We ponder your steadfast love, O God, in the midst of your temple.
In Christ Jesus you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling-place for God.
Words of Grace For Today
God’s temple, that temple built by humans, is a great place to contemplate and ponder God’s great works.
God’s temple, that temple built by God – that is all of creation and especially the wildernesses untouched by human ‘domination’, development, and destruction – is the place to contemplate and ponder God’s great works visible and obvious before one’s eyes, if one will open them and notice what is there.
God’s temple, that temple, the body that God dwells in, in each of us provides no end of cause to pause, contemplate, and ponder all of God’s great works that give us breath and life, re-newed life, and hope.
God’s temple, that temple, the body of Christ made up of all the followers of Jesus the Christ, through all time and in all places, is the most remarkable opportunity to contemplate and ponder the great works of God, for in the gathering of Christ’s followers (not at all the greatest people ever) the evidence of God’s Grace is blatant to even the casual observer. Here, in those Christians alive now, great sinners we each and all are and by Grace God-made saints we each and all are, along with the sinner-saints of all times and place, give ample witness to God’s greatest work; that by Grace God claims us, walks with us (even when we sin, trying to ‘run from’ God), forgives us, renews us, and sets us free (sin-free, though we always choose otherwise) to live each day again. That marvellous Grace, for each of us, and that marvellous Grace among us, holds us alive, in body, mind, and spirit. That Grace does not cease when we try for the million-times-millionth time to ‘run from God.’ God’s Grace, miraculously accompanies us through all our lives and into eternity.
If the trees create remarkable shadows on the ‘dark side’ of the sun’s light, we humans cast a shadow far more obvious with our ‘trying to run from God’ efforts. The Grace of God, in the Light of Christ, does not fail to shine even on the cloudiest of days or the darkest moonless nights. Our sins make God’s Grace as blatantly obvious as the trees’ shadows on the dew lit grass of the early morning sun.
This Grace is God’s love, God’s steadfast love.
This Grace is God’s love, God’s steadfast love, also for you (no matter what you have done ‘running from God’, or how desperate your enemies are that attack you, or how lost in it all you may find yourself!)
This Grace is God’s love, God’s steadfast love, also for you, this day, this night, and your every tomorrow.
This is worth pondering, and being awestruck by once again.
It May Seem We’ve Lost Ourselves in the Wilderness
God Brings Us Back into the Light.
I must bear the indignation of the Lord, because I have sinned against him, until he takes my side and executes judgment for me. He will bring me out to the light; I shall see his vindication.
So Ananias went and entered the house. He laid his hands on Saul and said, ‘Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on your way here, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.’
Words of Grace For Today
We all walk or run ourselves ragged, running from God’s grace for us and other people. Like Micah we find ourselves bearing God’s indignation. Like Saul we proceed with great enthusiasm with what we believe is our are calling, though it is against God, God’s Will, and God’s people.
God does not leave us there in the darkness of our own sin, and the destruction we bring to others, especially to good people serving God with acts of grace, kindness, and love.
God comes to us, no matter what we have done against God, no matter how great God’s indignation is at what we have done and that we could do it. God comes to us, and stands by us, with grace giving us new sight, so that we can see God’s wondrous work in all creation and in all people.
God comes to us, and against our enemies, vindicates us, by grace, bringing us into the Light that gives life to all creation, the Light of Christ. God comes to us and not only gives us new sight to see God more clearly and new visions that reveal God’s Grace for all people. These new visions define, as they did for Paul, a new calling for us, the calling to follow Jesus, to tell the old, old story of his love, not only with words, but with our thoughts, words and deeds, with our whole being!
God fills us with the Holy Spirit, so that as we move to meet each new day and challenges that are old and challenges that are new to us, we may continue to serve God by being God’s Grace for all other people.
What a miracle, that God, after we sin against God, comes to vindicate us, to give us a new vocation!
My companions who went up with me made the heart of the people fail; yet I wholeheartedly followed the Lord my God.
I am coming soon; hold fast to what you have, so that no one may seize your crown. If you conquer, I will make you a pillar in the temple of my God; you will never go out of it. I will write on you the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem that comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name.
Words of Grace For Today
There are many days when God’s coming cannot come soon enough, when enemies not only seek to destroy us, but are well on their way, and our days seem numbered, short … ever so short.
We hope beyond hope that this new day when the sun rises justice will prevail over all evil attempts to do us in. There are so many days that nothing goes well for us and the efforts of evil against us seem to slowly work to take away all that life can provide us.
One may well think, like ordinary humans can and do, that what we seek is revenge. This is far from it; we want the evil efforts against to stop. We want those stopped, those who continually do such evil, not only to us but to others as well, and so easily, so readily, so blithely. We want it to stop and we want those who do it to stop doing it. We want them, not killed, not even maimed, we want them converted to become God’s people, people who resist evil and by grace do good for all people wherever and whenever possible.
We know there will always be people who make the hearts of God’s people to fail. We know there will always be one or two of God’s people, like Joshua, to inspire us to be the best we can be.
We know that since Jesus has written on us the name of God, and it is indelible, and cannot be removed ever, that nothing can separate us from God’s love.
God is gracious, and we, with God’s name written indelibly on us, are able to be gracious for all people. We are not merely able to be gracious ourselves, we are able to be God’s grace for others.
So we do not wish, even for our enemies, that they come to an end of life. Rather we wish even and especially for our enemies, that will come to receive grace, recognize it, and turn to God as new and faithful followers of Jesus, the Christ.
So it is that we follow Jesus, who conquered all evil, even death, by sacrificing himself, paying the price we see sins will cost (our lives – though Jesus gives his for us), and rising to new life, as God raises us to new life when our sins are forgiven.
What a life, an abundant life, which cannot be taken from us by even our worst enemies!
We, by grace, pray that we may wholeheartedly follow the Lord our God, so that it may be well with us in the New Jerusalem, starting this day, already here on this earth … and that it may be well for all people (even our worst enemies!)
This is our crown to give life abundant to others.
I know that whatever God does endures for ever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it; God has done this, so that all should stand in awe before him.
The gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.
Words of Grace For Today
There are plenty of awesome things that exist and events that happen in the universe that give us more than enough cause to pause and stand awestruck, observing what God has done. The moon eclipse this morning is just one small such event. That the planets and moons, sun and stars continue in movement around each other, in galaxies, and more: that super novas bring some of those stars and planets to their end, that black holes absorb even light, that tadpoles in such great swarms survive and grow to become frogs, minnows fish, and puppies full size dogs. The world is full of things marvellous and wonderful, standing for generations as the mountains, canyons, and lakes do, or living a generation as short as a day, or as long as ‘4 score and 20’ or hundreds of years as turtles do.
Our eyes and ears are given to us, made in such a manner, that we can experience the wonder.
Our brains are given to us, made in such a manner, that we can choose … well we can choose so many things, including whether or not to notice and protect as sustainable the things that have stood for generations and the living things that have but a generation on earth, however long that is for each.
The real miracle of God’s creating comes directly at us, us humans who have bodies and minds, and live with more, a spirit. This is something we can only tangentially observe. Though poets, artists, philosophers, theologians, mystics, and scientists of the ‘soft’ sciences make great efforts to give us evidence of what our spirit is, what our spirits are, we are at a loss to fully comprehend and be able to describe what a ‘spirit’ is, what our ‘spirits’ are, or even to definitively establish that ‘spirits’ exist.
Yet by faith we live, adopting well established patterns of thoughts about one person’s spirit, our collective spirits, so that we can proceed through our days with some kind of claimed purpose, order and meaning.
Faith as a living out one’s life as a member of a religion is also such claimed purpose, order and meaning. It is foolish hubris of so many ‘faithful’ people to claim that their religion, their brand of their religion, their particular expression of their religion or their individually tailored, customized, made up faith or spirituality is somehow THE ONE God gave to humans to live by. That foolishness and hubris has fuelled much religious fervour, many wars, and countless lives – and long before death it has cost people their spirit.
The healthy, faithful people know full well their religion is a human construct in response to God’s work and will, that it is fallible, sometimes seriously unhealthy, and always in need of reform yet as a religion that has stood the challenges of time it contains many kernels of life-giving beliefs, beliefs that encourage practices, which in the doing they bring holistic health to the doer and those around, that respect the Creation and Creator, and the many people of the same and of different faiths, whether healthy in their faith or not, yet they are still creatures of God.
In our faith we recognize that God calls every person to their own vocation, their way and manner of participating in the precious life that is given to us all. God does not set us out on into the ‘wilderness’ of the unknown without first well equipping us for the sojourn; God provides us each many of a variety of ‘gifts’, insights, abilities, skills and compassions so that we will find also in the ‘wildernesses’ of our journey’s the great variety of God’s Work, everywhere in the universe from the grandest scale to the tiniest of scale, and more so than in any other way, in the ‘spirit’ of each person.
God’s greatest miracles are always those that transform a human spirit from unhealthy, foolish, hubristic, to life-giving and sharing, wise, and humble … and faithful.
The order that we live with recognizes not all fiction is based on reality, that reality is a definite thing, and lies are lies as truths are truths; we are not lost or snaffle-baffled by corruption’s claims that reality is other than it is. Gone are the Trumpite fantasies, the Covidiocies, false testimony and convictions, and the denials of real science, like the denials of climate change and Covid19’s existence, deadly existence.
Always present are gratitude, generosity, truth, grace and real hope, from the tiniest view of the universe to the grandest view of God’s marvellous creation.
For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call on you.
Jesus was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.’
Words of Grace For Today
Lord, teach us to pray.
Our enemies continue to deny their evil deeds, blaming us for the destruction they have wrought, using their corrupted power to assert lies as if they ever could be reality.
Covidiots continue to threaten so many lives as once again they crowd the various campsites with multiple vehicles and units. On site within ten feet of the water draws 1 camper, 7 tents and 9 vehicles, normally this site holds at most two campers. There is no visible sewage facilities, other than perhaps one shared toilet in the one camper. Young adults, most vulnerable now to dying of Covid, play a mere foot from each other around something.
Another site hosts 3 tents and 3 units, normally it hold 1 or 2 units. Another site hosts 3 large units, normally it holds 1 unit. Another has 6 units fit in where 2 units usually occupy the space. Yet another that usually holds 1 unit, has three tents and a biffy tent, the only one among all the sites.
At each site a small to large crowd gathers around a fire, a buffet is set out on a table for all to visit as often as they wish. There are no masks or observances that Covid will kill them with a bare day’s notice, and/or us, and/or many, many other people.
The seasons change, and this year’s normals are last year’s extremes, and we wonder if living in the woods will be survivable for the few years we have left!
So we ask again this morning, this noon, and this night, Lord, teach us to pray, again.
Teach us so that we know our real concerns may be left in your hands, so that evil doers with power, idiots of all kinds who threaten many lives, and the climate changes that will come our way may all be left in your hands as our twilight years approach and we wonder how many years or months or days we have left in this life of wonder.
Teach us to pray.
Lord, teach us.
‘Abba in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come! Your will be done! (soon please!) on earth as in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from all evil! For yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen’
Lord, teach us to pray so that we can live trusting your Grace and Love for us and for all people.
The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their cry.
1 Corinthians 7:15
But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so; in such a case the brother or sister is not bound. It is to peace that God has called you.
Words of Grace For Today
Jesus had it right: Moses allowed for divorce, not because it is good, or willed by God, or right in anyway. Rather Moses allowed for divorce because God knows that in our sin we will marry and promise to love one another until death do us part, and then we will live such sinful lives as to break that promise and every other promise until we married couples will drive each other into despair with our broken hearts, minds and bodies, unable to love, trust, or hope for each other any more.
Paul had his convoluted hang ups about sex, marriage, and celibacy. His words on those matters rarely provide much wisdom or health to those who try to follow his advice. Yet here Paul has it sort of right: those who are not faithful to God and each other are most often better allowed to divorce and start life in peace from the hell that unfaithfulness brings to all.
Like most of Paul’s advice on these matters their are limits to his wisdom. As best we ‘know’ today it is not necessary that a couple have the same ‘faith’ or ‘religion’ in making a marriage reflect the goodness of life that God intended couples to experience and give witness to for those around them. Today we ‘know’, sort of anyway, that what makes a marriage work is often not that each in a couple have the same faith, but more importantly that they each have the same ‘intensity’ of faith.
Thus couples who share a complete disinterest in faith, religion, or spirituality (it is given many different names to try to establish that one’s ‘made up, personally customized faith’ is valid) can reflect God’s blessings as clearly as those who are most devote and share the same faith, worshipping together in their daily lives.
Regardless of what we think we ‘know’ today, regardless of how we ‘customize’ our ‘faith’, God’s promise remains true for all people: The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their cry.
In this promise all couples, and all those around, can trust that God walks with us, no matter what convoluted hang ups about sex, marriage, and celibacy we may accept as a guide for our lives. The constant truth is there is no easy way to bring two sinners together as a married (or not married) couple and sustain their love, lives, and hopes through their relationship. That relationship will only flourish if God so aides the couple.
God alone can enable us to remain kind to each other. Everything else we can work out, if we remain kind. Without deep and profound kindness on both people’s part all hell will break loose … which nothing can mend except kindness rediscovered as forgiveness for oneself, for one’s partner, and for those around who inevitably ‘mess’ in couple’s lives to no good end!
We can thank God that divorce is available to us, not that it is good, but that it is too often less hell than continuing in a relationship broken by unkindness.
Moreso we thank God that God enables us to generously forgive ourselves, our loved ones, and our many ‘not loved ones’ who mess with our lives, so that kindness can serve as the foundation for our closest relationships.
Kindness is simply a primary manner of living out God’s Grace!
May you find peace, so that you may be kind this day … to all of God’s people, to all God’s creation.
While the words were still in the king’s mouth, a voice came from heaven: ‘O King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is declared: The kingdom has departed from you! You shall be driven away from human society, and your dwelling shall be with the animals of the field. You shall be made to eat grass like oxen, and seven times shall pass over you, until you have learned that the Most High has sovereignty over the kingdom of mortals and gives it to whom he will.’
This Spirit he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Saviour, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
Words of Grace For Today
To those who wish to lord power and destruction over others, to try to build their place in God’s creation and in time, like Nebuchadnezzar, .. to all doers of evil against God, God’s people, and any of God’s creation, God brings judgment and humility. God drives them, like Nebuchadnezzar, away from human society, to dwell with the animals of the field … to eat grass like oxen. All time shall pass over them until they have learned that the Most High has sovereignty over the kingdom of mortals and gives it to whom he will.
The power that God gives to God’s people is not to ‘lord it over’ others.
Rather through Jesus our Saviour we are justified by his grace, so that we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
We live in that hope and promise that life given to us now is abundant, and knowing and trusting this we are freed to live out God’s love for all people, to exercise for all others the same grace that God exercises for us in and through the telling of the old, old story of Jesus and his love.
Living in that promise, no matter what befalls us, no matter what enemies attack us with violence or lies, no matter our health, no matter how we suffer Covid (with illness, threat, or stress of the restrictions placed on our lives, or the lengthening of the pandemic and unnecessary risk Covidiots add to our lives) … no matter our circumstances, we are able to thank God for all we are and have, and to sing each day, Take my life that it may be, consecrated Lord to thee.
Thus we know, trust and live out that all is well, all is well, all manner of things are well with us … for God walks with us and God has sovereignty over the entire universe.
O Lord God, you are God, and your words are true, and you have promised this good thing to your servant.
Indeed, the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
Words of Grace For Today
King David, ruler of Israel, conqueror of all their enemies beginning with Goliath and the Philistines, and guided by Nathan to be wise and contrite when power had corrupted David … this powerful king, this young shepherd boy grown into a most powerful king, promises God that he will build God a house, a proper house made of cedar.
Through Nathan God provides David an unusual response: David shall not build God a house, for God has accompanied God’s people through the Reed Sea, the Wilderness, through battle and conflict, through the years and through the generations and never has God asked to be made to rest, unable to move with God’s people. Rather God will establish David’s house with a son, a lineage. God will establish Israel with a homeland, a place to gather without threat from their neighbours and enemies. David’s son will be loved and guided and disciplined by God. That son will build God a house most proper, [for then God’s people will be well established in the Promised Land].
Like David, we yearn to place God, to hold God, to worship God on our terms. God allows us our fantasies, doch we cannot control God in the least. Rather the Word of God lives and moves among and in us. We cannot control God or God’s Word in the least. Neither does God seek to control us. Rather God creates us, sustains us, walks with us, and always leaves us free to love, (which also means we are free not to love, rather to sin.)
As God creates us, sustains us, walks with us, and always leaves us free to love God’s Word remains in and among us, knowing everything about us more than we are able ourselves to know.
God’s Word is sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow.
God knows when we choose to sin, in every exact detail. We may try to fool ourselves that we have not sinned, doch God knows and judges even the thoughts and intentions of our hearts.
How are we to live knowing God knows our every evil thought and intention and judges them and us with them?
Only by Grace can we live. And by Grace, trusting God’s forgiveness, God enables us to live free and abundant.
Those whose sins are bound, are warned that they have repeatedly and horribly continued to sin against God and God’s ‘little ones’. They have given over their freedom to a bondage to sin that destroys so many people whom they effect. The warning gives them time for the amendment of life. And the binding of their sins gives their many victims (those whom they destroy and yet destroyed they still live abundantly) the assurance that God will deal with these destructive, unrepentant sinners. With this assurance, they are able to live in God’s Grace, trusting that God’s judgment and mercy will be brought to bear on those who seek to bring them to ruin and to their deaths. They can wait with God for the unrepentant sinners to be won over by God’s Grace, so that they may join in God’s double victory: the victory that their destruction is stopped, and the victory that they join God’s people as Grace-saved-repentant-sinners who live life abundantly. With this victory, instead of destroying people trying to make their way upwards through life, they are freed to sacrifice all they are to exercise Grace for others, so that more and more people may live life abundantly.
Solomon built God’s temple. Doch God is not tied to a place or just one people. God moves among, walks with, and by God’s Word of Grace (the old, old story of Jesus and his love) God frees all people so that we are all able to love.