That Your Joy May Be Complete

Today is Thursday, the 9th of March, 2023, in the second week of Lent.

Peace be with you.

Day 23,737

I slept late, this morning, until almost 9:00 AM. And I woke up in a bit of a fog. I wonder if that is a sign that I should have gotten up at 7:30, when I was awake for a few minutes. Plus I had a really bizarre dream right before I woke up. So I’ll confess right off the bat that I’m not exactly in a good mental place, this morning.

We may or may not be taking S to her Club Metro tonight. If not, I have a recipe ready to cook for dinner.

C woke up not feeling well, so she is working from home again, today. And that’s pretty much all of I’ve got, so I will see if I can wax spiritual for a few minutes, now.


With my whole heart I cry; 
answer me, O LORD. 
I will keep your statutes.
(Psalms 119:145 NRSV)

Can I ever truly say that I have cried out to God with my “whole heart?”

Daily Prayer from

Dear Father in heaven, we thank you as your children, whom you know how to gather. You have brought us into community with you in a wonderful way, in the midst of a world full of unrest, full of misery, and full of sin. For you know your children and lead them into community with you. You comfort them. You give them strength of faith, and confidence in your rulership and your kingdom, which will prevail over everything evil and deathly that still seems to control humankind. But your dominion reaches far, far beyond. You will keep us in your hands. For the sake of those who trust in you, you will send your grace and your help into the whole world. Amen.

but if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.
(1 John 1:7 NRSV)

Today I am grateful:

  • that God, in this world of unrest, misery, and sin, leads us into community, where He comforts us and strengthens us
  • for my morning coffee
  • that God expects us to ask Him for things; if we call to Him, He will show us great things (Jeremiah 33:3)
  • that Almighty God, maker of heaven and earth, cares for us
  • for the reason Jesus gave His disciples for asking, that they may receive, “that your joy may be complete”

"Ask, and it will be given you; 
search, and you will find; 
knock, and the door will be opened for you. 
For everyone who asks receives, 
and everyone who searches finds, 
and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened."
(Matthew 7:7-8 NRSV)
To get wisdom is to love oneself; 
to keep understanding is to prosper.
(Proverbs 19:8 NRSV)
For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, 
abounding in steadfast love to all who call on you. 
Give ear, O LORD, to my prayer;
 listen to my cry of supplication. 
In the day of my trouble I call on you,
 for you will answer me.
(Psalms 86:5-7 NRSV)

Restore us, O God of hosts; 
let your face shine, 
that we may be saved.
(Psalms 80:7 NRSV)
My lips will shout for joy when I sing praises to you; 
my soul also, which you have rescued.
(Psalms 71:23 NRSV)
Summon your might, O God; 
show your strength, O God, 
as you have done for us before.
(Psalms 68:28 NRSV)
O LORD, what are human beings that you regard them, 
or mortals that you think of them? 
They are like a breath; 
their days are like a passing shadow. 
Bow your heavens, O LORD, and come down; 
touch the mountains so that they smoke. 
Make the lightning flash and scatter them; 
send out your arrows and rout them. 
Stretch out your hand from on high;
 set me free and rescue me from the mighty waters, 
from the hand of aliens, 
whose mouths speak lies, 
and whose right hands are false.
(Psalms 144:3-8 NRSV)
Evening and morning and at noon
 I utter my complaint and moan, 
and he will hear my voice.
(Psalms 55:17 NRSV)
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. 
"O God,
who before the passion of your only-begotten Son 
revealed his glory upon the holy mountain:
Grant that I,
beholding by faith the light of his countenance,
may be strengthened to bear my cross,
and be changed into his likeness from glory to glory;
through Jesus Christ my Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God,
for ever and ever.
(The Divine Hours - The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

The LORD is near to all who call on him, 
to all who call on him in truth.
(Psalms 145:18 NRSV)

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

“Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete.”
(John 16:24 NRSV)

“With my whole heart I cry,” says the psalmist. I’ve already said that I don’t really think I have ever succeeded in crying out to God “with my whole heart.” Because my heart, just as most people’s, I am confident, is divided; divided between many things. My “life verse” speaks of that.

Teach me your way, O LORD, 
that I may walk in your truth; 
give me an undivided heart to revere your name.
(Psalms 86:11 NRSV)

I have prayed that verse so many times, in my life. So, has God not answered it? I think it’s a lot more complicated than that. I believe that my heart is less divided today than it was a decade ago. More and more I am finding that I am more satisfied with just the idea of being with God. That subject has come up several times, recently.

There is a “humility of heart,” of which someone in Renovare spoke, recently, that creates this preference, this desire to be with God more than talking about Him like He’s not in the room.

He is, of course, in the room. But how often do we sit around in our small groups and talk about Him as if He isn’t? And how often, as we sit around and talk about Him, do we get it wrong?

For he knows how we were made; 
he remembers that we are dust.
(Psalms 103:14 NRSV)

Several times, in today’s Scriptures, we are admonished to ask. “Ask, and it will be given to you,” said Jesus. I believe that it is implied, in Proverbs 19:8, that we need to be asking for wisdom, especially if we love ourselves. How else do we “get wisdom?”

Psalm 144 echoes the question of Psalm 8.

When I look at your heavens, 
the work of your fingers,
 the moon and the stars that you have established; 
what are human beings that you are mindful of them, 
mortals that you care for them?
(Psalms 8:3-4 NRSV)

What are we, that God cares for us?? We are mere humans; He is infinitely higher and greater than us! Yet, He does care for us, which is why the psalmists are asking this question! They don’t get it. And if I sit and think about it for very long, neither do I.

The God of the Universe, God Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, and everything in between, cares for us, puny little things that are like the sands of the seashore.

This is a miracle. And this God, who has come to us in human form as Jesus Christ, bids us ask Him for things.

Psalm 145 declares that this God is near to all who call upon Him. That one does add the condition “in truth.” God is near to all who call on Him in truth. What is truth?

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
(John 14:6 NRSV)

Jesus is the truth. Therefore, God is near to all who call on Him through Jesus. I am, as far as I can tell, in Jesus. Therefore, when I call upon God, He is near me. I can’t explain how God, who is always here, can be any more near me than He already is. But I will tell you something from experience. It certainly feels like He is more near sometimes than others. Right now, as I am typing this, I feel Hes presence so close to me that is almost disarming. Not in a scary way; in a positive way.

All of the “fogginess” that I started this day with seems to have evaporated. Because I have done what His Word tells me to do. I have called upon Him and He is near me, embracing me, strengthening me, helping me.

Jesus told His disciples that they hadn’t asked anything of Him, yet. Or, rather, that they had not asked anything “in my name,” He said. “Ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete.”

What better reason for asking than that one?

Teach me Your way, O Lord, that I may walk in Your truth. Unite my heart to fear/revere Your name! Help me, O God, to call out to You with my whole heart. I suppose it is normal for my heart to be divided. There are many things in this world that I like. Most of them are not harmful. Reading, for example. Playing my video games. but when I pray, Father, I need my heart to be fully Yours. When I am meditating or contemplating Your beautiful presence, I need an undivided heart. Help me to do this; help me to accomplish this. Unite my heart, Lord.

And help me to be more confident in my asking. I believe that I am “in Christ,” and, therefore, when I am asking, calling upon You, I am calling upon You “in truth.” But so often I hesitate to ask. I am unsure of my own motives for asking. So make my motivation for asking be that thing that Jesus told His disciples; that my joy may be complete.

You are good, Lord. You are the only true good. Every good and perfect gift that I receive comes from You. I have nothing in my possession that I can call my own. I have nothing to bring to Your table other than my sin, for, as Horatius Bonar said, that is the only thing that I have that I can call my own.

Take my sin, Father; forgive it. Do that thing You said You would do; forget it; cast it as far as the east is from the west; cast it into the bottom of the depths of the sea. And maybe help me to forget that I did those things, too? Memory is a curse, sometimes.

I praise You, my God, for all that You do for all mankind. You make the rain to fall on the just and the unjust. Your compassion flows over into those who even refuse to acknowledge Your existence. All praise and glory to You, Father.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!

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 86:12-13 NRSV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Marvelous, Infinite, Matchless

“Difficulties and suffering are not problems for which the gospel provides an escape, but part of a reality that the Christian experiences and in which Christians share a faith by encouraging one another in hope.” ~ Eugene H. Peterson, God’s Message for Each Day

Today is Wednesday, the 8th of March, 2023, in the second week of Lent.

May the peace of Christ be with you always!

Day 23,736

I had a great night at the library, last night. After shelving a cart of DVD movies and series, I worked on pulling a list of audiobooks that are being “weeded,” due to non-circulation. We are always trying to make room in the library, so we can best utilize our space. Recently, we have consolidated the magazine section, and will be pulling out one of the racks. I think they might be planning to make more study spaces in there. I believe I heard my manager say that, once the audiobook section is weeded, we will be expanding DVD space. People do still check out audiobooks, but there are quite a few of them that simply don’t get circulated. The manager looks at the numbers and pulls the ones that haven’t been checked out in a long time. I’m pretty sure our CD section will eventually be going away completely.

I will not be taking S to an appointment, this morning. For some reason, they weren’t able to schedule the time for today, but we have one scheduled for March 22, two weeks from today, so we will make that one. The only other thing I have on my agenda for today is choir practice this evening. Well, that and cooking dinner, which will be Beefy American Goulash tonight, from Emily Bites. It is a family favorite, and it always leaves at least two servings of leftovers.


Trouble and anguish have come upon me, 
but your commandments are my delight.
(Psalms 119:143 NRSV)

I would not say that “trouble and anguish have come upon me.” If ever they do, they are usually of my own making. I am, after all, a sinner, saved by the grace of God. I will say, though, with no hesitation, that God’s Word is my delight.

Daily Prayer from

Lord Jesus, we bow before you, before you to whom all power is given. We will love you, O Lord. We will treasure you. Your thoughts shall be our thoughts, that we may learn how you are named in heaven, on earth, and below the earth. Watch over us and be with us until you can come, until the time is fulfilled when you will appear among us and establish God’s kingdom. Then the whole world will rejoice and all people will bend their knees before you, the one Lord and Savior. Amen.

Therefore God also highly exalted him 
and gave him the name that is above every name, 
so that at the name of Jesus 
every knee should bend, 
in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 
and every tongue should confess 
that Jesus Christ is Lord, 
to the glory of God the Father.
(Philippians 2:9-11 NRSV)

Today I am grateful:

  • for the Word of God, in which I delight
  • for the name of Jesus, exalted above every name
  • that, as my soul waits for Him, the Lord is my help and my shield
  • that, no matter the circumstances, God’s grace is greater than any pressure or struggle or temptation I might face
  • for the community of saints, from which we get great support and encouragement for one another

But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
(Matthew 6:33 NRSV)

when I am afraid, I put my trust in you. 
In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; 
I am not afraid; 
what can flesh do to me?
(Psalms 56:3-4 NRSV)

O sing to the LORD a new song,
 for he has done marvelous things. 
His right hand and his holy arm have gotten him victory. 
The LORD has made known his victory; 
he has revealed his vindication in the sight of the nations.
(Psalms 98:1-2 NRSV)
Our soul waits for the LORD; 
he is our help and shield. 
Our heart is glad in him, 
because we trust in his holy name. 
Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us, 
even as we hope in you.
(Psalms 33:20-22 NRSV)
How weighty to me are your thoughts, O God! 
How vast is the sum of them! 
I try to count them—
they are more than the sand; 
I come to the end—
I am still with you.
(Psalms 139:17-18 NRSV)
I will give thanks to you, O LORD, among the peoples, 
and I will sing praises to you among the nations.
(Psalms 108:3 NRSV)
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. 
"O God,
who before the passion of your only-begotten Son 
revealed his glory upon the holy mountain:
Grant that I,
beholding by faith the light of his countenance,
may be strengthened to bear my cross,
and be changed into his likeness from glory to glory;
through Jesus Christ my Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God,
for ever and ever.
(The Divine Hours - The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show mercy to you. For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him.
(Isaiah 30:18 NRSV)

And my God will fully satisfy every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 4:19 NRSV)

Stay on good terms with each other, held together by love.
(Hebrews 13:1 MSG)

I have a couple of quotes today, from my resources:

“I asked God to remind me that the pressures I faced were never greater than the grace He supplied.” ~ Bill Giovennetti, Walking in Grace 2023

“Difficulties and suffering are not problems for which the gospel provides an escape, but part of a reality that the Christian experiences and in which Christians share a faith by encouraging one another in hope.” ~ Eugene H. Peterson, God’s Message for Each Day

Grace, grace, God's grace
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within
Grace, grace, God's grace
Grace that is greater than all our sin

Those of us who are “older” probably remember that great hymn, “Grace Greater Than Our Sin,” Julia H. Johnston. “Marvelous, infinite, matchless grace, freely bestowed on all who believe.”

And while it is most definitely true that this grace, this marvelous, infinite, matchless grace, is greater than all our sin, it is also greater than many other things in our lives.

It is greater than our temptations; it is greater than our trials and tribulations; it is greater than the pressures we might feel on the job; it is greater than the clogged toilet in the bathroom or the broken swimming pool pipes; it is greater than both the physical and spiritual storms that we might encounter.

Now, as brother Peterson has so aptly pointed out, this grace is not an escape from these things. Yes, God will deliver us from them, but He will not prevent them from happening to us. If we mistakenly believe this, we will be gravely disappointed. and we only have to go as far as Paul to find this out.

Remember, Paul had this “thorn in the flesh,” of which he spoke. No one knows what that was. If they claim to, don’t believe them. Ironically, there have been entire sermons preached on that subject. Anything we can come up with is pure speculation. It might have been physical, but it very well may have been spiritual, as well. We simply don’t know. What we do know, however, is that Paul asked repeatedly for it to be removed, and God repeatedly said, “No.”

Take that, all you people who make false claims that God will give you anything you ask for, if you just believe hard enough.

You know what God said to Paul. If you are a Bible reader, you know.

but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.
(2 Corinthians 12:9 NRSV)

Paul did not waste any time whining. He chose to boast, to boast in his own weakness, so that God’s power could dwell in him.

Another thing that Peterson points out is that this grace is amplified when we are together. Oh, how I have learned this, the older I get. I am, myself, pretty much an introvert. But I have experienced the power and strength of the community of saints. There is something miraculously strong about “life together,” as Dietrich Bonhoeffer called it.

I have preached from this forum how much we need one another. We are not islands. We are not capable of doing this life alone, and God never intended for us to be. And while the “traditional” church institution definitely has its problems, one thing that it does seem to do well is “life together.”

We share this faith by encouraging one another in hope.

Father, I am in awe of Your grace. I have been, and continue to be, a recipient of the miracle of grace in my life. The very fact that I am sitting here typing this is a miracle of grace. I have no right to expect anything from You or anyone else. The only thing I expect from You is that You will do what You say You will do. I hope and trust in Your infinite faithfulness. And I hope and trust in your “marvelous, infinite, matchless grace.”

It truly is infinite, Father. There is no end to Your grace, and there is enough to go around, for every person on the planet (or in the universe if You have pulled off creations on other planets, as well).

Father, as we revel in this marvelous, infinite, matchless grace, may we do it together. Help us to live our lives together, and not try to isolate ourselves. Forgive us for even attempting to do that. Forgive me for when I try to do this life alone. Thank You for leading me to the church body where I am currently attending. Help me to be a valuable part of it. Help me to be one who encourages others in hope as we share this faith together.

Your grace is sufficient, Lord. It is greater than anything we could possible face. Help me to remember that, the next time the Internet quits working, or the electricity goes off. Help me to remember that when our adult autistic daughter has a meltdown. Help me to remember that when I miss loved ones who have passed on before me. And most of all, help me to remember that when I slip and fall into the pits of sin.

Your grace is sufficient.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.

Great Are You, Lord

Today is Monday, the 27th of February, 2023, in the first week of Lent.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you today!

Day 23,727

Yesterday morning was wonderful! The entire worship service flowed in an almost miraculous way. The sermon for yesterday was “Forgive One Another.” They worked lyrics from the solo I sang both into the sermon, as well as into the congregational prayers. The song went very well. I believe it was better in the second service, as my nerves were settled a little bit by then. And it helped that I received many gracious compliments after the first service. I was almost overwhelmed by the positive feedback. But just as much credit goes to the music director. It was she, after all, who found the song that worked so well with both my voice and the flow of the service. And she is an excellent accompanist, as well.

As soon as the video appears on You Tube, I will post it.

Today should be a rather chill day. There are a few household chores that need to be done, but I got groceries delivered on Saturday, and I don’t think we are in desperate need of anything today. I might actually get some music practice in, today. I don’t have anything specific that I am working toward, at the moment, other than choir songs, but I can still practice.


Redeem me from human oppression, 
that I may keep your precepts.
(Psalms 119:134 NRSV)

Daily Prayer from

Lord our God, we come into your presence. Hear our prayers, we entreat you. Let your will be done among us; let your will be done for each one of us individually, and for our time. Let everything go according to your will, even if the way leads through tribulation, fear, and need. For in the end your goal will be reached. In the end you will fulfill your purpose, and your kingdom will come. Your kingdom will come to the honor of your name and for the redemption of all people still suffering on earth. Let your Word bring us blessing. May we go forward joyfully in the patience of Jesus Christ until times change, until a new day dawns and we are allowed to see your glory and your peace. Amen.

Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Beware, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison so that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have affliction. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.
(Revelation 2:10 NRSV)

Today I am grateful:

  • that God’s purpose in His Kingdom will be fulfilled; He is in total control, regardless of how it appears
  • for strength to endure through tribulation, fear, and need
  • for the wonderful worship service we had, yesterday morning
  • for the large love (chesed) of God, and that we humans are also capable of loving in this way
  • that God is able to bring amazing beauty out of the wilderness of Lent

“And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”
(Matthew 6:16-18 NRSV)

This is an important thing to remember, when engaging in Lent. We ought not go around broadcasting what we are doing for Lent, whether it be a fast from something or adding something meaningful to our life. It should be, essentially, a secret between self and God. There are three people who know what I am doing for Lent, this season. My wife, my mother, and one of my pastors. No one else will know, at least until after Easter.

Let all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you. 
Let those who love your salvation say evermore, "God is great!"
(Psalms 70:4 NRSV)

Say it with me: “God is great!” “Great are You, Lord!”

You have turned my mourning into dancing; 
you have taken off my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
so that my soul may praise you and not be silent. 
O LORD my God, I will give thanks to you forever.
(Psalms 30:11-12 NRSV)
Praise the LORD! 
I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart,
 in the company of the upright, 
in the congregation. 
Great are the works of the LORD, 
studied by all who delight in them. 
Full of honor and majesty is his work, 
and his righteousness endures forever. 
He has gained renown by his wonderful deeds; 
the LORD is gracious and merciful. 

The works of his hands are faithful and just; 
all his precepts are trustworthy. 
They are established forever and ever, 
to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness. 
He sent redemption to his people; 
he has commanded his covenant forever. 
Holy and awesome is his name. 
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; 
all those who practice it have a good understanding. 
His praise endures forever. 
(Psalms 111:1-4, 7-10 NRSV)
"Open, Lord, my eyes that I may see.
Open, Lord, my ears that I may hear.
Open, Lord, my heart and my mind that I may understand.
So shall I turn to you and be healed."
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. 
"Most loving Father,
whose will it is for us to give thanks for all things,
to fear nothing but the loss of you,
and to cast all our cares on you who cares for us:
Preserve me from faithless fears and worldly anxieties,
that no clouds of this mortal life
 may hide from me the light of this love which is immortal, 
and which you have manifested to us 
in your Son Jesus Christ our Lord;
who lives and reigns with you, 
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, 
one God, now and for ever. 
(The Divine Hours - The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

But the king said, “What have I to do with you, you sons of Zeruiah? If he is cursing because the LORD has said to him, ‘Curse David,’ who then shall say, ‘Why have you done so?'” David said to Abishai and to all his servants, “My own son seeks my life; how much more now may this Benjaminite! Let him alone, and let him curse; for the LORD has bidden him. It may be that the LORD will look on my distress, and the LORD will repay me with good for this cursing of me today.”
(2 Samuel 16:10-12 NRSV)

Shimei son of Gera fell down before the king, as he was about to cross the Jordan, and said to the king, “May my lord not hold me guilty or remember how your servant did wrong on the day my lord the king left Jerusalem; may the king not bear it in mind. For your servant knows that I have sinned; therefore, see, I have come this day, the first of all the house of Joseph to come down to meet my lord the king.” Abishai son of Zeruiah answered, “Shall not Shimei be put to death for this, because he cursed the LORD’s anointed?” But David said, “What have I to do with you, you sons of Zeruiah, that you should today become an adversary to me? Shall anyone be put to death in Israel this day? For do I not know that I am this day king over Israel?” The king said to Shimei, “You shall not die.” And the king gave him his oath.
(2 Samuel 19:18-23 NRSV)

The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, 
the desert shall rejoice and blossom;
(Isaiah 35:1 NRSV)

He sustained him in a desert land, in a howling wilderness waste; he shielded him, cared for him, guarded him as the apple of his eye.
(Deuteronomy 32:10 NRSV)

A voice cries out: 
"In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD,
 make straight in the desert a highway for our God. 
Every valley shall be lifted up, 
and every mountain and hill be made low; 
the uneven ground shall become level, 
and the rough places a plain. 
Then the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, 
and all people shall see it together, 
for the mouth of the LORD has spoken."
(Isaiah 40:3-5 NRSV)

And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.
(Mark 1:12-13 NRSV)

How exquisite your love, O God!
(Psalms 36:7 MSG)

First, I want to point out the mercy that David showed Shimei in 2 Samuel. This has always been a beautiful story to me. Shimei comes out of nowhere, throwing rocks and showering curses on David. David’s advisors want to behead Shimei. “No,” says David, “perhaps God has sent him to curse me.”

David had some pretty severe faults. But he truly was, in the big picture, a man after God’s own heart. I don’t know of any other human being that is as good at showing mercy as David was. He had at least two opportunities to kill Saul, who was trying to kill him. Yet he refused to lift a hand against “God’s anointed.” Would that we could all have the same mindset when it comes to retaliation.

Yesterday, in Sunday School, Pastor Eibel talked about Israel’s retaliation against the man who raped their sister, Dinah. “Violence begets violence,” he said, multiple times. And he reminded us that, while we ought not tire of seeking justice, “Vengeance is mine,” says the Lord.

Second, I want to talk about Lent. When we consider that the basis for Lent is Jesus’s time in the wilderness before He began His “public ministry,” we know that He fasted for 40 days. At the end of the 40 days, He was tempted by Satan. So, at its roots, the Lenten season is bleak, a wilderness, a kind of desert.

But oh, the things that the Lord can grow out of wilderness. “The desert shall rejoice and blossom!” says Isaiah. Our various activities throughout this season can, if we will allow them, produce beautiful results. We must be faithful and diligent, and allow God to work His will in us.

Third, let’s talk about love. (What, again??) The word for “love” in Psalm 36:7, is “chesed.” I have spoken of this Hebrew word, many times. It is also frequently translated “steadfast love,” and sometimes, even “mercy.”

Eugene H. Peterson says that the word “chesed” is a “large word. We don’t have a single word in the English language that can do it justice, “so we revert to the use of adjectives to bring out the distinctive quality and broad reach of this love: steadfast love, loyal love.”

Many times, as in Psalm 36:7, chesed is used to refer to the love of God. but we are “also capable of loving this way, even though we never seem to get veery good at it. Chesed is love without regard to shifting circumstances, hormones, emotional states, and personal convenience.”

(Quotes from Leap Over A Wall, quoted in God’s Message for Each Day)

GREAT ARE YOU, LORD!! O, my Father, how magnificent is Your Name in all the earth, and throughout the heavens! I praise and worship You, this morning. We have so many reasons to praise You. The primary reason is simply because You are God! In additions, we praise You for Your forgiveness of our sin. Thank You for the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, that paid the price for our sin. Thank You for erasing our sin when we believe in Christ and follow Him.

Now, I pray, Father, that You help us to be obedient and forgive each other. Jesus said that we are to forgive each other, even if someone sins seven times against us in the same day! He also advised our brother, Peter, to forgive “seventy times seven” times, which we assume to be indicative of no limit. There is also no provision in there for the asking of forgiveness by the offending person. In short, we are to forgive them whether they seek it or not! Help us to do this, Lord. Make Your Holy Spirit strong within us!

Help us to show the kind of mercy that David showed, both to King Saul, who was actively trying to kill him, and to Shimei, who threw rocks at him and cursed him. Enlarge our hearts, Father, that we might be quick to overlook offense and consider that, perhaps, You have sent it our way for testing and strengthening.

Thank You that You can bring beautiful things out of the wilderness of Lent, Father. We know that Lent is not necessarily a “biblical” season. Nevertheless, we find great value in observing it, as we consider the 40 days that our Savior spent in the wilderness. For all who are observing Lent, this year, I pray that You give us wisdom and strength; that we might fulfill our commitment, and that we might also keep silent about it before others. It is between You and us.

Finally, Father, thank You for Your great chesed, Your “large love,” as Peterson called it. Your love is indeed large, Father. It is larger than anything. And it is most certainly larger than our sins. Help us to love in the same way You love. Help us to both love You and to love our fellow humans as we love ourselves.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.