“The Entire Forgiveness of All Your Sins”

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

May the peace of Christ find you, today!

Day 23,636

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

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

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

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

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

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

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

Today I am grateful:

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


Lord, have mercy on us
Christ, have mercy on us
Lord, have mercy on us

Grace and peace, friends.

Just Say “Yes!”

Today is Friday, the twentieth of May, 2022, in the fifth week of Easter.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,444

My day at the library was pretty good, yesterday, and went by somewhat quickly. There were periods when it was relatively busy, and the day started out fairly busy. By that I mean that there were people who needed assistance. There could be someone at every computer in the place, but if no one needs any help, it might as well be empty.

I finished a book, yesterday, The Twelve Tasks, by Katharine Wibell. I will get that review posted on my other blog, this afternoon. Late last night, I started reading Starman Jones, by Robert A. Heinlein. I realized, as I looked at my various lists, that I have not read any of the Science Fiction Grandmasters since last July.

The Texas Rangers lost to the Houston Astros, last night, 5-1. The Rangers scored first, in the top of the first inning, but the Astros quickly answered with two in the bottom of the first. It stayed that way until the bottom of the eighth inning, The Rangers brought Josh Sborz in to pitch in the seventh, and he did okay, but in the eight inning, he completely lost it, and I swear to you, he couldn’t manage to get the ball all the way to home plate! I lost count of how many pitches bounced in front of the plate. He gave up a hit and walked the bases loaded before Woodward finally took him out and brought in Matt Moore. Sborz only got one out in the eighth. Moore got the second out, but then gave up a bases-clearing double, which made it 5-1.

So the Rangers are now 17-20 for the season, but still in third place in the AL West, a game ahead of Seattle and 2.5 ahead of Oakland. They are seven games behind the Astros. They play again tonight, at 7:10 CDT, on Apple TV. Martin Perez gets the start tonight. Hopefully, he can continue his good performance streak.

The reason the Rangers are still alone in third place is that the Red Sox beat the Mariners, last night, 12-6. Wow. They scored runs in five out of eight innings (they didn’t bat in the ninth because they are at home). The Sox are now 16-22 for the season, still in fourth place in the AL East, 1.5 ahead of the Orioles. They will play the Mariners again tonight, in Boston, at 7:10 EDT.

Someone listened to me, because the Yankees finally lost their tenth game, last night. They still own the best MLB record, though, at 28-10, 2.5 ahead of the LA Dodgers. The Cincinnati Reds (11-26) are still the worst, a game behind the Washington Nationals (13-26). The LA Dodgers have the longest win streak, at five games, and the Cleveland Guardians (can’t get used to that!) are tied with the LA Angels (yay!!!) with the longest losing streak, at three games. The Dodgers continue to have the highest run differential, at +83, while the Pittsburgh Pirates have the lowest differential, at -71. The Rangers and Red Sox both have a current run differential of -8.

It’s Friday, so I have pretty much nothing planned today. I like that. C is working from home, so we are all here, and Mama likes that. 🙂 I have to say I like it, too. C is going on a trip, though, next Friday, and I already miss her. 😦 She will have an opportunity, though, to visit with our oldest daughter in Indianapolis while on this trip, though, so that is good. I was unable to go along, because I’m scheduled to work that weekend, and, since I’m part time, I don’t get PTO. Plus, the first part of her trip is work-related.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, give us your Spirit, we pray, that we may learn to understand what we are and what tasks you have set for us. We thank you for all the light you give us. Grant that we and many others may come closer to knowledge of the truth and be at peace about all that belongs in your hands, our Father in heaven. Keep us now and forevermore in your almighty hand. May we know your goodness and the blessing it brings. For through your goodness we can endure even the hardest days and be victorious in the battle of life. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. 
Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity.
 This is good and pleases God our Savior, 
who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth. 
For, There is one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus.
(1 Timothy 2:1-5 NLT emphasis mine)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the one Mediator, Jesus Christ, who can reconcile God and humanity
2. for the ability to let God worry about the things that only He can control
3. that the Lord has redeemed me and snatched me from the power of the grave
4. for my beautiful and good inheritance in Christ
5. for the reality that God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) is actually closer to me than any human being; I pray to know this reality in every waking moment
They trust in their wealth and boast of great riches. 
Yet they cannot redeem themselves from death by paying a ransom to God. 
Redemption does not come so easily, 
for no one can ever pay enough to live forever and never see the grave. . . .  
But as for me, God will redeem my life. 
He will snatch me from the power of the grave.
(Psalms 49:6-9, 15 NLT)

Today’s prayer word is “yes.”

The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.
(Psalms 16:6 ESV)

That verse is tricky, because the reading quotes it from the NKJV, which I don’t have in my Bible program on my PC, and have no desire to pay for. But the NKJV uses the word “yes,” where the ESV says “indeed.” The original KJV says “yea.”

I believe that I can say, along with David, that, yes, I have a beautiful and good inheritance. Truly, the lines have fallen in pleasant places, for me.

I love to cry out “yes!” in praise when I am worshiping the Lord. I say “yes!” to His mercy and grace; “yes!” to His steadfast and unending love; “yes!” to His provision; and “yes!” to His magnificent glory.

But there is another usage of “yes,” that I think needs to be highlighted.

For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding “Yes!” And through Christ, our “Amen” (which means “Yes”) ascends to God for his glory.
(2 Corinthians 1:20 NLT)

You see, God says “yes!” to us, as well. Not in a “name-it-claim-it” prosperity gospel blank check kind of way. But the real and true promises of God are always “yes” in Christ. And that verse brings up another thing that I forgot about. Essentially, the word “amen” means “yes.” In fact, I recall, when listening to the album that propelled Hillsong into the limelight, back in the nineties, (Shout to the Lord) it became apparent that Australian Christians had a tendency to say “yeah,” in place of “amen.”

(From Pray a Word a Day)

Father, I cry out with a resounding “yes!” in praise to You. I praise You for all Your glory, Your magnificence, displayed around the world in Your glorious creation. I praise You for Your unending love, Your infinite mercy and grace. And I also praise You for Your “yes!” in the promises that You have given and their fulfillment in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Yes! Yes! Yes!

Search me, God, and know my heart; 
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
 See if there is any offensive way in me, 
and lead me in the way everlasting.
(Psalms 139:23-24 NIV)

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”
(Matthew 18:21-22 NIV)

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”
(Luke 6:37 NIV)

The main thrust of this topic is forgiveness. We all have the tendency, as humans, to want revenge. Or, perhaps, we want what we consider to be “justice.” Sometimes, our idea of justice is nothing more than revenge wrapped in a different skin. But we’re human, after all, and that’s how we roll.

I love The Message version of the Luke passage.

“Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults—unless, of course, you want the same treatment. Don’t condemn those who are down; that hardness can boomerang. Be easy on people; you’ll find life a lot easier. Give away your life; you’ll find life given back, but not merely given back—given back with bonus and blessing. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity.”
(Luke 6:37-38 MSG)

And wouldn’t you know it? I can tie this all back around to that thing that I keep harping on. Love. And that “golden rule” thing that Jesus talked about. You know the one . . . treat others the way you want to be treated. There’s a thing making the rounds on TikTok, currently. It says, “Turns out when you treat people the way they treat you . . . they get mad.” Well, duh.

We live in an age of unprecedented picking on people, jumping on their failures, and criticizing their faults. Unless, of course, they’re on the same political side as we are. Then, their faults don’t matter. If we were following the commands of Jesus, that wouldn’t be happening. Plain and simple.

This is why I’m paying less and less attention to politics. It’s hard to avoid, sometimes, because it gets right in your face. I just try to move my face.

Just say, “Yes!” to forgiveness and treating people the way you want to be treated. Say “Yes!” to being Christlike.

Father, I pray for us. Not just us in the U.S., but “us” all over the world. I pray for all the people who claim to be following Christ, but insist on disobeying the commands of Jesus to not be judging and picking on people, and treating them the actual opposite of the way they would like to be treated. Help us to love, Father. Help us to say “yes” to forgiveness and love; “yes” to mercy and grace. We love receiving Your mercy and grace; help us to also love dispensing that mercy and grace, and help us, that our mercy and love would be like Yours, infinite and never-ending. I know that’s ultimately impossible, but at least we could try, You know?

Here’s a brief word from Eugene Peterson.

“Worship centers our life. In worship, we let God have the first word. We set the mood of days to come by practicing adoration and praise. We establish a sense of reality in which the ‘great invisibles’ (God, Christ, and Spirit) can be as fresh and present to us in daily life as our family members and workplaces and job lists.”

(From On Living Well)

Okay, just stop for a moment. Can you even imagine that sense of reality of which he speaks? Can you imagine a sense of reality in which Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are as real and fresh to you as your family?? Can I truly conceive of practicing a reality in which God is as close and real to me as my wife, mother, and daughter that live in the same house as me?

But here’s the thing.

He

Is

Closer!

This is reality, folks! God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is literally closer to us than even our families! We just have to enter into a reality where we can feel this and experience it. And this begins, according to Peterson (and I find myself, as usual, in agreement with him), with worship.

Just say “Yes!” to worship!

Father, I pray for the ability to worship You in such a way that leads to this reality. Frank Laubach believed that we could live in such a way as to consider You during every minute of every day (at least the ones in which we are awake). What would our lives look like if we could achieve this? If, during every minute of my waking hours I knew of Your presence within me and all around me, as the prayer of St. Patrick envisions, what would my life look like? I want to know this reality. I desire to live and walk in this reality. Help me to say “yes” to this kind of worship and experience.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

This song wrecks me, every time.

Grace and peace, friends.

My Sins Are Forgiven

Today is Wednesday, the tenth of February, 2021.

Peace be with you!

Day 22,980

Seven days until the beginning of Lent (Ash Wednesday)

It’s cold, here, people! I don’t even care if Canadians make fun of me. It’s 28 degrees, this morning, with a projected high of . . . okay, one app says 36, and another says 47. That’s a pretty big disparity. But still cold. There is a potential for snow showers.

Looking forward, next Sunday night to Monday has a low temperature of somewhere between 12 and 20 degrees, a Monday high of 20 or 31 (I have never seen this much difference between my two “go-to” apps), and a low Monday night of 7 to 17. 63 percent chance of snow on Sunday, 56 percent chance on Monday, and 37 percent chance on Tuesday. There’s a strong chance that I might miss work on one of those days.

Remember when I said I don’t like February? See the above two paragraphs for my reason.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy;

O Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Amen.
(The Prayer of St. Francis)

I love the LORD because he hears my voice and my prayer for mercy. And so I walk in the LORD’s presence as I live here on earth!
(Psalms 116:1, 9 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

  • That I am alive and awake
  • For the heat we have in our home
  • That my sins are forgiven
  • That every day, I am being made new
  • That my sins are forgiven (Yes, I know I already said that . . . think about it)

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

EPIPHANY – DAY 36

INVITATION

Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens. Our God is a God who saves; from the Sovereign LORD comes escape from death.
(Psalms 68:19-20 NIV)

BIBLE SONG

A psalm of David. A petition.

LORD, do not rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your wrath. Your arrows have pierced me, and your hand has come down on me. Because of your wrath there is no health in my body; there is no soundness in my bones because of my sin.
(Psalms 38:1-3 NIV)

LORD, do not forsake me; do not be far from me, my God. Come quickly to help me, my Lord and my Savior.
(Psalms 38:21-22 NIV)

BIBLE READING

A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. They gathered in such large numbers that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. Some men came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”
Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, “Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, “Why are you thinking these things? Which is easier: to say to this paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”
(Mark 2:1-12 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

What can the Spirit show us in a story that has been told and read and re-read so many times?

I find it interesting, in this reading, that Jesus did not do the obvious thing right off the bat. Here are these guys, carrying this paralyzed friend on a rug, digging holes in the ceiling to lower their friend down to where Jesus was. And the first thing Jesus says is, “Your sins are forgiven.”

I believe that is worth pondering. That’s not why his friends brought him there.

But it is the most important thing that Jesus did.

Jesus made it very clear that day that forgiveness of sins is much more important than physical healing. He did proceed to heal the man, to prove to the religious leaders that he had the authority to forgive sins. But the forgiveness was the more important thing.

A large percentage of the prayer requests that I get every day are for physical issues. Most prayer requests in any place, I would venture to guess, are for healing. How many prayer requests do you ever see for forgiveness?

How many “faith forgivers” do you see on television? How many Benny Hinns wave their coat to forgive sins? How many “forgiving services” do you see advertised?

Methinks we focus too much on, not necessarily the wrong thing, but the lesser of the two. Jesus demonstrated that forgiveness of sins was more important than physical healing.

It might be good to also remember a rather strange thing that Jesus said to His disciples, one day.

“If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven. If you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”
(John 20:23 NLT)

Father, I praise You for the forgiveness of sin, made possible by the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I thank You for the eternal Sacrifice, made once and for all. I thank You that we can experience physical blessings and healings, as well, but more importantly, the forgiveness of sins, without which healing would only delay the inevitable. Jesus Christ conquered our biggest enemy, which is death, which was brought on by sin. May we focus more on this, during these days where physical things are so much at the front of our minds. May we experience the greatest gratitude in knowing that our sins are forgiven.

"Unique Savior and Lord:
there is no one like you, Jesus - 
true God and truly human.
You alone are the one who sets me
completely free,
making me right with God,
healing body and soul.
With amazed wonder,
I praise you.
Amen."
(Heidelberg Catechism 18, 34)

BLESSING

The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.”
(Jeremiah 31:3 NIV)

Walk with the wise and become wise; associate with fools and get in trouble.
(Proverbs 13:20 NLT)

Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers.
(Psalms 1:1 NLT)

Everything is pure to those whose hearts are pure. But nothing is pure to those who are corrupt and unbelieving, because their minds and consciences are corrupted.
(Titus 1:15 NLT)

That last verse is worth pondering, I believe.

And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.” And he also said, “It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega—the Beginning and the End. To all who are thirsty I will give freely from the springs of the water of life. All who are victorious will inherit all these blessings, and I will be their God, and they will be my children.
(Revelation 21:5-7 NLT)

How we would like to see things made new! “A new car, maybe a new home, certainly some new clothes.” Might as well keep going, right? New neighbors, new weather (especially in February), new politics (no politics??), world peace, the list could go on.

But notice that God, in this passage, does not say, “I will make all things new.” He says, “I make all things new,” (or, depending on the translation, “I am making everything new.”) It is present tense!

“If he is already doing it, why are so many things old and worn out? Why are we so quickly bored with things? Could it be that we have once again missed the point of the Word of God?”

To put us back on track, Eugene Peterson points to Isaiah 43.

“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. The wild beasts will honor me, the jackals and the ostriches, for I give water in the wilderness, rivers in the desert, to give drink to my chosen people, the people whom I formed for myself that they might declare my praise.”
(Isaiah 43:18-21 ESV)

He then reminds us of a word from Paul, in Corinthians.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.
(2 Corinthians 5:17-18 ESV)

Certainly, when God speaks in Revelation, His meaning must be the same as Isaiah’s and Paul’s. “God is with men and women in Christ, meeting them personally, forgiving their sins, and filling them with eternal life. The new is that which God brings to humanity now – the new is now.”

(From This Hallelujah Banquet, by Eugene H. Peterson)

Father, today’s topic is heavy on forgiveness of sin. I have thanked You for that, and do it again. You have shown me, this morning, how much more importance forgiveness is than anything else. You have shown me that this is how we are constantly being made new! Every day, the sins that I have committed that day are already washed away by the sacrifice of Jesus. Every day, I receive new life in Him by His resurrection! Help me to celebrate this today, and share it, as opportunity arises.

Lord, I praise You and thank You for the joy of resurrection and forgiveness. May we, Your children, find eternal hope in these thoughts and truths. Help us all to do a better job of sharing the “evangel” with the world. Help us to be “earth angels.”

I pray for peace in our nation, peace in our world. I pray for racial injustice to end, and I pray for the pandemic to be over. Above all else, though, I pray for Your will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven. For Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
(Romans 12:12 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

The Past Is Gone

Today is Sunday, January 17, 2021, the second Sunday after Epiphany.

Peace be with you!

Day 22,956

I lost 2.2 pounds at my weigh-in at WW, yesterday morning, which negated the weight gain over the previous two weeks. I know need to lose 1.4 to hit that 100 pound mark! But I am not hyper-focused on that. I know I will get there, and beyond, so it’s really not important when that happens.

I have a doctor checkup in a little over a month. I’m hoping that my meds will be reduced, this time. I’m also hoping that, when I go back again this coming August, maybe, just maybe I’ll be able to get off of the diabetes medication, at least.

As far as my final weight goal, I don’t have a projected time frame on that, just yet, although it would be nice to be there by the end of 2021.

The rest of yesterday was pretty much nothing. I did spend some time messing with ProTools, but nothing productive happened. I also played the guitar for a few minutes. My fingers have gotten so soft, that was all I could do. Small steps, right?

C is feeling better, this morning, she says. She is hoping to get a walk in today. I’m supposed to get a new pair of New Balance walking shoes today. If they fit, I plan on getting back on the treadmill for a walk.

We have our Zoom worship gathering, this morning at 10:15. We will be beginning with Acts 24. We usually manage to make it through a couple of chapters. We should finish Acts next Sunday. So far, there has been no talk of where to go next.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Praise God from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, you heavenly hosts;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
(Traditional Doxology)

Today I am grateful:

  • That I am alive and breathing
  • That I am immersed in Christ, and the Holy Spirit dwells within me
  • That You show no favoritism (and expect the same from us)
  • That in Christ, You have not only forgiven my sins, You have changed my past: my sins are not just forgiven . . . they are GONE
  • For our future in Christ, for our reward in heaven, unchanging, imperishable, and eternal

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

EPIPHANY – DAY 12

INVITATION

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

BIBLE SONG

A psalm of David.

LORD, who may dwell in your sacred tent? Who may live on your holy mountain?

The one whose walk is blameless, who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from their heart;
whose tongue utters no slander, who does no wrong to a neighbor, and casts no slur on others;
who despises a vile person but honors those who fear the LORD; who keeps an oath even when it hurts, and does not change their mind;
who lends money to the poor without interest; who does not accept a bribe against the innocent.

Whoever does these things will never be shaken.
(Psalms 15:1-5 NIV)

BIBLE READING

While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”
They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”
So Paul asked, “Then what baptism did you receive?”
“John’s baptism,” they replied.
Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied. There were about twelve men in all.
(Acts 19:1-7 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I try to “dwell” in these passages, there are mixed thoughts and feelings. Psalm 15 has always unsettled me a bit. It sounds like you have to be perfect to “dwell in [God’s] sacred tent.”

A blameless walk; only doing what is righteous; speaking truth from the heart; uttering no slander; doing no wrong to a neighbor; casting no slur on others. That’s a hefty list, there.

And then there’s that bit about despising a vile person. That seems to fly straight against everything Jesus teaches us.

But wait, there’s more. Keep your oaths, and even it hurts or causes you loss, don’t change your mind. Lend money to the poor without charging them interest, and don’t take bribes against the innocent.

I won’t try to reconcile all of this, today. I’m not that wise. But I will say that I believe that, in Christ, if we truly follow Him and walk with Him, then we can fulfill these requirements. My walk is “blameless,” if I am following Jesus, because my sins are forgiven, cast as far as the east is from the west. (For more discussion on that topic, see this previous blog post.)

I will say that I have caught myself loathing one whom I perceive as “vile.” But it makes me feel uncomfortable. Because Jesus says to love my enemies. I think that’s one of the reasons that we struggle with the psalms that fall in the category of “imprecatory.” You know, the ones that call upon God to bring down judgment or curses on our enemies. Psalm 137 is a classic.

Daughter Babylon, doomed to destruction, happy is the one who repays you according to what you have done to us. Happy is the one who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks.
(Psalms 137:8-9 NIV)

I could never pray for that to happen to anyone!

The other passage, at least this morning, doesn’t draw me in, really. I do note the difference between John’s baptism and the baptism in Jesus.

John’s baptism was one of repentance. That is what he called the people toward. “Repentance” is often misconstrued as only being sorry. That’s not the only meaning of the word. I am not called to simply be sorry for my sins. I am called to turn around, to go a different direction. To change my mind about something.

In John’s case, he called people to change their direction, in preparation for the One who was coming, who would bring the Gospel.

The baptism of Jesus is one of freedom. In Jesus, because we have repented, changed our minds, turned around, we are forgiven and free. We are also empowered by the indwelling Holy Spirit.

I’m sure an official “theologian” could do much better than me at explaining this.

Father, I thank You for the two baptisms. I thank You for the call to repentance, which can only be successful if You gift me with the act of repentance. I cannot do this in my own strength, because, if left on my own volition, I would continue down a path of sin. As it is, I still struggle with sin, even in my redeemed state. If it were not for Your grace and gift of repentance, my path would be totally wrong. I thank You for the forgiveness of sins in Jesus, and for the freedom that His baptism provides. I also praise You that, in Christ, as You look at me, You see one who is wearing the righteousness of Him, and therefore, walks blamelessly. May my walk truly be blameless, though, that I might be worthy of the name of Jesus.

"Abba Father,
I praise you that I enjoy
all the freedom and privilege
of being your child - 
your name,
the spirit of adoption,
unhindered access to you.
I'm pitied,
protected,
and provided for,
disciplined but never cast off,
kept for eternity where I will
inherit the promise of your everlasting salvation.
Amen."
(Westminster Confession 12)

BLESSING

The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.
(Romans 8:15-16 NIV)

My dear brothers and sisters, how can you claim to have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favor some people over others?
(James 2:1 NLT)

“For the LORD your God is the God of gods and Lord of lords. He is the great God, the mighty and awesome God, who shows no partiality and cannot be bribed.”
(Deuteronomy 10:17 NLT)

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The LORD doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”
(1 Samuel 16:7 NLT)

But if you favor some people over others, you are committing a sin. You are guilty of breaking the law. For the person who keeps all of the laws except one is as guilty as a person who has broken all of God’s laws.
(James 2:9-10 NLT)

Let’s go back and consider Psalm 15 again. Specifically that part about walking blamelessly.

When Jesus turned water into wine, His first recorded miracle, He did more than change the flavor of the water. He even did more than change the molecular structure of the liquid.

He changed its past!

You see, good wine (I’m not a wine connoisseur, by any stretch . . . not even that fond of it) has to age. It has a past. When Jesus turned the water into wine, He gave it a new past.

Can a piece of cloth that has been dyed with color be turned white again? I think that would be very difficult, if not impossible. That cloth’s past is, by human terms, permanent.

Yet, in Christ, something happens to us, something miraculous.

“If God can give a past where there was no past, then He can remove a past where there once was one.”

When our sins are forgiven, something more happens. We aren’t just forgiven. Our past is changed! “God doesn’t just forgive the scarlet cord or pretend it isn’t scarlet. He changes its past and, by that, changes its reality. He undyes it.” (Emphasis mine)

When I was growing up, I used to hear a preacher say, in defining the justification of God, that being justified meant that it was “just as if I’d” never sinned. Clever and cute.

And also not quite accurate.

This is important. Perhaps more important than I have ever realized until this morning.

“It’s not just as if we never sinned but in His redemption, it has become that we’ve never sinned. In salvation, the impossible becomes the reality, the guilty become innocent, the tainted become pure, the rejected become those who were always beloved children, and our sins, which were scarlet, become . . . as white as snow.” (Emphasis by author)

The Mission: Soak in the undyeing. Receive from heaven your changed, innocent, pure, and beloved past, a past as beautiful and as white as snow.”

And maybe this sheds a little more light on the difference between John’s baptism and Jesus’s.

“Come now, let’s settle this,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool.”
(Isaiah 1:18 NLT)

When a certain immoral woman from that city heard he was eating there, she brought a beautiful alabaster jar filled with expensive perfume. Then she knelt behind him at his feet, weeping. Her tears fell on his feet, and she wiped them off with her hair. Then she kept kissing his feet and putting perfume on them.
When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know what kind of woman is touching him. She’s a sinner!”
Then Jesus answered his thoughts. “Simon,” he said to the Pharisee, “I have something to say to you.”
“Go ahead, Teacher,” Simon replied.
Then Jesus told him this story: “A man loaned money to two people—500 pieces of silver to one and 50 pieces to the other. But neither of them could repay him, so he kindly forgave them both, canceling their debts. Who do you suppose loved him more after that?”
Simon answered, “I suppose the one for whom he canceled the larger debt.”
“That’s right,” Jesus said. Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Look at this woman kneeling here. When I entered your home, you didn’t offer me water to wash the dust from my feet, but she has washed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You didn’t greet me with a kiss, but from the time I first came in, she has not stopped kissing my feet. You neglected the courtesy of olive oil to anoint my head, but she has anointed my feet with rare perfume.
“I tell you, her sins—and they are many—have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.”
(Luke 7:37-47 NLT)

For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.
(2 Corinthians 5:21 NLT)

If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.
(1 John 1:8-9 NLT)

Father, this truth is affecting me, this morning. Perhaps I have never considered that, in freeing me from my sins, in forgiveness, that You literally changed my past. It is not as if I had never sinned. The fact that I sinned was erased! My feeble brain cannot wrap itself around this truth very easily. I need time to consider it, ponder it, chew on it. But I thank You and praise You for the truth. Help me to live in it and walk in it, as well!

Lord, as we cry out to You, may You uncover the idols that reside in my heart. If there is anything in my life that takes precedent over loving You, please remove it. May I truly know and experience Your forgiveness, and may I also be faithful in extending that same forgiveness to anyone who has wronged me in any way. Help me to show the same kind of grace that has been extended to me. I thank You, Father, for the gifts and fruit of the Holy Spirit.

I pray for peace in our nation, peace in our world. I pray for racial injustice to end, and I pray for the pandemic to be over. Above all else, though, I pray for Your will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven. For Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Even so, come, 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.

Like the Morning Mist

Today is Friday, December 11, 2020, in the second week of Advent.

Peace be with you

Day 22,919

Fifteen days until Christmas!

We got more sad news, yesterday. This will, of course, be deemed silly by some folks, but we don’t think it is silly at all. One of our favorite podcasts, My Favorite Murder, is hosted by Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark. There are two things that famously happen at the end of each episode. One is that they sign off with their tagline, “Stay sexy and don’t get murdered!” The other is Georgia says, “Elvis, want a cookie?” To which Elvis always replies with some variation of “Mreow!”

Elvis, possibly one of the most beloved cats that has ever existed, has passed away. He apparently became quite ill earlier this week, and we learned, via Georgia’s Instagram feed, that he was not going to get better. His demise was announced yesterday, and thousands of fans grieve along with her. She still has Mimi and Dot, though. Perhaps one of them can step up and fill Elvis’s shoes, but I’m skeptical.

In other news, I had a great session with my therapist, yesterday. I talked a lot, about a wide variety of subjects, some of which I had jotted down in a notebook, as the week progressed. There were some good days and some not-so-good days (“ungood?”), during the week, and we tried to nail down what made the not-so-good days not-so good. There were no significant breakthroughs in this early session, but she did express the opinion that some of my issues of procrastination (especially involving some of my non-accomplishments over the years) might be due to a fear of failure. We will have to examine that further, in future weeks.

I also discussed the suicide of one of my best friends, back in our junior year of high school. Interestingly, she seemed visibly shaken when I told that story. I am sure that the trauma that I still carry with me, over forty years later, has had drastic effects on me.

In an attitude of what I consider to be extreme kindness, Dr. Avila wanted to insure that I was not going to return to work with a cloud of sadness lingering over me, after discussing that event. I assured her that I would be fine, and I was. Honestly, I felt as though I were walking on air for the rest of the afternoon. If I had known that therapy would feel this good, I would have done it years ago.

She also encouraged me to continue the journaling of my days and feelings, and to add to that, if possible, what I was doing when my mood seemed to inexplicably shift.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

God, give me grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.

Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.

Amen.

Scriptures and Prayers from The Divine Hours

Know that the LORD, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
(Psalms 100:3 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. That today is Friday
  2. For a good cup of coffee
  3. For Your infinite grace, which causes our sin to vanish like the morning mist
  4. That You are my strength and shield
  5. That You are the God who works wonders

Lead me, O LORD, in your righteousness; . . . make your way straight before me.
(Psalms 5:8 ESV)

Save us, we pray, O LORD! O LORD, we pray, give us success!
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD! We bless you from the house of the LORD.
The LORD is God, and he has made his light to shine upon us. Bind the festal sacrifice with cords, up to the horns of the altar!
(Psalms 118:25-27 ESV)

Let not those who hope in you be put to shame through me, O Lord GOD of hosts; let not those who seek you be brought to dishonor through me, O God of Israel.
(Psalms 69:6 ESV)

As the people were in expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Christ, John answered them all, saying, “I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”
So with many other exhortations he preached good news to the people.
(Luke 3:15-18 ESV)

Blessed be the LORD! For he has heard the voice of my pleas for mercy.
The LORD is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.
The LORD is the strength of his people; he is the saving refuge of his anointed.
Oh, save your people and bless your heritage! Be their shepherd and carry them forever.
(Psalms 28:6-9 ESV)

Make haste, O God, to deliver me! O LORD, make haste to help me!
(Psalms 70:1 ESV)

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.
"Merciful God,
who sent your messengers the prophets
to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation:
Grant us grace to heed
their warnings and forsake our sins,
that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ
our Redeemer;
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)

Advent: Prepare For The Coming Of The Word

Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the LORD your God, who teaches you to profit, who leads you in the way you should go. Oh that you had paid attention to my commandments! Then your peace would have been like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea; your offspring would have been like the sand, and your descendants like its grains; their name would never be cut off or destroyed from before me.”
(Isaiah 48:17-19 ESV)

“But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their playmates,
“‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’
For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.”
(Matthew 11:16-19 ESV)

All who fashion idols are nothing, and the things they delight in do not profit. Their witnesses neither see nor know, that they may be put to shame. Who fashions a god or casts an idol that is profitable for nothing? Behold, all his companions shall be put to shame, and the craftsmen are only human. Let them all assemble, let them stand forth. They shall be terrified; they shall be put to shame together.
(Isaiah 44:9-11 ESV)

Remember these things, O Jacob, and Israel, for you are my servant; I formed you; you are my servant; O Israel, you will not be forgotten by me. I have blotted out your transgressions like a cloud and your sins like mist; return to me, for I have redeemed you. Sing, O heavens, for the LORD has done it; shout, O depths of the earth; break forth into singing, O mountains, O forest, and every tree in it! For the LORD has redeemed Jacob, and will be glorified in Israel.
(Isaiah 44:21-23 ESV)

The NLT renders verse 22, “I have swept away your sins like a cloud. I have scattered your offenses like the morning mist.”

Just as Israel struggled over and over with idolatry, I, as I’m sure many of you do, struggle with repeating the same sins over and over.

How many of us have wondered if God would still continue to forgive the same sin, when we keep repeating it, almost mindlessly.

All through Scripture, we get assurances that, yes, He will. And Jesus implies this when he tells Peter that he must forgive his brother for the same sin, even if he comes back to him seven times in the same day!

Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”
(Luke 17:3-4 ESV)

Jennifer Benson Schuldt, in Our Daily Bread, says: “I don’t fully grasp forgiveness like that, but I do understand that God’s grace is the only thing that can dissolve our sin completely and heal us from it. I’m thankful His grace is endless and divine like He is, and that it’s available whenever we need it.”

Just as God swept away Israel’s sin “like the morning mist,” God forgives our many sins, as His grace is endless.

Your way, O God, is holy. What god is great like our God?
You are the God who works wonders; you have made known your might among the peoples.
(Psalms 77:13-14 ESV)

Father, I praise You for Your marvelous, infinite, matchless grace. Grace that redeems our sin and our guilt; grace that washes away our sins like the gentle breeze blows away the morning mist that hovers over the ground. Let us never take Your grace for granted (O, but we do!), and forgive us when we do. Show us Your face, Lord, today, show us Your truth. Teach me to live, Father, and walk in the grace and mercy of Jesus, every minute of every day.

I pray for peace in our nation, peace in our world. I pray for racial injustice to end, and I pray for the pandemic to be over. Above all else, though, I pray for Your will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven. For Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.

Worship Him; Imitate Him

Today is Monday, October 19, 2020. Peace be with you!

Day 22,866

38 days until Thanksgiving (our next holiday in the U.S.)

And it’s back to work, this morning. I won’t cry about it. I am mildly apprehensive, however, as I have no idea what I will be walking into. Two different people were covering for me while I was gone. One is fairly knowledgeable, but the other is relatively new. I figure I will have several hundred emails to plow through to begin the day. More than half of them will be deleted, as they will be unnecessary “alert” emails, telling me that expedites have been submitted.

C is working from home today. She is feeling some better, but not 100%, yet. They do have the ability to work from home, on occasion, so she will take advantage of that today. Honestly, it doesn’t make sense that they have to go to the office, anyway. They go in to their offices, shut the door, and have Zoom meetings. Or Microsoft Teams. Or one of those. Seems silly to have to actually go to the office for that.

I have Facebook and email closed, this morning, as I start off. I am following through with what I was convicted about, yesterday morning, about being distracted during these Scripture reading and prayer times. So here we go.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

He Himself is my contemplation;
He is my delight.
Him for His own sake
I seek above me;
from Him Himself I feed within me.
He is the field in which I labour.
He is the fruit for which I labour.
He is my cause;
He is my effect.
He is my beginning;
He is my end without end.
He is, for me, eternity.
(Isaac of Stella)

Scriptures and Prayers from The Divine Hours

My mouth is filled with your praise, and with your glory all the day.
Do not cast me off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength is spent.
(Psalms 71:8-9 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. That I have a job to go to this morning (at least I think I do . . . I guess I’ll find out when I get there)
  2. For the safety and security that I feel in Your presence
  3. That You are the God who saves me, and that my hope is in You, all day long (Psalm 25:5)
  4. For the Holy Spirit, who is with us always and will never leave us
  5. For the privilege of worshiping You, which makes us more like You

O LORD, God of my salvation; I cry out day and night before you.
Let my prayer come before you; incline your ear to my cry!
(Psalms 88:1-2 ESV)

Show me the right path, O LORD; point out the road for me to follow.
Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you.
(Psalms 25:4-5 NLT)

Salvation belongs to the LORD; your blessing be on your people! Selah.
(Psalms 3:8 ESV)

And when Jesus had finished these parables, he went away from there, and coming to his hometown he taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, “Where did this man get this wisdom and these mighty works? Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.” And he did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief.
(Matthew 13:53-58 ESV)

Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers.
But they delight in the law of the LORD, meditating on it day and night.
They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do.
But not the wicked! They are like worthless chaff, scattered by the wind.
They will be condemned at the time of judgment. Sinners will have no place among the godly.
For the LORD watches over the path of the godly, but the path of the wicked leads to destruction.
(Psalms 1:1-6 NLT)

 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.
"Merciful God,
who sent your messengers the prophets
to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation:
Grant us grace to heed
their warnings and forsake our sins,
that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ
our Redeemer;
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)

Two others, both criminals, were led out to be executed with him. When they came to a place called The Skull, they nailed him to the cross. And the criminals were also crucified—one on his right and one on his left.
Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” And the soldiers gambled for his clothes by throwing dice.
(Luke 23:32-34 NLT)

By this time it was about noon, and darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock. The light from the sun was gone. And suddenly, the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn down the middle. Then Jesus shouted, “Father, I entrust my spirit into your hands!” And with those words he breathed his last.
(Luke 23:44-46 NLT)

May we, like Jesus, be able to forgive those who wrong us, just as He taught us to pray in the “Lord’s Prayer,” “Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you.
(John 14:16-17 NLT)

This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”
(Joshua 1:9 NLT)

When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul.
(Psalms 94:19 ESV)

Praise the LORD.
I will extol the LORD with all my heart in the council of the upright and in the assembly.
Great are the works of the LORD; they are pondered by all who delight in them.
Glorious and majestic are his deeds, and his righteousness endures forever.
He has caused his wonders to be remembered; the LORD is gracious and compassionate.
He provides food for those who fear him; he remembers his covenant forever.
He has shown his people the power of his works, giving them the lands of other nations.
The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy.
They are established for ever and ever, enacted in faithfulness and uprightness.
He provided redemption for his people; he ordained his covenant forever— holy and awesome is his name.
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise.
(Psalms 111:1-10 NIV)

I like the sequence of these seemingly unrelated readings. The first three (under the purple line) came from Daily Guideposts 2020. The Psalm 111 reading, from The Songs of Jesus.

First, we get the promise of the Holy Spirit, from Jesus. We know that this has been fulfilled, as we have seen what happened on Pentecost, in Acts chapter 2. In addition, we, as believers in Jesus, have experienced this Holy Spirit in our own lives.

Then we have the admonition and promise from Joshua 1:9. Be strong; be courageous; do not fear. Why? Because “the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” And this is true in the person of the Holy Spirit.

This may be a truth that cannot be over-emphasized. Because of the indwelling Holy Spirit, the Lord truly is with us wherever we go. The truth of Psalm 139 becomes that much more real to us.

Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
(Psalms 139:7-8 NIV)

These are only some of the “consolations” of which Psalm 94:19 speaks.

Then, Psalm 111 describes our God to us, in great detail.

We are created, according to Genesis, in the image of God. What does this mean? For one thing, it means that “we were made to relate to Him and reflect back to Him His own character.” In order to do this, we need to know about this character and what it looks like.

We learn from Psalm 111 that He works and creates (verse 2). We learn that He is righteous (verse 3), gracious and compassionate (verses 4-5), faithful and just, and a God of truth (verses 7-8). Then, in verse 9, we learn that “He is a God of integrity, who keeps His promises.”

How do we reflect this character back to Him? Some of that will be shown in the next psalm, tomorrow. But, for now, we can see verse 10, and know that “the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom,” and that “all who follow His precepts have good understanding.”

The truth is, we become like that which we worship.

So we worship God, that we may become more like Him.

“Lord, I may say my prayers and obey Your commands, but it is true worship and adoration that will actually change me. Don’t let me settle for the shallows of mere religious compliance. Fill me with the joyful fear that comes as we seek Your face. Amen.”

(From The Songs of Jesus, by Timothy and Kathy Keller)

Father, as I worship You today, make me a little more like You. Help me to become like You as I worship You, and I also pray that I will not settle for shallow waters. Send me into the deep waters, Lord, where I will be bathed in Your presence and in Your Holy Spirit.

I pray for peace in our nation, peace in our world. I pray for racial injustice to end, and I pray for the pandemic to be over. Above all else, though, I pray for Your will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven. For Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Let the words of my mouth 
and the meditation of my heart
 be acceptable in your sight, 
O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.
(Psalms 19:14 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Forgive

Today is Thursday (pre-Friday), September 24, 2020. Peace be with you!

Day 22,841 (for any new readers who have stumbled into this place, that’s how many days since I was born)

Seventeen days until our Broken Bow vacation; eighteen days until our 35th wedding anniversary!

And only a week left in October! Wow. Time flies, even in a pandemic! (Thanks to Boromax for pointing out that little slip. I either meant “a week left in September” or “a week left till October.” Haha!)

It’s hard to believe it, but the “baseball season,” such as it has been (from my perspective, it has been neither “baseball” nor a “season”), is over this weekend. The Rangers have their last game Sunday. They are having a virtual Fan Appreciation Day, so I just registered for it. Maybe I will get a gift.

Both the Rangers and the Red Sox will finish dead last in their respective divisions. But not worst in MLB. Unless something changes in the next couple days, that honor will stay with the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Rangers are just barely above them, though, and the Sox are fourth worst, just ahead of Arizona and Texas. Oh, wait. They’re tied with Arizona for third worst. Hahaha!

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

You are my Shepherd,
Therefore, I lack for nothing; I have everything I need.
You give me peace and rest by leading me away from 
the hustle and madness of the crowds.
You refresh my soul.
You lead me down the right path,
to the glory of Your name.
Even though my journey takes me through deep darkness,
troubles, and world-wide pandemics,
I will fear no evil,
because You are with me!
Knowing that You are present at all times comforts me.
You bless me right in front of non-believers,
and I will share those blessings with them.
You have chosen me for a purpose,
and anointed me for that purpose.
My cup truly overflows, spilling onto all around me.
Your grace and mercy will follow me and surround me,
all the days of my life, and beyond,
as I dwell in Your house for all eternity.
Thank you, my Savior and my Shepherd!
(My version of Psalm 23)

Scriptures and Prayers from The Divine Hours

Know that the LORD, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
(Psalms 100:3 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. That You are my Shepherd and I am Your sheep
  2. That my hope is both in You and from You (Psalm 62:6)
  3. That Your decrees and testimonies are trustworthy (Psalm 93:6)
  4. For forgiveness, past, present, and future
  5. For the strength and grace to forgive others, daily

For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him.
(Psalms 62:5 ESV)

Your decrees are very trustworthy; holiness befits your house, O LORD, forevermore.
(Psalms 93:5 ESV)

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD! We bless you from the house of the LORD.
(Psalms 118:26 ESV)

And again he said, “To what shall I compare the kingdom of God? It is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, until it was all leavened.”
(Luke 13:20-21 ESV)

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas. O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
(Psalms 8:3-9 ESV)

Make haste, O God, to deliver me! O LORD, make haste to help me!
(Psalms 70:1 ESV)

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.
"Merciful God,
who sent your messengers the prophets
to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation:
Grant us grace to heed
their warnings and forsake our sins,
that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ
our Redeemer;
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)

They refused to obey and were not mindful of the wonders that you performed among them, but they stiffened their neck and appointed a leader to return to their slavery in Egypt. But you are a God ready to forgive, gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and did not forsake them.
(Nehemiah 9:17 ESV)

Therefore you gave them into the hand of their enemies, who made them suffer. And in the time of their suffering they cried out to you and you heard them from heaven, and according to your great mercies you gave them saviors who saved them from the hand of their enemies. But after they had rest they did evil again before you, and you abandoned them to the hand of their enemies, so that they had dominion over them. Yet when they turned and cried to you, you heard from heaven, and many times you delivered them according to your mercies. And you warned them in order to turn them back to your law. Yet they acted presumptuously and did not obey your commandments, but sinned against your rules, which if a person does them, he shall live by them, and they turned a stubborn shoulder and stiffened their neck and would not obey. Many years you bore with them and warned them by your Spirit through your prophets. Yet they would not give ear. Therefore you gave them into the hand of the peoples of the lands. Nevertheless, in your great mercies you did not make an end of them or forsake them, for you are a gracious and merciful God.
(Nehemiah 9:27-31 ESV)

There are other places in Scripture where the same message is presented. Over and over in the book of Judges, it says, “The people of Israel again did what was evil in the sight of the LORD.”

But the clear message of the Word is that God always forgives. The “final Word was Jesus,” (as Michael Card sings) and He brought that forgiveness to all peoples.

No matter how bad we have been, no matter how many times we mess up, all we need do is repent and return to His path (or step into it for the first time), and all is forgiven. In fact, the Word seems to indicate that, once we begin following Jesus, all sins, past, present, and future, are forgiven!

And then that mode of forgiveness is expected of us!

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.
(Colossians 3:12-13 ESV)

For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
(Matthew 6:14-15 ESV)

Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”
(Luke 17:3-4 ESV)

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
(Ephesians 4:31-32 ESV)

Can it be any more clear? We, as followers of Jesus, are commanded to forgive others, just as He has forgiven us. It is not optional. This is not “interpretation” or opinion. It is factual.

And, no. It is most certainly not easy. But, just like playing guitar and piano, if you practice, it becomes more natural.

Father, there are not enough words to thank You for forgiveness. You forgave us initially, and You continue to forgive us, over and over again, because we keep forgetting Who we belong to and stepping off of the path to do our own thing. Such great love You have for us! My love for You is sketchy, at best. Sometimes, I even hesitate to say that I love You, because maybe I haven’t acted like it, lately. But I do. Thank You for giving us the ability and strength to forgive others just as Jesus forgave us. Prompt us by Your Spirit, to keep doing so. Remind us, when someone else does us wrong, no matter how severe, that we are to forgive as we are forgiven.

I pray for peace in our nation, peace in our world. I pray for racial injustice to end, and I pray for the pandemic to be over. Above all else, though, I pray for Your will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven. For Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Let the words of my mouth 
and the meditation of my heart
 be acceptable in your sight, 
O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.
(Psalms 19:14 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

He Cares for You

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?
(Psalms 8:3-4 ESV)

Today is Monday, July 13, 2020. Peace be with you!

22,768

37 days until S’s birthday!

We had a good day yesterday, nice and restful, peaceful. Our virtual worship gathering was good, as we started doing something different. Well . . . we’re already doing something “different” from most churches, but this was even different for us.

The wife of our host family and I had been chatting about something over the past couple of weeks, as some of us are going through some Bible reading plans on Revelation, in this app called “YouVersion.” Both of us had noticed Revelation 1:3, which says, “Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near.”

Last year, at some point, several of us read a book by Francis Chan, called Letters to the Church. The book chronicles Chan’s conviction to ditch the “normal” mega-church model and begin a bunch of house churches in Northern California. It is the book that inspired The Exchange to begin meeting in house churches.

In this book, Chan recounts how they took that verse from Revelation seriously, and just started reading it. Straight through, from start to finish. As we were listening to these Bible reading plans, some of us thought that might be a good idea. No one acted on it until yesterday.

It was Brandon’s turn to lead, but, at some point during the week, he asked Kristin if she would like to. She agreed, and began our reading through Revelation. We read through three chapters, with some good discussion on what we saw/heard there. We will continue, next Sunday, when it’s my turn, starting back up with chapter 4, which is where it gets really interesting, because that’s where the “rapture” discussions begin.

After church, I went out and got us Subway and Sonic drinks for lunch while C prepared the Basque Chicken dish in the crock pot. It turned out to be not nearly as good this time, and we aren’t exactly sure why. I don’t even think we’re going to eat the leftovers.

You win some and you lose some, right.

I also owe my mother an apology, as I completely forgot to call her yesterday. I will call this evening.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

"Father, I abandon myself
into your hands.
Do with me what you will.
Whatever you may do, I thank you.
I am ready for all, I accept all.
Let only your will be done in me
and in all your creatures.
I wish no more than this, O Lord.
Into your hands I commend my soul.
I offer it to you with all the love of my heart,
for I love you, Lord,
and so need to give myself,
to surrender myself into your hands
without reserve
and with boundless confidence,
for you are my Father."
Charles de Foucauld

O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise. For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
(Psalms 51:15-17 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. For the Church, both worldwide and local
  2. For the promise of blessing to those who read Revelation aloud
  3. That Your steadfast love extends to the heavens, and Your faithfulness to the clouds, and that we can take refuge in the shadow of Your wings (Psalm 36)
  4. That nothing is too difficult for You
  5. That You are mindful of us (Psalm 8)

With my whole heart I cry; answer me, O LORD! I will keep your statutes.
(Psalms 119:145 ESV)

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.
(Psalms 19:14 ESV)

O Lord, may this be true for me today!

Blessed are you, O LORD; teach me your statutes!
(Psalms 119:12 ESV)

“Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”
(Luke 17:3-4 ESV)

There are several variations of this command in the Gospels. Here, in Luke, we are told that if someone sins against us seven times in the same day, we are to forgive him. It is my opinion that this is an arbitrary number, and that Jesus simply is telling us that the number of times is irrelevant. We are to forgive one another. Period.

Your steadfast love, O LORD, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds. Your righteousness is like the mountains of God; your judgments are like the great deep; man and beast you save, O LORD. How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights. For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light. Oh, continue your steadfast love to those who know you, and your righteousness to the upright of heart!
(Psalms 36:5-10 ESV)

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.
"Merciful God,
who sent your messengers the prophets
to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation:
Grant us grace to heed
their warnings and forsake our sins,
that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ
our Redeemer;
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)

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?
(Psalms 8:3-4 ESV)

And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there.
(Revelation 21:22-25 ESV)

But he said, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.”
(Luke 18:27 ESV)

He is your praise. He is your God, who has done for you these great and terrifying things that your eyes have seen.
(Deuteronomy 10:21 ESV)

“Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me?”
(Jeremiah 32:27 ESV)

Help us, God our Savior, for the glory of your name; deliver us and forgive our sins for your name’s sake. Why should the nations say, “Where is their God?” Before our eyes, make known among the nations that you avenge the outpoured blood of your servants. May the groans of the prisoners come before you; with your strong arm preserve those condemned to die. Pay back into the laps of our neighbors seven times the contempt they have hurled at you, Lord. Then we your people, the sheep of your pasture, will praise you forever; from generation to generation we will proclaim your praise.
(Psalms 79:9-13 NIV)

I am frequently astonished when I read Psalm 8. I read that question; you know the one. “what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?”

And it frequently happens as, as the psalmist also says, “when I consider . . . the moon and stars.” When I am able to look up at the “heavens” from a vantage point where there is little to no light pollution, say the upper deck of our favorite cabin in Glen Rose, I feel very tiny and insignificant.

Then I remember that the One who created the heavens, the moon, the stars, and gave each them a name, cares for me. He cares for us.

This is astonishing. I honestly don’t understand why everyone on the planet does not revel in this truth.

And then, speaking of Revelation, we get a small glimpse of what our eternal home will look like. The glory of our God will be so bright that the sun, moon, and stars will no longer be necessary. He is our Light! His glory is bright enough to light all of eternity.

And He cares for us.

I am going to ponder that simple truth as I walk through this day. I invite you to do so with me.

O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth! Truthfully, when I look up, into the night sky, and see the multitude of stars and planets, I am amazed that You care for us and for me. I praise You for this truth, and I pray that it causes me to walk humbly before You today.

I pray for peace in our nation, peace in our world. I pray for racial injustice to end, and I pray for the pandemic to be over. Above all else, though, I pray for Your will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven. For Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.
(Jude 1:24-25 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Forgiven

Today is Saturday, August 31, 2019. Blessings to you!!

Day 22,451

It’s officially Labor Day weekend. The holiday is still two days away, but the weekend is here. So, for the next countdown . . .

42 days until our Galveston vacation!!!

It was a good Friday (not THE Good Friday) at work, yesterday. Just like last Friday, we managed to get done by 5:00 PM. And we were down a person! So that’s pretty good.

We had to replace our garbage disposal last night. A couple days ago, C discovered the cabinet under the sink to be covered in water. She finally found that the leak was coming from the disposal, and it was leaking right where the electrical cord went in. Lucky we caught that when we did! So we have a new one, professionally installed, along with some replaced pipes under there that had gotten somewhat gunked up over the last twenty years.

Today will be busy, but should be good. We plan to go pick up the cargo van from U-Haul at 10:00 AM, come home, load the table and chairs into it, and head to Denton. There we will deliver said table and chairs, after which we will finally have the delayed birthday celebrations with S and J, from earlier this month. Their birthdays fall on the same day. Where lunch will be had is TBD.

After we get home and drop off the van, we should have a little time to chill, after which C and S will head to Hwy 55 Burgers for dinner with other ladies from the church. I will head over to Jacob’s house for a cookout. I need to grab something to take, perhaps potato salad, perhaps a dessert of some kind. Ooh! I just thought of ice cream. Ice cream would be a great dessert. Surely, he has bowls, right? And spoons?

I haven’t had time to post baseball scores, lately, so here’s an update: The Texas Rangers beat the Seattle Mariners 6-3 last night. Kolby Allard was the winning pitcher. Too bad we didn’t have him all season! The Rangers are now 66-70, still in third place in the AL West, 22 games out of first place and 13 out of the wild card. The division E number is 5, and the wild card E number is 15. The next game is today, against the Mariners, in Arlington, with Brock Burke starting. Seattle is in last place, by the way.

The Boston Red Sox continue to play well as the season winds down. They beat the LA Angels 7-6, but it took 15 innings! Andrew Cashner wound up being the winning pitcher. The Sox are 73-62, still in third place in the AL East, 14.5 games out of first place and 5.5 out of the wild card. The division E number is 13, and the wild card E number is 23. The next game is tonight, against the Angels, in LA (late game for them), with the starting pitcher TBD.

The current playoff picture has Houston, New York, and Minnesota leading their divisions, with Cleveland and Oakland in the two wild card spots. Tampa Bay is right on the heels of Oakland, with Boston close behind. Texas is next in line, but almost eight games back of Boston.

For you National League people, St. Louis, LA, and Atlanta are leading their divisions. Washington and Chicago are in the two wild card spots.

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

I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me. 
He will send from heaven and save me; he will put to shame him who tramples on me. Selah. God will send out his steadfast love and his faithfulness!

Psalm 57:2-3

Today I am grateful:
1. For the long weekend, to rest for the shorter work week ahead (I could have made that two gratitudes!)
2. For opportunities for fellowship this evening
3. That God truly does speak to us (in many different ways)
4. For forgiveness
5. That the entire record of my wrongs was nailed to the cross long before I ever existed

“God our Father, you see your children growing up in an
unsteady and confusing world: Show them that your ways
give more life than the ways of the world, and that following
you is better than chasing after selfish goals. Help them to
take failure, not as a measure of their worth, but as a chance
for a new start. Give them strength to hold their faith in you,
and to keep alive their joy in your creation; through Jesus
Christ our Lord. Amen.”
(The Book of Common Prayer, Prayers, 47. For Young Persons)

(From Faith That Matters)

The Meaning of God’s Forgiveness, by James Bryan Smith

And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.
Colossians 2:13-14

In the death of Jesus on the cross, we see “God’s desire to forgive us.”

“‘I forgive you, I forgive, I forgive you’ whispers the cross through all eternity. God established our forgiveness by something he did for us, even before we ever thought of turning to him. God is forgiveness.”

What does that mean for us? “It means that God, in Christ has erased the record that stood against us, nailing it to the cross. Now we can have peace with God. There is nothing standing in the way of our relationship with God. God came to reconcile us to himself even before we turned to him. Because it is God who establishes this forgiveness and not ourselves, we are given a peace that cannot be destroyed.”

Because of this, there is “nothing left for us to do other than open our hands and receive God’s gift.”

This a huge piece of the “Good News.” Some might say it is the Good News in its entirety. It is certainly the best news I have ever heard.

Father, there are not enough words, nor words strong enough, to adequately express my praise and thanks, my gratitude for including me in this great forgiveness! I thank you for setting aside the record of my debt that stood against me. I thank you for setting aside the legal demands that would hold me back from you. Now, I pray that your Spirit will help me to participate fully in your Kingdom on this earth. May your kingdom come and your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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.

Grace and peace, friends.

Forgiveness

Good mordidg. It’s Bodday, February 2, 2015. I hab a code in by dose.

Okay, I won’t try to type the entire entry like that. It would take too long. And I guess, if I can make jokes like that, I must be okay to go to work. However, at this point, I’m still trying to decide.

Let’s see . . . 63 days until Opening Day; 18 days until pitchers and catchers report.

Today’s Word of the Day is nunny bag. A nunny bag is, “A knapsack of sealskin, burlap, or canvas, used to carry supplies when hunting, sealing, etc.” I just can’t picture any of the hunters I know calling anything a “nunny bag.”

Today is Sled Dog Day. I honor of that, here is a song, called “Sled Dog,” by The Choir.

I don’t really feel better, this morning. Well, some parts of me might. The chest feels somewhat better, but the face and nasal cavities are not doing well, at all. I guess I slept better than I thought I did, according to my Fitbit. I’ve taken Dayquil, and will see how I feel in a little bit. I will probably go on in to work, and trudge through the day. I may go straight to bed after getting home, though. We shall see.

The New England Patriots “won” the Super Bowl last night, in what had to have been one of the most bizarre set of developments I have ever seen in football. In the final minute of the game, down 28-24, Russel Wilson through a desperation long pass toward the goal line. A Patriot defender batted the ball away, but as both players fell, instead of hitting the ground, the ball bounced off of the Seahawks player’s knees, after which he actually caught the ball! So they are down within less than ten yards of the goal line and a winning touchdown with seconds left in the game. And for some ridiculous reason, whoever calls the plays called for a short pass! A Patriots defender bumped the Seahawks guy out of the way and intercepted the ball! Game over! What a game, though! It was truly one of the most exciting Super Bowls I have ever seen. I was rooting for the Seahawks, but I really didn’t care that much who won.

Here is the catch.

And here is the interception.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

He who walks blamelessly and does what is right and speaks truth in his heart;
Psalm 15:2

Today’s reading from Solid Joys is “The Forgiveness Cycle.”

. . .and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
And lead us not into temptation.

Luke 11:4

This is very interesting, and sheds some new light on the problem of forgiveness, presented by Jesus in the Model Prayer. The question asked is, “Who forgives whom first?”

“Forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us.” (Luke 11:4)
“As the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” (Colossians 3:13)

We do not forgive so that we will, in turn be forgiven. This, of course, would make our forgiveness contingent on works. However, we consider that, since God forgave us when we believed in Christ, we, then, “from this broken, joyful, grateful, hopeful, experience of being forgiven, . . . offer forgiveness to others.” This is what indicates that we have been “savingly forgiven.” The fact that we forgive others shows that we are acting out of faith, “we are united to Christ; we are indwelt by the Spirit.”

Of course we still sin. If we pretend that we do not, we not only lie, but make God out to be a liar (1 John 1:8, 10). So we must continually turn to God for “fresh applications of forgiveness.” However, if we harbor grudges against someone else, our confidence is stricken in this matter. We cannot, with any confidence, seek forgiveness, if we know we have refused that same grace to another.

In essence we say, “Father, continue to extend to me the mercies purchased by Christ because by these mercies I forsake vengeance and extend to others what you have extended to me.”

Father, I pray that you always keep me in a spirit of forgiveness toward others. There are times when it is difficult, and times when it takes longer than others. But I pray that I will never forget the mercies that you have extended to me, and that I will also never fail to extend that same mercy to another. My sin against you is never less than any sin against me by another person. Therefore, I have no right to not forgive. And that thought carries a heavy weight with it, indeed. There are times when the concept of forgiveness goes much further than just someone who has wronged me, personally.

I pray for this day. I pray for safe and smooth travel to work and home. I pray for Christi’s day, that it will not be terribly stressful. I pray for my day, that this cold would begin to work its way out of my body. I also pray that that is all it is. May you lift up Stephanie today and enfold her in your loving arms, showing her wisdom and understanding in regards to her life.

Stay beside us, Father, as we go into this day. I cannot succeed without you next to me.

May you know God’s forgiveness intimately today, and, in knowing, extend it to others.

Grace and peace, friends.