The Incomprehensible

Today is Tuesday, the 7th of February, 2023, in the season of Epiphany.

May the peace of Christ enfold you today!

Day 23,707

Our weather continues to display signs of drunkenness. After a high of 73, yesterday, I awoke to a temperature of 61 degrees, and falling (the temperature, not me). That will be the highest temperature of the day. It should get down to around 45 degrees during the night, tonight. There is an 87% chance of rain today, and 85% chance tomorrow. This is fine, as we need the rain, and it’s not supposed to freeze this week. The next ten days are predicted to be anywhere from the low fifties to the low seventies. The average temps for this time of year are upper fifties for highs and mid-thirties for lows. We aren’t setting any records, though, as the record high for today is 77, in 1974, and the record low is 22, in 2014. I should think we should be getting close to the time when the record lows will be from 2021.

It’s my night at the library, tonight, so I’ll be working from 4:15 to 8:15, this evening. It’s also our Subway day, so I’ll be trekking over to Subway around noon today, to pick up lunch and dinner for the family. We missed it last week, because of the winter “storm.”

That’s about all I have today. Got a few chores to do, and should probably practice a little bit. Need to keep my trombone chops going (or keep improving them), and have a new vocal song to learn for February 26.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

You are my hiding place and my shield; 
I hope in your word.
(Psalms 119:114 NRSV)

May this ever be true in my life.

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

Dear Father in heaven, living source of all that is eternal in us, we come to you and plead with you to strengthen the gifts you have given us. Grant us the light of life in which we can walk in spite of the many burdens and uncertainties of our earthly life. Protect us from deception and disappointment. Strengthen our hope for your steadfast, firm, and eternal rule in us, in many others, and finally in all people. Amen.

Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 3:13-14 NRSV)

Today I am grateful:

  • that God is my hiding place and my shield (Psalm 119:114)
  • for the gifts that God has given me; may He strengthen those within me
  • for the Word of God, lamp to my feet, light to my path (Psalm 119:105)
  • for freedom in Christ
  • that the Lord delivers me from all my fears (Psalm 34:4)
  • for the Psalms

I rise before dawn and cry for help; 
I put my hope in your words.
(Psalms 119:147 NRSV)
I sought the LORD, 
and he answered me, 
and delivered me from all my fears.
(Psalms 34:4 NRSV)
Your word is a lamp to my feet 
and a light to my path.
(Psalms 119:105 NRSV)
So if the Son makes you free, 
you will be free indeed.
(John 8:36 NRSV)
So thank GOD for his marvelous love, 
for his miracle mercy to the children he loves.
(Psalms 107:31 MSG)

I have a lot of thoughts going through my head, this morning, as I consider the Scripture verses that have spoken to me.

I like Eugene H. Peterson’s words, in Answering God, quoted in today’s reading of God’s Message for Each Day. “It is not possible to comprehend God. Merely to utter the name ‘God’ is to be plunged into mystery.”

I agree. We cannot comprehend God, and as soon as someone claims that they have, they lose all credibility. However, we are not roaming around in the dark, “where all cats are gray.” While we cannot comprehend God, there are things about Him that are knowable. We tend to call these things “doctrine.” Even so, there is a rather large amount of disagreement over those doctrines.

One of the great things about C.S. Lewis’s book, Mere Christianity, which I am currently reading again, along with a group of people from my church, is that what he is trying to describe fits the title perfectly. He is not interested in “denominational” differences. He says, right off the bat, that he is not going to present one communion over another. He happened to be of the Church of England, but I believe that is only mentioned once in the book, and that at the beginning.

He describes “mere Christianity,” or, in a sense, the basic beliefs which most denominations agree upon, as a large hall. The important thing is to get into that hallway. The various denominations or “communions,” as he calls them, are represented by doors that come off of that hallway. He advises us to be kind to people who have either landed in different rooms than we, or people who have made it into the hallway, but not yet found which door they need to go through.

Evelyn Underhill defines worship as simply “the response of the creature to the Eternal.” This response comes almost naturally (most definitely naturally to non-human creatures), and is, perhaps, enhanced by the fact that we do not and cannot comprehend God, as Peterson notes.

So we seek Him, and we cry out to Him, as we worship Him. We do not comprehend, and perhaps we should not attempt to. Part of the act of worship is simply doing nothing more than contemplating His beauty. Any attempt to understand or comprehend Him detracts from this, and could result in what Underhill called “egotistic piety.”

So we thank Him for His marvelous love, that “miracle mercy,” as Peterson paraphrases in Psalm 107:31.

Jesus declared that if we continue in His Word, we would know the truth and the truth would make us free. Jesus also declared that He was the Truth (the Way, the Truth, and the Life). Therefore, it is Him that we will know, and He who will set us free. And if He has set us free, then we are “free indeed.” The Greek word that is translated “indeed,” is ontos, which can be translated as “indeed, certainly, of a truth, verily, really.”

There seems to be some disagreement as to what “free” means, in this case. I will give my opinion, noting that it is nothing more than that. However, as Paul once said, I believe that I, too, have the Holy Spirit.

I believe that, in Christ, I have been made free, indeed, and that I am free from trying to comprehend something that is incomprehensible. There is a contingent of society that refuses to believe something that it cannot understand. I find this laughable, as those same people get in their car and drive to work every day, and I guarantee you that many of them don’t really understand how that works. Or maybe they get on an airplane and fly to a particular destination. And I guarantee you that they breathe, and don’t understand how that works, either!

As C.S. Lewis points out, I don’t have to understand how my dinner nourishes me in order to enjoy it.

So I don’t have to comprehend God to enjoy Him. And there are certainly times when I thoroughly enjoy simply contemplating His beauty.


Father, I praise You, even though I do not fully understand You. And I thank You that I don’t have to. Well, I can’t, that’s the truth, but I don’t have to try to. I am free from that, as well as free from other things, because of Jesus Christ. So I praise You for the Son, who has set us free, indeed, because He is the Truth, and He has shown us truth, that we may become free in Him.

I praise You for Your inexpressible beauty. This beauty is made known to us in so many ways, not the least of which is Your Creation. How I love to sit and watch the ocean, and even better, catch a sunrise or sunset over the ocean. How I love to watch a waterfall, one, perhaps that is not so readily visible without a bit of a journey. The reward is worth it. In these things, as well as in the majestic mountain ranges, I see Your beauty. I celebrate that beauty in worship.

Thank You for Your Word, which is a lamp for my feet, which lights up my path. Help me to always continue in that Word, and never forsake it. I have truly loved Your Word since before I was able to read it. I praise You for being that kind of Presence in my life for that long, Lord.

You are glorious and beautiful, and I long to be in Your Presence for eternity.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


Grace and peace, friends.

Story

Today is Sunday, the 5th of February, 2023. It is the fifth Sunday after Epiphany.

May the peace of Christ surround you today.

Day 23,705

Yesterday may have been the busiest day I have ever experienced at the library. The book drops stayed full, pretty much all day. But the three of us in circulation stayed on it and got it done. There were a lot of new library cards given out, and it seems that we noted an unusual number of couples coming in to get cards together. One particular couple that I worked with were very excited about it, and that made me very happy. Several of them had recently moved to the area and provided leases as their proof of address. And in two of the couples, the woman had an out of state ID/DL. But, as long as they have the lease with their name on it, that serves as proof of address and they can get a card.

One thing for sure, we were never bored, yesterday.

I’m up early, this morning, as I am reading the Scripture lesson in the 8:45 service at Living Word Lutheran Church. So I need to be at the church by 8:25. Then I am meeting with the music director at 10:00 to discuss what solo I will sing on February 26. After that, I will come home, because I will have received communion in the early service.

So on to the important stuff.

Update: I’m finishing this after the morning service, back at home. The reading went well, and the director and I have chosen a song that I will sing on February 26.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

I incline my heart to perform your statutes forever, 
to the end.
(Psalms 119:112 NRSV)

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

Lord our God, keep us in your Spirit. Surround us with your protection, so that in body and soul we may praise your might and be joyful even in a world full of evil. Shine into our hearts, that we may discern what is right and good and eternal. May you do more than we can ask or understand for those who still walk in darkness far away from you. May your eternal mercy enfold them, and may the earth be filled with thanks to you, the Creator and Father of us all. Amen.

To the leader: according to Muth-labben. A Psalm of David. 

I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart; 
I will tell of all your wonderful deeds. 
I will be glad and exult in you; 
I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.
(Psalms 9:1-2 NRSV)

Today I am grateful:

  • for a good day at the library job, yesterday
  • for the wonderful deeds of the Lord, for which I am able to give thanks and praise, daily
  • for my musical talent and ability, that helps me give thanks and praise to the Lord
  • that, when I find myself afraid, I can put my trust in Him, “In God, whose word I praise” (Psalm 56:4)
  • for a wonderful worship service, this morning
  • for my story, so far . . . it’s not over, yet

O come, let us sing to the LORD; 
let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! 
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; 
let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!
(Psalms 95:1-2 NRSV)
To the leader: on Lilies, a Covenant. Of Asaph. A Psalm. 

Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, 
you who lead Joseph like a flock! 
You who are enthroned upon the cherubim, 
shine forth before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh. 
Stir up your might, and come to save us! 
Restore us, O God; 
let your face shine, that we may be saved.
(Psalms 80:1-3 NRSV)
A Psalm. A Song for the Sabbath Day.

 It is good to give thanks to the LORD,
 to sing praises to your name, O Most High; 
to declare your steadfast love in the morning, 
and your faithfulness by night, 
to the music of the lute and the harp, 
to the melody of the lyre.
(Psalms 92:1-3 NRSV)
In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; 
I am not afraid; what can flesh do to me?
(Psalms 56:4 NRSV)
"Do to others as you would have them do to you. 
"If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful."
(Luke 6:31-36 NRSV)
How can young people keep their way pure? 
By guarding it according to your word. 
With my whole heart I seek you; 
do not let me stray from your commandments.
 I treasure your word in my heart, 
so that I may not sin against you. 
Blessed are you, O LORD; 
teach me your statutes. 
With my lips I declare all the ordinances of your mouth.
 I delight in the way of your decrees as much as in all riches. 
I will meditate on your precepts, 
and fix my eyes on your ways.
 I will delight in your statutes; 
I will not forget your word.
(Psalms 119:9-16 NRSV)

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

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

"Set me free, O God, from the bondage of my sins, 
and give me the liberty of that abundant life 
which you have made known to me in your Son 
our Savior Jesus Christ; 
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, 
one God, now and for ever. 
Amen." 
(The Divine Hours - The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, 
but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
(Proverbs 31:30 NRSV)
God is in the midst of the city; 
it shall not be moved; 
God will help it when the morning dawns.
(Psalms 46:5 NRSV)
A capable wife who can find? 
She is far more precious than jewels.
(Proverbs 31:10 NRSV)

“That’s why I tell stories: to create readiness, to nudge the people toward receptive insight.”
(Matthew 13:13 MSG)


Who doesn’t love a good story? The popularity of movies and television bears this out. Story is important. One reason is that we all have a story. There’s not a single person who has ever lived who did not have a story.

Some of us, however, are reticent to share that story, for some reason.

I shared part of my story, just this morning. I had a conversation with the music director, while we were going over some music, in which I shared a brief overview of my journey as music minister/worship leader.

The way we connect with others is, so often, through story. Connections are not authentic when one person is not interested in the other person’s story.

We find God through story. The revelation comes to us through story, both through Old and New Testaments.

One reason story is so essential to us is that it is how life happens. Life . . . "has a narrative shape--a beginning and end, plot and characters, conflict and resolution. Life isn't an accumulation of abstractions such as love and truth, sin and salvation . . . ; life is the realization of details that all connect . . . : names and fingerprints, street numbers, . . . God reveals himself to us . . . in the kind of stories we use to tell our children who they are and how to grow up as human beings." 
(Eugene H. Peterson, Leap Over A Wall, quoted in God's Message for Each Day)

Over time, I will share parts of my story in this forum. My story is who I am. The parts of it are what make me who I am today.

Part of my story involves two women who, I believe, embody the two verses from Proverbs, up there. My wife and my mother. My story would be incomplete without either one. Well, obviously, it wouldn’t exist without a mother. But you know what I mean. While everyone has a mother (or had one) not all mothers fit the description of a “woman who fears the Lord.” Mine does, as does my wife. And both figure quite heavily into my story, which would likely be much shorter without either one.

I challenge all who read this to think about their story, today, and in the days ahead. How would you share it with someone else? Would it be different for someone who is not a Christ-follower? I should think so. There is nothing wrong with having a different version of your story, based on your “audience.”


Father, I am grateful for my story, so far. I am grateful that You have always been part of my story, even from before I was born. In fact, I believe that You are part of my story from before the foundations of the earth. Thank You for the contributions that my parents and my wife have made to this story. As well as for the parts that have involved other people along the way. But my parents and my wife, specifically, have been a most important piece of it.

I know that I have led a somewhat privileged life. I won’t try to deny that. And I’m grateful for that. I do my best to take that and share it, though, as You bring me opportunities. Help me to always be willing to do so. Let not that privilege become entitlement. I do not deserve anything, nor am I owed anything. I owe all to You.

As for the rest of my story, You have already written it. May I be a willing participant, submissive to both You and others, as well. Help me to always consider others more significant than myself, in this life, thereby being a servant both to You and my fellow human beings.

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

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but be filled with the Spirit, as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, singing and making melody to the Lord in your hearts, giving thanks to God the Father at all times and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ.
(Ephesians 5:18-21 NRSV)

Grace and peace, friends.

When Christ Displaces Worry

Today is Saturday, the 4th of February, 2023, in the season of Epiphany.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,704

I neglected (actually forgot) what yesterday was, until about halfway through the day, someone on my Facebook feed reminded me. It was February 3, 1959, that the plane carrying Richie Valens, J.P. Richardson (The Big Bopper), and Buddy Holly crashed in Iowa, killing all three of them. It was later to be deemed “the day the music died,” by Don McLean in “American Pie.” I was not quite a year old when that happened.

I had a fine day at the library, yesterday. It was steady in the computer center, but never got overwhelming. I’m expecting a hectic day in circulation today, as the outside book drop sorter is still not in working order, yet. We got a “new” sorter a couple weeks ago, but have had issues getting it working. I think it may be close. The thing is, all outside book drop items will go in our old “emergency” bin, which doesn’t sort, and also doesn’t clear. So we have to manually clear everything that comes in. With the extreme weather we had this week, causing the library to be closed for two whole days and open late on Thursday, I expect a lot of people to be getting caught up today.

That and it is “Bring your child to the library day,” today. Hee.

That’s all I’ve got, so on to the real reason I’m here.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Your decrees are my heritage forever; 
they are the joy of my heart.
(Psalms 119:111 NRSV)

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

Lord our God, help us who have listened in the name of Jesus Christ and heard the good tidings. Help us come with our whole hearts to the Savior, who leads us into your arms. Hear our pleading and let your countenance shine over the world. Let a new age come soon. Send your salvation into the world to the glory of your name, so that the truth we have learned about you becomes a reality in our hearts and our whole life can be genuine, rooted in the truth, leading us into heaven, to the honor of your name. Hear us, O Lord our God. We entrust ourselves and our daily lives to you. We want to be faithful. Help us to be your children, mindful at every step that we belong to you. Amen.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
(John 14:6 NRSV)

Today I am grateful:

  • for Jesus, the way, the truth, and the life
  • for the love of reading instilled in me at a very early age by my parents (and others)
  • for the Word of God, “recorded for a generation to come, so that a people yet unborn may praise the Lord” (Psalm 102:18)
  • for the peace that displaces worry when I am faithful to pray
  • for the sovereignty of God in all things

O sing to the LORD a new song; 
sing to the LORD, all the earth.
(Psalms 96:1 NRSV)
With my whole heart I cry; 
answer me, O LORD. 
I will keep your statutes.
(Psalms 119:145 NRSV)
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?
(Psalms 71:18-19 NRSV)
Let this be recorded for a generation to come, 
so that a people yet unborn may praise the LORD:
(Psalms 102:18 NRSV)

Then Jesus cried out as he was teaching in the temple, “You know me, and you know where I am from. I have not come on my own. But the one who sent me is true, and you do not know him. I know him, because I am from him, and he sent me.”
(John 7:28-29 NRSV)

To the leader: on Lilies, a Covenant. Of Asaph. A Psalm. 

Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, 
you who lead Joseph like a flock! 
You who are enthroned upon the cherubim, 
shine forth before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh. 
Stir up your might, and come to save us! 
Restore us, O God; 
let your face shine, that we may be saved. 

But let your hand be upon the one at your right hand, 
the one whom you made strong for yourself. 
Then we will never turn back from you; 
give us life, and we will call on your name. 
Restore us, O LORD God of hosts; 
let your face shine, that we may be saved. 
(Psalms 80:1-3, 17-19 NRSV)
"Our hearts, O Lord, are restless until they rest in You!" 
(The Cry of the Church - The Divine Hours)

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

"Almighty and everlasting God,
you govern all things both in heaven and on earth:
Mercifully hear the supplications of your people,
and in our time grant us your peace;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God,
for ever and ever.
Amen."
(The Prayer Appointed for the Week - The Divine Hours)

One who forgives an affront fosters friendship, 
but one who dwells on disputes will alienate a friend.
(Proverbs 17:9 NRSV)

Do to others as you would have them do to you.
(Luke 6:31 NRSV)

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

love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor.
(Romans 12:10 NRSV)


Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.
(Philippians 4:6-7 MSG)


I confess: I (and I’m confident that I am not alone) do not always allow Christ to displace worry at the center of my life.

Surprise! I’m not perfect.

By the way, if you ever see me acting like I think I am, you have my permission to call me out on it.

But I have experienced what happens when I do allow Christ do displace that worry. It can be described with one word. “Peace.” Peterson paraphrases it, above, as “a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good.” The traditional translations call this a “peace that passes understanding” or something like that.

Last night, we were waiting on a grocery order from Kroger. Keep in mind that we had winter weather conditions for roughly three days. From Monday evening until about noon on Thursday, everything was covered in ice. Not snow. No, we don’t get that luxury in DFW, Texas. We get ice. Sleet, freezing rain, very little actual snow.

And for the other eleven months and 25 days of the year, we don’t have any of that. So we naturally are not prepared/equipped for such. It basically shuts us down. Make fun of us if you want, but I won’t make fun of you when it gets to 117 degrees in Portland, Oregon and all your grocery store freezers stop working.

Anyway . . . back to my grocery order. I put it in on Thursday afternoon (or maybe even late Thursday morning, I can’t quite recall). The earliest delivery time (I wasn’t about to set foot in Kroger after that ice storm) was between 4-6 PM on Friday. C was planning to work from home, so that would work. I work at the library until 6:15 on Fridays.

Yesterday, at 4:47 PM, I got a text stating that the delivery would not arrive until around 7:30 PM. Okay. Not surprised by that. I’m sure the store was exceedingly busy. I had seen Facebook posts from people who went to Walmart and said that everyone else in Fort Worth was there, too.

7:30 came and went. Finally, at 7:51, I got a text that a shopper had started shopping my order. I anxiously awaited texts telling me things that they were out of. The only one I got was on the bread, accompanied by this photo.

You can see, way down there at the end, that there is something. She asked if I wanted a replacement, and I said, “If you can find one.” She found some Pepperidge Farm bread, and I said, “great! That will work fine!”

Everything else was delivered as ordered! At roughly 8:55, we got our delivery.

Why am I telling you all of this? To illustrate the point of that passage in Philippians. Throughout this whole process, I vacillated between worry and peace. Whenever I would begin to worry about whether we would even get the delivery at all, the Spirit reminded me that God is in control of all things, and I experienced peace. Accompanying that peace was also great patience. I never got impatient during the waiting time. And the result was that we received everything we ordered, with only the bread being substituted.

That’s what happens when you allow Christ to displace worry at the center of your life. Not the part about your groceries being delivered. That’s peripheral. It’s the part about the peace. Not letting the worry reign.

I promise you that won’t happen every day for me. But I also tell you that I’m getting progressively better at it, as I learn to trust Him in everything.

Here’s the thing: God is sovereign. Either you believe that or you don’t. If you believe it, you don’t worry about who is President or King or whatever. You don’t worry about Democrats, Republicans, Communists, or Socialists. You don’t worry about “bad things” happening to you. They will. You can be sure of that. But, if you believe in the sovereignty of God, you will have peace. Because you know, in the depths of your soul, as I said a couple days ago, “God’s got this.”

"The world has design and order. I can plan, hope, believe. The confusion and conflict that convulse history are bounded by a larger clarity and peace." 
(Eugene H. Peterson, Where Your Treasure Is, quoted in God's Message for Each Day)

Father, I praise You for who You are. I praise You for Your sovereignty in all things. You alone are worthy of our praise. You are worthy of all glory, blessing, and honor. I thank You for the peace that fills my soul today. I pray that I can experience this peace every day. I know that I will slip up and allow worry to reign, sometime. Forgive me for when those times happen, and let the Spirit remind me of Your sovereignty in all things. I thank You for the positive experience of last night, that reminds me that, in Your kingdom, things are far better than I can ever imagine.

I pray for all of Your children, especially in this country, that they would be more in tune with Your sovereignty; that they would realize how foolish it is to worry over things like politics and other things that become idols to us. Help us to throw down our idols and worship only You. Help us to lay aside all our worries and allow Christ to displace them at the center of our lives. May Christ be the center of everything.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


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

Grace and peace, friends.

The Path of Love

Today is Saturday, the 28th of January, 2023, in the season of Epiphany.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,697

It’s going to be a pretty lazy day around here, I think. After all the excitement of the week (see Thursday’s entry), and C’s work schedule being a little wacky, I’m thinking we might need a day to just chill. We might go out for lunch, in a little while, and I’ll probably cook burgers for dinner tonight. I do have some reading to do and need to play my trombone for a little while, in preparation for tomorrow’s orchestra performances at church.

I have to be at church by 8:00 AM tomorrow morning, so I’ll try to get a devotional blog in before then. I’m making no promises.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Through your precepts I get understanding; 
therefore I hate every false way.
(Psalms 119:104 NRSV)

Lord our God, we come into your presence and ask you to help us. Help us in every part of our lives, even when we do not understand. Be with us with your Spirit. Guide and lead us with your hand. Let your will be done in all things, even if we must bear suffering. Your will is for good alone and you will set everything right. Help us. Bless us through your Word, through everything we are allowed to hear from you, our God and our Father. Amen.

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go; 
I will counsel you with my eye upon you.
(Psalms 32:8 NRSV)

Today I am grateful:

  • for the understanding that I get from God’s Word
  • for the help that we get, in our lives, from the Lord and His Holy Spirit
  • that all things work together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose
  • for the potential of an undivided heart, that I might truly revere His name and be thankful with a whole heart
  • that true freedom comes with the ability to see all people as instances of divine love; love others as oneself is an act of true freedom

Come, behold the works of the LORD; 
see what desolations he has brought on the earth.
(Psalms 46:8 NRSV)

(Note: it is interesting to me that the word translated “desolations” can also mean “wonderful thing,” yet almost every major translation says “desolations.” Curious.)

Give victory to the king, O LORD; 
answer us when we call.
(Psalms 20:9 NRSV)
O my strength, I will watch for you;
 for you, O God, are my fortress.
(Psalms 59:9 NRSV)

The LORD works vindication and justice for all who are oppressed.
(Psalms 103:6 NRSV)

"But I say to you that listen, 
Love your enemies, 
do good to those who hate you, 
bless those who curse you, 
pray for those who abuse you. 
If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; 
and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. 
Give to everyone who begs from you; 
and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again."
(Luke 6:27-30 NRSV, emphasis added)
Rouse yourself, come to my help and see! 
You, LORD God of hosts, are God of Israel. 
Awake to punish all the nations; 
spare none of those who treacherously plot evil. 
[Selah] 

Each evening they come back, 
howling like dogs and prowling about the city. 
There they are, bellowing with their mouths, 
with sharp words on their lips—
for "Who," they think, "will hear us?" 
But you laugh at them, O LORD; 
you hold all the nations in derision. 
O my strength, I will watch for you; 
for you, O God, are my fortress. 
My God in his steadfast love will meet me; 
(Psalms 59:4b-10a NRSV)
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
(Kyrie)

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

"Give us grace, O Lord, to answer readily the call of our Savior Jesus Christ and proclaim to all people the Good News of his salvation, that we and the whole world may perceive the glory of his marvelous works; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen."
(The Divine Hours - The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

Teach me your way, O LORD, 
that I may walk in your truth; 
give me an undivided heart to revere your name.
(Psalms 86:11 NRSV)
Who are they that fear the LORD?
 He will teach them the way that they should choose.
(Psalms 25:12 NRSV)

I was overjoyed when some of the friends arrived and testified to your faithfulness to the truth, namely how you walk in the truth. I have no greater joy than this, to hear that my children are walking in the truth.
(3 John 1:3-4 NRSV)


For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
(Galatians 5:14 NRSV)

For everything we know about God’s Word is summed up in a single sentence: Love others as you love yourself. That’s an act of true freedom.
(Galatians 5:14 MSG)

“Each person is God’s person, standing before God as his child and before me as a brother or sister. ‘All men,’ wrote William Law, ‘are great instances of divine love, therefore let all men be instances of your love.’

“This person does not stand before me as an obstruction or a threat or an affront. If I cannot see the person in relation to God, then I am not free to love. I will either want to get rid of her because she is in my way, or I will want to use her in order to get my own way. Either way I lose freedom.”

(Eugene H. Peterson, Traveling Light, quoted in God’s Message for Each Day)


It is always a good reminder when my “life verse” appears during my morning devotions. Psalm 86:11. A sincere prayer for God to teach me His way, that I may walk in His truth, and for my heart to be undivided, that I might truly revere His name.

In addition, as illustrated by the verse following that one, when we do manage to revere or fear His name, He will faithfully teach us the way we should choose. When I choose the wrong way, or head down the wrong path, it is because I am not listening to Him; I am not revering or fearing His name.

One of those paths is firmly shown in Peterson’s writing. The path of love. I love how, in his paraphrase of Galatians 5:14, he describes loving others as we love ourselves (following the commands of Jesus) as “an act of true freedom.”

We must recognize that each person standing before us, wherever we are, in whatever circumstances we find ourselves, is also standing before God. That person you don’t agree with, whether politically or philosophically or theologically, is, as William Law said, an instance “of divine love.” Therefore, they should also be instances of our love.

When (and this is of the utmost importance) we view those other people with contempt, as seems to be the order of the day, in these times, it is impossible to view them as an instance of divine love. We have dismissed them. We believe that we are better than them and that they are less than us. All because they think about things differently than we.

This is a direct and blatant violation of Scripture, brothers and sisters.

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

This utterly removes any chance of contempt in the life of a follower of Christ. If we cannot view all people as standing before God, just as we stand before God, we have failed to follow the commands of Christ.

We must do better at following the “path of love.”


Father, have mercy on us. Forgive us for our failures. Help us to get on the path of love and stay there. Help us, O Lord, to view all others as instances of divine love. Help me to see that everyone who stands before me stands before You as Your child, Your creation. They are not obstructions or obstacles to me. How could they be?? I have no right to consider myself better than them when Your Word commands me to do the opposite.

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)

Help us to regain our true freedom by loving others as we love ourselves, and considering others to be more significant than ourselves. In this way, we are free to love.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


Grace and peace, friends.

“Be holy, for I . . . Am Holy

Today is Sunday, the 22nd of January, 2023, the third Sunday after Epiphany.

May the peace of the Lord be with you always!

Day 23,691

I had a good Saturday at the library, yesterday and am close to feeling normal again. I’ll be heading up to church in a little while, and will attempt to sing with the choir, this morning in the 11:00 service. I have another orchestra rehearsal after that service, and will be going back up there at 6:30 tonight for our Mere Christianity group discussion.

Today’s header photo was taken by Romanian photographer extraordinaire, Paul Militaru. Please visit his website at the link provided to see his magnificent photos.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies, 
for it is always with me.
(Psalms 119:98 NRSV)

Dear Father in heaven, grant us the inner quiet we need so that we may come into your presence and hear you speak, forgetting all the things that try to force themselves upon us. May we experience your true and living support. Keep our hearts glad and thankful for everything, even in grief, anxiety, and suffering. In this thankfulness we can remain with you, and Jesus Christ can help us, Jesus, whom you have given as our support and helper in all that most deeply concerns us. We entrust ourselves to you. Keep us in your Spirit. Amen.

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”
(Matthew 11:28 NRSV)

Today I am grateful:

  • for the inner quiet in my spirit, that God grants, so that I might dwell in His presence and hear Him speak to me; may I be able to shove aside all distractions and listen
  • for the “easy yoke” of Jesus (Matthew 11:28ff)
  • for the prayer that begins this day, and the hope of a prayer that will end it
  • for the opportunity to worship with the saints and sing praises to God
  • for the gift of God’s Word, His “book on living” (Psalm 119:111, MSG)

This Day, by Daryl Madden

Let the sun rise today
And the sun set this day
With its blessing of light
In between

Let a prayer start this day
And a prayer, close this day
With an indwelling prayer
In between

Let love spark this day
And in love rest this day
With a sharing of love
In between

With thanks start this day
And in thanks end this day
Everything is a gift
In between

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


When he has finished atoning for the holy place and the tent of meeting and the altar, he shall present the live goat. Then Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, and confess over it all the iniquities of the people of Israel, and all their transgressions, all their sins, putting them on the head of the goat, and sending it away into the wilderness by means of someone designated for the task. The goat shall bear on itself all their iniquities to a barren region; and the goat shall be set free in the wilderness.
(Leviticus 16:20-22 NRSV)

This shall be a statute to you forever: In the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall deny yourselves, and shall do no work, neither the citizen nor the alien who resides among you. For on this day atonement shall be made for you, to cleanse you; from all your sins you shall be clean before the LORD. It is a sabbath of complete rest to you, and you shall deny yourselves; it is a statute forever. The priest who is anointed and consecrated as priest in his father’s place shall make atonement, wearing the linen vestments, the holy vestments. He shall make atonement for the sanctuary, and he shall make atonement for the tent of meeting and for the altar, and he shall make atonement for the priests and for all the people of the assembly. This shall be an everlasting statute for you, to make atonement for the people of Israel once in the year for all their sins. And Moses did as the LORD had commanded him.
(Leviticus 16:29-34 NRSV)

The LORD spoke to Moses, saying: Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them: You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy.
(Leviticus 19:1-2 NRSV)

You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against any of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.
(Leviticus 19:18 NRSV)


Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
(2 Corinthians 9:7 NRSV)

Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in my house, and thus put me to the test, says the LORD of hosts; see if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you an overflowing blessing.
(Malachi 3:10 NRSV)


I inherited your book on living;
 it's mine forever— what a gift! 
And how happy it makes me!
(Psalms 119:111 MSG)

I like that phrase that Peterson uses in The Message, “your book on living.” The NRSV words it differently, but I can certainly appreciate its translation, as well.

Your decrees are my heritage forever; 
they are the joy of my heart.
(Psalms 119:111 NRSV)

I’ve talked about Psalm 119 before, in this forum. It uses many different words to represent God’s Word, the thing we call the Bible. In this particular verse, it is “decrees.” In others, it might be “law,” or “precepts,” or “ordinances.” Sometimes it is just “word.” But Peterson’s wording, “your book on living” is wonderful, I think.

I love the Bible. I always have, as long as I can remember. I have read it through at least 17 times in my life. That has not always been cover-to-cover (which is how I’m reading the NRSV, this year). For example, last year’s reading plan had me bouncing around like a ping pong ball. But I still read the whole thing.

I’m not boasting about this. Not at all. I’m not bragging about how many times I’ve read it. I won’t brag about how much I have memorized. Probably not all that much, compared to others. I will boast, though, about the author of the book.

Yes, I know that men wrote the text, quite a few of them. But I believe and proclaim that God, via the Holy Spirit is the ultimate Author of the Bible. And I will boast about Him. I love His Word. As the psalmist says in that verse above, it is the joy of my heart. I find myself in Psalms, probably more than any other book, and I’m working my way through chapter 119, a verse at a time, right now.

The Bible truly is a “book on living.” Not that we should get all caught up in trying to live out the details in Leviticus (I talked about that, yesterday). I don’t even think we should work that hard to see that we are keeping the Ten Commandments (that is also addressed yesterday). Don’t get me wrong . . . we shouldn’t be striving to break those Ten Commandments, either. But we have further teachings from the Son of God in the New Testament.

The Old Testament Law is there to show us how we have failed, and how we are going to fail. I believe Paul gives us a pretty good illustration of that in his epistles.

And everything is summed up by (there he goes again) Jesus’s two main commands. Love God; love people. Love your neighbor as yourself. But guess what! As we see all the way back in Leviticus, that wasn’t a new “law,” was it? God gave that word to Moses in Leviticus 19! The “golden rule” was not new with Jesus. He just reminded us, strongly, that it is the way to live.

There are many in the world today who seem to have forgotten this “golden rule,” and need to be reminded. The way to live is to treat one another the way we desire to be treated. To my shame, I have not succeeded in always doing this. I have been quite mean and rude to people in my life. I’ve gotten better, especially since I have been striving to live by Jesus’s two commands in recent years.

But I still struggle with my reaction when Applebee’s gets my order wrong . . . AGAIN! But here’s the thing. When Sonic messes up my drink order, when Walmart delivers milk that is past its expiration date, when Albertson’s makes a weird substitution for something I ordered . . . all of these are what I call “footstool” problems. What that means is that they aren’t really problems at all.

May God have mercy on us when we overreact to such situations. May He teach us how to react better, more calmly, more . . . well, “holy.”

Note: As seems to be the case a lot, lately, I had no idea where this was going to wind up when I started typing. Glory to God!


Father, I am so glad that Your Word tells us that You remember that we are dust. This means that nothing we do surprises you. We might disappoint You, most certainly, but I’m not even sure how that works for You, seeing as how You know everything I am going to do before I do it. Sometimes, I wonder why You didn’t stop me if You knew I was going to do that stupid thing, or that rude thing, or that mean thing.

I love Your Word, Father, and I love You. I will always boast of You and Your great and marvelous works. I would be, and am nothing, without You. All that I have in my possession was given to me by You. Every relationship that I have in this world was given to me by You. I pray that I use the things wisely and resourcefully, being of a generous heart with all things, and I pray that I would approach all the relationships with the love of Jesus as my driving force.

Help me to love You with my whole heart, and my whole being, and help me to love others as myself. I also pray that You help me to love the saints as Christ loves the Church. Help me to be “holy” as You are Holy.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


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

Grace and peace, friends.

On Reality

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

May the peace of Christ be with you always!

Day 23,686

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

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

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

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

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

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

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

A Psalm of David. 

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want. 
He makes me lie down in green pastures; 
he leads me beside still waters; 
he restores my soul. 
He leads me in right paths for his name's sake.
(Psalms 23:1-3 NRSV)

Today I am grateful:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

A Psalm. A Song for the Sabbath Day. 

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


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

Grace and peace, friends.

Like Spokes in A Wheel

Today is Tuesday, the 3rd of January, 2023, in the second week of Christmas. It is the tenth day of Christmas.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you today and always!

Day 23,672

Three days until Epiphany.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Let your steadfast love become my comfort 
according to your promise to your servant.
(Psalms 119:76 NRSV)

Lord our God, we thank you that we may go to meet you with open hearts, with jubilant faith, and with this joyful shout, “God’s salvation is coming! Through Jesus Christ day is dawning on earth for all nations.” Stay with us and help us. Send us your Spirit to strengthen us, especially in times of trouble. Let all nations come before you. Let us tell all peoples, “Be comforted. The salvation of our God, who is also your God, is coming. In this salvation we will rejoice together forevermore to the glory of our God.” Amen.

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

The Lord has made proclamation to the ends of the earth: “Say to Daughter Zion, ‘See, your Savior comes! See, his reward is with him, and his recompense accompanies him.’” 
Isaiah 62:11, NIV

Today I am grateful:

  1. for the steadfast love of the Lord, that has become my comfort in all things
  2. for the salvation of God, through Jesus Christ, in which day is dawning on all peoples
  3. for the marvelous, infinite, matchless grace and mercy of God, which we do not deserve
  4. for the potential of prayer, and that God listens to us
  5. that our lives are not to be compartmentalized into “sacred” and “secular;” it is one life, lived before God. Give “Caesar” what is his, and give God what is his.

Love the LORD, all you his saints. 
The LORD preserves the faithful, 
but abundantly repays the one who acts haughtily.
(Psalms 31:23 NRSV)
You are my God, and I will give thanks to you; 
you are my God, I will extol you.
(Psalms 118:28 NRSV)
Our help is in the name of the LORD, 
who made heaven and earth.
(Psalms 124:8 NRSV)
This is the testimony given by John when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, "Who are you?" He confessed and did not deny it, but confessed, "I am not the Messiah." 

He said, "I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, 'Make straight the way of the Lord,'" as the prophet Isaiah said. 
Now they had been sent from the Pharisees. They asked him, "Why then are you baptizing if you are neither the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the prophet?" 
John answered them, "I baptize with water. Among you stands one whom you do not know, the one who is coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandal." 
This took place in Bethany across the Jordan where John was baptizing. 
(John 1:19-20, 23-28 NRSV)
When Israel went out from Egypt, the house of Jacob from a people of strange language, 
Judah became God's sanctuary, Israel his dominion. 
The sea looked and fled; Jordan turned back. 
The mountains skipped like rams, the hills like lambs. 
Why is it, O sea, that you flee? O Jordan, that you turn back? 
O mountains, that you skip like rams? O hills, like lambs? 
Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the LORD, at the presence of the God of Jacob, 
who turns the rock into a pool of water, the flint into a spring of water.
(Psalms 114:1-8 NRSV)
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
(Kyrie)

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


He says, "Be still, and know that I am God; 
I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth."
(Psalms 46:10 NIV)
Test me, LORD, and try me, examine my heart and my mind; 
for I have always been mindful of your unfailing love 
and have lived in reliance on your faithfulness.
(Psalms 26:2-3 NIV)

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 4:6-7 NIV)


“Then give Caesar what is his, and give God what is his.”
(Matthew 22:21 MSG)


“If you are right with Him you will inevitably be right with all your fellow-creatures, just as if all the spokes of a wheel are fitted rightly into the hub and the rim they are bound to be in the right positions to one another.” (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, quoted in The C.S. Lewis Bible)


There was a time in my life, when I would only listen to “Christian” music. That’s what I called it, and people still call it that. There was this one time, I even had a copy of the “Christian Yellow Pages,” a directory that only included businesses that were run by alleged Christians.

I don’t do that any more. For one thing, I have come to believe that the adjective, “Christian,” should only be applied to human beings. Because only human beings, entities with a soul, can be “Christian.” The word, itself, first used as a derogatory designation for followers of Christ (Acts 11:26). I have heard it said that the word meant, “little Christs,” but I can’t find any official evidence of this.

But I digress. That’s not what this entry is really about.

I’m talking about the compartmentalization of our lives. We shouldn’t do it. Period. We don’t have a “sacred” life and a “secular” life. We have a life, and it is all to be lived under the authority of the Holy Trinity. Everything that we do, every act in which we participate, can be an act of worship.

I believe it was Brother Lawrence who found that he could worship God while washing dishes and doing kitchen chores. He wrote a book called The Practice of the Presence of God, in which he talks about things like that.

We do say that our citizenship is in heaven, and that is true (Philippians 3:20). And we eagerly pursue the prize/inheritance that awaits us, there. “But this passion for the unseen in no way detracts from their involvement in daily affairs: working well and playing fair, signing petitions and paying taxes, rebuking the wicked an encouraging the righteous, getting wet in the rain and smelling the flowers.” (Eugene H. Peterson, Where Your Treasure Is, quoted in God’s Message for Each Day)

Perhaps Paul said it best.

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
(Colossians 3:17 NRSV)


Father, I pray that I will be able to live my life in this way. As a follower of Christ, I believe that it is imperative that I do everything in the name of Christ, for the glory of You, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. This means that, even when washing dishes or cooking a meal for my family, I am acting in Your Name, and I am performing and act of prayer/worship. This means that when I am out and about, in public, interacting with people, other human begins, with souls, created in Your image, I must treat them as such; I must do everything in the name of Jesus, giving thanks to You through Him.

Help me to keep this at the front of my mind, and to remember that getting short or snarky with people is not acceptable, as a disciple of Jesus. It also means that I will consider others to be more significant than myself, as we are commanded to do by Your Word. Help me to be “right” with You, in order that I will be “right” with all of my “fellow-creatures.”

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!

"O God, who wonderfully created, and yet more wonderfully restored, the dignity of human nature: Grant that we may share the divine life of him who humbled himself to share our humanity, your Son Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen."
(The Divine Hours -The Prayer Appointed for the Week)
"Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought me in safety to this new day: Preserve me with your mighty power, that I may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all I do direct me to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen."
(The Divine Hours - The Concluding Prayer of the Church)

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.

Small Acts Bring Big Results

Today is Monday, the 2nd of January, 2023, in the second week of Christmas. It is the ninth day of Christmas.

May the peace of the Lord be with you always!

Day 23,671

For a lot of people (unless you happen to work in retail or restaurant industry), today is the observed holiday for New Year’s Day. As far as I know, the banks are closed, and there will be no mail delivery. C is off work today, and will be headed back in tomorrow after a whole week off, as she took vacation between Christmas and yesterday. I don’t ever work on Monday, so it’s just another day for me. “Just another manic Monday.”

I don’t really feel that way. It’s just a line from a song.

I wondered, this morning, how many sermons were preached, yesterday, on 2 Corinthians 5:17?

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

I know, O LORD, that your judgments are right, 
and that in faithfulness you have humbled me.
(Psalms 119:75 NRSV)

O Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayers. I am praying, this morning, for many who need healing of some kind. I am praying for some who need guidance in life, and success in new goals that they have begun. There are many, many who are grieving . . . may You give the comfort of the Holy Spirit to their hearts and souls. There are some who seek familial reconciliation; may You intervene in their situations. O Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayers!


Lord our God, we have gathered in your sight. We thank you that through your words you have given something of your very self to help us be your disciples, your children, who stand firm in faith and trust throughout our lives, whatever our lot may be. Help us in these times, and when days grow difficult and full of grief, hold your people securely in your hand. Help us to be firmly rooted in faith, however dark it is on earth. You can give us strength and courage; we can do nothing in our human strength. But the power of your Spirit can renew us, make us alert, and fill us with lasting joy. For we are your people, your children, and when held in your hand, we can rejoice in spite of all grief. Amen.

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

With this in mind, then, I kneel in prayer to the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name, that out of the treasures of his glory he may grant you strength and power through his Spirit in your inner being, that through faith Christ may dwell in your hearts in love. 
Ephesians 3:14–17a, NEB

Today I am grateful:

  1. that Jesus shares Himself with us, in order to help us be His disciples
  2. that the Lord gives us strength and courage, for we can do nothing in our human strength
  3. for daily renewal in the Holy Spirit
  4. that even our smallest efforts can yield large results, when God is involved
  5. for the faithfulness of God to act on our behalf, when we commit our ways to Him

O magnify the LORD with me, 
and let us exalt his name together.
(Psalms 34:3 NRSV)
Open my eyes, so that I may behold 
wondrous things out of your law.
(Psalms 119:18 NRSV)
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 as high as the heavens; 
your faithfulness extends to the clouds.
(Psalms 57:9-10 NRSV)
Save us, O LORD our God, 
and gather us from among the nations, 
that we may give thanks to your holy name 
and glory in your praise.
(Psalms 106:47 NRSV)
O give thanks to the LORD, call on his name,
 make known his deeds among the peoples. 
Sing to him, sing praises to him; 
tell of all his wonderful works. 
Glory in his holy name;
 let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice. 
Seek the LORD and his strength; 
seek his presence continually. 
Remember the wonderful works he has done, 
his miracles, and the judgments he has uttered,

He is mindful of his covenant forever, 
of the word that he commanded, 
for a thousand generations, 
the covenant that he made with Abraham, 
his sworn promise to Isaac, 
which he confirmed to Jacob as a statute, 
to Israel as an everlasting covenant, 
(Psalms 105:1-5, 8-10 NRSV)

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

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


He put before them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.”
(Matthew 13:31-32 NRSV)

“Whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and whoever is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much.”
(Luke 16:10 NRSV)

“There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people?”
(John 6:9 NRSV)


Open up before GOD, keep nothing back; 
he'll do whatever needs to be done:
(Psalms 37:5 MSG)

The tiny mustard seed becomes a huge plant. Whoever is faithful in little is also faithful in much. The young boy’s five loaves and two fish feeds a multitude. “Little is much when God is in it.” Even the smallest acts of faith can yield huge results.

For us, we need not worry about the magnitude of our actions. Some are hindered by the mindset of wanting to do “huge things” for God. But that’s not what God is after. He is after the willingness of the boy with the sack lunch, who is willing to share it with Jesus. He is after the one who is willing to pray, faithfully, alone in her closet, no one ever knowing. He is after the one who is willing to give her two “mites,” as opposed to the one who throws noisy coins into the coffer, out of his abundance.

One of the most seemingly small and insignificant things we can do, especially for one another, is to listen. This world is an exceedingly noisy place, and it is growing ever more so by the day. “We are surrounded with noise: telephone, radio, television, stereo. Messages are amplified deafeningly. The world is a mob in which everyone is talking at once and no one is willing or able to listen.” (Eugene H. Peterson, Reversed Thunder, quoted in God’s Message for Each Day)

But, in the midst of all of this noise, God listens. The popular Psalm 37:5 says, “Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act.” Peterson renders this to say, “Open up before GOD, keep nothing back; he’ll do whatever needs to be done.

Most followers of Christ are aware that God speaks to us. Primarily, this comes through His Word, but there are other avenues, as well. However, we aren’t quite as aware that God listens to us. He hears us. And, in ways that we cannot comprehend, somehow, He is able to hear all of us at one time. The fact that He listens to us is even more amazing than Him speaking to us.

Finding someone who listens to us at all, much less “carefully and thoroughly,” is rare. “When it happens we know that what we say and feel are immensely important. We acquire dignity. We never know how well we think or speak until we find someone who listens.” (ibid)

It has been said many times, that, when we are involved in conversation, we all too often, rather than listen when the other is speaking, are considering what we are going to say next. And how often do we interrupt?? I’m guilty of it, and I hate when I do it. It’s almost automatic, seeming to be out of my control. But it is not. We are a society of interrupting people.

Knock Knock
Who's there?
Interrupting cow.
Interrupting cow w--
MOOOO!

So today, consider two things. One, that God listens to you. Your thoughts, your words, your feelings are important, and have dignity. Two, consider listening to someone else. If you find yourself engaged in conversation today, listen. Let the other person speak full sentences. Don’t try to finish their sentences for them. Don’t interrupt. And don’t let your mind stray to what you want to say next. I might forget what I was going to say next. But that’s okay. I’m not the most important person in the room. You are.


"O God, who wonderfully created, and yet more wonderfully restored, the dignity of human nature: Grant that we may share the divine life of him who humbled himself to share our humanity, your Son Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen."
(The Divine Hours -The Prayer Appointed for the Week)
"Eternal Father, you gave to your incarnate son the holy name of Jesus to be the sign of our salvation: Plant in every heart, I pray,t he love of him who is the Savior of the world, our Lord Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen."
(The Divine Hours - Concluding Prayer of the Church)

Father, help us to be more aware and confident that You hear us when we pray. And, in that knowledge, help us to pray more and better. When I lift up the prayer requests that come to my attention, may my attention be fully with them. May my prayers be sincere and not cursory, and may Your Holy Spirit help me know the best way to pray for all.

I also pray that You help us, in turn to listen to others when we are in conversation with them. It is so important to listen. It gives others dignity and it gives them confidence. It also gives them feelings of hope and importance. So give us all the ability to listen, which goes hand in hand with not thinking we are the most important person in the room.

In Your mercy, Lord, hear our prayers.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


May the LORD bless you and protect you.
May the LORD smile on you and be gracious to you.
May the LORD show you his favor and give you his peace.
(Numbers 6:24-26 NLT)

Grace and peace, friends.

. . . and Beginnings

Today is Sunday, the 1st of January, 2023, in the second week of Christmas. It is the eighth day of Christmas.

May the peace of the Lord be with you always!

Day 23,670

For this year, I will be reading Walking in Grace 2023, the new title for the Daily Guideposts book, God’s Message for Each Day, by Eugene H. Peterson, A Simple Way to Pray, by Martin Luther (that one won’t take long, it’s only 32 pages), and The Invitation: A Simple Guide to the Bible, also by Eugene H. Peterson. In addition, I may be using The Divine Hours, by Phyllis Tickle, as a resource.

My Bible version of choice, this year, will be the NRSV, and I will be reading in the C.S. Lewis Bible that I got for Christmas.

Today’s header photo was taken by Paul Militaru, Romanian photographer. Please visit his site at the link provided and see his other work.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Those who fear you shall see me and rejoice, 
because I have hoped in your word.
(Psalms 119:74 NRSV)

Our Father in heaven, may your name be honored. May your kingdom come and your will be done on earth as in heaven. May this continue to be our prayer in the new year, and may we find fellowship with one another in what is eternal and holy. Bless us on our way. Bless us on our earthly pilgrimage so that we may remain free from all bondage, able to thank you day and night for all the good you do, even when things look very dark. We praise your name and we pray as the Savior has taught us. Amen.

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

This, then, is how you should pray:
“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, 
your kingdom come, your will be done, 
on earth as it is in heaven.”
 Matthew 6:9–10, NIV

Today I am grateful:

  1. for new beginnings
  2. for the hope of God’s kingdom in the new year
  3. for potential of increased fellowship with the saints in the new year
  4. that we may share the divine life of He who humbled Himself to share our humanity
  5. that my security rests not in my confidence in myself, but in God

O sing to the LORD a new song, for he has done marvelous things. 
His right hand and his holy arm have gotten him victory.
(Psalms 98:1 NRSV)
Create in me a clean heart, O God, 
and put a new and right spirit within me.
(Psalms 51:10 NRSV)
I am small and despised, 
yet I do not forget your precepts.
(Psalms 119:141 NRSV)
My mouth is filled with your praise, 
and with your glory all day long.
(Psalms 71:8 NRSV)

Jesus told the crowds all these things in parables; without a parable he told them nothing. This was to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet: “I will open my mouth to speak in parables; I will proclaim what has been hidden from the foundation of the world.”
(Matthew 13:34-35 NRSV)

“Have you understood all this?” They answered, “Yes.” And he said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.”
(Matthew 13:51-52 NRSV)

O sing to the LORD a new song, for he has done marvelous things. 
His right hand and his holy arm have gotten him victory. 
The LORD has made known his victory; 
he has revealed his vindication in the sight of the nations. 
He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness to the house of Israel. 
All the ends of the earth have seen the victory of our God. 
Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth;
 break forth into joyous song and sing praises. 
Sing praises to the LORD with the lyre, 
with the lyre and the sound of melody. 
With trumpets and the sound of the horn 
make a joyful noise before the King, the LORD. 
Let the sea roar, and all that fills it; the world and those who live in it. 
Let the floods clap their hands; 
let the hills sing together for joy at the presence of the LORD, 
for he is coming to judge the earth. 
He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with equity.
(Psalms 98:1-9 NRSV)

O Lord, hear my prayer and let my cry come unto you. Thanks be to God. (The Short Breviary)

"O God, who wonderfully created, and yet more wonderfully restored, the dignity of human nature: Grant that we may share the divine life of him who humbled himself to share our humanity, your Son Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen."
(The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
(Psalms 51:7 NRSV)

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

Come now, let us argue it out, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be like snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.
(Isaiah 1:18 NRSV)

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


God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit;
(1 Corinthians 10:13 MSG)

“Discipleship is not a contract in which if we break our part of the agreement He is free to break His; it is a covenant in which He established the conditions and guarantees the results . . . We are secure not because we are sure of ourselves but because we trust that God is sure of us.” (Eugene H. Peterson, A Long Obedience, quoted in God’s Message for Each Day)


I’m still “tweaking” how I will use my new resources, this year, and I’m short on time, today, because the worship service I’m going to begins at 10:00 AM, this morning.

But I am excited for these new resources and what I will learn in the process. Today, my focus is drawn to the idea that my security is not based on my confidence in myself, but on God, who, because of the work of Jesus Christ, has confidence in me. He remembers, as I have been reminded repeatedly, that I am dust. He is not surprised when I fail. But He also knows that I share in the divine nature of the One who condescended to share in our humanity.

Thanks be to God!


Father, as this new year gets underway, may the life of Jesus Christ be more embedded within me (I’m not coming up with the right word, here). Just let His life permeate my spirit and my soul, every day, that I might walk with You, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

I praise You for new beginnings, and may we leave everything behind that does not make us better followers of Christ.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


"Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought me in safety to this new day: Preserve me with your mighty power, that I may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all I do direct me to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen."
(The Concluding Prayer of the Church)

Grace and peace, friends.

I Can Wait

Today is Tuesday, the 6th of December, 2022, in the second week of Advent. The theme of this week is Peace.

May that peace of Christ overwhelm you today!

Day 23,644

Nineteen days until Christmas!

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

I will keep your law continually, 
forever and ever, 
and I shall walk in a wide place, 
for I have sought your precepts.
(Psalms 119:44-45 ESV)

Lord our God and Father in heaven, be with us and let your face shine upon us, for we are your children. In the midst of all human planning we are your children who seek you alone, who seek your will, your kingdom, and everything you have promised to humankind. Fill our thoughts and feelings with your power so that our lives on earth may belong to you, so that with our whole will we may put every thing we have and are into your hands. For we want to be your children, to have one will with you, Almighty God. We want your kingdom. This is our will, O Lord our God, and it is your will too. Therefore it must come to pass, to the glory of your name. Amen.

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

"Come!" say the Spirit and the bride. "Come!" let each hearer reply. Come forward, you who are thirsty; accept the water of life, a free gift to all who desire it. 
Revelation 22:17, NEB

Today I am grateful:

  1. for the water of life, a free gift to all who desire it
  2. that God alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress (Psalm 62)
  3. for the ongoing presence of God, which encourages me to “fear not” (Isaiah 41:10)
  4. for the promise of rest from Jesus Christ (Matthew 11)
  5. that our God is able to do far more than we could ever ask or imagine (Ephesians 3)

For God alone my soul waits in silence; 
from him comes my salvation. 
He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; 
I shall not be greatly shaken.
(Psalms 62:1-2 ESV)

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
(Matthew 11:28-30 ESV)

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

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)


“Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”
(Matthew 18:18-20 ESV)


But you need to stick it out, staying with God’s plan so you’ll be there for the promised completion.
(Hebrews 10:36 MSG)

I pray to GOD—my life a prayer— and wait for what he’ll say and do.
(Psalms 130:5 MSG)

Endings are better than beginnings. Sticking to it is better than standing out.
(Ecclesiastes 7:8 MSG)

So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.
(James 1:4 MSG)


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 3:20-21 ESV)


“Endings are better than beginnings.” That’s Eugene Peterson’s The Message version of that verse. The NRSV doesn’t change it a whole lot.

Better is the end of a thing than its beginning; the patient in spirit are better than the proud in spirit.
(Ecclesiastes 7:8 NRSV)

In that section, there are four verses that deal with the concept of “sticking it out.” If we stick with it, we will be there for the completion, and see God’s work to its fulfillment. As shown in Psalm 130, this requires prayer, and it requires waiting. That has been a theme for multiple days, as I focus on the Advent season, this year.

We’ve talked about Advent being a season of waiting. We consider the people in ancient days, waiting for the arrival of the Savior. But we also consider ourselves, as we live “in between” the first and second Advents of Jesus. We, too, find ourselves waiting.

I have also addressed the fact that we don’t wait so well, here in the Western world. A lot of that has to do with the last phrase in that verse from Ecclesiastes. We are a bit too “proud in spirit,” here. We like to stand out.

But there is a connection between waiting (which, essentially equals patience) and walking humbly. This past Sunday, Pastor Eibel preached a message from one of my favorite Scripture passages (I have a lot of them, this is just one), Micah 6.

“With what shall I come before the LORD, and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?” He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
(Micah 6:6-8 NRSV)

The word translated “humbly” in verse 8 is “tsana.” It is only used twice in the entire Old Testament. The other place is Proverbs 11:2. The KJV translates that verse thusly:

When pride cometh, then cometh shame: but with the lowly is wisdom.
(Proverbs 11:2 KJV)

Most other translations use the word humble or a variation of it.

Pastor Eibel also said that the word could mean “attentive, thoughtful, or understanding.” I’m not sure where he got that, but I like the thought. Here’s how Eugene Peterson translates Micah 6:8.

But he’s already made it plain how to live, what to do, what GOD is looking for in men and women. It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor, be compassionate and loyal in your love, And don’t take yourself too seriously— take God seriously.
(Micah 6:8 MSG)

“Don’t take yourself too seriously–take God seriously.”

I believe that echoes what Pastor Eibel said about walking with God in attentiveness, thoughtfulness, or understanding. As we walk with Him, we consider who He is, what He has done, and our radical dependence upon Him.

All of this fits right in with Peterson’s rendering of Ecclesiastes 7:8. “Sticking to it is better than standing out.” Taking God seriously is better than taking myself too seriously. Waiting, while walking humbly (or attentively, thoughtfully, with understanding) is better than trying to get out of things.

As we wait for the return of Christ (keeping in mind that everything that Paul wrote was written in anticipation of said return happening within a year or two), it is imperative that we wait in patience (in reality can it be called “waiting” at all, if we are not patient?), not trying to stand out, but rather sticking to God’s plan. And, for heaven’s sake, don’t try to “help.”

If you are ever tempted to “help” God with His plan, go back and read the story of Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar and see how that worked out.

And while we are waiting, Pastor Eibel also gave us a few questions to ask.

What do I deserve? (Death, eternal condemnation)
What do I have? (Jesus, forgiveness of sin, all the blessings)
What am I promised? (the presence of God, the glory of Heaven, eternity with Him)

I can wait.


“Lord, may your Spirit rest upon me and never depart. Prove your mighty power in my life day by day, in such a way that others will see that God is almighty to save and to keep.” (Andrew Murray, Absolute Surrender, quoted in Power in Prayer)


Father, I am so thankful for Your Word and all that it can teach us. I am also thankful for godly men and women who study Your Word and teach us from it. The words of Pastor Eibel, this past Sunday, were tremendously inspiring. And, as I combine them with other words from Scripture, this morning, I am even more inspired.

Your Word gives me the patience to wait, and to try harder than ever to “walk humbly” with You. Help me to walk in humility, in lowliness, not taking myself too seriously, but taking You very seriously. Help me to walk attentively, thoughtfully, and with understanding. I need the presence of the Holy Spirit, constantly, to be able to do this.

So help me be aware of Your presence, that which is promised by You, that You will never leave or forsake us, that You will strengthen us, You will help us, and You will uphold us. Help me to “stick it out,” rather than trying to stand out. When I try to stand out, I make it about me, and it’s not about me, it’s about You, about Christ, about the Spirit.

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

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


Holy, holy, holy!
Lord God Almighty!
Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee;
Holy, holy, holy!
Merciful and mighty
God in three Persons
Blessed Trinity!

Grace and peace, friends.