“The Entire Forgiveness of All Your Sins”

Today is Monday, the 28th of November, 2022, in the first week of Advent.

May the peace of Christ find you, today!

Day 23,636

I have an appointment at the vein clinic, this morning, at 11:30, so I’m a little short on time, this morning, as I had a grocery order delivered around 9:00. So, this may not get finished before noon, today.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; 
and give me life in your ways.
(Psalms 119:37 ESV)

As I try to quiet my soul and get into Your presence, this morning, Father, I pray that You would, indeed, turn my eyes away from “worthless things.” There are a number of things that could fall into that category. May Your Spirit lead me, and continue to give me life as I walk in Your Kingdom.

Lord Jesus, our Savior, we look upward to heaven, for you will come from heaven in the glory of the Father. May we remain true to our calling, watching and praying every day and every hour, waiting for you, who will bring into order everything on earth. Bless us and bless our land. Grant us the joy to see you working through your servants toward the salvation of the peoples. Be with us and bless us. May your living Word work in our hearts so that every Sunday, every festival, and every day from now on may be a day of joy. Protect us. Bless us. May your name be praised in our hearts! Amen.

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

Watch, then, because you do not know when the master of the house is coming – it might be in the evening or at midnight or before dawn or at sunrise. If he comes suddenly, he must not find you asleep. What I say to you, then, I say to all: Watch! 
Mark 13:35–37, TEV

Today I am grateful:

  1. for the rain that we have received over the past week (sharing in this gratitude with others who were praying for more)
  2. for the beautiful weather forecast for today
  3. for the healing properties of being in nature, observing Your creation
  4. for the healing powers of music as it works in our lives
  5. that the Lord “will not cast off forever,” but will (and does) have compassion on us, “according to the abundance of His steadfast love” (Lamentations 3:31-33)
  6. for the forgiveness of sin, the beginning of the process of sanctification

Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.
(Galatians 3:7-9 ESV)


For the Lord will not cast off forever,
 but, though he cause grief, 
he will have compassion 
according to the abundance of his steadfast love; 
for he does not afflict from his heart or grieve the children of men.
(Lamentations 3:31-33 ESV)

If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
(1 John 1:9 NRSV)


Forgiveness. What does that mean? And do we believe that our sins have been forgiven?

Every Sunday morning, at the beginning of the worship service at Living Word Lutheran Church, after the processional hymn, one of the pastors says something like this:

“By the mercy of God we are united with Jesus Christ, and in him we are forgiven. As a called and ordained minister of the Church of Christ and by his authority, I therefore declare to you the entire forgiveness of all your sins, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

The first time I heard that, I got both chill bumps and tears. It seems like such a simple statement. But to hear it confidently proclaimed to us is significant and stirring, at least to me.

Forgiveness blots out our sins. It erases them. It literally changes our past, at least in the eyes of God. Nothing can change my past in my own mind. I cannot, it seems, manage to forget the sins I have committed. Trust me, I have tried. And I have dealt with the biggest tool in the devil’s toolbox several times in this forum; shame. Because our enemy tends to dig up some of those heinous things we have done at the most inopportune moments.

But God (there’s those two words again, just about my favorite combination of words in the whole Bible), according to His own Word, has forgotten our sins. This is a mystery. How is the One who is all-knowing able to do that?? I don’t know, but I must believe it.

In His forgiveness, God, in His mercy, acquits us of all of our sins (“the entire forgiveness of all your sins”), and no longer considers us guilty. He has cast them as far as the east is from the west. He has thrown them into the Mariana Trench. It is literally (and I don’t throw that word around like some do) as if they never happened.

But here is what forgiveness does not do. It does not take away the sinfulness of our hearts; it does not sanctify us. Rather, it begins this process.

So, in order for us to move forward in the process of sanctification, it is necessary that we first believe that we have been forgiven. It is necessary that I hear the words of that pastor who has authoritatively declared it to me, and believe it with all my heart. Then I can move forward, feeling no guilt or shame, and not having to worry about feeling “worthy.”

So, “Confess your sins to God, and experience forgiveness now as you spend time in prayer.” (Andrew Murray, in The Lord’s Table, quoted in Power in Prayer)


Father, I thank You, I praise You, and glorify Your Name for the forgiveness of my sins, for the entire forgiveness of all my sins! I cannot praise You enough for this. I pray, however, that the process of sanctification would be allowed to move along in me. Help me to take my eyes away from “worthless things,” and keep them on You; help me to keep my mind stayed on You, that I might be kept in “perfect peace,” according to Your Word. But first, help me to believe in that forgiveness. Your Word has declared it; Your ministers have declared it. Help me to believe it, wholeheartedly.

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

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


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

Grace and peace, friends.

Unbroken Fellowship

Today is Saturday, the 26th of November, 2022, in the 34th week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ fill your body, soul, and spirit, today!

Day 23,634

Advent begins tomorrow, and there are 29 days until Christmas!

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lead me in the path of your commandments, 
for I delight in it.
(Psalms 119:35 ESV)

Lord our God, in our times too you hear the prayers and cries of your children. We need to cry out, for humankind has not become your own but still lives in pain and under judgment, and many thousands have to die or undergo terrible things. They should be yours, every one of them. They should all be your children. So we cry out to you: Reveal and glorify your name on earth so that a new time may come and great wonders may be done by your hand. May your name be honored, your kingdom come, and your will be done on earth as in heaven. Amen.

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains would tremble before you! As when fire sets twigs ablaze and causes water to boil, come down to make your name known to your enemies and cause the nations to quake before you! 
Isaiah 64:1–2, NIV

Today I am grateful:

  1. for a very restful day, yesterday
  2. for the heart of gratitude that God has developed in me
  3. for rain received this week
  4. for the constant presence of Christ among us
  5. for the available relief from worry and anxiety; may I avail myself of this more often
  6. for the possibility of unbroken fellowship with Jesus

A Maskil of David, when he was in the cave. A Prayer. 

With my voice I cry out to the LORD; 
with my voice I plead for mercy to the LORD. 
I pour out my complaint before him; 
I tell my trouble before him. 

When my spirit faints within me, 
you know my way! 
In the path where I walk 
they have hidden a trap for me. 
Look to the right and see: 
there is none who takes notice of me; 
no refuge remains to me; 
no one cares for my soul. 

I cry to you, O LORD; 
I say, "You are my refuge, 
my portion in the land of the living." 
Attend to my cry, 
for I am brought very low! 
Deliver me from my persecutors, 
for they are too strong for me! 
Bring me out of prison, 
that I may give thanks to your name! 
The righteous will surround me, 
for you will deal bountifully with me.
(Psalms 142:1-7 ESV)

Then he said, “Come no closer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.”
(Exodus 3:5 NRSV)

For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.
(Jeremiah 29:11 NRSV)

Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.”
(Matthew 18:19-20 NRSV)


And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. A windstorm arose on the sea, so great that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him up, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!” And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, you of little faith?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a dead calm. They were amazed, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him?”
(Matthew 8:23-27 NRSV)

Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 4:5-7 NRSV)


For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
(Galatians 2:19-20 NRSV)


A couple days ago, one of the central passages was one where Jesus said, “In the world you will have trouble, but I have overcome the world.” (Paraphrased)

We are entering one of the most anxious seasons of the year. The holidays are a source of anxiety for many people, and for many different reasons. I’m not even going to begin to try to list them all.

The psalmist appears to be a bit anxious in Psalm 142, doesn’t he? And Jesus’s disciples were certainly anxious in that little boat in Matthew 8. What makes their anxiety even more preposterous is that Jesus was in the boat with them! And they knew it!

We find ourselves in that same “boat,” don’t we? We start worrying about things (I’m not exempt from this, believe me), and Jesus is with us, in the form of the Holy Spirit. Okay, the Holy Spirit is not “Jesus,” and vice versa. But all of them are “God,” as they make up the Holy Trinity. That’s another one of those mysteries that we will simply be unable to comprehend until we meet Him face-to-face.

Jesus also gave us many promises of His presence, one of which is above, in Matthew 18. Now, granted, these days it seems to be quite difficult to get two or more to agree about anything! But Jesus promises His presence in our midst.

In Galatians, we have that wonderful and popular verse that declares that our lives are actually lived by faith in Christ, as we are crucified in Him, and He lives through us. “It is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me.”

Many people desire the gifts of the Holy Spirit, but what is their motivation? Sometimes we seek Him for “obtaining more power for work, more love in our life, more holiness in the heart, more light on Scripture or on our path.” I fear, sometimes, as well, that many seek the Holy Spirit for attention; if you have the more visible gifts of the Spirit, people will notice you.

Andrew Murray says, “But all these gifts are subordinate to the great purpose of God. The Father bestowed the Spirit on the Son, and the Son gave Him to us for the purpose of revealing and glorifying Christ Jesus in us.

“The heavenly Christ must become for us a real and living personality who is always with us and in us. Our life on earth can be lived every day in unbroken fellowship with our Lord Jesus.” (Andrew Murray in Living a Prayerful Life, quoted in Power in Prayer, emphasis added)

I want to emphasize that one sentence even more.

“Our life on earth can be lived every day in unbroken fellowship with our Lord Jesus.”

Now, to be clear, this is not something that is easy or can happen automatically. This is one of those things that reflects the need for Spiritual Disciplines in our lives. We have to practice this presence, as indicated by Brother Lawrence in his book, The Practice of the Presence of God. Frank Laubach also had the belief that it was possible to acknowledge the presence of God constantly in one’s life. He wrote a little pamphlet called The Game with Minutes, in which he encourages us to acknowledge God’s presence at least one second in every minute of our waking day.

Again, this is not something that is easy to accomplish, because we are “trained” differently. We are accustomed to being anxious. In fact, we seem to be encouraged to be anxious about things. We are taught to always be in a hurry (at least in Western society; there are other societies that are much better at time management than we are). We are encouraged to always be accomplishing something. My own wife struggles with this. She feels guilty for simply sitting and relaxing for any length of time, on weekends.

But anxiety is a mental thing. Again, Dallas Willard tells us that humans have the unique capability to control what we allow our minds to dwell on. Therefore, we also have the ability to direct our minds to dwell on Christ and His presence in our lives. We can have that unbroken fellowship of which Andrew Murray speaks!


Father, I thank You for the possibility of unbroken fellowship with Jesus! I pray that I might realize this through the practice of the Spiritual Disciplines in my life. I realize that this is not something that can happen instantly, nor is it automatic. Perhaps it should be almost automatic for the believer/follower of Christ, but, alas, because of worldly influences, it is not.

Help me to practice this rightly. Let Your Spirit remind me, constantly, of Your presence in my life. I pray for the influence of the Trinity, constantly, daily. And then let this influence, this presence, shine out from me like the brightest of lights in a world that seems so dark.

There are many of us, Father, who look around us and simply see a world that is “on fire.” “The world is burning,” we seem to be saying, constantly. But let us not focus our eyes on this. Rather, let us focus our minds, our spirits, our souls, on Your presence, so that we might light our world on a different kind of fire!

I desire that unbroken fellowship, Father, but I’m not whole-hearted enough. I pray that You “fix me,” because I’m broken. As are we all, Lord. Heal our brokenness with the salve of Your grace and mercy, and fix our eyes on You, the author and perfector of our faith.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


The LORD bless you and keep you; 
the LORD make his face to shine upon you, 
and be gracious to you; 
the LORD lift up his countenance upon you, 
and give you peace.
(Numbers 6:24-26 NRSV)

Grace and peace, friends.

I Was Glad When They Said . . .

Today is Sunday, the 20th of November, 2022, in the 34th week of Ordinary Time. It is the last Sunday after Pentecost, the last Sunday before Advent begins. It is also Christ the King Sunday.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you today!

Day 23,628

Four days until Thanksgiving!

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Put false ways far from me and graciously teach me your law!
(Psalms 119:29 ESV)

Lord our God, we come to you burdened and driven by every kind of need and oppression, but you will bring light into every situation; in your great goodness and faithfulness you will continue to help. We come to you because you are our help. We want to draw strength from your Word so that we can remain steadfast in these times, awaiting your help and already finding joy and certainty in our expectation. For your kingdom is coming, and your will is being done on earth as in heaven. Amen.

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

LORD, my strength and my fortress, my refuge in time of distress, to you the nations will come from the ends of the earth and say, “Our ancestors possessed nothing but false gods, worthless idols that did them no good.”
(Jeremiah 16:19 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. that God is my strength, my refuge, and my fortress and my help
  2. that His will is being done on earth as in heaven
  3. for His steadfast love which endures forever
  4. for the words in Scripture, “But God . . .”
  5. that, because of the blood of Christ, and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, we have access to the Father and are as close to Him as Jesus is

Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. For 
"Whoever desires to love life 
and see good days, 
let him keep his tongue from evil 
and his lips from speaking deceit; 
let him turn away from evil and do good; 
let him seek peace and pursue it. 
For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, 
and his ears are open to their prayer. 
But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil." 
(1 Peter 3:9-12 ESV)

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, because they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water.
(1 Peter 3:18-20 ESV)

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
 for his steadfast love endures forever. 
Give thanks to the God of gods,
 for his steadfast love endures forever. 
Give thanks to the Lord of lords, 
for his steadfast love endures forever; 

Give thanks to the God of heaven, 
for his steadfast love endures forever. 
(Psalms 136:1-3, 26 ESV)

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
(Hebrews 10:24-25 ESV)

A Song of Ascents. Of David. 

I was glad when they said to me, 
"Let us go to the house of the LORD!" 
Our feet have been standing 
within your gates, O Jerusalem!

 Jerusalem—built as a city
 that is bound firmly together, 
to which the tribes go up,
 the tribes of the LORD, 
as was decreed for Israel,
 to give thanks to the name of the LORD. 
There thrones for judgment were set,
 the thrones of the house of David. 

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem! 
"May they be secure who love you! 
Peace be within your walls 
and security within your towers!"
 For my brothers and companions' sake 
I will say, "Peace be within you!" 
For the sake of the house of the LORD our God, 
I will seek your good.
(Psalms 122:1-9 ESV)

“And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.”
(Matthew 10:42 ESV)


For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.
(Ephesians 2:18 ESV)

This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him.
(Ephesians 3:11-12 ESV)

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
(Ephesians 2:4-7 ESV)


“But God . . .” Two of my favorite words in all of the Bible, right up there with “fear not.”

We were dead in trespasses and sins, without hope of any kind. “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, . . . made us alive.”

Not only have we been made alive, we have access to the Father, because of the blood of Christ and the presence of the Holy Spirit, whom He sent when He ascended to the Father.

Before Jesus came, there was a heavy, thick veil between the Holy Places and the Holy of Holies. Only the High Priest was allowed to enter the Holy of Holies, and he could only enter once a year. If anyone dared to enter that place at any other time, they were struck dead.

But, when Jesus died on the Cross,

And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split.
(Matthew 27:51 ESV)

“When Christ died, the veil was rent in two. Christ Jesus not only entered into God’s presence by His blood, but He opened a new and living way through the rent veil of His flesh for every believer to enter.” (Andrew Murray, The Believer’s Call to Commitment, quoted in Power in Prayer)

Furthermore, “The access through Christ brings us as near to God as Christ is, in an intimate, divine fellowship that passes all understanding.” (Ibid, emphasis added)

So, because of these things, let us, indeed, consider how we might stir up one another to love and good works; let us encourage one another, especially on this day, when we gather together for worship. And let us proclaim, along with David,

I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the LORD!” 


Father, let us be glad as we enter into the house of the Lord, today, wherever we choose to worship. As we attend the service at Living Word Lutheran Church, I pray that Your Spirit will be evident in everything that happens there. May we celebrate the intimate, divine access that we have to You, because of the blood of Jesus Christ and the presence of the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus sent to be our helper when He ascended to You.

Let us rejoice, Father, and let us encourage one another with these words today. And may this access, this close presence with You be felt, in Christ, every day, every hour, every minute, and with every breath that we breathe.

Things are dark in this world, right now, Lord, but we know that, we believe that (or at least some of us do) You are in control of all things, and we have the confidence that Your will is being done on earth as it is in heaven, not matter what our eyes tell us. Our faith is in You; our Hope is in You; our trust is in You!

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


This is the day that the LORD has made; 
let us rejoice and be glad in it. 
(Psalms 118:24 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends!

It Sings the Conqueror’s Song

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

May the peace of Christ be with you today!

Day 23,627

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

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

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

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

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

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

Today I am grateful:

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

How Many? by Daryl Madden

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


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

Grace and peace, friends.

Waiting, An Attitude of the Heart

Today is Friday, the 18th of November, 2022, in the 33rd week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ find you today, and dwell in your soul.

Day 23,626

Six days until Thanksgiving!

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Make me understand the way of your precepts, 
and I will meditate on your wondrous works.
(Psalms 119:27 ESV)

Lord our God, we stand before you and rejoice that you want to be our Helper, our Father. We live in a dark and evil time when whole nations groan and lament. Our need rises to you in heaven, and we cry out, “Help us, Lord our God!” Help that your will may be done in all things and that your kingdom may come. Our task is to pray to you at all times, calling, “Come, O Lord God, in Jesus Christ, the Lord and Savior of all the world!” For in east and west, in south and north, among all nations, Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior. Praise to your name that you have given us this Lord. Amen.

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
(Zechariah 9:9 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. for coffee
  2. for the beauty of creation all around me, especially the night sky
  3. that I will never look into the eyes of someone whom God does not love
  4. for the constant encouragement to wait continually on God
  5. for His help in times of anxiety; there is no need to worry about anything

Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?
(Luke 12:25 NIV)

Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.
(Proverbs 12:25 NIV)

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


“So you, by the help of your God, return, hold fast to love and justice, and wait continually for your God.”
(Hosea 12:6 ESV)


Typically, we think of “waiting” as just sitting. The standard definition of “wait” is “stay where one is or delay action until a particular time or until something else happens.” But it also means, “to be available or in readiness.”

Andrew Murray indicates that waiting is “the essence of true Christianity,” and states that “the maintenance of an attitude of entire dependence on Him must be continual.” (From Waiting on God, quoted in Power in Prayer)

It may be that we wind up waiting an extended time for some answer, but the “attitude and habit of the soul must remain unchangeable and uninterrupted.” (ibid)

The practice of waiting continually is a possibility, just as praying without ceasing is a possibility. The general idea of people, though, is that we are too busy, our lives are too crowded to “wait continually.”

But that’s because they do not understand that “waiting” doesn’t simply mean to sit and do nothing. I can be waiting on God as I go about my daily business. For example: I will be working at the library today, spending eight hours in the computer center. I can still be waiting on the Lord while I do that.

This is possible because, in our case, “waiting” is more of an attitude of the heart than the lack of physical action. See that second definition. I can be active in whatever it is I am doing and still be “available or in readiness.”

Murray compares this to a father/husband who might have a sick wife or child. “A father’s heart may be filled continually with intense love and longing for a sick wife or child at home, even though pressing business requires all his thoughts.” He goes on: “When the heart has learned how entirely powerless it is to keep itself or to produce any good, when it has learned how surely and absolutely God will keep it, when it has, in despair of itself, accepted God’s promise to do for it the impossible, it learns to rest in God and, in the midst of occupations and temptations, waits continually.” (ibid)

We also must understand that God is always working in us, regardless of our status of waiting. If we think, “if I wait continually, then God will work continually,” we have it backwards. We should turn that around. “God works continually; I may wait on Him continually.” The attitude of waiting reflects the faith and hope that we have in God to work in us.


I want to also share something I saw in a Facebook post this morning.

"You will never look
 into the eyes 
of someone 
God does not love."

Father, help me to be a better “waiter.” Help me to wait on You, continually. Let this attitude be constant in me, not so that I can coerce You to work in me, but because You are already working in me. Because I believe that You are always working, I can wait, and the attitude of my heart can be that of continual waiting.

I will be available; I will be ready; I will be waiting, but I will not just be sitting, doing nothing.

I also pray that all of Your children would embrace that statement about love and Your love for all people. It is true that I will never be able to find someone whom You do not love. Therefore, I must love them all, as well. Help me to embrace and remember that when a troublesome patron comes into my work area, today. Help me to remember that the person who is angry at the world, for whatever reason, is someone You love.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


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 the day long. 
(Psalms 25:4-5 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

How To Obey

Today is Sunday, the 13th of November, 2022, in the 33rd week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ be with you today!

Day 23,621

It’s eleven days until Thanksgiving in the U.S.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Take away from me scorn and contempt, 
for I have kept your testimonies.
(Psalms 119:22 ESV)

Lord our God, we thank you that you work in us and in our lives and that you show us your compassion, no matter what cross we have to bear. We want to rejoice in you and wait patiently until your purpose is fulfilled and your kingdom arises on earth. Protect each one of us. May our hearts find strength and never-failing joy in Jesus Christ the Savior, always hoping and believing, always looking to you. For you are the almighty God, who will come in Jesus Christ to establish his kingdom among the peoples and at last reveal his truth in its fullness. Then the knowledge of your will shall spread to all peoples, so that good and evil may come before you and be judged according to your mercy and faithful love. Amen. (Emphasis added)

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

“In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever.”
(Daniel 2:44 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. for the strength and never-failing joy that can be found in Jesus Christ
  2. for the kingdom of God that will endure forever
  3. for patience in waiting on God; may I have more of it and wait faithfully
  4. for the Holy Spirit and His work in our lives; may we walk in Him
  5. for the presence of God, through which we are made able to obey His commands

Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures. 

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. 
(James 1:16-20 ESV)

If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
(James 1:26-27 ESV)


If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.
(Galatians 5:25 ESV)


“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”
(Matthew 7:12 ESV)

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


“‘Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be my people. And walk in all the way that I command you, that it may be well with you.'”
(Jeremiah 7:23 ESV)


Whenever I read a verse like Psalm 119:22, way up there at the top, my initial reaction leans toward, “Who could ever say that they had faithfully kept all of God’s commands (testimonies)?” That seems like a pretty bold statement from the psalmist.

Personally, I would never make a claim like that. I do believe that, based on the understanding that Jesus gives us regarding God’s commands, I have done a fairly decent job in recent years. I mean, right there in Matthew 7:12, Jesus equates the “Golden Rule” with the Law and the Prophets.

But I’m not perfect, and I must assume that the psalmist was not, either. And maybe, when the psalmist made that statement, the Spirit nudged him and said, “What about _____?”

But then we get this command from Jeremiah, where God tells us that if we walk in the way that He commands, it will “be well” with us.

Once again, we come down to how we do that. How do we keep God’s commands?

Andrew Murray has some ideas on that. “The secret of true obedience, I believe, is a clear and close personal relationship with God. . . . It is God’s holy presence, consciously abiding with us, that keeps us from disobeying Him.

He points out something that I never really noticed. Whenever God asks for obedience, He usually says something like “Obey me,” or “Listen to my voice.” During the transfiguration, He said, “This is my beloved Son; listen to Him!”

In order to listen to someone, we must be (for the most part) in their presence. Yes, we have podcasts and You Tube and other avenues with which to “listen” to someone without being in their presence. And I fully believe that God, through the Holy Spirit, can be “present” in something like that.

Since God is Spirit, He can be present with us at any time, in any place. And He is. Whether we acknowledge and recognize that presence is an entirely different matter.

So, as we consider things like the Golden Rule and Jesus’s “sheep and goats” parable, we also must consider how the intimate presence of God in our lives is what enables us to obey these words. It is what enables us to love one another. So when I find myself not walking in obedience (and hopefully the Holy Spirit will convict me of this), I must step back and examine my relationship with God. Am I constantly practicing His presence? Obviously not, if I am not loving my neighbor or doing unto others as I would have them do unto me.

Do we trust God? We claim to, yes?

“The true scholar of a great master finds it easy to render him unwavering obedience because he trusts his teacher so implicitly. The student sacrifices his own wisdom to be guided by a higher wisdom. We need this confidence in our Lord Jesus. Just as we have trusted Him as our Savior to atone for our disobedience, let us trust Him as our teacher to lead us out of it and into a life of practical obedience.”

(Andrew Murray, from A Life of Obedience, quoted in Power in Prayer)


Father, may I know, acknowledge, recognize, and practice Your presence in my life, that I might hear and obey Your voice. More so, help me to listen to Your beloved Son, that I might walk in His words. Help me to do unto others as I would have done unto me. Help me to recognize the needs in “the least of these,” that I might serve Jesus.

I pray that all of Your children would recognize the connection between love and the great commands and the summation of all of the Law and Prophets. It’s all wrapped up in love, and I fear we are not doing a very good job of that, these days.

I praise You for the saints who are quietly going about the business of love. They are the ones who don’t get seen or noticed. Unfortunately, the ones who get noticed are the ones making the most noise, and they are the ones who are not practicing love. I would pray, Father, that You simply shut them up.

Your will be done, on earth, as in Heaven.

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.

It Doesn’t Matter How I Feel

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

May the peace of Christ dwell within you today!

Day 23,620

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

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

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

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

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

(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

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

Today I am grateful:

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

“Past the Thought,” by Daryl Madden

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

A Psalm of David. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It matters not one iota how I feel about this!

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

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

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


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

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

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

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


Grace and peace, friends.

The God Who Sees

Today is Friday, the 11th of November, 2022, in the 32nd week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ find you today!

Day 23,619

Tomorrow is C’s birthday!

Today is Veteran’s Day in the U.S. We recognize all people who have served in our Armed Forces.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

My soul is consumed with longing for your rules at all times.
(Psalms 119:20 ESV)

Lord our God, we come to you, the source of all being. You have said to us, “I am your God. You shall have no other gods besides me. Honor none but me, your God.” We thank you for this wonderful message. Help us to recognize you more and more, so that our hearts are full of the goodness and blessing we already have on earth, so that we hear you, the mighty One, say, “Stop, O people. Make peace. No one of you is more important than any other. Remember that I am God of all, in south and north, in west and east, on the oceans and everywhere. I am the one God, and through Jesus Christ I am now your Father.” Amen.

(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

"I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 
"You shall have no other gods before me. 
"You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments."
(Exodus 20:2-6 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. for the Lord our God, the source of all being
  2. that none of us is any more important than any other
  3. that the Lord searches my heart and tests my mind (Jeremiah 17:10)
  4. that my worthiness does not come from within, but from Jesus Christ
  5. that God is a God who sees us

Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.
(Titus 3:1-2 ESV)

But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
(Titus 3:4-7 ESV)

But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.
(Titus 3:9-11 ESV)

Thus says the LORD: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the LORD. He is like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see any good come. He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land.”
(Jeremiah 17:5-6 ESV)

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? “I the LORD search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.”
(Jeremiah 17:9-10 ESV)

If at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom, that I will pluck up and break down and destroy it, and if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I intended to do to it. And if at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom that I will build and plant it, and if it does evil in my sight, not listening to my voice, then I will relent of the good that I had intended to do to it.”
(Jeremiah 18:7-10 ESV)


She gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.”
(Genesis 16:13 NIV)


Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
(1 Thessalonians 5:11 NIV)

Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
(Matthew 20:25-28 NIV)

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.
(1 Peter 4:10 NIV)


When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
(Colossians 3:4 NIV)


There’s a lot of “good stuff” in the Scriptures that I have read, this morning. The ones, though, that have spoken most clearly to me, though, are the one from Genesis, and the last one, from Colossians.

In the Genesis verse, it is Hagar that is speaking. She has been banished by Sarai, Abraham’s wife, out of jealousy. (It’s Saria’s own fault, but that’s a discussion for another day.) But God (I love those two words together) has seen her; God speaks to her and gives her some promises, so she, in turn, calls out to God, and calls Him “The God who sees me” (El Roi).

How encouraging is this for us today? Especially for the one who feels invisible all the time. God, who takes care of the birds of the air and the flowers of the field, sees all of us; He values all of us, and all are important to Him.

There is so much mystery in life. We were talking about this with a pastor last night, especially in regard to the sacraments of Communion and Baptism, as well as the possible activities of Christ during the three days when His body was in the grave (more discussions for a different day, unfortunately). Mysteries which we do not fully comprehend, but, by faith, we embrace.

And, because we believe in a God who sees us, we out not neglect to pray for ourselves. I confess that I often neglect that. I pray for many other people, whenever they ask me to. But how often do I pray for myself? I ask for forgiveness quite a bit. But I need to pray more for myself, as encouraged by Andrew Murray.

“We must neglect to pray also for ourselves, so that as Christ takes full possession of us, He will be able to work through us to the end that others might be helped.

“Let us yield ourselves to God in prayer that He might search our hearts and reveal to us whether the life of Christ is the law of our life.”

And then this gem:

“Consider this: Your worthiness is not in yourself or in the intensity of your consecration; your worthiness is in Christ himself.”

(From Absolute Surrender, quoted in Power in Prayer)


Thank You, Father, that Christ has made me worthy. I have no worthiness within myself; none that I can call my own. But, because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, I am fully aware that You, El Roi, see me! What comfort this brings; what joy!

I pray that I would take this joy and comfort and not hoard it to myself, but spread it around, like a lawn spreader spreads the seed or fertilizer around on everything near it.

Help me to remember to pray for myself, so that I can be strengthened by Your Spirit and, as Murray says, help others. I pray that Christ would be the law of my life.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


Let nothing disturb you,
let nothing frighten you,
all things will pass away.
God never changes;
patience obtains all things,
whoever has God lacks nothing.
God alone suffices.

Amen.
(St. Teresa of Avila)

Grace and peace, friends.

In Spirit and Truth

Today is Thursday, the 10th of November, 2022, in the 32nd week of Ordinary Time.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,618

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

I am a sojourner on the earth; 
hide not your commandments from me! 
(Psalms 119:19 ESV)

Lord our God, the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, who was and is and is to come, the Almighty, we thank you for this wonderful message, which is meant for us too, even though our lives often seem empty and sad. But behold, you make all things new for each one of us. Even though we have long tormented ourselves, the light of life will dawn at last and we will be able to rejoice. Continue to protect us and our community. Wake us to new life, for you have called us to believe and to endure to the end. Whatever sorrows and hardships may come, we will remain faithful, O Lord our God. This is our promise to you. We will persevere and say joyfully, “Jesus Christ is coming to make all things new.” Amen.

(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.”
(Revelation 1:8 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. for the Alpha and Omega, who is, and who was, and who is to come
  2. that Jesus Christ will come again to make all things new
  3. for the grace of God, given that we might be able to work through and for Him
  4. for the presence of God, as He gives Himself to us, that we might enjoy Him and find rest
  5. for the true worship of God, in spirit and truth

A Song of Ascents. 

When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion, 
we were like those who dream. 
Then our mouth was filled with laughter, 
and our tongue with shouts of joy; 
then they said among the nations, 
"The LORD has done great things for them." 
The LORD has done great things for us; 
we are glad. 

Restore our fortunes, O LORD, 
like streams in the Negeb! 
Those who sow in tears 
shall reap with shouts of joy! 
He who goes out weeping, 
bearing the seed for sowing, 
shall come home with shouts of joy, 
bringing his sheaves with him. 
(Psalms 126:1-6 ESV)

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”
(Jeremiah 29:11-13 NIV)


The LORD has done it this very day; let us rejoice today and be glad.
(Psalms 118:24 NIV)

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
(1 Corinthians 10:31 NIV)

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!
(Philippians 4:4 NIV)


“Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”
(John 4:23-24 NIV)


There is potentially a lot to unpack here, this morning. I’m not going to try to exhaust it. But I want to focus on a couple of things.

The Jeremiah passage, which is a favorite of many people, is frequently taken out of context. God is speaking, through Jeremiah, to a people in captivity. If you keep reading, you get to verse 14.

I will be found by you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”
(Jeremiah 29:14 NIV)

I believe, though, that this passage still has something for us. It is not unreasonable to read it and believe that our God has plans to “prosper” us. There is some question as to what the means, of course. The word for “prosper” is the familiar Hebrew word “shalom,” which most people think means “peace.” It does mean “peace,” but it means so much more. Shalom is a rich word. It can mean “safe, well, happy, friendly, welfare,” as well as a few others.

In other words, I think it is safe to say that God is looking out for our welfare. Romans 8:28 seems to agree with this, right? Another favorite verse of many people.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
(Romans 8:28 NIV)

The major thing that God did to look out for our welfare, of course, was Jesus. Two weeks ago, I heard a sermon, brief and simple, that asked the question, “How do I know God loves me?” There were various answers given, but at the end, it was all simplified into one, single word.

“Jesus.”

And this is addressed in Psalm 118, another passage that is frequently taken out of context. While it is true that every day is “a day that the Lord has made,” the psalmist was thinking of one particular day when he wrote that.

The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; 
the LORD has done this, 
and it is marvelous in our eyes. 
The LORD has done it this very day;
let us rejoice today and be glad. 
LORD, save us! LORD, grant us success! 
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD. 
From the house of the LORD we bless you. 
(Psalms 118:22-26 NIV)

Part of this passage will be recognized as being shouted from the streets when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the foal of a donkey. And that part that says, “Lord, save us,” which is translated “Save now” in the KJV, becomes “Hosannah!” in the New Testament.

“The LORD has done it this very day!” Or, as some versions translate it, “This is the day that the LORD has made!” What day? The day that the stone that the builders rejected became the cornerstone.

This is great reason to follow the advice of Paul in Philippians when he says, “Rejoice!” It is the way that God has provided for our “prosperity;” our welfare; our “shalom.”

Our response to this, in part, is worship. And Jesus says a lot about worship in His conversation with the woman at the well in John 4.

He spoke of three different kinds of worship. First, He told the Samaritan woman that her people worshiped something that they did not know. This correlates, I think, to a lot of marginal Christians, today, who go through the motions of weekly church attendance and “worship,” not really understanding what they are doing. The benefit, if any, is minimal.

He speaks of His own people, the Jews, worshiping “what we do know,” which is the “truth” piece of the equation. This kind of worship tends to be somewhat “clinical” and rigid.

Then He brings the “spirit” into it. This is what Jesus, Himself, is introducing to us. It was not quite there, yet, you see. Jesus said, “a time is coming and has now come.” As soon as He departed the earth (well, a few days later, actually), the Holy Spirit came on the scene.

In today’s world, we see a lot of “spiritual” worship, much of it not at all based in truth. Not that it’s not worship, but it tends to be rather shallow.

Jesus desires, and speaks, here, of a true worship that incorporates both spirit and truth. This does not mean “from the heart, in sincerity.” You can be sincere and not have truth at all.

Here are some words from Andrew Murray:

“Among Christians there are still three levels of worshipers: some, in their ignorance, hardly know what they are asking. They pray earnestly but receive little. Others, with more knowledge, try to pray with all their minds and heart, but do not attain the full blessing. We must ask our Lord Jesus to take us to the third level: to be taught of Him how to worship in sprit and truth.” (From Teach Me to Pray, quoted in Power in Prayer)

There is something mystical and “magical” (sorry/not sorry) about this true worship. There is a piece to it that we will never understand on this side of “glory.” Yet, we must aspire to it in our own worship, both private and corporate.


Father, I thank You for the things that are taught in today’s Scriptures. I praise You for Your desire to “prosper” us, but understand that that doesn’t mean that You want to make us physically wealthy, necessarily. I mean, I have plenty, but that has not always been the case. And that “worldly wealth” doesn’t mean much to me other than a way to help others, when needed. When I understand that the word is “shalom” in that passage, then it increases my understanding of Your desire to care for us completely.

I thank You, as well, with words that leave much to be desired, for that “day” when Jesus was made the Cornerstone. For that Day that You made for us to rejoice and be glad in it. Certainly every day is a day that You have made, a day for me to rejoice. But that day is a “special” day, worthy of much more rejoicing, worthy of us shouting “Hosanna! Save now!” and “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” Thank You, Father! Thank You!

And I thank You for giving us the record of that conversation between Jesus and the Samaritan woman. Now, I ask that You help us to comprehend what it means to worship in spirit and truth. Many of us have “truth” and not much “spirit.” Some have “spirit” and not much “truth.” Then there are those who are just there, doing the best they can with their limited understanding, which is pretty much of their own making.

Help us to understand the mystical nature of this worship. Or maybe better, just help us to experience it and know it, and maybe understand it later, when we finally arrive in our eternal rest.

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

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


Everything comes from him; 
Everything happens through him; 
Everything ends up in him. 
Always glory! 
Always praise! 
Yes. Yes. Yes. 
(Romans 11:36 MSG)

Grace and peace, friends.

Wait. Quietly.

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

May the peace of Christ remain with you, today!

Day 23,616

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

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

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

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

(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

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

Today I am grateful:

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

My Love, by Daryl Madden

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

It has already happened.

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

Glory.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


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

Grace and peace, friends.