Let Everything that Has Breath

Today is Saturday, the 15th of October, 2022, in the 28th week of Ordinary Time.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,592

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Dear Father in heaven, we come into your presence as imperfect, sinful children, who do many foolish things and who are involved in much that is evil and corrupt. We come to you, Father, knowing that your fatherly love is with us through all eternity. Be gracious to us and free us from all the harm and injury we are bound to suffer in this earthly life. May the grace your kingdom brings on earth finally blot out the sins of all people, so that as your children they may rejoice because you have helped them. May your name be praised among all people. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
(Matthew 9:12-13 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. that we are able to come into the presence of God, even as imperfect, sinful children
  2. for the blessings of a new day
  3. that, when the Lord wants to do something in or through me, the “how” is not my concern
  4. for “the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3)
  5. for the many ways that we can praise the Lord; “let everything that has breath praise the Lord!” (Psalm 150)

Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
 for his steadfast love endures forever! 
Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, 
whom he has redeemed from trouble 
and gathered in from the lands, 
from the east and from the west, 
from the north and from the south.
(Psalms 107:1-3 ESV)

And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”
(Luke 1:34 ESV)


Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!
(Psalms 133:1 ESV)

But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children's children, 
to those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments.
(Psalms 103:17-18 ESV)

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
(Ephesians 4:1-3 ESV)


Praise the LORD! 
Praise God in his sanctuary;
 praise him in his mighty heavens! 
Praise him for his mighty deeds; 
praise him according to his excellent greatness! 
Praise him with trumpet sound; 
praise him with lute and harp! 
Praise him with tambourine and dance; 
praise him with strings and pipe! 
Praise him with sounding cymbals; 
praise him with loud clashing cymbals! 
Let everything that has breath praise the LORD!
 Praise the LORD!
(Psalms 150:1-6 ESV)

“Everything that has breath.”

Cats and dogs have breath. Deer and hogs have breath. Lizards have breath. There are many things, other than human beings, that have breath. There are also human beings who have breath who cannot speak.

How do all of these “praise the Lord?”

As in the question by the virgin Mary, the “how” is not my concern. Now, we note that the angel answered Mary’s question, because it was, apparently, asked in innocent wonder. Unlike Zechariah, the father of John the Baptizer, whose question was more of an unbelieve scoffing. You know, kind of the way Sarai laughed when she heard she was going to have a baby when she was close to 100 years old.

The angel answered Mary, but he didn’t have to, did he? I believe that wildlife praises God naturally. The trees may not “clap their hands,” but then, again, perhaps they do, when the wind blows. Their clapping just sounds more like rustling, as their leaves hit each other in the wind. Perhaps when dogs and wolves howl at the moon, they are, in their own, natural way, praising their creator. Who can say otherwise?

Of course, it can be argued that the word translated “breath” in Psalm 150 could also be “soul.” Then many people would take animals other than humans out of the picture. However, I am not 100% convinced that animals do not have souls.

While some might see this as a “command,” I do not. It’s a song of praise, a fitting end to the book of prayers and hymns that occupies the center of our Bible (for a long time, I have felt that it is no coincidence that the Psalms are in the center). It is an encouragement, an admonishment.

So praise Him! If you have breath, praise Him! You definitely have a soul. So praise Him!

Praise Him in the morning
Praise Him in the evening
Praise Him when you're young and when you're old

Praise Him when you're laughing
Praise Him when you're grieving
Praise Him in every season of the soul

Join with the angels in heaven in praising Him
Join with all creation on earth in praise Him

"If they could see how much You're worth
Your power, Your might, Your endless love
Then surely they would never cease to praise You"

(Adapted from Matt Redman's "Everything that Has Breath")

Father, I join with all creation on earth and all the angels in heaven in praise You. I confess that I do not praise You enough. By Your Spirit, I pray that You remind me, more often, to stop whatever I am doing and praise You, worshiping You throughout the day, no matter what I am doing. At the library, today, remind me to praise You. As I drive to and from there, remind me to praise You. When I’m playing my video games, remind me to praise You. When I’m reading my books, remind me to praise You.

I pray that the words of this Psalm will be fulfilled, and that everything that has breath, even things that do not, will praise You! Even let the rocks cry out, Father! Let them shout for joy, to the glory of Your Name.

I pray that every tribe, nation, and tongue on earth will know Your glory, know Your power, know Your might, and know Your endless love for us. Help those of us who are living in and walking in that love display it to others so that they can also experience it.

Let everything that has breath praise You, Lord!

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


O for a thousand tongues to sing
My great Redeemer's praise
The glories of my God and King
The triumphs of His grace!
(Charles Wesley)

Grace and peace, friends.

Normal

Today is Friday, the 14th of October, 2022, in the 28th week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ be with you, today!

Day 23,591

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, you are help, comfort, and life to us in everything we have to endure. We gather before you as poor, weak people, but you can make us rich and give us new life so that our lives prove we hold to your will and to the justice you bring on earth. May we be one in spirit through all we experience in our hearts, to the glory of your name. May the praise and thanks of many people ring out into all the world because you are help and deliverance from all evil. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
I will listen to what God the LORD says; 
he promises peace to his people, his faithful servants— 
but let them not turn to folly. 
Surely his salvation is near those who fear him, 
that his glory may dwell in our land.
(Psalms 85:8-9 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. for the promise of peace to us, God’s people, His faithful servants
  2. for God’s help, comfort, and life to us in all things
  3. that Jesus is with us always, to the end of the age (Matthew 28:20)
  4. that God is in the midst of everything in my life, and uses everything to draw me closer to Him
  5. for prayer, the common thread that holds all of the spiritual armor together

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

therefore thus says the Lord GOD, “Behold, I am the one who has laid as a foundation in Zion, a stone, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone, of a sure foundation: ‘Whoever believes will not be in haste.’
(Isaiah 28:16 ESV)

Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”
(Matthew 14:22-27 ESV)

When evening came, his disciples went down to the sea, got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing. When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they were frightened. But he said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.” Then they were glad to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land to which they were going.
(John 6:16-21 ESV)


O For A Thousand Tongues to Sing, stanzas 13-17 (Charles Wesley)

Look unto him, ye nations, own
your God, ye fallen race!
Look, and be saved though faith alone,
be justified by grace!

See all your sins on Jesus laid;
the Lamb of God was slain,
his soul was once an offering made
for every soul of man.

Harlots and publicans and thieves,
in holy triumph join!
Saved is the sinner that believes
from crimes as great as mine.

Murderers and all ye hellish crew,
ye sons of lust and pride,
believe the Savior died for you;
for me the Savior died.

With me, your chief, you then shall know,
shall feel your sins forgiven;
anticipate your heaven below,
and own that love is heaven.

and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.
(Ephesians 6:17-20 ESV)


There are things that should be normal for all Christians. One of them is the peace of Christ that can transcend and eliminate all fears. There are two instances recorded (may or may not be the same time) where Jesus walked on the water to His disciples, and bid them to not fear. Time and time again, they are told to not fear or “be not afraid.”

Jesus is with us through all things, through victories, through defeats, through our stumbling and bumbling, and, perhaps most importantly, when we are afraid. “When I am afraid, I will trust in You,” says the psalmist. “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom, then, shall I fear?”

The Lord also works through all of these things, to draw us closer to Himself.

Another thing that should be normal for Christians is praying “at all times in the Spirit.” Unceasing prayer. It’s like breathing. It’s not only possible, it is demanded of us. Of course, this doesn’t mean that we have to be actively praying 24/7. That would be pretty much impossible, because we need to do other things. But prayer is listed as the final thing in this list of spiritual armor that Paul talks about.

After we “put on” all of this “armor,” we then must pray, for that is the “glue,” if you will, that holds the armor together. We could have everything else listed in that passage, but if we pray not, it will not hold steady; we will fall. I firmly believe this.

Praying at all times in the Spirit is not something that only “super-Christians” do. It should be something that we all do.


Father, I thank You for Your working in us, especially during times when we are afraid. You are ever more close to us, if we lean on You during our fears, during our darkest times. But help us to not forget You when things are great, that we may lean on You then, as well. Thank You for that example of Jesus coming to His disciples, walking on the water. Thank You for His comforting, His insistence that we have nothing to fear.

Help us to keep our spiritual armor on at all times, and help us to cement it in place with prayer. Help me to pray more, to pray better, to pray without ceasing. May my prayers be effective and faithful, as people depend upon me for intercession in their lives and issues.

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

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


Eternal God,
who are the light of the minds that know You,
the joy of the hearts that love You,
and the strength of the wills that serve You;
grant us so to know You that we may truly love You,
and so to love You that we may fully serve You,
whom to serve is perfect freedom,
in Jesus Christ our Lord.
(Prayer to Know God, by St. Augustine)

Grace and peace, friends.

The Keeper

Today is Thursday, the thirteenth of October, 2022, in the 28th week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you today!

Day 23,590

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Dear Father in heaven, we come before you as your children, longing to be assured through your Spirit that we are and may remain your children. We long to live to the glory of your name under the shelter and guidance of the Lord Jesus in expectation of the great day which shall fulfill all promises made to us. Strengthen us, especially in dark and troubled days. Help us when danger threatens and when evil tries to make headway among us. Deliver us from all evil, for yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory for ever and ever. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!" So through God you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son then an heir. 
Galatians 4:6–7, RSV

Today I am grateful:

  1. that I am a son and an heir of God
  2. for whatever God is going to show me, today
  3. that the Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? (Psalm 27:1)
  4. that Jesus “breaks the power of canceled sin” (Charles Wesley)
  5. for God’s power to keep us

“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.”
(John 3:17-18 ESV)

This makes me wonder . . . if God didn’t send Jesus into the world to condemn the world, then why are there so many “Christians” who feel it is their duty to do so??


Praise the LORD! 
Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
 for his steadfast love endures forever! 
Who can utter the mighty deeds of the LORD, 
or declare all his praise? 
Blessed are they who observe justice, 
who do righteousness at all times!
(Psalms 106:1-3 ESV)

“It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”
(Deuteronomy 31:8 ESV)

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

“And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
(Luke 1:76-79 ESV)


O For A Thousand Tongues to Sing, stanzas 9-12

Jesus! The name that charms our fears,
that bids our sorrows cease;
'tis music in the sinner's ears,
'tis life and health, and peace!

He breaks the power of canceled sin,
he sets the prisoner free;
his blood can make the foulest clean;
his blood availed for me.

He speaks, and listening to his voice
new life the dead receive;
the mournful, broken hearts rejoice,
the humble poor believe.

Hear him, ye deaf, his praise, ye dumb,
your loosened tongues employ;
ye blind, behold your Savior come,
and leap, ye lame, for joy.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
(1 Peter 1:3-5 ESV)


“O God, make me as holy as a pardoned sinner can be made.” (Robert Murray M’Cheyne)


“The keeper of our souls is watching over us; our Father delights to reveal himself to us. He has the power to let the sunshine of His love guide us throughout the day.” (Andrew Murray)

“The keeper of our souls . . .” This is the lesson for today. It winds itself through passages of Scripture shared from unrelated sources. “The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1)

The Lord goes before me; He will not leave or forsake me. I need not fear. He keeps me; He keeps my inheritance in heaven. If I embrace these truths, I literally have nothing to fear. Every fear that I have is unfounded, baseless.

The “sunrise” has visited us from on high, the “sunshine of His love” has shined upon us, able to guide us through every day.

And, o, the words of that hymn by Wesley! Words that I didn’t know existed until a few days ago, and words that I am quite familiar with, as well. The ninth stanza I am well familiar with.

Jesus! The name that charms our fears, 
that bids our sorrows cease; 
'tis music in the sinner's ears, 
'tis life and health, and peace! 

I find it interesting that the word is “charms” in Wesley’s original. I remember singing “calms,” back in my youth. And for some reason, “our” was changed to “my” in both of the first two lines. I rather like “charms,” as it has more of a meaning of controlling. The snake charmer doesn’t just “calm” the snake; he controls it. If I allow it, Jesus will control my fears.

His name is powerful; it charms my fears; it ceases my sorrows; it is music in my ears, the name of Jesus; and it is “life and health, and peace!”

The work of the Holy Trinity is keeping me.

And, to top it off, here are some words of Jesus, regarding that “keeping.”

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”
(John 10:27-30 ESV)


Father, I thank You for your ability to keep me. I also thank You for the inheritance that is kept in heaven for me, where it cannot perish or fade or be corrupted.

I believe that I am secure in You; that “no one is able to snatch” me out of Your hands, including myself. I’ve done some stupid things in my life, things that, if any of us humans were running things, would have disqualified me.

But we are not running things, You are. You are God, we are not. And that is a good thing; that is a beautiful and wonderful thing. The truth of Jesus’s words do not free me to do whatever I please; rather they comfort me when I do stray from Your path, because I know that You will bring me back; You will never leave me or forsake me; I have nothing to fear.

You are my Keeper.

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

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


My God, my Keeper
You are my light and my life
Whom, then, shall I fear?

Grace and peace, friends.

Love, Grace, and Power

Today is Wednesday, the twelfth of October, 2022, in the 28th week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you today!

Day 23,589

Today is our 37th wedding anniversary. Unfortunately, we both must work today. But we’re having a steak dinner tonight, to celebrate. Our “gift” to each other was the weekend at the cabin, which I will, eventually, write about. But I am short on time, this morning.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, we thank you for the great light you send throughout the world to let us know that you forgive, that no sin is too great for you to forgive. Grant that people may cry out, "Have mercy on me, O God!" Give them the spirit of prayer in their hearts to call, "Father, forgive us our sins." Send your Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth and humility, and then forgive their sins. Wherever a soul is sighing, wherever someone is calling to you, hear him. May our prayers come before your throne. Hear and answer us. We have so much on our hearts that we cannot rightly express it all. We pray for others too. Father, forgive them. Clear away all the obstacles so that your judgment can be merciful toward those whom you forgive. Be with us. May we be a church community of Jesus Christ, washed in his blood, with strength to face every bitter outburst of the world's fury and still forgive. May our prayer remain, "Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us." Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
Forgive us the wrongs we have done, as we forgive the wrongs that others have done to us. 
Matthew 6:12, TEV

Today I am grateful:

  1. for the great mercy of God, and that no sin is too great for Him to forgive
  2. for 37 years with the love of my life; may there be many more
  3. that we, as God’s children, are channels through which the love of the Father, the grace of Christ, and the power of the Spirit are manifested on earth
  4. for the ability (and desires) to look to things that are not seen (eternal), rather than things that are seen (transient)
  5. that “the Lord is my strength and shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me” (Psalm 28:7)

Teach me to do your will, for you are my God! 
Let your good Spirit lead me on level ground!
(Psalms 143:10 ESV)

Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, “I believed, and so I spoke,” we also believe, and so we also speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence.
(2 Corinthians 4:13-14 ESV)


The LORD is my strength and my shield;
 my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. 
My heart leaps for joy, 
and with my song I praise him.
(Psalms 28:7 NIV)
Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
(Philippians 2:1-11 NIV)

O For A Thousand Tongues to Sing, verse 5-8 (Charles Wesley)

I felt my Lord's atoning blood
close to my soul applied;
me, me he loved, the Son of God,
for me, for me he died!

I found and owned his promise true,
ascertained of my part,
my pardon passed in heaven I knew
when written on my heart.

O for a thousand tongues to sin
my great Redeemer's praise!
The glories of my God and King,
the triumphs of his grace.

My gracious Master and my God,
assist me to proclaim,
to spread through all the earth abroad
the honors of thy name.

I find it mildly amusing that we don’t get to the part most of are familiar with until the seventh stanza!


The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
(2 Corinthians 13:14 ESV)


“God is an ever-flowing fountain of pure love and blessedness. Christ is the reservoir wherein the fullness of God was made visible as grace, and has been opened for us. The Holy Spirit is the stream of living water that flows from under the throne of God and of the Lamb.” (Andrew Murray)

Such beautiful, eloquent writing! That could be a hymn, itself.

We, the children of God, believers and followers of Christ, are the channels by which all of this, “the love of the Father, the grace of Christ, and the powerful operation of the Spirit are manifested on earth and imparted to others.” (Murray)

Think of all the different opportunities we have to engage in this. We are partners with God in dispensing His grace on earth. In order to do this, we must be maintaining our spiritual relationship with the Trinity. Prayer is a huge part of this, but more than just our prayers for ourselves and our own needs. “The glory of prayer is that we have power as intercessors to bring the grace of Christ and the energizing power of the Spirit upon those that are still in darkness.” (Murray)

The more we engage in fellowship with the Trinity, the more power we have for this level of intercession. I daresay I have yet to reach that. Even in my role in intercessory prayer over the past few years, it has largely been as response to the needs of people as they have made them known.

I need to be better connected to the “reservoir,” so that the channel of Living Water may flow unhindered through! It’s like an unending circle. The more I’m connected, the more I pray, and the more I’m connected, and the more I pray. Or maybe the “better” I pray.

And, in reference to the somewhat obscure verse from 2 Corinthians, up there, this is what I believe, and therefore I speak. I can easily see that verse being misused to apply to “name-it-claim-it” philosophy (I’m not even going to dignify that by calling it “theology”), saying that if you speak it you will receive it. That’s not what the context of the verse is getting at. Paul is talking about what he is teaching the Corinthians. What he believes, he is speaking, and that belief that God raised Jesus Christ and will also raise us into His presence. He even goes so far as to talk about the physical world, saying that we do not look to things that are seen, but to things that are unseen. “For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” (verse 18)

As we work to fulfill our responsibility as channels of God’s love, Christ’s grace, and the Spirit’s power, let us look to things that are not seen, rather than the physical things of this world. Let us focus on the Holy Trinity, and our intimacy in relationship to Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.


Father, I thank You that You give me the ability to “speak” what I believe, in this forum. I thank You that You have directed my heart and my desires toward things that are not seen, rather than things that are seen. I still struggle with the things that are seen, but not like I used to, as You worked wonders in my, by Your Spirit.

I pray for all of Your children, the Church, the Body of Christ, as we work to be channels of Your love, Jesus’s grace, and the Spirit’s power, dispensing them in this world, without prejudice, to all people. I pray that we will do a better job of not doing things out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Help us to consider others as more significant than ourselves, and help us to have the mind of Christ, who did not try to hold onto heaven, but submitted to becoming human, that He might live for us and die for us.

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

Even so, come soon, 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.

Seeking and Waiting

Today is Tuesday, the eleventh of October, 2022, in the 28th week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ dwell in your heart today!

Day 23,588

You may notice I have changed the title of my blog. After all these years, I have decided to change it to “Spaces of Beauty, Grace, Prayer, and Mercy.” Not that I think my blog is beautiful (not by any stretch of the imagination). Rather, I pray that it will lead all who read it into at least one of those spaces.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Dear Father in heaven, we love and honor your ways even when they are bitter ways. We long for courage and strength. Lord, help us to believe. Grant faith to the millions surrounded by death, faith that overcomes everything through utmost self-denial. Let your light shine out to bring life to the nations in the midst of all that is happening. Your light shall lead and guide us, and peace will come, a deeper peace than we have ever known. Remember each of us in all our concerns, and grant that the struggles of life may lead us to peace. If hard and bitter ways should be our lot, help us to remain steadfast, never complaining about our burdens even in the most difficult days, for through grief and trouble the way leads to you. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
Trust in the LORD and do good; 
dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. 
Take delight in the LORD, 
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
(Psalms 37:3-4 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. for the faith that God has given me, and that He continues to give me
  2. for a wonderful weekend in Glen Rose
  3. for the possibility of deep peace in our lives
  4. for the eyewitness accounts of the life of Christ in the Bible
  5. for the amazing things that God has prepared for and does for us who wait for Him

Oh give thanks to the LORD; call upon his name; 
make known his deeds among the peoples! 
Sing to him, sing praises to him; 
tell of all his wondrous works! 
Glory in his holy name; 
let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice! 
Seek the LORD and his strength; 
seek his presence continually! 
Remember the wondrous works that he has done,
 his miracles, and the judgments he uttered, 
O offspring of Abraham, his servant, 
children of Jacob, his chosen ones!
(Psalms 105:1-6 ESV)

We proclaim to you the one who existed from the beginning, whom we have heard and seen. We saw him with our own eyes and touched him with our own hands. He is the Word of life.
(1 John 1:1 NLT)


“O For A Thousand Tongues to Sing” is possibly Charles Wesley’s (1707-1788) best-known hymn. Did anyone know that it has 17 stanzas?? Over the next few days, I will share them, here, courtesy of Spiritual Classics, by Richard J. Foster and Emilie Griffin.

Glory to God, and praise and love
be ever, ever given,
by saints below and saints above,
the church in earth and heaven.

On this glad day the glorious Sun
of Righteousness arose,
on my benighted soul he shone
and filled it with repose.

Sudden expired the legal strife,
'twas then I ceased to grieve;
my second, real, living life
I then began to live.

Then with my heart I first believed,
believed with faith divine,
power with the Holy Ghost received
to call the Savior mine.

Apparently, this hymn was written on the one-year anniversary of his conversion to Christianity.


From of old no one has heard or perceived by the ear, no eye has seen a God besides you, who acts for those who wait for him.
(Isaiah 64:4 ESV)


The King James Version of the verse above says

For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee, what he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him.
(Isaiah 64:4 KJV)

Either way, it is more than “we who are finite beings should expect from an Almighty God.” (Andrew Murray) Indeed, what right do we have to expect anything from the Creator of the universe?? Yet, that is exactly what He wants us to do.

He wants us to wait, expectantly, to see what He has prepared for us, what He will do for us, when He acts on our behalf. “He wants us to believe and trust Him for what to us is impossible.”

I believe it was Dallas Willard’s definition of grace that went something like this: it is God doing for us what we cannot do for ourselves.

When it comes to our prayers, we tend to be small-minded. I know, because I’ve been there (and still am, probably most of the time). I confess that I have not been guilty of praying expectantly. I also confess that, when I did, my expectations seemed to not have been met. Except that, perhaps, I was looking at things from a human perspective, rather than a divine perspective. I can’t really help that, can I?

But I need to learn, I have been gradually, slowly, learning, to wait on God, and to wait expectantly. I don’t deserve for my prayers to be answered. I have no right to expect my prayers to be answered. Except for that which is on the basis of the blood of Christ. Because I am a child of God, then, yes, perhaps I do have a right to expect His answer.

But, yet, there are conditions. I must be abiding; I must dwell in His Word and in Christ, and have Christ abiding in me. I must “take delight in the LORD” (Psalm 37:4), that He might give me the desires of my heart, which should be the desires of His heart.

“Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually!” (Psalm 105:4)

Yes. That is what I must do. Seek and wait.


Father, enlarge my heart that I might seek You continually, and wait on You expectantly. I really don’t have much else to add to that. That is my desire, today, that is my prayer. And I will wait, expectantly, to see what You will do for me, what You have prepared for me.

Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus!


I will run in the way of your commandments when you enlarge my heart!
(Psalms 119:32 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Hope

Good morning! Today is Sunday, the twenty-eighth of November, 2021. The first Sunday of Advent.

May the peace of God reign in your life today.

Day 23,271

Twenty-seven days until Christmas!

It was a rainy, chilly evening, yesterday. We still haven’t put the ornaments on our Christmas tree, yet, but we may do that tonight. That depends, to some degree, on how S feels, later today. She is a bit “under the weather” (whatever that means) because she got a flu shot AND a Covid-19 booster on Friday. I probably would not have chosen to do both of those on the same day, myself. But she had a little fever during the night last night.

It was a pretty quiet day at the library, yesterday. It was busy enough, but nowhere close to a typical Saturday. However, several other library staff folks opined that it was pretty busy for a Saturday after Thanksgiving.

Today, our church gathering will be via Zoom. I anticipate that, afterward, we will resume our traditional Sunday lunch from Applebee’s.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Two Truths of Advent, by Dayl Madden

Come listen beloved
Two truths be aware
The birth of our Lord and
His return drawing near

The first is the answer
For the second, prepare
His incarnate dwelling
Be within you here

A time of waiting
Of joy to share
Of anticipating
The Word to appear

In this Advent season
Let our way be clear
Not to the store
But one body in prayer

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for,
the evidence of things not seen.
(Hebrews 11:1 KJV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for my faith, which is Your gift to me
2. for the peace in my soul, this morning
3. for the joy that is in my soul, as well
4. for Your very great and precious promises, and the anticipation of their fulfillments
5. for hope, without which we no reason to live

The plans of the heart belong to man,
but the answer of the tongue is from the LORD.
(Proverbs 16:1 ESV)

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor,
Mighty God,
Everlasting Father,
Prince of Peace.
(Isaiah 9:6 ESV)

And the angel said to them,
Fear not,
for behold,
I bring you good news of great joy
that will be for all the people.”
(Luke 2:10 ESV)

Come, thou long expected Jesus,
born to set thy people free;
from our fears and sins release us,
let us find our rest in thee.
Israel’s strength and consolation,
hope of all the earth thou art;
dear desire of every nation,
joy of every longing heart.

Born thy people to deliver,
born a child and yet a King,
born to reign in us forever,
now thy gracious kingdom bring.
By thine own eternal spirit
rule in all our hearts alone;
by thine all sufficient merit,
raise us to thy glorious throne.

Today, we begin the season of Advent. I used to think that this was solely looking forward to the celebration of the coming of Jesus, as a baby, which we, of course, celebrate on December 25 each year. But there’s more to it. We are also, in celebrating Advent, which means “coming” or “arrival,” looking forward to the second coming of Jesus Christ. At His second coming, He will “return to renew and redeem every part of fallen creation.” (Timothy and Kathy Keller)

The LORD is God,
and he has made his
light
to shine upon us.
Bind the festal sacrifice with cords,
up to the horns of the altar!
(Psalms 118:27 ESV)

But far be it from me to boast
except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ,
by which the world has been crucified to me,
and I to the world.
(Galatians 6:14 ESV)

Scriptures and Prayers from Seeking God’s Face: Praying with the Bible through the Year

WEEK ONE OF ADVENT – DAY ONE – FIRST SUNDAY OF ADVENT

INVITATION

I wait for the LORD,
my whole being waits,
and in his word I put my hope.
(Psalms 130:5 NIV)

During this quiet moment, I reflect upon the promises of God and anticipate their fulfillment. I remember, and I rejoice.

BIBLE SONG

Of David.

In you, LORD my God,
I put my trust.

I trust in you;
do not let me be put to shame,
nor let my enemies triumph over me.
No one who hopes in you
will ever be put to shame,
but shame will come on those
who are treacherous without cause.

Show me your ways, LORD,
teach me your paths.
Guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my Savior,
and my hope is in you all day long.
Remember, LORD, your great mercy and love,
for they are from of old.
Do not remember the sins of my youth
and my rebellious ways;
according to your love remember me,
for you, LORD, are good.
(Psalms 25:1-7 NIV)

BIBLE READING

“‘The days are coming,’ declares the LORD, ‘when I will fulfill the good promise I made to the people of Israel and Judah.

“‘In those days and at that time
I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David’s line;
he will do what is just and right in the land.
In those days Judah will be saved
and Jerusalem will live in safety.
This is the name by which it will be called:
The LORD Our Righteous Savior.'”
(Jeremiah 33:14-16 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I slowly read these passages again, I look for words or phrases that catch my eye or move my heart. I slowly repeat them, praying my thoughts, desires, needs, and feelings to the Lord, enjoying the presence of my Lord and Savior.

I see several words in Psalm 25, and most of them are related. In verses 4 and 5, I see the words “show,” “teach,” “guide,” and then “teach,” again. Those verbs all point to the words “ways,” “paths,” and “truth,” which are also related, in this context. The Lord’s ways, paths, and truth all mean, essentially, the same thing. And because of all of these, the psalmist finds that his “hope” is in the Lord, “all day long.”

My life verse, Psalm 86:11, makes a similar request of God.

Teach me your way,
O LORD,
that I may walk in your truth;
unite my heart
to fear your name.
(Psalms 86:11 ESV)

As I meditate and ponder these verses, it occurs to me that these prayers, from Psalms, may also apply to Jesus Christ. After all, He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. So if I am asking God to show me His Way, or teach me His Path, and guide me in His Truth, Jesus is the answer to all of those.

And He is the “righteous Branch” of which Jeremiah speaks. He will, as stated, “execute justice and righteousness in the land.” This, I believe, leads us toward hope in the second coming.

Father, as we enter into this Advent season, may we ponder all truth as it relates to our hope in Christ, both as we remember and celebrate His coming as Your Son, and as we anticipate the fulfillment of the promises regarding His return to set everything right. I pray that our varying opinions on what that means, “setting everything right,” will be unified, eventually. For myself, I am ready for whatever it means, because it means I will be with Him for eternity. It also means that all the things about which I am wrong (because I’m sure there are many) will be made clear and plain. I echo the psalmist’s prayers, though: Show me Your ways, teach me Your paths; guide me in Your truth. Unite my divided heart that I might fear Your name, and increase my hope in You.

May we all experience true fellowship with our coming Savior, as well as spiritual renewal and refreshment.

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

"Living God,
I confess the slant of my heart to hate You and my neighbor.
But that sounds so harsh -
I'm not that bad, am I God?
Yet if I am brutally honest I see that I'm in deeper than I dare admit,
unless I am born again by Your Spirit.
Fill me with the greater hope this Advent season that in Christ's love I am on my way to new life.
In the Savior's name,
amen."

BLESSING

He who testifies to these things says,
“Yes, I am coming soon.”
Amen.

Come, Lord Jesus.
The grace of the Lord Jesus
be with God’s people. Amen.
(Revelation 22:20-21 NIV)

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.
(Romans 15:13 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Joy Comes With the Morning

Today is Tuesday, December 12, 2017. Day 21,824.

13 more days until Christmas!

Charles Wesley, born on this date in 1707 (died 1788), said, “Faith, mighty faith, the promise sees, And looks to God alone; Laughs at impossibilities, And cries it shall be done.”
BrainyQuote

The word of the day, from Dictionary.com, is Wanderjahr (German), a noun, meaning, “a year or period of travel, especially following one’s schooling and before practicing a profession.”

Today is Gingerbread House Day.

We had a most wonderful time with our church friends and family, last night, at La Hacienda Ranch. It was a great meal with fajitas and cheese enchiladas, and the fellowship was even better.

C goes back to work today, for the first time in six weeks. Well, she’s been working, but from her easy chair in the corner of the living room. I told her that she should stay in her office today and make everyone come to her.

I get “free” lunch at work today. But we all know “there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch,” right? TANSTAAFL. The price for this free lunch is having to sit in a conference room with our site manager for a while, letting him know how we feel. As if we’re going to be honest about that, right?

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

(From The Divine Hours)
Tuesday – Second Week of Advent

“Bless God in the great congregation, the LORD, O you who are of Israel’s fountain!”
Psalm 68:26
Have regard for the covenant, for the dark places of the land are full of the habitations of violence.
Psalm 74:20
Deliver my soul from the wicked by your sword, from men by your hand, O LORD, from men of the world whose portion is in this life.
Psalm 17:13-14
When God restores the fortunes of his people, let Jacob rejoice, let Israel be glad. 
Psalm 53:6
Now the time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son. And her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her. And on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child. And they would have called him Zechariah after his father, but his mother answered, “No; he shall be called John.” And they said to her, “None of your relatives is called by this name.” And they made signs to his father, inquiring what he wanted him to be called. And he asked for a writing tablet and wrote, “His name is John.” And they all wondered. And immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, blessing God. And fear came on all their neighbors. And all these things were talked about through all the hill country of Judea, and all who heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, “What then will this child be?” For the hand of the Lord was with him. . . . And the child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness until the day of his public appearance to Israel.
Luke 1:57-66, 80
I will extol you, O LORD, for you have drawn me up and have not let my foes rejoice over me. O LORD my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me. O LORD, you have brought up my soul from Sheol; you restored me to life from among those who go down to the pit. Sing praises to the LORD, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name. For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.
Psalm 30:1-5

Father, I echo the psalmist’s sentiment about the “dark places of the land” that are “full of the habitations of violence.” This seems to be more and more true of our time. but then I see the encouragement in Psalm 30 that tells me that “joy comes with the morning.” I can see the truth of this for each new day, but I can also see the truth of it for all of life. Some day, Father, some day, that “morning” will come and there will be eternal joy abounding for all who are in your Church. I long for that day. But until then, allow me to see the daily joy that comes with each new day.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.