The Incomprehensible

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

May the peace of Christ enfold you today!

Day 23,707

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

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

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

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

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

May this ever be true in my life.

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

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

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

Today I am grateful:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


Grace and peace, friends.

Eyes on Jesus

Today is Tuesday, the 24th of January, in the season of Epiphany.

May the peace of the Lord be with you always!

Day 23,693

There’s a nice, slow rain falling outside, this morning, as I type this, our first rain in well over thirty days. It is currently 43 degrees outside, and that’s the highest it is expected to be today. Tonight’s low should be just below freezing. I suppose there is a slight chance of some snow, later in the day, as it gets colder. I do have to work tonight, but I’m not worried about travel conditions, as it has been unseasonable warm for the past week or so.

My cold is gradually getting better, but only after feeling slightly worse yesterday. It was a busy weekend, working Friday and Saturday, then having church activities on Sunday, but it’s a light work week for me, this week, and there is plenty of time to rest. I do need to get some trombone practice in, and hope that I will feel well enough to walk on the treadmill, maybe tomorrow.

The visit with the estate sale planner went fabulously, yesterday. It’s all arranged, but they are a little behind, so our sale won’t happen until the first weekend in May, which is fine with us. We are in no hurry, and we don’t have a timeline for selling the house, either. So they have ample time to look at everything in the house and determine pricing. He got a good look at everything, yesterday, and seemed mildly excited about doing the sale.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

I understand more than the aged, 
for I keep your precepts.
(Psalms 119:100 NRSV)

Lord our God, we thank you for giving us your love, for letting us draw nearer to what is right and good. May your Spirit penetrate everywhere, overcoming what is false and helping people everywhere to understand the true nature of your justice. Guard us on all our ways. Protect us when our bodies and our lives are worn down by sickness and distress of every kind. Grant us your help according to your truth and righteousness. Amen.

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

I did not speak in secret, in a land of darkness; I did not say to the offspring of Jacob, “Seek me in chaos.” I the LORD speak the truth, I declare what is right.
(Isaiah 45:19 NRSV)

Today I am grateful:

  • for a great meeting with the estate sale planner yesterday
  • for safe travel to and from Mineral Wells, yesterday
  • that God does not hide from us, and is not difficult to find
  • that it is the Lord who opens my eyes and ears, that I might “behold wondrous things” in His Word, and who opens my lips that my mouth may declare His praise
  • for the promise of victory in Christ

O Lord, open my lips, 
and my mouth will declare your praise.
(Psalms 51:15 NRSV)
Open my eyes, 
so that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.
(Psalms 119:18 NRSV)
I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, 
and I will glorify your name forever.
(Psalms 86:12 NRSV)
For who is God except the LORD? 
And who is a rock besides our God?—
(Psalms 18:31 NRSV)

“See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of them, for they will hand you over to councils and flog you in their synagogues; and you will be dragged before governors and kings because of me, as a testimony to them and the Gentiles. When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you at that time; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.”
(Matthew 10:16-20 NRSV)

You are righteous, O LORD, 
and your judgments are right. 
You have appointed your decrees 
in righteousness and in all faithfulness. 
My zeal consumes me 
because my foes forget your words. 
Your promise is well tried, 
and your servant loves it. 
I am small and despised, 
yet I do not forget your precepts. 
Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, 
and your law is the truth. 
Trouble and anguish have come upon me, 
but your commandments are my delight. 
Your decrees are righteous forever; 
give me understanding that I may live.
(Psalms 119:137-144 NRSV)
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)

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

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

But filled with the Holy Spirit, he [Stephen] gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.
(Acts 7:55 NRSV)

To the leader. A Psalm of David. 

The heavens are telling the glory of God; 
and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.
(Psalms 19:1 NRSV)
He has made everything suitable for its time;
 moreover he has put a sense of past and future into their minds, 
yet they cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.
(Ecclesiastes 3:11 NRSV)
When this perishable body puts on imperishability, and this mortal body puts on immortality, then the saying that is written will be fulfilled: 

"Death has been swallowed up in victory." 
"Where, O death, is your victory? 
Where, O death, is your sting?" 

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
(1 Corinthians 15:54-57 NRSV)

Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in.
(Hebrews 12:2 MSG)


In Psalm 119, the psalmist asks God to open his eyes, that he might “behold wondrous things” in God’s Word. In this verse above, the author of Hebrews admonishes us to keep our eyes on Jesus, the One “who both began and finished this race we’re in.”

In between, we see Stephen, who, as he is dying from being stoned, looks up and sees “the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.”

I fully believe (and have for many years) that it is impossible to gain much wisdom and understanding from God’s Word without the help of the Holy Spirit. If God does not “open our eyes,” we aren’t going to see much of the truth of His Word.

And, if God does not open our eyes, we won’t succeed in keeping our eyes on Jesus.

It’s hard enough to do that, even with my “spiritual eyes” wide open. There is so much in this world that is distracting us from keeping our eyes on Jesus. It is a daily struggle to do this, and if we relax for even a moment, we will pay the price for it.

Hence the frequent reminders from Scripture that we need our eyes opened, and we need to fix them firmly on Jesus, who, by the way, has already finished this race we are in!

How encouraging is that??

That’s another thing we need to remember. As we fight and claw to finish this race, we need to take a step back and realize that Jesus has already done it; He is finished with the race. And He is the one who gives us the strength to do it, as well. Remember the “easy yoke?”

“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
(Matthew 11:28-30 NRSV)

In a sense, I suppose it could be said that Jesus, who has finished the race and sits next to the Father, is also back out here running it with us. If we would but step into that yoke and follow His instruction, the burdens would drop, and we would find rest for our weary souls. Because His yoke is easy.

Open our eyes, Lord,
We want to see Jesus,
to reach out and touch Him,
and say that we love Him.
Open our ears, Lord,
and help us to listen.
Open our eyes, Lord,
we want to see Jesus.
(Robert Cull, 1976, Maranatha Music)

Father, open my eyes, that I might behold wonderful things from Your Word. Teach me Your way, that I may walk in Your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I might fear Your name. Open my lips that I might proclaim Your praises, daily. Help me to keep my eyes on Jesus, who has already finished the race in which we are running.

I am so easily distracted, Lord. And, in the words of C.S. Lewis, I am far too easily pleased. Help me to stay focused on this life, and to remember, as I read yesterday, that all sin is sacrilege, no matter how small it may seem at the moment.

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

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
(Kyrie)

Grace and peace, friends.

On Reality

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

May the peace of Christ be with you always!

Day 23,686

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

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

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

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

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

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

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

A Psalm of David. 

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

Today I am grateful:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

A Psalm. A Song for the Sabbath Day. 

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


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

Grace and peace, friends.

Like Spokes in A Wheel

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

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

Day 23,672

Three days until Epiphany.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

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

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

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

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

Today I am grateful:

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

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

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

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


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

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


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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Perhaps Paul said it best.

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


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

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

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!

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

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

Grace and peace, friends.

Revive Us Again

Today is Tuesday, the 27th of December, in the first week of Christmas. It is the third day of Christmas.

May the peace of the Lord be with you always!

Day 23,665

Five days until 2023!

Today is my first day back to work at the library since last Wednesday. Then I don’t go back until Friday. I am scheduled off for New Year’s Eve. The library will be closed next Monday for New Year’s Day, but I never work on Mondays. I will be in at my normal time of 4:15 PM, today.

Today’s header photo is taken by Paul Militaru. Please visit his site at the link provided, and view more of his photographs!

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

You are good and do good; 
teach me your statutes.
(Psalms 119:68 ESV)

Jesus tells us that God, alone, is “good.” And if we believe correctly, we believe that everything that God does is also “good.” We sometimes call people “good,” but it is only good, relative. No one but God is truly good. Once, when answering the question, “Why do bad things happen to good people,” R.C. Sproul was quoted as saying, “There are no ‘good’ people.” Perhaps that is a bit extreme, but in comparison to God, none of us can be said to be “good.” When we call each other “good,” we are comparing ourselves to other humans.

Lord our God, dear Father in heaven, we come into your presence and ask you to show yourself to us as the true, great, and almighty God, who can shed light into our misery and change it all, letting us find reconciliation and redemption in Jesus Christ. Protect and help us with your mighty hand. Let every country and nation see your grace and see the victory over all sin and injustice. Let your justice come on earth, and let peace fill every heart and show in every life. May all that happens to us serve the good. Help us always look to you, our Lord and God, for you have power to rule everything and to turn everything to its right purpose. Amen.

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come to his people and redeemed them. He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David. 
Luke 1:68–69, NIV

Today I am grateful:

  1. that some of our friends are having a wonderful time celebrating Christmas in New York City
  2. that everything that happens to us, in some way serves the good (Romans 8:28)
  3. for the possibility of peace in every heart
  4. for the love of God, that makes us His children, rather than slaves who fear Him
  5. for the Incarnation, the Word being made flesh and dwelling among us

As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, 

"The voice of one crying in the wilderness: 
'Prepare the way of the Lord,
 make his paths straight. 
Every valley shall be filled, 
and every mountain and hill shall be made low, 
and the crooked shall become straight, 
and the rough places shall become level ways, 
and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.'"
(Luke 3:4-6 ESV)

God was kind and decided that Christ would choose us to be God’s own adopted children.
(Ephesians 1:5 CEV)

God’s Spirit doesn’t make us slaves who are afraid of him. Instead, we become his children and call him our Father.
(Romans 8:15 CEV)

Think how much the Father loves us. He loves us so much that he lets us be called his children, as we truly are. But since the people of this world did not know who Christ is, they don’t know who we are.
(1 John 3:1 CEV)


John Henry Newman writes this on the birth of Christ:

“The Son of God Most High, who created the worlds, became flesh, though remaining what He was before. He became flesh as truly as if He had ceased to be what He was, and had actually been changed into flesh. He submitted to be the offspring of Mary, to be taken up in the hands of a mortal, to have a mother’s eye fixed upon Him, and to be cherished at a mother’s bosom. A daughter of man became the Mother of God–to her, indeed, an unspeakable gift of grace; but in Him what condescension! What an emptying of His glory to become man! and not only a helpless infant, though that were humiliation enough, but to inherit all the infirmities and imperfections of our nature which were possible to a sinless soul. What were His thoughts, if we may venture to use such language or admit such a reflection concerning the Infinite, when human feelings, human sorrows, human wants, first became His? What a mystery is there from first to last in the Son of God becoming man! Yet in proportion to the mystery is the grace and mercy of it; and as is the grace, so is the greatness of the fruit of it.” (Parochial and Plain Sermons, quoted in Spiritual Classics, by Richard J. Foster and Emilie Griffin)


Will you not revive us again, 
so that your people may rejoice in you?
(Psalms 85:6 NRSV)

What is “revival?” When I read that verse from Psalm 85, I immediately thought of an old hymn, “Revive Us Again,” written in 1863 by W.P. Mackay.

We praise thee, O God, for the Son of thy love,
for Jesus who died, and is now gone above.

Refrain:
Hallelujah! Thine the glory, hallelujah! Amen!
Hallelujah! Thine the glory, revive us again.

We praise thee, O God, for thy Spirit of light
who has shown us our Savior and scattered our night.

We praise thee, O God, for the joy thou hast giv'n
to thy saints in communion, these foretastes of heav'n. 

Revive us again, fill each heart with thy love.
May each soul be rekindled with fire from above.

In my early years as a “music minister” (that’s what it was called in Southern Baptist life, back in those days), I took part in half-week to week-long meetings that were mistakenly called “revivals.” They were not revivals, I eventually learned. They were evangelistic rallies. The problem is, there usually weren’t very many people at those meetings who needed evangelizing. It was the essence of “preaching to the choir.”

I eventually learned what true revival means. You see, you can’t “revive” someone who has never been “alive.” Paul, in Ephesians, says that, before we came to know Christ, we were dead in trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1). I believe that this hymn captures the true spirit of revival, in the last verse.

They whole hymn is a prayer. It is a prayer of praise, primarily, but with the added phrase, “revive us again.” And then, in the final verse, comes the real prayer for revival, as we ask the Lord to fill our hearts with His love, and rekindle our souls “with fire from above.”

This is a prayer by the Church, asking for God to revive His Church, rekindling our hearts with His holy fire. In the fame way, Psalm 85:6 asks for revival, “so that your people may rejoice in you.” Revival is no more for the lost than Revelation 3:20 is an evangelistic verse. But that’s a topic for a different day.

Psalm 85 is also a prayer, as are many of the Psalms. This is fitting, that both this psalm and the hymn are prayers, because true revival will not happen without prayer.

“An extraordinary spirit of prayer, urging believers to labor fervently in their supplications, is a sure sign of approaching showers and even floods of blessing. . . . If there is to be revival–a true, divine outpouring of God’s Spirit–it will correspond with wholehearted prayer and faith.” (Andrew Murray, The Ministry of Intercessory Prayer, quoted in Power in Prayer)

As 2023 approaches, I will be spending some time reflecting on the past few years. That right there is a scary thought. For the most part, I would just as soon forget every year since 2019. And not just for the pandemic. But, as I reflect, I try to keep my spiritual eyes turned on myself, not toward others. It is far too easy to be critical of other people. I struggle with that, and always have.

My reflection needs to be on what I have accomplished or failed to accomplish. And as I look forward to another year of prayer, I will be praying for true revival in God’s people; praying that the Church can step away from nationalism and “patriotism,” and focus on God’s Spirit being active in our lives. But here’s the thing. It needs to begin in me. Hence that bit about focusing more on myself than on others (understand that I’m speaking about reflection and self-assessment, not about loving others, here). And that reminds me of yet another old hymn that says, “Lord, send a revival, and let it begin in me.”


Father, I am grateful, beyond measure, for Your great love for us, the love that has given us the right and ability to be Your children, to call ourselves by Your name, and to walk in Your kingdom. However, we get too easily distracted by the things of this earth. I love the old hymn, Father, that tells me to turn my eyes upon Jesus, so that the things of the earth will “grow strangely dim.” Lord, Your Church needs this now, more than ever.

I pray that as a new year approaches, You will send revival to Your people. I pray for a Spirit of encouragement upon us, that we might be encouraged to dwell with You as You dwell with and within us. I pray that we will truly turn our eyes upon Jesus. And let this begin in me, Lord. I have been praying for and hoping for a “love revolution” within Your people, Father. That, too, must begin here, in my heart. I cannot force someone else to love, but I can hope to inspire.

Help us to embrace the Spirit of Christ in our lives, and consider, daily, what He sacrificed in order to come to us. It was more than the death on the cross. We see that as the primary sacrifice, most of the time, but John Henry Newman gave us so much more to think about, as we consider what He left behind to place Himself in the hands of mortal human beings.

Thank You, Father, for this indescribable gift.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


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

Grace and peace, friends.

“Presence Changes Everything”

Today is Tuesday, the 20th of December, 2022, in the fourth week of Advent.

May the peace of Christ be with you always!

Day 23,658

FIVE days until Christmas!

Christmas is going to be strange, this year. As previously mentioned, our Christmas Eve celebration with C’s sister and family has been postponed until sometime in January, due to health concerns (S had Covid, and sister’s husband is having shoulder surgery today, I believe). And Christmas falling on Sunday is always different. I do plan on attending a Christmas Eve service at the Lutheran church, probably at 3:00 Saturday afternoon. S has actually said she wants to attend. They are only having one service on Sunday, at 10:00, but I don’t know if I will make it or not. It kind of depends on what time people get up and about and what time we get presents opened.

We’ve got the menu all planned out for Christmas, and I have the groceries set up to deliver this afternoon. We’ll be having ham, green bean casserole, corn casserole, mashed potatoes, sopapilla cheesecake, and teacakes. Maybe some rolls, too? Probably. That’s a lot of food for only four people. On Christmas Eve, we will have tamales that I bought from one of our librarians.

I believe I am waiting on one more present to wrap, and it is supposed to arrive tomorrow. A number of presents have also been delivered to our oldest daughter’s home in Indy, and we will have some kind of Zoom-ish call with them on Christmas morning.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Though the cords of the wicked ensnare me,
I do not forget your law.
(Psalms 119:61 ESV)

Lord our God, thank you for bringing us into glorious day. Let the rays of your grace, the grace of Jesus Christ, shine into our hearts so that we are truly born of the Spirit and serve you as your children at all times, also when hard days come. Through your might and your revelation pry us loose from all earthly things. Pry us loose from worries and from pleasures. We are your children, O Lord God. We come before you, our Father in heaven, and you will accept us so that we may be a people who prepare the way for you. May all the words you speak be a blessing to us and make us joyful in expectation for the day of Jesus Christ, which has begun in power and glory and will bring power and glory when all is fulfilled according to your merciful and perfect decree. O God, your children entreat you, “Accept us. Hear us. Set the light aflame in our hearts for the coming of your great day!” Amen.

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

This is the one about whom it is written: "I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you." 
Matthew 11:10, NIV

Today I am grateful:

  1. for John the Baptizer, and all who have gone forth, preparing the way
  2. for the Word of God, constantly revealed in our hearts
  3. for the joyful expectation of the coming of the Lord
  4. for the presence of God in my life; it changes everything
  5. that God Almighty, who dwells in a high and holy place, also condescends to dwell with us who are contrite and lowly in spirit (aka not proud)

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
(Colossians 3:1-3 ESV)

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
(Colossians 3:12-17 ESV)

"Come, everyone who thirsts, 
come to the waters; 
and he who has no money, 
come, buy and eat! 
Come, buy wine and milk 
without money and without price. 
Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, 
and your labor for that which does not satisfy? 
Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, 
and delight yourselves in rich food.
 Incline your ear, and come to me; 
hear, that your soul may live; 
and I will make with you an everlasting covenant, 
my steadfast, sure love for David."
(Isaiah 55:1-3 ESV)
"Seek the LORD while he may be found; 
call upon him while he is near; 
let the wicked forsake his way, 
and the unrighteous man his thoughts; 
let him return to the LORD, that he may have compassion on him, 
and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. 
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, 
neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. 
For as the heavens are higher than the earth, 
so are my ways higher than your ways 
and my thoughts than your thoughts."
(Isaiah 55:6-9 ESV)
"For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven 
and do not return there but water the earth, 
making it bring forth and sprout, 
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, 
so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; 
it shall not return to me empty, 
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, 
and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it."
(Isaiah 55:10-11 ESV)

As the Father has loved me, 
so have I loved you. 
Abide in my love.
(John 15:9 ESV)
Martha said to Jesus, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died." 

Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died." 

The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, "Unbind him, and let him go." 
(John 11:21, 32, 44 ESV)

For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.”
(Isaiah 57:15 ESV)


Take a good look at that last verse from Isaiah. God Almighty, “the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy,” dwells in the “high and holy place.” He dwells in a place none of us can reach.

But He also dwells “with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit,” and, in that dwelling, seeks to “revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.”

What beautiful language, here; how encouraging and comforting!

This is the essence of humility. God, high and lifted up, whose name is Holy, will condescend to dwell with those who are humble. Not with those who are proud. We all need to hear this lesson.

Then, see the words of Jesus. “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.” Do you have even an inkling of an understanding how much the Father loves the Son?? Is it possible for us humans to even begin to comprehend the love that abides in the midst of the Holy Trinity??

Jesus loves us with that love!

I really had to stop and ponder that for a few minutes.

What does His presence mean for us? Consider that. If we are humble in heart, contrite in our presentation before Him, He dwells with us. It is true, of course, that God is present with us, with all of us, regardless of our state of heart. God is everywhere, all at one time, so He must be. But this “dwelling,” of which Isaiah speaks, is different. You can be “with” someone, but not dwell with them, not abide with them.

Mary and Martha needed that dwelling. But they had allowed their grief and worry to overwhelm them. Both of them complained to Jesus about His absence. Jesus, being God in human form, was not able to be everywhere, all at one time. “Lord, if You had been here, our brother would not have died!” they complained. At least they had that confidence about them. They had the sincere belief that, had Jesus been present, He would have healed Lazarus before he died.

But Jesus had bigger things in mind. He had a bigger lesson to teach.

Shawnelle Eliasen wrote what may be, in my opinion, the best Guideposts reading I have ever read. As she closes this reading out, after discussing Mary and Martha, and their reactions, she says:

"I often succumb to worry over my loved ones or over a tough circumstance I can't see the end of. My soul cries like a babe needing comfort. When I'm so disturbed that I'm distraught, I can be sure that I've not practiced being in the presence of Jesus.
"He brings hope. He works in ways I cannot fathom. Trusting the presence of Jesus is training myself to receive peace. . . .
"Presence changes everything."

And so it does.


Father, I praise You for Your presence. I pray that my heart will be contrite and my spirit of a lowly nature, that You would dwell with me. May I be not proud, Father, as I truly have nothing to be proud about. The only things that I would be able to boast of have come from You. Your presence truly does change everything, as Mary and Martha found in in a huge way.

May we know this presence, Father. Not just know about it, but experience it and dwell within it, ourselves. Help us to abide in the unfathomable love that Jesus describes, that love that is present in the midst of the Holy Trinity, and with which Jesus loves us. And help us to know the resurrection that comes from knowing and loving You. Jesus brought Lazarus forth from the grave. Help us to believe this and never forget it. Perhaps that is one thing that is truly worthy of “never forget,” unlike most things we are determined to “never forget.”

Now, when I am tempted to be distraught, or to allow worry to consume me, remind me of Your presence; remind me that the presence of Jesus resulted in a resurrection; remind me that Your presence changes everything.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


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

Grace and peace, friends.

Of the Wicked, Peace, and the Good News

Today is Tuesday, the 13th of December, 2022, in the third week of Advent.

May the peace of Christ be with you always.

Day 23,651

Twelve days until Christmas.

Update on the Covid situation at our house: S tested positive again, this morning, much to her dismay. She is feeling much better, more like her usual self, and hates having to wear a mask when she comes out of her room. C and I both tested again, this morning, and both are still negative. So that’s good. But we have activities and appointments on Thursday, for S, that will need to be canceled, I suppose. At this rate, we are going to run out of our “free” home tests.

Also, we are in a tornado warning until 8:45, this morning. It is 8:30 as I am typing this.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Hot indignation seizes me because of the wicked, 
who forsake your law.
(Psalms 119:53 ESV)

A lot of folks might read that verse and focus immediately on the word “wicked,” thereby justifying their own “indignation” at all people who think differently than they. I prefer to focus on that bit about forsaking God’s law. Anyone who forsakes God’s “law,” based on this, can be thought of as “wicked.” And if you have followed this blog for any length of time, you know that I believe that the entirety of God’s law is summed up in two commands that Jesus gave us. Love the Lord your God with all your being, and love your neighbor as yourself. It is my opinion that the majority of the people who focus on justifying their own indignation toward who they consider to be wicked, are, in fact, wicked, themselves, because they fail in at least half of Jesus’s commands.

The bottom line is that we had best be careful anytime we start feeling indignant toward anyone.


Lord our God, may our lives be awakened, for you send your Spirit to blow through heaven and earth and you stir everything to life. May we long for your Spirit’s prompting. Grant that we not be overpowered by evil and sin. May we be born anew to be fighters for the highest good on earth, which leads into heaven. Hear the prayers of all people far and near who are sighing for the Savior. We pray for them all as we pray for ourselves, and you will hear our prayer. You will send power to lift up their hearts and souls so that there may be a great throng of your joyful people on earth. In spite of all the misfortune, adversity, and danger in the world, there will be a people exulting from one end of the earth to the other, a people trusting in you and sure of victory through the great grace you give in answer to our prayers. Amen.

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

I will give you a new heart and a new mind. I will take away your stubborn heart of stone and give you an obedient heart. I will put my spirit in you and will see to it that you follow my laws and keep all the commands I have given you. 
Ezekiel 36:26–27, TEV

Today I am grateful:

  1. for all the prayers being lifted up by all the saints; in Your mercy, Lord, hear our prayers
  2. for the promise of victory in Christ
  3. for the great and everlasting love the Lord has for us who fear Him
  4. for the admonition to imitate Jesus Christ
  5. for all true followers of Jesus Christ, the community of saints

For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
(Philippians 1:21 ESV)

“There is no peace,” says the LORD, “for the wicked.”
(Isaiah 48:22 ESV)


But from everlasting to everlasting 
the LORD's love is with those who fear him, 
and his righteousness with their children's children—
(Psalms 103:17 NIV)
For as high as the heavens are above the earth, 
so great is his love for those who fear him; 
as far as the east is from the west, 
so far has he removed our transgressions from us. 
As a father has compassion on his children, 
so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; 
for he knows how we are formed, 
he remembers that we are dust. 
The life of mortals is like grass, 
they flourish like a flower of the field; 
the wind blows over it and it is gone, 
and its place remembers it no more. 
But from everlasting to everlasting 
the LORD's love is with those who fear him, 
and his righteousness with their children's children— 
with those who keep his covenant 
and remember to obey his precepts.
(Psalms 103:11-18 NIV)
And now these three remain:
 faith, hope and love.
 But the greatest of these is love.
(1 Corinthians 13:13 NIV)

Then Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.” When they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed him.
(Luke 5:10-11 NRSV)

Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.
(1 Corinthians 11:1 NRSV)


Who are we imitating? How did Jesus’s disciples learn to “share the Gospel?” For that matter, what was/is “the Gospel?”

If I were to ask that last question on Facebook or some similar social media platform, I would get all kinds of answers. Most of them would probably things like, “Jesus was born of a virgin, suffered and died on the cross and was buried and rose again on the third day for our sins.” Then verses like Romans 3:23 and Romans 6:23 and Ephesians 2:8-9 would get quoted.

All of these things are true. But what is “the Gospel?” Jesus made it much simpler than all of this.

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)

The Gospel, the euaggelion, the “good news,” is that “the kingdom of God has come near,” in the person of Jesus Christ, and we are called to believe that.

The way Jesus’s disciples learned to share this is that they spent approximately three years walking with Him. When I think about the kind of relationship that those twelve guys had with Jesus, I am very close to committing the deadly vice of envy.

I struggle, in the twenty-first century, to have an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. I believe that He is here, with me, in the person of the Holy Spirit. I do believe that. But it is a struggle to maintain the intimacy of that relationship, with everything in this forsaken world screaming at me, full volume!

Between that and the fact that I am dust, and that this “treasure” that I possess is in this fragile, feeble “jar of clay,” and there are days that I simply feel like giving up.

But I press on. Because I know that’s the right thing to do. And I pursue that relationship, that intimacy.

So the disciples had a three-year, in-depth course on walking with Jesus and sharing the good news of God. Fast forward a few thousand years, and we find week-long courses on how to “witness.” I took several of those, back in the day. I learned lots of individual Scriptures by heart, some of which are rather yanked out of context.

But there is something that is blatantly missing in all of those crash-courses on witnessing.

The relationship. We are not taught how to walk with Christ, and we are not taught that that piece of life is an absolute requirement to being able to effectively share the Gospel. Maybe it was assumed? But I think it’s a dangerous assumption to make, that everyone who shows up at a “Witness Involvement Now” course, or an “Evangelism Explosion” course, is already walking that deep, intimate relationship with Jesus.

It took twelve men walking with Jesus for three whole years before they were released into the world, and even then, they occasionally got it wrong. How on earth do we think that we can learn it in a week, without the actual presence of Jesus teaching us, Himself?? Especially when walking with Christ on a daily basis is not even mentioned as the most important piece of the “puzzle.”

There’s a verse up there from Isaiah 48. It’s the last verse of the chapter.

“There is no peace,” says the LORD, “for the wicked.”
(Isaiah 48:22 NRSV)

What on earth, you are probably asking, does this have to do with sharing the good news?

Maybe nothing. But I think peace has everything to do with it. Who are the wicked? Remember? According to that verse in Psalm 119, at the very top, it is those who forsake the law of the Lord.

They do not know peace. They cannot know peace.

There is a lot of “unpeace” in today’s “church.” There are myriads of alleged followers of Christ who don’t seem to have much peace in their lives. And I’ll confess that there are days when I don’t feel much peace. The last week has been a real struggle for me. There have been multiple days when I really struggled to come up with five things for which I am grateful.

When we forsake God’s law, when we fail to love Him with our entire being (all our heart, all our soul, all our mind, and all our strength), and when we fail to love our neighbor as ourselves, we will not have peace. And this truth is wildly visible in the world around us, today.

And if we don’t have peace, there is no way whatsoever that we will be able to effectively share the good news that God’s kingdom is at hand. We can say the words, sure. But it will have no effect, because, truthfully, who would want any part of a “kingdom” that didn’t produce peace?

Now. Back to that business of imitating. Paul said, in 1 Corinthians 11:1, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” On the surface, that may sound arrogant, and I will admit that Paul does come across as arrogant, sometimes. But look more deeply. Paul is trying to imitate Christ, so that he will be imitable. He only wants people to imitate him if he is imitating Christ.

And that should be our goal. We should all be attempting to imitate Christ to the point that others would be safe imitating us. I don’t want anyone imitating me if I am not successfully walking with Christ in that deep, intimate relationship, similar to what His disciples must have had, being right there with Him for three years.

If we can successfully imitate Christ, we will be following His commands, which sum up the entirety of the Law and Prophets, and we will have peace. Then we will be able to successfully share the Gospel with this desperately dying world.


Father, have mercy on us. It breaks my heart to see the lack of peace, in general, among those who claim to be following Jesus. Show us, Father, how to have that deep relationship, that walk with Christ, that His disciples had. By some miracle, help us to have as strong a relationship with Him as His disciples had, when He walked with them in person. I find myself envious, sometimes, of the lives of those twelve.

Help me to walk with Jesus in such a way that I am always at peace, and, consequently, be able to effectively show the good news that Your kingdom is at hand, has drawn near, and is available for any and all who desire to walk in it. But we must be, I must be walking in it, truly, before I can share that news. Otherwise, I am nothing more than a faker, a poser.

Help me to love You with all my heart, all my soul, all my mind, and all my strength; help me to love my neighbor as myself, and help me to love the community of Saints as Christ loves us.

Have mercy on us, O Lord.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
(Kyrie)

Grace and peace, friends.

I Can Wait

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

May that peace of Christ overwhelm you today!

Day 23,644

Nineteen days until Christmas!

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

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

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

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

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

Today I am grateful:

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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


Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
(Ephesians 3:20-21 ESV)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I can wait.


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


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

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

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

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

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


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

Grace and peace, friends.

The Full Revelation of the Father’s Love

Today is Tuesday, the 29th of November, 2022, in the first week of Advent.

May the peace of Christ be with you today!

Day 23,637

26 days until Christmas!

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Confirm to your servant your promise, 
that you may be feared.
(Psalms 119:38 ESV)

Lord, we are frail and fickle people, who constantly need reminding. Thankfully, You remember that we are dust and are patient with us. As we see Your promises confirmed, it boosts our faith. Have mercy on us, Father.

Lord our God, we call to you, “Abba, dear Father!” because your Spirit draws us to Jesus Christ the Savior and to his gospel. We call to you for we belong to your kingdom. Give us strength to remain steadfast through all the troubles of our lives. Let your hand remain over us and over the warring nations. Your hand directs, your hand carries out the thoughts of your heart. May the time soon come when you will bring everything to fulfillment and give peace on earth. In expectation we praise your name, for you will bring this time and you will bring it soon. For your kingdom must come, your will must be done on earth as in heaven, and everything must go according to your plan. Amen.

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

I assure you that the man who believes in me will do the same things that I have done, yes, and he will do even greater things than these, for I am going away to the Father. 
John 14:12, Phillips

Today I am grateful:

  1. for the hope and promise of peace on earth
  2. that the will of God must be done on earth as in heaven
  3. that the Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love (Psalm 145)
  4. that the Lord is good to ALL (Psalm 145)
  5. for the ability to sing songs of praise to God
  6. for the promise of the Holy Spirit dwelling within us

So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.
(Galatians 3:24-26 ESV)

A Song of Praise. Of David. 

I will extol you, my God and King, 
and bless your name forever and ever. 
Every day I will bless you 
and praise your name forever and ever. 
Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised, 
and his greatness is unsearchable. 

One generation shall commend your works to another, 
and shall declare your mighty acts. 
On the glorious splendor of your majesty, 
and on your wondrous works, I will meditate. 
They shall speak of the might of your awesome deeds, 
and I will declare your greatness. 
They shall pour forth the fame of your abundant goodness
 and shall sing aloud of your righteousness. 

The LORD is gracious and merciful, 
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. 
The LORD is good to all, 
and his mercy is over all that he has made. 

All your works shall give thanks to you, O LORD, 
and all your saints shall bless you! 
They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom 
and tell of your power, 
to make known to the children of man your mighty deeds, 
and the glorious splendor of your kingdom. 
Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, 
and your dominion endures throughout all generations. 

[The LORD is faithful in all his words 
and kind in all his works.] 
The LORD upholds all who are falling 
and raises up all who are bowed down.
 The eyes of all look to you, 
and you give them their food in due season. 
You open your hand; 
you satisfy the desire of every living thing. 
The LORD is righteous in all his ways
 and kind in all his works. 
The LORD is near to all who call on him, 
to all who call on him in truth. 
He fulfills the desire of those who fear him; 
he also hears their cry and saves them. 
The LORD preserves all who love him, 
but all the wicked he will destroy. 

My mouth will speak the praise of the LORD, 
and let all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever.
(Psalms 145:1-21 ESV)

I will give to the LORD the thanks due to his righteousness, 
and I will sing praise to the name of the LORD, the Most High.
(Psalms 7:17 ESV)
I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart;
 I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.
(Psalms 9:1 ESV)
I will praise the name of God with a song; 
I will magnify him with thanksgiving.
(Psalms 69:30 ESV)

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.
(Ezekiel 36:26-27 ESV)


The Lord promises a new heart, a new spirit, within us, and to put His Spirit within us. The Holy Spirit enables us to walk in the ways and words of the Lord, and to follow the commands of Christ.

Through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, we are also opened to “the full revelation of the Father’s love and the grace of Jesus.” (Andrew Murray, in The Indwelling Spirit, quoted in Power in Prayer)

Oh, to know “the full revelation of the Father’s love!” Is that even possible? And, if it were possible, would any of us be able to handle it?

Paul prays, in Ephesians 3, that the readers of his epistle would “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.”

That’s a beautiful prayer, and somewhat astonishing, because it almost contradicts itself. He is praying for us to know something that is not knowable, something that “surpasses knowledge.”

But here’s the thing: our hearts were created to be God’s dwelling place. So, if, by the power of Christ’s blood, and the indwelling Spirit, we open ourselves fully to His revelation, I believe we can experience that love to its fullest. I echo brother Murray’s prayer, this morning.

“O my Father! I thank you that your Spirit wells in me. Let His indwelling be in power, in the living fellowship with yourself, in the growing experience of His renewing power, in the ever fresh anointing that witnesses to His presence and the indwelling of my glorified Lord Jesus. May my daily walk be in the deep reverence of His holy presence within me and the glad experience of all He works.”

I also believe that this giving of a new heart and new spirit, of which Ezekiel speaks, is not necessarily a one-time thing. I believe that this refreshing is something that must happen to us on a daily basis. Why do I think that? Because I’m still a sinner. As long as I dwell in this place and in this “mortal coil,” I will still be enticed by, and frequently fall to, sin. Therefore, this renewal must happen every day. This is the sanctification process of which I spoke yesterday, and it is crucial to note that, though I am forgiven, though I have “the entire forgiveness of all of my sins,” my sinful heart has not yet been perfected. Therefore, it must be constantly renewed and refreshed until that day when I am fully transformed.


Father, I thank You for the presence of Your indwelling Spirit. I pray for Him to work in power within me, constantly refreshing my heart when I fail to walk in Your commands. May I receive this refreshing, and may I be able to experience the full revelation of Your love and the grace of Jesus Christ in my life.

I thank You for the ability that You have granted me to play instruments in praise to You and to sing praises to You with my mouth. This has been a valuable thing to me for most of my life. As we prepare to worship You, this coming Saturday night, I pray in advance for everyone who will attend the Night of Worship. Prepare their hearts to encounter You through Your Holy Spirit. I pray for those of us who will be playing and leading, that our hearts will be ready, and that our experience of worship will be like no other.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!


Here’s one of the songs I will be leading this Saturday night at Night of Worship.

Grace and peace, friends.

For All People

Today is Tuesday, the 22nd of November, 2022, in the 34th week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ dwell in your soul, today!

Day 23,630

Thanksgiving is the day after tomorrow!

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

I cling to your testimonies, O LORD; 
let me not be put to shame!
(Psalms 119:31 ESV)

Lord Jesus, hear our prayer and reveal your hand in our days. May those things be done that bring your future nearer and that let the world see you as the Savior who can lead us to our Father. Bless your Word within us. May our hearts be strengthened, and may we always live in your presence. We draw our life from your Word, from your promise, and we set our hope on you, our Lord and Savior. Show your might, Lord Jesus, and carry out the will of God over all the world, so that we may rejoice when we see God’s glory appear and his will being done on earth as in heaven. Amen.

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

Be patient, then, my brothers, until the Lord comes. See how patient a farmer is as he waits for his land to produce precious crops. He waits patiently for the autumn and spring rains. 
James 5:7, TEV

Today I am grateful:

  1. for this time of year, when many people’s thoughts turn toward thanksgiving; may they continue giving thanks, going forward
  2. for the strengthening of my heart through God’s Word and presence in my life
  3. that we draw life from His Word, and His promises
  4. for the challenge in 1 Timothy to pray for all people
  5. for the confidence that the Lord will fulfill His purpose for me, whatever that may be

Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." 
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.
(1 Peter 5:5-9 ESV)
I give you thanks, O LORD, with my whole heart;
 before the gods I sing your praise; 
I bow down toward your holy temple 
and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness, 
for you have exalted above all things
 your name and your word. 
On the day I called, you answered me; 
my strength of soul you increased. 
(Psalms 138:1-3 ESV)
The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; 
your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever. 
Do not forsake the work of your hands.
(Psalms 138:8 ESV)

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.
(1 Timothy 2:1-2 ESV emphasis added)

praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,
(Ephesians 6:18 ESV)

Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
(James 5:13-16 ESV)


“Most of the inconveniences that make men swear or women cry are really sentimental or imaginative inconveniences–things altogether of the mind.” ~ G.K. Chesterton, quoted in Spiritual Classics, by Richard J. Foster and Emilie Griffin


As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”
(1 Peter 1:14-16 ESV)

that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,
(Ephesians 1:17-18 ESV)


Paul and James give various and multiple admonitions to pray. And both of them are challenging to us.

First is Paul’s instruction (urging) to pray (supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings) “for all people.” Not just the people you like; not just your family; not just your brothers and sisters in Christ.

All people.

As I’ve seen it said many times, “All means all.”

Paul goes on, though, and includes (even though he has already said “all”) “kings and all who are in high positions.” Why? “That we may lead a peaceful and quiet life.”

Has anyone noticed that things in this country (I live in the United States) have been anything but “peaceful and quiet” for a number of years? Could it be that we, the “faithful” (I use that term loosely) have not been obeying this “urging” from Paul? I dare say that at least half of the “Christian” community has NOT been praying for our President, over the past couple of years. And, just to be clear, praying for him to die or be removed from office doesn’t count.

I’ll confess. I have not been diligent to pray consistently for our public servants, our elected officials. I’ll admit that. I have, from time to time, when reminded, lifted up our President and everyone surrounding him. But I don’t do it enough, and Paul’s admonition, here, convicts me. I need to spend more time praying for him, for the governor of the state in which I live, for those who serve in our city.

But along with that, looms that three word phrase, “for all people.” That’s a lot. I recently heard that the world finally passed eight billion in population.

No wonder Paul tells us to “pray without ceasing.”

But, in all seriousness, we have to, at some point, acknowledge that it is virtually impossible to pray “for all people.” And, frankly, I don’t think saying, “Dear God, I pray for all people” quite cuts it. I mean, it can’t hurt, but still . . .

So how do we do this?

I was moved by Daily Guideposts 2022 writer Rick Hamlin, today. My initial reaction was that what he was about to say was silly. But the more I read it, the more it made sense. Before he goes to sleep each night, he starts at the beginning of the alphabet and works his way, all the way through Z, naming someone for each letter. Sometimes, it’s the same person for some letters, each night. Sometimes, they change. Yes, he struggles with X, sometimes, but manages to come up with something. And, when he gets to Y, he is reminded to pray for himself. Because, as much as I hesitate to do so, at times, it is acceptable to pray for yourself.

I may or may not begin to employ that practice, but it makes me think . . . what better way to fall asleep, than at least trying to follow Paul’s urging to pray “for all people.”

We are also admonished to be sure and pray “for all the saints.” Again, an impossible task, but I can pray for all the ones I know, can’t I? And, finally, James has some things to say about the effects of prayer. Prayer will save the one who is sick; prayer will bring about forgiveness. He tells us to confess our sins and pray, that we may be healed. And then comes that wonderful, popular phrase, in verse 16.

The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
(James 5:16 ESV)

Or, as many of us once learned it in KJV,

The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. 

So let us pray. Pray, as much as we can, “for all people.” Pray for kings, princes, presidents, governors, mayors, chiefs of police . . . pray for pastors, for Sunday School teachers, missionaries, and music leaders. Pray for one another, and don’t forget to pray for yourself.

And, to quote Andrew Murray (who didn’t see this coming?), “Let us ask Him to show us what holiness is: first His, and then ours; to show us how He has set His heart upon it as the one thing He wants to see in us: His own image and likeness.” (From The Path to Holiness, quoted in Power in Prayer)


Father, I confess that I have not been faithful enough in prayer. Sure, I pray for people, and especially when they give me a prayer request in my daily post asking for those. But I confess that I do not do enough spontaneous prayer, and certainly not enough praying “for all people.” Remind me, Father, throughout this day, and especially before I fall asleep, tonight, to pray for as many people as I can. Let the prayers be genuine, though, not just a list of “bless so-and-so” for a half an hour. Maybe, if that is all I can think of, then it’s okay. Nothing wrong with praying for someone to be blessed. But what I am asking for is to be able to remember specifics. And, perhaps, bring a person to mind, someone of whom I have not thought in a while.

I pray for the community of saints, today, that we would collectively remember these injunctions to pray for all people, and especially those who are in high positions in whatever land we find ourselves in, so that, as Paul said, we might live peaceful and quiet lives.

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

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


"We got to pray
just to make it today."
M.C. Hammer

Grace and peace, friends.