Mercy

Today is Thursday, the 17th of November, 2022, in the 33rd week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ, that transcends all understanding, dwell in your soul today!

Day 23,625

One week until Thanksgiving! Ordering the groceries today.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

When I told of my ways, you answered me; 
teach me your statutes!
(Psalms 119:26 ESV)

Lord our God, you are our refuge. We wait for you, for your purpose will never fail and your promise will be fulfilled. This we may firmly believe, and from this we may draw strength every day. Even when our life brings sorrow, we do not want to grieve. We want to hope and believe and endure until your day comes. Your kingdom will come on earth, and in the meantime you are watching over your people. In the midst of the world’s daily affairs there will be people who hope in you, who belong to you, and who are firmly rooted in the grace of Jesus Christ until the time is fulfilled. Amen.

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

What answer shall be given to the envoys of that nation? “The LORD has established Zion, and in her his afflicted people will find refuge.”
(Isaiah 14:32 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. that we can find refuge in God’s Kingdom
  2. that His purpose will never fail and His promises will be fulfilled
  3. that, in the midst of the daily affairs of this world, there remains a people who yet find hope in God
  4. for the immensity of the love of God for us, which is fully unfathomable
  5. that I am fearfully and wonderfully made, created in Christ Jesus for good works, prepared in advance for me; may I be faithful to walk in them

Gods’ Love, by Daryl Madden

Can we admit
Our inability
To grasp God’s love
Enormity

We can’t fathom
It’s immensity
Beyond limits
Of humanity

For He does love
Everybody
With love unique
Individually

Beyond all time
Unconditionally
To glimpse right here
Infinitely

Brother Daryl states this almost perfectly. We truly cannot fathom the immensity of God’s love for us. And yet, we find this prayer from Paul in Ephesians:

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. 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 3:14-21 ESV emphasis added)

Paul prays that we might know that which is unknowable. Let that sink in for a moment.

Please visit Daryl’s blog site at the link provided above, and read more of his inspirational poetry.


Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”
(Lamentations 3:22-24 NIV)

I can’t help but wonder how we can read these verses and not show mercy to our fellow humans. I am more and more convicted, every day, about this.


I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. 
Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. 
(Psalms 139:14 ESV)

But now, O LORD, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.
(Isaiah 64:8 ESV)

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
(Ephesians 2:10 ESV)

It’s not just the psalmist who is fearfully and wonderfully made; it is every creature that has ever existed on this earth.

All things bright and beautiful
All creatures great and small
All things wise and wonderful
The Lord God made them all
(Cecil F. Alexander, 1848)

We are clay in the hands of our Father, the Potter, the Master Potter. It is His prerogative to shape us however He desires. Therefore, as Paul said, “Who are you, O man, to talk back to God?”

But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?”
(Romans 9:20 ESV)

And, furthermore, if we believe (and I do) that all things, all creatures, all human beings, are “fearfully and wonderfully made,” created in the image of God as Genesis tells us, then, again, I must wonder . . . how dare we not show mercy to one another, after we have been shown such great mercy by our Father in heaven! How it must make Him weep! Or even worse, perhaps it makes Him angry, and I can think of nothing worse than the anger of the Almighty.

Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times. “Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”
(Matthew 18:21-35 ESV)


Father, You have shown us unlimited mercy. You have lavished marvelous, infinite, matchless grace upon us! In fact, You have lavished this grace and mercy upon every creature on earth, even those who refuse to acknowledge Your existence.

Your love for Your creation is truly unfathomable, unknowable. Yet Paul, in his prayers, prayed that we would know it. When I sit and contemplate You and Your love for us, I am rendered speechless, because there is no truly adequate response. “Thank You,” just doesn’t seem to cover it. Yet, it is all that I have, all that I can say.

I offer up to You my worship and praise, feeble as it is, imperfect as it is. I am grateful that You remember that we are dust, as the psalmist says. But I am also grateful to know that I am “fearfully and wonderfully made.” You have created us in Your image, and I celebrate this.

Now help me to remember that all humans are created in Your image, and that all humans are fearfully and wonderfully made. You have shown us mercy; You have shown me great mercy; therefore, I will show mercy to Your creatures, to my brothers and sisters in Christ, and to those who even refuse to believe in You. Because I have been shown mercy, because I am forgiven, therefore, I will forgive and show mercy, without limit, without exception. I commit myself to this, in the name of my Savior Jesus Christ, who shed His blood that I might live.

All glory and praise to You, through the Son and by the Spirit. God help me!


O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, 
have mercy upon us.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
have mercy upon us.
O, Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
grant us Your peace.
(Agnus Dei)

Grace and peace, friends.

Let Everything that Has Breath

Today is Saturday, the 15th of October, 2022, in the 28th week of Ordinary Time.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,592

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Dear Father in heaven, we come into your presence as imperfect, sinful children, who do many foolish things and who are involved in much that is evil and corrupt. We come to you, Father, knowing that your fatherly love is with us through all eternity. Be gracious to us and free us from all the harm and injury we are bound to suffer in this earthly life. May the grace your kingdom brings on earth finally blot out the sins of all people, so that as your children they may rejoice because you have helped them. May your name be praised among all people. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
(Matthew 9:12-13 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. that we are able to come into the presence of God, even as imperfect, sinful children
  2. for the blessings of a new day
  3. that, when the Lord wants to do something in or through me, the “how” is not my concern
  4. for “the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3)
  5. for the many ways that we can praise the Lord; “let everything that has breath praise the Lord!” (Psalm 150)

Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
 for his steadfast love endures forever! 
Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, 
whom he has redeemed from trouble 
and gathered in from the lands, 
from the east and from the west, 
from the north and from the south.
(Psalms 107:1-3 ESV)

And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”
(Luke 1:34 ESV)


Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!
(Psalms 133:1 ESV)

But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children's children, 
to those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments.
(Psalms 103:17-18 ESV)

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
(Ephesians 4:1-3 ESV)


Praise the LORD! 
Praise God in his sanctuary;
 praise him in his mighty heavens! 
Praise him for his mighty deeds; 
praise him according to his excellent greatness! 
Praise him with trumpet sound; 
praise him with lute and harp! 
Praise him with tambourine and dance; 
praise him with strings and pipe! 
Praise him with sounding cymbals; 
praise him with loud clashing cymbals! 
Let everything that has breath praise the LORD!
 Praise the LORD!
(Psalms 150:1-6 ESV)

“Everything that has breath.”

Cats and dogs have breath. Deer and hogs have breath. Lizards have breath. There are many things, other than human beings, that have breath. There are also human beings who have breath who cannot speak.

How do all of these “praise the Lord?”

As in the question by the virgin Mary, the “how” is not my concern. Now, we note that the angel answered Mary’s question, because it was, apparently, asked in innocent wonder. Unlike Zechariah, the father of John the Baptizer, whose question was more of an unbelieve scoffing. You know, kind of the way Sarai laughed when she heard she was going to have a baby when she was close to 100 years old.

The angel answered Mary, but he didn’t have to, did he? I believe that wildlife praises God naturally. The trees may not “clap their hands,” but then, again, perhaps they do, when the wind blows. Their clapping just sounds more like rustling, as their leaves hit each other in the wind. Perhaps when dogs and wolves howl at the moon, they are, in their own, natural way, praising their creator. Who can say otherwise?

Of course, it can be argued that the word translated “breath” in Psalm 150 could also be “soul.” Then many people would take animals other than humans out of the picture. However, I am not 100% convinced that animals do not have souls.

While some might see this as a “command,” I do not. It’s a song of praise, a fitting end to the book of prayers and hymns that occupies the center of our Bible (for a long time, I have felt that it is no coincidence that the Psalms are in the center). It is an encouragement, an admonishment.

So praise Him! If you have breath, praise Him! You definitely have a soul. So praise Him!

Praise Him in the morning
Praise Him in the evening
Praise Him when you're young and when you're old

Praise Him when you're laughing
Praise Him when you're grieving
Praise Him in every season of the soul

Join with the angels in heaven in praising Him
Join with all creation on earth in praise Him

"If they could see how much You're worth
Your power, Your might, Your endless love
Then surely they would never cease to praise You"

(Adapted from Matt Redman's "Everything that Has Breath")

Father, I join with all creation on earth and all the angels in heaven in praise You. I confess that I do not praise You enough. By Your Spirit, I pray that You remind me, more often, to stop whatever I am doing and praise You, worshiping You throughout the day, no matter what I am doing. At the library, today, remind me to praise You. As I drive to and from there, remind me to praise You. When I’m playing my video games, remind me to praise You. When I’m reading my books, remind me to praise You.

I pray that the words of this Psalm will be fulfilled, and that everything that has breath, even things that do not, will praise You! Even let the rocks cry out, Father! Let them shout for joy, to the glory of Your Name.

I pray that every tribe, nation, and tongue on earth will know Your glory, know Your power, know Your might, and know Your endless love for us. Help those of us who are living in and walking in that love display it to others so that they can also experience it.

Let everything that has breath praise You, Lord!

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


O for a thousand tongues to sing
My great Redeemer's praise
The glories of my God and King
The triumphs of His grace!
(Charles Wesley)

Grace and peace, friends.

Normal

Today is Friday, the 14th of October, 2022, in the 28th week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ be with you, today!

Day 23,591

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, you are help, comfort, and life to us in everything we have to endure. We gather before you as poor, weak people, but you can make us rich and give us new life so that our lives prove we hold to your will and to the justice you bring on earth. May we be one in spirit through all we experience in our hearts, to the glory of your name. May the praise and thanks of many people ring out into all the world because you are help and deliverance from all evil. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
I will listen to what God the LORD says; 
he promises peace to his people, his faithful servants— 
but let them not turn to folly. 
Surely his salvation is near those who fear him, 
that his glory may dwell in our land.
(Psalms 85:8-9 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. for the promise of peace to us, God’s people, His faithful servants
  2. for God’s help, comfort, and life to us in all things
  3. that Jesus is with us always, to the end of the age (Matthew 28:20)
  4. that God is in the midst of everything in my life, and uses everything to draw me closer to Him
  5. for prayer, the common thread that holds all of the spiritual armor together

“And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
(Matthew 28:20 ESV)

therefore thus says the Lord GOD, “Behold, I am the one who has laid as a foundation in Zion, a stone, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone, of a sure foundation: ‘Whoever believes will not be in haste.’
(Isaiah 28:16 ESV)

Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”
(Matthew 14:22-27 ESV)

When evening came, his disciples went down to the sea, got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing. When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they were frightened. But he said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.” Then they were glad to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land to which they were going.
(John 6:16-21 ESV)


O For A Thousand Tongues to Sing, stanzas 13-17 (Charles Wesley)

Look unto him, ye nations, own
your God, ye fallen race!
Look, and be saved though faith alone,
be justified by grace!

See all your sins on Jesus laid;
the Lamb of God was slain,
his soul was once an offering made
for every soul of man.

Harlots and publicans and thieves,
in holy triumph join!
Saved is the sinner that believes
from crimes as great as mine.

Murderers and all ye hellish crew,
ye sons of lust and pride,
believe the Savior died for you;
for me the Savior died.

With me, your chief, you then shall know,
shall feel your sins forgiven;
anticipate your heaven below,
and own that love is heaven.

and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.
(Ephesians 6:17-20 ESV)


There are things that should be normal for all Christians. One of them is the peace of Christ that can transcend and eliminate all fears. There are two instances recorded (may or may not be the same time) where Jesus walked on the water to His disciples, and bid them to not fear. Time and time again, they are told to not fear or “be not afraid.”

Jesus is with us through all things, through victories, through defeats, through our stumbling and bumbling, and, perhaps most importantly, when we are afraid. “When I am afraid, I will trust in You,” says the psalmist. “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom, then, shall I fear?”

The Lord also works through all of these things, to draw us closer to Himself.

Another thing that should be normal for Christians is praying “at all times in the Spirit.” Unceasing prayer. It’s like breathing. It’s not only possible, it is demanded of us. Of course, this doesn’t mean that we have to be actively praying 24/7. That would be pretty much impossible, because we need to do other things. But prayer is listed as the final thing in this list of spiritual armor that Paul talks about.

After we “put on” all of this “armor,” we then must pray, for that is the “glue,” if you will, that holds the armor together. We could have everything else listed in that passage, but if we pray not, it will not hold steady; we will fall. I firmly believe this.

Praying at all times in the Spirit is not something that only “super-Christians” do. It should be something that we all do.


Father, I thank You for Your working in us, especially during times when we are afraid. You are ever more close to us, if we lean on You during our fears, during our darkest times. But help us to not forget You when things are great, that we may lean on You then, as well. Thank You for that example of Jesus coming to His disciples, walking on the water. Thank You for His comforting, His insistence that we have nothing to fear.

Help us to keep our spiritual armor on at all times, and help us to cement it in place with prayer. Help me to pray more, to pray better, to pray without ceasing. May my prayers be effective and faithful, as people depend upon me for intercession in their lives and issues.

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

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


Eternal God,
who are the light of the minds that know You,
the joy of the hearts that love You,
and the strength of the wills that serve You;
grant us so to know You that we may truly love You,
and so to love You that we may fully serve You,
whom to serve is perfect freedom,
in Jesus Christ our Lord.
(Prayer to Know God, by St. Augustine)

Grace and peace, friends.

The Keeper

Today is Thursday, the thirteenth of October, 2022, in the 28th week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you today!

Day 23,590

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Dear Father in heaven, we come before you as your children, longing to be assured through your Spirit that we are and may remain your children. We long to live to the glory of your name under the shelter and guidance of the Lord Jesus in expectation of the great day which shall fulfill all promises made to us. Strengthen us, especially in dark and troubled days. Help us when danger threatens and when evil tries to make headway among us. Deliver us from all evil, for yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory for ever and ever. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!" So through God you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son then an heir. 
Galatians 4:6–7, RSV

Today I am grateful:

  1. that I am a son and an heir of God
  2. for whatever God is going to show me, today
  3. that the Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? (Psalm 27:1)
  4. that Jesus “breaks the power of canceled sin” (Charles Wesley)
  5. for God’s power to keep us

“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.”
(John 3:17-18 ESV)

This makes me wonder . . . if God didn’t send Jesus into the world to condemn the world, then why are there so many “Christians” who feel it is their duty to do so??


Praise the LORD! 
Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
 for his steadfast love endures forever! 
Who can utter the mighty deeds of the LORD, 
or declare all his praise? 
Blessed are they who observe justice, 
who do righteousness at all times!
(Psalms 106:1-3 ESV)

“It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”
(Deuteronomy 31:8 ESV)

The LORD is my light and my salvation; 
whom shall I fear? 
The LORD is the stronghold of my life; 
of whom shall I be afraid?
(Psalms 27:1 ESV)

“And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
(Luke 1:76-79 ESV)


O For A Thousand Tongues to Sing, stanzas 9-12

Jesus! The name that charms our fears,
that bids our sorrows cease;
'tis music in the sinner's ears,
'tis life and health, and peace!

He breaks the power of canceled sin,
he sets the prisoner free;
his blood can make the foulest clean;
his blood availed for me.

He speaks, and listening to his voice
new life the dead receive;
the mournful, broken hearts rejoice,
the humble poor believe.

Hear him, ye deaf, his praise, ye dumb,
your loosened tongues employ;
ye blind, behold your Savior come,
and leap, ye lame, for joy.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
(1 Peter 1:3-5 ESV)


“O God, make me as holy as a pardoned sinner can be made.” (Robert Murray M’Cheyne)


“The keeper of our souls is watching over us; our Father delights to reveal himself to us. He has the power to let the sunshine of His love guide us throughout the day.” (Andrew Murray)

“The keeper of our souls . . .” This is the lesson for today. It winds itself through passages of Scripture shared from unrelated sources. “The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1)

The Lord goes before me; He will not leave or forsake me. I need not fear. He keeps me; He keeps my inheritance in heaven. If I embrace these truths, I literally have nothing to fear. Every fear that I have is unfounded, baseless.

The “sunrise” has visited us from on high, the “sunshine of His love” has shined upon us, able to guide us through every day.

And, o, the words of that hymn by Wesley! Words that I didn’t know existed until a few days ago, and words that I am quite familiar with, as well. The ninth stanza I am well familiar with.

Jesus! The name that charms our fears, 
that bids our sorrows cease; 
'tis music in the sinner's ears, 
'tis life and health, and peace! 

I find it interesting that the word is “charms” in Wesley’s original. I remember singing “calms,” back in my youth. And for some reason, “our” was changed to “my” in both of the first two lines. I rather like “charms,” as it has more of a meaning of controlling. The snake charmer doesn’t just “calm” the snake; he controls it. If I allow it, Jesus will control my fears.

His name is powerful; it charms my fears; it ceases my sorrows; it is music in my ears, the name of Jesus; and it is “life and health, and peace!”

The work of the Holy Trinity is keeping me.

And, to top it off, here are some words of Jesus, regarding that “keeping.”

“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)


Father, I thank You for your ability to keep me. I also thank You for the inheritance that is kept in heaven for me, where it cannot perish or fade or be corrupted.

I believe that I am secure in You; that “no one is able to snatch” me out of Your hands, including myself. I’ve done some stupid things in my life, things that, if any of us humans were running things, would have disqualified me.

But we are not running things, You are. You are God, we are not. And that is a good thing; that is a beautiful and wonderful thing. The truth of Jesus’s words do not free me to do whatever I please; rather they comfort me when I do stray from Your path, because I know that You will bring me back; You will never leave me or forsake me; I have nothing to fear.

You are my Keeper.

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

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


My God, my Keeper
You are my light and my life
Whom, then, shall I fear?

Grace and peace, friends.

Love, Grace, and Power

Today is Wednesday, the twelfth of October, 2022, in the 28th week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you today!

Day 23,589

Today is our 37th wedding anniversary. Unfortunately, we both must work today. But we’re having a steak dinner tonight, to celebrate. Our “gift” to each other was the weekend at the cabin, which I will, eventually, write about. But I am short on time, this morning.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, we thank you for the great light you send throughout the world to let us know that you forgive, that no sin is too great for you to forgive. Grant that people may cry out, "Have mercy on me, O God!" Give them the spirit of prayer in their hearts to call, "Father, forgive us our sins." Send your Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth and humility, and then forgive their sins. Wherever a soul is sighing, wherever someone is calling to you, hear him. May our prayers come before your throne. Hear and answer us. We have so much on our hearts that we cannot rightly express it all. We pray for others too. Father, forgive them. Clear away all the obstacles so that your judgment can be merciful toward those whom you forgive. Be with us. May we be a church community of Jesus Christ, washed in his blood, with strength to face every bitter outburst of the world's fury and still forgive. May our prayer remain, "Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us." Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
Forgive us the wrongs we have done, as we forgive the wrongs that others have done to us. 
Matthew 6:12, TEV

Today I am grateful:

  1. for the great mercy of God, and that no sin is too great for Him to forgive
  2. for 37 years with the love of my life; may there be many more
  3. that we, as God’s children, are channels through which the love of the Father, the grace of Christ, and the power of the Spirit are manifested on earth
  4. for the ability (and desires) to look to things that are not seen (eternal), rather than things that are seen (transient)
  5. that “the Lord is my strength and shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me” (Psalm 28:7)

Teach me to do your will, for you are my God! 
Let your good Spirit lead me on level ground!
(Psalms 143:10 ESV)

Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, “I believed, and so I spoke,” we also believe, and so we also speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence.
(2 Corinthians 4:13-14 ESV)


The LORD is my strength and my shield;
 my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. 
My heart leaps for joy, 
and with my song I praise him.
(Psalms 28:7 NIV)
Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
(Philippians 2:1-11 NIV)

O For A Thousand Tongues to Sing, verse 5-8 (Charles Wesley)

I felt my Lord's atoning blood
close to my soul applied;
me, me he loved, the Son of God,
for me, for me he died!

I found and owned his promise true,
ascertained of my part,
my pardon passed in heaven I knew
when written on my heart.

O for a thousand tongues to sin
my great Redeemer's praise!
The glories of my God and King,
the triumphs of his grace.

My gracious Master and my God,
assist me to proclaim,
to spread through all the earth abroad
the honors of thy name.

I find it mildly amusing that we don’t get to the part most of are familiar with until the seventh stanza!


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)


“God is an ever-flowing fountain of pure love and blessedness. Christ is the reservoir wherein the fullness of God was made visible as grace, and has been opened for us. The Holy Spirit is the stream of living water that flows from under the throne of God and of the Lamb.” (Andrew Murray)

Such beautiful, eloquent writing! That could be a hymn, itself.

We, the children of God, believers and followers of Christ, are the channels by which all of this, “the love of the Father, the grace of Christ, and the powerful operation of the Spirit are manifested on earth and imparted to others.” (Murray)

Think of all the different opportunities we have to engage in this. We are partners with God in dispensing His grace on earth. In order to do this, we must be maintaining our spiritual relationship with the Trinity. Prayer is a huge part of this, but more than just our prayers for ourselves and our own needs. “The glory of prayer is that we have power as intercessors to bring the grace of Christ and the energizing power of the Spirit upon those that are still in darkness.” (Murray)

The more we engage in fellowship with the Trinity, the more power we have for this level of intercession. I daresay I have yet to reach that. Even in my role in intercessory prayer over the past few years, it has largely been as response to the needs of people as they have made them known.

I need to be better connected to the “reservoir,” so that the channel of Living Water may flow unhindered through! It’s like an unending circle. The more I’m connected, the more I pray, and the more I’m connected, and the more I pray. Or maybe the “better” I pray.

And, in reference to the somewhat obscure verse from 2 Corinthians, up there, this is what I believe, and therefore I speak. I can easily see that verse being misused to apply to “name-it-claim-it” philosophy (I’m not even going to dignify that by calling it “theology”), saying that if you speak it you will receive it. That’s not what the context of the verse is getting at. Paul is talking about what he is teaching the Corinthians. What he believes, he is speaking, and that belief that God raised Jesus Christ and will also raise us into His presence. He even goes so far as to talk about the physical world, saying that we do not look to things that are seen, but to things that are unseen. “For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” (verse 18)

As we work to fulfill our responsibility as channels of God’s love, Christ’s grace, and the Spirit’s power, let us look to things that are not seen, rather than the physical things of this world. Let us focus on the Holy Trinity, and our intimacy in relationship to Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.


Father, I thank You that You give me the ability to “speak” what I believe, in this forum. I thank You that You have directed my heart and my desires toward things that are not seen, rather than things that are seen. I still struggle with the things that are seen, but not like I used to, as You worked wonders in my, by Your Spirit.

I pray for all of Your children, the Church, the Body of Christ, as we work to be channels of Your love, Jesus’s grace, and the Spirit’s power, dispensing them in this world, without prejudice, to all people. I pray that we will do a better job of not doing things out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Help us to consider others as more significant than ourselves, and help us to have the mind of Christ, who did not try to hold onto heaven, but submitted to becoming human, that He might live for us and die for us.

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

Even so, come soon, 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.

Wandering About

Today is the twenty-ninth of June, 2022, in the thirteenth week of Ordinary Time.

Day 23,484

We are still getting a slight break from the heat, as the high today is only supposed to be 93. There’s a slight chance of rain on Sunday, but from July 4, until the end of the ten-day forecast, the temps are back over 100.

I can’t find any updates on the “Dempsey Fire” in Palo Pinto County since Monday, but at that point, it had burned almost 12,000 acres and was only 27% contained. We need rain badly.

Mama and I spent three hours at the dentist, yesterday morning. She’s getting that tooth capped, and all seems to be well. The dentist is not 100% sure that it will work, long-term, but he said he was doing what he would want done, so we trust that. Hopefully, this will be fine. The permanent cap will be there in a few weeks.

The Texas Rangers have done well against the KC Royas, as they should. Monday night’s game was iffy for a while, but they wound up winning 10-4. Last night, they won 8-3, so they have won the series, regardless of what happens in this afternoon’s game. They are back within one game of .500, at 36-37, still in second place in the AL West. Ten games out of first, four games out of the Wild Card.

The Red Sox, on the other hand, have lost two games in row to the Blue Jays, and have been bumped into third place in the AL East. They are only a half game behind the Jays, at 42-33, and still have the second Wild Card spot. They will play the Blue Jays again today.

The Yankees still have the best MLB record, at 55-20 (they are eight games ahead of the next team). The Athletics continue to hold down the basement, at 25-51. The Yankees, Brewers, and Nationals all have three-game winning streaks, and the Pittsburgh Pirates own the current longest losing streak, at five games. The Yankees also have the best run differential, having scored 149 more runs than their collective opponents. The Athletics currently hold the worst, having been outscored by their opponents by 112 runs. The Rangers have outscored their opponents by 14 runs, and the Red Sox have outscored theirs by 59 runs.

Today is a rather lazy day (I hope). The lawn guy is coming today, and I have a grocery order being delivered. We may have to take a guinea pig to the vet this week, but if that has to happen, I think it will be Friday, my next day off after today.

I had a good night at the library, last night, and wound up checking out about six DVDs and a book. I think that’s the most I have gotten at one time. And not all of the DVDs are for me. I got a couple of Good Witch movies for C and Mama, as well as the first season of a British comedy called The Dectectorists, which looks like fun. Then I got Deadpool 2, American Graffiti, and The Abandoned. The book is called The Final Revival of Opal & Nev, recommended by one of our librarians because I liked Daisy Jones & the Six.

I’ll start my devotional as soon as I get another cup of coffee.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord God, we glorify your name. How we wish our voices could ring out over all the world, telling of the great things you have done for us, praising you that we can come to you in Jesus Christ, that we can worship, honor, and thank you for all your goodness! Safeguard all your children so that they hold to faith and remain true to the message of the gospel. May we thank and praise you for all you have done this day and for your working in the hearts of many people who are still unknown to us. Your Spirit rules and calls people, to bring them to you, the Father in heaven. Watch over us and continue to bless us. Help us who belong to your people, and protect us through the night. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
But I will sing of your strength,
 in the morning I will sing of your love; 
for you are my fortress,
 my refuge in times of trouble. 
You are my strength, I sing praise to you; 
you, God, are my fortress, 
my God on whom I can rely.
(Psalms 59:16-17 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the strength and love of my God, who is my fortress and refuge in times of trouble
2. that we can come to Him in Jesus, and worship, honor, and thank Him for all His goodness
3. that, even when I wander from His path, the Lord is always with me, and always draws me back to Him
4. that, thought I am breakable, He will not allow me to be crushed, and He will not abandon me
5. for freedom in Christ

The word for today, from Pray a Word a Day, is wander.

"Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
prone to leave the God I love;
take my heart, O take and seal it,
seal it for Thy courts above."
(Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing, by Robert Robinson, 1758)

By definition, wandering isn’t necessarily bad or wrong. It simply means “walk or move in a leisurely, casual, or aimless way.” In fact, the word “wander” is frequently used with the word “aimlessly.”

I don’t remember if I wandered much, as a child. I know that, as I grew older, and was allowed to ride my bicycle all over town, I wandered quite a bit. I liked exploring the town.

C and I like to wander when we visit new places. Sometimes we wander, but not aimlessly, when we find a trail that we haven’t walked on. We aren’t sure where we are going, but we are following a trail.

Spiritually, however, wandering is never good. It is never good to wander through the spiritual life aimlessly. And I do tend to do that. Sometimes, I wander dangerously far from the path of righteousness. But God is faithful. When I wander, He never leaves me. In fact, even when I have wandered away from His path, He is always right beside me. It’s not His fault I’m not paying attention to His presence. He hasn’t gone anywhere.

And He is faithful to draw me back. Oh, sure, He will indulge me for a season. “Go ahead, have your ‘fun’,” He seems to say. But there will come a time when He will say “enough!” And that time may be somewhat unpleasant for me. I can say this from experience. But the end result will be safety.

Father, I pray that You keep me from wandering. And, when I do wander, I pray that You will always draw me safely back to You. I also pray that, when I do wander, You will protect me from my own foolishness. Thank You for Your presence, always with me, always watching out for me.


For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.
(Romans 7:18 NIV)

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

Romans 7:18 is one of the reasons for my wandering. As long as I continue in this moral coil, this will be a struggle. As Paul says elsewhere, this keeps us humble, too.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.
(2 Corinthians 4:7-9 NIV)

The glory of God in a “jar of clay.” We are not unbreakable. But He will not allow us to be crushed, nor will He abandon us. And, as long as we stay in that “easy yoke” with Jesus, our burden will be light.

Thank You, Father, that You will never abandon us or allow us to be crushed. Please protect this “jar of clay,” and make Your glory shine through the mud.


Eugene H. Peterson writes about freedom, but it is not any freedom that any country or government can provide or control.

“In all nations, there are people who live out a freedom that is both different and better than that claimed by their fellow citizens, whether capitalist or communist or anything in between. These people call themselves Christians.”

Unfortunately, the word “Christian” is getting some bad press in the U.S., these days, and there are some who call themselves by that name that are depending much more on that “freedom” that they get from the government than that which they get from Christ. The true Christian is free in Christ and needs no government to tell him otherwise. Notice that Peterson says, ” all nations . . . whether capitalist or communist or anything in between.”

Christians are free in Christ, regardless of the political system. Oh, sure, they may have to meet underground to worship. But physical freedom is much different than spiritual freedom.

"The Word that Christ speaks to us sets us free; the praise we offer develops freedom; the prayers we offer make freedom possible for others.
"As people faithful in worship and attentive to God's Word, we will witness to that freedom. We will be free, but not with the world's freedom. We will be Christians."

(From On Living Well, by Eugene H. Peterson)

Father, I thank You for true freedom, freedom that we have in Christ. I praise You that this freedom cannot be taken away by any man, system, or government. It is truly in Christ, and it is protected by You. I praise You that no man can snatch me out of Your hands. My body is not indestructible, but my spirit is. All glory to You, through the Son, and by the Spirit.

Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus!


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.
(Book of Common Prayer, prayer for Compline)

Grace and peace, friend.

To Infinity and Beyond

Today is Saturday, the twenty-fifth of June, 2022, in the twelfth week of Ordinary Time.

Peace be with you.

Day 23,480

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Love Conquers All Fear, by Daryl Madden

Turn to page of scripture
Through Spirit be aware
Strength within the Word
Love conquers all fear

For God’s all powerful
He’s is our ruler here
We know that God is love
Love conquers all fear

With angels in heaven
One voice rising clear
The Word of God is spoken
Love conquers all fear

Engrain it in my soul
This truth to declare
Through the grace of God
Love conquers all fear

This is a much-needed message in today’s world. The primary emotions that I seem to be seeing in our world are fear, anger, and hatred. It’s bad enough when these are coming from outside the church, but when I see them infiltrating the church, as well, it’s tragic. We need this message, badly. I am grateful to Daryl and his poems, and would love it if you would click on the above link and visit his site.

Lord our God, grant us courageous hearts, we pray. Grant that we may always find our strength and support in you and may bear with joy whatever the present days bring us. No matter how much evil occurs, we know that your peace is already prepared. We await your peace, and we are allowed to believe that everything will turn out according to your will and according to the good you have prepared for your people on earth. For in faith your people overcome the world, and at last through their faith others too may receive something from you and may lift their eyes to you, the God of truth, of justice, of salvation, and of peace. Be with us every day, Lord God. Help us. Bless us, and bless all who try to bring help where it is needed. Let us praise your name forevermore! Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
(Romans 15:13 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that love conquers all fears
2. for the peace that God has prepared for us; may we find ourselves able to walk in it now
3. for all whose mission on earth is to spread love, rather than hatred, fear, and anger
4. that our God is able to do exceedingly, abundantly, infinitely more than anything we could ever imagine
5. for the faithful mercies of the Lord, new and fresh every morning!

Again Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen to me, everyone, and understand this. Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them.”
(Mark 7:14-15 NIV)

And the king ordered Joab and Abishai and Ittai, "Deal gently for my sake with the young man Absalom." And all the people heard when the king gave orders to all the commanders about Absalom. 

And Absalom happened to meet the servants of David. Absalom was riding on his mule, and the mule went under the thick branches of a great oak, and his head caught fast in the oak, and he was suspended between heaven and earth, while the mule that was under him went on. And a certain man saw it and told Joab, "Behold, I saw Absalom hanging in an oak." Joab said to the man who told him, "What, you saw him! Why then did you not strike him there to the ground? I would have been glad to give you ten pieces of silver and a belt." But the man said to Joab, "Even if I felt in my hand the weight of a thousand pieces of silver, I would not reach out my hand against the king's son, for in our hearing the king commanded you and Abishai and Ittai, 'For my sake protect the young man Absalom.' On the other hand, if I had dealt treacherously against his life (and there is nothing hidden from the king), then you yourself would have stood aloof." Joab said, "I will not waste time like this with you." And he took three javelins in his hand and thrust them into the heart of Absalom while he was still alive in the oak. And ten young men, Joab's armor-bearers, surrounded Absalom and struck him and killed him. 

And behold, the Cushite came, and the Cushite said, "Good news for my lord the king! For the LORD has delivered you this day from the hand of all who rose up against you." The king said to the Cushite, "Is it well with the young man Absalom?" And the Cushite answered, "May the enemies of my lord the king and all who rise up against you for evil be like that young man." And the king was deeply moved and went up to the chamber over the gate and wept. And as he went, he said, "O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!" 
(2 Samuel 18:5, 9-15, 31-33 ESV)

The word for today, in Pray a Word a Day, is beyond.

Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.
(Ephesians 3:20 NLT)

I love this verse, and I like looking at it in different versions. Oddly enough, none of them include the word “beyond,” even though one of the Greek words could be interpreted as “beyond.”

God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.
(Ephesians 3:20 MSG)

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,
(Ephesians 3:20 NIV)

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,
(Ephesians 3:20 ESV)

Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,
(Ephesians 3:20 KJV)

In all of those translations, we get the idea. What God is able to do exceeds, abundantly, infinitely, beyond anything we could ever imagine, in our wildest dreams!

And not only is He able, but He wants to! He desires to lavish these things upon His children.

“For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”
(Zephaniah 3:17 NLT)

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”
(Jeremiah 29:11 NLT)

This great love was, of course, most demonstrated in the unthinkable sacrifice that God made on our behalf.

When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.
(Romans 5:6-8 NLT)

Think about people you love (or, if you prefer, animals that you love, cats, dogs, horses, whatever). Now multiply that by infinity. All the good things you want to do for those people or animals, multiply that by infinity, and that’s how much our God wants to lavish on us. Beyond all measure, beyond all expectation, beyond all imaginations.

To infinity and beyond.

Father, there aren’t enough words, nor is there enough space or time to adequately express my gratitude, right now. I’ve been sitting here, gobsmacked, for a few minutes, trying to put together something acceptable to pray and/or type, something that would convey what I’m feeling right now. But I have to depend on the Holy Spirit to translate what I’m feeling, and I’m grateful for that, as well.

Nevertheless, here I am attempting to do the impossible, to thank You for all of this. There are songs that have been written. “I stand amazed in the Presence . . . How marvelous, how wonderful, and my song shall ever be! How marvelous, how wonderful, is my Savior’s love for me!” (Charles Hutchinson Gabriel) “I stand amazed in all of Your glory, that You would die for me, I stand amazed. I stand amazed in all of Your glory, true love’s sweetest story, I stand amazed.” (Dennis Jernigan) “Amazing love, how can it be, that You my King would die for me! Amazing love, I know it’s true; and it’s my joy to honor You.” (Billy Foote, Jr.) “Amazing love! How can it be, that Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?” (Charles Wesley)

Father, my heart and soul bow before You, in stunned humility, not as though I have never heard these truths, before, but because I am so apt to . . . not “forget.” I don’t forget. That’s not the right word. I don’t ignore them, either. I suppose “take for granted” is the best phrase. Forgive me for not walking in this love all the time. Draw me ever closer to You, to Your sweet mercies that are new every morning.

My God, I could go on and on. That “new every morning” bit . . . such hope; such joy; such gratitude that, no matter what happened yesterday, today is a new day, it’s a new morning, and Your infinite grace and mercies are fresh and new when I awake.

Why, O why, do we not walk in this more consistently??


The faithful love of the LORD never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, “The LORD is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!”
(Lamentations 3:22-24 NLT)

Then you can tell the next generation detail by detail the story of God, Our God forever, who guides us till the end of time.
(Psalms 48:13-14 MSG)

Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don’t quit in hard times; pray all the harder.
(Romans 12:11-12 MSG)

What a God we have! And how fortunate we are to have him, this Father of our Master Jesus! Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we’ve been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven—and the future starts now!
(1 Peter 1:3-4 MSG)

” . . . and the future starts now!”


"God does not impose right solutions on us. God does not pull strings behind the scenes to engineer his will despite what we are doing and saying. He treats us with dignity, giving us the freedom to be in on what he does, to have a voice in the process. Prayer is our voices in the action of God. It is also God's voice in the actions of people."
(Eugene H. Peterson, On Living Well)

I have been navigating around the concepts of free will and predestination for decades. I have gone from being firmly entrenched in “free-will-ism,” to being a staunch “five-point Calvinist,” to somewhere in between the two.

Here’s the thing. God will not be put in a box. Calvinism and Arminianism are both boxes. God is infinite and eternal and won’t fit in either box. And it is arrogant of us to think that we can squeeze Him into a box.

There are people out there who claim to not believe in God, and one of their excuses is, “If God exists, why does He allow so much evil and suffering?” The answer to that is in Peterson’s quote. “He treats us with dignity . . .” And, truthfully, those so-called “atheists” don’t like the answer to their own question, anyway, because the solution would be that God creates a bunch of cookie-cutter robot-like people who never go against His will.

I purposely avoid current events (other than baseball and bowling scores and occasional celebrity deaths) in this forum, because my opinions about those things are not part of my job description. My opinions about what happened yesterday (trust me, I have them, and many people would be unpleasantly surprised to know them) are not relevant to anything I have to say here.

But know this. The one opinion that I have that I do believe to be relevant is that, no matter what happens out there, God is in control of all things, and He is working His plan. He is not surprised by anything that we humans do or decide. Remember . . . He exists outside of time, so He is already there.

So when we run around like fools, like “chickens with their heads cut off” because things didn’t happen the way we think they should have, we are exposing our lack of trust in God.

There is a reason that God has been constantly giving me this message, recently, that His love conquers all fear. I don’t know what that reason is, exactly, and, frankly, I’m not sure I want to know. I confess that, in my flesh, I am somewhat fearful of what is ahead of us, as a nation, as a world, as the Church. But, in my Spirit, I am confident that, come what may, God loves us and has us in the palm of His hand. And the worst thing that can happen to me is that I get sent Home.

And I will not align myself with the masses on either side of a political division. I am not Democrat. I am not Republican. And neither is Jesus. It may come as a shock to many people that the Son of God is not a Republican. I am a follower of the Son of God, who commands us to love one another.

To infinity and beyond.

Father, I praise You that You are working Your plan, and that it will not be deterred. There is no man, no woman, no president, congressperson, or any other ruler who can thwart Your plan for us. There is no dictator in any third-world country who holds any sway over what You have planned for this world. May You intervene in the hearts of Your people who act as though they believe differently. May You flood our hearts and souls with love, for one another, and especially for people who don’t believe the same way we do.

I thank You again, for the great love that You lavish on us. I pray that we would find ourselves both willing and able to turn that love around and point it toward our neighbors, toward our brothers and sisters in Christ, and toward those who have diametrically opposite political opinions from us. I pray that Your people would stop attaching themselves to political ideologies and, instead, focus on the life and teachings of the One whom they claim to follow. Turn all of us away from anything in our lives that could be considered an idol. And open our eyes to see those things, that we might forsake them out of love for You.

You love us to infinity and beyond . . . help us to do the same.

Even so, please come soon, Lord Jesus.


Grace and peace, friends.

Do Not Fear; Only Believe

Today is Wednesday, the twenty-second of June, 2022, in the twelfth week of Ordinary Time.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,477

I don’t have a lot of time, but I did want to share that Erin McCarthy climbed the ladder to win the U.S. Women’s Open, last night. She won four games (it could conceivably be said that two of her competitors lost the game) to win the title. It was a pretty amazing and fun thing to watch. There were some incredible spares made by several of the bowlers, as well as some unfortunate misses that should have been made. Erin wins $60,000 and a green jacket. Oh, and a trophy, too. The next (and final) PWBA tournament for this season won’t be until the first week of August, here in Dallas. Unfortunately, I am working most of that week, so I won’t be able to attend any of the matches.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Do You Not Believe, by Daryl Madden

I don’t see the way
Doubts I perceive
I am your God
Do you not believe?

I am afraid
Fear here surrounds
Am I your God
That lets you down?

I will be sorry
Is that your viewpoint?
Am I your God
That disappoints?

I keep up my guard
Not made a fool of
Am I your God
That isn’t love?

Come rest my child
With confidence pray
In my arms to trust
I’ll show you the way

What a beautiful depiction of a dialogue that I frequently have with God. Please visit Daryl’s site at the link provided above.

Lord our God, in the name of Jesus Christ, who is close at our side as the risen and living One, we lift our eyes to you in prayer. Bless us. Bless us through your Word, and let our hearts become quiet in you. Free us from all restlessness and from the turmoil of the present age, for we belong to you, not to the world. We want to find peace in you and remain in you. You will care for us as your children, whom you will never forget in all eternity. Bless us and renew the riches of your grace in us every day, for you, O Lord our God, remain our Father. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”
(John 20:21 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

 1. for the peace in which Jesus sends us into the world, freeing us from all restlessness and the turmoil of the present age
2. for the great help that God has granted me, all through my life, to get me where I am today (and I'm confident of that help, going forward)
3. for faith; for the ability to believe, yet praying that God help my unbelief
4. for the deep love that exists in relationship with God, and for the command that we love one another deeply
5. for water; cool, clear, water

And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace. Your suffering is over.”
(Mark 5:34 NLT)

While he was still speaking, there came from the ruler’s house some who said, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?” But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.”
(Mark 5:35-36 ESV)


The word for today, in Pray a Word a Day, is Ebenezer. (I capitalized it, they didn’t.)

There’s a line in an old hymn, “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing, by Robert Robinson. As I search for the original lyrics, I find that they have been altered, several times, by different people. So I consulted my copy of the 1956 Baptist Hymnal. Verse 2 of the hymn goes like this:

Here I raise mine Ebenezer;
Hither by Thy help I'm come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home:
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wand'ring from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood.

I remember singing that song, as a young lad, always wondering, “what in the world is an “Ebenezer??”

Well, it turns out, this is from a passage in 1 Samuel 7, when God routed the Philistines before Israel.

Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the LORD has helped us.”
(1 Samuel 7:12 NIV)

So here’s the thing. With all due respect (and truly, how difficult is it to come with 365 different words to use in our prayers? I don’t know . . . I’ve never tried), I don’t think using the word “Ebenezer” in a prayer is going to be all that effective for me. While I acknowledge the benefit of praying Scripture back to God, there is no formula, and there are no “secret words” that are going to command God’s blessing. And if one believes that simply using the word “Ebenezer” in a prayer is going to result in special graces, then one probably should be setting up a rock while doing it.

I know. My cynicism is showing.

But here’s another thing. What if we simply do what the word calls for? And that is remembering how much God has helped us in our journey? I don’t need the word “Ebenezer” or a big rock to remember God’s help. At the same time, as I’ve mentioned previously, on multiple occasions, I do have that Blue Jay feather in a box in the garage, as a reminder of that time God hugged me.

There’s nothing wrong with reminders. And when we come to a point in our lives, a sort of “crossroads,” if you will, where God gives us that extra motivation or help to get us through, there is nothing wrong with using something to remind us of that time. And when I come to those times, I am much more apt to remember the line that says “Hither by Thy help I’m come,” than I am “Ebenezer.”

Father, I praise You for Your help in my life. I can look back on many places in my life and see how You have helped me come this far. Even as I type, memories flood in, so much so that I don’t have time to type them all. And I don’t have to type them to remember them or to be grateful for them. I just pray that You never let me forget them, just as I know that You will never forget me, and am confident that Your help will continue in my life, for the rest of my days and into eternity.


Whoever would foster love covers over an offense, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.
(Proverbs 17:9 NIV)

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.
(1 Peter 4:8 NIV)

Love “deeply.” I like the way the NIV words that. “Deeply” seems better than “earnestly” (ESV). However, I also like Peterson’s paraphrase in The Message.

Most of all, love each other as if your life depended on it. Love makes up for practically anything.
(1 Peter 4:8 MSG)

Father, please help us to love each other deeply, as if our lives depend on it.


Father, as we go through our lives, help us to simply invite people into this wonderful relationship with You and with all the saints. This relationship, this community . . . there is nothing quite like it. There is no club, no organization, no other group that can compare with the true Body of Christ and the relationship therein. There are, unfortunately, some imposters, and, no doubt, there are even imposters that have infiltrated the Body. Nevertheless, the world will know us by our love for one another.

We cannot manipulate anyone into this love, Father. We cannot coerce them into relationship with You or with us. So let us not try. Let us simply invite and demonstrate. Let us show the world how much we love You by showing them how much we love one another.

Even so, come soon, 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.

PCKHG

Today is Friday, the seventeenth of June, 2022, in the eleventh week of Ordinary Time.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,472

Warning: This one is pretty long. Sorry.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, we come into your presence and bow down before you, the Almighty. We come before you and repent, believing in you and in your will to save us. Your will to save goes out over the whole world, over the whole godless world, that all may repent and be redeemed. Grant us the thoughts of your heart so that we may begin to understand your will. We dedicate ourselves to you, the holy, just, righteous, and merciful God. Grant that we may be your children, led and guided by you every day. Turn our hearts to you so that you can make us more and more as you want us to be. Turn our hearts to you until your goal of atonement and redemption is reached through the quiet working of your almighty power. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

“The time promised by God has come at last!” he announced. “The Kingdom of God is near! Repent of your sins and believe the Good News!”
(Mark 1:15 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the will of God to save us and His mercy and grace in making it possible
2. for the Good News (Gospel) that the Kingdom of God is here
3. for 1984 (that year in my life, not George Orwell's book), one of the best years of my life
4. for the Lord's great mercy and blessing in my life; unexplainable and totally and utterly undeserved
5. for wonderful friends, brothers and sisters, that the Lord has placed in my life, through the years
6. for the music and artists that have inspired me and kept me on the path of life
7. that "God is so good, He's so good to me . . . there's never been anyone like You, You are worthy!" (Pat Barrett)

If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.
(Mark 3:24-25 ESV)

Father, I pray desperately for the Body of Christ, Your Church, both in this nation and in this world, that we would be united under the authority of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the Holy Trinity. Heal our divisions that are over irrelevant politics and cause us to be focused on loving one another.

“Who am I, O Sovereign LORD, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far?”
(2 Samuel 7:18 NLT)

While I realize this is King David speaking, I pray the same thing, today, Father. Who am I, what am I, that You have brought me this far? I do not pray for my “kingdom” to be expanded. I do not pray for riches or wealth, nor do I pray for fame or fortune. My humble prayer is that I might effectively spread the Gospel of Christ, that Your Kingdom is here, and that we must do better at loving one another in Your Name.

“How great you are, O Sovereign LORD! There is no one like you. We have never even heard of another God like you!”
(2 Samuel 7:22 NLT)

“For you are God, O Sovereign LORD. Your words are truth, and you have promised these good things to your servant. And now, may it please you to bless the house of your servant, so that it may continue forever before you. For you have spoken, and when you grant a blessing to your servant, O Sovereign LORD, it is an eternal blessing!”
(2 Samuel 7:28-29 NLT)

Today’s prayer word, in Pray a Word a Day, is lead. (We are referring to the verb, not the element.)

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’
(Matthew 6:13 NIV)

I confess that I, probably like most people, when repeating the “Lord’s Prayer,” rush right through that phrase, many times without thinking. Either that, or focusing on the second half of that verse. “Deliver.”

What if there was a comma after “us?”

“Lead us.”

Full disclosure, here, I’m not making this up, it’s coming from the daily reading.

What if there was a pause after “us?”

When a shepherd leads the sheep, he sets the pace. He watches ahead for dangers or obstacles. He makes sure the sheep stay on the right path. It doesn’t take a genius to see where this is going.

Savior, like a shepherd lead us,
Much we need Thy tender care;
In Thy pleasant pastures feed us,
For our use Thy folds prepare:
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus,
Thou hast bought us, Thine we are;
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus,
Thou hast bought us, Thine we are.

We are Thine, do Thou befriend us,
Be the guardian of our way;
Keep Thy flock, from sin defend us,
Seek us when we go astray:
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus,
Hear, O hear us when we pray;
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus,
Hear, O hear us when we pray.

Thou hast promised to receive us,
Poor and sinful though we be;
Thou hast mercy to relieve us,
Grace to cleanse, and pow'r to free:
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus,
Early let us turn to Thee;
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus,
Early let us turn to Thee.

Early let us seek Thy favor,
Early let us do Thy will;
Blessed Lord and only Savior,
With Thy love our bosoms fill:
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus,
Thou hast loved us, love us still;
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus,
Thou hast loved us, love us still.

(Attributed to Dorothy A. Thrupp, 1836)

Yes, Father, lead us. I always thought it strange that most translations use the word “temptation” in that prayer. I do not believe any of us would ever think that You, our heavenly Father, would lead us into temptation! I can see that another acceptable word might be adversity, which would make more sense to me. One translation says, “keep us safe from ourselves” (MSG). But I like to envision Jesus, as my Shepherd, setting the pace, watching ahead for danger, and looking behind to make sure we stay on the path. He leads us, not into adversity or danger, but into safety and peace. Hallelujah! Lead us, O Lord!

Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.
(Colossians 3:12 NLT)

I stumbled across this verse back in the early to mid eighties. I was going through one of the most difficult times of my life, and the Lord had brought a couple of people into my life, as well as some extremely important music albums. I started writing signs to myself and placing them in conspicuous places in the house, probably much to the confusion of my roommate at the time.

Two of those albums were Michael W. Smith’s second album, simply known as “2,” and Amy Grant’s “Straight Ahead.” In addition, a fellow trombone player in the seminary symphonic band introduced me to Daniel Amos, which changed my life forever, but that’s a story for another day.

One of the songs from the MWS album was called “I Am Up.”

I am up
Like the sun is up
I can feel my life on a rise
I am up
Like the stars at night
I get up on bein' alive
I am up
Like the Lord is up
And my life is filled with His life
I was freed and I am saved
I am up
I am up

That’s the chorus. The last verse goes like this:

There are times life is so fine I can't contain it
Everywhere I look I see what God had done
And I don't have to work and worry to sustain it
When I walk with God His joy will always come
When I walk with God His joy will always come

Another important song was the title track of the Amy Grant album.

Day by day, dream by dream
I fight to find the way to go
Every day opens a different door
Every dream shadows the one before
But slowly I can see
The way You've made for me

Straight ahead, I can see Your light
Straight ahead, through the dark
Straight ahead, there's no left or right
Straight ahead, to your heart

Carry on through the night
When the road is hard to find
Lying lights tell me to turn around
Lying thoughts tell me I'm lost not found
But clearly I can see
You're waiting there for me

Those two songs don’t seem much alike, do they? But I did mention that it was a very difficult time in my life. And, by His grace, I determined that, while 1983 was probably the worst year of my life, 1984 would be the best year (at least up to that point). And it was.

You might wonder what any of this has to do with Colossians 3:12. I’m getting there. In the middle of all of this, I found (or, perhaps it might be better to say that God planted it) that verse. I think the most modern version of the Bible we had back then was the NIV.

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

Since it uses the word “compassion” instead of “tenderhearted mercy,” one of the signs I put up said, simply, “PCKHG.” I pronounced that “puckhug.” Patience; Compassion; Kindness; Humility; Gentleness.

That sign was right by my front door, where I had to look at it every day when I left the house. It reminded me, then, and still reminds me (the verse, not the sign . . . it is long gone) today how I am to “dress” myself each day when I go out into the world.

I think it is safe to say that the world could use a lot more “PCKHGs.”

Oh . . . and the best thing that happened to me in 1984? December 7. First “date” with C, my wife of almost 37 years.

Father, You are so good. I look back up at that verse from 2 Samuel, from that prayer of David, and I can only shake my head in wonder at Your goodness and mercy. I am absolutely and utterly unworthy of the favor that You have shown me in my life. I deserve the opposite. Why on earth You never struck me dead on the spot, I cannot explain, other than to simply believe that there must be something left that You have for me to do on this earth.

Best I can figure, that “something” is to spread those PCKHGs around as much as I can. I thank You and praise You for the people who kept me sane and on Your path, back in those days. Some of them, I can’t remember their names. But I can remember most of their faces, and how they ministered to me. I praise You and thank You for those friendships. And I pray that, even this late in my life, I might be able to be that kind of friend to someone.

I am also so very grateful for the family that You have given me and placed me in. I have thanked You many times for that, and it can never be enough. Thank You for bringing my wife into my life in 1984, and for keeping us together all these years. It is You and only You that has accomplished that.

I don’t want to leave this place, this morning, Father. But I have things to do. I praise You for Your goodness. And like Pat Barrett said, “there’s never been anyone like You; You are worthy!” Only You are worthy of my worship and praise and adoration, Lord. And, while I must leave this room, I don’t have to leave You. Thank You for coming with me wherever I go. Help me to spread the love and mercy of Your Kingdom as I venture out into the world today.

Even so, Lord Jesus, come soon! Come and make everything right!

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
(Ephesians 3:20-21 NIV)

Grace and peace, friends.

What Makes A “Strong” Christian?

From Romans 15, I see the way to tell is someone is a “strong” Christian. If they are seeking the good of others and not themselves, they are strong Christians. Something to think about. Because what this means is that all Christians who are insisting on their own “rights” and “freedoms” are, in fact, weak Christians.

Today is Friday, the tenth of June, 2022, in the tenth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ find you today.

Day 23,465

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord, Almighty God, you are our Father and we are your children, who want to live for you through Jesus Christ our Lord. Strengthen and renew our hearts. When discouragement and fear try to mislead us, may your Holy Spirit help us again and again to hold fast, for no matter what difficulties arise, your will is being done and your will is good. Your name will be honored. Your kingdom will come for all nations. Your reign will come over all peoples, for they are all yours and must acknowledge that Jesus Christ is the Lord, to your honor, O Father. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
May God be merciful and bless us. 
May his face smile with favor on us. 
May your ways be known throughout the earth, 
your saving power among people everywhere.
(Psalms 67:1-2 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. that I have Fridays off
2. that I was able to sleep until almost 9:00, this morning (very rare)
3. that God is constantly making me new, reviving me, day after day
4. for the promises of God that help me in this reviving
5. that the marks of a "strong" Christian are selflessness, being considerate of others, and building others up, rather than building oneself up

We who are strong must be considerate of those who are sensitive about things like this. We must not just please ourselves. We should help others do what is right and build them up in the Lord.
(Romans 15:1-2 NLT)

From Romans 15, I see the way to tell is someone is a “strong” Christian. If they are seeking the good of others and not themselves, they are strong Christians. Something to think about. Because what this means is that all Christians who are insisting on their own “rights” and “freedoms” are, in fact, weak Christians.

The prayer word for today is “revive.”

Your promise revives me; it comforts me in all my troubles.
(Psalms 119:50 NLT)

One thing that has always fascinated me is the perennial plants. Last year, my mother gave us some “Four O’clock” seeds. The proper name for these is “Mirabilis jalapa,” also called “the marvel of Peru.” We planted them in several spots in our front flower bed, and one of the plantings survived, giving us a pretty good-sized flowering plant. I have always loved Four O’Clocks.

I wasn’t sure if they would come back, but sure enough, this spring, the plant came back up (along with a couple smaller ones) and is producing more flowers. I suppose you could say it was “revived.”

God revives me, frequently. I don’t suppose it could be said that I have ever “died” spiritually, but I have certainly had periods in my life when I was not as spiritually active as others. Perhaps “dormant” might be a better word, just as a perennial plant is “dormant” during the “off-season.”

The psalmist wrote, in Psalm 119, that God’s promise revived him. And this is what I have experienced. In my lowest times, a verse of Scripture, more often than not Psalms, has “revived” me, or sparked a new interest in me, or a fresh perspective on life. Some of my favorites include:

Teach me your ways, O LORD, that I may live according to your truth! Grant me purity of heart, so that I may honor you.
(Psalms 86:11 NLT)

Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.
(Isaiah 41:10 NLT)

You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.
(Psalms 16:11 NLT)

For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”
(Zephaniah 3:17 NLT)

Whom have I in heaven but you? I desire you more than anything on earth. My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever.
(Psalms 73:25-26 NLT)

There are many more. Here are some verses that actually use the word.

Won’t you revive us again, so your people can rejoice in you?
(Psalms 85:6 NLT)

I lie in the dust; revive me by your word.
(Psalms 119:25 NLT)

I think, based on that verse in Psalm 119, that a condition to being revived is knowing that one lies “in the dust.” In other words, I have to know that my spiritual condition is desperate before I can be “revived.”

Our God is in the business of making things new.

“But forget all that—it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.
(Isaiah 43:18-19 NLT)

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!
(2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT)

But this “newness” is not a one and done deal. God continues to make me new, throughout my life, day after day.

(From Pray a Word a Day)

Being an old Southern Baptist, I must say that the first thing I thought of when I saw the word for the day was this old hymn, written in 1863 by W.P. Mackay

1. We praise thee, O God, for the Son of thy love,
for Jesus who died, and is now gone above.

2. We praise thee, O God, for thy Spirit of light
who has shown us our Savior and scattered our night.

3. We praise thee, O God, for the joy thou hast giv’n
to thy saints in communion, these foretastes of heav’n.

4. Revive us again, fill each heart with thy love.
May each soul be rekindled with fire from above.

Refrain - Hallelujah! Thine the glory, hallelujah! Amen!
Hallelujah! Thine the glory, revive us again.

Also, being an old Southern Baptist, I’m pretty sure I have never sung that third verse. Hahaha!

Speaking of what makes one a “strong” Christian:

Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.
(Philippians 2:3 NLT)

It wouldn’t hurt to read that entire chapter.

Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world.
(1 Peter 2:12 NLT)

Father, I pray for the ability to continue to seek to not be selfish, to not try to impress anyone else. Let my motivation be only to do what is good for others and to build them up and help them. Help me to always think of others as better than myself. I pray that this would be true for all who call the name of Jesus. May we all be “strong Christians.”

Help me to “live properly” among my neighbors, so that, should they not be believers, they will still give honor to God for my behavior.

I praise You that You are always in the business of making things new, reviving us. This gives me hope when my soul is downcast, because I am reminded, by Your great and precious promises, that You will never give up on us, and that we cannot be taken out of Your hands.

Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus.

I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.
(Romans 15:13 NLT)

Grace and peace, friends.