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.

It’s All About Love

“Complaints or confessions of tempers unconquered; selfishness; harsh judgments; unkind words; or a lack of meekness, patience, and gentleness is simply proof that we do not yet understand that to be a Christ is to have the Spirit of Christ, which is the Spirit of Love. Generally, we are more carnal than spiritual.”

Today is Sunday, the 6th of November, 2022, in the 32nd week of Ordinary Time.

I pray that the peace of Christ will envelop everyone who reads this, today!

Day 23,614

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways.
(Psalms 119:15 ESV)

Lord our God, your kingdom is coming. Your help reaches us. However much we must suffer, we look to you, for you have given us your promise. You have promised that all shall go well with us. You have promised that while still on earth your people may have strength to trust in you and wait for you in patience and joy. So lay your hands upon us, O Lord our God, and let your redeeming strength be revealed in us. You know all our needs. You see into each heart and know how to help, as you have promised. Bless us and help us, and may your name be honored among us. May your kingdom come, and your will be done on earth as in heaven. Amen.

(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

On this mountain he will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations; he will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove his people’s disgrace from all the earth. The LORD has spoken.
(Isaiah 25:7-8 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. for another opportunity to worship and participate in the Communion of Saints, this morning
  2. that no matter what things look like “out there,” in the Kingdom of God, all shall be well
  3. for the fruit of the Spirit, which begins with love
  4. that “this is the day that the LORD has made;” I will rejoice and be glad in it
  5. for the way that God’s Spirit unites us all and binds us together, as saints in Him

Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers. Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, and their talk will spread like gangrene.
(2 Timothy 2:14-17 ESV)

Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness.
(2 Timothy 2:23-25 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)

The stone that the builders rejected 
has become the cornerstone. 
This is the LORD's doing; 
it is marvelous in our eyes. 
This is the day that the LORD has made;
 let us rejoice and be glad in it.
(Psalms 118:22-24 ESV)

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
(Ephesians 3:14-19 ESV)

Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.
(1 John 3:2 ESV)


But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
(Galatians 5:22-23 ESV)


I have often wondered if it is a coincidence that Paul lists “love” first in that listing of the fruit of the Spirit. I know that I have believed, for a long time, now, that this is not a list of “individual fruits,” but a compilation of the parts of one fruit. In other words, if you possess and display the fruit of the Spirit, all of those things will be present and visible within you.

Andrew Murray seems to agree with this. “Complaints or confessions of tempers unconquered; selfishness; harsh judgments; unkind words; or a lack of meekness, patience, and gentleness is simply proof that we do not yet understand that to be a Christ is to have the Spirit of Christ, which is the Spirit of Love. Generally, we are more carnal than spiritual.” (The Indwelling of the Spirit, quoted in Power in Prayer)

Paul, in his prayer in Ephesians, prays that we would be “rooted and grounded in love,” and that we may “comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge.”

If we know and comprehend this Spirit of Love, then it will be much easier to live by Paul’s words in 2 Timothy, where he advises the young pastor to avoid controversies and foolish arguments. I believe he even uses the word “ignorant.” It becomes painfully obvious that there are quite a few of us who have not yet mastered that characteristic.

When I was in youth, at my home church in Mineral Well, Texas (Calvary Baptist Church), there was a musical that made the round, called “It’s All About Love.” To this day, I believe that to be true. And I believe that Jesus taught us this truth. It’s in those two greatest commandments, and in that “new command” that He gave His disciples. And Paul says it in Romans, that when we love, we fulfill the law.

It’s not about how much we tithe or if we do any work on the Sabbath or if we play cards or dance or drink alcohol. It’s not about rules or dos or don’ts.

It’s all about love.

We need a love revolution!


Father, I pray for the fruit of the Spirit, beginning with love, to be visible in Your people. I pray for Your community of saints to be able to do away with foolish, ignorant arguments and controversies, and our love for quarrels. Help us to love, Father. Help us to love You first, with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength; help us to love our neighbor, the oppressed, the immigrant, the refugee, the poor and needy, as we love ourselves (maybe we need a little help with that last part, too); and help us to love the Body of Christ, the Church, as Christ our Savior has loved us!

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.
(Romans 13:8 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Very Present

Today is Tuesday, the 1st of November, 2022, in the 31st week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ reign in your heart today!

Day 23,609

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

With my whole heart I seek you;
 let me not wander from your commandments!
(Psalms 119:10 ESV)

Dear Father in heaven, we seek you and your kingdom. We gather to hear your Word so that we may receive strength for our own lives and for all our relationships with others. We want to stand firm, believing that in everything great and small your will is being done and that we may yet experience a new coming of your glory on earth. Then earthly concerns will no longer torment us and wear us out, but heavenly things may surround us and everything become new in accordance with your good, merciful, and perfect will. Amen.

(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
(Colossians 3:16 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. for the inexpressible gifts of God
  2. for psalms and hymns and spiritual songs
  3. for the promised presence of God in Christ; “behold, I am with you always” (Matthew 28:20)
  4. for the assurance that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:38-39)
  5. for the Holy Spirit, who helps us in our weakness and intercedes for us, according to the Father’s will (Romans 8:26-27)

Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!
(2 Corinthians 9:15 ESV)


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

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”
(Joshua 1:9 ESV)

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
(Psalms 46:1 ESV)

“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).”
(Matthew 1:23 ESV)

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Romans 8:38-39 ESV)


Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
(Romans 8:26-27 ESV)


Today seems to be all about “presence.” It begins with Paul’s prayer that the word of Christ dwell richly within us. One might think that he is simply speaking of Scripture when he says this. And, while he definitely is speaking of Scripture, I believe there is more to it than that.

The context of that particular verse (Colossians 3:16) is that of relationships within the body. He tells the church to “put on” compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. He tells us to bear with one another, forgive one another, and, above all of these other things, to “put on love.” Love, he says, “binds everything together in perfect harmony.”

He then says to let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts. And then he gets to verse 16, where he says to let the word of Christ dwell in us richly, followed by the admonition to do everything in the name of Jesus.

How do we do all of this? We would not be able to, were it not for the presence of Christ with us. That presence was promised by Jesus, Himself in Matthew 28:20. That promise is not a new thing, either. We see all the way back in Joshua, the Lord telling His people that He will be with them wherever they go. The sons of Korah, in Psalm 46, tell us that God is a “very present” help in trouble. “Very present.” I don’t know how someone can be “very present,” but God manages it.

Even Jesus’s name promises the presence of God.

Immanuel. “God with us.”

That presence is so sure that nothing can separate us. That wonderful eighth chapter of Romans, that so many of us know so well, promises us this. Look at that list of things that cannot separate us:

Death
Life
Angels
Rulers (governments)
Things present
Things to come (the future)
Powers
Height
Depth
Anything in creation

I would add to that, things past, and, most importantly, sin.

I believe, of course, that “sin” falls into that “anything else in all creation” category. But know this. If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, your sin does not separate you from God. If anyone ever tells you that, it is a lie, and is not found anywhere in Scripture! Jesus Christ has taken the full penalty of that sin, past, present, and future. It has been cast as far from you as the east is from the west; it has been tossed into the bottom of the sea, into the Marianas Trench. God says “I will remember it no more.” I said this last week, and I’ll say it again, today:

God said it, and I believe it.

He deliberately forgets my sin. Therefore, it cannot possibly separate me from Him.

Shame over past sin is one of the devil’s biggest tools against us. Our enemy wants us to feel separated from God, because it makes us feel powerless.

But we have God’s presence within us, in Christ, through the Holy Spirit, and we see part of the Holy Spirit’s work, again, in Romans 8. Romans 8 is such a marvelous chapter!

The Spirit helps us in our weakness; and the Spirit intercedes for us, when we do not know how or what to pray. He does so, according to the will of the Father. He is present, even, as the Sons of Korah said, “very present.”

Here are some words from Andrew Murray, about the Holy Spirit:

“The Holy Spirit, above all, is a Spirit of prayer. He intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will. As we pray in the Spirit, our worship is as God desires it to be, in spirit and in truth. Prayer is simply the breathing of the Spirit in us; power in prayer comes from the power of the Spirit in us as we wait on Him. Failure in prayer is the result of a human spirit that is not yielded to the Spirit of God. In this sense, prayer is a gauge that measures the work of the Spirit in us. To pray aright, the life of the Spirit must be active in us. For praying the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man, everything depends on being full of the Spirit.”

(From The Ministry of Intercessory Prayer, quoted in Power in Prayer)


Father, I thank You so very much for Your powerful presence within us, Your “saints.” Were it not for Your Word, I would never refer to myself as a “saint,” but You say I am one because of my belief in Christ Jesus, so I will use that word. I am not perfect, by any stretch of the imagination . . . not even close.

But Your presence within me sanctifies me. The Holy Spirit, third Person of the Trinity, dwells within me as the Spirit of Christ, who then allows me to communicate with You. Further, You dwell within us by the body and blood of Jesus Christ, of which we partake each time we participate in Communion.

Thank You for Your presence! I thank You that there is nothing that can separate me from Your presence in the love of Christ. I praise You for the forgiveness of sin, and that You somehow can forget my sin, on purpose. My mind boggles at that, because I am unable to forget anything deliberately. I forget things all the time. But the things I would like to forget, I am unable to.

Help us, Father, to walk in this forgiveness. Make us also to be full of Your Spirit, that our prayers might be fervent and effective, that we might glorify Your name on the earth. May Your presence with us become more dear to us than anything in all creation. Be our “very present” help, Lord! Make us aware of this presence, constantly.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


I catch you digging in my trash for stuff I’ve long thrown away. You bring it back on a tray.

Grace and peace, friends.

The Normal Spiritual Experience

Today is Friday, the 28th of October, 2022, in the 30th week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ find you and enfold you, today!

Day 23,605

It is currently raining, and should rain all day, today.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Oh that my ways may be steadfast in keeping your statutes! 
Then I shall not be put to shame, 
having my eyes fixed on all your commandments.
(Psalms 119:5-6 ESV)
Dear Father in heaven, we want to praise you together and to thank you with all our hearts for your goodness and your deliverance from our many needs. Accept our thanks, and help us go on our way with ever joyful hearts. Make us ready for whatever you have prepared for us, your children. Bless us in our individual lives and bless us in our community. Let your Spirit shed its rays into all places to comfort people's hearts and to restore and strengthen their faith. May your name be praised forevermore. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
"Sacrifice thank offerings to God, fulfill your vows to the Most High, 
and call on me in the day of trouble; 
I will deliver you, and you will honor me." 
(Psalms 50:14-15 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. for the rain and cool weather today
  2. for the goodness of God and the joyful heart He gives me
  3. that He makes me ready for whatever He has prepared for me, today
  4. that God is near us; He is not far away, and He is not hard to find
  5. that our Father has “blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 1:3)

Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; 
for his steadfast love endures forever! 

Out of my distress I called on the LORD; 
the LORD answered me and set me free. 

It is better to take refuge in the LORD 
than to trust in man.
 It is better to take refuge in the LORD 
than to trust in princes. 

The LORD is my strength and my song; 
he has become my salvation. 
Glad songs of salvation 
are in the tents of the righteous: 
"The right hand of the LORD does valiantly, 
the right hand of the LORD exalts, 
the right hand of the LORD does valiantly!" 

Open to me the gates of righteousness, 
that I may enter through them 
and give thanks to the LORD. 
This is the gate of the LORD; 
the righteous shall enter through it. 
I thank you that you have answered me 
and have become my salvation. 
The stone that the builders rejected 
has become the cornerstone. 
This is the LORD's doing;
 it is marvelous in our eyes. 
This is the day that the LORD has made; 
let us rejoice and be glad in it. 

Save us, we pray, O LORD!
 O LORD, we pray, give us success! 

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD! 
We bless you from the house of the LORD. 

You are my God, and I will give thanks to you; 
you are my God; I will extol you.
Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; 
for his steadfast love endures forever! 
(Psalms 118:1. 5, 8-9, 14-16, 19-26, 28-29 ESV)

“His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him—though he is not far from any one of us.”
(Acts 17:27 NLT)

So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor. Don’t speak evil against each other, dear brothers and sisters. If you criticize and judge each other, then you are criticizing and judging God’s law. But your job is to obey the law, not to judge whether it applies to you. God alone, who gave the law, is the Judge. He alone has the power to save or to destroy. So what right do you have to judge your neighbor?
(James 4:7-12 NLT)


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 ESV)


There’s a lot of talk of humility in that James passage. I dare say that most of us don’t like to read the book of James. It is not a comfortable book. We don’t like humility. Especially in the Western world. More especially in the US of A. We are PROUD!

God calls us in a different direction, though, as His children. The only boasting we have any right to do is to boast in the work of Christ for us. That’s another teaching from the same guy who told us to mind our own business.

And James tells us, in no uncertain terms, to humble ourselves. He tells us to not “speak evil against each other. Then that next line? “If you criticize and judge each other, then you are criticizing and judging God’s law.” Obviously, we don’t take that very seriously, do we? Our job is to obey the law, says James, not to judge whether it applies to us.

How much energy do we waste trying to do just that?

And that law? Once again, I point to the words of our Savior, regarding the law.

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

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

And another word from the “mind your own business” guy.

Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
(Romans 13:8-10 ESV)

Side note: Please stop using Romans 13:8 to preach against borrowing money. Just stop it.

Finally, a word from Andrew Murray:

“The believer is to walk in meekness and lowliness of heart, keep the unity of the Spirit, and minister in the power of the Spirit for the building up of the body of Christ in love. He seeks never to grieve the Spirit, but rather to be filled with the Spirit, fulfilling the law of love in his daily life. He is strong in the Lord and in the power of His might to fulfill his part in wrestling with the powers of darkness by the use of the Word and prayer.

“We all need time, thought, prayer, and quiet waiting on the Spirit of God to catch the vision of our place in Christ and to maintain it. The Spirit-sealed, Spirit-taught, Spirit-strengthened, and Spirit-filled life here described is to be the normal spiritual experience. We must turn away from self and the world and allow God to work out in us His purposes according to the counsel of His will.”

(From The Believer’s Call to Commitment, quoted in Power in Prayer, emphasis added)


Father, I pray with all my heart that I would heed these words today. Let my spiritual experience be that described by Brother Murray. May I follow the law of Jesus Christ, as He spoke it to us, humble myself, walk in meekness, lowliness of heart, and attempt to keep the unity of the Spirit for the building up of the Body of Christ in love.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.
(2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Who Are You?

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

May the peace of Christ dwell within you, today!

Day 23,604

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

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

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

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

Today I am grateful:

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

A Person’s Value

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


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

Grace and peace, friends.