Thank You

Today is Thursday, the 24th of Thanksgiving (oops) November, 2022, in the 34th week of Ordinary Time.

I got a little ahead of myself, there.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you today, and cause you to be thankful.

Day 23,632

And, yes, today is Thanksgiving, in the U.S. Canada already had theirs. And this year, Thanksgiving falls on one of those days that I always think Thanksgiving should be on, November 24, 25, or 26. The weather is not the best, today. It’s chilly and rainy, out there. Which doesn’t really bother us, so much, as we aren’t planning to go anywhere. But there are people planning to travel to our house.

And, it is 31 days until Christmas. Believe it or not, I actually have two Christmas presents, already.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Teach me, O LORD, the way of your statutes; 
and I will keep it to the end.
(Psalms 119:33 ESV)

O Lord God, give us new hearts, teach us a new way on earth, so that through your commandments all people may act in accordance with your Word and may become one. Only you can do this, working through your promised Holy Spirit, and you will do it in order that the earth may become a paradise, a heavenly kingdom pleasing to you. Let your words be written in our hearts, and help us to fulfill your commandments in our daily life. Only by carrying out your commandments may we foolish, sinful people be made perfect, our sins be forgiven, and everything become right and good in your sight. Stay with us, Lord God, our Father. Help us in everything. Let something new, something pleasing to you, soon come into our time. Put your commandments into our hearts, that peace may be restored to the glory of your name. Amen.

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them...For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven. 
Matthew 5:17, 20, NIV

Today I am grateful:

  1. for this day, when our hearts are specifically drawn to giving thanks to God; may we be thankful beyond today
  2. for the promise that our God is always doing something new
  3. for the hope and promise of peace
  4. that the perfect love of our God casts out fear
  5. that the Lord is my perfection, Jesus is my righteousness; in Him, I am made blameless
  6. that God, in His mercy, does not remember our sins, once we have laid them at the foot of the cross

To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David. 

Deliver me, O LORD, from evil men; 
preserve me from violent men, 
who plan evil things in their heart 
and stir up wars continually. 
They make their tongue sharp as a serpent's, 
and under their lips is the venom of asps. 
Selah. 

Guard me, O LORD, from the hands of the wicked; 
preserve me from violent men, 
who have planned to trip up my feet. 
The arrogant have hidden a trap for me, 
and with cords they have spread a net; 
beside the way they have set snares for me. 
Selah. 

I say to the LORD, You are my God; 
give ear to the voice of my pleas for mercy, O LORD! 
O LORD, my Lord, the strength of my salvation, 
you have covered my head in the day of battle. 
Grant not, O LORD, the desires of the wicked; 
do not further their evil plot, or they will be exalted! 
Selah. 

As for the head of those who surround me,
 let the mischief of their lips overwhelm them! 
Let burning coals fall upon them! 
Let them be cast into fire, 
into miry pits, no more to rise! 
Let not the slanderer be established in the land; 
let evil hunt down the violent man speedily! 

I know that the LORD will maintain the cause of the afflicted, 
and will execute justice for the needy. 
Surely the righteous shall give thanks to your name; 
the upright shall dwell in your presence.
(Psalms 140:1-13 ESV)

‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’
(Jeremiah 33:3 NIV)


For who is God, but the LORD? 
And who is a rock, except our God?
— the God who equipped me with strength 
and made my way blameless.
(Psalms 18:31-32 ESV)

But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”
(Luke 10:41-42 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 been perfected in love.
(1 John 4:18 ESV)


And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.
(Ephesians 5:18-21 ESV)


My gratitude, on this day, is immense. Perhaps I am focusing more on it, today, since it is the day of Thanksgiving. As anyone knows, who has regularly read this blog, I am grateful, every day, as a practice of spiritual discipline. But today, that gratitude is heightened.

As I read the various Scriptures today, I find that I am most grateful for things like the promise of Jeremiah 33:3, the promise that, if I call to the Lord, earnestly, and in humility, He will answer; He will show me things that I have not known. And trust me, there is plenty that I do not know. The older I get, the more I know that I don’t know much.

I am also very grateful (is it possible to be “very” grateful?) for the truth of the passage from Psalm 18.

Let’s talk about “perfection,” for a minute. The harder we work to be “perfect,” the farther short we fall from the goal. And, it causes us great stress and anxiety, two things that Scripture tells us are bad. Jesus has told us to be anxious for nothing, because worrying cannot add a second to our lives or an inch to our stature. In fact, medical science has shown us that worry and anxiety not only do not lengthen our lives, they shorten them!

Great. There’s another thing to be anxious about!

But, as the psalmist tells us, God has made our way “blameless” (some translations say “perfect.” I rather like the way Eugene Peterson said it:

Is not this the God who armed me, then aimed me in the right direction?
(Psalms 18:32 MSG)

Exactly how has God made me perfect or blameless? How has He pointed me in the right direction? Through Jesus Christ.

Who didn’t see that coming?

Seriously, though, it is the righteousness of Christ, imputed to our account, that has made us blameless. This is one of those mysteries. I love mysteries. The Communion Table (the church we are currently attending calls it the “Table of Grace”) is a mystery. How is the bread and wine also the body and blood of Christ? I don’t know. But He said it is, so it is. Once again, God said it, and I believe it.

God has also told us that the righteousness of Christ has become our righteousness. He has, in Jesus, removed all of our sin from us.

And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption,
(1 Corinthians 1:30 ESV)

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
(2 Corinthians 5:21 ESV)

Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
(Philippians 3:8-11 ESV)

For as high as the heavens are above the earth, 
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; 
as far as the east is from the west, 
so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
(Psalms 103:11-12 ESV)

Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love. He will again have compassion on us; he will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.
(Micah 7:18-19 ESV)

For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.”
(Hebrews 8:12 ESV)

How much more encouragement do we need? And why? Why can’t we get this? Why can’t we embrace this? This is something that I must contemplate. It must have to do with arrogance and selfishness or something.

But there it is. And I am so very thankful for these truths today. God remembers my sin no more. None of it. He doesn’t remember that thing I did when I was a teenager, even though I can’t seem to forget it. He doesn’t remember the awful way I treated someone (many times, sadly), even though those memories pop into my brain at the most inopportune times. God forgets our sins, intentionally. His ability to do that is, quite frankly, unfathomable.

I am driven, as Paul, to declare,

Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!
(2 Corinthians 9:15 ESV)


Father, my cup overflows, this morning. As we get ready to partake of the table that You have prepared for us, we are thankful for all of the things that I have mentioned, this morning. And, in addition, not only have You prepared a table for us, You have given us, in abundance, that we might share with others. And I am grateful that You have given us generous hearts, that we might share with “the least of these,” whom Jesus proclaims represent Him in this world.

I pray for all the world, this morning, that all would know Your presence; that all would know Your great salvation through Jesus Christ. I pray that Your Kingdom will come and Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. I pray that everyone would know the joy of realizing this great forgiveness of sin, the healing from anxiety and worry, Father. Help us to know Your great love for us, and be thankful in all circumstances.

I pray for the many people I know, this morning, who have lost, or are about to lose, loved ones. It is such a difficult thing to lose a family member around holidays. It taints the holidays forever. I pray for comfort and peace for those, Father, that Your grace and mercy would overflow in their hearts.

I praise You that Christ is our righteousness, and that, when You look at us, You look through His sacrifice, through His blood, and You see His perfection. This does not, of course, clear us to do whatever we please. On the contrary, it motivates us to try to do better in this world. At least it should.

Thanks be to You for Your indescribable gift, Father! And may You be glorified in all the earth, today and every day.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


Grace and peace, friends.

Mercy

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

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

Day 23,625

One week until Thanksgiving! Ordering the groceries today.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

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

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

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

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

Today I am grateful:

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

Gods’ Love, by Daryl Madden

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

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

For He does love
Everybody
With love unique
Individually

Beyond all time
Unconditionally
To glimpse right here
Infinitely

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

Grace and peace, friends.

In Spirit and Truth

Today is Thursday, the 10th of November, 2022, in the 32nd week of Ordinary Time.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,618

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

I am a sojourner on the earth; 
hide not your commandments from me! 
(Psalms 119:19 ESV)

Lord our God, the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, who was and is and is to come, the Almighty, we thank you for this wonderful message, which is meant for us too, even though our lives often seem empty and sad. But behold, you make all things new for each one of us. Even though we have long tormented ourselves, the light of life will dawn at last and we will be able to rejoice. Continue to protect us and our community. Wake us to new life, for you have called us to believe and to endure to the end. Whatever sorrows and hardships may come, we will remain faithful, O Lord our God. This is our promise to you. We will persevere and say joyfully, “Jesus Christ is coming to make all things new.” Amen.

(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.”
(Revelation 1:8 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. for the Alpha and Omega, who is, and who was, and who is to come
  2. that Jesus Christ will come again to make all things new
  3. for the grace of God, given that we might be able to work through and for Him
  4. for the presence of God, as He gives Himself to us, that we might enjoy Him and find rest
  5. for the true worship of God, in spirit and truth

A Song of Ascents. 

When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion, 
we were like those who dream. 
Then our mouth was filled with laughter, 
and our tongue with shouts of joy; 
then they said among the nations, 
"The LORD has done great things for them." 
The LORD has done great things for us; 
we are glad. 

Restore our fortunes, O LORD, 
like streams in the Negeb! 
Those who sow in tears 
shall reap with shouts of joy! 
He who goes out weeping, 
bearing the seed for sowing, 
shall come home with shouts of joy, 
bringing his sheaves with him. 
(Psalms 126:1-6 ESV)

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”
(Jeremiah 29:11-13 NIV)


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

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

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!
(Philippians 4:4 NIV)


“Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”
(John 4:23-24 NIV)


There is potentially a lot to unpack here, this morning. I’m not going to try to exhaust it. But I want to focus on a couple of things.

The Jeremiah passage, which is a favorite of many people, is frequently taken out of context. God is speaking, through Jeremiah, to a people in captivity. If you keep reading, you get to verse 14.

I will be found by you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”
(Jeremiah 29:14 NIV)

I believe, though, that this passage still has something for us. It is not unreasonable to read it and believe that our God has plans to “prosper” us. There is some question as to what the means, of course. The word for “prosper” is the familiar Hebrew word “shalom,” which most people think means “peace.” It does mean “peace,” but it means so much more. Shalom is a rich word. It can mean “safe, well, happy, friendly, welfare,” as well as a few others.

In other words, I think it is safe to say that God is looking out for our welfare. Romans 8:28 seems to agree with this, right? Another favorite verse of many people.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
(Romans 8:28 NIV)

The major thing that God did to look out for our welfare, of course, was Jesus. Two weeks ago, I heard a sermon, brief and simple, that asked the question, “How do I know God loves me?” There were various answers given, but at the end, it was all simplified into one, single word.

“Jesus.”

And this is addressed in Psalm 118, another passage that is frequently taken out of context. While it is true that every day is “a day that the Lord has made,” the psalmist was thinking of one particular day when he wrote that.

The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; 
the LORD has done this, 
and it is marvelous in our eyes. 
The LORD has done it this very day;
let us rejoice today and be glad. 
LORD, save us! LORD, grant us success! 
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD. 
From the house of the LORD we bless you. 
(Psalms 118:22-26 NIV)

Part of this passage will be recognized as being shouted from the streets when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the foal of a donkey. And that part that says, “Lord, save us,” which is translated “Save now” in the KJV, becomes “Hosannah!” in the New Testament.

“The LORD has done it this very day!” Or, as some versions translate it, “This is the day that the LORD has made!” What day? The day that the stone that the builders rejected became the cornerstone.

This is great reason to follow the advice of Paul in Philippians when he says, “Rejoice!” It is the way that God has provided for our “prosperity;” our welfare; our “shalom.”

Our response to this, in part, is worship. And Jesus says a lot about worship in His conversation with the woman at the well in John 4.

He spoke of three different kinds of worship. First, He told the Samaritan woman that her people worshiped something that they did not know. This correlates, I think, to a lot of marginal Christians, today, who go through the motions of weekly church attendance and “worship,” not really understanding what they are doing. The benefit, if any, is minimal.

He speaks of His own people, the Jews, worshiping “what we do know,” which is the “truth” piece of the equation. This kind of worship tends to be somewhat “clinical” and rigid.

Then He brings the “spirit” into it. This is what Jesus, Himself, is introducing to us. It was not quite there, yet, you see. Jesus said, “a time is coming and has now come.” As soon as He departed the earth (well, a few days later, actually), the Holy Spirit came on the scene.

In today’s world, we see a lot of “spiritual” worship, much of it not at all based in truth. Not that it’s not worship, but it tends to be rather shallow.

Jesus desires, and speaks, here, of a true worship that incorporates both spirit and truth. This does not mean “from the heart, in sincerity.” You can be sincere and not have truth at all.

Here are some words from Andrew Murray:

“Among Christians there are still three levels of worshipers: some, in their ignorance, hardly know what they are asking. They pray earnestly but receive little. Others, with more knowledge, try to pray with all their minds and heart, but do not attain the full blessing. We must ask our Lord Jesus to take us to the third level: to be taught of Him how to worship in sprit and truth.” (From Teach Me to Pray, quoted in Power in Prayer)

There is something mystical and “magical” (sorry/not sorry) about this true worship. There is a piece to it that we will never understand on this side of “glory.” Yet, we must aspire to it in our own worship, both private and corporate.


Father, I thank You for the things that are taught in today’s Scriptures. I praise You for Your desire to “prosper” us, but understand that that doesn’t mean that You want to make us physically wealthy, necessarily. I mean, I have plenty, but that has not always been the case. And that “worldly wealth” doesn’t mean much to me other than a way to help others, when needed. When I understand that the word is “shalom” in that passage, then it increases my understanding of Your desire to care for us completely.

I thank You, as well, with words that leave much to be desired, for that “day” when Jesus was made the Cornerstone. For that Day that You made for us to rejoice and be glad in it. Certainly every day is a day that You have made, a day for me to rejoice. But that day is a “special” day, worthy of much more rejoicing, worthy of us shouting “Hosanna! Save now!” and “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” Thank You, Father! Thank You!

And I thank You for giving us the record of that conversation between Jesus and the Samaritan woman. Now, I ask that You help us to comprehend what it means to worship in spirit and truth. Many of us have “truth” and not much “spirit.” Some have “spirit” and not much “truth.” Then there are those who are just there, doing the best they can with their limited understanding, which is pretty much of their own making.

Help us to understand the mystical nature of this worship. Or maybe better, just help us to experience it and know it, and maybe understand it later, when we finally arrive in our eternal rest.

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

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


Everything comes from him; 
Everything happens through him; 
Everything ends up in him. 
Always glory! 
Always praise! 
Yes. Yes. Yes. 
(Romans 11:36 MSG)

Grace and peace, friends.

Happy

Today is Thursday, the 3rd of November, 2022, in the 31st week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ guard your heart and mind, today!

Day 23,611

Another reminder to set your clocks back an hour Saturday night/Sunday morning, if you live in the US.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

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

Lord our God, rule over us in strength, and grant us your light. Let your Spirit be with us to confirm what has already taken place in our hearts, so that we have joy and trust even under all the strain and stress of this life. Shine into the darkness of the world. Shine for all people. May we be shown more and more clearly what we have been created for. Strengthen our faith for the future, our faith in everything good, for however hidden the good may be, it must at last come to the light. May we and all the world bring praise and honor to you. Amen.

(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.
(1 John 1:5 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. that no matter how hidden the good may be, it will eventually come to the light
  2. that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all
  3. that God truly wants us to enjoy our lives in Him
  4. for laughter (the best medicine)
  5. that I have someone to love, something to do, something to hope for, something to believe in, and something to laugh about; therefore, I am happy!

I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live;
(Ecclesiastes 3:12 ESV)

But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him.
(Romans 10:8-12 ESV)

to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
(Ephesians 1:6-10 ESV)


But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.
(Jude 1:20-21 ESV)


I really enjoyed Patricia Lorenz’s devotional reading in Daily Guideposts 2022, for today.

What makes you happy? What does it take for you to be happy? I’ve often talked about the difference between happiness and joyfulness, but that is usually in referenced to the subject of joy. Today, it’s about happiness. Because, even though we understand the difference between happiness and joy, it doesn’t mean that we don’t care about happiness.

And I truly believe that our God wants us to be “happy” in our lives with Him. I’m speaking in a broad generality, here. The only way to be happy 24/7 is to be totally oblivious to anything else around us. We aren’t always going to be “happy.” But, in general, I think that God wants us to have a happy life. He wants us to enjoy life.

Ms. Lorenz shares five things that she believes a person needs to be happy:

  1. someone to love
  2. something to do
  3. something to hope for
  4. something to believe in
  5. something to laugh about

That’s a pretty good list, I think. She narrows it down further, though, and says that the two most important are something to believe in and something to laugh about.

Is that surprising? That she includes laughing as one of the most important things? Perhaps.

When I was but a lad, my parents had a subscription to Reader’s Digest. I always looked forward to the next edition coming in the mail. Whenever it came, I would grab it and immediately read all of the jokes in the magazine. One of the joke pages was called “Laughter, the Best Medicine.” As I looked that up, today, I saw that there are a number of books that have been published, through the years, compiling a lot of those jokes.

Laughter is truly good for us. I believe that has been scientifically proven. One website says this about laughter: “It draws people together in ways that trigger healthy physical and emotional changes in the body. Laughter strengthens your immune system, boosts mood, diminishes pain, and protects you from the damaging effects of stress. Nothing works faster or more dependably to bring your mind and body back into balance than a good laugh. Humor lightens your burdens, inspires hope, connects you to others, and keeps you grounded, focused, and alert. It also helps you release anger and forgive sooner.” (Seen at HelpGuide.org)

Says Patricia, “If we believe in God and have faith that our lives will turn out okay with God’s help, then we truly have nothing to worry about.”

That is a truthful statement, that lines up with every bit of God’s Word. It’s a simplification of a lot of different Scripture verses all mashed together. And it echoes my favorite Dallas Willard quote, which can be found in different variations in different sources.

“Surely this world is a perfectly safe place for me to be
Because I dwell and abide with God in the fullness of his life in the Kingdom of the Heavens forever.”

That particular quote is from Dallas Willard’s own paraphrase of Psalm 23.

I have someone to love. Several someones, in fact.

I have something to do. Even in my state of semi-retirement, not a day goes by that I have nothing to do. In fact, I even catch myself thinking that I don’t have time to do everything that I have to do.

I have something to hope for. “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’s blood and righteousness.” My hope is for the future life of eternity in the presence of the fullness of God.

I have something to believe in. I believe in God the Father, maker of heaven and earth; I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son; I believe in the Holy Spirit, who encourages and empowers us.

I have things to laugh about. Some of my Facebook friends are quite faithful to share puns and “dad jokes” and other things that are funny.

I am, in general, happy.

And I am grateful to Patricia Lorenz for reminding me of this.


Father, I am grateful that I have someone to love, something to do, something to hope for, something to believe in, and something to laugh about. I am grateful that, because I believe in You, and that my hope is in Christ, and that I am walking in Your Kingdom (however unsteady that walk may be), that I have nothing to worry about, and that this universe is a perfectly safe place for me to be.

I am so very grateful for laughter. Not a day goes by, I don’t think, that I don’t laugh about something. I am thankful for my sense of humor, no matter how bad the jokes may be, sometimes. I am also thankful that You have given me the ability to laugh at myself, sometimes, especially when I do something stupid.

I pray for Your Church, Father, that we might all be aware of the blessings that we have in our lives. And if there is someone who does not think that they have someone to love, please bring that person or those people into their lives, that they will both have someone to love and someone who loves them, as well.

I thank You for Patricia Lorenz and her writing in Daily Guideposts. May You bless her richly, today, Father.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


What kind of tree fits in your hand? A palm tree.

What building has the most stories? The library.

Grace and peace, friends.

Who Are You?

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

May the peace of Christ dwell within you, today!

Day 23,604

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

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

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

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

Today I am grateful:

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

A Person’s Value

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


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

Grace and peace, friends.

Of Conspiracies, Fear, and Love

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

May the peace of Christ enfold you, today!

Day 23,597

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

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

Today I am grateful:

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

Where I Need to Be, by Daryl Madden

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

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

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

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

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

Please visit Daryl’s site at the link provided.

To Love Means, by Daryl Madden

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is it ever enough?

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


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

Grace and peace, friends.

The Keeper

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

May the peace of Christ dwell within you today!

Day 23,590

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

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

Today I am grateful:

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The work of the Holy Trinity is keeping me.

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

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


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

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

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

You are my Keeper.

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

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


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

Grace and peace, friends.

Of Holiness and Knowledge

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

May the peace of Christ be with you today!

Day 23,583

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

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

My Friend of Lighty, by Daryl Madden

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

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

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

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

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

Please visit Daryl’s site at the link above.


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

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

Today I am grateful:

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

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

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


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

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


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


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

I get it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You think you know?

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

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


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

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

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

Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus!


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

Grace and peace, friends.

Faith and Knowledge

Today is Thursday, the twenty-ninth of September, 2022, in the twenty-sixth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you today!

Day 23,576

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit will be updated following this blog, today.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Dear Father in heaven, grant us your Spirit so that here on earth we may be united with you in Jesus Christ the Savior. May truth dawn on us with its light, bringing joy no matter what happens to us. May all the pain in our lives be turned into birth pangs of a new life in which we can rejoice as people you have created, people prepared for the struggle on earth, who are called into battle and led to victory. Grant that we may not be blinded by the surrounding darkness. Shed a clear light on the new life that is coming. May we see what has already happened because Jesus Christ came to the earth and remains on earth, and may we see what is still to come through him, the Savior. O God of wonders, keep us aware of the wonders that increasingly surround us, until all the pain on earth is finally overcome and we men glorify your love and your great goodness. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.
(John 16:21-22 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. that all of the grief and suffering we see in the world will eventually be turned into joy
  2. that we are not blinded by the darkness that surrounds us
  3. for the faith of a child, but also for knowledge that comes with growth and maturity
  4. that You do not hide Yourself from us
  5. for new beginnings

Beloved, do not imitate evil but imitate good. Whoever does good is from God; whoever does evil has not seen God.
(3 John 1:11 ESV)

And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your Teacher. And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.
(Isaiah 30:20-21 ESV)

Oh come, let us sing to the LORD; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!
(Psalms 95:1-2 ESV)

For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.
(1 Timothy 4:4-5 ESV)

So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.”
(John 11:41-42 ESV)


“Do not imitate evil but imitate good.” Seems simple enough. Except when we can’t agree on what is evil and what is good. Paul told Timothy that everything created by God is good, and, as long as we receive it with thanksgiving, it’s not to be rejected.

There are some things that are evil, and there are some things that are good. And there are quite a few things that are neutral, with no inherent good or evil attached to them. What makes a thing “good” or “evil” is the intent with which it is used. If it is used to harm another, it becomes evil.

The major difference, here, though is thanksgiving. Gratitude is key. I’ve been expressing daily gratitude for at least a couple years, now. One writer said that his aunt told him, “If you never lose your sense of thanksgiving, you will always find a sense of happiness. Gratitude will change your attitude for the better.” (Scott Walker, Daily Guideposts 2022).

That, of course, sounds rather cliche and overly simplistic, but there is truth to it. I’ve been attempting to maintain that “attitude of gratitude” for some time, now. Some days it is easier than others. Today, it is more of a struggle, for personal reasons. Nevertheless, it is there, and I will express it, and, in the expressing, will move my heart in the right direction.

We are to sing to the Lord, we are to “come into His presence with thanksgiving.” Note that this particular passage doesn’t say anything about any other offering than thanksgiving. Sometimes, it is enough to simply be grateful for the gifts that God has given us.

So, to imitate what is good, we begin by being grateful. I, personally, would find it difficult to truly give thanks to God for something with which I intend to do harm.

Two good things, for which I am grateful, are faith and knowledge. There is a difference between those two. The faith of a child requires little to no knowledge. But as we grow and mature, we gain knowledge. Does that increase or decrease our faith? I suppose that depends upon the person. For me, the more knowledge I obtain, the greater my faith. I can’t explain that. But that “faith of a child” becomes faith that is more mature. “I believe” becomes “I know,” which, in the case of things like the existence of God, is still based on faith. Because I cannot prove to you that God exists. Nevertheless, I know He does.


Father, I praise You for faith, and I praise You for knowledge. I like them both. I love having faith, but I also really enjoy gaining knowledge, which, in my case, increases my faith. The more I know about You, the more I believe in Your Word and Your Truth.

I pray that my faith continues to increase as I continue to get older. I also pray that my sense of gratitude and thanksgiving will not only continue, but will also grow. I pray that this sense of gratitude will also increase my satisfaction of You and my life. May I always be satisfied in You and in Christ.

I pray for Your constant guidance in my life. May I always be looking to You to tell me which way to go in my life. And, as always, I pray for more love for others. Help me to clothe myself with the compassion, patience, kindness, humility, and grace that are mentioned in that Colossians passage. May I imitate good, rather than evil, in my life.

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

Even so, come soon, Lord 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. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
(Philippians 4:8-9 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Chesed

Today is Thursday, the twenty-second of September, 2022, in the twenty-fifth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ find you today!

Day 23,569

I’m up early, this morning, because I’m due at the Hurst Conference Center by 8:00 AM for the annual Hurst Way Conference for all city employees. If I have time, I will update Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit after I finish my devotional, this morning.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, we lift our hearts to you, for you have given great promises to those who fear you. Let your Word strengthen us in faith, patience, and hope. Be with all those who call upon you, pleading for help in our time. For these times must work for our good, and in spite of sin, death, and all evil we can find joy in what you are doing. We call to you, O Lord our God. Let your hand be revealed, that something may be seen besides human striving and the efforts of human hands. Let the work of your hand be visible to many, to all peoples on this earth. May your name be honored, O Lord our God, your kingdom come, and your will be done on earth as in heaven. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
he does not treat us as our sins deserve 
or repay us according to our iniquities. 
For as high as the heavens are above the earth, 
so great is his love for those who fear him; 
as far as the east is from the west, 
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
(Psalms 103:10-12 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. that God does not treat us as our sins deserve
  2. that His love for us is as high as the heavens are above the earth
  3. for the steadfast love, the chesed, of the Lord
  4. that God never sleeps nor slumbers (Psalm 121:4); He is always watching, always listening
  5. that Jesus Christ did not seek to enjoy the Father’s love for Himself alone; He passed it on to us” (Andrew Murray)

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


Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them, the one who also had leaned back against him during the supper and had said, “Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?” When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?” Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!” So the saying spread abroad among the brothers that this disciple was not to die; yet Jesus did not say to him that he was not to die, but, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?”
(John 21:20-23 ESV)

Here is a good argument that we are not supposed to be so concerned about other people, but to take care of our own business. We are not to be “pointing fingers” at those around us. We need to pay attention to our own relationship with Christ, especially as it concerns our own sin. One of my Facebook friends posted something yesterday, with which I heartily agree. “The TRINITY is more concerned about how you deal with your sin than the laws you support to deal with the sin of others.” (Aaron Smith, professional drummer) Jesus’s answer, when we say, “What about this guy?” is “What is that to you?”

I love the last verse of John’s Gospel.

Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.
(John 21:25 ESV)

I don’t think it unreasonable to add “and said” at the end of the first sentence. Certainly, Jesus said more than just the words that are included in the Gospels.


Manasseh led Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem astray, to do more evil than the nations whom the LORD destroyed before the people of Israel. The LORD spoke to Manasseh and to his people, but they paid no attention. Therefore the LORD brought upon them the commanders of the army of the king of Assyria, who captured Manasseh with hooks and bound him with chains of bronze and brought him to Babylon. And when he was in distress, he entreated the favor of the LORD his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers. He prayed to him, and God was moved by his entreaty and heard his plea and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD was God.
(2 Chronicles 33:9-13 ESV, emphasis added)

I find great encouragement in this passage of 2 Chronicles. Manasseh was likely the most evil king that Judah had. And even though he waited until he was in desperate trouble before he cried out to God, God heard him and was “moved by his entreaty.” You see, it doesn’t matter how evil and wicked we might be. If we cry out to God, He is compassionate and merciful. His chesed will be shown.


Speaking of chesed . . .

I will sing of the steadfast love of the LORD, forever; 
with my mouth I will make known 
your faithfulness to all generations. 
For I said, "Steadfast love will be built up forever; 
in the heavens you will establish your faithfulness."
(Psalms 89:1-2 ESV)

Both times it says “steadfast love,” the Hebrew word is chesed. Many are familiar with the KJV of verse 1 that says, “I will sing of the mercies of the Lord, forever.” I seem to remember an old Sunday School song from that verse.

Let the heavens praise your wonders, O LORD, 
your faithfulness in the assembly of the holy ones! 
For who in the skies can be compared to the LORD? 
Who among the heavenly beings is like the LORD, 
a God greatly to be feared in the council of the holy ones, 
and awesome above all who are around him? 
O LORD God of hosts, who is mighty as you are, O LORD, 
with your faithfulness all around you?
(Psalms 89:5-8 ESV)

Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
(Psalms 121:4 ESV)

To you, O LORD, I call; my rock, be not deaf to me, lest, if you be silent to me, I become like those who go down to the pit.
(Psalms 28:1 ESV)

Most of the time, Psalm 121:4 is referenced when speaking of God’s protection. He is always watching over us; He never sleeps.

But Rick Hamlin, in today’s Daily Guideposts, brings another perspective to this. God is also always listening. He never “shuts off” His listening. He doesn’t “mute” us. Comforting, yes, but it means He also hears all of our rants and complaining. And He continues, nevertheless, to rain down His steadfast love on us.

Just something to ponder, this morning.


Father, as I consider Your Words, this morning, I am comforted and encouraged. I am glad to remember that You never slumber nor sleep; that You are always watching, always listening. The very thought that You care enough for us to extend Your steadfast love and mercy to us, even when we bitterly complain, is astonishing. Were we You, we would have given up on us long ago. I fear some of us have, actually.

I pray for Your people, Father, especially those who have lost their way. For those who might be stumbling or wandering, Father, I pray for Your Spirit to guide them back to Your loving arms, to experience Your glorious chesed in ways that they never imagined. Help us all to know this steadfast love every single minute of every day, Father!

Oh, Lord, You do not treat us as our sins deserve, and have cast our sins as far as the east is from the west! What glorious thought! What wonderful news! Help us to embrace this, Father, as we consider Your great love for us, today!

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


You have granted me life and steadfast love, and your care has preserved my spirit.
(Job 10:12 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.