The conspirators came and found Daniel praying and seeking mercy before his God.
Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer.
Words of Grace For Today
Lots of things to do when the chips are down, or up for that matter.
Like pray and seek God’s mercy, though like Daniel it may cost more than you can imagine!
Like rejoice in hope, which if the chips are up I would guess that’s a lot easier. I won’t really know. Not much time spent in my life with the chips up.
Like be patient, even if you are suffering. Of course to panic while one suffers is to let the suffering consume one, which has a whole other depth of pain to it, so being patient, calm, and looking for a reasonable way out of the hell-hole one’s been tossed into … well that is really the only thing to do.
So the lions are hungry, the gates are closed, you are their only prey. Best be calm because lions will attack sooner if you trigger their hunting instincts by showing fear. Being calm has a slim chance of communicating to the lions that they’d be better off not attacking at all. It can be done, or at least it is reported to have been done, if by no one else, then by Daniel.
Of course there are many different kinds of real life, metaphorical lions. They’ll kill one as viciously, slowly, and painfully as the African kind.
Which brings us back to prayer. That really is the attitude to take in all matters, chips up or down. Giving thanks for all God’s blessings, chips up or down. Begging for mercy, chips up or down. And asking for guidance to the next day, chips up or down.
There’s always a ‘Nebuchadnezzar’ or two out there. Always a emperor or two (wanna be’s are worse) out there.
That means there is always plenty of opportunity to hope, endure, and pray.
There’s always plenty of reason to give thanks. If for little else, then that every hell-hole comes to an end when it’s filled in. One hopes one is not part of the fill.
Today it’s another 24 hours chocked full of opportunities, challenges, suffering, and blight. Pray for a portion of joy to endure it with gratitude. Then work like the dickens to make things better for everyone.
Psalm 119:114 You are my hiding-place and my shield; I hope in your word.
Matthew 8:8 The centurion answered, ‘Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; but only speak the word, and my servant will be healed.’
Words of Grace For Today Can we hope at all?
This from the CBC MorningBrief Newsletter yesterday:
Europe is living in a disaster movie. Unprecedented temperatures — 47 C in Portugal over the weekend; nearly 40 C in parts of Britain on Monday — have killed 1,000 people. Roads in France are under threat of literally melting. Rail lines are in danger of buckling. Runways at airports are forced to shut down. Wildfires are spreading across several countries as thousands evacuate their homes. ‘In some southwestern areas, it will be a heat apocalypse,’ meteorologist Francois Gourand told the news agency AFP about the heat wave in France. At one time, this may have sounded like hyperbole, but the fact is every year countries around the world break long-standing temperature records — as was seen in B.C. last year — and then thousands die. All of this should come as a shock to no one. Climatologists have been sounding the alarm for decades, warning of the increasing frequency and intensity of heat waves and droughts. When asked if this type of heat wave comes as a surprise to him, climatologist Michael Mann said in an email: ‘Sadly, not. We have seen a recurring pattern of a very wavy jet stream this summer. That pattern is associated with the extreme events we’re seeing right now in the U.S. and Europe.’ When the first Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was released in 1990, it addressed the potential increase in heat waves, stating: ‘Some scientists believe that in a warmer climate the earth can be expected to experience more variable weather than now, with a likelihood of more floods and drought, more intense hurricanes or typhoons, and more heat waves.’ There have been four more assessment reports since then, with the language growing stronger and stronger about how the world needs to limit warming to 1.5 C above the pre-industrial average or it will face dire consequences. But those reports aren’t just talking about the future — at roughly 1.2 C of warming right now, we’re already seeing the effects of climate change, particularly in the summer months. The worst part, Mann said, is that climatologists may have underestimated the long-term predictions of heat waves.
Lordy, Lordy, what have we done!!?
It is one thing to hope in God’s Word, and hide under the shield of God, and to call on Jesus to but speak a word and we will be healed, but …
but we’re not listening! We have not worked to change. We have barely begun to speak correctly, sort of acknowledging what we’ve done. It’s harder and harder to find reasonable people who deny that climate change is a result of our own actions as humans on earth … and still it is not impossible to find those crooked-thinker (Querdenkers) in one’s own backyard.
Actually it’s real easy to find those people in my ‘backyard’ since they congregate here for relief from the heat and burn their gratuitous campfires all evening and night, and run their generators for hours and hours each day to supply electricity to their air conditioners, TV’s, microwaves, and who knows what else?
We complain mightily when it climbs above 25⁰ or 30⁰ or heaven helps us 35⁰ during the day and stays above 15⁰ at night. We are hard pressed to find our comfort. Oh, man save us we cry if it gets above 40⁰ and stays there for a few days! Here we are next to a cool lake. What are people able to do in the concrete-paved-over-barely-green-anywhere-tall-buildings cities?
Lordy, Lordy, what have we done!!?
So we cry: Oh, God, can you even save us? Save us now if you can!! Listen though! God has for decades sent us word, word about how we are bringing climate change with it’s new extremes and more ferocious storms each year and how we can stop it. God has sent us clear warning in the past five years of obvious, undeniable new extremes and extreme weather to warn us to stop our CO emissions (along with lots of other fossil-fueled-industrial activities.)
How many of us have really listened and then acted to change our lives? Well now it’s changing our lives, and not for the better. Will we start to change in good ways?
History repeats the answer to that question asked of every generation, ‘What? We don’t understand, so no.’
God help us!
God help us this day to do everything we can to learn what we must do to do our part!
The sun shall no longer be your light by day, nor for brightness shall the moon give light to you by night; but the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory.
1 John 1:5
This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all.
Words of Grace For Today
It sounds like an apocalyptic movie: the sun shall no longer be your light by day, and the moon will not give you light by night. Polar darkness, for ever.
Then comes our salvation: the Lord will be our everlasting light, and our God will be our glory.
John puts the words there that seal the deal for us: God is light and in him there is no darkness at all.
Thank God, because it was beginning to look like the darkness had taken a firm grip our our world leaving us just a short time before we would plunge into eternal darkness.
January 10, 2022 I wake to a rustle followed by a huge bang. Then more rustling of tarps and more bangs, loud, crisp, close and … the ground shakes. I reach for the light to switch it on, and nothing. The batteries are dead as a 100 year old mummy, and as cold as if the mummy were uncovered from melting polar ice. That’s not right, I remember thinking. The fire should still be quite warm. I try to see what the thermometer reads but cannot see. I zip open the door and wind blows in my face crisp and instantly freezing cold. That’s not right, there was a fire in the fire box sheltered from the wind by a frame hung with insulated tarps. I cannot see anything. I feel for something, anything. But there is nothing. I stumble around pulling on a parka, pants, boots, gloves. I step out to where there had been a wood stove when I went to bed just a few hours ago. I thought I’d stoke it, but it’s not there.
I walk a few steps and the piercing cold bites deep into me, so much so that as I turn I lose my bearings, I flounder around a bit. Trying to work this out, I take one step and feel in a circle. I take a step back and then one more back and feel in a circle. Then I step in each side direction. Nothing. So I repeat the search this time taking two steps. This time my hand brushes against something. I take one more step towards it, trying to ensure I know the direction I’ve come from. It’s the zipper door flapping in the wind. I crawl back into the tent.
A loud to no one I say in a prayer: Would You Hand Me a Light!
As I reach to climb into bed my hand brushes something hard, a flashlight.
I have a light. I turn it on and realize in my restless sleep I’ve turned myself all around so that I have gone out the ‘back’ door of the tent. I look through the zipper of the front door and there is the shelter and fire, dwindling to almost no heat.
I get dressed again and go out to stoke it, lay myself back down to sleep again, and thank God
… for being the Light of my Life.
Or I could have panicked and never found my way back in the tent.
In the morning I see evidence that a bear has taken on a tree not 5 feet from my tent, and the tree lost. It was left banging against the tree next to it. My night of banging waking me turned around. Thankfully God got me straightened around.
God leads us and lights our ways in so many and various ways, but always God lights our ways, even on this day to come.
God Created Not One Person to Live In the Dust and Ashes
1 Samuel 2:8
He raises up the poor from the dust; he lifts the needy from the ash heap, to make them sit with princes and inherit a seat of honour. For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s, and on them he has set the world.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
Words of Grace For Today
God creates the universe, and, though evil and the results of it are always a necessary possibility (so that we can choose to love) God did not create people to live in the dust and ash heaps of life.
God created all people to live with honour,
with sufficient clean air, pure water, adequate clothing and shelter,
being loved and able to love.
This is God’s blessing for us, that creation provides more than plenty for all to enjoy the necessities of life all their days on earth.
Through history (and certainly today) human greed and self-righteousness have driven so many into the dust and ash heaps of our excesses. What are we to do? Shake our heads in disgust at those living in the dust and ash heaps? Develop religions and ethics that allow us to ignore those poor, those without the necessities of a blessed life? Arrogantly assert that God created us and by our own hard work and merit we have earned and deserved more than the necessities of life even though that has thrown so many other people on to the slags heaps of life?
God’s blessing pour over us.
We need not fear that there is not enough, no matter what the world (that’s all of us) tells us. We can share, and sharing every person will have the necessities of life. That may as well free those caught in the despair of having too much, for having more than enough drives one’s mind and way of living to become unnatural, other than as God created us to live.
Therefore he shall give them up until the time when she who is in labour has brought forth; then the rest of his kindred shall return to the people of Israel.
Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.
Words of Grace For Today
How is it that we make progress forward, onward in life, by surrendering, even dying, as we wait for a saviour to be born, as we wait for the fruit of our sacrifices to grow among the peoples?
This is an out-of-the-ordinary path to follow, to give up, wait, and then be handed victory.
Or is it?
In wars, the strategies of winners have often been to sacrifice many battles, and many lives, in order to win the war, and, as they always say to justify the sacrifices, to save so many more lives and our ‘freedom’, our way of life (which usually means our people get to be the master who abuse and exploit and leave in poverty the great masses of people for whom the war was supposedly fought.)
In God’s good creation there are examples everywhere of life, of flora and fauna, is ended precisely in order that new life can be born and flourish better than it was before. Seeds are a simple ubiquitous example.
Another pressing example is the use of cool fires, cultural fires, to prevent hot, destructive wildfires. The western world exploits and controls nature to provide energy and progress towards … well towards what. Now we see nature (God’s good creation) boomeranging back on us. We sought to stop all destructive fires, pulled energy out of the ground in the form of coal and oil to do work for us that we simply could not do for ourselves, and used ‘inputs’ into farm land like never before to produce enough food to feed the population growing and doubling in less than 100 years!
‘Mother Nature’, or simple God’s good creation, is struggling to survive this human onslaught. Climates change melting waters from the polar caps that will flood hundreds of the biggest cities in the world and displace 100s of millions of people.
Weather patterns change, bring wet climates to previously drier climates and impossibly wet climates and flooding to livable climates … and drought and wildfires to areas previously drier but livable. New deserts are being formed. Wildfires only start by devastating huge areas of land, many larger than a circle taking in Albany NY and Philadelphia PA, or most of England, or about the distance from Athabasca to High River (taking in both Calgary and Edmonton) or more than from Vegreville to Jasper. The smoke from the fires disrupts life down wind for thousands of miles. A wildfire creates its own thunderclouds and lightning, which can start more wildfires. While the land does come back, sometimes, the fires are very hot, very destructive, more so than the flora needs. Fauna can be wiped out not to return.
Seeds must die into the ground to sprout as new life.
Land must burn to rejuvenate some trees and bushes, and to avoid the devastating destruction of wildfires.
Nature responds to unrestrained human exploitation by flooding out the major cities along all coastlines. Fewer humans give the ecosystems of the world a better chance of surviving the human onslaughts. Instead of the human species being extinct or decimated to a few million, a quarter of the present population may survive the next 200 years!
And what of us, now?
As always, God works to bring to an end our hubris and hellbent destruction of ourselves and others around us, by sacrificing Jesus’ life, replacing our terrible records with Jesus’ (forgiving us) so that we might live, renewed and freed from the unbearable burdens of our own sins … so that we might start to live, at least a bit, as God intended us to live: gently gracious, loving and forgiving, trusting and hope-filled for our unsure futures.
He answered, ‘Must I not take care to say what the Lord puts into my mouth?’
We cannot keep from speaking about what we have seen and heard.
Words of Grace For Today
Balak and Balaam: it’s quite the story. Look back a bit into Numbers 22: Now Balak son of Zippor was king of Moab at that time. He sent messengers to Balaam son of Beor at Pethor, which is on the Euphrates, in the land of Amaw, to summon him, saying, ‘A people has come out of Egypt; they have spread over the face of the earth, and they have settled next to me. Come now, curse this people for me, since they are stronger than I; perhaps I shall be able to defeat them and drive them from the land; for I know that whomsoever you bless is blessed, and whomsoever you curse is cursed.’
Balaam repeats what God provides as God’s Word for Balak. It is not a curse, but a blessing of Isreal, the people who have come out of Egypt and spread, strong and mighty, over the face of the earth. Three times Balak tries to bring Balaam to curse Israel and three times Balaam repeats the word that God provides: Israel is blessed.
Waking to 10⁰ in the shelter, 11⁰ at the bed, and the propane furnace kicking in and then off before it’s 13⁰ at bed level tends to put a chill on things that reaches into one’s heart slowing down to a crawl in reverse any emerging eagerness to enter the day with hope.
Sliding back away from the urgencies of cold mornings … that bone chilling reality sits there a bit until one’s toes and lips crack from impending frostbite,
Forcing one to dress in a rush before arthritic joints freeze up one last time … and then venture out to the stove.
A bit of wood is shoved from the frosty, icy pile into the monster’s pie hole (though no pies but dried cow pies pass its lips). Ashes get dumped. Bits and pieces of leftovers of logs get whittled in beside the wood and miraculously there’s combustion, the chemical reaction of fuel, air and heat producing, unfortunately, more smoke than heat.
Then one retreats in haste back to the dream world’s place holder beneath the down duvet where one reads, waits, observes the thermometer and waits for a pressing reason or freedom to emerge again into the reality that awaits.
The wondrous miracle emerges eventually: 67⁰ is recorded in the shelter above the fire, some of it reaches to near the bed so that one’s arms stop aching on top the covers, and one’s heart starts to thaw along with one’s lips and toes, and one’s brain starts to complete a few wayward synapse firings. One starts to think …
To think sporadically wild and incomplete thoughts like the day ahead may give some basis for getting out of bed and hoping to ….
Hoping to eat and drink, and have a future of eating and drinking for a few more years.
Marvellous what a little heat can do. 19⁰ at the bed. Warm enough to get sleepy as the sun rises and hides beyond the clouds threatening to drop frosty snow and ice everywhere.
Then it all vanishes into vivid dreams of a fantastic life in a warm (bug free) and perfect paradise….
Until reality once again demands attention be paid… lest the stove, so nicely heated will otherwise then overheat and burn everything to the ground.
Just another typical day in God’s country begins beautifully blessed.
Like Balak my enemies have gathered many times to bring a curse on me, and failed. They have, with lies and corruption beyond most people’s imaginations, stripped me of every penny and driven me into debt from which I will likely never emerge. They have left me homeless. They have left me dependent on the food bank and government supports for those in poverty. They have spread false rumours about me, and left me isolated from my friends and my church. They have maintained their churches, their wealth, their position, and their smug self-righteousness, justifying their evil by pointing to records filled with lies.
Yet, I remain blessed, for what is any person of God, who brings God’s Word to the ears of others, to say, when God has spoken a blessing eternal upon me?
And how shall I respond?
How shall anyone respond?
What else would we say, other than to join the writer of Acts: We cannot keep from speaking about what we have seen and heard.
For we have seen through the lies and corruption.
For we have heard God’s Word, and seen the results of God’s mighty acts of unconditional love, mercy, renewal, and provision for daily life, for daily life that is blessed by God’s presence.
So this day, what else shall we do other than speak of what we’ve seen and heard of God’s mighty works, in our midst, across the earth, and from the beginning of time?
So this day, what else shall we do other than be God’s Grace for others?
So this day, what else shall we do other than give God thanks for God’s blessings, beginning with the warmth of a wood stove, a mind that can think, and hearts that God has filled with faith, love and hope!
No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, ‘Know the Lord’, for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.
All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.
Words of Grace For Today
That day when all will know God, and no one will need to teach about God or learn about God will be the day
when all sin will disappear, when humans will no longer sin.
God has a different plan.
If sin disappears we will have lost our freedom to choose and with that our ability to love,
for love entails the commitment of self to another person, a commitment made as a free choice. Otherwise it is not love.
As our ability to choose to love persists, then we must (a priori) have the choice not to love, which is to sin.
As long as love exists, sin exists.
God does not end sin … and therefore love.
God allows us to love and to sin … and
God deals with our sins by forgiving them, exactly when we do not deserve that forgiveness.
This is Jesus’ story: that God so loved the world that God gave his only son that all who believe in him should be saved. This believing is not something we accomplish other than by the work of the Holy Spirit in us. Jesus saves us by grace alone.
Each day we breathe we have choices, and when we choose to love we, they people we love, and all of creation benefits. This is how God created us to live.
If we choose to not love, then God offers us forgiveness, free forgiveness and renewed life, renewed so that we can again choose to love … or not.
God’s love for us and mercy is unending. God continues to offer us forgiveness as long as we breathe.
And for now we need to use that breathe to learn and teach one another of God’s Grace, for it is a lesson we never quite retain.
But you, gird up your loins; stand up and tell them everything that I command you. Do not break down before them, or I will break you before them.
2 Corinthians 4:5
For we do not proclaim ourselves; we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake.
Words of Grace For Today
It is sometimes presented as a glorious calling that we receive in our baptisms: to serve Christ, to proclaim Christ, to obey Christ.
Jeremiah (though before Christ’s life in time on earth) knew well the calling to serve God, to proclaim God’s Word, and to obey God.
God makes it clear: Jeremiah is to proclaim God’s Word, clearly, loudly. He should not break down in front of powerful people or great rulers or in front of anyone. If he does God will show the powerful people and great rulers and everyone else how much more powerful God is than they: he will break Jeremiah as an example, a warning to them.
Driven by God’s command and warning Jeremiah proclaims God’s Word. Most people do not want to hear it and turn on him, the messenger, as if that could ever stop God’s Word! Jeremiah suffers humilities and punishments that would break most people. He survives and continues to proclaim God’s Word, the true inconvenient Word of God, to an obstinate people. Sometimes it is a Word of judgment and warning, other times it is a Word of love, forgiveness, renewal and hope. The people really do not want to hear any of it; for hearing any of it at all, any at all, requires that they recognize their own sins, confess them and return to serve God alone.
They are having too much of a good time serving themselves. They are having to lousy a time suffering as slaves for foreign powers. They do not want God to change things. They want to change things themselves for themselves. They want to become the oppressors of other peoples so that they can enjoy lives of privilege and power and comfort. God will have none of it.
God desires that all people receive life abundant.
Proclaiming Christ’s Word is exactly that. It’s not admonishments to good living. It’s not threats to live moral lives. It’s not an escape route from suffering and sin. It’s not some holy panacea pill that solves every ill.
Christ’s Word is the old, old story of Jesus and his love; God’s clearest demonstration of God’s unconditionally loving attitude toward all people. When that hit’s us, it’s a life changer, not just the first time but every time we hear it and listen. The Holy Spirit sweeps us off our stayed or escaping feet right into the lap of God’s mercy, love and hope, and then the power of the Spirit inspires us and moves us to exercise that same mercy, love and hope for all other people … so that all people have life abundant.
As messengers of Christ’s Word, we also will be persecuted, riled against, and unjustly blamed for things beyond our possible doing. Welcome to Jeremiah’s club, the club of God’s messengers sent to proclaim God’s Word. God’s Word, the fire giving life to our hearts and all creation.
Is not my word like fire, says the Lord, and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?
I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!
Words of Grace For Today
In the dead-cold of winter (so mild before this week, but no longer at all mild at -36⁰C) a bit of fire is a welcome thing. Vented, directed, contained with plenty of snow at shovel length to put out anything that approaches too much fire, the heat of fire meets the bleeping cold air and provides a livable space.
Most people in homes enjoy the balance of fire against cold as a product of natural gas ignited in a furnace with the heat distributed to the rest of the home by electricity (either an air fan or a water pump.)
There are cautionary tales to be told or rather seen: the house that one day is an example of a grand house on a hill in the woods, and the next a scarred roof line behind an untouched facade, which on closer viewing displays the chimney standing on it’s own with the building around it on the side and back of what used to be a house, missing and what is visible is jagged and charred. A chimney fire it seems consumed a home, hopefully without loss of life. The 5th wheel RV appears setup along side the remains of the house for the remainder of the winter, spring and summer, with the dogs running outside as they usually had.
One sees on the news videos of thick smoke and vehicles making their collective and slow exit out of Fort McMurray as wildfires wipe out huge areas of the city.
One sees the photos of a railroad accident fire that has burst and melted rail cars and rails themselves.
It could be that the purpose of your life is only to serve as a warning to others. Not every life can be a success, just like not every vessel can be seaworthy. But there’s no shame in being one spectacular shipwreck.
God’s Word is like all that, taking what is evil in the world, what is evil and sinful in us, and burning it up like chaff ….
Ah, what a fire that will be!
God’s Word always is a two edged sword, cutting away evil, also from us, among us, and from within each of us!
The Word of God cleanses with fire, and what a fire it is already in us!
The Word of God cuts away and burns away our sin and evil, and cleanses us, pure and righteous! By Grace we live through the cleansing fire.
God provides more than an RV replacement for a home. God provides us a home in the New Jerusalem, the City of God, the New Creation.
For some of us so connected to nature in our existence God provides that we need not move into a city; God provides a home in the wilds of nature’s wonders and beauty.
God’s cleansing fire that Jesus brings is destructive, powerful and wonderfully just. We pray it will be kindled soon among us. We pray the hammer of God will break apart Evil from within us and from among us, so that all will have homes, all will have food, all will have a good life, an abundant life!