The Incomprehensible

Today is Tuesday, the 7th of February, 2023, in the season of Epiphany.

May the peace of Christ enfold you today!

Day 23,707

Our weather continues to display signs of drunkenness. After a high of 73, yesterday, I awoke to a temperature of 61 degrees, and falling (the temperature, not me). That will be the highest temperature of the day. It should get down to around 45 degrees during the night, tonight. There is an 87% chance of rain today, and 85% chance tomorrow. This is fine, as we need the rain, and it’s not supposed to freeze this week. The next ten days are predicted to be anywhere from the low fifties to the low seventies. The average temps for this time of year are upper fifties for highs and mid-thirties for lows. We aren’t setting any records, though, as the record high for today is 77, in 1974, and the record low is 22, in 2014. I should think we should be getting close to the time when the record lows will be from 2021.

It’s my night at the library, tonight, so I’ll be working from 4:15 to 8:15, this evening. It’s also our Subway day, so I’ll be trekking over to Subway around noon today, to pick up lunch and dinner for the family. We missed it last week, because of the winter “storm.”

That’s about all I have today. Got a few chores to do, and should probably practice a little bit. Need to keep my trombone chops going (or keep improving them), and have a new vocal song to learn for February 26.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

You are my hiding place and my shield; 
I hope in your word.
(Psalms 119:114 NRSV)

May this ever be true in my life.

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

Dear Father in heaven, living source of all that is eternal in us, we come to you and plead with you to strengthen the gifts you have given us. Grant us the light of life in which we can walk in spite of the many burdens and uncertainties of our earthly life. Protect us from deception and disappointment. Strengthen our hope for your steadfast, firm, and eternal rule in us, in many others, and finally in all people. Amen.

Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 3:13-14 NRSV)

Today I am grateful:

  • that God is my hiding place and my shield (Psalm 119:114)
  • for the gifts that God has given me; may He strengthen those within me
  • for the Word of God, lamp to my feet, light to my path (Psalm 119:105)
  • for freedom in Christ
  • that the Lord delivers me from all my fears (Psalm 34:4)
  • for the Psalms

I rise before dawn and cry for help; 
I put my hope in your words.
(Psalms 119:147 NRSV)
I sought the LORD, 
and he answered me, 
and delivered me from all my fears.
(Psalms 34:4 NRSV)
Your word is a lamp to my feet 
and a light to my path.
(Psalms 119:105 NRSV)
So if the Son makes you free, 
you will be free indeed.
(John 8:36 NRSV)
So thank GOD for his marvelous love, 
for his miracle mercy to the children he loves.
(Psalms 107:31 MSG)

I have a lot of thoughts going through my head, this morning, as I consider the Scripture verses that have spoken to me.

I like Eugene H. Peterson’s words, in Answering God, quoted in today’s reading of God’s Message for Each Day. “It is not possible to comprehend God. Merely to utter the name ‘God’ is to be plunged into mystery.”

I agree. We cannot comprehend God, and as soon as someone claims that they have, they lose all credibility. However, we are not roaming around in the dark, “where all cats are gray.” While we cannot comprehend God, there are things about Him that are knowable. We tend to call these things “doctrine.” Even so, there is a rather large amount of disagreement over those doctrines.

One of the great things about C.S. Lewis’s book, Mere Christianity, which I am currently reading again, along with a group of people from my church, is that what he is trying to describe fits the title perfectly. He is not interested in “denominational” differences. He says, right off the bat, that he is not going to present one communion over another. He happened to be of the Church of England, but I believe that is only mentioned once in the book, and that at the beginning.

He describes “mere Christianity,” or, in a sense, the basic beliefs which most denominations agree upon, as a large hall. The important thing is to get into that hallway. The various denominations or “communions,” as he calls them, are represented by doors that come off of that hallway. He advises us to be kind to people who have either landed in different rooms than we, or people who have made it into the hallway, but not yet found which door they need to go through.

Evelyn Underhill defines worship as simply “the response of the creature to the Eternal.” This response comes almost naturally (most definitely naturally to non-human creatures), and is, perhaps, enhanced by the fact that we do not and cannot comprehend God, as Peterson notes.

So we seek Him, and we cry out to Him, as we worship Him. We do not comprehend, and perhaps we should not attempt to. Part of the act of worship is simply doing nothing more than contemplating His beauty. Any attempt to understand or comprehend Him detracts from this, and could result in what Underhill called “egotistic piety.”

So we thank Him for His marvelous love, that “miracle mercy,” as Peterson paraphrases in Psalm 107:31.

Jesus declared that if we continue in His Word, we would know the truth and the truth would make us free. Jesus also declared that He was the Truth (the Way, the Truth, and the Life). Therefore, it is Him that we will know, and He who will set us free. And if He has set us free, then we are “free indeed.” The Greek word that is translated “indeed,” is ontos, which can be translated as “indeed, certainly, of a truth, verily, really.”

There seems to be some disagreement as to what “free” means, in this case. I will give my opinion, noting that it is nothing more than that. However, as Paul once said, I believe that I, too, have the Holy Spirit.

I believe that, in Christ, I have been made free, indeed, and that I am free from trying to comprehend something that is incomprehensible. There is a contingent of society that refuses to believe something that it cannot understand. I find this laughable, as those same people get in their car and drive to work every day, and I guarantee you that many of them don’t really understand how that works. Or maybe they get on an airplane and fly to a particular destination. And I guarantee you that they breathe, and don’t understand how that works, either!

As C.S. Lewis points out, I don’t have to understand how my dinner nourishes me in order to enjoy it.

So I don’t have to comprehend God to enjoy Him. And there are certainly times when I thoroughly enjoy simply contemplating His beauty.


Father, I praise You, even though I do not fully understand You. And I thank You that I don’t have to. Well, I can’t, that’s the truth, but I don’t have to try to. I am free from that, as well as free from other things, because of Jesus Christ. So I praise You for the Son, who has set us free, indeed, because He is the Truth, and He has shown us truth, that we may become free in Him.

I praise You for Your inexpressible beauty. This beauty is made known to us in so many ways, not the least of which is Your Creation. How I love to sit and watch the ocean, and even better, catch a sunrise or sunset over the ocean. How I love to watch a waterfall, one, perhaps that is not so readily visible without a bit of a journey. The reward is worth it. In these things, as well as in the majestic mountain ranges, I see Your beauty. I celebrate that beauty in worship.

Thank You for Your Word, which is a lamp for my feet, which lights up my path. Help me to always continue in that Word, and never forsake it. I have truly loved Your Word since before I was able to read it. I praise You for being that kind of Presence in my life for that long, Lord.

You are glorious and beautiful, and I long to be in Your Presence for eternity.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


Grace and peace, friends.

Story

Today is Sunday, the 5th of February, 2023. It is the fifth Sunday after Epiphany.

May the peace of Christ surround you today.

Day 23,705

Yesterday may have been the busiest day I have ever experienced at the library. The book drops stayed full, pretty much all day. But the three of us in circulation stayed on it and got it done. There were a lot of new library cards given out, and it seems that we noted an unusual number of couples coming in to get cards together. One particular couple that I worked with were very excited about it, and that made me very happy. Several of them had recently moved to the area and provided leases as their proof of address. And in two of the couples, the woman had an out of state ID/DL. But, as long as they have the lease with their name on it, that serves as proof of address and they can get a card.

One thing for sure, we were never bored, yesterday.

I’m up early, this morning, as I am reading the Scripture lesson in the 8:45 service at Living Word Lutheran Church. So I need to be at the church by 8:25. Then I am meeting with the music director at 10:00 to discuss what solo I will sing on February 26. After that, I will come home, because I will have received communion in the early service.

So on to the important stuff.

Update: I’m finishing this after the morning service, back at home. The reading went well, and the director and I have chosen a song that I will sing on February 26.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

I incline my heart to perform your statutes forever, 
to the end.
(Psalms 119:112 NRSV)

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

Lord our God, keep us in your Spirit. Surround us with your protection, so that in body and soul we may praise your might and be joyful even in a world full of evil. Shine into our hearts, that we may discern what is right and good and eternal. May you do more than we can ask or understand for those who still walk in darkness far away from you. May your eternal mercy enfold them, and may the earth be filled with thanks to you, the Creator and Father of us all. Amen.

To the leader: according to Muth-labben. A Psalm of David. 

I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart; 
I will tell of all your wonderful deeds. 
I will be glad and exult in you; 
I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.
(Psalms 9:1-2 NRSV)

Today I am grateful:

  • for a good day at the library job, yesterday
  • for the wonderful deeds of the Lord, for which I am able to give thanks and praise, daily
  • for my musical talent and ability, that helps me give thanks and praise to the Lord
  • that, when I find myself afraid, I can put my trust in Him, “In God, whose word I praise” (Psalm 56:4)
  • for a wonderful worship service, this morning
  • for my story, so far . . . it’s not over, yet

O come, let us sing to the LORD; 
let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! 
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; 
let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!
(Psalms 95:1-2 NRSV)
To the leader: on Lilies, a Covenant. Of Asaph. A Psalm. 

Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, 
you who lead Joseph like a flock! 
You who are enthroned upon the cherubim, 
shine forth before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh. 
Stir up your might, and come to save us! 
Restore us, O God; 
let your face shine, that we may be saved.
(Psalms 80:1-3 NRSV)
A Psalm. A Song for the Sabbath Day.

 It is good to give thanks to the LORD,
 to sing praises to your name, O Most High; 
to declare your steadfast love in the morning, 
and your faithfulness by night, 
to the music of the lute and the harp, 
to the melody of the lyre.
(Psalms 92:1-3 NRSV)
In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; 
I am not afraid; what can flesh do to me?
(Psalms 56:4 NRSV)
"Do to others as you would have them do to you. 
"If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful."
(Luke 6:31-36 NRSV)
How can young people keep their way pure? 
By guarding it according to your word. 
With my whole heart I seek you; 
do not let me stray from your commandments.
 I treasure your word in my heart, 
so that I may not sin against you. 
Blessed are you, O LORD; 
teach me your statutes. 
With my lips I declare all the ordinances of your mouth.
 I delight in the way of your decrees as much as in all riches. 
I will meditate on your precepts, 
and fix my eyes on your ways.
 I will delight in your statutes; 
I will not forget your word.
(Psalms 119:9-16 NRSV)

Glory be to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, so it is now and so it shall ever be, world without end. Alleluia. Amen.

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Your Name. May Your kingdom come, and Your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; for Yours are the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

"Set me free, O God, from the bondage of my sins, 
and give me the liberty of that abundant life 
which you have made known to me in your Son 
our Savior Jesus Christ; 
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, 
one God, now and for ever. 
Amen." 
(The Divine Hours - The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, 
but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
(Proverbs 31:30 NRSV)
God is in the midst of the city; 
it shall not be moved; 
God will help it when the morning dawns.
(Psalms 46:5 NRSV)
A capable wife who can find? 
She is far more precious than jewels.
(Proverbs 31:10 NRSV)

“That’s why I tell stories: to create readiness, to nudge the people toward receptive insight.”
(Matthew 13:13 MSG)


Who doesn’t love a good story? The popularity of movies and television bears this out. Story is important. One reason is that we all have a story. There’s not a single person who has ever lived who did not have a story.

Some of us, however, are reticent to share that story, for some reason.

I shared part of my story, just this morning. I had a conversation with the music director, while we were going over some music, in which I shared a brief overview of my journey as music minister/worship leader.

The way we connect with others is, so often, through story. Connections are not authentic when one person is not interested in the other person’s story.

We find God through story. The revelation comes to us through story, both through Old and New Testaments.

One reason story is so essential to us is that it is how life happens. Life . . . "has a narrative shape--a beginning and end, plot and characters, conflict and resolution. Life isn't an accumulation of abstractions such as love and truth, sin and salvation . . . ; life is the realization of details that all connect . . . : names and fingerprints, street numbers, . . . God reveals himself to us . . . in the kind of stories we use to tell our children who they are and how to grow up as human beings." 
(Eugene H. Peterson, Leap Over A Wall, quoted in God's Message for Each Day)

Over time, I will share parts of my story in this forum. My story is who I am. The parts of it are what make me who I am today.

Part of my story involves two women who, I believe, embody the two verses from Proverbs, up there. My wife and my mother. My story would be incomplete without either one. Well, obviously, it wouldn’t exist without a mother. But you know what I mean. While everyone has a mother (or had one) not all mothers fit the description of a “woman who fears the Lord.” Mine does, as does my wife. And both figure quite heavily into my story, which would likely be much shorter without either one.

I challenge all who read this to think about their story, today, and in the days ahead. How would you share it with someone else? Would it be different for someone who is not a Christ-follower? I should think so. There is nothing wrong with having a different version of your story, based on your “audience.”


Father, I am grateful for my story, so far. I am grateful that You have always been part of my story, even from before I was born. In fact, I believe that You are part of my story from before the foundations of the earth. Thank You for the contributions that my parents and my wife have made to this story. As well as for the parts that have involved other people along the way. But my parents and my wife, specifically, have been a most important piece of it.

I know that I have led a somewhat privileged life. I won’t try to deny that. And I’m grateful for that. I do my best to take that and share it, though, as You bring me opportunities. Help me to always be willing to do so. Let not that privilege become entitlement. I do not deserve anything, nor am I owed anything. I owe all to You.

As for the rest of my story, You have already written it. May I be a willing participant, submissive to both You and others, as well. Help me to always consider others more significant than myself, in this life, thereby being a servant both to You and my fellow human beings.

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

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but be filled with the Spirit, as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, singing and making melody to the Lord in your hearts, giving thanks to God the Father at all times and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ.
(Ephesians 5:18-21 NRSV)

Grace and peace, friends.

A Great and Awesome God

Today is Wednesday, the 1st of February, 2023, in the season of Epiphany.

May the peace of Christ bless you today!

Day 23,701

Once again, my header photo is courtesy of Romanian photographer Paul Militaru. Please visit his site at the link provided and take in his magnificent photos of the land in which he lives.

It is now officially my least favorite month of the year. I have severely disliked February for almost 40 years, for a variety of reasons, none of which I will share here, today. This year, February seems to have stolen the last two days of January, at least in DFW, Texas. We continue to be in winter weather, and we are officially in an “Ice Storm Warning,” until 6:00 AM tomorrow. The library is closed again, today. They say they are going to open at 10:00 tomorrow morning, but I’m skeptical. There is a 78% chance of more stuff falling from the sky today, and it may not get above freezing until after 9:00 AM tomorrow. It doesn’t matter that much to me, because I’m not scheduled to work again until Friday, but I do care about the safety and well-being of the best group of co-workers I’ve ever worked with.

Well, that may not be 100% true. I did have a pretty awesome crew to work with when I was the loading supervisor at Tex-Pack Express. But they are definitely my best group of work associates in almost 40 years. I’m still in contact with one of them, all these years later, shoutout to Robert Warden.

C continues to work from home today. I’m not sure what her plans are for tomorrow. She may be asked to come in later, around noon or so. I’m pretty sure she won’t be trying to get out and drive at 6:15 AM.

I thought I would share the video of our church orchestra playing, this past Sunday morning. I’m the bald head trombone player on the right. You can see the top of my head over the cellist’s music stand.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Accept my offerings of praise, O LORD, 
and teach me your ordinances.
(Psalms 119:108 NRSV)

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

Lord our God, we thank you that we may be your children and may be led by your hand. Give us patience and faith, especially when our way on earth seems difficult and life is full of grief and hardship. You are light. You show us the right path. You go before us in the self-denial and patience taught us by your Word. Protect us on all our ways. May your kingdom grow among us until it can be plainly seen that you, O God, are truly with us doing your work and bringing us joy, even though what we do seems fruitless. But your work endures. In your work we rejoice, and we want to give thanks to you every day. Amen.

See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.
(1 John 3:1 NRSV)

Today I am grateful:

  • that we are safe and warm; praying for all who may not be so fortunate
  • for patience and faith, “especially when our way on earth seems difficult”
  • for the love that the Father has given us, “that we should be called children of God”
  • that we have nothing to fear in any circumstance of life; our God fights for us
  • that our God listens to us: “Everything we say, every groan, every murmur, every stammering attempt at prayer: all this is listened to” (Eugene H. Peterson)

Worship the LORD in holy splendor; 
tremble before him, all the earth.
(Psalms 96:9 NRSV)
To the leader: with stringed instruments. A Psalm. A Song. 

May God be gracious to us and bless us 
and make his face to shine upon us, 
[Selah]
(Psalms 67:1 NRSV)
Seven times a day I praise you for your righteous ordinances.
(Psalms 119:164 NRSV)
O guard my life, and deliver me; 
do not let me be put to shame, 
for I take refuge in you. 
May integrity and uprightness preserve me, 
for I wait for you.
(Psalms 25:20-21 NRSV)

Jesus answered, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be astonished that I said to you, ‘You must be born from above.’ The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
(John 3:5-8 NRSV)

Praise the LORD, all you nations! 
Extol him, all you peoples!
 For great is his steadfast love toward us, 
and the faithfulness of the LORD endures forever. 
Praise the LORD!
(Psalms 117:1-2 NRSV)
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)

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Your Name. May Your kingdom come, and Your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; for Yours are the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

"Almighty and everlasting God,
you govern all things both in heaven and on earth:
Mercifully hear the supplications of your people,
and in our time grant us your peace;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God,
for ever and ever.
Amen."
(The Prayer Appointed for the Week - The Divine Hours)

Do not fear them, for it is the LORD your God who fights for you.”
(Deuteronomy 3:22 NRSV)

From there you will seek the LORD your God, and you will find him if you search after him with all your heart and soul. In your distress, when all these things have happened to you in time to come, you will return to the LORD your God and heed him. Because the LORD your God is a merciful God, he will neither abandon you nor destroy you; he will not forget the covenant with your ancestors that he swore to them.
(Deuteronomy 4:29-31 NRSV)

So acknowledge today and take to heart that the LORD is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other.
(Deuteronomy 4:39 NRSV)

Now this is the commandment—the statutes and the ordinances—that the LORD your God charged me to teach you to observe in the land that you are about to cross into and occupy, so that you and your children and your children's children may fear the LORD your God all the days of your life, and keep all his decrees and his commandments that I am commanding you, so that your days may be long. Hear therefore, O Israel, and observe them diligently, so that it may go well with you, and so that you may multiply greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey, as the LORD, the God of your ancestors, has promised you. 

Hear, O Israel: 
The LORD is our God, the LORD alone. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart. Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. Bind them as a sign on your hand, fix them as an emblem on your forehead, and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
(Deuteronomy 6:1-9 NRSV)

Have no dread of them, for the LORD your God, who is present with you, is a great and awesome God.
(Deuteronomy 7:21 NRSV)


O sing to the LORD a new song; 
sing to the LORD, all the earth.
(Psalms 96:1 NRSV)
My foot stands on level ground; 
in the great congregation I will bless the LORD.
(Psalms 26:12 NRSV)

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God.
(Colossians 3:16 NRSV)

Let mutual love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.
(Hebrews 13:1-2 NRSV)


“I’ll live in them, move into them; I’ll be their God and they’ll be my people.”
(2 Corinthians 6:16 MSG)


Over and over again, in Moses’s long sermon series that is the book of Deuteronomy, Moses tells the people, “Do not fear them,” or some variation of that statement. The “them” for Israel was the different nations they would encounter as they entered the Promised Land.

The “them” for us is entirely different. I’m not rampaging through a new, foreign land, destroying every people in my path. My troubles pale in comparison to what the children of Israel went through. In fact, the majority of my “troubles” would fall under the category of what I have, in the past, referred to as “footstool” problems. I don’t remember where I got that . . . but I will say that I did not originate that idea.

Today, it’s the fact that the trash didn’t get picked up this week because of the winter weather we are experiencing. So it sits until next Tuesday. But at least we are allowed four extra bags that can be set out at the curb, next week. But that doesn’t help the recycling. Our recycling bin will be completely full, which will cause us to have more trash.

Footstool.

Last week, it was the police drama outside on my street, that caused me to not be able to park in my driveway until well after 11:00 PM.

Footstool.

Earlier in our lives, though, it was the challenge of raising and autistic daughter, who is now an adult who still lives with us. There were times during those years that I admit that we forgot to not be afraid of “them,” because the Lord will fight for us.

“Them” is different for everyone. But one thing is the same for all of us (and I’m speaking of Christ-followers, here). And that is the truth of Moses’s statement to Israel.

Do not fear them, for it is the LORD your God who fights for you.”
(Deuteronomy 3:22 NRSV)

And then, in chapter 7, verse 21, he adds this little bit, “for the LORD your God, who is present with you, is a great and awesome God.”

This is why we can “sing a new song” (Psalm 96:1). This is why “my foot stands on level ground” (Psalm 26:12). This is why the word of Christ can dwell in us richly (Colossians 3:16).

And this . . . this is why we can (and must) “let mutual love continue” (Hebrews 13:1).

It is a beautiful thing. Our God has said, and I believe Him because He said it, “I will live in them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people” (2 Corinthians 6:16).

Yes. Our God is a great and awesome God! So do not fear “them,” whoever your “them” is. Have no dread of “them.” God is bigger and stronger, and He dwells with us.

To use more modern terminology, He’s got this.


Thank You, Father, that You are a great and awesome God! Praises to You for choosing to dwell with us and in us, so that we have nothing to fear, no “them” to dread. I pray for all of my brothers and sisters who seem to live in a constant state of fear over “them.” May their hearts be filled with Your love, and their eyes be opened to the truth that we have nothing to fear or dread in this world. Let us remember that, in the words of Dallas Willard, in Your kingdom, things are far better than we could ever imagine.

Let us love one another with the love with which Christ has loved us. Let us love You with all of our beings, heart, soul, mind, and strength, and in doing these two things, fulfill all of the Law and Prophets. May the Word of Christ dwell richly within us as we walk through this world. And keep our feet on level ground in You, that we might not slip or stumble.

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

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


Grace and peace, friends.

The Path of Love

Today is Saturday, the 28th of January, 2023, in the season of Epiphany.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,697

It’s going to be a pretty lazy day around here, I think. After all the excitement of the week (see Thursday’s entry), and C’s work schedule being a little wacky, I’m thinking we might need a day to just chill. We might go out for lunch, in a little while, and I’ll probably cook burgers for dinner tonight. I do have some reading to do and need to play my trombone for a little while, in preparation for tomorrow’s orchestra performances at church.

I have to be at church by 8:00 AM tomorrow morning, so I’ll try to get a devotional blog in before then. I’m making no promises.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Through your precepts I get understanding; 
therefore I hate every false way.
(Psalms 119:104 NRSV)

Lord our God, we come into your presence and ask you to help us. Help us in every part of our lives, even when we do not understand. Be with us with your Spirit. Guide and lead us with your hand. Let your will be done in all things, even if we must bear suffering. Your will is for good alone and you will set everything right. Help us. Bless us through your Word, through everything we are allowed to hear from you, our God and our Father. Amen.

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go; 
I will counsel you with my eye upon you.
(Psalms 32:8 NRSV)

Today I am grateful:

  • for the understanding that I get from God’s Word
  • for the help that we get, in our lives, from the Lord and His Holy Spirit
  • that all things work together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose
  • for the potential of an undivided heart, that I might truly revere His name and be thankful with a whole heart
  • that true freedom comes with the ability to see all people as instances of divine love; love others as oneself is an act of true freedom

Come, behold the works of the LORD; 
see what desolations he has brought on the earth.
(Psalms 46:8 NRSV)

(Note: it is interesting to me that the word translated “desolations” can also mean “wonderful thing,” yet almost every major translation says “desolations.” Curious.)

Give victory to the king, O LORD; 
answer us when we call.
(Psalms 20:9 NRSV)
O my strength, I will watch for you;
 for you, O God, are my fortress.
(Psalms 59:9 NRSV)

The LORD works vindication and justice for all who are oppressed.
(Psalms 103:6 NRSV)

"But I say to you that listen, 
Love your enemies, 
do good to those who hate you, 
bless those who curse you, 
pray for those who abuse you. 
If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; 
and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. 
Give to everyone who begs from you; 
and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again."
(Luke 6:27-30 NRSV, emphasis added)
Rouse yourself, come to my help and see! 
You, LORD God of hosts, are God of Israel. 
Awake to punish all the nations; 
spare none of those who treacherously plot evil. 
[Selah] 

Each evening they come back, 
howling like dogs and prowling about the city. 
There they are, bellowing with their mouths, 
with sharp words on their lips—
for "Who," they think, "will hear us?" 
But you laugh at them, O LORD; 
you hold all the nations in derision. 
O my strength, I will watch for you; 
for you, O God, are my fortress. 
My God in his steadfast love will meet me; 
(Psalms 59:4b-10a NRSV)
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
(Kyrie)

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Your Name. May Your kingdom come, and Your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; for Yours are the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

"Give us grace, O Lord, to answer readily the call of our Savior Jesus Christ and proclaim to all people the Good News of his salvation, that we and the whole world may perceive the glory of his marvelous works; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen."
(The Divine Hours - The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

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)
Who are they that fear the LORD?
 He will teach them the way that they should choose.
(Psalms 25:12 NRSV)

I was overjoyed when some of the friends arrived and testified to your faithfulness to the truth, namely how you walk in the truth. I have no greater joy than this, to hear that my children are walking in the truth.
(3 John 1:3-4 NRSV)


For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
(Galatians 5:14 NRSV)

For everything we know about God’s Word is summed up in a single sentence: Love others as you love yourself. That’s an act of true freedom.
(Galatians 5:14 MSG)

“Each person is God’s person, standing before God as his child and before me as a brother or sister. ‘All men,’ wrote William Law, ‘are great instances of divine love, therefore let all men be instances of your love.’

“This person does not stand before me as an obstruction or a threat or an affront. If I cannot see the person in relation to God, then I am not free to love. I will either want to get rid of her because she is in my way, or I will want to use her in order to get my own way. Either way I lose freedom.”

(Eugene H. Peterson, Traveling Light, quoted in God’s Message for Each Day)


It is always a good reminder when my “life verse” appears during my morning devotions. Psalm 86:11. A sincere prayer for God to teach me His way, that I may walk in His truth, and for my heart to be undivided, that I might truly revere His name.

In addition, as illustrated by the verse following that one, when we do manage to revere or fear His name, He will faithfully teach us the way we should choose. When I choose the wrong way, or head down the wrong path, it is because I am not listening to Him; I am not revering or fearing His name.

One of those paths is firmly shown in Peterson’s writing. The path of love. I love how, in his paraphrase of Galatians 5:14, he describes loving others as we love ourselves (following the commands of Jesus) as “an act of true freedom.”

We must recognize that each person standing before us, wherever we are, in whatever circumstances we find ourselves, is also standing before God. That person you don’t agree with, whether politically or philosophically or theologically, is, as William Law said, an instance “of divine love.” Therefore, they should also be instances of our love.

When (and this is of the utmost importance) we view those other people with contempt, as seems to be the order of the day, in these times, it is impossible to view them as an instance of divine love. We have dismissed them. We believe that we are better than them and that they are less than us. All because they think about things differently than we.

This is a direct and blatant violation of Scripture, brothers and sisters.

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves.
(Philippians 2:3 NRSV)

This utterly removes any chance of contempt in the life of a follower of Christ. If we cannot view all people as standing before God, just as we stand before God, we have failed to follow the commands of Christ.

We must do better at following the “path of love.”


Father, have mercy on us. Forgive us for our failures. Help us to get on the path of love and stay there. Help us, O Lord, to view all others as instances of divine love. Help me to see that everyone who stands before me stands before You as Your child, Your creation. They are not obstructions or obstacles to me. How could they be?? I have no right to consider myself better than them when Your Word commands me to do the opposite.

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)

Help us to regain our true freedom by loving others as we love ourselves, and considering others to be more significant than ourselves. In this way, we are free to love.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


Grace and peace, friends.

Eyes on Jesus

Today is Tuesday, the 24th of January, in the season of Epiphany.

May the peace of the Lord be with you always!

Day 23,693

There’s a nice, slow rain falling outside, this morning, as I type this, our first rain in well over thirty days. It is currently 43 degrees outside, and that’s the highest it is expected to be today. Tonight’s low should be just below freezing. I suppose there is a slight chance of some snow, later in the day, as it gets colder. I do have to work tonight, but I’m not worried about travel conditions, as it has been unseasonable warm for the past week or so.

My cold is gradually getting better, but only after feeling slightly worse yesterday. It was a busy weekend, working Friday and Saturday, then having church activities on Sunday, but it’s a light work week for me, this week, and there is plenty of time to rest. I do need to get some trombone practice in, and hope that I will feel well enough to walk on the treadmill, maybe tomorrow.

The visit with the estate sale planner went fabulously, yesterday. It’s all arranged, but they are a little behind, so our sale won’t happen until the first weekend in May, which is fine with us. We are in no hurry, and we don’t have a timeline for selling the house, either. So they have ample time to look at everything in the house and determine pricing. He got a good look at everything, yesterday, and seemed mildly excited about doing the sale.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

I understand more than the aged, 
for I keep your precepts.
(Psalms 119:100 NRSV)

Lord our God, we thank you for giving us your love, for letting us draw nearer to what is right and good. May your Spirit penetrate everywhere, overcoming what is false and helping people everywhere to understand the true nature of your justice. Guard us on all our ways. Protect us when our bodies and our lives are worn down by sickness and distress of every kind. Grant us your help according to your truth and righteousness. Amen.

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

I did not speak in secret, in a land of darkness; I did not say to the offspring of Jacob, “Seek me in chaos.” I the LORD speak the truth, I declare what is right.
(Isaiah 45:19 NRSV)

Today I am grateful:

  • for a great meeting with the estate sale planner yesterday
  • for safe travel to and from Mineral Wells, yesterday
  • that God does not hide from us, and is not difficult to find
  • that it is the Lord who opens my eyes and ears, that I might “behold wondrous things” in His Word, and who opens my lips that my mouth may declare His praise
  • for the promise of victory in Christ

O Lord, open my lips, 
and my mouth will declare your praise.
(Psalms 51:15 NRSV)
Open my eyes, 
so that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.
(Psalms 119:18 NRSV)
I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, 
and I will glorify your name forever.
(Psalms 86:12 NRSV)
For who is God except the LORD? 
And who is a rock besides our God?—
(Psalms 18:31 NRSV)

“See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of them, for they will hand you over to councils and flog you in their synagogues; and you will be dragged before governors and kings because of me, as a testimony to them and the Gentiles. When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you at that time; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.”
(Matthew 10:16-20 NRSV)

You are righteous, O LORD, 
and your judgments are right. 
You have appointed your decrees 
in righteousness and in all faithfulness. 
My zeal consumes me 
because my foes forget your words. 
Your promise is well tried, 
and your servant loves it. 
I am small and despised, 
yet I do not forget your precepts. 
Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, 
and your law is the truth. 
Trouble and anguish have come upon me, 
but your commandments are my delight. 
Your decrees are righteous forever; 
give me understanding that I may live.
(Psalms 119:137-144 NRSV)
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)

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Your Name. May Your kingdom come, and Your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; for Yours are the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

"Give us grace, O Lord, to answer readily the call of our Savior Jesus Christ and proclaim to all people the Good News of his salvation, that we and the whole world may perceive the glory of his marvelous works; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen."
(The Divine Hours - The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

But filled with the Holy Spirit, he [Stephen] gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.
(Acts 7:55 NRSV)

To the leader. A Psalm of David. 

The heavens are telling the glory of God; 
and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.
(Psalms 19:1 NRSV)
He has made everything suitable for its time;
 moreover he has put a sense of past and future into their minds, 
yet they cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.
(Ecclesiastes 3:11 NRSV)
When this perishable body puts on imperishability, and this mortal body puts on immortality, then the saying that is written will be fulfilled: 

"Death has been swallowed up in victory." 
"Where, O death, is your victory? 
Where, O death, is your sting?" 

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
(1 Corinthians 15:54-57 NRSV)

Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in.
(Hebrews 12:2 MSG)


In Psalm 119, the psalmist asks God to open his eyes, that he might “behold wondrous things” in God’s Word. In this verse above, the author of Hebrews admonishes us to keep our eyes on Jesus, the One “who both began and finished this race we’re in.”

In between, we see Stephen, who, as he is dying from being stoned, looks up and sees “the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.”

I fully believe (and have for many years) that it is impossible to gain much wisdom and understanding from God’s Word without the help of the Holy Spirit. If God does not “open our eyes,” we aren’t going to see much of the truth of His Word.

And, if God does not open our eyes, we won’t succeed in keeping our eyes on Jesus.

It’s hard enough to do that, even with my “spiritual eyes” wide open. There is so much in this world that is distracting us from keeping our eyes on Jesus. It is a daily struggle to do this, and if we relax for even a moment, we will pay the price for it.

Hence the frequent reminders from Scripture that we need our eyes opened, and we need to fix them firmly on Jesus, who, by the way, has already finished this race we are in!

How encouraging is that??

That’s another thing we need to remember. As we fight and claw to finish this race, we need to take a step back and realize that Jesus has already done it; He is finished with the race. And He is the one who gives us the strength to do it, as well. Remember the “easy yoke?”

“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, 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 NRSV)

In a sense, I suppose it could be said that Jesus, who has finished the race and sits next to the Father, is also back out here running it with us. If we would but step into that yoke and follow His instruction, the burdens would drop, and we would find rest for our weary souls. Because His yoke is easy.

Open our eyes, Lord,
We want to see Jesus,
to reach out and touch Him,
and say that we love Him.
Open our ears, Lord,
and help us to listen.
Open our eyes, Lord,
we want to see Jesus.
(Robert Cull, 1976, Maranatha Music)

Father, open my eyes, that I might behold wonderful things from Your Word. Teach me Your way, that I may walk in Your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I might fear Your name. Open my lips that I might proclaim Your praises, daily. Help me to keep my eyes on Jesus, who has already finished the race in which we are running.

I am so easily distracted, Lord. And, in the words of C.S. Lewis, I am far too easily pleased. Help me to stay focused on this life, and to remember, as I read yesterday, that all sin is sacrilege, no matter how small it may seem at the moment.

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

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
(Kyrie)

Grace and peace, friends.

Stop Trying Harder

Today is Saturday, the 21st of January, 2023, in the season of Epiphany.

May the peace of Christ enfold you today!

Day 23,690

I suppose the next “big thing” coming up is Lent, which begins on Ash Wednesday, February 22, this year. That’s 32 days from today. I’m looking forward to observing Lent at my new church.

I made it through my work day pretty well, yesterday. Some coughing, used a few tissues, but it was okay. I’m feeling better, this morning, but still not quite 100%. I will “mask up” at work until my symptoms are gone. I’ll be at the library from 9:30-6:15 today, working at the circulation desk. We never know what Saturdays are going to look like at the circ desk. The last Saturday I worked, two weeks ago, was one of the busiest that I can remember. But yesterday was really slow, at least in the computer center.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Oh, how I love your law!
 It is my meditation all day long.
(Psalms 119:97 NRSV)

Father, I thank You for Your Word. I confess that I do not make it my “meditation all day long,” but I do, at least, remember to come back to it, during my day. I keep praying for a united heart, that I might properly fear Your name.

Dear Father in heaven, we rejoice that you are our Father. We rejoice that you rule and guide each of us so that our path in life leads to what is good and genuine and we do not get stuck in this or that concern. Lead us, renew us, and again and again free us to go forward, finding new courage and joy for ourselves and for our fellowmen. Then we can praise you, your strength and power can be revealed to us, your heaven come down to earth, and your will be done on earth. Here on earth your help shall come to the poor, the weak, the lowly, the sick, and the suffering. May your name be praised! We rejoice in your name. Amen.

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

In my distress I called upon the LORD; 
to my God I cried for help. 
From his temple he heard my voice, 
and my cry to him reached his ears.
(Psalms 18:6 NRSV)

Today I am grateful:

  • for God’s Word; may it be my meditation all day long (Psalm 119:97)
  • that the Lord hears me “from His temple,” when I cry out to Him.
  • that the Spirit guides us to what is good and genuine
  • that life in the kingdom of God is not about trying harder
  • that because the Lord is my light and my salvation, my stronghold, I have nothing to fear (Psalm 27:1)

Seek the LORD and his strength; 
seek his presence continually.
(Psalms 105:4 NRSV)
Hear, O LORD, when I cry aloud, be gracious to me and answer me!
 "Come," my heart says, "seek his face!" 
Your face, LORD, do I seek. 
Do not hide your face from me. 
Do not turn your servant away in anger, you who have been my help. 
Do not cast me off, do not forsake me, O God of my salvation!
(Psalms 27:7-9 NRSV)
But you indeed are awesome! 
Who can stand before you when once your anger is roused?
(Psalms 76:7 NRSV)
I sought the LORD, and he answered me, 
and delivered me from all my fears.
(Psalms 34:4 NRSV)

“Or what woman having ten silver coins, if she loses one of them, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
(Luke 15:8-10 NRSV)

You will only look with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked. 
Because you have made the LORD your refuge, 
the Most High your dwelling place,
 no evil shall befall you, no scourge come near your tent. 
For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. 
On their hands they will bear you up, 
so that you will not dash your foot against a stone. 
You will tread on the lion and the adder, 
the young lion and the serpent you will trample under foot.
(Psalms 91:8-13 NRSV)
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
(Kyrie)

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Your Name. May Your kingdom come, and Your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; for Yours are the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

Almighty God, whose Son our Savior Jesus Christ is the light of the world: Grant that your people, illumined by your Word and Sacraments, may shine with the radiance of Christ's glory, that he may be known, worshipped, and obeyed to the ends of the earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
(The Divine Hours - The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

"Now we cannot . . . discover our failure to keep God's law except by trying our very hardest (and then failing). Unless we really try, whatever we say there will always be at the back of our minds the idea that if we try harder next time we shall succeed in being completely good. Thus, in one sense, the road back to God is a road of moral effort, of trying harder and harder. But in another sense it is not trying that is every going to bring us home. All this trying leads up to the vital moment at which you turn to God and say, 'You must do this. I can't.'"
(C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, quoted in The C.S. Lewis Bible, in regard to Leviticus 14-16)

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; 
for you are with me; 
your rod and your staff—they comfort me.
(Psalms 23:4 NRSV)
Of David.

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 NRSV)

But now, by giving himself completely at the Cross, actually dying for you, Christ brought you over to God’s side and put your lives together, whole and holy in his presence.
(Colossians 1:22 MSG)


The book of Leviticus is arguably the most difficult book of the Bible to read. I have never known anyone who has enthusiastically approached this book, and declared it to be their favorite book in the Bible. I have heard it said that you can find Christ on every page in the Bible. I’m skeptical about Leviticus.

I mean no disrespect or dishonor. It is part of what we have before us as God’s Word, and, therefore, has some purpose for us. And I believe that at least part of that purpose is illustrated by the quote from C.S. Lewis, above.

I started reading through the Bible, again, this year, starting with Genesis, in the new NRSV that I got for Christmas. This week, I arrived at Leviticus. I’m reading five chapters a day, so I don’t have much more to go . . . maybe another day or two. Or three. I have twelve chapters left.

It is, essentially, nothing but laws about this and that. Most of the five chapters I read today are about what to do if leprosy appears on one’s body or one’s clothes or in one’s home.

We are no longer under the law, as we have moved into the era of grace, because of Jesus. As the verse in Colossians says, Jesus has brought us “over to God’s side,” and put our lives together. We are, in Christ, “whole and holy.” Or, as one of my favorite Mercy Me songs says, “The Cross has made you flawless.”

We have a choice in our lives. We can keep on “trying harder and harder,” as C.S. Lewis said, or we can stop that nonsense and come to the correct conclusion that, “You must do this. I can’t.”

We can try our best to live by the Ten Commandments, and all of that Levitical Law, but then we must accept what was said in Paul’s epistles, that, if we fail at even the smallest point of the Law, we have violated the entirety of it. That should be most discouraging to anyone.

Unless that “anyone” has become a Christ-follower. Christ kept the Law for us; He fulfilled it. He did not abolish it, but He fulfilled it, which means we don’t have to. All we have to do is follow His commands. And His commands are short and sweet. They sum up the entirety of the Law and the Prophets. We simply must love God and love people.

This is not as easy as it sounds. I know this from experience. God is easy to love. Most of the time. Except for maybe when things don’t go quite the way I want them to. But people? People, especially some of them, are really hard to love. I imagine I am pretty hard to love, to some people.

But here’s the thing. Way up there, close to the top of this post, are some verses from Psalms that give great advice, advice that is very helpful in this journey of faith. I’ll repeat them.

Seek the LORD and his strength; 
seek his presence continually.
(Psalms 105:4 NRSV)
Hear, O LORD, when I cry aloud, be gracious to me and answer me!
 "Come," my heart says, "seek his face!" 
Your face, LORD, do I seek. 
Do not hide your face from me. 
Do not turn your servant away in anger, you who have been my help. 
Do not cast me off, do not forsake me, O God of my salvation!
(Psalms 27:7-9 NRSV)
I sought the LORD, and he answered me, 
and delivered me from all my fears.
(Psalms 34:4 NRSV)

Seek. Seek the Lord. Seek His face. Expend as much energy as you can on this, and the rest of this stuff will align itself. I’m not pretending that it will not still be difficult to love some people, but if we are seeking God, constantly (Frank Laubach, in his “game of minutes,” opined that it is possible to think about God at least once per minute, throughout our day), His love will channel through us and shove our own unloving thoughts to one side, and maybe even eliminate them altogether.

It’s not about trying harder. Remember what Moses said to the Israelites, when they saw Pharaoh and his army coming after them at the Red Sea?

“The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to keep still.”
(Exodus 14:14 NRSV)

They didn’t have to “try harder.” They just had to stand still and watch the mighty hand of God take out their enemy.

So stop trying harder and start seeking.


Father, I praise You for Your Word and what it means to me. I thank You for the truths contained therein. I pray that You will help us to take these truths and incorporate them into our lives, that we might fully love You and then love our neighbors as ourselves. Help us to stop expending so much energy in trying to be “better Christians.” We can’t do it. I can’t do it; You must do it. I surrender.

I thank You that, in Christ, I have nothing to fear. You are my light and my salvation, the stronghold of my life. I may not always live like I believe that, and I pray that that would change as I continue to seek Your face. As I go through this day, may my mind, soul, and spirit be drawn into Your presence, to know You more, and to contemplate You and Your presence even more.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


Grace and peace, friends.

Psalm 86:11

Today is Thursday, the 12th of January, 2023, in the season of Epiphany.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you today!

Day 23,681

I had an unusually productive day, yesterday, and I’m feeling pretty good about it. I made a quick trip to the grocery store for some necessary items. After I had my lunch, I played my trombone for twenty to thirty minutes (yes, I got my new squirt bottle!). Then I walked on the treadmill for close to 45 minutes, after which I showered and cooked dinner for the family. Then after dinner, I went to my first choir practice at Living Word Lutheran Church. It was fun, but I’m going to be really busy with their schedule, especially since I signed up to be in their orchestra, as well.

For example, I will have to be at the church by 8:15, this coming Sunday, as the choir is singing in the 8:45 service. Then I need to stick around for the orchestra rehearsal, which begins immediately after the 11:00 service. Oh, and there’s a Saturday morning choir “retreat,” this weekend. Fortunately, the orchestra rehearsals are only the two weeks preceding the performance in a Sunday morning service. We will be playing in both services on Sunday, January 29 (and the choir is singing in both services, as well . . . that will be fun!).

No doubt, I will not be able to make every Sunday performance, but I will make as many as I can. There are also some weeknight services that I may or may not be able to make. There will be an Ash Wednesday service on February 22. It looks like I won’t be working that day, so I should be able to make that. However, there is also a service on Good Friday, and the choir is scheduled to sing a cantata that evening. I always work on Fridays, so I don’t know if I will be able to make that one.

But it has been a very long time since I have sung this kind of music, and I am enjoying it immensely. And looking ahead, I see that Andrew Peterson’s “Is He Worthy” is in our folder, and I am very excited about that! I love that song!

Just a quick note on our crazy weather. We have broken heat records for two days in a row, with temps at 82 on Tuesday (previous record was 77, in 2017) and 85 yesterday (previous record was 80, also in 2017). And then today’s high is projected to be thirty degrees lower, at 55. It will be below freezing tomorrow morning. But at least we are closer to the average temps for these days, now, which for today is 59/36.

In sad news, we lost Jeff Beck, yesterday. Beck was recognized by many as one of the premier guitar players of our lifetime. He died of a sudden case of bacterial meningitis, at the age of 78. Here is a video I like of Beck and Rod Stewart performing “People Get Ready.” Stewart once described Beck as being “on another planet.”

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

They have almost made an end of me on earth; 
but I have not forsaken your precepts.
(Psalms 119:87 NRSV)

Dear Father in heaven, you let us see and feel your great goodness toward us. Grant us the inner help to be victorious in the Savior, rejoicing to be by his side with faith and loyalty, and with the strength of soul that frees us from all burdens by laying them in your hands. Hear us as together we pray to you. All we ask and long for, all our concerns down to the very smallest, we lay in your hands in the one great request that your name be glorified on earth as it is in heaven. Amen.

Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you; 
he will never permit the righteous to be moved.
(Psalms 55:22 NRSV)

Today I am grateful:

  • for God’s great goodness toward us, His provision and His protection
  • that He will not allow us to be moved or shaken
  • for the blessing of singing praises to the name of the Lord
  • for the effectiveness of prayer
  • for the gift of faith, a heart that believes
  • for Psalm 86:11, “Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart to revere your name.”

Sing aloud to God our strength; shout for joy to the God of Jacob. 
Raise a song, sound the tambourine, the sweet lyre with the harp. 
Blow the trumpet at the new moon, at the full moon, on our festal day.
For it is a statute for Israel, an ordinance of the God of Jacob.
(Psalms 81:1-4 NRSV)
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)
My mouth will tell of your righteous acts, 
of your deeds of salvation all day long,
though their number is past my knowledge.
(Psalms 71:15 NRSV)
People will say, "Surely there is a reward for the righteous; 
surely there is a God who judges on earth."
(Psalms 58:11 NRSV)
The woman said to him, "I know that Messiah is coming" (who is called Christ). "When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us." 
Jesus said to her, "I am he, the one who is speaking to you."
(John 4:25-26 NRSV)
Summon your might, O God; show your strength, O God, 
as you have done for us before. 
Because of your temple at Jerusalem kings bear gifts to you. 
Rebuke the wild animals that live among the reeds, 
the herd of bulls with the calves of the peoples. 
Trample under foot those who lust after tribute; 
scatter the peoples who delight in war. 
Let bronze be brought from Egypt; 
let Ethiopia hasten to stretch out its hands to God. 
Sing to God, O kingdoms of the earth; 
sing praises to the Lord, 

[Selah] 

O rider in the heavens, the ancient heavens; 
listen, he sends out his voice, his mighty voice. 
Ascribe power to God, whose majesty is over Israel; 
and whose power is in the skies. 
Awesome is God in his sanctuary, the God of Israel; 
he gives power and strength to his people. Blessed be God!
(Psalms 68:28-35 NRSV)

Glory be to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, so it is now and so it shall ever be, world without end. Alleluia. Amen.

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Your Name. May Your kingdom come, and Your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; for Yours are the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

"Father in heaven, who at the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan proclaimed him your beloved Son and anointed him with the Holy Spirit: Grant that all who are baptized into His Name may keep the covenant they have made, and boldly confess him as Lord and Savior; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen."
(The Divine Hours, The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

“When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”
(Matthew 6:7-8 NRSV)

In your strength the king rejoices, O LORD, 
and in your help how greatly he exults! 
You have given him his heart's desire, 
and have not withheld the request of his lips.

 [Selah] 

For you meet him with rich blessings; 
you set a crown of fine gold on his head. 
He asked you for life; 
you gave it to him—length of days forever and ever.
(Psalms 21:1-4 NRSV)
O LORD, my strength and my stronghold, my refuge in the day of trouble, 
to you shall the nations come from the ends of the earth and say: 
Our ancestors have inherited nothing but lies, 
worthless things in which there is no profit. 
Can mortals make for themselves gods? 
Such are no gods!
(Jeremiah 16:19-20 NRSV)

So this is my prayer: that your love will flourish and that you will not only love much but well. Learn to love appropriately. You need to use your head and test your feelings so that your love is sincere and intelligent, not sentimental gush. Live a lover’s life, circumspect and exemplary, a life Jesus will be proud of: bountiful in fruits from the soul, making Jesus Christ attractive to all, getting everyone involved in the glory and praise of God.
(Philippians 1:9-11 MSG)


“But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and I will multiply my signs and wonders in the land of Egypt. When Pharaoh does not listen to you, I will lay my hand upon Egypt and bring my people the Israelites, company by company, out of the land of Egypt by great acts of judgment. The Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring the Israelites out from among them.”
(Exodus 7:3-5 NRSV)

“Whatever experiences we may have, we shall not regard them as miraculous if we already hold a philosophy which excludes the supernatural.” (C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock, quoted in the C.S. Lewis Bible)


Psalm 86:11 (quoted above) is my “life verse.” I don’t exactly remember when it became so, but I believe it was early in the time that we lived in our current home, so somewhere in the last two decades, as we have lived in this home for almost 24 years. It is the first bookmark in the Bible program on this computer on which I am typing.

It is a beautiful prayer, that features honesty and humility before the Lord. First, a request to “teach me your way, O LORD.” This is similar to many verses in Psalm 119, which I have been working through at the pace of roughly a verse a day. God’s “way” is seen in two places. It is seen in His Word (the written Word), and it is seen in His Word (the living Word, the Son of God).

The reason for the request is so that “I may walk in your truth.” This truth, just like the way, is found in both the written Word and the living Word. In fact, Jesus called Himself “the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” Jesus is “the Way.” And Jesus is “the Truth.” So, even though he did not realize it, the psalmist who wrote Psalm 86 (it is attributed to David) was asking to walk in the way of Jesus, the Messiah.

But it is the second phrase in this verse that gives me even more inspiration. The honesty and humility of it are refreshing. “Give me an undivided heart to revere your name.” To pray for an undivided heart is to admit that my heart is, in fact, divided.

And certainly it is. My heart is divided in so many directions. Perhaps I can honestly say that God takes up the biggest portion of it, but I’m not even sure that would be truthful. I want it to be. And I want to revere the name of the Lord with my whole heart, just like I want to be able to thank Him with my whole heart, as verse 12 of the same Psalm says.

While I may not pray this prayer daily, I have certainly prayed it many days since it became my life verse. And I will continue to pray it until I meet my Savior face to face, because, as long as this treasure of salvation is contained in this jar of clay, I will not reach the point where my heart is fully undivided.

“I do believe! Help my unbelief!”


Father, teach me Your way, that I may walk in Your truth. Your Way and Your Truth are both contained in Jesus. So teach me Jesus, that I may walk in Jesus. And then, please, by Your Holy Spirit, continue to work on my divided heart, unifying it, that I might properly revere and fear Your holy name.

I continue to think about Enoch, and desire to walk with You the way he walked with You. This, though, requires the second part of that verse to be true for me. So I’m back to that again.

You have made Scripture so very dear to me, Father, for all of my life. I have loved the Bible since before I was able to read. I am grateful for it, and for the impact it has had on my life. Nevertheless, there are still times, all too frequently, when I do not live by it or walk in it. This is the evidence of my divided heart, Father. So, once again, I pray, give me an undivided heart to fear Your name.

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

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


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

Grace and peace, friends.

To Be Known

Today is Wednesday, the 11th of January, 2023, in the season of Epiphany.

May the peace of Christ be with you always!

Day 23,680

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

All your commandments are enduring; 
I am persecuted without cause; 
help me!
(Psalms 119:86 NRSV)

As previously noted, I am not enduring persecution, as the psalmist, here, was. However, I find that the last two words in the verse are sometimes the most potent prayer one can offer up.

Our dear Father, we ask you to come to us from heaven and surround us with your goodness and mercy, with your light and life. We are weak, poor, and lost just when we need to stand firm and hold on. But you are faithful. You stay by us and help us. Continue to help and sustain us, we pray. Do not let our lives be lived in vain. May something of eternity be with us in all we have to face in life, so that over and over again we may find courage to start anew. Amen.

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

 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 NRSV)

Today I am grateful:

  • for the infinite faithfulness of God; He will never react the way humans will, when we fail; it is perfectly safe to rant or vent to Him, because He will not rant back or lash out the way a human will
  • that, because the Lord is my light and my salvation, I have nothing to fear
  • that I am known by the Lord
  • for His provision in my life
  • that I take refuge in the Lord, rather than in mortals

O taste and see that the LORD is good; 
happy are those who take refuge in him.
(Psalms 34:8 NRSV)
Gladden the soul of your servant, 
for to you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
(Psalms 86:4 NRSV)
With my whole heart I seek you; 
do not let me stray from your commandments.
(Psalms 119:10 NRSV)
I will give to the LORD the thanks due to his righteousness, 
and sing praise to the name of the LORD, the Most High.
(Psalms 7:17 NRSV)

Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
(Matthew 6:31-33 NRSV)

It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to put confidence in mortals. 
It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to put confidence in princes. 
All nations surrounded me;
 in the name of the LORD I cut them off! 
They surrounded me, surrounded me on every side; 
in the name of the LORD I cut them off! 
They surrounded me like bees; 
they blazed like a fire of thorns;
in the name of the LORD I cut them off! 
I was pushed hard, so that I was falling, but the LORD helped me. 
The LORD is my strength and my might; 
he has become my salvation. 
There are glad songs of victory in the tents of the righteous: 
"The right hand of the LORD does valiantly; 
the right hand of the LORD is exalted; 
the right hand of the LORD does valiantly."
(Psalms 118:8-16 NRSV)

Let me seek the Lord while He may be found. I will call upon His name while He is near.

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Your Name. May Your kingdom come, and Your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; for Yours are the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

"Father in heaven, who at the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan proclaimed him your beloved Son and anointed him with the Holy Spirit: Grant that all who are baptized into His Name may keep the covenant they have made, and boldly confess him as Lord and Savior; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen."
(The Divine Hours, The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

Let mutual love continue.
(Hebrews 13:1 NRSV)

For it was you who formed my inward parts; 
you knit me together in my mother's womb.
(Psalms 139:13 NRSV)

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”
(Jeremiah 1:5 NRSV)


Know this—I am most emphatic here, friends—this great Message I delivered to you is not mere human optimism. I didn’t receive it through the traditions, and I wasn’t taught it in some school. I got it straight from God, received the Message directly from Jesus Christ.
(Galatians 1:11-12 MSG)


Now a new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph.
(Exodus 1:8 NRSV)

The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah and the other Puah, “When you act as midwives to the Hebrew women, and see them on the birthstool, if it is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, she shall live.” But the midwives feared God; they did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but they let the boys live. So the king of Egypt summoned the midwives and said to them, “Why have you done this, and allowed the boys to live?” The midwives said to Pharaoh, “Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women; for they are vigorous and give birth before the midwife comes to them.” So God dealt well with the midwives; and the people multiplied and became very strong.
(Exodus 1:15-20 NRSV)

But Moses said to God, “If I come to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” He said further, “Thus you shall say to the Israelites, ‘I AM has sent me to you.'” God also said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the Israelites, ‘The LORD, the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you’: This is my name forever, and this my title for all generations.
(Exodus 3:13-15 NRSV)


There’s a phrase in the passage from Matthew 6. “Your heavenly Father knows . . .,” Jesus said. And while any form of the word “know” is not present in Psalm 139:13, it is found in other verses in that great psalm.

You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
 you discern my thoughts from far away.
 You search out my path and my lying down, 
and are acquainted with all my ways. 
Even before a word is on my tongue, O LORD, 
you know it completely. 
You hem me in, behind and before, 
and lay your hand upon me. 
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; 
it is so high that I cannot attain it. 
(Psalms 139:2-6 NRSV)

In His words to Jeremiah, God told him that He knew him, even before he was formed in the womb.

We are known by God. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I find this to be very comforting. God knows me. He knows everything about me. He knows what I’m going to say next. He knew I was going to type that. He knows what I need, not only before I can pray for it, but even before I know I need it!

God knows me; God knows you. And this doesn’t just apply to people who are believers in Jesus Christ. I firmly believe that God knows everything about every human on the planet, past, present, and future.

The benefit of that knowledge is great. One benefit is given us, by Jesus, back in Matthew 6. Because of our Father’s knowledge of us, we ought not worry, we ought not be concerned about what we will eat or what we will wear. We should be confident of the promise that, if we seek His kingdom, all of the things we need, that we are worried about, will be given to us.

Another benefit is love. When we feel that we are known, it promotes more of a feeling of being loved. The person who knows us best should be our spouse, if we are married. It could be a parent, but once we are adults, and, perhaps, become married (or intimately attached to another person), we become known by that person.

But look what happens in Exodus. Chapter 1, verse 8. A new king arose, and he did not know Joseph. And because he did not know Joseph, he became afraid of Joseph’s family, the Hebrew people.

When people don’t know you, they may be more likely to mistreat you, misunderstand you, abuse you, say mean things about you, and so on. But when those things happen, hopefully someone who does know you will defend you.

God knows us. And He will defend us. It may not always look like we would like it to (for example, He probably won’t smite our “enemies”), but He will defend us. More importantly, He understands us and loves us. And He hears us when we cry out to Him. Because He knows us.


Father, I praise You that I am known. I am known by You, most importantly, but I am also known by a few other people. That gives me great comfort. It is nice to be known. It is comforting to be known. It is encouraging to be known. So I am grateful for that.

Help me to be a friend to someone else. Help me to know others the way I am known. Help me to love others the way I am loved. This is challenging, because prejudices get in the way; self-righteousness gets in the way; misunderstandings get in the way. These are the kinds of things that are dividing not only our nation, but also Your Church, during these days.

I pray for unity, for knowledge, and for love.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


Grace and peace, friends.

So Much Wonder . . .

Today is Monday, the 9th of January, 2023, in the season of Epiphany. I will be attempting to follow the calendar, going forward, of the church I am attending, which is Lutheran.

May the peace of Christ find you hale today.

Day 23,678

It’s going to be a rather busy week, even though I only have two shifts at the library, this week. Part of that is because of new church involvement. S has a therapy appointment tomorrow morning, and is also scheduled for an activity on Thursday evening. I have my first choir practice Wednesday night, and a half-day choir “retreat” at the church on Saturday morning. There is also a men’s Bible study and breakfast on Saturday morning, before the choir retreat. But it starts at 7:30, and I’m not sure I can get myself up early enough to do all of that.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

My eyes fail with watching for your promise; 
I ask, "When will you comfort me?" 
For I have become like a wineskin in the smoke, 
yet I have not forgotten your statutes.
(Psalms 119:82-83 NRSV)

In Your mercy, Lord hear our prayers.

Lord our God, we thank you that we are allowed to live in your love. We thank you for your promise that all the suffering on earth shall come to an end. Hear us when we turn to you with all we have on our hearts. We are weak, but you are strong. May we hope and trust in your strength. May our life, with all its practical concerns, remain in your hands until the day when you will act in might and the whole world will know the forgiveness of sins and will praise and thank you evermore. Amen.

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord, because you know that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.
(1 Corinthians 15:57-58 NRSV)

Today I am grateful:

  • that we are allowed to live in the love of God, through Jesus Christ
  • for the promise that, one day, all suffering will end
  • for the knowledge that, in Christ, our labor is not in vain; may I be steadfast and immovable, always excelling in His work
  • for wonder
  • that the Lord on high is mighty and sovereign (Psalm 93)

Bless the LORD, O my soul, 
and all that is within me, 
bless his holy name. 
Bless the LORD, O my soul, 
and do not forget all his benefits—
(Psalms 103:1-2 NRSV)
Protect me, O God, for in you I take refuge. 
I say to the LORD, "You are my Lord;
 I have no good apart from you."
(Psalms 16:1-2 NRSV)
I love you, O LORD, my strength. 
The LORD is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer, 
my God, my rock in whom I take refuge, 
my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
(Psalms 18:1-2 NRSV)
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; 
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
(Psalms 51:7 NRSV)

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”
(Mark 1:9-11 NRSV)

Praise is due to you, O God, in Zion; and to you shall vows be performed, 
O you who answer prayer! To you all flesh shall come. 
When deeds of iniquity overwhelm us, you forgive our transgressions.
 Happy are those whom you choose and bring near to live in your courts. 
We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house, your holy temple. 
By awesome deeds you answer us with deliverance, O God of our salvation; 
you are the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas.
(Psalms 65:1-5 NRSV)
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)

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Your Name. May Your kingdom come, and Your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; for Yours are the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

"Father in heaven, who at the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan proclaimed him your beloved Son and anointed him with the Holy Spirit: Grant that all who are baptized into His Name may keep the covenant they have made, and boldly confess him as Lord and Savior; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen."
(The Divine Hours, The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

Amazement seized all of them, and they glorified God and were filled with awe, saying, “We have seen strange things today.”
(Luke 5:26 NRSV)

"Who is like you, O LORD, among the gods? Who is like you, majestic in holiness, awesome in splendor, doing wonders?"
(Exodus 15:11 NRSV)
Let all the earth fear the LORD; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him.
(Psalms 33:8 NRSV)

More majestic than the thunders of mighty waters, 
more majestic than the waves of the sea, 
majestic on high is the LORD! 
(Psalms 93:4 NRSV)

It was pretty easy to see today’s theme. Wonder. There are always times, in the lives of believers, when they simply must stop and look around. Now, while it is true that the verse from Luke 5 refers to the reaction of the crowd when Jesus healed the paralytic that was brought in by his four friends, Walking in Grace writer Rick Hamlin uses it as a springboard to think about a time when God arranged a scene of wonder for him to view, while out on a daily run.

I have seen, personally, many such scenes of wonder. Not while running. I don’t run. If you ever see me running, you should probably also run. Away from whatever I am running from.

I have seen majestic mountains in Wyoming, Colorado, Tennessee, and other places. I have seen waterfalls that have left me breathless, in Wyoming and Oregon. I have seen the beauty of the desert, and the majesty of the ocean. As the Newsboys song, “In Wonder” begins, “So much wonder . . .”

Often times in my life, I have simply been astounded that anyone could look around this creation and not believe in a Creator. Personally, I think it takes greater faith to believe that all of this is an accident.

But that’s not what I’m writing about today. Today, it is simply about wonder. So I encourage you . . . take a moment today, or sometime this week, and simply gaze at something in wonder. It might be the night sky. It might be a forest or a lovely park setting. It might be your children or grandchildren, for they, too, are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” It might even be your own hands. Have you ever done that? Have you ever just looked at your hands, moved your fingers, and been in awe of God’s majesty? I have.


Father, I celebrate the wonder of Your creation today. I praise You for all the beauty which You have given us, and much of it for no other reason than to lift you up and worship You. When I consider that there are creatures in the depths of the sea that no human eye will ever see, it makes me wonder even more. So much that You created simply for Your own pleasure. Perhaps, someday, when we are in Your presence, face to face, we will see some of these things, as we celebrate eternity with You.

I thank You for the calling that You gave us in Jesus Christ, the calling to be Your children. I pray that I will walk with You the way Enoch walked with You. I pray that I will follow the commands of Christ to love You and love my neighbor, and then to love the saints even more deeply.

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

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


Grace and peace, friends.

Endings . . .

Today is Saturday, the 31st of December, 2022, in the first week of Christmas. It is the seventh day of Christmas, and it is New Year’s Eve, the last day of 2022.

May the peace of Christ be with you always!

Day 23,669

We have some casual plans for this afternoon/evening. The family people who were supposed to come Christmas Eve will be showing up around 4:00 PM today. We plan to order out, rather than having everyone cook a lot of stuff. I believe we’re having Italian food. Last big meal for us, as at least three of us plan to get back on the proverbial “wagon” tomorrow. I might watch some college football today. TCU plays Michigan in the Fiesta Bowl. Winner will take on the winner of the Peach Bowl, either Ohio State or Georgia, for the “national championship.”

As I finish today’s devotional, I am finishing four more books for the year. I’ll be starting new ones tomorrow.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Your hands have made and fashioned me; 
give me understanding that I may learn your commandments.
(Psalms 119:73 ESV)

That may very well become my verse for 2023. What a great prayer.

Lord our God, thank you for letting your light shine every day of every year. Thank you that we may always lift our eyes to you, whose right hand will bring true order to everything, even in difficult times. Give our hearts the strength to be faithful in this age, the strength to glorify you. For you remain, no matter what happens on earth. You are our God. You have sent us the Savior and we can draw close to you. Your promise to us stands firm, the promise that your day with its truth and justice shall come, to the honor of your name. May many people turn their hearts to you; may they worship you and call to you for help, to the glory of our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth, 
and the heavens are the work of your hands. 
They will perish, but you remain; 
they will all wear out like a garment.
 Like clothing you will change them 
and they will be discarded. 
But you remain the same,
 and your years will never end. 
Psalm 102:25–27, NIV

Today I am grateful:

  1. for the unchangeable nature of God; everything around us will perish, but He remains, and His “years will never end”
  2. that our hearts have the strength to be faithful in this age
  3. that, because of our Savior, we can draw close to the Father
  4. for endings and new beginnings
  5. for the potential of seeing “extraordinary things” in our lives (Luke 5)

When Jesus perceived their thoughts, he answered them, “Why do you question in your hearts? Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the man who was paralyzed—”I say to you, rise, pick up your bed and go home.” And immediately he rose up before them and picked up what he had been lying on and went home, glorifying God. And amazement seized them all, and they glorified God and were filled with awe, saying, “We have seen extraordinary things today.”
(Luke 5:22-26 ESV)

Thus says the LORD:
 "Heaven is my throne, 
and the earth is my footstool; 
what is the house that you would build for me, 
and what is the place of my rest?
 All these things my hand has made,
 and so all these things came to be, 
declares the LORD. 

"But this is the one to whom I will look: 
he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word."
(Isaiah 66:1-2 ESV)

This is too much, too wonderful— 
I can't take it all in!
(Psalms 139:6 MSG)

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
(Deuteronomy 31:6 NIV)

You make known to me the path of life; 
you will fill me with joy in your presence, 
with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
(Psalms 16:11 NIV)

It’s the last day of a year. It’s a day that is famously viewed as an ending, giving way to a new beginning.

So there is some good advice, here, for looking forward. “Be strong and courageous,” Moses said to Israel, at the end of his life, as he handed off leadership to Joshua. He then said the same words directly to Joshua. “Do not be afraid or terrified.” This is good advice for us as we look forward to another year.

I don’t have a lot of confidence that 2023 is going to be any different than 2022, as far as the world goes. There is so much fear in the world, right now, and I don’t see it going away, especially in the USA, because there are people who are driving the fear. Most of, if not all of, the fear is driven by misinformation. “Fake news,” if you will, from both sides (which is, of course, assuming that there are only two sides).

For those of us who choose to put our faith in God, rather than men, all of this is meaningless. There are more important things to be concerned with than who the next President is going to be or whether an ex-President is going to be indicted for his crimes. In fact, there are more important things to be concerned with than the future of this country. I realize that this comes as a shock to some people.

“Be strong and courageous.” In a way, this is very similar to the command most often repeated in Scripture, “Fear not.” This, I believe, is the Word from God for us as we look toward another year of political chaos and health crises.

If we keep our eyes on our Creator, and on the “pioneer and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2), we truly can exclaim, along with the psalmist, “This is too much, too wonderful— I can’t take it all in!” Or, to put it another way, “Wow!”

It would also do us well to consider some of the closing words of the book of Isaiah: “But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.” There is a great need for more humility in our land, and more people who tremble at the Word of God. And I’m not talking about human interpretations of the Bible, either.

Finally, I find it fitting that the last Scripture I read, this morning, happened to be one of my favorite verses in Psalms. Psalm 16:11.

You make known to me the path of life; 
in your presence there is fullness of joy; 
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
(Psalms 16:11 ESV)

As we look toward another year, let us remember this. Let us remember to have courage, to “fear not,” and let us remember that it is God Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, our Father in heaven, who makes known to us the path of life. Let us remember that, in His presence, there is fullness of joy, and that, at His right hand, there are pleasures forevermore.

When your joy is threatened, when you are not experiencing “pleasure,” stop. Just stop. Quiet yourself, quiet your soul and spirit. Meditate on His Word, and remember whose you are. Get back into an awareness of His presence, and back on the true path of life.


Father, in some ways, I am glad 2022 is coming to an end. Thank you for endings that lead to new beginnings. On another level, of course, I am also aware that today is just another day, as is tomorrow. It is only our mindset that makes these days “special.” The reality is that every day is, in itself, a “new beginning,” and we don’t have to wait until December 31 of next year to plan to do things better.

Nevertheless, as we embark on whatever adventures 2023 will bring our way, help us to focus on You; help us to have faith in You; help us to take our eyes off of corrupt politicians (most of them, regardless of labels), off of the health crises around us (but still remaining cautious and responsible), and keep them on You, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

I look forward to beginning 2023 in worship with Living Word Lutheran Church, in the morning. I pray that there are things that I will do better in 2023. I pray that my prayers will be better, more effective, stronger, and more faithful. This requires me, of course, to be more connected with You, so let me do that, Lord. Help me to live like I believe.

I do believe! Help my unbelief! And help my occasional apathy!

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”

Grace and peace, friends.