It Sings the Conqueror’s Song

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

May the peace of Christ be with you today!

Day 23,627

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

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

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

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

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

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

Today I am grateful:

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

How Many? by Daryl Madden

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


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

Grace and peace, friends.

Mercy

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

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

Day 23,625

One week until Thanksgiving! Ordering the groceries today.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

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

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

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

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

Today I am grateful:

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

Gods’ Love, by Daryl Madden

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

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

For He does love
Everybody
With love unique
Individually

Beyond all time
Unconditionally
To glimpse right here
Infinitely

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

Grace and peace, friends.

It Doesn’t Matter How I Feel

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

May the peace of Christ dwell within you today!

Day 23,620

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

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

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

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

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

(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

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

Today I am grateful:

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

“Past the Thought,” by Daryl Madden

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

A Psalm of David. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It matters not one iota how I feel about this!

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

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

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


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

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

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

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


Grace and peace, friends.

Wait. Quietly.

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

May the peace of Christ remain with you, today!

Day 23,616

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

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

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

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

(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

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

Today I am grateful:

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

My Love, by Daryl Madden

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

It has already happened.

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

Glory.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


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

Grace and peace, friends.

Who Are You?

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

May the peace of Christ dwell within you, today!

Day 23,604

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

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

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

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

Today I am grateful:

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

A Person’s Value

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


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

Grace and peace, friends.

Of Conspiracies, Fear, and Love

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

May the peace of Christ enfold you, today!

Day 23,597

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

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

Today I am grateful:

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

Where I Need to Be, by Daryl Madden

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

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

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

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

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

Please visit Daryl’s site at the link provided.

To Love Means, by Daryl Madden

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is it ever enough?

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


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

Grace and peace, friends.

This Little Light of Mine

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

May the peace of Christ embrace you, today!

Day 23,594

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

It Does Matter, by Daryl Madden

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Today I am grateful:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


Light.

What is it?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THIS is how we let our light shine before men!


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

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

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

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

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


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

Grace and peace, friends.

Spaces

Today is Friday, the seventh of October, in the 27th week of Ordinary Time.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,584

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Dear Father in heaven, we thank you that your voice reaches our hearts and that we can say with joy, "We belong to you. We too are yours." We want to lead lives that show we belong to you, never allowing ourselves to be sidetracked, never again giving way to pettiness, always drawing strength from the power of Jesus Christ. Protect our household. Watch over each of us. Protect us all on our way. O mighty God, be with us in the many dangers that surround us, and grant that we may always be joyful because our names are recorded in heaven. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.”
(John 10:14-15 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. for the opportunity to get away for a weekend and enjoy God’s creation for a few days
  2. for the Good Shepherd; that I know Him, and that He lays down His life for His sheep
  3. that our Father, who is always near, is trustworthy in all things
  4. for spaces of beauty, mercy, prayer, and grace, created by God; may I move into them faiththfully
  5. Lord, I am simply grateful for You, today; Your presence in my life, and the way You encourage me and strengthen me through my feeble, human weaknesses

Move Into That Space, by Daryl Madden

The day is born anew
Light shines on your face
Beauty calls to you
Move into that space

Guilty of your sins
A feeling of disgrace
Rejoicing in His mercy
Move into that space

To hear the still small voice
From your inner place
A drawing into prayer
Move into that space

When heaven calls your name
Depend on His grace
Our joy will be complete
Move into that space

How often does God create a space of beauty and grace for us, invite us into it, and we just don’t move into it? We miss out on so many blessings, sometimes simply by not paying attention to our surroundings. God is here; God is now; He invites us into spaces of beauty, mercy, prayer, and grace! “Move into that space,” my beloved!

Please visit Daryl’s site at the link provided above.


For “Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it.”
(1 Peter 3:10-11 ESV)


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

A Prayer of one afflicted, when he is faint and pours out his complaint before the LORD. 

Hear my prayer, O LORD; let my cry come to you! 
Do not hide your face from me in the day of my distress! Incline your ear to me; answer me speedily in the day when I call! 
For my days pass away like smoke, and my bones burn like a furnace. 

Of old you laid the foundation of the earth, 
and the heavens are the work of your hands. 
They will perish, but you will remain; 
they will all wear out like a garment. 
You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away, 
but you are the same, and your years have no end. 
The children of your servants shall dwell secure; 
their offspring shall be established before you. 
(Psalms 102:1-3, 25-28 ESV)

“All I have seen teaches me to trust the creator for all I have not seen.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
(Proverbs 3:5-6 ESV)


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)

Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. For each will have to bear his own load. Let the one who is taught the word share all good things with the one who teaches. Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.
(Galatians 6:2-10 ESV)


Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.”
(John 12:28 ESV)


I may not be in a “space of beauty” this morning, as I am sitting in my usual space, the study, just off of our master bedroom. It is far from beautiful. But I have, somewhat gradually, moved into a space of mercy and prayer and grace, this morning.

I confess . . . I began the day in a bit of anxiety and stress. We started out thinking of things that needed to happen before we leave for Glen Rose, and I began to get anxious. Unfortunately, this is my nature. But God’s nature is otherwise. He bids me trust Him. He bids me not lean on my own understanding. And, in this, as I move into this space of mercy and grace, He will make my paths straight.

In that path, I find instructions, such as we find in Micah. As I walk that path, that the Lord makes straight for me, I am to be doing justice (as much as is in my control), loving kindness or mercy (chesed), and walking humbly with my God.

Walking in humility is hard. I’ve discussed this before, here. There are several Scriptures that sum up that idea, but one is in the blog today, Galatians 6:3.

For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.
(Galatians 6:3 ESV)

Let us not further deceive ourselves by thinking, “well if I am something and I think I’m something, then I’m okay.” I don’t believe that is what we are supposed to get from that. We are nothing. Without Christ we are nothing. If we are anything, it is because of Christ, and, therefore, have nothing about which we can boast, other than Christ, Himself.

When we enter into that space of prayer, which should be many times in a day, it should be for one purpose, and that purpose is for the glory of God to be seen. Jesus asked the Father to glorify His name. The Father responded, saying that He has, and He will again.

“For this reason Jesus on His throne in glory will do whatever we ask in His name. Every answer to prayer He gives will have this as its object. When there is no prospect of the Father being glorified, He will not answer. As it was with Jesus, our motivation in prayer must be the glory of the Father – the aim, the end, the very soul and life of our prayers.” (Andrew Murray)

So, when we read those passages that say that Jesus will give us whatever we ask, we must understand that there are conditions. One of those, in my mind the main one, is that we be abiding in Him and His Word abiding in us. If this is the case, then we most certainly would not be asking Him to give us something that would not glorify God.

Like a Ferrari, for instance.


Father, I thank You for these spaces of beauty, mercy, prayer, and grace; spaces that are always near me, always waiting for me to move into them. I pray that You give me the spiritual sight to be able to see them and move into them, constantly, that I might walk humbly with You, on the straight path that You have created for me as I trust in You.

So many good things in today’s Scripture readings, Father. I thank You for Your Word and the impact it has on me, daily. I pray that it holds strong in my life, and that the influence will not fade.

I long for the day when I can see You face to face and worship You in person.

And I am especially grateful for the space of beauty to which we will be traveling, later today.

Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus!


Grace and peace, friends.

Of Holiness and Knowledge

Today is Thursday, the sixth of October, 2022, in the twenty-seventh week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ be with you today!

Day 23,583

This is delayed today, because I had an appointment at 10:00 to get my cyst removal stitches out.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

My Friend of Lighty, by Daryl Madden

In a chapels morn’
Deep within a prayer
Inpouring of Spirit
My friend of light is here

On an ocean of waves
Joy shining clear
In thousands of diamonds
My friend of light is here

On a cloudy day
In hope to appear
The sun bursting through
My friend of light is here

In my times of need
A blessed soul to share
Bearing of my cross
My friend of light is here

My thoughts on this, and I am not sure how the author intended it, are that it could be referring to Jesus, but could also be referring to a human “friend of light,” a brother or sister in the faith, another saint. How precious it is to be in the presence of another saint, a true “friend of light.”

Please visit Daryl’s site at the link above.


Lord our God, our Father, give us your Spirit, we pray, for you have ruled over us at all times and loved us with a love that guides and leads us, that helps us go forward in body and soul. Reveal your hand. Grant that we undertake nothing in human strength; may everything come from you for each one whose heart holds true to you and who does the work intended for him. Then everything we do on earth can be a service to you. Protect us through your great goodness and faithfulness, which have been with us to this day and will go with us into the future. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

“O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”
(John 17:25-26 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. that Jesus makes the Father’s name known to us, that His love may be in us
  2. for brothers and sisters in Christ, “friends of light”
  3. for the beautiful music of Salt of the Sound; please check them out
  4. for God’s gift of holiness, through Jesus Christ; may I get to know it more through prayer and devotion
  5. that I will sing to the Lord as long as I have being; may my meditation be pleasing to Him (Psalm 104:34)

I will sing to the LORD as long as I live;
 I will sing praise to my God while I have being. 
May my meditation be pleasing to him, 
for I rejoice in the LORD.
(Psalms 104:33-34 ESV)

Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, “My way is hidden from the LORD, and my right is disregarded by my God”? Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
(Isaiah 40:27-31 ESV)


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

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
(Psalms 19:1 ESV)


but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”
(1 Peter 1:15-16 ESV)


“Be holy.” How exactly do we do that? There are many who have tried to “be holy” by obeying an innumerable set of rules. The “Holiness Church,” for example. Don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t. In fact, one of the major objections to unbelievers, regarding church, is all the “don’ts.”

I get it.

But that’s now how we accomplish holiness. We cannot be holy by works. You cannot do enough positive things and avoid enough negative things to be holy. It’s like trying to work your way to Heaven. You can’t do it. Because if you have sinned once, you are disqualified. Period. You can’t undo that one, and all the “good” things you do cannot outweigh that one.

There is this terrible concept that so many people have, hoping that, when they die, that the good that they did will outweigh the bad, and that there is some kind of scale system at the “pearly gates,” whereby St. Peter will do some calculating and either you get in or you don’t.

That simply isn’t the way it is. But that, my friends, is part of the “good news.” Because the blood of Jesus on the Cross erased all of the sin. It changed history, as well as changing the future.

So, back to the original question. How do we achieve holiness?

God imparts it to us, through Christ. It is a gift. But here’s the thing. We cannot grasp or get to know this holiness if we are not spending time with God in prayer. No, we don’t get to be holy by praying; that’s just another “work.” We get to know God, and thereby, His holiness, by praying.

Prayer involves more than just asking for stuff, though. Meditation is prayer; contemplation is prayer; waiting on the Lord is prayer (in my opinion). Prayer can be anything that can draw you closer to the Almighty. C and I are going to Glen Rose tomorrow. We will spend a lot of time sitting on the deck of the cabin on the banks of the Paluxy River. Some of that time, we will be reading. Some of that time, we will be engaging in prayer by looking in wonder at the beauty of God’s creation. I’m looking forward to taking my telescope out to look at the night sky during this trip, so I can see the heavens declaring the glory of God and the sky proclaiming His handiwork.

Singing is prayer. I will sing to the Lord as long as I live, as long as I have breath, as long as I have my being. Which means I will sing for eternity, because that’s how long I will have my being (I don’t know about breath . . . I’m not sure we will need breathing in heaven). And as I sing, I will pray that my meditation is pleasing to Him.

Praying is also calling to Him. Jeremiah tells us to call to Him, and He will show us things that we do not know. How much do you not know? I guarantee you that there is more that you don’t know. I’m confident that if you took all of the knowledge in the entire world and added it all up, there would still be more that is unknown.

I don’t know a lot. Wait. Let me rephrase that. There is a lot that I don’t know. Just the other day, I learned something. (Spoiler alert, this has nothing to do with anything theological.) I was shelving DVDs at the library Tuesday night, and I ran across a movie, from 1971, called “They Might Be Giants.” It has George C. Scott and Joanne Woodward. I’ve never heard of this movie.

However, I have heard of an alternative rock band, formed in 1982, called They Might Be Giants, created by John Flansburgh and John Linnell. They assumed the name because it had been used by (and discarded by) a friend who had a ventriloquist act. Okay, so the band is named after the movie. But that’s not all. It is also a line from Don Quixote! You know, the book by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra. It explains why Don Quixote was “tilting at windmills.”

So there you go. There was something that you probably didn’t know. (Hats off if you did.) And no extra charge for that.

Now, God did not show me that (or did He?) as a result of me calling out to Him. It’s just to illustrate how much there is that we do not know. After a year a some months working at a public library, there are still books in there that I have not seen. Just in the Hurst Public Library, there is literally at least a ton of stuff that I. Do. Not. Know.

You think you know?

Well, that certainly took a sharp left turn, didn’t it? Where was I?

Oh, yeah. Jeremiah. And knowing God’s holiness in our lives. If we are lacking in prayer, we will be certainly lacking in holiness, or at least the knowledge and practice of it. It may be there, buried deep within our soul, simply because of the work of Christ in our lives. But, without prayer, it will stay there. May we pray more fervently, that our holiness may come to light, that He may be glorified, and the earth be filled with the glory of God as the waters cover the seas.


Father, I call out to You today, that You might show me Your might works, and that You might tell me great and hidden things that I do not know. Maybe there are some things I don’t want to know, so don’t tell me those. But You know . . . You know all things, so You know what I need to know. Help me to wait on You, to wait patiently. I prayed for patience, yesterday. So today, I had to wait thirty minutes past my appointment time at the doctor’s office, to get my stitches out. And while I was waiting, I had to listen to bad country music. And then I had to listen to someone else singing along with the bad country music. I should be careful what I pray for.

I will sing to You, Father! I have not been singing enough, lately. Forgive me for that, and help me to sing more. I don’t know what that will look like. It might just be me singing alone in my room, here. I don’t know. But if so, then let me do that, and do it will all my being. You have given me life and breath, and I choose to use that life and breath to praise and glorify You.

By my prayers, my worship, and my singing, and my meditations, which I hope will be pleasing to You, let me know Your holiness, and thus display the holiness with which You have gifted me. Let it not stay buried deep in my soul.

Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus!


Talk no more so very proudly, let not arrogance come from your mouth; for the LORD is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed.
(1 Samuel 2:3 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Of Courage and Contemplation

Today is Saturday, the first of October, 2022, in the twenty-sixth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you!

Day 23,578

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, we thank you for your gospel, the great, good tidings we may carry in our hearts to give us joy in this present time, even though on all sides people are in anguish and agony. We thank you that your gospel fills our hearts with compassion, enabling us to help carry what many have to suffer. Show us our need of you so that we can receive your help. If we must be the first to suffer all kinds of pain and distress, may we do so joyfully because we have been promised blessing in the midst of all the pain. May we continually honor your name, praising you for the good news of your kingdom, for the promise that everything must work together for good through Jesus Christ the Savior. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. . . . Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 
(Romans 12:12, 15 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. for the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the compassion with which it fills my heart
  2. that all things work together for good through Jesus Christ
  3. for the privilege and ability to simply sit and contemplate our God
  4. that all of humanity is created in the image of God
  5. for the strength that God gives, the courage to go on when we are afraid

For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.
(Romans 14:8-9 ESV)


Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near.
(Revelation 1:3 ESV)

Oh sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth! 
Sing to the LORD, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day. 
Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples! 
For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; he is to be feared above all gods. 
For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols, but the LORD made the heavens. 
Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and beauty are in his sanctuary. 
Ascribe to the LORD, O families of the peoples, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength! 
Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; bring an offering, and come into his courts! 
Worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness; tremble before him, all the earth! 
Say among the nations, "The LORD reigns! Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved; he will judge the peoples with equity." 
Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all that fills it; 
let the field exult, and everything in it! Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy 
before the LORD, for he comes, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness, and the peoples in his faithfulness.
(Psalms 96:1-13 ESV)

Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the LORD!
(Psalms 31:24 ESV)

“Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”
(Deuteronomy 31:6 ESV)

But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”
(Matthew 14:27 ESV)


Only to sit and think of God,
Oh what a joy it is!
To think the thought, to breathe the Name
Earth has no higher bliss.
(Frederick William Faber)

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
(Genesis 1:26-27 ESV)


What is courage? The word is mentioned a few times in Scripture. First, I will tell you what it is not. It is not the absence of fear. That is a false belief that comes from toxic masculinity. There are a lot of guys out there who think that doing something “manly” (aka, “stupid”) makes them courageous.

Courage, though, is the ability to do something that frightens you. It is also “strength in the face of pain or grief.” It is not the absence of these things. It is the ability to move forward in spite of them.

It takes courage to follow Jesus, especially in these times. But Jesus speaks peace to us, just as He did to His disciples when He met them on the water. “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”

We’ve noted, multiple times, that the command “fear not,” along with its variations, is the most often repeated command in the Bible. My opinion is that, if I weren’t already afraid, Jesus wouldn’t have to say that to me. To me, it’s more of an encouragement than a command. I don’t think He is saying “fear not” as a directive, as much as He is saying, “Hey. It’s okay. It’s all going to be okay.”

One of the best ways to embrace this idea is through meditation and contemplation. Now, those are two entirely different things (and those who are more of the “fundamentalist” persuasion really detest those words, for reasons I will never quite understand). Meditation involves a sort of “chewing” on passages of Scripture, while contemplation is pretty much what that little poem up there says. “Sit and think of God;” “To think the thought, to breathe the Name.”

Sometimes the best thing we can do for ourselves is simply sit and breathe the name, “Jesus,” over and over. I can tell you from experience (scoff if you want) that it helps; it is good for the soul. Faber isn’t far off when he says, “Earth has no higher bliss.”

Here’s the rest of that poem:

I love Thee so, I know not how

My transports to control;

Thy love is like a burning fire

Within my very soul.

Father of Jesus, love’s reward!

What rapture will it be,

Prostrate before Thy throne to lie,

And gaze and gaze on Thee!

O Spirit, beautiful and dread!

My heart is fit to break

With love of all Thy tenderness

For us poor sinners’ sake

Father, I know the joy, the bliss, of simply sitting and thinking of You, thinking thoughts of You and breathing the Name of Jesus. What strength, what courage, can be supplied by doing so. I thank You for this privilege, this ability. I praise You that, in Your divine omniscience, You ordained that I should be introduced to these things in my life.

I thank You, also, for the confidence that comes from knowing that we have been created in Your image. I don’t fully understand what that means, since You don’t have an “image,” exactly. Perhaps “likeness” would be a better word. I pray that, as I grow in You, I would become more like You. And, as I become more like You, may I more and more heed the common words in Scripture, “do not be afraid.”

I am moved, this morning, by the words from Romans 14, Lord. Whatever I do, be it living or dying, I belong to You. I am Yours, Father, to do with as You will. I simply pray for the courage to walk in the way in which You direct me.

Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus!


Things We Know, by Daryl Madden

Let’s make a list
Of the things we know
Starting with how much
Our God loves us so

We have a purpose
There’s nothing to fear
We always belong
And God always here

His mercy never ends
Forgiveness of our sins
He prepares our way
Before each day begins

No matter of the form
When we say a prayer
Something of beyond
Is happening right here

Just how we are blessed
Showered by His grace
To receive and share
Our joy to embrace

Please check out more of Daryl’s inspirational poetry at the link provided above.

Grace and peace, friends.