It’s All About Love. Still. Again.

Today is Wednesday, the 18th of January, 2023, in the season of Epiphany.

May the peace of the Lord be with you always.

Day 23,687

I’m due in at the library at 9:15, this morning, so I won’t dally.

Update on that: I seem to have come down with a bit of a chest cold. I don’t feel terrible, but don’t feel great. After a text conversation with my manager, it was advised that I stay home and take care of myself. I don’t work tomorrow, anyway, so I feel confident that, by Friday, I will be better. I’m negative for Covid, so it’s not that. I feel like it’s related to weather and/or air quality, i.e. Mountain Cedar and so on.

Yet another thing I love about my library job. I have worked way too many places where the response would have been, “We really need you here, today,” rather than, “You stay home and take care of yourself.” ❤

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

I am yours; 
save me, for I have sought your precepts.
(Psalms 119:94 NRSV)

Lord our God, be with us. Touch us with your Spirit so that our hearts may receive something from you. Let us find joy even in a life of struggle and temptation. Let us find joy in every need we face, even in the agony of death. Protect us through your Word, and let it always be a light to us so that we can follow you and do your will. Be with us on all our ways. Guide everything with your hand until the goal for all humankind is reached and we may rejoice over all the trials and testing because in the end the glorious prize can be won. Amen.

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, . . . Blessed is anyone who endures temptation. Such a one has stood the test and will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. 
(James 1:2, 12 NRSV)

Today I am grateful:

  • that joy can be found in even the most unpleasant circumstances
  • for the hope of the crown of life, promised to those who love the Lord
  • that we are chosen by God, in Christ, appointed to bear fruit
  • for mercy
  • for love; may we truly understand and obey the commands of Jesus

Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud settled upon it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.
(Exodus 40:34-35 NRSV)


You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name.
(John 15:16 NRSV)


We're watching and waiting, 
holding our breath, 
awaiting your word of mercy.
(Psalms 123:2 MSG)

Not as Scripture to work from, this morning, which gives me more of a challenge. I’ve got some good verses, but do they fit together at all?

The Lord has chosen us. Jesus said as much, speaking to His disciples. There was a period of my life when I was a strict, five-point Calvinist. I’m not quite so firm in that, any more. I shifted back a little; the pendulum swung back toward the center. Earlier in my life, I was more Armenian (but didn’t really have a clue what that meant). I was introduced to “Calvinism” in seminary, and it fascinated me. Certainly there is plenty of Scripture to support the theology. May not all five points, but at least some of them.

But there is also Scripture to support the theology of “free will.” And what happens when we try to put God in a box is that, well, you just can’t. That’s what happens. You cannot put God in a box. He is greater than any box you could try to fit Him into. And His ways are not our ways. As soon as you try to fit Him into one particular theology, you’re going to find Him busting out of it with His ways, not yours.

I still believe that I am chosen by God. There’s not doubt in my mind about that. And I also believe that I will walk on this earth until He is finished with me. Maybe not, necessarily, “walk,” you know, but at least be alive. I have this somewhat fatalistic belief that I cannot die until God is finished with me. That doesn’t mean I’m going to test that theory by standing in the middle of Loop 820 during morning traffic.

God’s purposes cannot and will not be thwarted by humans. We are chosen by Him to bear fruit. “Fruit” can mean a lot of different things, though, not just other believers. There is a very narrow interpretation of that, in evangelical circles, that believes that that only refers to getting more people to pray that “sinner’s prayer” (which is nowhere in the Bible, mind you, and neither is any notion of “inviting Jesus into your heart,” but that’s a topic for another day).

If you read around the verse from John 15, up there, it brings more understanding. Verse 17, for example:

I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.
(John 15:17 NRSV)

Also, check out verses 12-14:

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you.”
(John 15:12-14 NRSV)

Why has it taken us so long to figure this out? I mean, down through the ages, there have been individuals who got a glimpse of this truth. We celebrated one of them a couple days ago. MLK, Jr. had the right idea.

So we killed him.

Makes sense . . . we killed Jesus, too, and we would probably do it again, today.

Think that’s harsh? Then you’re not paying attention. There is still enough bigotry in this world, that if Jesus showed up today, preaching what He preached in the Gospels, certain groups of humanity would crucify Him all over again.

But here’s the challenge. We are supposed to love those people, too. One of the things that I have said, in recent years, is that if you hate the haters, you’re just another hater. What makes us different from the world is not the things we don’t do. That’s a common notion, that we are supposed to illustrate our difference from the “world” by abstaining from things.

The problem is, there is no consistent list of what things we are supposed to be abstaining from. One group thinks it’s alcohol and R-rated (or worse) movies. Another group thinks it’s dancing and cards (but dominoes are okay). More groups pick on homosexuality or abortion. Everyone has their “pet sins.” Oh, I almost forgot about divorce. That’s a big one, too.

In my opinion, Jesus was very clear about the main thing that should separate us from the world.

Love.

Love your enemies. You believe in God? Good for you, so do the demons. No doubt, some would point out that that passage also teaches that “faith without works is dead.” Yes, it does. And the “works” that we do are born out of love. When we feed the hungry, we do it because of love. When we clothe the naked, we do it because of love. When we visit the prisoners and sick, we do it because of love. When we take care of widows, orphans, and refugees, we do it because of love.

It’s all about love. God loves us so much that He sent Jesus. Jesus loves us to the point of death, giving up His life for us. Jesus commands us to love one another in the same way, and He tells us that all (ALL) of the Law and Prophets are summed up in two commands . . . love God and love people.


Lord, have mercy on us. We have lost our way. We read Your commands to love one another, and, instead, we focus on the Law, the things we should not be doing.

Have mercy on us. Teach us Your ways, that we might walk in Your truth, and realize the importance of love in this world. There is way too much anger and hatred running through Your Church, today. I know that there are people who are following Your commands and doing the right things. Unfortunately, they don’t make as much noise. May Your favor rest on all who are quietly going about the business of following the commands of Jesus.

Help me, Father, because I struggle to love the people who won’t show love, themselves. I have no desire to have any hatred in my heart toward anyone. Anyone. I have no human “enemies,” and refuse to consider any human being my enemy. Help us to come together, Father, to be unified in our love for Christ, for You, and for one another.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


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

On Reality

Today is Tuesday, the 17th of January, 2023, in the season of Epiphany.

May the peace of Christ be with you always!

Day 23,686

I watched most of the Cowboys’ playoff game, last night. After the first couple of possessions, in which nothing of any significance happened (between both quarterbacks, it took five passes before one of them completed one, and the Cowboys finally made a first down on their third possession), the ‘boys dominated the rest of the game, in spite of their kicker missing four consecutive extra point kicks. I saw three of those. At one point, later in the game, it looked like they might be thinking field goal, and I was like, “seriously??” They chose to go for it on fourth down, though. I seem to remember that they got it, made a touchdown, and then the kicker finally nailed an extra point. Final score, 34-14, Cowboys over Brady and the Bucs. Brady only looked good for a couple of series, late in the game.

It’s Tuesday of my “heavy” work week, so I will be at the library from 4:15-8:15 tonight. I had a busy day, yesterday, getting groceries, folding a couple loads of laundry, vacuuming the floor (I confess that a robot does the hardest part of that, but I do have to go around and pick up all the cat toys), practicing the trombone, and walking on the treadmill for thirty minutes. Then I cooked dinner (homemade chili made with Rotel Chili Fixin’s)(and the apostrophe in that is correct, because it replaces the “g”), while we watched an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and an episode of Bosch.

Today’s header photo is taken by Paul Militaru, Romanian photographer. Please visit his website via the provided link.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

I will never forget your precepts, 
for by them you have given me life.
(Psalms 119:93 NRSV)

Dear Father in heaven, we thank you that we need never feel forsaken. We thank you that we are led and guided by your hand. We thank you for all we have received from you, your care for our bodies, for our material needs, and for our inner life. We praise you, O God! Continue to lead us, we pray. Continue to work among us so that we can all see and come to know that the Good Shepherd is leading us. Amen.

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

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 right paths for his name's sake.
(Psalms 23:1-3 NRSV)

Today I am grateful:

  • that, in Christ, we are never forsaken; NEVER
  • for the Word of God, which has given me life
  • that He leads me in right paths for His name’s sake
  • because the Lord is my God; it is He who has made me grateful
  • that the Gospel puts us in touch with Reality

Love the LORD, all you his saints. 
The LORD preserves the faithful, 
but abundantly repays the one who acts haughtily.
(Psalms 31:23 NRSV)
I rise before dawn and cry for help; 
I put my hope in your words.
(Psalms 119:147 NRSV)
You are my God, and I will give thanks to you; 
you are my God, I will extol you.
(Psalms 118:28 NRSV)
I hate the double-minded, 
but I love your law.
(Psalms 119:113 NRSV)

They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.”
(John 14:21 NRSV)

Rejoice in the LORD, O you righteous. 
Praise befits the upright. 
For the word of the LORD is upright, 
and all his work is done in faithfulness. 
Truly the eye of the LORD is on those who fear him, 
on those who hope in his steadfast love, 
to deliver their soul from death, 
and to keep them alive in famine. 
Our soul waits for the LORD; 
he is our help and shield. 
Our heart is glad in him, 
because we trust in his holy name. 
Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us, 
even as we hope in you. 
(Psalms 33:1, 4, 18-22 NRSV)
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
(Kyrie)

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

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

Moses said to Aaron, “What did this people do to you that you have brought so great a sin upon them?” And Aaron said, “Do not let the anger of my lord burn hot; you know the people, that they are bent on evil. They said to me, ‘Make us gods, who shall go before us; as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.’ So I said to them, ‘Whoever has gold, take it off’; so they gave it to me, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf!”
(Exodus 32:21-24 NRSV)

Thus the LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend. Then he would return to the camp; but his young assistant, Joshua son of Nun, would not leave the tent.
(Exodus 33:11 NRSV)

Moses said to the LORD, “See, you have said to me, ‘Bring up this people’; but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. Yet you have said, ‘I know you by name, and you have also found favor in my sight.’ Now if I have found favor in your sight, show me your ways, so that I may know you and find favor in your sight. Consider too that this nation is your people.” He said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”
(Exodus 33:12-14 NRSV)

The LORD said to Moses, “I will do the very thing that you have asked; for you have found favor in my sight, and I know you by name.” Moses said, “Show me your glory, I pray.” And he said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you, and will proclaim before you the name, ‘The LORD’; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. But,” he said, “you cannot see my face; for no one shall see me and live.” And the LORD continued, “See, there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock; and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by; then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back; but my face shall not be seen.”
(Exodus 33:17-23 NRSV)


For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land, a land with flowing streams, with springs and underground waters welling up in valleys and hills, a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey, a land where you may eat bread without scarcity, where you will lack nothing, a land whose stones are iron and from whose hills you may mine copper. You shall eat your fill and bless the LORD your God for the good land that he has given you.
(Deuteronomy 8:7-10 NRSV)

A Psalm. A Song for the Sabbath Day. 

It is good to give thanks to the LORD, 
to sing praises to your name, O Most High; 
to declare your steadfast love in the morning, 
and your faithfulness by night, 
to the music of the lute and the harp, 
to the melody of the lyre.
(Psalms 92:1-3 NRSV)

The person who lives in right relationship with God does it by embracing what God arranges for him.
(Galatians 3:11 MSG)


The Gospel puts us in touch with reality; or “Reality,” if you will. What is reality? Dallas Willard defines it a couple of ways. “Reality is what you can count on,” he says in one place. Elsewhere, he says, “Reality is what you run into when you are wrong.” Both, I believe, are correct.

In this reality, we find the God who creates, along with the people and world He has created. We find the Christ who redeems and the people whom He loves. We also encounter our various, sometimes contradictory, feelings – hope and despair, doubt and faith, as well as our acts of virtue and vice. Reality encompasses everything; visible and invisible, right and wrong, good and evil.

To be in right relationship with God is to embrace this reality and whatever God arranges for us.

(All of the above thoughts, except for the bits from Dallas Willard, are from Eugene H. Peterson, in Traveling Light, via God’s Message for Each Day)

We can live in this reality, because we have embraced God’s plan and design for us. This reality includes Psalm 23, in which we are shown that we can live a life without lack. This is further illustrated in Dallas Willard’s Life Without Lack, which compiles a series of lessons he taught on Psalm 23.

Some would look at this and think that it means that we can get whatever we want. That is not what “life without lack” means. What it does mean is that we are satisfied with what we have. When the Lord is my shepherd, when I embrace Him and His Reality, I lack for nothing. I lack for nothing because I follow His leading, and, in following Him, find the “green pastures” and the “still waters.”

And, during those times when my path takes me through the “valley of the shadow of death,” I will fear no evil, because God is with me.

Reality. It certainly means different things to different people, and that’s fair. But to me, it means the Kingdom of God, where things are much better than I could ever imagine. Even when my immediate and surrounding circumstances would tell me different.


Father, I thank You for Reality. I thank You that You have helped me embrace this Reality and whatever You have arranged for me in this life. And, as I look around, righ now, in spite of momentary and temporary inconveniences, Your arrangements for me are pleasant. You have provided bountifully for us, and have made us generous with Your provision. For the most, You have kept us well and healthy.

And You have brought us into Your community of saints, by bringing us into fellowship with Christ our Savior. I am most grateful for this.

As I go through the rest of this day, I pray that these thoughts will be at the front of my mind, and that I would walk in gratitude and praise today. Help me to act in love toward everyone I encounter today, and display Your grace and mercy to all, that they might see You for Who You are.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, 
and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD my whole life long.
(Psalms 23:6 NRSV)

Grace and peace, friends.

One People, One Voice

Today is Monday, the 16th of January, 2023, in the season of Epiphany.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you today!

Day 23,685

I made it through the weekend! Saturday’s choir retreat was fun, and educational. Our trip to Mineral Wells was productive and fruitful. And yesterday was pretty amazing. The choir did well (at least I think we did . . . I haven’t listened to the recording, yet), the worship service was good, and I did fine at the orchestra rehearsal afterward. I was introduced as a new member in both morning services, and in the orchestra rehearsal. Then, last night, I went back for the small group that is discussing C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity. What an invigorating discussion! It’s a great group of people.

Today should be a normal Monday. Grocery shopping, laundry, a little housecleaning. It is MLK Day, today, so a lot of businesses are closed, including banks and the Post Office. C had to go to work, though. Our library is also closed today, but I never work on Mondays, so it’s just another day for me.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

If your law had not been my delight,
 I would have perished in my misery.
(Psalms 119:92 NRSV)

As I launch into morning prayers, my spirit is drawn to a line that we repeat in the Lutheran worship service: Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer. May I delight myself in His Word, this morning.

Dear Father in heaven, we come before you and thank you with all our hearts. You know all that we are thankful for. Continue to sustain us, we pray, and give us strength for the paths on which you lead us. Even when we must suffer and fight long, hard battles, we know that everything has its right purpose and will still lead us to your goal. For all this we praise and thank you. Protect us in mind, heart, and spirit. Keep us courageous, and lift us above all discouragement through your Spirit, who will renew our lives forevermore. Amen.

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

I will extol you, my God and King, 
and bless your name forever and ever. 
Every day I will bless you, 
and praise your name forever and ever.
(Psalms 145:1-2 NRSV)

Today I am grateful:

  • that the Lord has caused me to delight in His Word
  • for strength for the path on which God is leading me
  • for the ability to sing to the Lord and bless His name
  • for the hope of that day when all peoples will sing the praises and glory of God, together in one tongue
  • for the act of worship, the response of the creature to the Creator

Sing to the LORD, bless his name;
tell of his salvation from day to day. 
Declare his glory among the nations, 
his marvelous works among all the peoples.
(Psalms 96:2-3 NRSV)
O LORD, in the morning you hear my voice; 
in the morning I plead my case to you, and watch.
(Psalms 5:3 NRSV)

Be exalted, O LORD, in your strength!

We will sing and praise your power.
(Psalms 21:13 NRSV)

Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; 
let the sea roar, and all that fills it; 
let the field exult, and everything in it. 
Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy before the LORD; 
for he is coming, for he is coming to judge the earth. 
He will judge the world with righteousness, 
and the peoples with his truth.
(Psalms 96:11-13 NRSV)
Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" 
And they said, "Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets." 
He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" 
Simon Peter answered, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God." 
And Jesus answered him, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." 
Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.
(Matthew 16:13-20 NRSV)
Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving; 
make melody to our God on the lyre. 
He covers the heavens with clouds, 
prepares rain for the earth,
 makes grass grow on the hills. 
He gives to the animals their food, 
and to the young ravens when they cry. 
His delight is not in the strength of the horse,
 nor his pleasure in the speed of a runner; 
but the LORD takes pleasure in those who fear him, 
in those who hope in his steadfast love.
(Psalms 147:7-11 NRSV)

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

Almighty God, whose Son our Savior Jesus Christ is the light of the world: Grant that your people, illumined by your Word and Sacraments, may shine with the radiance of Christ's glory, that he may be known, worshipped, and obeyed to the ends of the earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
(The Divine Hours - The Prayer Appointed for the Week)
Almighty Father, who inspired Simon Peter, first among the apostles to confess Jesus as Messiah and Son of the living God: Keep your Church steadfast upon the rock of this faith, so that in unity and peace we may proclaim the one truth and follow the one Lord, our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one god, now and for ever. Amen.
(The Divine Hours - Concluding Prayers of the Church)

You shall make a rosette of pure gold, and engrave on it, like the engraving of a signet, “Holy to the LORD.” You shall fasten it on the turban with a blue cord; it shall be on the front of the turban. It shall be on Aaron’s forehead, and Aaron shall take on himself any guilt incurred in the holy offering that the Israelites consecrate as their sacred donations; it shall always be on his forehead, in order that they may find favor before the LORD.
(Exodus 28:36-38 NRSV)


At that time I will change the speech of the peoples to a pure speech, that all of them may call on the name of the LORD and serve him with one accord.
(Zephaniah 3:9 NRSV)

May his name endure forever, his fame continue as long as the sun. 
May all nations be blessed in him; may they pronounce him happy.
(Psalms 72:17 NRSV)

For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it.
(Ephesians 2:14-16 NRSV)

Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.
(Ephesians 4:31-32 NRSV)


The moment I called out, you stepped in; 
you made my life large with strength.
(Psalms 138:3 MSG)

There is a passage (or two) in Revelation that always gives me chill bumps. It excites me, it creates in me a deep longing for Home, and for that day when the Kingdom of God becomes tangible Reality.

After this I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands. They cried out in a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!” And all the angels stood around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, singing, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”
(Revelation 7:9-12 NRSV)

This “worship service,” which may last for ten thousand years, for all we know, is magnificent in its scope. When I read that verse from Zephaniah 3, this morning, it made me think of this passage in Revelation. In Zephaniah, the Lord promises to create a universal language, a “pure speech,” that all people may call on the Lord together. I believe that is what we are seeing in Revelation 7. The multitude from every nation, from every tribe and people and language, is standing before the throne, singing praise in one voice, in one language.

We have all been made one “people,” already, in Christ, but are still splintered into various groups. On that day, we will finally all be one, in true unity.

No doubt, we will all be surprised in heaven. Now, I’m speaking, here, in a kind of “fantasy,” because we truly don’t know what, exactly, this is going to look like or be like. We have hints, but there are details that we don’t know. So bear with me. I have to think that every person is going to be surprised to find someone in heaven that they didn’t expect to be there. I’m sure there will be some who are surprised to find me there.

And, God forbid, there will likely be someone there you didn’t want to see there. Tell the truth. Everyone has at least one person like that in their lives, right?

Right now, one of the things that excites me the most about that day when “we all get to heaven,” is that there will be no politics. There will no “conservatives” or “liberals,” just as there will be no male or female or Jew or Greek, as Paul tells us in one of his epistles. I know some people who believe that there will be no Democrats in heaven. Boy, are they going to be surprised.

But, in a sense (not the one they think), they are right. Because when we leave this earth, when our spirits are resurrected (if we are already dead) and united with a new body, all of those labels will be left behind. All of our countries will be left behind. All of our foolish, petty allegiances that we hold so dear on this earth, will be left behind. There will be no United States or Canada or Ukraine or Russia.

There will only be the most beautiful mosaic of saints, singing together in one voice, in one language, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slaughtered to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” And “Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”

As I used to hear some folks say, if that don’t light your fire, your wood’s wet.


Father, I am so very grateful for this image of heavenly worship. I long to be there. I can’t wait to be there, to know this new language, this new tongue, and to sing this new song with all the saints and angels and elders, multitudes upon multitudes, singing the praises of Jesus Christ for ten thousand years. Or however long it takes. We will have all eternity. My soul magnifies the Lord! My spirit cries out for joy!

And this vision makes me cry out, all the more,

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!

But in the meantime, I pray that we would start practicing. Not just practicing the worship; many of us do this every Sunday morning. But practicing the unity, getting used to the idea of singing together with multitudes of people from every nation and tribe and tongue, so that it won’t be as big a shock when we land there. Teach us, Father! Teach us Your ways, that we may walk in Your truth; give us undivided hearts that we might revere Your holy name! Let us give thanks to You with our whole hearts, today and every day.

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


There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise.
(Galatians 3:28-29 NRSV)

Grace and peace, friends!

About Agape Love

Today is Sunday, the 15th of January, 2023, in the season of Epiphany. It is the second Sunday after Epiphany.

May the peace of the Lord be with you always.

Day 23,684

I’m up early, again, this morning, as I need to be at church by 8:15 to sing with the choir in the 8:45 service. Then I have orchestra practice after the 11:00 service, this week and next week. I actually woke up thirty minutes earlier than I had planned. Still, I had best not linger over unimportant things, so let’s get moving.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Your faithfulness endures to all generations; 
you have established the earth, and it stands fast. 
By your appointment they stand today, for all things are your servants.
(Psalms 119:90-91 NRSV)

Lord God, send your Spirit, we pray, over us and over the whole world. Let your light dawn on earth among humankind. Reveal your power and let your reign begin. May your will be done, O Lord. We kneel before your throne and plead to you. We are weak. Lord, help us. Bless us. Establish your kingdom in the hearts of those who are willing to follow you, who are willing to accept your grace in Jesus Christ. Help us through your strength. Reign over us. Be with us with your Holy Spirit, O Lord God, our Father. Amen.

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words.
(Romans 8:26 NRSV)

Today I am grateful:

  • for the Spirit’s intercession when I do not know how to pray
  • the God is constantly creating in me a clean heart, and renewing my spirit daily (Psalm 51:10)
  • that the kingdom of God has drawn near, that we may enter in and walk in it
  • that death has no sting for us who believe in Christ (1 Corinthians 15:55)
  • for agape love, shown by God to His people, demonstrated by Christ in His life; may we, His people, be diligent to learn it and demonstrate it to all

O sing to the LORD a new song, for he has done marvelous things. 
His right hand and his holy arm have gotten him victory.
(Psalms 98:1 NRSV)
Create in me a clean heart, O God, 
and put a new and right spirit within me.
(Psalms 51:10 NRSV)

I am small and despised, yet I do not forget your precepts.
(Psalms 119:141 NRSV)

My mouth is filled with your praise, and with your glory all day long.
(Psalms 71:8 NRSV)

Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.”
(Mark 1:14-15 NRSV)

May the glory of the LORD endure forever; 
may the LORD rejoice in his works— 
who looks on the earth and it trembles, 
who touches the mountains and they smoke. 
I will sing to the LORD as long as I live;
 I will sing praise to my God while I have being. 
May my meditation be pleasing to him, 
for I rejoice in the LORD. 
Let sinners be consumed from the earth, 
and let the wicked be no more. 
Bless the LORD, O my soul. 
Praise the LORD!
(Psalms 104:31-35 NRSV)

O Lord, hear my prayer and let my cray come unto you. Thanks be to God.

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

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

You shall not spread a false report. You shall not join hands with the wicked to act as a malicious witness. You shall not follow a majority in wrongdoing; when you bear witness in a lawsuit, you shall not side with the majority so as to pervert justice; nor shall you be partial to the poor in a lawsuit. When you come upon your enemy’s ox or donkey going astray, you shall bring it back. When you see the donkey of one who hates you lying under its burden and you would hold back from setting it free, you must help to set it free. You shall not pervert the justice due to your poor in their lawsuits. Keep far from a false charge, and do not kill the innocent and those in the right, for I will not acquit the guilty. You shall take no bribe, for a bribe blinds the officials, and subverts the cause of those who are in the right. You shall not oppress a resident alien; you know the heart of an alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.
(Exodus 23:1-9 NRSV)

I am going to send an angel in front of you, to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place that I have prepared. Be attentive to him and listen to his voice; do not rebel against him, for he will not pardon your transgression; for my name is in him. But if you listen attentively to his voice and do all that I say, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and a foe to your foes.
(Exodus 23:20-22 NRSV)

Then Moses and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel went up, and they saw the God of Israel. Under his feet there was something like a pavement of sapphire stone, like the very heaven for clearness. God did not lay his hand on the chief men of the people of Israel; also they beheld God, and they ate and drank.
(Exodus 24:9-11 NRSV)


“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”
(1 Corinthians 15:55 NRSV)

Very truly, I tell you, anyone who hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life, and does not come under judgment, but has passed from death to life.
(John 5:24 NRSV)

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
(2 Timothy 4:7 NRSV)


Love means following his commandments, and his unifying commandment is that you conduct your lives in love. This is the first thing you heard, and nothing has changed.
(2 John 1:6 MSG)

“Agape love is not first of all a feeling, or an experience, or a need, but a decision. It wills the fulfillment of the other. It is the love that is demonstrated by God for His people. It is a love that neither exploits needs nor demands gifts. It seeks to enjoy what is there in the other person and to share what one has. It is the love that Jesus exhibited in every word and act.

“His love freed others to be themselves in a way they could never have been without Him and allowed them to respond with a love for God that no sense of dependence or realization of duty could have created.”

(Eugene H. Peterson, Like Dew Your Youth, quoted in God’s Message for Today)


So it has come back around to love, today. It’s a word that gets thrown around and abused too much in today’s society. How many times, in the past week, have I said “I love that movie,” or, “I love that book,” or “I love that kind of food?”

Dallas Willard defined love as willing the good of others. That lines up with what Peterson said, above, that, when we love, we will “the fulfillment of the other.” Bearing that in mind, it is, then, incorrect to say “I love chocolate cake.”

The verse from 2 John is almost circuitous. To love is to walk in His commandments. His commandments begin with love.

This world needs a Love Revolution. I have been somewhat quietly championing this thought for a couple years, now. And I confess that it is difficult for me to will the fulfillment of some folks. I struggle with this daily. But, once again, I come back to something Amy Grant said in an interview with John Joseph Thompson in the True Tunes Podcast. Whenever Amy was asked about her opinion on controversial matters, her response was that we have two jobs: love God and love people. Our opinions on such matters do not figure into the job descriptions for those two jobs.

So, in order for me to practice true love, I must set my opinions aside, and I must set your opinions aside.

We must note, however, that to will someone’s fulfillment does not mean that we desire for them to get what they want. It means we want the best for them. It means we want God’s fulfillment for them.


Father, help me to love. Help me to love with real, agape love. I have said, in times past, that only You are capable of this kind of love. But You reside within me, in the Person of the Holy Spirit. So, by the power of the Holy Trinity, I can love. I cannot love on my own, not really. I can like strongly, but I am also capable of hate, which needs to be stifled. So help me to set aside my opinions and the opinions of others, that I might truly pray for them in love, and also do whatever deeds might be called for, in order for them to be fulfilled in You.

All things are possible in You. So strengthen me, going forward, to love, first You, then my fellow human beings. And may my love for Your Church be even stronger.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!


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

Grace and peace, friends.

Enough for Today

Today is Saturday, the 14th of January, 2023, in the season of Epiphany.

May the peace of Christ hold you closely today!

Day 23,683

I’m up early, this Saturday morning, because I need to be at the church by 9:00 AM for our semi-annual choir retreat, which is from 9:00 to 12:00 today. Immediately after that, C, Mama, and I are heading to Mineral Wells to spend a few hours going over the place in final preparations for the estate sale.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

The LORD exists forever; 
your word is firmly fixed in heaven.
(Psalms 119:89 NRSV)

Each morning, I begin my devotional by writing a verse or two in my prayer journal, and then going over the prayer requests for the past few days. Right now, I’m working my way through Psalm 119. I began doing this a while back, while reading Power in Prayer, by Andrew Murray.

Lord our God, we come into your presence and kneel before your throne, asking you with all our hearts for your Spirit, so that our lives may be guided and ruled by you, the one God and Creator of all life. Let your Word come into our hearts. Give your blessing on all we experience in life and on all we ask of you as we stand before you. We are weak and poor. We can achieve nothing, and our hearts are weary. But you can strengthen us. You can make everything come right to reveal your kingdom throughout the world. Then all the people of our time may come to know that your will for the earth is not distress and suffering, but your goodness, your life, and your eternity. Amen.

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

For he was crucified in weakness, but lives by the power of God. For we are weak in him, but in dealing with you we will live with him by the power of God.
(2 Corinthians 13:4 NRSV)

Today I am grateful:

  • that, though we are weak, we live by the power of God in Christ
  • for the kingdom of God, in which all things are far better than we could ever imagine
  • that God is my refuge, my portion in the land of the living (Psalm 142:5)
  • for the steadfast love of the Lord, higher than the heavens, and His faithfulness, reaching to the clouds (Psalm 108:3-4)
  • that God gives enough for each day, whatever we need

But we will bless the LORD 
from this time on and forevermore. 
Praise the LORD!
(Psalms 115:18 NRSV)
I cry to you, O LORD; I say, 
"You are my refuge, 
my portion in the land of the living."
(Psalms 142:5 NRSV)
I will give thanks to you, O LORD, among the peoples, 
and I will sing praises to you among the nations. 
For your steadfast love is higher than the heavens, 
and your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.
(Psalms 108:3-4 NRSV)
For the LORD God is a sun and shield; he bestows favor and honor. 
No good thing does the LORD withhold from those who walk uprightly.
(Psalms 84:11 NRSV)
When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written: 
"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, 
because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. 
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives 
and recovery of sight to the blind, 
to let the oppressed go free,
 to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor." 
And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to say to them, "Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing." 
All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth. They said, "Is not this Joseph's son?"
(Luke 4:16-22 NRSV)
To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul. 
O my God, in you I trust; do not let me be put to shame; 
do not let my enemies exult over me. 
Do not let those who wait for you be put to shame; 
let them be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous. 
Make me to know your ways, O LORD; teach me your paths.
 Lead me in your truth, and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; 
for you I wait all day long.
(Psalms 25:1-5 NRSV)

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

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

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

The human mind plans the way, 
but the LORD directs the steps.
(Proverbs 16:9 NRSV)
The human mind may devise many plans, 
but it is the purpose of the LORD that will be established.
(Proverbs 19:21 NRSV)

He has told you, O mortal, 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 NRSV)


For he spoke, and it came to be; 
he commanded, and it stood firm.
(Psalms 33:9 NRSV)

This is what the LORD has commanded: ‘Gather as much of it as each of you needs, an omer to a person according to the number of persons, all providing for those in their own tents.'” The Israelites did so, some gathering more, some less. But when they measured it with an omer, those who gathered much had nothing over, and those who gathered little had no shortage; they gathered as much as each of them needed.
(Exodus 16:16-18 NRSV)


Was the daily distribution of manna a foreshadowing of the daily sufficiency of God’s grace? I’m not wise enough to know for sure, but it certainly seems so.

The Israelites were told to gather just as much as they needed. They were even given a measure to use, an ‘omer” per person, for each tent. The people who listened and were obedient found that they had just enough, each day. There was none left over, and they did not fall short. The people who were disobedient, and gathered too much, found that it did not keep overnight, and had worms in it, the next morning.

Jesus promises us, in Matthew 6, that we need not worry about what we are going to eat or drink, or what we are going to wear, each day.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?”
(Matthew 6:25 NRSV)

He also reminds us that there is more to life than food and clothing. Remember yesterday’s devotional? The meaning of life is not what I am going to eat or wear. The meaning of life is God, and how I relate to Him.

Like the Israelites, I am given just enough grace for each day. And that is all I need. I don’t need grace for tomorrow, yet, because tomorrow isn’t here. And I should not worry about tomorrow’s grace, because God has promised that He will take care of me. John Piper called this faith in “future grace.” The Israelites who listened and trusted God never worried about whether they would have enough food the next day. We should be the same with God and His grace.

At the end of Matthew 6, after the most famous verse in the chapter, Jesus said this:

“So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”
(Matthew 6:34 NRSV)

May we be faithful to heed the words of Christ.


Father, I thank You that You provide enough grace for each day’s needs. I pray that You would help us to heed Jesus’s words, and not worry about tomorrow. I find myself disobeying that command quite frequently, I confess. Lead me in the right paths, Lord, and show me Your ways, that I may walk in Your truth. Let my heart be undivided, that I might honor, fear, and revere Your holy name, and not show a lack of faith by worrying about things.

It is Your Word that stands, Father, and I am not just speaking about the Bible. I am also speaking about Your spoken Word, through which all things we see were created and brought into being, as well as the Living Word, Jesus Christ. Your purposes will stand, throughout eternity. We make plans, and maybe they will come to pass, maybe they will not. But Your plans, Your purposes will come to pass, on earth as in heaven.

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

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


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

Grace and peace, friends.

The Meaning of Life

Today is Friday, the 13th (uhoh) of January, 2023, in the season of Epiphany.

May the peace of Christ be with you always.

Day 23,682

It’s friggatriskaidekaphobia day!

S had a wonderful time, last night, at Southlake’s Club Metro. They were served Domino’s pizza, and then treated to a magic show. She is already looking forward to next week’s event, where they will be transported to Olive Garden for dinner and what I believe to be a sort of social interaction exercise, a learning experience.

C and I had a lovely dinner at Del Frisco’s Grill, while S was at her Club Metro event. Hah! We thought we were getting Mexican food. Turns out Del Frisco is a steak house. Rather expensive, but we enjoyed it and had a good time together.

Today is my day in the computer center at the library, from 9:15-6:15, so I’d best get on to the important stuff.

Today’s header photo is taken by Paul Militaru. Please visit his site at the link provided.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

In your steadfast love spare my life, 
so that I may keep the decrees of your mouth.
(Psalms 119:88 NRSV)

Dear Father in heaven, give us childlike hearts so that we may understand everything in the right way. Grant us work that bears fruit in spite of our faults and weaknesses, because we want to work with the understanding given by love. Father in heaven, you know that we are faced day and night with many difficulties and setbacks. But you see us, and you will help us so that your name may be honored, your kingdom may come, and your will may be done on earth as in heaven. Amen.

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

Keep alert, stand firm in your faith, be courageous, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.
(1 Corinthians 16:13-14 NRSV)

Today I am grateful:

  • for the admonition to do all that we do in love; O that we could do this!
  • for childlike hearts to understand things correctly and walk in faith
  • for the kingdom of God; may His will be done on earth as it is in heaven
  • that when our sins overwhelm us, God forgives us (Psalm 65:3)
  • that God is the center of all things, not my feelings, not my soul, not the “meaning of life”

Seek the LORD and his strength; 
seek his presence continually.
(Psalms 105:4 NRSV)
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, 
have mercy upon us.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
have mercy upon us.
O, Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
grant us Your peace.
(Agnus Dei)
O God, you know my folly; 
the wrongs I have done are not hidden from you.
(Psalms 69:5 NRSV)
When deeds of iniquity overwhelm us, you forgive our transgressions.
(Psalms 65:3 NRSV)

Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbor, ‘Friend, let me take out the speck in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye.
(Luke 6:41-42 NRSV)

Be mindful of your mercy, O LORD, 
and of your steadfast love, 
for they have been from of old. 
Do not remember the sins of my youth or my transgressions; 
according to your steadfast love remember me, 
for your goodness' sake, O LORD! 
Good and upright is the LORD; 
therefore he instructs sinners in the way. 
For your name's sake, O LORD, 
pardon my guilt, for it is great. 
(Psalms 25:6-8, 11 NRSV)

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

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

And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work.
(2 Corinthians 9:8 NRSV)

He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.
(John 1:2-4 NRSV)

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,
(Ephesians 1:3 NRSV)


Let my cry come right into your presence, GOD; 
provide me with the insight that comes only from your Word.
(Psalms 119:169 MSG)

But Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid, stand firm, and see the deliverance that the LORD will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians whom you see today you shall never see again. The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to keep still.”
(Exodus 14:13-14 NRSV)

He said, “If you will listen carefully to the voice of the LORD your God, and do what is right in his sight, and give heed to his commandments and keep all his statutes, I will not bring upon you any of the diseases that I brought upon the Egyptians; for I am the LORD who heals you.”
(Exodus 15:26 NRSV)


In a short reading called “The Reason for Prayer,” Eugene H. Peterson writes this:

“The Psalms were not prayed by people trying to understand themselves. They are not the record of people searching for the meaning of life. They were prayed by people who understood that God had everything to do with them. God, not their feelings, was the center. God, not their souls, was the issue. God, not the meaning of life, was critical.

“Feelings, souls, and meanings were not excluded — they are very much in evidence — but they are not the reason for the prayers. Human experiences might provoke the prayers, but they do not condition them as prayers.”

(From Answering God, quoted in God’s Message for Each Day)

Thanks to Douglas Adams, whenever I think about the meaning of life, I think, “42.” But that’s a joke, not serious.

This bit from Peterson is an eye-opener. We spend far too much time examining our feelings, trying to find the meaning of life, when it (or He) is right there in front of us. The “meaning of life” is God. He should be the center of everything. My feelings, well, they are certainly real, but they are not the most important thing. Even my soul, while of eternal importance, is not the most important thing. It could be argued that the soul of every person who reads this is more important than mine. But, still, that’s not the point.

The point is that it is God with whom I am to be most concerned with. My thoughts, my actions, my words, my feelings . . . all should be consumed with God, both in this world, and in my life.


Father, I thank You for these words from master-wordsmith Eugene Peterson. Thank You for bringing them to me, this morning. I needed this, today. Help me to live this; help me to walk in this. Whatever comes my way today, may I remember that it is You who are the center of everything. Even in my leisure time, times of play, it is You who are right there and should be my focus.

May I spend more time simply contemplating You, during my days. And may that lead me into better relationships all around, with everyone around me, as I try to walk in the ways and words of Jesus my Savior.

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.

Psalm 86:11

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

May the peace of Christ dwell within you today!

Day 23,681

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

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

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

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

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

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

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

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

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

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

Today I am grateful:

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

Sing aloud to God our strength; shout for joy to the God of Jacob. 
Raise a song, sound the tambourine, the sweet lyre with the harp. 
Blow the trumpet at the new moon, at the full moon, on our festal day.
For it is a statute for Israel, an ordinance of the God of Jacob.
(Psalms 81:1-4 NRSV)
Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth; 
give me an undivided heart to revere your name.
(Psalms 86:11 NRSV)
My mouth will tell of your righteous acts, 
of your deeds of salvation all day long,
though their number is past my knowledge.
(Psalms 71:15 NRSV)
People will say, "Surely there is a reward for the righteous; 
surely there is a God who judges on earth."
(Psalms 58:11 NRSV)
The woman said to him, "I know that Messiah is coming" (who is called Christ). "When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us." 
Jesus said to her, "I am he, the one who is speaking to you."
(John 4:25-26 NRSV)
Summon your might, O God; show your strength, O God, 
as you have done for us before. 
Because of your temple at Jerusalem kings bear gifts to you. 
Rebuke the wild animals that live among the reeds, 
the herd of bulls with the calves of the peoples. 
Trample under foot those who lust after tribute; 
scatter the peoples who delight in war. 
Let bronze be brought from Egypt; 
let Ethiopia hasten to stretch out its hands to God. 
Sing to God, O kingdoms of the earth; 
sing praises to the Lord, 

[Selah] 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 [Selah] 

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

“I do believe! Help my unbelief!”


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

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

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

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

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


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

Grace and peace, friends.

To Be Known

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

May the peace of Christ be with you always!

Day 23,680

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

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

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

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

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

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

Today I am grateful:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


Grace and peace, friends.

Praise Him for His Greatness

Today is Tuesday, the 10th of January, 2023, in the season of Epiphany.

May the peace of Christ enfold you today!

Day 23,679

TCU choked badly, last night, losing the national championship game 65-7. I don’t know if that was the worst NC game ever, but it was certainly pretty ugly. As one of my FB friends commented, they looked like “deer in the headlights.” But they are still number 2, so congratulations on a fantastic season for TCU!

I didn’t get any trombone practice done, yesterday, because I couldn’t find my spray bottle. Only another trombone player will understand the gravity of that. I have a new one coming from Amazon tomorrow. Yes, I was too lazy to go out to a store and buy one. I had other things to do. Like exercise, for one thing. I got on the treadmill and walked for thirty minutes, to hit my step goal for the day, which I rarely do on Mondays. Or at least rarely until this year. One of my goals for 2023 is to hit my step goal every day. On some days, that will require getting on the treadmill (or walking outside, buy my allergies don’t like outside). On days like today, when I work a four hour shift doing shelving at the library, I likely will not need it.

Today, I take S to her therapist appointment at 10:00 AM. After that, we will get our Subway and Sonic for the day, and then I will have the rest of the afternoon to myself, until about 3:45 or so, when it will be time to head up to the library.

Before I get into the devotionals, I need another cup of grog. Highlander Grogg, to be exact, from Twisted Pine Coffee.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

How long must your servant endure? 
When will you judge those who persecute me? 
The arrogant have dug pitfalls for me; 
they flout your law.
(Psalms 119:84-85 NRSV)

For the record, I feel no persecution from anyone. I do believe, however, that there are arrogant people who flout God’s Word. And there are certainly people who dig pitfalls for us, albeit, they may not be intentional.

Lord our God, how great is your love, and how great is your help! May each one of us feel sheltered in your hand, knowing that our faults and shortcomings no longer matter. We can go straight toward the goal you have set, for you will help us through the forgiveness of sins and through all the good you can put into our hearts. And so we ask you to be with us. May we be faithful, believing firmly in your great mercy, so that your name may be glorified among us. May each heart be given the comfort of knowing that everything will yet turn to the good, to the glory of your name. Amen.

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God. 
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, 
and cry to her that she has served her term, 
that her penalty is paid, 
that she has received from the LORD's hand double for all her sins.
(Isaiah 40:1-2 NRSV)

Today I am grateful:

  • for the comfort received from God
  • for the great love and help from God, that I feel sheltered in His hands, and know that my faults and shortcomings no longer matter
  • for the beauty of God; “Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God shines forth!” (Psalm 50:2
  • for opportunities of service, remembering that I am serving the Lord, not people
  • for the ability to sing praises to God, both with my voice, and with musical instruments

God has gone up with a shout, the LORD with the sound of a trumpet. 
Sing praises to God, sing praises; sing praises to our King, sing praises. 
For God is the king of all the earth; sing praises with a psalm. 
God is king over the nations; God sits on his holy throne.
(Psalms 47:5-8 NRSV)
Let all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you. 
Let those who love your salvation say evermore, "God is great!"
(Psalms 70:4 NRSV)
Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, 
God shines forth.
(Psalms 50:2 NRSV)
When the LORD restores the fortunes of his people, 
Jacob will rejoice; Israel will be glad.
(Psalms 14:7b NRSV)

Of this man’s posterity God has brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus, as he promised; before his coming John had already proclaimed a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel. And as John was finishing his work, he said, ‘What do you suppose that I am? I am not he. No, but one is coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the thong of the sandals on his feet.’ “My brothers, you descendants of Abraham’s family, and others who fear God, to us the message of this salvation has been sent.
(Acts 13:23-26 NRSV)

To the leader. A Psalm of David. 

How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever?
 How long will you hide your face from me? 
How long must I bear pain in my soul, and have sorrow in my heart all day long? 
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me? 
Consider and answer me, O LORD my God! 
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death, 
and my enemy will say, "I have prevailed"; 
my foes will rejoice because I am shaken. 
But I trusted in your steadfast love; 
my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. 
I will sing to the LORD, because he has dealt bountifully with me.
(Psalms 13:1-6 NRSV)

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

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

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

And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’
(Matthew 25:40 NRSV)

Render service with enthusiasm, as to the Lord and not to men and women, knowing that whatever good we do, we will receive the same again from the Lord, whether we are slaves or free.
(Ephesians 6:7-8 NRSV)


GOD is magnificent; he can never be praised enough. 
There are no boundaries to his greatness.
(Psalms 145:3 MSG)

The theme today, for me, is the greatness of God. As Psalm 145:3 says, “There are no boundaries to his greatness.” This greatness makes me want to sing, and I am grateful that I have that ability.

I encourage all who read this, today, to take some time out of your busy day and contemplate the greatness of God; His majesty, His beauty, the miracle of forgiveness and restoration, and His great, great love and compassion for us.


Father, I praise You today! I look upon Your greatness, and I am struck down with awe. I see the beauty of Your Creation (again, in wonder, as yesterday), and can only proclaim Your greatness and majesty, Your beauty and wonder. It is also wondrous that You bother with us at all. The fact that You hear our prayers and listen to us, the fact that You love us as much as You do, brings me to my knees and brings me to tears of joy. Help me to stop today, in the midst of things that I have to do, and contemplate all of these things.

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

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


Hallelujah! 

Praise God in his holy house of worship, 
praise him under the open skies;
 Praise him for his acts of power, 
praise him for his magnificent greatness; 
Praise with a blast on the trumpet, 
praise by strumming soft strings; 
Praise him with castanets and dance, 
praise him with banjo and flute; 
Praise him with cymbals and a big bass drum, 
praise him with fiddles and mandolin. 
Let every living, breathing creature praise GOD! 

Hallelujah!
(Psalms 150:1-6 MSG)

Grace and peace, friends.

So Much Wonder . . .

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

May the peace of Christ find you hale today.

Day 23,678

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

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

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

In Your mercy, Lord hear our prayers.

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

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

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

Today I am grateful:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


Grace and peace, friends.