That Your Joy May Be Complete

Today is Thursday, the 9th of March, 2023, in the second week of Lent.

Peace be with you.

Day 23,737

I slept late, this morning, until almost 9:00 AM. And I woke up in a bit of a fog. I wonder if that is a sign that I should have gotten up at 7:30, when I was awake for a few minutes. Plus I had a really bizarre dream right before I woke up. So I’ll confess right off the bat that I’m not exactly in a good mental place, this morning.

We may or may not be taking S to her Club Metro tonight. If not, I have a recipe ready to cook for dinner.

C woke up not feeling well, so she is working from home again, today. And that’s pretty much all of I’ve got, so I will see if I can wax spiritual for a few minutes, now.


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

Can I ever truly say that I have cried out to God with my “whole heart?”

Daily Prayer from

Dear Father in heaven, we thank you as your children, whom you know how to gather. You have brought us into community with you in a wonderful way, in the midst of a world full of unrest, full of misery, and full of sin. For you know your children and lead them into community with you. You comfort them. You give them strength of faith, and confidence in your rulership and your kingdom, which will prevail over everything evil and deathly that still seems to control humankind. But your dominion reaches far, far beyond. You will keep us in your hands. For the sake of those who trust in you, you will send your grace and your help into the whole world. Amen.

but if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.
(1 John 1:7 NRSV)

Today I am grateful:

  • that God, in this world of unrest, misery, and sin, leads us into community, where He comforts us and strengthens us
  • for my morning coffee
  • that God expects us to ask Him for things; if we call to Him, He will show us great things (Jeremiah 33:3)
  • that Almighty God, maker of heaven and earth, cares for us
  • for the reason Jesus gave His disciples for asking, that they may receive, “that your joy may be complete”

"Ask, and it will be given you; 
search, and you will find; 
knock, and the door will be opened for you. 
For everyone who asks receives, 
and everyone who searches finds, 
and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened."
(Matthew 7:7-8 NRSV)
To get wisdom is to love oneself; 
to keep understanding is to prosper.
(Proverbs 19:8 NRSV)
For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, 
abounding in steadfast love to all who call on you. 
Give ear, O LORD, to my prayer;
 listen to my cry of supplication. 
In the day of my trouble I call on you,
 for you will answer me.
(Psalms 86:5-7 NRSV)

Restore us, O God of hosts; 
let your face shine, 
that we may be saved.
(Psalms 80:7 NRSV)
My lips will shout for joy when I sing praises to you; 
my soul also, which you have rescued.
(Psalms 71:23 NRSV)
Summon your might, O God; 
show your strength, O God, 
as you have done for us before.
(Psalms 68:28 NRSV)
O LORD, what are human beings that you regard them, 
or mortals that you think of them? 
They are like a breath; 
their days are like a passing shadow. 
Bow your heavens, O LORD, and come down; 
touch the mountains so that they smoke. 
Make the lightning flash and scatter them; 
send out your arrows and rout them. 
Stretch out your hand from on high;
 set me free and rescue me from the mighty waters, 
from the hand of aliens, 
whose mouths speak lies, 
and whose right hands are false.
(Psalms 144:3-8 NRSV)
Evening and morning and at noon
 I utter my complaint and moan, 
and he will hear my voice.
(Psalms 55:17 NRSV)

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 before the passion of your only-begotten Son 
revealed his glory upon the holy mountain:
Grant that I,
beholding by faith the light of his countenance,
may be strengthened to bear my cross,
and be changed into his likeness from glory to glory;
through Jesus Christ my Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God,
for ever and ever.
(The Divine Hours - The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

The LORD is near to all who call on him, 
to all who call on him in truth.
(Psalms 145:18 NRSV)

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

“Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete.”
(John 16:24 NRSV)

“With my whole heart I cry,” says the psalmist. I’ve already said that I don’t really think I have ever succeeded in crying out to God “with my whole heart.” Because my heart, just as most people’s, I am confident, is divided; divided between many things. My “life verse” speaks of that.

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)

I have prayed that verse so many times, in my life. So, has God not answered it? I think it’s a lot more complicated than that. I believe that my heart is less divided today than it was a decade ago. More and more I am finding that I am more satisfied with just the idea of being with God. That subject has come up several times, recently.

There is a “humility of heart,” of which someone in Renovare spoke, recently, that creates this preference, this desire to be with God more than talking about Him like He’s not in the room.

He is, of course, in the room. But how often do we sit around in our small groups and talk about Him as if He isn’t? And how often, as we sit around and talk about Him, do we get it wrong?

For he knows how we were made; 
he remembers that we are dust.
(Psalms 103:14 NRSV)

Several times, in today’s Scriptures, we are admonished to ask. “Ask, and it will be given to you,” said Jesus. I believe that it is implied, in Proverbs 19:8, that we need to be asking for wisdom, especially if we love ourselves. How else do we “get wisdom?”

Psalm 144 echoes the question of Psalm 8.

When I look at your heavens, 
the work of your fingers,
 the moon and the stars that you have established; 
what are human beings that you are mindful of them, 
mortals that you care for them?
(Psalms 8:3-4 NRSV)

What are we, that God cares for us?? We are mere humans; He is infinitely higher and greater than us! Yet, He does care for us, which is why the psalmists are asking this question! They don’t get it. And if I sit and think about it for very long, neither do I.

The God of the Universe, God Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, and everything in between, cares for us, puny little things that are like the sands of the seashore.

This is a miracle. And this God, who has come to us in human form as Jesus Christ, bids us ask Him for things.

Psalm 145 declares that this God is near to all who call upon Him. That one does add the condition “in truth.” God is near to all who call on Him in truth. What is truth?

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)

Jesus is the truth. Therefore, God is near to all who call on Him through Jesus. I am, as far as I can tell, in Jesus. Therefore, when I call upon God, He is near me. I can’t explain how God, who is always here, can be any more near me than He already is. But I will tell you something from experience. It certainly feels like He is more near sometimes than others. Right now, as I am typing this, I feel Hes presence so close to me that is almost disarming. Not in a scary way; in a positive way.

All of the “fogginess” that I started this day with seems to have evaporated. Because I have done what His Word tells me to do. I have called upon Him and He is near me, embracing me, strengthening me, helping me.

Jesus told His disciples that they hadn’t asked anything of Him, yet. Or, rather, that they had not asked anything “in my name,” He said. “Ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete.”

What better reason for asking than that one?

Teach me Your way, O Lord, that I may walk in Your truth. Unite my heart to fear/revere Your name! Help me, O God, to call out to You with my whole heart. I suppose it is normal for my heart to be divided. There are many things in this world that I like. Most of them are not harmful. Reading, for example. Playing my video games. but when I pray, Father, I need my heart to be fully Yours. When I am meditating or contemplating Your beautiful presence, I need an undivided heart. Help me to do this; help me to accomplish this. Unite my heart, Lord.

And help me to be more confident in my asking. I believe that I am “in Christ,” and, therefore, when I am asking, calling upon You, I am calling upon You “in truth.” But so often I hesitate to ask. I am unsure of my own motives for asking. So make my motivation for asking be that thing that Jesus told His disciples; that my joy may be complete.

You are good, Lord. You are the only true good. Every good and perfect gift that I receive comes from You. I have nothing in my possession that I can call my own. I have nothing to bring to Your table other than my sin, for, as Horatius Bonar said, that is the only thing that I have that I can call my own.

Take my sin, Father; forgive it. Do that thing You said You would do; forget it; cast it as far as the east is from the west; cast it into the bottom of the depths of the sea. And maybe help me to forget that I did those things, too? Memory is a curse, sometimes.

I praise You, my God, for all that You do for all mankind. You make the rain to fall on the just and the unjust. Your compassion flows over into those who even refuse to acknowledge Your existence. All praise and glory to You, Father.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!

I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, 
with my whole heart, 
and I will glorify your name forever. 
For great is your steadfast love toward me; 
you have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol.
(Psalms 86:12-13 NRSV)

Grace and peace, friends.

The Sovereignty of God

Today is Thursday, the 2nd of March, 2023, in the first week of Lent.

May the peace of God, that passes all understanding, guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus!

Day 23,730 (the number of days since I was born)

I am curious if anyone in the community knows what has happened to our photographer friend, Paul Militaru, in Romania. For about a week or so, now, whenever I try to visit his site, I have gotten this:

I am quite concerned about him. And I miss seeing his lovely photos.

I made it to choir practice, after work, last night. I’m glad I did. I enjoy singing with the group, but it makes for a long day. The rehearsals are important, right now, though, because we are planning a cantata for Good Friday, as well as an anthem for Easter morning. There is a Maundy Thursday service, but it doesn’t look like the choir is singing for that.

Yesterday’s work day was fine. Nothing unusual happened, and patrons were cleared out by closing time, so there weren’t any “lingerers” that kept us from closing up on time.

I don’t have much on my agenda for today. I’ll be cooking dinner tonight, since S had no Club Metro event on the first Thursday of each month. I will need to leave the house for a few minutes, at some point, to pick up a prescription, and, of course, to get Sonic drinks.


You are righteous, O LORD, 
and your judgments are right.
(Psalms 119:137 NRSV)

Daily Prayer from

Dear Father in heaven, we ask you from our hearts to give us your peace. Grant that nothing may take your peace from us, and protect us from all that is evil. May we always be mindful that we should serve you in self-denial. May we be faithful on all our ways, looking to the great promise you have given each one of us. Keep us under your protection, as you have always done. We praise and thank you for all that comes to our hearts from you, making us full of trust and certain of your further help. Amen.

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that is taking place among you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you are sharing Christ’s sufferings, so that you may also be glad and shout for joy when his glory is revealed.
(1 Peter 4:12-13 NRSV)

Today I am grateful:

  • for the support and encouragement that comes from the community of saints
  • that nothing on earth can take away the peace that God gives me
  • for every good and perfect gift that comes from God
  • for God’s sovereignty in this world
  • for the Kingdom of God, which is here, now, available for anyone to enter in; this is the Gospel, the Good News

Do not, O LORD, withhold your mercy from me; 
let your steadfast love and your faithfulness keep me safe forever.
(Psalms 40:11 NRSV)
My heart is steadfast, O God, 
my heart is steadfast. 
I will sing and make melody.
(Psalms 57:7 NRSV)
Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you; 
he will never permit the righteous to be moved.
(Psalms 55:22 NRSV)

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.

"Most loving Father,
whose will it is for us to give thanks for all things,
to fear nothing but the loss of you,
and to cast all our cares on you who cares for us:
Preserve me from faithless fears and worldly anxieties,
that no clouds of this mortal life
 may hide from me the light of this love which is immortal, 
and which you have manifested to us 
in your Son Jesus Christ our Lord;
who lives and reigns with you, 
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, 
one God, now and for ever. 
(The Divine Hours - The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

Happy are those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or take the path that sinners tread, or sit in the seat of scoffers; but their delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law they meditate day and night.
(Psalms 1:1-2 NRSV)

But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—
(Ephesians 2:4-5 NRSV)

And when the priests came out of the holy place, a cloud filled the house of the LORD, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud; for the glory of the LORD filled the house of the LORD.
(1 Kings 8:10-11 NRSV)

“Blessed be the LORD, who has given rest to his people Israel according to all that he promised; not one word has failed of all his good promise, which he spoke through his servant Moses. The LORD our God be with us, as he was with our ancestors; may he not leave us or abandon us, but incline our hearts to him, to walk in all his ways, and to keep his commandments, his statutes, and his ordinances, which he commanded our ancestors. Let these words of mine, with which I pleaded before the LORD, be near to the LORD our God day and night, and may he maintain the cause of his servant and the cause of his people Israel, as each day requires; so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God; there is no other. Therefore devote yourselves completely to the LORD our God, walking in his statutes and keeping his commandments, as at this day.”
(1 Kings 8:56-61 NRSV)

When David’s time to die drew near, he charged his son Solomon, saying: “I am about to go the way of all the earth. Be strong, be courageous, and keep the charge of the LORD your God, walking in his ways and keeping his statutes, his commandments, his ordinances, and his testimonies, as it is written in the law of Moses, so that you may prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn.
(1 Kings 2:1-3 NRSV)

I said to you, “Have no dread or fear of them.”
(Deuteronomy 1:29 NRSV)

Set me as a seal upon your heart, 
as a seal upon your arm; 
for love is strong as death, 
passion fierce as the grave. 
Its flashes are flashes of fire, a raging flame. 
Many waters cannot quench love, 
neither can floods drown it. 
If one offered for love all the wealth of one's house, 
it would be utterly scorned.
(Song of Solomon 8:6-7 NRSV)

Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign forever and ever.”
(Revelation 11:15 NRSV)

I started reading 1 Kings a few days ago, in my journey through the Bible. I have also been reading, along with my Bible reading, a compilation of Eugene H. Peterson’s introductions to the books of the Bible from The Message. The book is called The Invitation: A Simple Guide to the Bible. As he writes about 1 and 2 Kings (in the same chapter), he speaks greatly of God’s sovereignty. “Sovereignty, God’s sovereignty, is one of the most difficult things for people of faith to live out in everyday routines. But we have no choice: God is Sovereign. God rules.”

I recently had a brief discussion on Facebook with a college classmate on the subject of free will. This person, who is a marginal believer, at best, is often full of questions about things. I always enjoy reading his questions. On the surface, at times, they might appear mocking, but I don’t believe that is the intent (it might be, sometimes, granted). I think he is thinking. So, even if the thoughts are heading in the wrong direction, I think it is good that he is thinking about them.

On this subject, he is doubting whether we really have free will if all of God’s prophecies have to come true. And here, I’m sure Peterson’s statement that “we have no choice” would further confound him.

Nevertheless, what Peterson says is ultimately true. While individuals have free will (and my pendulum has swung back and forth on the whole free will/predetermination topic . . . I now call myself a recovering five-point Calvinist), as humanity, we are governed by God’s sovereignty in all things.

Peterson asks how we can live this out. "How do we manage to live believingly and obediently in and under this revealed sovereignty in a world that is mostly either ignorant or defiant of it?
"Worship shaped by an obedient reading of Scripture is basic. We submit to having our imaginations and behaviors conditioned by the reality of God rather than by what is handed out in school curricula and media reporting."

In the stories of the Kings, we see failure after failure after failure. It wasn’t God’s idea for the people to have kings. But God, in His sovereignty, allowed them to do so. And it never worked very well at all.

“Human beings, no matter how well intentioned or gifted, don’t seem to be able to represent God’s rule anywhere close to satisfactorily. The books of Kings, in that light, are a relentless exposition of failure–a relentless five-hundred-year documentation proving that the Hebrew demand of God to ‘have a king’ was about the worst thing they could have asked for.”

But here’s the thing. What we also realize as we read through these two books is that “God continues to work his purposes and uses them in the work–doesn’t discard them, doesn’t detour around them; he uses them.” God uses them whether they want to be used or not, whether they even realize it or not.

Hezekiah had a little understanding of this when he said:

And Hezekiah prayed before the LORD, and said: "O LORD the God of Israel, who are enthroned above the cherubim, you are God, you alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; you have made heaven and earth. Incline your ear, O LORD, and hear; open your eyes, O LORD, and see; hear the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to mock the living God. So now, O LORD our God, save us, I pray you, from his hand, so that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you, O LORD, are God alone." 
(2 Kings 19:15-16, 19 NRSV)

Now here is where the “free will” piece comes into play. “God’s rule is not imposed in the sense that he forces each man and woman into absolute conformity to justice and truth and righteousness. The rule is worked from within, much of the time invisible and unnoticed, but always patiently and resolutely there.” (I wish I had had this quote during the aforementioned discussion.)

When we understand God’s sovereignty in our world (and by “we” I mean Christ-followers, because they are the only ones who can truly understand it), “We quit spinning our wheels on utopian projects and dreams.” We can rest in the knowledge that, no matter how bad it looks out there, God is in control.

Now, in God’s sovereignty, He declares Jesus Christ King over His Kingdom. The verse from Revelation 11, up there is future. It is prophecy. The kingdom of this world has not yet become the kingdom of our Lord. But it will.

Jesus was the one who first announced the Kingdom of God in verses like Mark 1:14-15.

Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.”
(Mark 1:14-15 NRSV)

He announced it, and, at the end, He will accept the title of King of that Kingdom. In this, He also lets us know that God's rule, God's sovereignty, is "comprehensive, established over body as well as soul, over society as well as individuals . . .
"He just as clearly repudiated the accustomed means by which that rule was exercised: he rejected the devil's offer of a position in the government, rebuked the brothers Boanerges for wanting to call down fire from heaven to incinerate their enemies, ordered Peter to put up his sword, and reassured Pilate that the governor's job was in no danger. Finally, to make sure no one missed the point, he arranged that his coronation take place on a cross."
(These quotes from Eugene H. Peterson, Reversed Thunder, quoted in God's Message for Each Day)

By the way, Reversed Thunder may be the best book on Revelation I’ve ever read.

This was long. I apologize for that. If you’re still reading, good on you! 🙂

My point is that, no matter what we see with our eyes or hear with our ears, God is Sovereign, and His Kingdom is alive and well. And His Kingdom, thanks to Jesus Christ, His life, His death on the cross, and His resurrection, is open to all.

Father, I thank You for these truths. I praise You for Your sovereignty in our world. I praise You that Your will will be done, on earth as in heaven. And I am so very thankful for Jesus Christ, who will one day be crowned King over this Kingdom. I cannot wait to be part of that worship service!

All hail King Jesus!! 
All hail Emmanuel!
King of Kings
Lord of Lords
Bright Morning Star
And throughout eternity
I'll sing Your praises
And I'll reign with You
Throughout eternity!

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.

Kyrie Eleison

Today is Thursday, the 23rd of February, 2023, in the season of Lent.

May the peace of Christ find you today.

Day 23,723

Last night’s Ash Wednesday service was wonderful. I think the choir anthem went well, but I will have a better idea of that when the video is posted. It was a very meaningful time for me, especially when the time for the “imposition of ashes” came. We all went to the altar, as usual, for communion, but before the bread and wine, we each got (at our own discretion, of course) the cross of ashes on our forehead.

This morning, I have a doctor appointment at 10:45, which is a follow-up to recheck my blood pressure after a month of raising my medication dosage. Hopefully that will test better, this morning. And hopefully, they won’t yell at me too much as I have had a slight weight gain since last month. But, as they say, it is what it is, right?

Tonight, S has her Club Metro event. They will be playing dodgeball tonight, after having dinner from Jersey Mike’s. We have already signed her up for March’s events, but the schedule is not out, yet. C and I will have dinner together somewhere while S has her event. We look forward to that.


The unfolding of your words gives light; 
it imparts understanding to the simple.
(Psalms 119:130 NRSV)

Daily Prayer from

Lord God, we turn to you, praying that your kingdom may come. May your Jerusalem really come on earth, with all those blessed ones who are allowed to gather around Jesus Christ through forgiveness of sins and the resurrection. Come with your light into our time so that sins may be forgiven and people may find salvation. Remember those in great distress. Come with your help to those struggling with sin or death, for help can come from you alone. Nothing can help us except your fatherly love in Jesus Christ. Praised be your name! Amen.

After this I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands. They cried out in a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!”
(Revelation 7:9-10 NRSV)

Today I am grateful:

  • for that vision in Revelation; it brings me such joy
  • for a wonderful Ash Wednesday worship service, last night
  • for the fatherly love of God in Christ Jesus and His help which comes from Him alone
  • that God, our Father, is rich in mercy
  • for love, without which nothing I do has any value

Turn to me and be gracious to me; 
give your strength to your servant; 
save the child of your serving girl.
(Psalms 86:16 NRSV)
You are a hiding place for me; 
you preserve me from trouble; 
you surround me with glad cries of deliverance. 
(Psalms 32:7 NRSV)
But surely, God is my helper; 
the Lord is the upholder of my life.
(Psalms 54:4 NRSV)
In the beginning was the Word, 
and the Word was with God, 
and the Word was God. 
He was in the beginning with God. 
All things came into being through him,
 and without him not one thing came into being. 
What has come into being in him was life, 
and the life was the light of all people. 
The light shines in the darkness, 
and the darkness did not overcome it.
(John 1:1-5 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 Lord, you have taught us that without love whatever we do is worth nothing:
Send your Holy Spirit and pour into my heart your greatest gift,
which is love,
the true bond of peace and of all virtue,
without which whoever lives is accounted dead before you.
Grant this for the sake of your only Son Jesus Christ,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God,
now and forever.
(The Divine Hours--The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

The LORD passed before him, and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness,”
(Exodus 34:6 NRSV)

“Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.”
(Matthew 5:7 NRSV)

Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
(Hebrews 4:16 NRSV)

The LORD looks down from heaven on humankind 
to see if there are any who are wise, 
who seek after God.
(Psalms 14:2 NRSV)

Kyrie Eleison.

Lord, have mercy.

According to our senior pastor, in last night’s Ash Wednesday sermon, “mercy” is the only characteristic that the Bible says that God is “rich in.” I have not taken the time to verify this. However, I do know that the Bible specifically does say that God is rich in mercy.

But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us . . .
(Ephesians 2:4 NRSV)

And the “rich in mercy” phrase comes right after two of my favorite words in the whole Bible, “But God.”

The word for “mercy” in that verse is “eleos,” which means can be translated as “compassion.” This is the most common word translated “mercy” in the New Testament.

However, we read a passage from Luke, last night, that I will share with you. It is a familiar passage, one that I have quoted frequently, myself.

He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.”
(Luke 18:9-14 NRSV)

In verse 13, the word translated “merciful” is an entirely different Greek word, “hilaskomai.” The meaning is significantly different. “To conciliate, i.e. (transitively) to atone for (sin), or (intransitively) be propitious:—be merciful, make reconciliation for.”

This word is only found twice in the Bible. The other location is Hebrews 2:17.

Therefore he had to become like his brothers and sisters in every respect, so that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make a sacrifice of atonement for the sins of the people.
(Hebrews 2:17 NRSV)

A major theme of Lent is repentance. We focus on reflection and meditation during this time. In many cases, something is given up, in the spirit of abstinence. But the purpose for all of these things is repentance as we reflect on the forty days that Jesus spent in the wilderness, fasting, before being tempted by the devil.

And during this time, we cry Kyrie Eleison. Lord, have mercy.

The “Jesus prayer” is adapted from the Luke passage, from the words of the Tax collector. “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” And note the posture of the tax collector. He would not even look up as he prayed, and he was “beating his breast.” He was guilty. He was remorseful. He repented.

I pray that “Jesus prayer” frequently. Sometimes, multiple times a day. Sometimes I repeat it at night, when I am struggling to fall asleep.

We are not saying that one of these kinds of “mercy” is better than the other. We are simply pointing out the differences. There is another word that is sometimes translated “mercy,” and sometimes translated “steadfast love.” That word is “chesed.” That’s a Hebrew word, found in the Old Testament. It means the same thing as “eleos” in the New Testament, rooted in compassion. (There are also different forms of “eleos” in the New Testament, but this isn’t a Greek lesson.)

Kyrie Eleison.

Lord, have mercy. Lord, forgive my sins. Grant me repentance as I reflect on Jesus, His life, His sacrifice on the Cross. Grant me atonement, that I might live, and in my living, live for You alone. “Have mercy on me, God, according to Your steadfast love. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. . . . Hide Your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me. . . . O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare Your praise.”

“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner!”

All glory to You, Father, 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.

Cling to God

Today is Thursday, the 16th of February, 2023, in the season of Epiphany.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,716

I didn’t make it to choir practice, last night. I had planned to go, but by 6:00 PM, when the library closed, I simply didn’t feel up to it. And it may be that I don’t try that on the alternating weeks when I work at the library. It might be different if the church was closer to home. But I will be there Sunday morning, to sing with the choir, and go over my upcoming solo with the director.

S is not feeling well, this morning, so she may not go to the Club Metro event tonight. I have gotten a grocery order delivered from Kroger, already, and got stuff to make dinner tonight, just in case. I had not planned on needing to do that. In other Club Metro news, they are having an extra outing this coming Saturday, in which they are going bowling. S is quite excited about that. I’m working this Saturday, so that works out just fine, as C and I didn’t have any plans. We do have tentative plans for Sunday, since the choir is singing at the early service and I should be home before 11:00 AM.

I guess that’s about it for today. Baseball season is getting underway, as Spring Training has officially begun. Pitchers and catchers reported Monday, I believe. The Texas Rangers made some drastic (hopefully) improvements to their pitching staff during the off season.


My eyes fail from watching for your salvation, 
and for the fulfillment of your righteous promise.
(Psalms 119:123 NRSV)

Daily Prayer from

Dear Father in heaven, open the door for us, we pray. Grant that we may come to you in spirit. Grant that in you we may find peace and courage for our whole lives. Lead us always by your Spirit. Help us to find your will on earth and grant us access to your heavenly powers, for alone we can do nothing. Strengthen our faith so that we can always serve you. Bless your Word in us. May our hearts be opened, for we are your children, O Lord our God, through Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.

Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit that is from God, so that we may understand the gifts bestowed on us by God.
(1 Corinthians 2:12 NRSV)

Today I am grateful:

  • that we have the Spirit of God, that we may understand His gifts
  • for the peace and courage God gives us, that we may live our lives
  • that the Lord is good to those who wait for Him (Lamentations 3:25)
  • for the “real blessing” that comes from putting my hope in God (Psalm 146, The Message)
  • for the example of Ruth and Naomi, which shows me how I need to cling to God

Be exalted, O God, above the heavens. 
Let your glory be over all the earth. 
(Psalms 57:5 NRSV)
Do not let those who hope in you be put to shame because of me,
 O Lord GOD of hosts;
 do not let those who seek you be dishonored because of me, 
O God of Israel. 
(Psalms 69:6 NRSV)

“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you.”
(Matthew 5:38-42 NRSV)

But Ruth said, “Do not press me to leave you or to turn back from following you! Where you go, I will go; where you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die, I will die—there will I be buried. May the LORD do thus and so to me, and more as well, if even death parts me from you!” When Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more to her.
(Ruth 1:16-18 NRSV)

The LORD is good to those who wait for him,
 to the soul that seeks him.
(Lamentations 3:25 NRSV)
Don't put your life in the hands of experts 
who know nothing of life, of salvation life. 
Mere humans don't have what it takes; 
when they die, their projects die with them. 
Instead, get help from the God of Jacob, 
put your hope in GOD and know real blessing!
(Psalms 146:3-5 MSG)

There are a variety of messages in today’s Scripture readings. The first thing I notice is Jesus’s teachings on turning the other cheek. Most “Christians” would say that they believe this, in principle. But when it comes to reality, to practice, they do not. They tend to have an excuse for when they don’t want to follow this teaching. It usually goes something like that: “Well, Jesus did not expect us to be a doormat, and allow people to simply walk all over us!”


Because that’s exactly what Jesus did. Here’s what happened the night Jesus was arrested. He was beaten until His back was a mass of raw flesh. They pulled out His beard. They blindfolded Him and hit Him with their fists, and said, “Guess who hit you?” The made a crown of thorns, thorns that were likely several inches long, and beat it into His head with a club.

And Jesus let it happen. He took it in silence, never responding, never fighting back. Many of us are familiar with that song, “He could have called ten thousand angels.” Well, He could have. He had that power.

And He didn’t.

So how dare anyone say that He never intended us to let people walk all over us.

At the end of that passage was a tough command. “Give to everyone who begs from you.” That’s a tough one, isn’t it? I confess that I have not done a very good job of that one, myself. I do try to be generous, though.

The next thing I see is Ruth’s devotion to Naomi. This passage is somewhat famous, and is used a lot in weddings, as a couple declare their devotion to one another. And while I don’t have any issue with that, I see this more as an example of how we should cling to God.

The remaining passages give us encouragement in this direction, as well. The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to those who seek Him. We seek, we wait, we cling, refusing to be separated from Him, and He promises us that nothing can do that; nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.

And we get “real blessing” when we put our hope in God, rather than in humans. So I encourage all who read this to cling to God the way Ruth clung to Naomi. It is challenging, I can attest to that, because this world is loud and distracting. It has many attractive temptations. In some of them, there is no danger, no harm. But that is different for different people.

Cling to God like your life depends upon it. Because it does.

Father, first, I pray for the attitude to always be turning the other cheek or going the “extra mile.” May this be done in Your name, Lord, and for no other reason that Your glory in this life. I pray that I will never have a mindset of retaliation when I am wronged. And may I always be able to give to whoever begs from me, without any doubt that it is the right thing to do. Their motivation is not my concern. That is between them and You.

I also need to pray for Your help in my ongoing judgmental attitude. It crops up when I least expect it. It usually only occurs in my thoughts. At least I have gotten better about letting it come out of my mouth. But the thoughts need to stop, as well. So I pray for Your Spirit to put a stop to that, Lord.

I also ask that You would help me cling to You like Ruth clung to Naomi. My life depends on You, Father. As I have heard one of the congregants of LWLC say to one of our pastors, “I can’t live one second without Jesus.” How true this is. So let me cling to You, Lord, even if it makes me look like a fool.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

Psalm 86:11

Today is Thursday, the 12th of January, 2023, in the season of Epiphany.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you today!

Day 23,681

I had an unusually productive day, yesterday, and I’m feeling pretty good about it. I made a quick trip to the grocery store for some necessary items. After I had my lunch, I played my trombone for twenty to thirty minutes (yes, I got my new squirt bottle!). Then I walked on the treadmill for close to 45 minutes, after which I showered and cooked dinner for the family. Then after dinner, I went to my first choir practice at Living Word Lutheran Church. It was fun, but I’m going to be really busy with their schedule, especially since I signed up to be in their orchestra, as well.

For example, I will have to be at the church by 8:15, this coming Sunday, as the choir is singing in the 8:45 service. Then I need to stick around for the orchestra rehearsal, which begins immediately after the 11:00 service. Oh, and there’s a Saturday morning choir “retreat,” this weekend. Fortunately, the orchestra rehearsals are only the two weeks preceding the performance in a Sunday morning service. We will be playing in both services on Sunday, January 29 (and the choir is singing in both services, as well . . . that will be fun!).

No doubt, I will not be able to make every Sunday performance, but I will make as many as I can. There are also some weeknight services that I may or may not be able to make. There will be an Ash Wednesday service on February 22. It looks like I won’t be working that day, so I should be able to make that. However, there is also a service on Good Friday, and the choir is scheduled to sing a cantata that evening. I always work on Fridays, so I don’t know if I will be able to make that one.

But it has been a very long time since I have sung this kind of music, and I am enjoying it immensely. And looking ahead, I see that Andrew Peterson’s “Is He Worthy” is in our folder, and I am very excited about that! I love that song!

Just a quick note on our crazy weather. We have broken heat records for two days in a row, with temps at 82 on Tuesday (previous record was 77, in 2017) and 85 yesterday (previous record was 80, also in 2017). And then today’s high is projected to be thirty degrees lower, at 55. It will be below freezing tomorrow morning. But at least we are closer to the average temps for these days, now, which for today is 59/36.

In sad news, we lost Jeff Beck, yesterday. Beck was recognized by many as one of the premier guitar players of our lifetime. He died of a sudden case of bacterial meningitis, at the age of 78. Here is a video I like of Beck and Rod Stewart performing “People Get Ready.” Stewart once described Beck as being “on another planet.”


They have almost made an end of me on earth; 
but I have not forsaken your precepts.
(Psalms 119:87 NRSV)

Dear Father in heaven, you let us see and feel your great goodness toward us. Grant us the inner help to be victorious in the Savior, rejoicing to be by his side with faith and loyalty, and with the strength of soul that frees us from all burdens by laying them in your hands. Hear us as together we pray to you. All we ask and long for, all our concerns down to the very smallest, we lay in your hands in the one great request that your name be glorified on earth as it is in heaven. Amen.

Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you; 
he will never permit the righteous to be moved.
(Psalms 55:22 NRSV)

Today I am grateful:

  • for God’s great goodness toward us, His provision and His protection
  • that He will not allow us to be moved or shaken
  • for the blessing of singing praises to the name of the Lord
  • for the effectiveness of prayer
  • for the gift of faith, a heart that believes
  • for Psalm 86:11, “Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart to revere your name.”

Sing aloud to God our strength; shout for joy to the God of Jacob. 
Raise a song, sound the tambourine, the sweet lyre with the harp. 
Blow the trumpet at the new moon, at the full moon, on our festal day.
For it is a statute for Israel, an ordinance of the God of Jacob.
(Psalms 81:1-4 NRSV)
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)
My mouth will tell of your righteous acts, 
of your deeds of salvation all day long,
though their number is past my knowledge.
(Psalms 71:15 NRSV)
People will say, "Surely there is a reward for the righteous; 
surely there is a God who judges on earth."
(Psalms 58:11 NRSV)
The woman said to him, "I know that Messiah is coming" (who is called Christ). "When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us." 
Jesus said to her, "I am he, the one who is speaking to you."
(John 4:25-26 NRSV)
Summon your might, O God; show your strength, O God, 
as you have done for us before. 
Because of your temple at Jerusalem kings bear gifts to you. 
Rebuke the wild animals that live among the reeds, 
the herd of bulls with the calves of the peoples. 
Trample under foot those who lust after tribute; 
scatter the peoples who delight in war. 
Let bronze be brought from Egypt; 
let Ethiopia hasten to stretch out its hands to God. 
Sing to God, O kingdoms of the earth; 
sing praises to the Lord, 


O rider in the heavens, the ancient heavens; 
listen, he sends out his voice, his mighty voice. 
Ascribe power to God, whose majesty is over Israel; 
and whose power is in the skies. 
Awesome is God in his sanctuary, the God of Israel; 
he gives power and strength to his people. Blessed be God!
(Psalms 68:28-35 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.

"Father in heaven, who at the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan proclaimed him your beloved Son and anointed him with the Holy Spirit: Grant that all who are baptized into His Name may keep the covenant they have made, and boldly confess him as Lord and Savior; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen."
(The Divine Hours, The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

“When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”
(Matthew 6:7-8 NRSV)

In your strength the king rejoices, O LORD, 
and in your help how greatly he exults! 
You have given him his heart's desire, 
and have not withheld the request of his lips.


For you meet him with rich blessings; 
you set a crown of fine gold on his head. 
He asked you for life; 
you gave it to him—length of days forever and ever.
(Psalms 21:1-4 NRSV)
O LORD, my strength and my stronghold, my refuge in the day of trouble, 
to you shall the nations come from the ends of the earth and say: 
Our ancestors have inherited nothing but lies, 
worthless things in which there is no profit. 
Can mortals make for themselves gods? 
Such are no gods!
(Jeremiah 16:19-20 NRSV)

So this is my prayer: that your love will flourish and that you will not only love much but well. Learn to love appropriately. You need to use your head and test your feelings so that your love is sincere and intelligent, not sentimental gush. Live a lover’s life, circumspect and exemplary, a life Jesus will be proud of: bountiful in fruits from the soul, making Jesus Christ attractive to all, getting everyone involved in the glory and praise of God.
(Philippians 1:9-11 MSG)

“But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and I will multiply my signs and wonders in the land of Egypt. When Pharaoh does not listen to you, I will lay my hand upon Egypt and bring my people the Israelites, company by company, out of the land of Egypt by great acts of judgment. The Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring the Israelites out from among them.”
(Exodus 7:3-5 NRSV)

“Whatever experiences we may have, we shall not regard them as miraculous if we already hold a philosophy which excludes the supernatural.” (C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock, quoted in the C.S. Lewis Bible)

Psalm 86:11 (quoted above) is my “life verse.” I don’t exactly remember when it became so, but I believe it was early in the time that we lived in our current home, so somewhere in the last two decades, as we have lived in this home for almost 24 years. It is the first bookmark in the Bible program on this computer on which I am typing.

It is a beautiful prayer, that features honesty and humility before the Lord. First, a request to “teach me your way, O LORD.” This is similar to many verses in Psalm 119, which I have been working through at the pace of roughly a verse a day. God’s “way” is seen in two places. It is seen in His Word (the written Word), and it is seen in His Word (the living Word, the Son of God).

The reason for the request is so that “I may walk in your truth.” This truth, just like the way, is found in both the written Word and the living Word. In fact, Jesus called Himself “the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” Jesus is “the Way.” And Jesus is “the Truth.” So, even though he did not realize it, the psalmist who wrote Psalm 86 (it is attributed to David) was asking to walk in the way of Jesus, the Messiah.

But it is the second phrase in this verse that gives me even more inspiration. The honesty and humility of it are refreshing. “Give me an undivided heart to revere your name.” To pray for an undivided heart is to admit that my heart is, in fact, divided.

And certainly it is. My heart is divided in so many directions. Perhaps I can honestly say that God takes up the biggest portion of it, but I’m not even sure that would be truthful. I want it to be. And I want to revere the name of the Lord with my whole heart, just like I want to be able to thank Him with my whole heart, as verse 12 of the same Psalm says.

While I may not pray this prayer daily, I have certainly prayed it many days since it became my life verse. And I will continue to pray it until I meet my Savior face to face, because, as long as this treasure of salvation is contained in this jar of clay, I will not reach the point where my heart is fully undivided.

“I do believe! Help my unbelief!”

Father, teach me Your way, that I may walk in Your truth. Your Way and Your Truth are both contained in Jesus. So teach me Jesus, that I may walk in Jesus. And then, please, by Your Holy Spirit, continue to work on my divided heart, unifying it, that I might properly revere and fear Your holy name.

I continue to think about Enoch, and desire to walk with You the way he walked with You. This, though, requires the second part of that verse to be true for me. So I’m back to that again.

You have made Scripture so very dear to me, Father, for all of my life. I have loved the Bible since before I was able to read. I am grateful for it, and for the impact it has had on my life. Nevertheless, there are still times, all too frequently, when I do not live by it or walk in it. This is the evidence of my divided heart, Father. So, once again, I pray, give me an undivided heart to fear Your name.

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.

Come In from the Porch!

Today is Thursday, the 15th of December, 2022, in the third week of Advent.

May the peace of Christ be with you always!

Day 23,653

Ten days until Christmas!


I remember your name in the night,
 and keep your law.
(Psalms 119:55 ESV)

Lord our God, open our ears and our hearts so that we hear you speaking and can follow the voice that cries out to us. May we be a people who prepare the way for you. Grant each of us strength to give up everything at the right moment and to realize, “The way to my heart should be leveled too. It should be straight and level all around me and in the whole world.” The light is now shining for us in Jesus Christ, and through him we want to find strength and help, to the glory of your name. Through hearing his voice we will find help. Help will be very near to us, and the mighty hand of the Lord Jesus will be over us in every need. For this he came. We can believe in his help, and we long for it. Hear the inmost longing of each one of us, and make us part of your people so that we may keep hope in our hearts and serve you on earth. Praise to your name, O Father in heaven, that you have put us on earth and that we can draw strength from the One who fights and is victorious, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Daily Prayer from

A voice cries: 
"In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord,
 make straight in the desert a highway for our God. 
Every valley shall be lifted up, 
and every mountain and hill be made low; 
the uneven ground shall become level, 
and the rough places a plain." 
Isaiah 40:3–4, RSV

Today I am grateful:

  1. that we can be that voice in the wilderness, preparing the way for the Lord
  2. for the light that shines for us in Jesus Christ
  3. for hope
  4. for the salvation of the Lord
  5. for unlimited access to the Father, by the blood of Christ

Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.
(Philippians 2:14-16 ESV)

Be strong, and let your heart take courage, 
all you who wait for the LORD.
(Psalms 31:24 NRSV)
Hope deferred makes the heart sick, 
but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.
(Proverbs 13:12 NRSV)

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

Therefore, my friends, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain (that is, through his flesh), and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us approach with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful. And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
(Hebrews 10:19-25 NRSV)

What is hope? One definition is “a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.” In that sense, “hope” is a noun. We have hope in Christ, an expectation for things to come. John Piper wrote a whole book on how our hope is in “future grace.” The writer of Hebrews, in a different passage, says that “faith is the substance of things hoped for” (11:1)

What are we hoping for? Obviously, there are many levels of hope. Many people are “hoping” they get a certain thing for Christmas. I’ll confess . . . I’ve got one of those. It’s not a big thing, but there is a thing that I really hope I’ll get on Christmas morning. Some of us are hoping for deeper things. I have some of those, too. I’m really hoping S will be Covid-free by Christmas. I’m hoping C will get over this bronchitis-almost-pneumonia that she has. (I suppose that’s sort of a back-handed prayer request, there.)

But ultimately, I am hoping, and all followers of Christ should share this hope, for the fullness of my salvation to be realized. And for that, we wait on the Lord. We are admonished to be strong and take courage in that. We are encouraged to wait quietly for the Lord. We can also know that having to wait can result in the heart being made sick (Proverbs 13:12). It’s true. We get weary of waiting.

Imagine how Jesus’s disciples felt, as well as Paul, when He did not return in a couple of years. It has been pointed out to me that we should read everything that Paul wrote with the perspective that he really, really thought that Jesus was going to come back in his lifetime, if not in two years or so.

And still we wait. Two thousand plus years later. It is easy to lose heart; it is easy to lose hope. In general, the world at large probably thinks we are fools.

What does it mean to wait or hope “quietly?” (Lamentations 3:26) The Hebrew word in that verse is dumam, which means “quietly wait,” or “still.” I’m no Hebrew expert (far from it, as I don’t really know but a few Hebrew words), but I’m going to go out on a limb, here, and say that it is my opinion that in waiting quietly for the salvation of our Lord, we should be in obedience to Philippians 2:14ff.

To wait quietly for the Lord means not to do nothing. I don’t think it means to sit still. We can be active while waiting. However, I do think it means we should “do all things without grumbling or disputing.” There are different words used for “disputing,” in different versions. NIV and NLT say “arguing,” as does the NRSV.

What else can we do while waiting, while living in hope?

We can take full advantage of our most intimate access into the presence of the Father! When Jesus died, at the very moment He gave up His life, this happened:

At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, and the rocks were split.
(Matthew 27:51 NRSV)

This also happened, but I’m not about to go there, this morning. Also, I have never, ever heard this verse treated in a sermon. Heh.

The tombs also were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised. After his resurrection they came out of the tombs and entered the holy city and appeared to many.
(Matthew 27:52-53 NRSV)

Oddly enough, these two verses in Matthew seem to be the only place this is mentioned. But I digress.

The temple veil was torn, indicating full access to the Holy of Holies. This is the “sanctuary” spoken of in Hebrews 10. The ESV calls it “the holy places.” The NLT says “Most Holy Place.” And I really like the way Peterson puts it in The Message.

So, friends, we can now—without hesitation—walk right up to God, into “the Holy Place.” Jesus has cleared the way by the blood of his sacrifice, acting as our priest before God. The “curtain” into God’s presence is his body.
(Hebrews 10:19 MSG)

I fully believe that too many of us stop at the front porch, so to speak. We are satisfied with the mere hope of forgiveness, and never go any further into the Christian life, the walk in the Kingdom.

I’ll us an analogy that will be poor, but most analogies are. There’s a beautiful spot in Fort Worth called “Botanical Gardens.” It is a large area, full of winding paths on which to walk. The comparison for people who stop at forgiveness would be like having a full admission ticket into Botanical Gardens, but stopping at the front gate, being satisfied with whatever one could see from there.

The veil was torn! Access to the Holy of Holies, to the most intimate presence of God Almighty, was granted for all who believe in the work of Christ! “Do not be satisfied to merely stand on the porch. It is not sufficient to cherish the hope that your sins are forgiven. Let us enter within the veil, let us in spirit press on to greater nearness to our God. Let us make our abode in His holy presence.” (Andrew Murray, The Blood of Christ, quoted in Power in Prayer) To quote C.S. Lewis, “We are far too easily pleased.”

We can be satisfied by calling out to our Father from a distance, from the front porch, or we can walk right up to Him, into that Holy Place, and speak with Him intimately, in person.

“Let us draw near to God; let us pray for ourselves and for one another. Let the Holy Place become our permanent dwelling so that everywhere we go we carry about with us the presence of God. Let this be the fountain of life for us, which grows from strength to strength and from glory to glory.” (Murray)

Father, I thank You for the removal of the veil in the Temple, for the access provided, by Jesus Christ, into the Most Holy Place. I pray that Your Spirit would draw us in from the “front porch,” and make us to be dissatisfied with anything other than close-up fellowship with You, through the Son, and by the Spirit.

Help our prayers to have power, to be effectual. Help us to know the hope that we have in You, the hope of eternal salvation, the hope of life, from this day forward, in Your kingdom. We cannot accomplish these things on our own, Lord. Without Jesus, we can do nothing, at least nothing of any value. But part of our problem, too, is in what we value, I suppose.

So help us to value the right things. I pray that I would worship only You, in Christ, by the Spirit. We worship You in Trinity, the Eternal Three-in-One. This mystery, we do not fully comprehend, and all comparisons are utterly inadequate. Yet, I believe it to be so. And I will worship You in that perspective, in total awe and wonder. May I never become so accustomed to this that I lose the wonder of You.

Let us draw near to You, Lord. Let us, in our prayers, walk right up to You and speak face-to-face, as Moses did.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!

Let nothing disturb you,
let nothing frighten you,
all things will pass away.
God never changes;
patience obtains all things,
whoever has God lacks nothing.
God alone suffices.

(St. Teresa of Avila)

Grace and peace, friends.

Carnal or Spiritual?

Today is Thursday, the 1st of December, 2022, in the first week of Advent. The last month of the year.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you, as we approach the celebration of His birth.

Day 23,639

24 days until Christmas!

Today’s header photo was taken by Paul Militaru. Please visit his site to see more of his wonderful photography!


Behold, I long for your precepts; 
in your righteousness give me life!
(Psalms 119:40 ESV)

Father, it is only in Your righteousness that I can have life! You are the source, You are the center of all things. I love Your Word. You overwhelm me.

Lord our God, we thank you for letting hosannas rise from people’s hearts and for letting us cry out to you all the more fervently in dark times. Help us, O Almighty God, and help your king, Jesus Christ, to his final victory. For he shall be victor, bringing grace, peace, life, and victory for all that is good, on earth as in heaven. He shall be victor at all times in our lives, enabling us to keep faith in trouble, fear, and need, yes, even in death. Hosanna to the victor, Jesus Christ, the victor you have chosen! O Almighty God, proclaim him on earth. Let all the people know he is on his way, to the glory of your name. Amen.

Daily Prayer from

Say to Daughter of Zion, "See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey." The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, "Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!" 
Matthew 21:5, 9, NIV

Today I am grateful:

  1. for the Word of God and His righteousness that give me life
  2. for the grace, peace, life, and victory that Jesus brings and will bring on earth as in heaven
  3. that the whole law is fulfilled in “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Galatians 5:14)
  4. for the season of Advent; the season of hopeful waiting
  5. that the Lord leads me in right paths, that He directs my steps; may I be faithful to follow that leading

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. 
For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love. 
For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another. 
(Galatians 5:1, 6, 13-15 ESV)
Praise the LORD! 
For it is good to sing praises to our God; 
for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting. 
The LORD builds up Jerusalem; 
he gathers the outcasts of Israel. 
He heals the brokenhearted 
and binds up their wounds. 
He determines the number of the stars; 
he gives to all of them their names. 
Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; 
his understanding is beyond measure. 
The LORD lifts up the humble; 
he casts the wicked to the ground. 

Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving; 
make melody to our God on the lyre!
(Psalms 147:1-7 ESV)

Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; 
let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
(Psalms 96:11 NRSV)

he restores my soul. 
He leads me in right paths for his name's sake.
(Psalms 23:3 NRSV)

then the LORD God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being.
(Genesis 2:7 NRSV)

The human mind plans the way, but the LORD directs the steps.
(Proverbs 16:9 NRSV)

The LORD will guide you continually, and satisfy your needs in parched places, and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters never fail.
(Isaiah 58:11 NRSV)

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For this reason the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law—indeed it cannot, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
(Romans 8:5-8 NRSV)

What is the “lesson” for today? I confess that there are some days when I look at the conglomeration of Scriptures presented by my various devotional sources and scratch my head. Then I simply try to listen, to hear the Spirit and what He might be saying to me.

That passage in Romans has always troubled me. Not because of whether I believe it or agree with it; that’s not an issue. It’s because I find myself edging into carnality way too often, which causes me anxiety.

However, Andrew Murray (yeah, him again) made a statement that helps and comforts me. “A love of prayer is one of the marks of the Spirit.” (From Living a Prayerful Life, quoted in Power in Prayer)

I think that we harm ourselves, emotionally and spiritually, but getting too caught up in the debate as to whether we are “carnal or spiritual.” It is similar to those who are constantly doubting their salvation experience.

I remember, as a youth at Calvary Baptist Church in Mineral Wells, Texas, there was this guy who walked down the aisle several times a month to “rededicate” his life. I get it, of course, we all want to be found sincere and faithful in our faith. And the beauty of being “Protestant” (I realize that there are those who think that Baptists are not “Protestant,” but the truth of the matter is, you are either Protestant or Catholic, so if you aren’t Protestant, you must be Catholic, and Baptists are definitely not Catholic), is that we don’t have to constantly be verbally confessing our sin to a priest.

I’ve heard stories about Martin Luther, the father of Protestants, and his struggle with confession. I don’t have a source, right this minute, but it is said that he would go to confession, leave the booth, get out of the room, and remember something else and go right back to the booth to confess some more. The stress and anxiety caused by this has to be unbearable.

I remember being told, in some Baptist churches, that, if I had unconfessed sin in my life, God wouldn’t hear my prayers. That is nothing more than typical religious manipulation and guilt-mongering.

But I digress.

Back to the anxiety caused by debating oneself concerning spirituality or even salvation. The very fact that one is debating the issue with oneself is a good sign. The carnal person wouldn’t care. The carnal person would not be grieving over his own sin. I know I do that. And, as Murray stated, I do love prayer. I love God’s Word, and I love prayer.

I do confess that I allow a lot of earthly things to cloud my vision, sometimes, and I am far too easily distracted. Or maybe, even as C.S. Lewis said, I am “far too easily pleased.”

Modern technology, while possessing no evil (or good, for that matter), inherently, does have the capacity to derail us and distract us, frequently. I can’t tell you how many times I have been distracted or delayed in the writing of this blog by seeing (1) on the Facebook tab, or a little red dot on the email tab, indicating that there is a new email to look at. I have my best success when I totally close those tabs and wait until I’m finished writing to look at them.

This doesn’t make me “carnal.”

To be carnal is to have one’s mind set on the things of the flesh. That’s all one thinks about. And, as I previously stated, that person wouldn’t even debate the matter with himself. He would simply do whatever he has his mind set on, which is things of the flesh.

If one is struggling with it, one is probably in pretty good shape, spiritually. We can all do better, of course, right? I know I can. But if I were carnal, I wouldn’t even be interested in “doing better.” I would be content to dwell in my sinful state.

Father, I thank You that You have placed within me a love of prayer and a love for Your Word. I confess that my mind is not always united in this. I find that my attention is divided, all too often. So I pray that You would help me to conquer this by Your Spirit, giving me the ability to shut out what doesn’t matter, at least for an amount of time that would allow me to accomplish what needs to be accomplished, in the realm of the Spirit.

I also pray that You would help me control my own mind, as brother Willard says we can do. When “carnal” thoughts come into my mind, help me to shut them out with Your Word and Your Spirit.

And even more importantly, help me to know that it is You who works the changes in us, when we need to be more disciplined and spiritual. Help me to persevere in prayer and in faith.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.

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.


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

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. 

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. 

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! 

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.


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.


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

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

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

For He does love
With love unique

Beyond all time
To glimpse right here

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


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

“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.


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.