“Be holy, for I . . . Am Holy

Today is Sunday, the 22nd of January, 2023, the third Sunday after Epiphany.

May the peace of the Lord be with you always!

Day 23,691

I had a good Saturday at the library, yesterday and am close to feeling normal again. I’ll be heading up to church in a little while, and will attempt to sing with the choir, this morning in the 11:00 service. I have another orchestra rehearsal after that service, and will be going back up there at 6:30 tonight for our Mere Christianity group discussion.

Today’s header photo was taken by Romanian photographer extraordinaire, Paul Militaru. Please visit his website at the link provided to see his magnificent photos.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies, 
for it is always with me.
(Psalms 119:98 NRSV)

Dear Father in heaven, grant us the inner quiet we need so that we may come into your presence and hear you speak, forgetting all the things that try to force themselves upon us. May we experience your true and living support. Keep our hearts glad and thankful for everything, even in grief, anxiety, and suffering. In this thankfulness we can remain with you, and Jesus Christ can help us, Jesus, whom you have given as our support and helper in all that most deeply concerns us. We entrust ourselves to you. Keep us in your Spirit. Amen.

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”
(Matthew 11:28 NRSV)

Today I am grateful:

  • for the inner quiet in my spirit, that God grants, so that I might dwell in His presence and hear Him speak to me; may I be able to shove aside all distractions and listen
  • for the “easy yoke” of Jesus (Matthew 11:28ff)
  • for the prayer that begins this day, and the hope of a prayer that will end it
  • for the opportunity to worship with the saints and sing praises to God
  • for the gift of God’s Word, His “book on living” (Psalm 119:111, MSG)

This Day, by Daryl Madden

Let the sun rise today
And the sun set this day
With its blessing of light
In between

Let a prayer start this day
And a prayer, close this day
With an indwelling prayer
In between

Let love spark this day
And in love rest this day
With a sharing of love
In between

With thanks start this day
And in thanks end this day
Everything is a gift
In between

Please visit Daryl’s site at the link above, to see more of his inspirational poetry.


When he has finished atoning for the holy place and the tent of meeting and the altar, he shall present the live goat. Then Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, and confess over it all the iniquities of the people of Israel, and all their transgressions, all their sins, putting them on the head of the goat, and sending it away into the wilderness by means of someone designated for the task. The goat shall bear on itself all their iniquities to a barren region; and the goat shall be set free in the wilderness.
(Leviticus 16:20-22 NRSV)

This shall be a statute to you forever: In the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall deny yourselves, and shall do no work, neither the citizen nor the alien who resides among you. For on this day atonement shall be made for you, to cleanse you; from all your sins you shall be clean before the LORD. It is a sabbath of complete rest to you, and you shall deny yourselves; it is a statute forever. The priest who is anointed and consecrated as priest in his father’s place shall make atonement, wearing the linen vestments, the holy vestments. He shall make atonement for the sanctuary, and he shall make atonement for the tent of meeting and for the altar, and he shall make atonement for the priests and for all the people of the assembly. This shall be an everlasting statute for you, to make atonement for the people of Israel once in the year for all their sins. And Moses did as the LORD had commanded him.
(Leviticus 16:29-34 NRSV)

The LORD spoke to Moses, saying: Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them: You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy.
(Leviticus 19:1-2 NRSV)

You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against any of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.
(Leviticus 19:18 NRSV)


Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
(2 Corinthians 9:7 NRSV)

Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in my house, and thus put me to the test, says the LORD of hosts; see if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you an overflowing blessing.
(Malachi 3:10 NRSV)


I inherited your book on living;
 it's mine forever— what a gift! 
And how happy it makes me!
(Psalms 119:111 MSG)

I like that phrase that Peterson uses in The Message, “your book on living.” The NRSV words it differently, but I can certainly appreciate its translation, as well.

Your decrees are my heritage forever; 
they are the joy of my heart.
(Psalms 119:111 NRSV)

I’ve talked about Psalm 119 before, in this forum. It uses many different words to represent God’s Word, the thing we call the Bible. In this particular verse, it is “decrees.” In others, it might be “law,” or “precepts,” or “ordinances.” Sometimes it is just “word.” But Peterson’s wording, “your book on living” is wonderful, I think.

I love the Bible. I always have, as long as I can remember. I have read it through at least 17 times in my life. That has not always been cover-to-cover (which is how I’m reading the NRSV, this year). For example, last year’s reading plan had me bouncing around like a ping pong ball. But I still read the whole thing.

I’m not boasting about this. Not at all. I’m not bragging about how many times I’ve read it. I won’t brag about how much I have memorized. Probably not all that much, compared to others. I will boast, though, about the author of the book.

Yes, I know that men wrote the text, quite a few of them. But I believe and proclaim that God, via the Holy Spirit is the ultimate Author of the Bible. And I will boast about Him. I love His Word. As the psalmist says in that verse above, it is the joy of my heart. I find myself in Psalms, probably more than any other book, and I’m working my way through chapter 119, a verse at a time, right now.

The Bible truly is a “book on living.” Not that we should get all caught up in trying to live out the details in Leviticus (I talked about that, yesterday). I don’t even think we should work that hard to see that we are keeping the Ten Commandments (that is also addressed yesterday). Don’t get me wrong . . . we shouldn’t be striving to break those Ten Commandments, either. But we have further teachings from the Son of God in the New Testament.

The Old Testament Law is there to show us how we have failed, and how we are going to fail. I believe Paul gives us a pretty good illustration of that in his epistles.

And everything is summed up by (there he goes again) Jesus’s two main commands. Love God; love people. Love your neighbor as yourself. But guess what! As we see all the way back in Leviticus, that wasn’t a new “law,” was it? God gave that word to Moses in Leviticus 19! The “golden rule” was not new with Jesus. He just reminded us, strongly, that it is the way to live.

There are many in the world today who seem to have forgotten this “golden rule,” and need to be reminded. The way to live is to treat one another the way we desire to be treated. To my shame, I have not succeeded in always doing this. I have been quite mean and rude to people in my life. I’ve gotten better, especially since I have been striving to live by Jesus’s two commands in recent years.

But I still struggle with my reaction when Applebee’s gets my order wrong . . . AGAIN! But here’s the thing. When Sonic messes up my drink order, when Walmart delivers milk that is past its expiration date, when Albertson’s makes a weird substitution for something I ordered . . . all of these are what I call “footstool” problems. What that means is that they aren’t really problems at all.

May God have mercy on us when we overreact to such situations. May He teach us how to react better, more calmly, more . . . well, “holy.”

Note: As seems to be the case a lot, lately, I had no idea where this was going to wind up when I started typing. Glory to God!


Father, I am so glad that Your Word tells us that You remember that we are dust. This means that nothing we do surprises you. We might disappoint You, most certainly, but I’m not even sure how that works for You, seeing as how You know everything I am going to do before I do it. Sometimes, I wonder why You didn’t stop me if You knew I was going to do that stupid thing, or that rude thing, or that mean thing.

I love Your Word, Father, and I love You. I will always boast of You and Your great and marvelous works. I would be, and am nothing, without You. All that I have in my possession was given to me by You. Every relationship that I have in this world was given to me by You. I pray that I use the things wisely and resourcefully, being of a generous heart with all things, and I pray that I would approach all the relationships with the love of Jesus as my driving force.

Help me to love You with my whole heart, and my whole being, and help me to love others as myself. I also pray that You help me to love the saints as Christ loves the Church. Help me to be “holy” as You are Holy.

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.

“Comfort My People”

Today is Monday, the 5th of December, in the second week of Advent.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you today!

Day 23,643

20 days until Christmas!

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

I will keep your law continually,
 forever and ever,
(Psalms 119:44 ESV)

When I read a verse like this, I am reminded that, because of Jesus, the “law” consists of a couple of basic commands, love the Lord with all your being, and love your neighbor as yourself. In addition, we are to love the community of saints with an even more intense love.

Lord our God, dear Father, you have made yourself known on earth so that we may love you and be loved by you. Give us your Spirit, we pray. Give us your Spirit to strengthen us in the life and work you offer us. Watch over us on all our ways. Wherever your children are sighing and calling for you, protect and guide them with your mighty hand. Let your kingdom spread over the whole world, over all people, over all races and nations, that we may become united as servants of Jesus Christ to your honor. Amen.

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

Then the sovereignty, power and greatness of all the kingdoms under heaven will be handed over to the holy people of the Most High. His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all rulers will worship and obey him. 
Daniel 7:27, NIV

Today I am grateful:

  1. that God has made Himself known to us on earth, that we may love Him and be loved by Him
  2. for the Spirit who strengthens us in our daily lives
  3. for God’s watchfulness over us
  4. that the Lord comforts the brokenhearted and crushed in spirit
  5. that God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever (Psalm 73)

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
(Ephesians 2:1-10 ESV)

Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. 
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, 
and cry to her 
that her warfare is ended, 
that her iniquity is pardoned, 
that she has received from the LORD's hand 
double for all her sins. 

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

A voice says, "Cry!" 
And I said, "What shall I cry?" 
All flesh is grass, 
and all its beauty is like the flower of the field. 
The grass withers, the flower fades 
when the breath of the LORD blows on it; 
surely the people are grass. 
The grass withers, the flower fades,
 but the word of our God will stand forever.
(Isaiah 40:1-8 ESV)
Have you not known? Have you not heard? 
The LORD is the everlasting God, 
the Creator of the ends of the earth. 
He does not faint or grow weary; 
his understanding is unsearchable. 
He gives power to the faint, 
and to him who has no might he increases strength. 
Even youths shall faint and be weary, 
and young men shall fall exhausted; 
but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; 
they shall mount up with wings like eagles; 
they shall run and not be weary; 
they shall walk and not faint.
(Isaiah 40:28-31 ESV)

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
(Psalms 147:3 NIV)


So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.
(John 16:22 NIV)

The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
(Psalms 34:18 NIV)

Whom have I in heaven but you? 
And earth has nothing I desire besides you. 
My flesh and my heart may fail, 
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
(Psalms 73:25-26 NIV)

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
(Matthew 5:4 NIV)


He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
(Matthew 17:20 NIV)


There is much mourning around us, during this season, a seemingly inordinate amount, in my opinion. I know of many families who have lost, or are anticipating the loss of, loved ones in the past couple of months. This makes holiday seasons even more difficult than they might already be.

Many of us do not realize that the days from Thanksgiving until the end of the year are not all joyful and happy for everyone. I know of one family who simply does not celebrate Thanksgiving because of a tragedy that occurred many years ago.

Most recently, in the past week, a north Texas family lost a daughter in a senseless killing. Some of you may have heard about Athena Strand. Her family will be struggling to know any joy this Christmas.

There is much talk of healing hearts in today’s Scripture readings. The Lord is, indeed, close to the brokenhearted and crushed in spirit. He will comfort those who mourn.

I have always been fond of Psalm 73:25-26, cited above. Whom do I have besides God? What on earth could I possibly desire besides Him?

But it all comes down to faith. In order to experience the comfort of God in our brokenheartedness, we must experience faith; we must possess faith. And the way we get more or stronger faith is through prayer. There is a link between prayer and faith. And one of the best ways to work through this is to pray God’s Word back to Him. This is best done through Psalms, which is why people such as Dietrich Bonhoeffer referred to the Psalms as the Prayerbook of the Bible.

“It is as we take His Word, bringing it before Him, asking Him to make it living and real to us, that the power will come to fully believe it and receive it as our own. It is in prayer, in living contact with the living God, that faith to trust God and to accept all that He says will become real to us.” (Andrew Murray, in Believing Prayer, quoted in Power in Prayer)


Father, I pray for those who are mourning, during these months, especially for the family of Athena Strand, in the loss of their precious daughter. We will never pretend to understand tragedies such as this in our world, and I have no words of comfort for this family, other than to pray for Your comfort in their spirits.

I do have confidence, however, that You are indeed close to the brokenhearted and that You save the crushed in spirit. I pray for Your presence in their lives, today. I pray for Your presence in the hearts and souls of others who have lost dear ones in the past month or so. I pray that they might be able to find some spark of joy in the season and in Your Spirit.

I pray for stronger faith, Father, as I pray Your Word back to You. You are, indeed, the strength of my heart and my portion forever. I pray that You would teach me Your way, that I may walk in Your truth, and that You would unite my heart to fear Your Name.

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

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


What can I give him,
Poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd
I would bring a lamb,
If I were a wise man
I would do my part--
Yet what I can I give him,
Give my heart.
(Christina Rossetti)

Grace and peace, friends.

It Sings the Conqueror’s Song

Today is Saturday, the 19th of November, 2022, in the 33rd week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ be with you today!

Day 23,627

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

My soul melts away for sorrow; 
strengthen me according to your word! 
(Psalms 119:28 ESV)

I don’t have great sorrow, today. But I always need strengthening by His Word. And certainly, not everything is perfect, on this lazy morning.

Lord our God, we come to you poor and yet rich, weak and yet strong, with the prayer that your promise may be fulfilled in Jesus Christ, our dear Lord and Savior. Let the time come when the heavens open and a new light shines over the earth, a time when people will praise and thank you and receive everlasting peace and happiness with you. Remember the many people who come into need these days. Remember our nation and all who work for the good of our country. Bless them and help them. And help the dying, O Lord our God; grant that they come to you, for they are yours. Your help will bring life out of death, joy out of grief and need. May your name be honored, dear Father in heaven, may your kingdom come and your will be done on earth as in heaven. Amen.

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise;
 God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong. 
1 Corinthians 1:27, RSV

Today I am grateful:

  1. that, though we may, at times, appear to be poor and weak, in Christ, we are rich and strong
  2. for all the saints who work for good in this world
  3. that the Lord does not cast us off in our “old age”
  4. for Psalm 71 (go read it)
  5. for faith, the central piece of salvation, the gift of God

How Many? by Daryl Madden

How many prayers
Will it take ‘til I know?
That You truly love me
Unconditionally so

How many trials
Will I have to face here?
‘Til I can fully trust
In You without fear

How many things
Will I have to pursue?
‘Til I know all I need
Are the gifts blessed by You

How much of my ego
Will I have to release?
To live my life in You
As one who knows Your peace

How many times
Must I read the Bible through?
Until I live my life
One, with heavens view

How many souls
Will You have to send me?
To practice forgiveness
Grace and humility

How many moments
Will it take til I hear?
All those questions don’t matter
Just to love with Me here

What a beautiful poem! It captures the way I feel, so often, perfectly. How many times must I fail before I fully know the love that our Father has for me? And that one line, “How much of my ego will I have to release?” So convicting! Please visit Daryl’s site at the link provided, to see more of his inspirational poetry.


So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.
(1 Peter 2:1-3 ESV)

Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.
(1 Peter 2:13-17 ESV)

For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.
(1 Peter 2:21-23 ESV)

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

Praise the LORD!
 Praise the name of the LORD, 
give praise, O servants of the LORD, 
who stand in the house of the LORD, 
in the courts of the house of our God! 
Praise the LORD, for the LORD is good; 
sing to his name, for it is pleasant! 
(Psalms 135:1-3 ESV)
For I know that the LORD is great, 
and that our Lord is above all gods. 
Whatever the LORD pleases, 
he does, in heaven and on earth, 
in the seas and all deeps. 
He it is who makes the clouds rise 
at the end of the earth, 
who makes lightnings for the rain 
and brings forth the wind from his storehouses. 
(Psalms 135:5-7 ESV)
The idols of the nations are silver and gold,
 the work of human hands. 
They have mouths, but do not speak; 
they have eyes, but do not see; 
they have ears, but do not hear, 
nor is there any breath in their mouths. 
Those who make them become like them, 
so do all who trust in them. 
(Psalms 135:15-18 ESV)


My soul yearns for you in the night, my spirit within me earnestly seeks you. For when your judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness.
(Isaiah 26:9 NRSV)

In you, O LORD, I take refuge; 
let me never be put to shame. 
In your righteousness deliver me and rescue me;
 incline your ear to me and save me. 
Be to me a rock of refuge, 
a strong fortress, to save me, 
for you are my rock and my fortress. 

Rescue me, O my God, from the hand of the wicked, 
from the grasp of the unjust and cruel. 
For you, O Lord, are my hope, 
my trust, O LORD, from my youth. 
Upon you I have leaned from my birth; 
it was you who took me from my mother's womb. 
My praise is continually of you. 

I have been like a portent to many,
 but you are my strong refuge. 
My mouth is filled with your praise, 
and with your glory all day long. 
Do not cast me off in the time of old age; 
do not forsake me when my strength is spent. 
For my enemies speak concerning me, 
and those who watch for my life consult together.
 They say, "Pursue and seize that person 
whom God has forsaken, 
for there is no one to deliver." 

O God, do not be far from me; 
O my God, make haste to help me! 
(Psalms 71:1-12 NRSV)
O God, from my youth you have taught me, 
and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds. 
So even to old age and gray hairs, 
O God, do not forsake me, 
until I proclaim your might 
to all the generations to come. 
Your power and your righteousness, O God, 
reach the high heavens. 

You who have done great things, 
O God, who is like you? 
You who have made me see many troubles and calamities 
will revive me again; 
from the depths of the earth 
you will bring me up again. 
You will increase my honor, 
and comfort me once again. 
I will also praise you with the harp 
for your faithfulness, O my God; 
I will sing praises to you with the lyre, 
O Holy One of Israel. 
My lips will shout for joy 
when I sing praises to you; 
my soul also, which you have rescued. 
(Psalms 71:17-23 NRSV)

“‘But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you, delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles—to whom I am sending you to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.'”
(Acts 26:16-18 ESV)

“The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”
(Exodus 14:14 ESV)


There’s a lot of Scripture, today. And a lot of different thoughts presented.

As followers of Christ, we are told to put away “all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander.” All. No exceptions. If, at any time, we find ourselves experiencing or practicing any of these things, we should immediately repent.

I have long loved that little verse from Jeremiah 33. “Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.” While I realize that the Lord was speaking directly to Jeremiah when He said that, I see no reason that it should not be true for us, as well. Jesus told us to ask, seek, and knock. I take that as a similar injunction. All we need to do is call.

However, we must be calling in sincerity and obedience. If we are not being obedient to the commands of Christ, then we have no right to expect an answer. Nevertheless, sometimes, in His grace and mercy, He answers, anyway.

I also love the verse from Isaiah. My soul yearns for the Lord, and not just during the night, all the time. And I like how he says “my spirit within me earnestly seeks you.” This almost indicates that it might be happening, even without my knowledge. Or even if my flesh is not seeking.

I find, as well, that I can identify with the psalmist who wrote Psalm 71. Especially as I find myself getting into that area known as “old age.”

It all comes down to faith. Jesus’s words to Paul, in the book of Acts, indicate this, as He ends His little speech with, “those who are sanctified by faith in me.” Faith is the central piece of the plan of salvation. Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us that we saved by grace, “through faith.”

“Because God is a spiritual and invisible being, every revelation of Him, whether in His works, His Word, or His Son, calls for faith.” (Andrew Murray, in The Path to Holiness, quoted in Power in Prayer)

See the little verse from Exodus, where Moses is telling the people of Israel that the Lord will fight for them. “You have only to be silent,” he tells them, or, as in some translations, “be still.” Faith can be hindered by effort. Not always, mind you, but probably more often than not.

Look at the example of Abraham and Sarah. God promised Isaac to them. But they decided God needed a little help, and Ishmael was the result of that.

Another thing that hinders faith is the need or “desire to see and feel.” Murray says, “If you believe, you will see.” When all appears to be dark, faith dictates that we continue to believe in Jesus “as our all-sufficiency, in who we are perfected before God.” (Murray)

And I love this statement he makes about faith: “In conscious weakness, in the presence of its enemies, it sings the conqueror’s song.”

If it looks like God is not doing what He has promised to do, it is time for faith to hold fast and firm, and sing “the conqueror’s song.” And, for goodness sake, don’t try to help Him!


Father, I thank You for giving me faith. Your Word declares that it is a gift from You, so that we have no cause for boasting. I will gladly declare my weaknesses that You may be known as strong! I will gladly declare my poverty, so that I might be seen to be rich in You.

I praise You, in great joy, for the truth that You will fight for us, and we only need to be still and silent. Remove from us that feeling that we have to help You, as that rarely ends well. Remind us that we need to wait on You, which, while that does not always require being still and doing nothing, sometimes it does.

Help us, too, as Your children, to put away all of those negative things mentioned by Peter. There is no place for malice or hypocrisy or deceit or slander or envy in the life of Your children, Lord.

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

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


The LORD bless you and keep you; 
the LORD make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; 
the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.
(Numbers 6:24-26 NIV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Mercy

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

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

Day 23,625

One week until Thanksgiving! Ordering the groceries today.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

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

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

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

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

Today I am grateful:

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

Gods’ Love, by Daryl Madden

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

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

For He does love
Everybody
With love unique
Individually

Beyond all time
Unconditionally
To glimpse right here
Infinitely

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

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
(Ephesians 3:14-21 ESV emphasis added)

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

Grace and peace, friends.

It Doesn’t Matter How I Feel

Today is Saturday, the 12th of November, 2022, in the 32nd week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you today!

Day 23,620

Today is C’s birthday! Happy birthday to her!

Today’s header photo was taken by Romanian photographer Paul Militaru. Please visit his site at the link provided to see more of his beautiful photos.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

You rebuke the insolent, accursed ones, 
who wander from your commandments.
(Psalms 119:21 ESV)

Lord our God, we hold to you and to your promise. Though much is hidden from us, your voice comes clearly to us proclaiming, “Watch and pray. You are to await the day of Jesus Christ your Lord, and you can rejoice now in the midst of strife, distress, fear, and need.” We thank you for your powerful Word. However long the time of waiting may be, your Word remains eternally and will be fulfilled. Your name shall be honored in the proclamation of your Word, your kingdom shall come, and your will shall be done on earth as in heaven. Amen.

(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

For you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night...But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. 
1 Thessalonians 5:2,4–5, NIV

Today I am grateful:

  1. to be celebrating a birthday with the love of my life
  2. for the great and precious promises of God, through which we can rejoice, no matter what our circumstances
  3. for the love of God, fully unconditional, based solely on His desire
  4. that God, by His Spirit, replenishes and refreshes the weary soul
  5. that the presence and work of God in my life has nothing to do with how I feel

“Past the Thought,” by Daryl Madden

Based on my human thought
With guilty vision see
I can’t get past the thought
That you love me fully

And I feel you smile
And speak to me gently
Let’s share in a prayer
In this moment be

Let go of the past
Of future don’t worry
Just be of this moment
In presence here with me

I forgive your sins
All of them completely
Feel my grace within
Joy in my mercy

I love you here and now
Repeat these words with me
I love you, I love you
The Word, eternally

Such a beautiful poem, expressing so well God’s love for us. When I first read it, I wondered aloud, why do we struggle so much with accepting and embracing God’s unconditional love for us? Is it because we are incapable of the same kind of love, and our love always has strings attached? I don’t know, but I struggle with it, as well. I do know this: When I allow myself to embrace it, it is the most wonderful experience possible.

Please visit Daryl’s site at the link provided, to see more of his inspirational poetry.


“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
(Luke 4:18-19 ESV)


“For I will satisfy the weary soul, and every languishing soul I will replenish.”
(Jeremiah 31:25 ESV)

A Psalm of David. 

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. 
He makes me lie down in green pastures. 
He leads me beside still waters. 
He restores my soul. 
He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. 
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
 I will fear no evil, for you are with me; 
your rod and your staff, they comfort me. 
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; 
you anoint my head with oil; 
my cup overflows. 
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, 
and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever. 
(Psalms 23:1-6 ESV)
Unless the LORD builds the house,
 those who build it labor in vain. 
Unless the LORD watches over the city, 
the watchman stays awake in vain. 
It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, 
eating the bread of anxious toil; 
for he gives to his beloved sleep. 
(Psalms 127:1-2 ESV)

Wait for the LORD; 
be strong, and let your heart take courage; 
wait for the LORD!
(Psalms 27:14 ESV)

As usual, when it is a morning when I must go to work at the library, I seem to be running out of time. It’s one of my weaknesses, my flaws.

But what I want to focus on, this morning, is something that Andrew Murray points out. And I believe this thread runs through some of the other Scriptures that I have shared, this morning, as well as the poem from Daryl Madden, above.

And that is that this love of God, this unconditional, steadfast love, so often represented by the Hebrew word “chesed,” is absolutely and utterly independent of how we feel at the moment.

There is nothing wrong with acknowledging feelings. I remember back when I was in seminary, contemporary worship songs were just beginning to show up on the scene (at least in adult worship . . . we sang them in youth when I was a teen). They were looked down upon, in general, by the music students of the seminary because they relied so heavily on feelings. There was even one that said, “Let’s take this feeling that we’re feeling now outside these walls and let it rain” (Sometimes Hallelujah, by Chuck Girard).

But feelings are important. Everyone has them, and if we attempt to suppress them, we run the risk of harming ourselves, mentally.

But where they don’t matter is in our recognition of God’s work and love and power in our lives.

God loves me unconditionally. God is working in my life every moment of every day.

It matters not one iota how I feel about this!

“We are in such a habit of evaluating God and His work in us by what we feel that it is very likely that on some occasions we will be discouraged because we do not feel any special blessing. Above everything, when you wait on God, you must do so in the spirit of hope. God in His glory, His power, and His love longs to bless you.” (Andrew Murray, in Waiting on God, quoted in Power in Prayer)

So we wait. We wait for the Lord. It is tempting to let our feelings get in the way, but we must not do so. We must wait in confidence that He will do what He says He will do, and that He will keep his very great and precious promises.

“It is strange that though we should so often have experienced it, we are still slow to learn that waiting on God must and can be the very breath of our life, a continuous resting in God’s presence and love, a constant yielding of ourselves to Him to perfect His work in us.” (ibid)


Father, there are many times in my life when I do not feel Your embrace, I do not feel Your love, and it doesn’t feel as though You are working in me or through me. Help me to ignore this lack of feeling and have the faith and confidence to know that You are still there, still working, and always loving me.

Help me to embrace this unconditional love today and every day, to feel You “arms” wrapped around me like I did that day so many years ago out in front of my grandmother’s house. I know that I cannot recreate that scene, but I will never forget it. I know, deep in my heart, that You love me. So help me, not necessarily to always feel that love, but to know that it is there, regardless of what I feel at the moment.

And then help me to spread that love everywhere around me by obeying Your greatest commands and walking in the words of Jesus, my Savior.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


Grace and peace, friends.

Wait. Quietly.

Today is Tuesday, the 8th of November, 2022, in the 32nd week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ remain with you, today!

Day 23,616

Today is Election Day in the U.S. Midterm elections, and very important for both parties. In Texas, we are voting on the governor and a few other important positions. That’s all I’m going to say about that.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Deal bountifully with your servant,
that I may live and keep your word.
(Psalms 119:17 ESV)

Lord our God, we thank you for giving us Jesus Christ, whose words remain living to this very day. You will make his words continually alive so that in the name of Jesus Christ joyful praises are sung to you, Almighty God and Father in heaven. Remember us all. Remember the particular needs of each one of us. Come to the world through the words of Jesus Christ. May his words come as your strong angels to the hearts of many to comfort and restore, to help and do miracles for those in need. May your name be praised through the great and mighty Word, Jesus Christ! Amen.

(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

“Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.”
(John 5:24 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. that those of us who have heard the words of Christ and believed God, who sent Him, have already “crossed over from death to life”
  2. for the Word of God, Jesus Christ, living and active forever
  3. for the steadfast love of the Lord, that I might not only know it and feel it, but drink it in, and pour my own soul into it
  4. that my help comes from the Lord, in His name, and from no human being (appropriate for Election Day)
  5. for the discipline of contemplation; may I do it better and more often

My Love, by Daryl Madden

My is not conditional
Based on what you do
An everlasting spring of life
To refresh your soul anew

Settle in my silence
My embrace, encompass you
Give rise to my voice within
Soak it and flow it through

It is good to think it
It’s great to feel it too
But better to drink it in
Your soul to pour into

So, think, feel and know it
To permeate your view
My child, my beloved
Forever, I love you

I especially love the third stanza, that it is better to drink in the love God, and pour my soul into it. Please visit Daryl’s site at the link provided.


For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.
(2 Timothy 4:3-4 ESV)

Our help is in the name of the LORD, who made heaven and earth.
(Psalms 124:8 ESV)


And this is the boldness we have in him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have obtained the requests made of him.
(1 John 5:14-15 NRSV)

“Go and say to Hezekiah, Thus says the LORD, the God of your ancestor David: I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; I will add fifteen years to your life.”
(Isaiah 38:5 NRSV)

But ask in faith, never doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind;
(James 1:6 NRSV)


It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.
(Lamentations 3:26 ESV)

The haughty looks of man shall be brought low, and the lofty pride of men shall be humbled, and the LORD alone will be exalted in that day.
(Isaiah 2:11 ESV)


I am initially stirred by the opening verse, this morning. In case it hasn’t been noticed, I am going through Psalm 119, a verse or two at a time, having been inspired by Andrew Murray to read it and meditate on it more closely.

In this verse, the unidentified psalmist asks the Lord to “deal bountifully” with him. But what is more important is the reason. “That I may live and keep your word.” I find that fascinating and inspiring. How many times have we asked the Lord to bless us, so that we can, in turn, keep His Word? What a beautiful prayer from this psalmist!

Next, I was stirred by the verse that accompanied today’s Daily Prayer, from Plough. I’ve read this verse before, numerous times. But one thing I noticed today was the present tense.

Whoever has heard the Word of Christ and believed the One who sent Him (the Father), what? HAS eternal life. Not “will have.” This person (or persons) “does not come into judgment, but HAS passed from death to life.” (Emphasis added) The second piece is past tense.

It has already happened.

I have heard the words of Christ (not literally, perhaps, although I have heard them being read out loud), and I have believed in the Father who sent Him, therefore, I already possess eternal life. I have passed from death to life. And that life cannot be revoked, it cannot be taken away from me, not even by my own foolishness or stupidity.

Glory.

Understanding this should tremendously affect the way we live, shouldn’t it? That truth tells me that not very many of us truly comprehend the wonderful truth of those words, myself included.

And from this I can kind of segue into my last topic for the day. Waiting on God, as referenced in that verse from Lamentations. That one comes from Andrew Murray’s book, Waiting on God, quoted in Power in Prayer.

Murray’s book quotes the NKJV which says, “It is good that one should hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.”

There is more in that passage, if you keep reading.

It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD. It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth. Let him sit alone in silence when it is laid on him; let him put his mouth in the dust— there may yet be hope; let him give his cheek to the one who strikes, and let him be filled with insults.
(Lamentations 3:26-30 ESV)

It is my belief that one reason that many of us can’t quite grasp the truth that we have already passed from death to life, and that we already possess eternal life is that we aren’t very good at “waiting quietly.” We aren’t good at either half of that phrase.

We don’t wait well, especially these days. All hopes that the pandemic might have “reset” our attitudes has been shattered. People are worse than ever. We don’t wait well. And we most definitely don’t do it quietly. Humanity has gotten louder and more obnoxious than ever. Especially Western humans.

What I believe this verse is speaking of, though, is the idea of what some of the desert fathers call “contemplation.” And contemplation is something that is mostly shunned by modern Western Christians. That’s a shame, too.

What is contemplation? The dictionary defines it well, I think. Contemplation is “the action of looking thoughtfully at something for a long time.” I love that definition.

Murray speaks of the idea of waiting on God as “a step toward more productive prayer and obtaining answers to our requests.” But he indicates that this is the wrong reason, and that we will “not know the blessing of time with God for the sake of fellowship with Him.”

“But when we realize that waiting on God is a blessing in itself, our adoration of Him will humble us, making the way open for God to speak to us and reveal himself to us.”

In order to do this, we have to, we simply must, shut up and listen. (Murray did not say “shut up,” I said that.)

Again, we simply are not very good at that, these days.

It’s not easy to look thoughtfully at God for a long time. For one thing, we cannot literally look at God, right? Beyond that, though, we have to get away from all distractions. I have found, in my limited success with the discipline, that getting out of the house, into nature, somewhere, is best. It might take some walking. In fact, I firmly believe that one could practice contemplation while walking, as long as one is alone.

Not only must we be away from other people, we must also find a way to get distanced from both cares and joys. And we must not mistake Bible study for contemplation. Nor should we think that prayer is contemplation. Contemplation does not involve talking of any kind.

Do you remember being in love for the first time? Do you remember how all you wanted to do was sit and look into the eyes of the beloved? That’s what contemplation is.


Father, I need help in this. While I love the idea of contemplation, in reality, I have not practiced it very much. I need Your help to do it. To find a place and time, maybe not every day, but at least on a regular basis, where I can simply sit and “look” at You. Not to pray, not to study, not to quote memorized passages of Scripture, but only to look thoughtfully at You for a period of time, and to “wait quietly” on You.

If we can do more of this, we can, perhaps, better understand the truth that we already possess eternal life, and that we have already passed from death to life. Your Kingdom is not something for which we are waiting to experience after death. Truly, what awaits us after passing from this plane of existence will be, I’m sure, beyond all possible expectation. But we have eternal life now. We are already walking in Your Kingdom, whether we realize it or not.

Help us to be quiet; help us to wait; help us to look at You, mouths closed, hearts open and ready for You to work.

And I echo the prayer of the psalmist, Lord. Deal bountifully with me, that I may live and keep Your Word!

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


“The man who fears to be alone will never be anything but lonely, no matter how much he may surround himself with people. But the man who learns, in solitude and recollection, to be at peace with his own loneliness, and to prefer its reality to the illusion of merely natural companionship, comes to know the invisible companionship of God. Such a one is alone with God in all places, and he alone truly enjoys the companionship of other men, because he loves them in God in Whom their presence is not tiresome, and because of Whom his own love for them can never know satiety.”
― Thomas Merton, No Man Is an Island

Grace and peace, friends.

Who Are You?

Today is Thursday, the 27th of October, 2022, in the 30th week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you, today!

Day 23,604

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

You have commanded your precepts to be kept diligently.
(Psalms 119:4 ESV)

Lord God, we thank you for your voice even when it is stern and we must go through hardship and suffering. Your voice speaks to us, and in your voice we can be glad and victorious in our life on earth. Come into our lives. May each of us realize that all we have gone through has been for the good. Be God and Lord over the nations. Be a refuge for all people. Grant that the sin and distress of this terrible time may soon pass and that we may hear your words, "Be comforted. I will come soon. All these terrors must pass by. My will is being done. My name must be honored. My kingdom and my rule are coming. So take heart and at all times look to your God and Father in heaven." Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.
(2 Corinthians 4:8-10 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. for the positives in that verse; no matter how difficult the struggle, we are not crushed, in despair, abandoned, or destroyed; praise be to the Lord
  2. that all things work together for good for those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose
  3. that the Lord is my “everlasting Rock” (Isaiah 26:4)
  4. that if I keep my mind fixed on the Lord, He will keep me in perfect peace (Isaiah 26:3)
  5. that Jesus Christ makes me worthy

To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
(2 Thessalonians 1:11-12 ESV)

O LORD, you are my God; 
I will exalt you; I will praise your name, 
for you have done wonderful things, 
plans formed of old, faithful and sure.
(Isaiah 25:1 ESV)

On this mountain the LORD of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined. And he will swallow up on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the LORD has spoken. It will be said on that day, “Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the LORD; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”
(Isaiah 25:6-9 ESV)

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.
(Isaiah 26:3 ESV)


Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock.
(Isaiah 26:4 ESV)


Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
(Philippians 2:4 ESV)

And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
(Matthew 25:40 ESV)

We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.
(Romans 15:1-2 ESV)


In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.
(John 16:23-24 ESV)


The Lord will keep us in perfect peace, if we keep our minds fixed on Him. That is a Bible promise. It is a truth. If we are not in peace, then we don’t have our minds fixed on Him.

This does not mean that we never think about anything else. This does not mean that we become “so heavenly minded that we are no earthly good.” One thing it does mean is that we claim and accept that we are the “Beloved Daughters and Sons of God,” and, in doing so, we stop living “as if we are what we do, what we have, and what other people think about us.” (Henri Nouwen)

If you are a follower of Christ, then you are a beloved daughter or son of God. And if we can accept this, live in it, and walk in it, one result is that we no longer feel the need to constantly be judging others.

“Imagine having no need at all to judge anybody. Imagine having no desire to decide whether someone is a good or bad person. Imagine being completely free from the feeling that you have to make up your mind about the morality of someone’s behavior.”

This comes from a devotional I read yesterday from Henri Nouwen, called The Burden of Judgment. You can read the whole thing at the link, there.

Then, this morning, I ran across this poem from one of my favorite poets, Daryl Madden.

A Person’s Value

To value a person
Based on money
All that it does
Is to devalue me

If I value a person
Upon their mental state
The lesson I’ve learned
Is that mine isn’t great

If I value a person
Based upon what I see
My view in the mirror
Shows that I am ugly

Our God, who is perfect
To each person proclaims
You’re a beloved treasure
Please help me do the same

You can read it, and visit his site for others, at the link provided.

I commented on his post that it reminded me of Nouwen’s reading from the day before.

Beloved, please know that judging is something that I have struggled mightily with for most of my life. It’s not always spiritual judging, either. I have caught myself judging others in the workplace, thinking that they aren’t doing their jobs properly. That especially comes up when I think it’s making my job harder. I’ve judge people for their politics, for their driving, you name it, and I’ve judged it.

But the truth is that I am no better than anyone else, in the grand scheme of things. I mean, truthfully, everyone is better than someone at something, and everyone is worse than someone at the same thing. I’m simply talking as human beings. It has been said that “comparison is the thief of joy.” That quote has been attributed to a number of different people, such as Teddy Roosevelt, C.S. Lewis, and Mark Twain. I’m not sure there is any real evidence that any of them said that. Nevertheless, I believe it is a worthy statement.

Why do we compare ourselves to others? I suppose it can make me feel better about myself. But it can also make me not like myself very much. Every time I go hear Phil Keaggy in concert it makes me want to burn all my guitars. But that would be foolish. I’m an adequate guitar player, and I can still praise the Lord with my guitar. He doesn’t care so much about the level of skill. He cares about the heart.

And that I keep my mind stayed/fixed on Him, not on Mr. Keaggy.

We are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139). God has created us in His image. Yes, that image was marred by sin, but it was not erased. And it is also said that “he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6) He will finish what He started in us.

I will finish with a quote from Andrew Murray. “When we seek our own glory among men, we make faith impossible. Only the deep, intense self-sacrifice that gives up its own glory and seeks the glory of God wakens in the soul that spiritual susceptibility to Divine faith. The surrender to God and the expectation that He will show is glory in hearing us are essential Only he who seeks God’s glory will see it in the answer to his prayer.”

(From With Christ in the School of Prayer, quoted in Spiritual Classics, by Richard J Foster and Emilie Griffin)


Father, I confess. While I believe that I have been improving and getting closer to You in recent years, I still have not lived as though Your glory is an “all-absorbing passion” in my life and in my prayers. More and more, I find that I am praying for things in light of Your glory being displayed. For that I am grateful. But I do not see myself truly living in the likeness of Your Son, as I should be, seeking only Your glory and none of my own. The evidence of this is that I still catch myself judging others.

I pray for the Holy Spirit to continue to reveal my deficiency in these things, that I might have my mind fixed on You and You alone, so that I will not find myself judging others, but accepting them for who they are. We all have faults and flaws, and mine are no better or worse than anyone else’s. I pray that You would deliver us, Your children, from the scourge of judging one another. I pray that You would help us, by Your Spirit to accept and claim that we are Your beloved daughters and sons and walk in this truth, daily, in Your kingdom.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


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

Grace and peace, friends.

Calling Out Your Name

Today is Saturday, the 22nd of October, 2022, in the 29th week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you, today!

Day 23,599

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, our Father in heaven, be with us as we are gathered here. Through your Spirit let our hearts grow in understanding of how we can serve you rightly and live as you want us to live. Help us hold fast to all that is good. Free us more and more from everything that hinders us, from all that is evil. Show your loving-kindness to us and to our loved ones, wherever they may be. Hear every human heart that sighs to you, pleading that what is of heaven may overcome what is of earth. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul?
(Deuteronomy 10:12 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. for God’s help in making difficult decisions
  2. for the Holy Spirit’s work in freeing us from things that hinder us
  3. the artistry of God in our world
  4. for faith, the confidence in what we hope for and the assurance about things that we do not see (Hebrews 11)
  5. that the Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in Him (Psalm 37)

We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.
(1 Thessalonians 1:2-3 ESV)

And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD. And his delight shall be in the fear of the LORD. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide disputes by what his ears hear, but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked. Righteousness shall be the belt of his waist, and faithfulness the belt of his loins.
(Isaiah 11:2-5 ESV)

You will say in that day: "I will give thanks to you, O LORD, for though you were angry with me, your anger turned away, that you might comfort me. 
"Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the LORD GOD is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation." 
With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. And you will say in that day: 
"Give thanks to the LORD, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the peoples, proclaim that his name is exalted. 
"Sing praises to the LORD, for he has done gloriously; let this be made known in all the earth. Shout, and sing for joy, O inhabitant of Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel."
(Isaiah 12:1-6 ESV)
Light dawns in the darkness for the upright; 
he is gracious, merciful, and righteous.
 It is well with the man who deals generously and lends;
 who conducts his affairs with justice.
 For the righteous will never be moved; 
he will be remembered forever. 
He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the LORD. 
His heart is steady; he will not be afraid, 
until he looks in triumph on his adversaries. 
He has distributed freely; he has given to the poor; 
his righteousness endures forever; his horn is exalted in honor. 
The wicked man sees it and is angry; 
he gnashes his teeth and melts away; 
the desire of the wicked will perish!
(Psalms 112:4-10 ESV)

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
(Philippians 2:3-4 ESV)


Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
(Hebrews 11:1 NIV)

The LORD makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with his hand.
(Psalms 37:23-24 NIV)

Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.
(Colossians 3:2 NIV)


“The World is charged with the grandeur of God.” (Gerard Manley Hopkins)

Please read this blog entry from Eileen, at Quiet Moments with God.


The LORD upholds all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down. 
The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season.
(Psalms 145:14-15 ESV)

I was moved, this morning, by Eileen’s statement that God is an artist. It made me consider . . . do I think of Him in that way. Sure, I look at the creation and I marvel at its beauty. But God is always just seen as “Creator.” Truly, He is an artist. Just try to point out two trees that are exactly the same. Show me two mountains that are exactly alike. Just as no two Rembrandt paintings are alike, creation is different, each piece unique.

Consider the quote from Gerard Manley Hopkins, the wonderful poet. His poems are somewhat difficult for us to read, in our time, as the language he uses is from days gone by. But he celebrates God’s creation in his poetry.

It is always helpful for us to take a quiet walk, somewhere in nature. Even better if we can find ourselves alone, no other humans around to distract us. We listen more when we do that. We listen, because the only person to talk to is ourselves, and that usually isn’t too productive, I have found.

Prayer, of course, is more than just talking. It is at least fifty percent listening, and probably should be more. We should begin each act of prayer by listening first. God gives us everything we need, but if we feel we are lacking at any point, we should wait. An army that has approached a well-fortified city to attack it waits until its supplies are replenished before attacking. So should we wait on the Lord, to be fully supplied in grace before we begin our spiritual “attack.”

Too often, we run ahead. I’m supposed to be praying, right now, so, by George (whoever that was), I’m going to pray, whether I feel up to it or not. “Fake it till you make it,” it has been said.

But waiting is constantly seen, in Scripture, as something which we are encouraged to do. Wait upon the Lord and rise up as on the wings of eagles! Wait on the Lord and walk and not become weary, run and not faint. Wait on the Lord and never be afraid of bad news. Wait on the Lord and see your steps be firm and not stumble (or, if you do stumble, you will not fall).

Wait on the Lord, and receive everything you need for life and godliness.


Father, first of all, I am thankful, this morning, for all the saints. Like Paul, in 1 Thessalonians, I give thanks for all the saints, and mention them frequently in my prayers. I am grateful for those with whom I have worshiped, and for those with whom I will worship in the future. I am grateful for those who have inspired me, and for those whom I have inspired (it has happened a time or two).

I praise You for the Trinity, the way the Holy Spirit rested on Jesus Christ when He walked the earth, and the way the three of You interact with one another and, thereby, fortify and strengthen and encourage us. It is inexplicable, and it is most wonderful.

Father, I pray for the ability, again, to consider others as more significant than myself, and to do nothing out of vain ambition or conceit. This, as a human, is relatively difficult, it seems. Forgive us when we are conceited, and when we are selfish.

Finally, I thank You and praise You for Your artistry in this world. I look at the night sky, and I see glory, the stars calling out Your name. I look at the mountains, and they give glory to You and call out Your name. I look at the prairies and they, too are calling out Your name. Your artistry calls out Your glory and praise. The trees and rivers “clap their hands.”

May I listen more and more to those “sounds,” as I walk in Your Kingdom, Father!

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


Grace and peace, friends!

Of Conspiracies, Fear, and Love

Today is Thursday, the 20th of October, 2022, in the 29th week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ enfold you, today!

Day 23,597

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, we gather together in your presence and ask you to let your light shine in our hearts to strengthen us in times of need and trouble. May we come to know that through all the storms and distress of the world, you are mighty in protecting and sheltering those who trust in you. May we realize the power of your kingdom. Even if all the kingdoms of the world rise in rebellion, you are with us. You are with those who have set their hope on your kingdom and who go on hoping that even in evil days something must happen through your great and holy rule. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
Let all the earth fear the LORD;
 let all the people of the world revere him. 
For he spoke, and it came to be; 
he commanded, and it stood firm. 
The LORD foils the plans of the nations; 
he thwarts the purposes of the peoples.
(Psalms 33:8-10 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. for poetry and poets, those who can put words together so beautifully
  2. for this moment, for it is all I truly have; Lord help me to be with You in this moment
  3. for the fullness of love in Christ
  4. for the guidance of Christ, in the Holy Spirit
  5. for Jesus Christ, the Son of God, through whom we can overcome the world

Where I Need to Be, by Daryl Madden

Feeling overwhelmed
With so much to do
Not sure where to start
All these tasks to get through

Thinking of the future
In the hope of “someday”
When I’m in control
All will go my way

Or thoughts of the past
Where all was easy
Of the good old ole days
To live life, simply

A prayer to my Lord
And He says to me
Take me to this moment
It’s where I need to be

The last two lines say it all. This moment is where I need to be, and it is where I need God with me. This moment is all I really have. Yesterday is irretrievably gone; tomorrow is unattainably in the future. I only have now. And now is where I need to be.

Please visit Daryl’s site at the link provided.

To Love Means, by Daryl Madden

To love means loving
The unlovable
To forgive means pardoning
The unpardonable

Faith means believing
The unbelievable.
Hope means hoping
In the unattainable

Humility means knowing
We’re incapable
Grace is receiving
The unachievable

Joy is the blessing
Of His gifts sharable
Peace means trusting
In the unfathomable

I don’t think I’ve ever shared two in the same day, but this second one was so good that I felt compelled. I believe this poem sums up the Gospel quite well. Thank you, Daryl!


For the LORD spoke thus to me with his strong hand upon me, and warned me not to walk in the way of this people, saying: “Do not call conspiracy all that this people calls conspiracy, and do not fear what they fear, nor be in dread. But the LORD of hosts, him you shall honor as holy. Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread. And he will become a sanctuary and a stone of offense and a rock of stumbling to both houses of Israel, a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. And many shall stumble on it. They shall fall and be broken; they shall be snared and taken.”
(Isaiah 8:11-15 ESV)


If I take the wings of the morning 
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, 
even there your hand shall lead me, 
and your right hand shall hold me.
(Psalms 139:9-10 ESV)

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

How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD of hosts!
My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the LORD;
 my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God. 
Even the sparrow finds a home, 
and the swallow a nest for herself, 
where she may lay her young, at your altars, 
O LORD of hosts, my King and my God.
 Blessed are those who dwell in your house, ever singing your praise! 
Selah. 

Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
 in whose heart are the highways to Zion. 
As they go through the Valley of Baca they make it a place of springs; 
the early rain also covers it with pools. 
They go from strength to strength; 
each one appears before God in Zion. 
O LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer; 
give ear, O God of Jacob! 
Selah. 

Behold our shield, O God; look on the face of your anointed! 
For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. 
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God 
than dwell in the tents of wickedness. 
For the LORD God is a sun and shield;
 the LORD bestows favor and honor. 
No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly. 
O LORD of hosts, blessed is the one who trusts in you!
(Psalms 84:1-12 ESV)

Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? This is he who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ; not by the water only but by the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth.
(1 John 5:5-6 ESV)


There are many conspiracies in our land. Regardless of which “side” you are on, there are conspiracies abounding. I’m not going to list them, primarily because of that passage from Isaiah. To list them would be to validate them. And none of them have any validity. None of them.

Why do I say “none of them?” Because of that very passage that instructs us, essentially, to pay them no mind. Right on the heels of that, Isaiah says that the Lord says to not fear what they fear, nor be in dread. “But the LORD of hosts, him you shall honor as holy. Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread.”

In addition to being my fear and my dread, the Lord shall be my guide. He is my light and my salvation. And then what? Again, “whom shall I fear . . . of whom shall I be afraid?” Not the things that the conspiracy people fear. Only God shall I fear. And only God will I look to to be my guide.

This is, of course, God, in the form of the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity. No matter where I am, according to Psalm 139, the Lord, His right hand, shall lead me. When I don’t know where I am going, He will lead me. When I don’t know what I am doing, He will lead me.

This is conditional, of course. Not 100% conditional, however. I have known God’s hand to lead me, even when I was mired in the pits of sinfulness. But that was a different kind of leadership.

The condition for the powerful kind of leading/guiding, requires faithful, unceasing prayer. (You saw that coming, right?)

Why do we not see more people with joy in the Spirit, being powerful witnesses of the Gospel of Christ, in the Church? “Some will acknowledge that the hindrance undoubtedly lies in the fact that the church is under the sway of the flesh and the world. They understand too little of the heart-changing power of the cross of Christ. Because of this, the Spirit does not have vessels into which He can pour His fullness.” (Andrew Murray)

You see that? The Spirit must have willing vessels; vessels that are not entrenched in conspiracy theories and fearing men rather than God. He must have vessels that have not aligned themselves with the policies and plans of worldly leaders.

But the Spirit is more than willing to guide us. The Holy Spirit dwells in the heart of every person who calls on the name of Jesus. This is not something that comes later, through some kind of mystical “baptism,” in spite of popular opinion. But the power of the Spirit only comes through a life of private prayer, through “self-denial, taking up your cross daily, and losing your life in order to follow” Christ. (Murray)

I confess that I am still, myself, lacking in this area. Yes, I do pray a bit, probably more than many folks. But is it enough?

Is it ever enough?

That is not a guilt trip. I don’t walk around with a sad face, thinking, “I should be praying more.” I don’t believe God wants that, either. That is a form of shaming, and I fully believe shame to be one of our enemy’s biggest tools.

But first and foremost, believing that Jesus is the Son of God is the main component in this. The verse in 1 John 5 tells us this. Who can overcome the world? Only those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God. That is the key.

And I believe that Jesus is the Son of God. Therefore, I have everything I need to overcome the world and live a godly life. What does living a godly life look like?

Love. Plain and simple. Sure, I could list a lot of things, like feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, freeing people from oppression, caring for refugees, widows, and orphans, and freely giving away my resources that are not truly mine, but the Lord’s.

But all of that boils down to love. If I love the Lord with my whole being and love my neighbor as myself, I will be doing any of those things for which I have opportunity.


Father, there is so much to be thankful for, today. I thank You for Your guidance in my life, through all my life. I thank You for the guidance with which You rescued me when I was drowning in the pits of sin. I thank You for Your guidance when I was more faithfully following You. I pray for more guidance today, as I consider the future (not spending too much time on that, because I recognize the need to be fully present in this moment). When I don’t know where I am going or what I am doing, please guide me by Your Spirit.

Please, also, make me more faithful in prayer and devotion, taking up my cross, that I might be fully following Your Son, and, thereby, overcoming the world, all its conspiracies, all its plans, all of its fears, and all of its dread. I know and acknowledge that, in You, through the Son, and by the Spirit, I have nothing to fear, nothing to dread. Even if I find myself in the darkest of places, You will be my light and my salvation! “Whom, then, shall I fear? Of whom shall I be afraid??”

Hallelujah, my God! “Guide me, O though great Jehovah!” I am, indeed, a pilgrim, wandering through a foreign land. My citizenship is in Your Kingdom, not on this earth. Make me stronger in You, more resistant to the conspiracies, fears, and dreads of this world. Truly, a day in Your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere!

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
(Isaiah 41:10 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

This Little Light of Mine

Today is Monday, the 17th of October, 2022, in the 29th week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ embrace you, today!

Day 23,594

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

It Does Matter, by Daryl Madden

Don’t listen to lies
Or idle chatter
That what you say or do
Doesn’t really matter

For we’re all connected
When we let love flow through
Each with a purpose
And of great value

Birthed with a prayer
Shared with the heart
An act of kindness
Or word to impart

Ripples of Spirit
Beyond what we know
The blessings of binding
His Kingdom bestows

My favorite part is the second stanza that speaks of us all being connected when we let love flow through. This is a message that needs to be screamed from the housetops, today. Please visit Daryl’s blog at the link provided, and see more of his inspirational poetry.


Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
(John 14:27 ESV)

Father in heaven, we thank you for giving us light. We thank you for the great hope for a day whose light is not of our making, whose source is in you, a day to come that can touch our lives already today. Keep our hearts steadfast, free of all human wavering. May we always hold to the love you have given through your grace, and may we find joy in your love, which is full of light and understanding. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.
(Romans 13:12 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. for a new week, wide open and fresh with opportunities; may I see them and act on them
  2. for the light in our lives; light that is not of our own making
  3. for the steadfast love of God that is “great above the heavens;” and His faithfulness that “reaches to the clouds” (Psalm 108)
  4. that I am “saved” through “sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth” (2 Thessalonians 2:13)
  5. for my part time job at the Hurst Public Library, and my love for reading

Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow's cause. 
"Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be eaten by the sword; for the mouth of the LORD has spoken."
(Isaiah 1:16-20 ESV)
My heart is steadfast, O God! 
I will sing and make melody with all my being! 
Awake, O harp and lyre! 
I will awake the dawn! 
I will give thanks to you, O LORD, among the peoples;
 I will sing praises to you among the nations. 
For your steadfast love is great above the heavens; 
your faithfulness reaches to the clouds. 

Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! 
Let your glory be over all the earth! 
That your beloved ones may be delivered, 
give salvation by your right hand and answer me!
(Psalms 108:1-6 ESV)

Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.
(Isaiah 60:1 ESV)

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
(Matthew 5:14-16 ESV)

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
(2 Corinthians 4:6 ESV)

Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.
(Ephesians 5:6-10 ESV)


But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth.
(2 Thessalonians 2:13 ESV)

On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.'”
(John 7:37-38 ESV)


Light.

What is it?

"The natural agent that stimulates sight and makes things visible."
"An expression in someone's eyes indicating a particular emotion or mood."
"Understanding of a problem or mystery; enlightenment."

For our purposes, today, I think that all three definitions could be applicable. And all three are accomplished in Jesus, who is the Light of the world.

In Him, things become visible. In Him, we find our emotions or moods heightened, and, perhaps, even calmed. And in Him, we find understandings of problems or mysteries; we find enlightenment.

In Romans, Paul encourages us to put away the deeds of darkness and put on the “armor of light.” How much light does it take to dispel darkness? Just a spark. Darkness cannot defeat or swallow light. You could be in a totally dark room, so well-sealed that no outside light gets in. The smallest spark will defeat the darkness.

Isaiah tells us that our “light has come.” He is, of course speaking of Jesus, who is also the “glory of the LORD” who has risen upon us.

Jesus then tells us that we are the “light of the world.” He then describes the complete ridiculousness of lighting a lamp and putting it under a basket! What is the use in that?? Instead, if we have a lantern, it is placed on a stand, lifted high, that all may see! He then encourages us to “let your light shine before others.” Why? Not so they can see how good you are! He addresses that attitude in another place. Rather, so that, in seeing our good works, others will give glory to our Father in heaven.

And this “light” that we are to let shine is not really ours, is it? For we have no light of our own making. It all comes from God, who, by merely speaking a word, created light. It is worth noting that, in the Genesis account, He created light long before He created any stars. So the original source of light was Himself.

And this light, then, He has shone in our hearts, “to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” We see again that it is all about Jesus.

And, then, in Ephesians 5, Paul refers to us as “light in the Lord.” He then admonishes us to find out what is pleasing to the Lord. How do we do that? By seeking His Word. And Jesus gives us very clear instructions on what is pleasing to the Lord. Ironically, His instructions have nothing to do with trying to legislate evil out of the world or fighting for our “rights.” In fact, I heard a Scripture yesterday morning, at a worship service I attended. The sermon was from John 18. It was not really about the verse I am sharing, but, rather concerning “truth,” and Pilate’s question, “What is truth?”

However, when the pastor read this verse, it really spoke to me.

Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.”
(John 18:36 ESV, emphasis added)

Do you see that? Jesus said that, if His kingdom were of this world, His disciples would be fighting! But His kingdom is not of this world, so His disciples should not be fighting. Yet what do we see a lot of, recently? “Christians” fighting for things!

What did Jesus tell us was the way to please God? You know the answer to that question if you have read this blog.

And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
(Mark 12:28-31 ESV)

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
(John 13:34-35 ESV)

THIS is how we let our light shine before men!


Father, I thank You and praise You for the light. Thank You for creating light; thank You for shining the Light of Jesus Christ into our hearts, that we might, in turn, let our light shine, that You might be glorified in this world.

Father, forgive us when we fail to let this light shine by insisting on our own ways and not being a loving people. Teach us, Lord, to love; teach us to love You with all our being, and teach us to love one another and consider others as more significant than ourselves. Please help us to be less selfish and self-centered.

Your Kingdom is not of this world, and we are not of this world. Our citizenship is not here. My true citizenship is not in the United States of America. It is in Your kingdom, and that is where I want it. So please, Father, help us to stop fighting for things in this world when we should be praying for Your kingdom to come, on earth as it is in heaven.

Help me, Father, to let my light shine today.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


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.

Grace and peace, friends.