If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, Lord, who could stand?
2 Corinthians 5:19
In Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us.
Words of Grace For Today
God’s Law is not bendable, not amendable, not sort of obeyable. It is strict, more strict than we imagine … and it is impossible to obey it perfectly. Anything less and we condemn ourselves out of God’s approval, out of heaven on earth, and out of eternal life with Christ.
Our failure to uphold God’s commands does not belong to just some of ‘them’ or ‘to us in the past’. It belongs to each and every one of us each day of our lives, without exception.
So who can stand before God on our own merits? None of us.
And that is the definition of a life of hell each and every day.
Thank God, God works to forgive us, not because we deserve it, but because God wishes to be Gracious to us.
It is God’s choice, God’s will, God’s answer and solution to our inescapable bondage to sin.
As God exercises Grace for us, we get to respond, with the Holy Spirit working in us, to share that same grace with others.
Quite the life we get to live, as God’s adopted children, relying on God’s Grace alone, and enabled to be that Grace for others. Quite the life, indeed, word and in thought.
The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn.
The angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God.’
Words of Grace For Today
To be sent.
To be sent to bring good news.
To be sent to proclaim liberty and release, and the year of the Lord’s favour.
[To be sent to proclaim the day of vengeance of our God. Set this one aside for now.]
To be sent to bind up, and comfort.
The first part seems easy enough, just go out and speak loudly. Today that is easy enough with all the social media available to anyone who wishes to pontificate.
There may be some blow back, but that’s social media for you.
The tough part starts to be clear when it’s not just words, it’s actions. Actions that take every ounce of life we have to give to them, actions like binding up the broken-hearted, comforting those who mourn.
If you’ve ever endeavoured to bind up the broken-hearted, you will know it is an impossible task, and one only makes headway through day after day persistently being with the broken-hearted with all sorts of grace, unconditional love, forgiveness and hope.
If you’ve ever endeavoured to comfort those who mourn, you will know it is an impossible task and one never makes headway. At best one can be with the person mourning, and sometimes leaving the mourning person alone to grieve in their own way. Grief is what we experience when the foundation of our lives are ripped out from underneath us so that our lives make no sense at all anymore. There is no foundation, no connection with the present since the past is ripped from us, and the future is a hopeless jumble of chaos that threatens to consume us and all we are, or so some say. Grief is actually not definable nor curable. At best one can exercise all sorts of grace, unconditional love, forgiveness and hope as a model for how life can be organized into something of meaning for the past, for today, and for the future.
This is what the Saviour is called and sent to do … for the whole universe, and as Christ’s disciples (followers) we are called and sent to do this today for all people, and for creation itself!
Mary is called and sent to bear the Saviour of the universe as her own son. This is more than most get sent to be and do. There is only one way for her not be consumed by fear. There is only one way for us who are sent to be the instruments of Christ in today’s world. This one way is to know and trust that God has chosen us, called us, and sent us as God’s favoured ones. Only protected by God’s favour can we think of doing, yet alone actually do, what God calls and sends us out to do with our lives.
Then there is that last thing: to proclaim the day of vengeance of our God.
If we somehow let ourselves be blind to the blow back that will be and is aimed at us, (which is so more than words on social media, it is words and actions meant to destroy us and all we stand for, since what we proclaim and do certainly upsets the status quo of power, privilege, and control exercised in today’s world), then this proclamation ought to make it clear: we stand to proclaim that God will act against also those of power, privilege, and control made possible by the Great Deceiver’s lies.
We bring good news …
Doch the good news will disassemble the status quo of injustice and evil, of everything based on lies and deceptions (which is a huge portion of what humans do to each other!)
The good news is good for the blessed things of God, and terribly bad for the evil things that stand against God.
And that is how we will be dealt with, as the full force of lies and destruction will be aimed at us (as they have been aimed at us) to disrupt the Good News. Only the foolish or stupid would brave such evil at the hands of so many people … or those who know they are sent by God as God’s favoured ones.
So we are called and sent … to be ‘little Christs’ to all people.
By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread until you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; you are dust, and to dust you shall return.
2 Timothy 1:8b-10
Join with me in suffering for the gospel, relying on the power of God, who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works but according to his own purpose and grace. This grace was given to us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Saviour Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.
Words of Grace For Today
There is always work to do, to survive, or to prepare to survive … unless of course one has gained privilege and comforts known previously only by kings, pharaohs, and rulers, that is the privilege of having survival needs long since met and one can luxuriate in life. As the dust we are from and to which we will return, when such comforts and privileges are ours, we inevitably consume our hearts and minds with un-graceful things, schemes to gain more at others’ cost, and concerns that have next to nothing to do with being God’s people.
In such positions of privilege we look on the work of the Gospel, the work of being the unconditional love for all others, as if it were such a great sacrifice for us to take on. Reality is that this is nothing more nor less than what we were created to be and do.
Our obsessions with survival, and all it’s replacement-substitutional (ersatz) concerns, is not at all the life we were created to live.
We always find our way into some perversion of the life God intends for us, as we struggle to escape death. We cannot escape it.
That is not our death toll, though. For Jesus has come to defeat death, and offer us life eternal.
The story is simple: provide care for all people, heal all people, love all people unconditionally, and allow (without fear of losing anything) those who would attack and maim you, who ruin your reputation with lies and schemes and scapegoating, and who would kill you to do as they must.
God is with us, always, all ways, and there is not enemy that can take God’s love from us. More we need not expect of life. For our God has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works but according to his own purpose and grace.
Before I was humbled I went astray, but now I keep your word.
2 Corinthians 7:10
For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation and brings no regret, but worldly grief produces death.
Words of Grace For Today
To be humbled.
To be humbled is to be taken from a place one has unrightly claimed as one’s own (a place of honour, power, wealth, privilege and comfort) and to be brought down to earth.
To be humbled is to be returned from the lofty reaches of the Devil’s Deceptions to God’s Kingdom where all are equal, equally ‘nothing’s except for the value God gives us by undeserved love and grace.
To be humbled is to be as God created us, fully dependent upon God for our breath and lives.
It is an irreverently proud person who claims, though, to have been humbled and then claims to keep God’s Word. Such an accomplishment is only possible for the Holy Spirit to bring us to participate in. It is never us alone who can do such a great thing.
To repent is not a one time event for Christ’s disciples. It is a daily, even hourly, manner of living. Humbly accepting our own inability to be righteous, and relying totally on God to make of us saints who can carry God’s Word in our thoughts, spread God’s Word with our words and actions, and embody God’s Word with our love for others and our hope for our shared future.
To repent is to acknowledge one’s sins, one’s bondage to sin, and God’s promise to free us from this bondage.
It is like fishing, knowing that one will not likely catch a fish at all, but that it is a day well spent, basking in God’s creation. Should one catch a fish then it will not likely be large enough to keep. So one will return it to the lake to live and grow and reproduce. When the most unlikely occurs and one catches a fish that is large enough to keep, then it is kept, cleaned, filleted, fried, and eaten with wondrous gratitude for such a rare privilege (one to partake in seldom lest one poison’s oneself as the fish are from the fracking used to make oil possible to bring up out of the ground.)
So it is that we live each day, holding God’s Word in our hearts and minds, as the motivator of all our actions, knowing that it will be seldom that we actually become the saints who share God’s unconditional and self-sacrificial love with others. Yet we find ourselves grateful for the readiness we can participate in, and for those rare events when God uses us. We may lose much of our lives in those moments of being God’s saints, but we know that this is exactly what God created us to be and do with our lives.
The Lord opens the eyes of the blind. The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down; the Lord loves the righteous.
With the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints.
Words of Grace For Today
Amid the pandemic that threatens our livelihoods and our very lives, we pray that God will cure us of the blindness that allows us to live unaware of God’s presence in, with, and among us.
Through all generations God has lifted up people who have been able to provide witness to God’s presence in, with, and among us , for the many people who remain blind to God’s presence. These are the saints in light, the Light of Christ.
The Light of Christ, the reality of God’s creation as blessed, shines through the saints, so that even the blind may know what they could see if they allowed God to heal them of their blindness.
This light shines as clear as the morning sun on a clear, blue-sky day. This light shines in all the dark corners where people would hide their sins and evil deeds.
This light shines clearly on the Covidiots, the Antivaxers, and those who intentionally spread false science. They spread the lies to create fear, for out of fear they are able to promise false solutions, and with false hopes they lead people into dark places from which they are able to be lead, giving their leaders power, dark power, power that would destroy faster than it heals or gives life.
Christ’s Light shines even today, especially today. For there is no shortage of saints, God-made-saints who see God in creation and give clear witness to God’s presence, and God’s guidance that would lead us all to life, and life abundant. For when we live, knowing that God is with us, we receive a hope that is beyond compare. This hope shines for us like a brilliant light through all the darkness of evil and sin in this world. This hope shines for us pulling us through the darkness of these days to a better future, a future that is blessed by God, where we can breathe clear, clean, uninfected air … even as we stand shoulder to shoulder with our sisters and brothers on earth.
This hope shines brightly for us each day so that we are able to pray (even mid the pandemic that threatens our livelihoods and our very lives) that God will cure us all of the blindness that allows us to live unaware of God’s presence in, with, and among us.
Do not go after other gods to serve and worship them, and do not provoke me to anger with the work of your hands. Then I will do you no harm.
The God who made the world and everything in it, he who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by human hands, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mortals life and breath and all things.
Words of Grace For Today
A pre-peer review study about the rate of inflammation of the heart following Covid-19 vaccination published a huge error in that rate, having begun with a hugely smaller number of vaccinations considered (25,000 instead of the correct 800,000). The inflammation is treatable without hospitalizations, and the correct rate is significantly smaller than the rate of the inflammation as a result of being infected by Covid-19.
The error was quickly caught by peer reviewers and immediately accepted by the authors, with apologies, and the study was withdrawn.
There are people who do not respect the order that God created, and the ability God gives us humans to explore, discover, and organize our knowledge of God’s order. Remember that science was possible only because of the religious faith that accepted God created an order that could and should be explored and better understood! So much for the simply stupid old antagonism between ‘science’ and ‘faith’. Both, pursued correctly, must depend substantially on the other!
In the midst of a pandemic (no it’s not over and able to be dealt with as an endemic, Premier Kenney, no matter what your supporters wish were so) science done correctly will always produce errors that need to be corrected. This study into the rate of inflammation of the heart after vaccination is one such. The process to correct the errors was pursued well by all involved.
So what’s the problem?
There are many, disingenuous people, who promote false ‘science’ in order to sustain a powerful and large enough antivax portion of the population. This error in this study has been spread like wildfire around the internet. There the correction has not been made. The error, honestly corrected by the authors, is intentionally left as if it were truth. This false science is spread as if it were true and people who have disconnected themselves from reality (wishing it were something it is not and will not ever be) are stupidly convinced to refuse to be vaccinated. The problem is that enough people refuse to be vaccinated so that the pandemic continues.
The same people who claim the pandemic is not real, that vaccines do not work, keep the vaccines from being used in enough people … and they make the pandemic continue. The poor, stupid people who wish there were no pandemic and who behave as if there were no pandemic, by refusing to be vaccinated, are exactly the people that allow Covid-19 to continue as a pandemic.
And the people who intentionally spread false science to promote these stupid opinions and actions know full well that they are a significant factor in continuing the pandemic. What kind of evil runs rampant in them?
These people have certainly gone after other gods to serve and worship them, and brought God’s anger down on themselves … and unfortunately on all of us, as the health care system is at a breaking point, running out of ICU beds, converting other beds (and the real and needed health care they would provide to ill people) to Covid-19 care beds.
At this time, when reality becomes worse because some people want it to be worse, and others refuse to accept that it is as bad as it is already, we need to remember that God is not contained in our shrines (of ‘small religion’ or false realities) doch, God gives to all mortals life and breath and all things.
God walks with us, even in these days when our very lives and livelihoods are threatened by Covid-19 and other more common diseases (from heart disease, strokes, cancer, and even the out of season cold and flu). God created us and all of creation with order which (because we are created in God’s image) we can discover with fertile, inquisitive minds working in reality within the capacity to organize our knowledge. God does not abandon us in this marvellous universe. God accompanies us, and gives us a history full of stories of how God has been present with people through all time. Jesus’ story is the most clear, as God became human, lived among us and healed our illnesses.
We pray, may God cure us of Covidiocies that prolong the pandemic and put us all at risk. May God protect us from the fools who hold Covid parties, sharing air and food with people with Covid in order to contract the disease intentionally, falsely hoping that they will have some immunity thereby – when what they do is fill up ICU beds and add to the death toll … and overburden the health care system with long-Covid symptoms for decades to come.
When we think we stand above others in righteousness
It is only because we’ve lost a sound perspective
on God’s reality.
The hope of the righteous ends in gladness, but the expectation of the wicked comes to nothing.
May you not become sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.
Words of Grace For Today
We would like to think and trust that if we are righteous, all will be well and we will live happily ever after.
It is hardly so.
We would like to think and trust that those other people who are wicked, since they do evil things they will suffer greatly and never find happiness.
It is hardly so.
Job says it succinctly and correctly after losing all his property and his children, and after being inflicted with sores over his entire body: Shall we receive the good at the hand of God, and not receive the bad?
Matthew 5:45 puts it: God makes the sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous.
What benefit do we receive from striving to be righteous then? Why not simply succumb to all wickedness and be happy?
The complete passage from Matthew 5 reads: ‘You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax-collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
To that many theologians (Paul, Augustine, Luther among them) have added: it is impossible for any human to be perfect!
Where does that leave us?
It leaves us where we’ve always been: entirely at the mercy of God: God’s Grace, Mercy, and steadfast love. Fully dependent upon, and grateful recipients of God’s unconditional love, then we live, not trying to earn our way into or towards righteousness, doch we live imitating Jesus by being God’s unconditional love for others. We strive to love even our enemies, not for our own reward, but as thanks for God’s love first given to us.
Our hope then ends in happiness each day, only because by God’s grace we are promised it to be so. Thus, by God’s grace alone, we breathe and live each day … and pray that wickedness may be far from our hearts and our lives.
Then once more you shall see the difference between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve him.
So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up.
Words of Grace For Today
It is not often that the difference between the righteous and the wicked are noticed blatantly and openly. Most often wickedness hides itself behind a deceiving appearance of ‘goodness’.
God does not allow this to continue forever.
All evil deeds will come to light.
Most come to light much sooner than the wicked deed doers would wish.
Most do not come to light as soon as their victims wish.
Our lives are not about exposing evil. It will be evident enough soon enough. Our lives are about providing all opportunities to amend evil and wicked ways so that more and more people may bask in grace, living each day with gratitude.
When the crowds found out [that, taking his disciples with him, Jesus had withdrawn privately to a city called Bethsaida], they followed him; and he welcomed them, and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed to be cured.
Words of Grace For Today
There is no shortage of people today who suffer unimaginable pain, hunger, thirst, and torture. Many of the suffer so at the hands of other people.
It has been so through all time.
Many people today suffer diseases, Covid -19 only one of the many that are deadly in horrible ways. Many suffer for lack of care or recklessness of other people. Many in Alberta’s health care sector, overrun and pushed to and over the brink as they are by Covid cases, refer to the fourth wave (the worst of all of them) as the Kenney-wave, since he recklessly pushed his ‘Open for Summer’ program through, which fuelled the fourth wave to be so huge and destructive, and deadly.
Is has been so through all time.
The greatest suffering by far is not measured by physical ailments or torture. The greatest suffering is what we humans experience in our souls, or spirits, or hearts and minds.
In the midst of all kinds of suffering, God is still present providing comfort, healing, and hope.
God’s unconditional love in action provides the most essential element of life for us: hope.
Hope that our yesterdays will be blessed.
Hope that today will be blessed.
Hope that our tomorrows will be blessed.
Hope that tomorrow will be at least in some small way better than the horrific illnesses, injustice, abuse that is today’s offerings for us.
Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God, and [Jesus] heals those who need to be cured.
You have rejected us and abased us, and have not gone out with our armies.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-17
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing.
Words of Grace For Today
Bob had struggled to find his way through school. Early on he discovered that he was faster than almost everyone else, so in the school races he always came in first. That was his one success. He did not fit in with the other kids. He learned early on that he could rat out other students. When someone tried to take advantage of him he simply told the teachers and the other student would be made to pay. As he got older he learned that he did not need to report the exact truth, but if he was creative with his tales on students who he did not like, they would get worse punishments. As a teenager his creativity grew, always connected to bits of truths, so that he was rightly feared by other students and by his teachers. Then he learned to rat out his parents to the police, except the ‘rat’ was not at all true, though the police believed him. His parents feared what he would do next. His siblings loathed him.
Bob’s story was riddled with gaining advantage over others by ‘reporting’ them to the police. It was not long before the police figured out the lies were just that, but Bob was ahead of them with his ‘reports’ about the police to the security forces that dealt with all threats to national security. There, the 2nd in command recognized Bob’s ‘gift’, recruited him to be a regular ‘informer’, and Bob had found his calling, fighting for his country by ‘routing out the corruption from within.’ Except what Bob really did was ruin anyone who questioned the security forces and more specifically to the 2nd in command, who soon replaced the security forces commander.
Bob’s ‘war’ bought him privileges and luxuries enjoyed by only a small few. He was promised he’d be able to study as a doctor, his childhood dream. He would study, and then practice medicine, and continue to ‘rat’ out the corruption all around him. His ‘war’ would advance the security of the country.
Then, as is always wont with corruption so rife in totalitarian states, the state failed. Fortunately it was not isolated and left to become a haven for international terror and horrors. Once a part of a rather successful country, that country voted to reintegrate the failed state back into itself. The security informers, so well practised in their perverse reports about neighbours and friends and even family, had no purpose any more. Bob was suddenly left swinging in the wind, medical school was out of reach, and even his family would have nothing to do with him. So he emigrated to another country that would receive him. He lied about anything he needed to in order to get ahead, including his training as an RN to gain a job. In reality he had been allowed to train as a nurse’s aide. He moved to a province where RN’s were desperately needed, falsified his training records (claiming the school records no longer existed after the fall of his childhood state), and sat a written exam to qualify to work as an RN. He’d passed, barely. But now he had a profession as a registered nurse. His exploits did not end there. He continued to threaten and ruin people around him in order to get ahead. More than one person died as a result of his ‘work.’
This was Bob’s history.
This kind of history, this kind of ‘fighting a war’ by sending out ‘armies into battle’ is the kind of ‘army’ that the Psalmist writes about saying: God, You have rejected us and abased us, and have not gone out with our armies. God does not ‘go out’ with any such effort to gain advantage for oneself at the cost of everyone else one encounters.
God’s way for us is on an entirely different route: it is to Rejoice always, pray without ceasing. We can live this way, no matter the challenges we encounter, when we realize that our lives are not given to us for us to use for out own advantage. We receive life in order that we can exercise God’s Grace for others, and often exercising that Grace for others requires that we sacrifice everything we would want from life.
At that point, when we have nothing left, when life is as good as gone from our hearts, minds and bones, then … and only then it seems … can we surrender to the life-saving grace that gives us new life. Then our lives are not our own, but we live fully aware (as much and unfortunately as intermittently as we are able) that we are saved by Grace alone and we owe everything to God. So we ‘pay it forward’ to those God sends our way.
We live, thus, as the saints of light have lived since the beginning of time: as reflectors of God’s truth, light, grace and love. In this way we GET to Rejoice always, pray without ceasing.