When Christ Displaces Worry

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

Peace be with you!

Day 23,704

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

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

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

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

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

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

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

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

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

Today I am grateful:

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

O sing to the LORD a new song; 
sing to the LORD, all the earth.
(Psalms 96:1 NRSV)
With my whole heart I cry; 
answer me, O LORD. 
I will keep your statutes.
(Psalms 119:145 NRSV)
So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, 
do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to all the generations to come. 
Your power and your righteousness, O God, 
reach the high heavens. 
You who have done great things, O God, 
who is like you?
(Psalms 71:18-19 NRSV)
Let this be recorded for a generation to come, 
so that a people yet unborn may praise the LORD:
(Psalms 102:18 NRSV)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

Surprise! I’m not perfect.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


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

Grace and peace, friends.

The Path of Love

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

Peace be with you!

Day 23,697

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

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

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

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

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

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

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

Today I am grateful:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


Grace and peace, friends.

Stop Trying Harder

Today is Saturday, the 21st of January, 2023, in the season of Epiphany.

May the peace of Christ enfold you today!

Day 23,690

I suppose the next “big thing” coming up is Lent, which begins on Ash Wednesday, February 22, this year. That’s 32 days from today. I’m looking forward to observing Lent at my new church.

I made it through my work day pretty well, yesterday. Some coughing, used a few tissues, but it was okay. I’m feeling better, this morning, but still not quite 100%. I will “mask up” at work until my symptoms are gone. I’ll be at the library from 9:30-6:15 today, working at the circulation desk. We never know what Saturdays are going to look like at the circ desk. The last Saturday I worked, two weeks ago, was one of the busiest that I can remember. But yesterday was really slow, at least in the computer center.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Oh, how I love your law!
 It is my meditation all day long.
(Psalms 119:97 NRSV)

Father, I thank You for Your Word. I confess that I do not make it my “meditation all day long,” but I do, at least, remember to come back to it, during my day. I keep praying for a united heart, that I might properly fear Your name.

Dear Father in heaven, we rejoice that you are our Father. We rejoice that you rule and guide each of us so that our path in life leads to what is good and genuine and we do not get stuck in this or that concern. Lead us, renew us, and again and again free us to go forward, finding new courage and joy for ourselves and for our fellowmen. Then we can praise you, your strength and power can be revealed to us, your heaven come down to earth, and your will be done on earth. Here on earth your help shall come to the poor, the weak, the lowly, the sick, and the suffering. May your name be praised! We rejoice in your name. Amen.

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

In my distress I called upon the LORD; 
to my God I cried for help. 
From his temple he heard my voice, 
and my cry to him reached his ears.
(Psalms 18:6 NRSV)

Today I am grateful:

  • for God’s Word; may it be my meditation all day long (Psalm 119:97)
  • that the Lord hears me “from His temple,” when I cry out to Him.
  • that the Spirit guides us to what is good and genuine
  • that life in the kingdom of God is not about trying harder
  • that because the Lord is my light and my salvation, my stronghold, I have nothing to fear (Psalm 27:1)

Seek the LORD and his strength; 
seek his presence continually.
(Psalms 105:4 NRSV)
Hear, O LORD, when I cry aloud, be gracious to me and answer me!
 "Come," my heart says, "seek his face!" 
Your face, LORD, do I seek. 
Do not hide your face from me. 
Do not turn your servant away in anger, you who have been my help. 
Do not cast me off, do not forsake me, O God of my salvation!
(Psalms 27:7-9 NRSV)
But you indeed are awesome! 
Who can stand before you when once your anger is roused?
(Psalms 76:7 NRSV)
I sought the LORD, and he answered me, 
and delivered me from all my fears.
(Psalms 34:4 NRSV)

“Or what woman having ten silver coins, if she loses one of them, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
(Luke 15:8-10 NRSV)

You will only look with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked. 
Because you have made the LORD your refuge, 
the Most High your dwelling place,
 no evil shall befall you, no scourge come near your tent. 
For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. 
On their hands they will bear you up, 
so that you will not dash your foot against a stone. 
You will tread on the lion and the adder, 
the young lion and the serpent you will trample under foot.
(Psalms 91:8-13 NRSV)
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
(Kyrie)

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

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

"Now we cannot . . . discover our failure to keep God's law except by trying our very hardest (and then failing). Unless we really try, whatever we say there will always be at the back of our minds the idea that if we try harder next time we shall succeed in being completely good. Thus, in one sense, the road back to God is a road of moral effort, of trying harder and harder. But in another sense it is not trying that is every going to bring us home. All this trying leads up to the vital moment at which you turn to God and say, 'You must do this. I can't.'"
(C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, quoted in The C.S. Lewis Bible, in regard to Leviticus 14-16)

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; 
for you are with me; 
your rod and your staff—they comfort me.
(Psalms 23:4 NRSV)
Of David.

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

But now, by giving himself completely at the Cross, actually dying for you, Christ brought you over to God’s side and put your lives together, whole and holy in his presence.
(Colossians 1:22 MSG)


The book of Leviticus is arguably the most difficult book of the Bible to read. I have never known anyone who has enthusiastically approached this book, and declared it to be their favorite book in the Bible. I have heard it said that you can find Christ on every page in the Bible. I’m skeptical about Leviticus.

I mean no disrespect or dishonor. It is part of what we have before us as God’s Word, and, therefore, has some purpose for us. And I believe that at least part of that purpose is illustrated by the quote from C.S. Lewis, above.

I started reading through the Bible, again, this year, starting with Genesis, in the new NRSV that I got for Christmas. This week, I arrived at Leviticus. I’m reading five chapters a day, so I don’t have much more to go . . . maybe another day or two. Or three. I have twelve chapters left.

It is, essentially, nothing but laws about this and that. Most of the five chapters I read today are about what to do if leprosy appears on one’s body or one’s clothes or in one’s home.

We are no longer under the law, as we have moved into the era of grace, because of Jesus. As the verse in Colossians says, Jesus has brought us “over to God’s side,” and put our lives together. We are, in Christ, “whole and holy.” Or, as one of my favorite Mercy Me songs says, “The Cross has made you flawless.”

We have a choice in our lives. We can keep on “trying harder and harder,” as C.S. Lewis said, or we can stop that nonsense and come to the correct conclusion that, “You must do this. I can’t.”

We can try our best to live by the Ten Commandments, and all of that Levitical Law, but then we must accept what was said in Paul’s epistles, that, if we fail at even the smallest point of the Law, we have violated the entirety of it. That should be most discouraging to anyone.

Unless that “anyone” has become a Christ-follower. Christ kept the Law for us; He fulfilled it. He did not abolish it, but He fulfilled it, which means we don’t have to. All we have to do is follow His commands. And His commands are short and sweet. They sum up the entirety of the Law and the Prophets. We simply must love God and love people.

This is not as easy as it sounds. I know this from experience. God is easy to love. Most of the time. Except for maybe when things don’t go quite the way I want them to. But people? People, especially some of them, are really hard to love. I imagine I am pretty hard to love, to some people.

But here’s the thing. Way up there, close to the top of this post, are some verses from Psalms that give great advice, advice that is very helpful in this journey of faith. I’ll repeat them.

Seek the LORD and his strength; 
seek his presence continually.
(Psalms 105:4 NRSV)
Hear, O LORD, when I cry aloud, be gracious to me and answer me!
 "Come," my heart says, "seek his face!" 
Your face, LORD, do I seek. 
Do not hide your face from me. 
Do not turn your servant away in anger, you who have been my help. 
Do not cast me off, do not forsake me, O God of my salvation!
(Psalms 27:7-9 NRSV)
I sought the LORD, and he answered me, 
and delivered me from all my fears.
(Psalms 34:4 NRSV)

Seek. Seek the Lord. Seek His face. Expend as much energy as you can on this, and the rest of this stuff will align itself. I’m not pretending that it will not still be difficult to love some people, but if we are seeking God, constantly (Frank Laubach, in his “game of minutes,” opined that it is possible to think about God at least once per minute, throughout our day), His love will channel through us and shove our own unloving thoughts to one side, and maybe even eliminate them altogether.

It’s not about trying harder. Remember what Moses said to the Israelites, when they saw Pharaoh and his army coming after them at the Red Sea?

“The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to keep still.”
(Exodus 14:14 NRSV)

They didn’t have to “try harder.” They just had to stand still and watch the mighty hand of God take out their enemy.

So stop trying harder and start seeking.


Father, I praise You for Your Word and what it means to me. I thank You for the truths contained therein. I pray that You will help us to take these truths and incorporate them into our lives, that we might fully love You and then love our neighbors as ourselves. Help us to stop expending so much energy in trying to be “better Christians.” We can’t do it. I can’t do it; You must do it. I surrender.

I thank You that, in Christ, I have nothing to fear. You are my light and my salvation, the stronghold of my life. I may not always live like I believe that, and I pray that that would change as I continue to seek Your face. As I go through this day, may my mind, soul, and spirit be drawn into Your presence, to know You more, and to contemplate You and Your presence even more.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


Grace and peace, friends.

Values

Today is Saturday, the 7th of January, 2023, in the second week of Christmas.

I pray that the peace of Christ will enfold you, today.

Day 23,676

There are 46 days until the beginning of Lent.

As this year progresses, I intend to find that this daily blog contains more Scripture and prayer and less “talk.” We’ll see how that goes.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

May my heart be blameless in your statutes, 
so that I may not be put to shame.
(Psalms 119:80 NRSV)

A preacher friend and I shared a little joke, yesterday, around a serious prayer request. Yesterday’s “Wordle” was “belie,” a word that I don’t think I have ever used. This preacher, who also plays every day, put a prayer request on my daily Facebook post. “Pray that my behavior doesn’t belie my devotion to Christ.” After saying, “I saw what you did there,” I asked him to pray the same for me. This morning, I added the above verse to my response.

By the way, “belie” means, “(of an appearance) fail to give a true notion or impression of (something); disguise or contradict.”

Dear Father in heaven, accept us as your children, whose lives are under your protection and who turn to you for strength. In the midst of all the struggles and temptations in this world keep us certain of your love and goodness. Grant that we may help your name to be honored on earth and your salvation to spread over all the world. May we help that the hope you have given us brings light and strength for our own lives and for all whom you love in Jesus Christ. Amen.

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

Arise, shine, for your light has come, 
and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. 
See, darkness covers the earth 
and thick darkness is over the peoples, 
but the LORD rises upon you 
and his glory appears over you. 
Nations will come to your light, 
and kings to the brightness of your dawn. 
Isaiah 60:1–3, NIV

Today I am grateful:

  1. for the light that has come; for the glory of the Lord that rises upon us
  2. for the Word of God, that so strongly influences my prayer life
  3. for the abundant goodness of God
  4. for promises of answered prayer; how much better it is when we agree on what we are praying for
  5. for the motivation of God’s Holy Spirit, which eliminates selfishness

O sing to the LORD a new song;
 sing to the LORD, all the earth.
(Psalms 96:1 NRSV)
With my whole heart I cry; 
answer me, O LORD. 
I will keep your statutes.
(Psalms 119:145 NRSV)

Father, I would pray for this to be true. I cannot truthfully claim that I cry out to You with a “whole heart,” but it is my desire to do so.

Glory to You, Lord God of our fathers;
You are worthy of praise;
glory to You.
Glory to You for the radiance of Your holy Name;
we will praise You and highly exalt You for ever.
Glory to You in the splendor of Your temple;
on the throne of Your majesty, glory to You.
Glory to You, seated between the Cherubim;
we will praise You and highly exalt You for ever.
Glory to You, beholding the depths;
in the high vault of heaven, glory to You.
Glory to You, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit;
we will praise You and highly exalt You for ever.
(TeDeum)
Righteousness will go before him, 
and will make a path for his steps.
(Psalms 85:13 NRSV)
Then Jesus said to them, "Very truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world." 

"I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh." 
(John 6:32-33, 51 NRSV)

Father, give me this day my daily bread.

O how abundant is your goodness 
that you have laid up for those who fear you, 
and accomplished for those who take refuge in you,
 in the sight of everyone!
 In the shelter of your presence 
you hide them from human plots; 
you hold them safe under your shelter 
from contentious tongues. 
Blessed be the LORD, 
for he has wondrously shown his steadfast love to me 
when I was beset as a city under siege.
(Psalms 31:19-21 NRSV)

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

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

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

Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.”
(Matthew 18:19-20 NRSV)

If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.
(John 14:14 NRSV)

All these were constantly devoting themselves to prayer, together with certain women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, as well as his brothers.
(Acts 1:14 NRSV)


My counsel is this: Live freely, animated and motivated by God’s Spirit. Then you won’t feed the compulsions of selfishness.
(Galatians 5:16 MSG)


The same night he got up and took his two wives, his two maids, and his eleven children, and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. He took them and sent them across the stream, and likewise everything that he had. Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he struck him on the hip socket; and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. Then he said, “Let me go, for the day is breaking.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go, unless you bless me.” So he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” Then the man said, “You shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with humans, and have prevailed.” Then Jacob asked him, “Please tell me your name.” But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And there he blessed him. So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life is preserved.”
(Genesis 32:22-30 NRSV)


People are more important than property. Forgiveness is more important than property. Forgiveness is better than revenge. Worshiping God is more important than impressing our neighbors.

These are the “values” that we need to be building as we follow Christ. These are values that go along with Jesus’s two commands. They give us direction and purpose.


Father, I praise You for Your Word, which both inspires me and convicts me, daily. I thank You for the way in which it leads me into prayer, each day. I also thank You for giving me both mind and spirit to comprehend what Your Spirit is telling me, through Your Word.

I pray that, more and more, we, Your children, would find ourselves in agreement in matters of prayer, that we would have more effective prayers. Help us to assist in bringing about Your kingdom on earth, as we pray that Your will be done, and Your kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven.

Give me a unified heart, that I might cry out to You and give praise to You with a whole heart. Help me to walk with You like Enoch walked with You. Your Spirit is reminding me of this man, multiple times a day. Yes, I realize that Jesus is my ultimate goal and example, but I can’t get away from the very brief bit about Enoch in Genesis.

Finally, I ask that You would guide us toward a complete lack of selfishness, that we might consider people more important than property, as well as more important than getting our way. May we consider, as Paul tells us, all other people to be more significant than ourselves. May we be less concerned with keeping up with or impressing our neighbors than we are with loving our neighbors. And help us, dear Lord, to forgive. Let us never have thoughts of revenge, and remember that Your Word tells us that vengeance belongs to You.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


"Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us in safety to this new day: Preserve us with your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."
(The Book of Common Prayer, Morning Collect for Daily Devotions)

Grace and peace, friends.

Endings . . .

Today is Saturday, the 31st of December, 2022, in the first week of Christmas. It is the seventh day of Christmas, and it is New Year’s Eve, the last day of 2022.

May the peace of Christ be with you always!

Day 23,669

We have some casual plans for this afternoon/evening. The family people who were supposed to come Christmas Eve will be showing up around 4:00 PM today. We plan to order out, rather than having everyone cook a lot of stuff. I believe we’re having Italian food. Last big meal for us, as at least three of us plan to get back on the proverbial “wagon” tomorrow. I might watch some college football today. TCU plays Michigan in the Fiesta Bowl. Winner will take on the winner of the Peach Bowl, either Ohio State or Georgia, for the “national championship.”

As I finish today’s devotional, I am finishing four more books for the year. I’ll be starting new ones tomorrow.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Your hands have made and fashioned me; 
give me understanding that I may learn your commandments.
(Psalms 119:73 ESV)

That may very well become my verse for 2023. What a great prayer.

Lord our God, thank you for letting your light shine every day of every year. Thank you that we may always lift our eyes to you, whose right hand will bring true order to everything, even in difficult times. Give our hearts the strength to be faithful in this age, the strength to glorify you. For you remain, no matter what happens on earth. You are our God. You have sent us the Savior and we can draw close to you. Your promise to us stands firm, the promise that your day with its truth and justice shall come, to the honor of your name. May many people turn their hearts to you; may they worship you and call to you for help, to the glory of our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth, 
and the heavens are the work of your hands. 
They will perish, but you remain; 
they will all wear out like a garment.
 Like clothing you will change them 
and they will be discarded. 
But you remain the same,
 and your years will never end. 
Psalm 102:25–27, NIV

Today I am grateful:

  1. for the unchangeable nature of God; everything around us will perish, but He remains, and His “years will never end”
  2. that our hearts have the strength to be faithful in this age
  3. that, because of our Savior, we can draw close to the Father
  4. for endings and new beginnings
  5. for the potential of seeing “extraordinary things” in our lives (Luke 5)

When Jesus perceived their thoughts, he answered them, “Why do you question in your hearts? Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the man who was paralyzed—”I say to you, rise, pick up your bed and go home.” And immediately he rose up before them and picked up what he had been lying on and went home, glorifying God. And amazement seized them all, and they glorified God and were filled with awe, saying, “We have seen extraordinary things today.”
(Luke 5:22-26 ESV)

Thus says the LORD:
 "Heaven is my throne, 
and the earth is my footstool; 
what is the house that you would build for me, 
and what is the place of my rest?
 All these things my hand has made,
 and so all these things came to be, 
declares the LORD. 

"But this is the one to whom I will look: 
he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word."
(Isaiah 66:1-2 ESV)

This is too much, too wonderful— 
I can't take it all in!
(Psalms 139:6 MSG)

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
(Deuteronomy 31:6 NIV)

You make known to me the path of life; 
you will fill me with joy in your presence, 
with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
(Psalms 16:11 NIV)

It’s the last day of a year. It’s a day that is famously viewed as an ending, giving way to a new beginning.

So there is some good advice, here, for looking forward. “Be strong and courageous,” Moses said to Israel, at the end of his life, as he handed off leadership to Joshua. He then said the same words directly to Joshua. “Do not be afraid or terrified.” This is good advice for us as we look forward to another year.

I don’t have a lot of confidence that 2023 is going to be any different than 2022, as far as the world goes. There is so much fear in the world, right now, and I don’t see it going away, especially in the USA, because there are people who are driving the fear. Most of, if not all of, the fear is driven by misinformation. “Fake news,” if you will, from both sides (which is, of course, assuming that there are only two sides).

For those of us who choose to put our faith in God, rather than men, all of this is meaningless. There are more important things to be concerned with than who the next President is going to be or whether an ex-President is going to be indicted for his crimes. In fact, there are more important things to be concerned with than the future of this country. I realize that this comes as a shock to some people.

“Be strong and courageous.” In a way, this is very similar to the command most often repeated in Scripture, “Fear not.” This, I believe, is the Word from God for us as we look toward another year of political chaos and health crises.

If we keep our eyes on our Creator, and on the “pioneer and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2), we truly can exclaim, along with the psalmist, “This is too much, too wonderful— I can’t take it all in!” Or, to put it another way, “Wow!”

It would also do us well to consider some of the closing words of the book of Isaiah: “But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.” There is a great need for more humility in our land, and more people who tremble at the Word of God. And I’m not talking about human interpretations of the Bible, either.

Finally, I find it fitting that the last Scripture I read, this morning, happened to be one of my favorite verses in Psalms. Psalm 16:11.

You make known to me the path of life; 
in your presence there is fullness of joy; 
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
(Psalms 16:11 ESV)

As we look toward another year, let us remember this. Let us remember to have courage, to “fear not,” and let us remember that it is God Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, our Father in heaven, who makes known to us the path of life. Let us remember that, in His presence, there is fullness of joy, and that, at His right hand, there are pleasures forevermore.

When your joy is threatened, when you are not experiencing “pleasure,” stop. Just stop. Quiet yourself, quiet your soul and spirit. Meditate on His Word, and remember whose you are. Get back into an awareness of His presence, and back on the true path of life.


Father, in some ways, I am glad 2022 is coming to an end. Thank you for endings that lead to new beginnings. On another level, of course, I am also aware that today is just another day, as is tomorrow. It is only our mindset that makes these days “special.” The reality is that every day is, in itself, a “new beginning,” and we don’t have to wait until December 31 of next year to plan to do things better.

Nevertheless, as we embark on whatever adventures 2023 will bring our way, help us to focus on You; help us to have faith in You; help us to take our eyes off of corrupt politicians (most of them, regardless of labels), off of the health crises around us (but still remaining cautious and responsible), and keep them on You, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

I look forward to beginning 2023 in worship with Living Word Lutheran Church, in the morning. I pray that there are things that I will do better in 2023. I pray that my prayers will be better, more effective, stronger, and more faithful. This requires me, of course, to be more connected with You, so let me do that, Lord. Help me to live like I believe.

I do believe! Help my unbelief! And help my occasional apathy!

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”

Grace and peace, friends.

Perfect Love Casts Out Fear

Today is Saturday, the 24th of December, 2022, in the fourth week of Advent.

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

Day 23,662

Tomorrow is Christmas, and today is the last day of the Advent season. Beginning tomorrow, it will be Christmas season for, I believe, twelve days (there really are twelve days of Christmas), after which we will begin the season of Epiphany. I might not have the exactly right, as I am certainly no expert on the Church calendar.

Today will be moderately busy after a not-busy morning. This afternoon, some of us will attend a Christmas Eve service at Living Word Lutheran Church, in Grapevine. Then, at 6:00 PM CST, we will get on a Zoom call with R and J and open their Christmas presents while they open ours. We decided to do that tonight, so that we don’t have to worry about what time anyone wakes up tomorrow morning, and we will just have our Christmas together tomorrow.

The church is only having one service at 10:00 AM tomorrow, so I don’t know if I will make it to that one. I wish everyone who stumbles across this space of grace a Merry Christmas, or happy whatever you celebrate/observe at this time of year. May your days be filled with grace.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

You have dealt well with your servant, O LORD, 
according to your word.
(Psalms 119:65 ESV)

This is one of those verses that resonates well with me. The Lord has dealt well with me, and I praise Him for this.

Lord God, our Father in heaven, you have sent us the Savior, who was born to bring great joy to all people. Glorify your name, we pray. Give the world the peace you alone can give, the peace that wells up in our hearts. Let your favor rest on us so that we may hold out under our sufferings on earth. We need your loving help to remain inwardly steadfast until everyone can be reached by the message, “Be strong in the grace of Jesus Christ.” Amen.

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

But the angel said to them,
 "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord"

...Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests." 
Luke 2:10–11, 13–14, NIV

Today I am grateful:

  1. for that host of angels, singing, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests”
  2. for the peace that Christ, alone, can give, that dwells in our hearts
  3. for the Gospel message; help us to reach the world with it
  4. for that perfect love that casts out fear (1 John 4)
  5. for the generous acts of giving that permeate the season, all because of our “Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” (James 1:17)

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

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love. 
(1 John 4:18 NRSV)

And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
(Luke 2:7 NRSV)

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.”
(John 3:16 NRSV)

Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.
(James 1:17 NRSV)


“Come, let us return to the LORD; for it is he who has torn, and he will heal us; he has struck down, and he will bind us up. After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, that we may live before him. Let us know, let us press on to know the LORD; his appearing is as sure as the dawn; he will come to us like the showers, like the spring rains that water the earth.”
(Hosea 6:1-3 NRSV)


One of the things that makes Christmas so special is the infant; the baby Jesus. For some, I’m sure, the sentimentality of the season is overbearing. But let us consider it from another perspective.

Tonight and tomorrow morning, we will sing with the angels who appeared in the sky over the shepherds. We will celebrate the birth of the Savior of the world. Never mind when it actually happened. Why is that even important?

We celebrate the birth of a baby. Not just any baby, though. Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God, God Almighty stepping down into humanity as a frail, vulnerable child.

And in this child it is easy to see that perfect love of which John speaks; the perfect love that casts out fear. Who could possibly be afraid of a baby?? Yes, we know that, in time, Jesus Christ will return as victor, and set things right. The “Day of the Lord” will not be a pretty sight. I shudder to consider that day. But, for now, we look at a baby, and we feel no fear, none whatsoever.

And here’s the thing. The love of God, the pure love of God, the perfect love of God does cast out fear. I am not able to love in that way. My love is imperfect; my love of God is far from perfect, as is my love for any human being. Even my love for my wife, my daughters, and my mother is far from perfect.

But God’s love is perfect. And if we truly embrace that love, there is absolutely no reason or cause for fear at all.

Why else would the most oft-repeated command in the Bible be some form of “fear not??”

Consider this:

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

You know what is included in “anything else in all creation?”

My sin!

My sin cannot separate me from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord, because it is gone! It is erased! It is as though it never happened. Even the sins that I have yet to commit are erased and forgiven by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ!

There is nothing to fear in Christ Jesus. Perfect love casts out fear.

As I consider this, this morning, I realize how foolish we are. How chronically unbelieving we are, as human beings. A few days ago, I talked about the resurrection of Lazarus. I believe that this happened, according to the Biblical record. I do believe. I also believe in what I am writing today. Perfect love casts out fear.

Yet, why is it so difficult to live as though I believe these things? Why is my faith still so weak? Why do I still catch myself worrying over petty things, or even over things that may not be so petty? Do I believe that God has things well in hand? Do I believe that God loves us with a perfect love? Do I believe Romans 8:38-39??

Once again, I find myself in the shoes of the father of the demon-possessed boy in Mark 9.

“I believe; help my unbelief!” 


Father, I believe. You know my heart. You know my flesh, too, and, according to Your Word, You remember that we are dust. Once again, I find great comfort in that particular passage, because I find myself floundering in faith, so often.

Your perfect love casts out fear. Help me to embrace that perfect love in my life. Help me to walk as though I believe this, and to walk without fear in my life. May Your Holy Spirit remind me daily, that Your perfect love casts out fear. May Your Spirit dwell within me in power and strength, giving me the faith to embrace the truth of what Jesus did for Lazarus, knowing that there is nothing that is too hard for You; there is no struggle in my life that is beyond Your strength; there is no difficulty that I could encounter that You cannot bring me through.

Thank You, Lord, for the baby Jesus, the perfect image of how we have nothing to fear. As we observe this Christmas, this “silent night, holy night,” may we participate in the dawn of redeeming grace, and know that perfect love that casts out fear. May we know it as deeply in our souls as is possible. Changer our lives, Father; change our hearts.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


Grace and peace, friends.

How Can I Love?

Today is Saturday, the 17th of December, 2022, in the third week of Advent.

May you know the peace of Christ, and His presence, today.

Day 23,655

Eight days until Christmas!

Due to circumstances involving the health of various people in our family, our Christmas Eve gathering has been postponed until January. C’s Covid test from the doctor’s office came back negative, so that’s good news. And it seems that the coughing is somewhat better, as I don’t recall any spells during the night, last night.

It’s my Saturday to work at the library, so I will be in there at 9:30, this morning. Next week, I only work two days, Tuesday and Wednesday. The library is closed Friday, Saturday, and Monday, for the Christmas holidays.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

The LORD is my portion; 
I promise to keep your words.
(Psalms 119:57 ESV)

Lord our God, we thank you that you have given us the light of life, that we can now learn how to live, and that through your great grace we may understand life in direct relationship with the Lord Jesus, who was crucified and who rose from the dead. Grant that the power of Christ may be made visible in us. Grant that his life may become our life, that we may leave behind all doubts and anxiety, even though we are often surrounded by darkness and night. Keep us in your Word. Let your will hold sway over all the world, for your will must be done in heaven, on earth, and down to the lowest depths. Let your will be done on earth as in all the heavens. Amen.

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

For it was life which appeared before us: we saw it, we are eyewitnesses of it, and are now writing to you about it. It was the very life of all ages, the life that has always existed with the Father, which actually became visible in person to us mortal men. 
1 John 1:2, Phillips

Today I am grateful:

  1. for the light of life, Jesus Christ, the life that “appeared before us,” of which John and His fellow disciples were eyewitnesses; the light that dwells within us, today
  2. that, because of this Light, we can, at least partially, understand our own lives, in relationship with Him
  3. for the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding
  4. for love; God’s love for us, our love for Him, our love for one another
  5. that our God is able to do abundantly far more than all we could ever ask or imagine

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
(Philippians 4:4-8 ESV)

The point is this: the one who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the one who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.
(2 Corinthians 9:6 NRSV)


Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God.
(1 John 4:7 NIV)

Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.
(Romans 12:10 NIV)

I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 1:3-6 NIV)


For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name. I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love.
(Ephesians 3:14-17 NRSV)


How do we accomplish this thing called love? Even the musicians know that there is something supernatural about love.

Are you ready for the thing called love
Don't come from me and you, it comes from up above
(Jerry Lynn Williams)

We cannot do it on our own. I dare say that the majority of us know this, by now, from experience. Who among us doesn’t have family members who stretch their capacity to love to its very limits?

Yet we are commanded to love one another. In fact, Jesus tells us, quite bluntly, that if we do not do this, then we do not love Him, and we do not love God. And not only are we commanded to love one another, we are commanded to “honor one another above yourselves.”

Wait. I not only have to love this person, I have to put them ahead of me???

I am a human, a jar of clay, made out of dust. I cannot do this. Not only can I not do this, the society, the world, in which I live encourages me to do the opposite.

I think Paul has some good news for us, though.

First, he assures us that we have not been left alone, and that God will finish what he started in us. When we became believers in Christ, the Spirit of God began to dwell within us and He began to work. And, out of the riches of His glory, He strengthens us in our inner being with power through that Spirit, so that, what? We may be rooted and grounded in LOVE!

Andrew Murray says that every believer should wake up with these words on their lips: “My Father will strengthen me today with His power as He is strengthening me even now in my inmost being through His Spirit.” (The Believer’s Daily Renewal, quoted in Power in Prayer) In addition, he says that “we are to be content with nothing less than the indwelling of Christ by faith, a life rooted in love and strengthened to know more of the love of Christ.”

Christ, in the presence of the Holy Spirit, dwells within us, daily. This is not negotiable. This is something that we truly have no control over, if we are true believers in Christ. It is a plain and simple fact. He is here. He dwells within me.

My role in this is to acknowledge and accept this truth and walk in it, daily. What I can control is my response to it. I can, in fact, ignore His presence. I know this from experience. You probably do, too, if you are honest with yourself.

Can I be aware of His presence 24/7. Not likely, because I do sleep during some of that. However, Frank Laubach believed that we could be aware of His presence by forcing our minds to be aware of Him at least once a minute, during our waking hours.

Trust me, I have not come anywhere close to accomplishing this, but I do believe it to be possible. I believe it because I also believe Dallas Willard’s claim that we, as human beings, have the unique ability to control what we allow our minds to focus on. We can direct our thoughts. Furthermore, we have the possibility of taking every thought captive to obey Christ (2 Corinthians 10).

This is how we love. This is how we can obey the commands of Christ to love one another, to put others before ourselves, and to love Him unconditionally. This is how we surrender.

“We bow to God the Father in the name of the Son. We ask Him to strengthen us through the Spirit for one purpose: that Christ may dwell in our hearts. The whole heart becomes the scene of the blessed operation of the Trinity through the inner and outer life. As our hearts grasp this truth, we give glory, through Christ, to Him who does more than we can ask or imagine by His Holy Spirit.” (Murray)


Most Holy Father, I ask for this very thing, today. I am finding myself more and more cognizant of Your presence, lately, and I am embracing this. I’m still frail and feeble, and still have moments where I fail. But I feel stronger in You. I feel more capable of love. Help me to keep working to set myself aside in favor of others, in all areas of my life. All areas.

Gayle Sayers famously said, “The Lord is first, my friends are second, I am third.” I would amend that middle part to say “everyone else is second.” I believe that is what You want from us, from me. I cannot control what anyone else does or says or thinks or believes. I can only control me, and I want to allow You to do that.

So strengthen me, Father, through the Spirit, in my inner being, that Christ may dwell in my heart through faith, and that I may be rooted and grounded in love.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
(Ephesians 3:20-21 NRSV)

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.
(Philippians 4:23 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Reflecting the Grace and Glory

Today is Saturday, the 3rd of December, 2022, in the first week of Advent.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you today!

Day 23,641

22 days until Christmas!

We are having a Night of Worship, tonight, for the first time in what must be at least two years. I’ll be playing keyboard alongside a couple of friends who play guitar. We all sing, so each of us will be “leading” several songs. Here is one of the songs I will be leading.

Today’s header photo was taken by Paul Militaru. Please visit his site at the link provided to view his inspiring photography.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Let your steadfast love come to me, O LORD, 
your salvation according to your promise; 
then shall I have an answer for him who taunts me, 
for I trust in your word.
(Psalms 119:41-42 ESV)

I crave Your steadfast love, O Lord, like a newborn craves its mother’s milk. No one is taunting me, right now, but I still desire Your Word to be imbedded in my heart, that I might always have an answer for anyone who questions my faith and devotion.

Lord our God, we thank you that you let light shine out every day and every year. Thank you that we may always look to you, whose right hand will bring order into everything and set all things right, even in difficult times. May our hearts receive strength to persevere and go on praising you, for you remain, no matter what happens on earth. You are our God, you have sent us the Savior, and we can draw close to you. You have made us the firm promise that your day is coming when truth and justice will arise on earth to the glory of your name. May the hearts of many people turn to you so that they worship you and call to you for help, to the glory of our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace. 
Luke 1:76–79, NIV

Today I am grateful:

  1. for the light of God that shines out, daily, in us and through us
  2. that, no matter what happens on this earth, our God remains and is faithful
  3. that, because of Jesus Christ, we can draw close to God; may He draw us closer and closer
  4. that the Lord takes pleasure in His people, and adorns the humble with salvation (Psalm 149)
  5. that it’s not about me, but it’s about Jesus; it may be for me, but it’s not about me

Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.
(Galatians 6:2-3 ESV)

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

And he said to me, “Son of man, eat whatever you find here. Eat this scroll, and go, speak to the house of Israel.” So I opened my mouth, and he gave me this scroll to eat. And he said to me, “Son of man, feed your belly with this scroll that I give you and fill your stomach with it.” Then I ate it, and it was in my mouth as sweet as honey.
(Ezekiel 3:1-3 ESV)

Praise the LORD! 
Sing to the LORD a new song, 
his praise in the assembly of the godly! 
Let Israel be glad in his Maker; 
let the children of Zion rejoice in their King! 
Let them praise his name with dancing, 
making melody to him with tambourine and lyre! 
For the LORD takes pleasure in his people; 
he adorns the humble with salvation. 
Let the godly exult in glory; 
let them sing for joy on their beds. 
Let the high praises of God be in their throats 
and two-edged swords in their hands, 
to execute vengeance on the nations 
and punishments on the peoples, 
to bind their kings with chains 
and their nobles with fetters of iron, 
to execute on them the judgment written! 
This is honor for all his godly ones. 
Praise the LORD!
(Psalms 149:1-9 ESV)

And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?
(Matthew 16:26 NLT)

Then Joshua said to Achan, “My son, give glory to the LORD, the God of Israel, by telling the truth. Make your confession and tell me what you have done. Don’t hide it from me.”
(Joshua 7:19 NLT)

But the king will rejoice in God. 
All who swear to tell the truth will praise him, 
while liars will be silenced.
(Psalms 63:11 NLT)

So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
(1 Corinthians 10:31 NLT)


Then they came to Capernaum; and when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the way?” But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another who was the greatest. He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.” Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.”
(Mark 9:33-37 NRSV)


I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
(Ephesians 3:16-19 NRSV)


Surrender. We do not like that word, we westerners. We bristle with pride when we are called upon to surrender anything that we believe is a “right.” We love our “rights,” especially in the US of A.

We also like glory. Oh, how we love to be noticed and applauded. We love the glory. But here’s the thing. If we are followers of Christ, the glory is not to be ours. And one of the main things we are called to do is, in fact, to surrender.

As a person who has lived in Texas all my life (so far), I see the struggle lived out right in front of me, daily. One of the biggest stages where this is worked out, in reality, is on the highways. Watching people drive is a great indicator of their level of maturity. People become monsters when they get behind the wheel, it’s rather strange. Monsters with a two-ton weapon in their hands.

I was intensely moved by today’s reading in Daily Guideposts 2022. Here is the piece of it that struck me the hardest.

"We aren't designed to compete with His glory; we're made to reflect His grace.
"Through my own, much humbler experiences, I know that not a single talent I possess is mine alone. Rather, they were given to me for His specific purpose. God opens the doors He wants opened and closes the ones He wants closed. I don't know His plans. I do know I will give my utmost for what is asked of me and leave the rest up to Him." 
(Erika Bentsen, Daily Guideposts 2022)

We humans, who drive like bats out of hell, are made to reflect His grace. Next time you get behind the wheel of a car, think about that, and consider how much grace you reflect in your driving habits. Or any other habits, for that matter. How do you respond when the people at the restaurant get your order wrong? Again. (I’m point the finger back at myself on that one, so I’m not just preaching at those who will read this.) How do you respond when the grocery store leaves something out of your delivery order?

How do I respond when the Internet doesn’t work right?

Ouch. Ouch. Ouch. I’m stomping on my own toes, people.

One of the biggest things I’ve learned in the past couple of decades is that it’s not about me. Pretty much nothing is about me. This past Sunday, in a sermon entitled “For You,” Pastor Kari Malinak, Discipleship Pastor at Living Word Lutheran Church, said that God’s plan of salvation isn’t about you; it’s for you.

Nothing God does is about me. The talents that I have, that, as Erika so aptly stated, cannot be called my own, because they were given to me “for His specific purpose.” I have musical talent with which I have been gifted. Admittedly, it appears to be somewhat genetic, as both my parents also had musical talent. Nevertheless, it is a gift from God, and it is not so that I can receive glory.

When I was an adolescent, I wanted to be a rock star. I mean, who doesn’t, right? I finally outgrew that a few years ago. (That was supposed to be funny.) But, later in life, I realized that this talent that I was given was for the specific purpose of leading others to lift up the name of Jesus in worship. It’s not about me. It is for me, yes, but not about me.

It is always about Jesus.

When Jesus took those three disciples up on the mountain and they witnessed His transfiguration, during that event, Moses and Elijah appeared alongside Him. Moses represented the Law; Elijah represented the Prophets. And then, suddenly, as quickly as they appeared, Moses and Elijah were gone.

Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!” Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more, but only Jesus.
(Mark 9:7-8 NRSV)

“Only Jesus.”

It is all about Him. It may be for you and me, but it is about Jesus.

So, today, when I get out on the highway, I’m going to think about this when someone cuts me off in traffic or drives too slow in front of me. I’m going to graciously leave space between me and the car in front of me, so that someone can change lanes if they need to, or if they suddenly realize that they need to be over there, somewhere.

When I got to a restaurant, I’m going to remember that if I have to wait longer than I think I should have to wait (boy, we Americans hate waiting), or if they get my food order wrong. And, should a piece of technology suddenly stop working properly, I’m going to remind myself that it is an inanimate object and, as such, bears me no ill will. It’s not personal.

In short, I am going to remind myself that I am supposed to be reflecting the grace and glory of our Father in heaven.


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.

Father, I confess that I constantly forget that it’s not about me. I can try to blame our society, but that doesn’t really fly. I have no one to blame but myself. Society doesn’t hold a gun to my head and force me to be a jerk to people. I have full control over my mind and my emotions, and it is up to me to own that. As a famous blues song once said, it’s “Nobody’s Fault but Mine.”

And, in the same manner, the talents that I have are not mine at all, but Your gifts to me. And I praise You for those talents. Tonight, when I am playing and singing in this Night of Worship, I pray that I, along with the other people participating, will make it all about You and none of it about us. Let us praise and worship You and give You all the glory as we worship You. Even though some of the songs we may sing are about “me,” let us realize that it is because of You that we are even able to exist, from day to day.

I also pray that the whole world would see this truth, and acknowledge that we owe all to You. Someday, that will come to pass, as it is Your will, on earth as in heaven. But we would love to see this happen sooner than later, and would prefer to see it be voluntary.

Thank You, Father, for all You have done for us and help us to remember that it is not about us. May we reflect Your glory and grace in all aspects of our lives. Word of God, speak.

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

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


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

Grace and peace, friends.

Unbroken Fellowship

Today is Saturday, the 26th of November, 2022, in the 34th week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ fill your body, soul, and spirit, today!

Day 23,634

Advent begins tomorrow, and there are 29 days until Christmas!

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lead me in the path of your commandments, 
for I delight in it.
(Psalms 119:35 ESV)

Lord our God, in our times too you hear the prayers and cries of your children. We need to cry out, for humankind has not become your own but still lives in pain and under judgment, and many thousands have to die or undergo terrible things. They should be yours, every one of them. They should all be your children. So we cry out to you: Reveal and glorify your name on earth so that a new time may come and great wonders may be done by your hand. May your name be honored, your kingdom come, and your will be done on earth as in heaven. Amen.

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains would tremble before you! As when fire sets twigs ablaze and causes water to boil, come down to make your name known to your enemies and cause the nations to quake before you! 
Isaiah 64:1–2, NIV

Today I am grateful:

  1. for a very restful day, yesterday
  2. for the heart of gratitude that God has developed in me
  3. for rain received this week
  4. for the constant presence of Christ among us
  5. for the available relief from worry and anxiety; may I avail myself of this more often
  6. for the possibility of unbroken fellowship with Jesus

A Maskil of David, when he was in the cave. A Prayer. 

With my voice I cry out to the LORD; 
with my voice I plead for mercy to the LORD. 
I pour out my complaint before him; 
I tell my trouble before him. 

When my spirit faints within me, 
you know my way! 
In the path where I walk 
they have hidden a trap for me. 
Look to the right and see: 
there is none who takes notice of me; 
no refuge remains to me; 
no one cares for my soul. 

I cry to you, O LORD; 
I say, "You are my refuge, 
my portion in the land of the living." 
Attend to my cry, 
for I am brought very low! 
Deliver me from my persecutors, 
for they are too strong for me! 
Bring me out of prison, 
that I may give thanks to your name! 
The righteous will surround me, 
for you will deal bountifully with me.
(Psalms 142:1-7 ESV)

Then he said, “Come no closer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.”
(Exodus 3:5 NRSV)

For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.
(Jeremiah 29:11 NRSV)

Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.”
(Matthew 18:19-20 NRSV)


And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. A windstorm arose on the sea, so great that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him up, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!” And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, you of little faith?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a dead calm. They were amazed, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him?”
(Matthew 8:23-27 NRSV)

Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 4:5-7 NRSV)


For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
(Galatians 2:19-20 NRSV)


A couple days ago, one of the central passages was one where Jesus said, “In the world you will have trouble, but I have overcome the world.” (Paraphrased)

We are entering one of the most anxious seasons of the year. The holidays are a source of anxiety for many people, and for many different reasons. I’m not even going to begin to try to list them all.

The psalmist appears to be a bit anxious in Psalm 142, doesn’t he? And Jesus’s disciples were certainly anxious in that little boat in Matthew 8. What makes their anxiety even more preposterous is that Jesus was in the boat with them! And they knew it!

We find ourselves in that same “boat,” don’t we? We start worrying about things (I’m not exempt from this, believe me), and Jesus is with us, in the form of the Holy Spirit. Okay, the Holy Spirit is not “Jesus,” and vice versa. But all of them are “God,” as they make up the Holy Trinity. That’s another one of those mysteries that we will simply be unable to comprehend until we meet Him face-to-face.

Jesus also gave us many promises of His presence, one of which is above, in Matthew 18. Now, granted, these days it seems to be quite difficult to get two or more to agree about anything! But Jesus promises His presence in our midst.

In Galatians, we have that wonderful and popular verse that declares that our lives are actually lived by faith in Christ, as we are crucified in Him, and He lives through us. “It is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me.”

Many people desire the gifts of the Holy Spirit, but what is their motivation? Sometimes we seek Him for “obtaining more power for work, more love in our life, more holiness in the heart, more light on Scripture or on our path.” I fear, sometimes, as well, that many seek the Holy Spirit for attention; if you have the more visible gifts of the Spirit, people will notice you.

Andrew Murray says, “But all these gifts are subordinate to the great purpose of God. The Father bestowed the Spirit on the Son, and the Son gave Him to us for the purpose of revealing and glorifying Christ Jesus in us.

“The heavenly Christ must become for us a real and living personality who is always with us and in us. Our life on earth can be lived every day in unbroken fellowship with our Lord Jesus.” (Andrew Murray in Living a Prayerful Life, quoted in Power in Prayer, emphasis added)

I want to emphasize that one sentence even more.

“Our life on earth can be lived every day in unbroken fellowship with our Lord Jesus.”

Now, to be clear, this is not something that is easy or can happen automatically. This is one of those things that reflects the need for Spiritual Disciplines in our lives. We have to practice this presence, as indicated by Brother Lawrence in his book, The Practice of the Presence of God. Frank Laubach also had the belief that it was possible to acknowledge the presence of God constantly in one’s life. He wrote a little pamphlet called The Game with Minutes, in which he encourages us to acknowledge God’s presence at least one second in every minute of our waking day.

Again, this is not something that is easy to accomplish, because we are “trained” differently. We are accustomed to being anxious. In fact, we seem to be encouraged to be anxious about things. We are taught to always be in a hurry (at least in Western society; there are other societies that are much better at time management than we are). We are encouraged to always be accomplishing something. My own wife struggles with this. She feels guilty for simply sitting and relaxing for any length of time, on weekends.

But anxiety is a mental thing. Again, Dallas Willard tells us that humans have the unique capability to control what we allow our minds to dwell on. Therefore, we also have the ability to direct our minds to dwell on Christ and His presence in our lives. We can have that unbroken fellowship of which Andrew Murray speaks!


Father, I thank You for the possibility of unbroken fellowship with Jesus! I pray that I might realize this through the practice of the Spiritual Disciplines in my life. I realize that this is not something that can happen instantly, nor is it automatic. Perhaps it should be almost automatic for the believer/follower of Christ, but, alas, because of worldly influences, it is not.

Help me to practice this rightly. Let Your Spirit remind me, constantly, of Your presence in my life. I pray for the influence of the Trinity, constantly, daily. And then let this influence, this presence, shine out from me like the brightest of lights in a world that seems so dark.

There are many of us, Father, who look around us and simply see a world that is “on fire.” “The world is burning,” we seem to be saying, constantly. But let us not focus our eyes on this. Rather, let us focus our minds, our spirits, our souls, on Your presence, so that we might light our world on a different kind of fire!

I desire that unbroken fellowship, Father, but I’m not whole-hearted enough. I pray that You “fix me,” because I’m broken. As are we all, Lord. Heal our brokenness with the salve of Your grace and mercy, and fix our eyes on You, the author and perfector of our faith.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


The LORD bless you and keep you; 
the LORD make his face to shine upon you, 
and be gracious to you; 
the LORD lift up his countenance upon you, 
and give you peace.
(Numbers 6:24-26 NRSV)

Grace and peace, friends.

It Sings the Conqueror’s Song

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

May the peace of Christ be with you today!

Day 23,627

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

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

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

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

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

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

Today I am grateful:

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

How Many? by Daryl Madden

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


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

Grace and peace, friends.