, when I pointed out the part that says “in every situation,” or in “everything.” This includes those situations when we have allowed ourselves to stumble into sin, or when we have allowed negative thoughts to reign in our minds, or when we allow complaining to be the order of the day. Prayer is not just for when we need someone’s healing or provision. Prayer is for everything, for “pas.”


“Love breaks the chains that hold you to the past; it allows for growth, change, and new life. When you accept God’s love, you also accept God’s forgiveness. As you love yourself, you also forgive as you are forgiven and you love even more . . .

“The more control you try to grasp, the less you have; the more control you surrender to God, the more under control your life becomes. Surrendering control doesn’t mean you have become passive or fatalistic. It means you trust that God has given you the physical, emotional, and spiritual tools necessary to negotiate life. To surrender control to God releases the tension within that keeps you from responding to life with all your capacity. When you stop pushing and pulling to have things your way, you are more apt to see things God’s way.”

(Adolfo Quezad, quoted in Spiritual Classics, by Richard J. Foster and Emilie Griffin)

It seems to me that this last paragraph supports the teaching of Philippians 4:6-7.


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

Andrew Murray further supports the truth of the Philippians passage. When we give in to anxiety and prayerlessness, we experience self-condemnation. (I am speaking primarily to believers, here.) But, if we pray, instead, as Paul admonishes, “Think of the confidence in the Father that will replace the reproach and self-condemnation that characterized our lives before. Think how the hour of prayer may become the happiest time in our whole day, and how God may use us there to share in carrying out His plans, making us a fountain of blessing to the world around us.”

And then, Murray says, “Prayer is not merely coming to God to ask something of Him. It is, above all, fellowship with God and being brought under the power of His holiness and love.”

I believe this all falls under the truth of the Jeremiah passage. When we pray, we disable the anxiety, we recognize God’s plan for us, and we have peace.


Father, strengthen us to believe in the victory that You have prepared for us. Strengthen us to believe that the blessing that You have for us is greater, far, than anything we could ever imagine! Teach us to pray instead of worry. Teach us to live in the country of grace and forgiveness, rather than in the country of worry and doubt. We will doubt, yes. We are human, and it goes with the territory. But we do not have to live or dwell in that doubt. We do not have to allow our minds to dwell on that doubt.

Give us that peace that passes all comprehension or understanding; help us to live in that promise of life and hope and a future in You. Help us to pray over everything, and in doing so, release the reproach and self-condemnation that we tend to fall into. Help us to remember the great words of Romans 8, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


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

Amen.
(St. Teresa of Avila)

Grace and peace, friends.

Chesed

Today is Thursday, the twenty-second of September, 2022, in the twenty-fifth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ find you today!

Day 23,569

I’m up early, this morning, because I’m due at the Hurst Conference Center by 8:00 AM for the annual Hurst Way Conference for all city employees. If I have time, I will update Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit after I finish my devotional, this morning.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, we lift our hearts to you, for you have given great promises to those who fear you. Let your Word strengthen us in faith, patience, and hope. Be with all those who call upon you, pleading for help in our time. For these times must work for our good, and in spite of sin, death, and all evil we can find joy in what you are doing. We call to you, O Lord our God. Let your hand be revealed, that something may be seen besides human striving and the efforts of human hands. Let the work of your hand be visible to many, to all peoples on this earth. May your name be honored, O Lord our God, your kingdom come, and your will be done on earth as in heaven. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
he does not treat us as our sins deserve 
or repay us according to our iniquities. 
For as high as the heavens are above the earth, 
so great is his love for those who fear him; 
as far as the east is from the west, 
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
(Psalms 103:10-12 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. that God does not treat us as our sins deserve
  2. that His love for us is as high as the heavens are above the earth
  3. for the steadfast love, the chesed, of the Lord
  4. that God never sleeps nor slumbers (Psalm 121:4); He is always watching, always listening
  5. that Jesus Christ did not seek to enjoy the Father’s love for Himself alone; He passed it on to us” (Andrew Murray)

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


Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them, the one who also had leaned back against him during the supper and had said, “Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?” When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?” Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!” So the saying spread abroad among the brothers that this disciple was not to die; yet Jesus did not say to him that he was not to die, but, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?”
(John 21:20-23 ESV)

Here is a good argument that we are not supposed to be so concerned about other people, but to take care of our own business. We are not to be “pointing fingers” at those around us. We need to pay attention to our own relationship with Christ, especially as it concerns our own sin. One of my Facebook friends posted something yesterday, with which I heartily agree. “The TRINITY is more concerned about how you deal with your sin than the laws you support to deal with the sin of others.” (Aaron Smith, professional drummer) Jesus’s answer, when we say, “What about this guy?” is “What is that to you?”

I love the last verse of John’s Gospel.

Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.
(John 21:25 ESV)

I don’t think it unreasonable to add “and said” at the end of the first sentence. Certainly, Jesus said more than just the words that are included in the Gospels.


Manasseh led Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem astray, to do more evil than the nations whom the LORD destroyed before the people of Israel. The LORD spoke to Manasseh and to his people, but they paid no attention. Therefore the LORD brought upon them the commanders of the army of the king of Assyria, who captured Manasseh with hooks and bound him with chains of bronze and brought him to Babylon. And when he was in distress, he entreated the favor of the LORD his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers. He prayed to him, and God was moved by his entreaty and heard his plea and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD was God.
(2 Chronicles 33:9-13 ESV, emphasis added)

I find great encouragement in this passage of 2 Chronicles. Manasseh was likely the most evil king that Judah had. And even though he waited until he was in desperate trouble before he cried out to God, God heard him and was “moved by his entreaty.” You see, it doesn’t matter how evil and wicked we might be. If we cry out to God, He is compassionate and merciful. His chesed will be shown.


Speaking of chesed . . .

I will sing of the steadfast love of the LORD, forever; 
with my mouth I will make known 
your faithfulness to all generations. 
For I said, "Steadfast love will be built up forever; 
in the heavens you will establish your faithfulness."
(Psalms 89:1-2 ESV)

Both times it says “steadfast love,” the Hebrew word is chesed. Many are familiar with the KJV of verse 1 that says, “I will sing of the mercies of the Lord, forever.” I seem to remember an old Sunday School song from that verse.

Let the heavens praise your wonders, O LORD, 
your faithfulness in the assembly of the holy ones! 
For who in the skies can be compared to the LORD? 
Who among the heavenly beings is like the LORD, 
a God greatly to be feared in the council of the holy ones, 
and awesome above all who are around him? 
O LORD God of hosts, who is mighty as you are, O LORD, 
with your faithfulness all around you?
(Psalms 89:5-8 ESV)

Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
(Psalms 121:4 ESV)

To you, O LORD, I call; my rock, be not deaf to me, lest, if you be silent to me, I become like those who go down to the pit.
(Psalms 28:1 ESV)

Most of the time, Psalm 121:4 is referenced when speaking of God’s protection. He is always watching over us; He never sleeps.

But Rick Hamlin, in today’s Daily Guideposts, brings another perspective to this. God is also always listening. He never “shuts off” His listening. He doesn’t “mute” us. Comforting, yes, but it means He also hears all of our rants and complaining. And He continues, nevertheless, to rain down His steadfast love on us.

Just something to ponder, this morning.


Father, as I consider Your Words, this morning, I am comforted and encouraged. I am glad to remember that You never slumber nor sleep; that You are always watching, always listening. The very thought that You care enough for us to extend Your steadfast love and mercy to us, even when we bitterly complain, is astonishing. Were we You, we would have given up on us long ago. I fear some of us have, actually.

I pray for Your people, Father, especially those who have lost their way. For those who might be stumbling or wandering, Father, I pray for Your Spirit to guide them back to Your loving arms, to experience Your glorious chesed in ways that they never imagined. Help us all to know this steadfast love every single minute of every day, Father!

Oh, Lord, You do not treat us as our sins deserve, and have cast our sins as far as the east is from the west! What glorious thought! What wonderful news! Help us to embrace this, Father, as we consider Your great love for us, today!

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


You have granted me life and steadfast love, and your care has preserved my spirit.
(Job 10:12 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

In the Watches of the Night

Today is Tuesday, the twentieth of September, 2022, in the twenty-fifth week of Ordinary Time.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,567

Only two more days until Autumn begins!! (Which, as has been duly noted, means absolutely nothing in Texas, as it is still 90 degrees outside.)

And, once again, the high temperature for yesterday was two degrees below the predicted high of 95. We are running about six degrees higher than the average for this time of year.

Today’s high is projected to be 96. The record high for this date occurred just last year, at 100 degrees.

C and Mama are currently at Mama’s doctor appointment, as she is seeing a new doctor here in Fort Worth, for the first time. I hope they like him.

I’ll be working my half-day, this evening, from 4:15-8:15, doing shelving. C will be working from home the rest of the day, after the doctor appointment, and I will probably go out and pick up Subway for lunch today.

There were only nine baseball games, yesterday, none of which involved my two favorite teams. However, the Mets, I am told, clinched a playoff berth, yesterday, when they beat the Brewers 7-2. I read that this was their first playoff appearance since 2016. Comparatively, though, six years isn’t such a long time. According to one source, the Mariners haven’t made the playoffs since 2001, and they are on track to get a Wild Card spot, this season.

The Astros clinched their division, yesterday, to be the second team that has clinched a division, this season. However, I’m confused, because Seattle has sixteen games left, and they are fifteen games out. So that “clinching” shouldn’t happen until Houston wins their next game or Seattle loses one, as Seattle’s E# is 1. If Houston has clinched, there should be an “E” next to Seattle.

Update: I’ve dug a little more deeply into that situation. If Houston lost the rest of their games (not likely) and Seattle won the rest of theirs (also not likely) they would be tied, in which case the head-to-head record would be used to determine the record. Houston beat Seattle 12-7 this season. So there you go.

The Dodgers won again, so their chance to beat the win record is still alive. They must win fifteen of their last sixteen games. They are, of course, still atop MLB with 102-44. The Nationals and Athletics both lost, so the Nats are still on the bottom, at 51-96. The Mets have a five-game win streak going, and the Pirates, Phillies, and Diamondbacks all have four-game losing streaks. The Dodgers have a run differential of +332, and the Pirates are at -214 (the Nats are at -213).

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord God, our Helper, we thank you for walking among us and for letting many experience your protection. Even when we are dying, you protect and help us so that we need not pass into death but may enter into life. So may our hearts be lifted up to you. Grant that the light in us remains undimmed, and that we may come before you in sincerity. Lord God, create good out of evil. Let light dawn in the darkness. Fulfill your promise, for our hearts are not concerned with human desires but with your promise. You will carry it out, and we will be able to say, "Our faith was not in vain, our hope was not in vain. Lord our God, you have blest us a thousandfold." Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; 
his greatness no one can fathom. 
One generation commends your works to another; 
they tell of your mighty acts. 
They speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty— 
and I will meditate on your wonderful works.
(Psalms 145:3-5 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. for the love of family and friends
  2. for the wonderful works of God, past, present, and future
  3. for my soul that desires to meditate on the Lord in the watches of the night
  4. for the steadfast love of the Lord, which is better than life
  5. for the admonishment to “be still before the Lord”

O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; 
my soul thirsts for you; 
my flesh faints for you, 
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. 
So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,
 beholding your power and glory. 
Because your steadfast love is better than life, 
my lips will praise you. 
So I will bless you as long as I live;
 in your name I will lift up my hands. 
My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food,
 and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips,
 when I remember you upon my bed, 
and meditate on you in the watches of the night; 
for you have been my help, 
and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy. 
My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.
(Psalms 63:1-8 ESV)

My eyes are awake before the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promise.
(Psalms 119:148 ESV)

“Arise, cry out in the night, at the beginning of the night watches! Pour out your heart like water before the presence of the Lord! Lift your hands to him for the lives of your children, who faint for hunger at the head of every street.”
(Lamentations 2:19 ESV)

In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God.
(Luke 6:12 ESV)

Initially, I am drawn, once again, to the “steadfast love,” or chesed, of God. In this case, the psalmist (reported to be David) says that the steadfast love, or mercy, of God is better than life. This stands to reason, because without that steadfast love, there would likely be no life.

But then I am drawn to the middle verses of this psalm; verses 5-7.

I have been physically satisfied (even beyond satisfied) by “fat and rich food.” This is the comparison that David gives for his soul when he remembers the Lord in his bed at night. He speaks of meditating on the Lord during the “watches of the night.”

This made me remember one of the prayers for Compline from the Book of Common Prayer.

“Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous, and all for your love’s sake. Amen.”

I remember reading a great book about that prayer, by Tish Harrison Warren, called Prayer in the Night: For Those Who Work or Watch or Weep.

I really want to get into the habit of practicing Compline and “examen” before I go to sleep each night. Tragically, I keep forgetting. Examen is the practice of a detailed examination of the conscience, typically done at the end of the day. As a spiritual discipline, though, it goes deeper than just checking the conscience. It examines the day; what went well, what didn’t go well? What could have been better? How did I react to certain situations?

These are the kinds of things that I think about when I consider the “night watch,” or remembering God “upon my bed.” I’ve gotten out of the habit of the “bedtime prayers” that I grew up with. It is something that I really need to get back into.


“Release yourself from the bondage of your own judgment. Love yourself without condition. Love yourself through the walls of defensiveness and the darkness of your deeds. Love yourself beyond whatever you deserve for such is the love of God.” ~ Adolfo Quezada, quoted in Spiritual Classics, by Richard J. Foster and Emilie Griffin


Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!
(Psalms 37:7 ESV)

“Be still” is translated “rest” in the KJV. The Hebrew word is damam, which can be translated “to be dumb,” or “to be astonished,” but also means “cease,” “hold peace,” “quiet self,” “rest,” “be silent,” and so on.

Is this not the same sort of thing that happens when we remember the Lord upon our beds, meditating on Him during the watches of the night?

How many of us go to sleep at night worrying about current events or things that happened during the day that trouble us? And how many times do these worries cause us lack of sleep?

This is one of the purposes of Compline and Examen. To quiet the soul before trying to sleep. One thing I do every night (now that I think about this) is to turn on a meditation app that I have on my phone. It’s called “Abide.” They have great, Scripture-based sleep meditations. I have a set of headband-headphones that I put on (so that it doesn’t bother my wife), and I start one of the meditations. They allegedly last up to forty minutes, but I have yet to make it to the end of one of them.

This isn’t the same thing as purposeful examination of the conscience and the day that preceded, but it certainly can’t hurt anything to fall asleep listening to Scripture.

This verse, though, instructs us to not worry about evildoers or those who prosper. Eugene Peterson translated that verse this way:

Quiet down before GOD, be prayerful before him. Don’t bother with those who climb the ladder, who elbow their way to the top.
(Psalms 37:7 MSG)

In this, we are shown patience and endurance by the Holy Spirit. Waiting requires great patience; resting in the Lord requires great patience and faith.


Father, help me to wait and rest better. I pray for Your Holy Spirit to remind me, each night, to examine the day, to check my conscience, to see how I could have done better, and also how I could have done worse. Help me to remember You on my bed, and meditate in the watches of the night. If I have trouble going back to sleep, simply draw my thoughts and meditations toward You in prayer.

Thank You for these words of worship and wisdom, and help me to apply them to my life today.

Even so, please come quickly, Lord Jesus!


“In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
I thank you, my heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, Your dear Son, that You have graciously kept me this day; and I pray that You would forgive me all my sins where I have done wrong, and graciously keep me this night. For into Your hands, I commend myself, my body and soul, and all things. Let Your holy angel be with me, that the evil foe may have no power over me. Amen.” ~ Martin Luther’s Evening Prayer

Grace and peace, friends.

Today Forever

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

May the peace of Christ dwell in your soul!

Day 23,566

Only three days until Autumn begins!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

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

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

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

Today I am grateful:

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

“Eternal life.”

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

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

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

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

Great. Now my brain hurts.

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Even so, please come quickly, Lord Jesus!


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

Grace and peace, friends.