For the Lord will not cast away his people, for his great name’s sake, because it has pleased the Lord to make you a people for himself.
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.
Words of Grace For Today
Bill sat next to Janet after their dance. They’d danced a dance each day together for the last year, after they were married, both in their late 60’s.
Remembering as Bill did how wonderful it was to be chosen by Janet so long ago on the floor of the High School dance, in the semi-darkness, so lonely, so frightening, so foreign. Then Janet came along. Janet who had dated Ted for as long as anyone in their class dated, until they’d broken up three months ago. That Janet, who’d he’d always watched and admired and wished he were Ted, until they broke up and Ted started dating Daniel and Janet dated almost anyone she wanted and not many were chosen. That Janet asked him if he would dance.
She said she’d been watching him. Watching him watch her. For years she had seen him. For years she had wanted to watch him, to ask him out. It was so frightening.
That had been the start of a whirlwind of wonder and a world that was so colourful Bill barely had time to catch his breath. Senior year, she said she wanted to be with him for the rest of their lives. A week later Bill had asked her to marry him. She had stood up in shock and walked off … and never came back.
That Janet now was his wife, and he was her husband, after two separate lives of joys and sorrows, wonders and such deep loses. And they danced.
Always one or the other would ask, ‘Since I have chosen you, will you dance with me tonight?’ And always the other answered, ‘Since I have chosen you, there is no greater honour than mine to be able to dance with you.’
So God asks us, ‘Since I have chosen you, will you dance with me today?’
You rule the raging of the sea; when its waves rise, you still them.
I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him.
Words of Grace For Today
Janet Rogner sat in her rocking chair wondering what had happened. Where had all the time gone? It seemed like yesterday that she and Ted met every day, sometimes on the lake, sometimes on the river, more often at school or on a date. Marriage, 2 kids, divorce, marriage and one more kid. That’s what they told her anyway. She did not remember any of it. They told her about the accident that killed her 2nd husband and 2 kids, and how it had left her in a coma for years.
She remembered Ted, but they told her he had died of a heart attack. They had reached out to his wife and two children. They came to visit, but she did not know them at all, even when the son reminded her of how Ted would twirl his finger in the air, like directing music. They said he went on to become a band director like his father, and more. He was an engineer of something called computer science.
She’d seen those things, computers. But they made no sense to her at all. They said they set her’s up to just listen and respond to her. So she swore at it nearly every hour. It still did nothing.
Now she looked in the mirror as the sun rose. Another day. Who was that old woman in the mirror anyway?
Then one day the storm gates broke open with memories that sent her scurrying for her bed, where she curled up to hide from them, from all the wonderful and beautiful memories, the challenges she and her husband and her friends had met with varying success, and then she remembered the old woman in the mirror and the accident and the deaths of her husband and her children.
It was days that she spent curled up, trying to hide from the pain. Until one day her son, Bill, walked in. She recognized him and he sat with her. He said he had come for years every week, but then he had to move for work and his wife’s job and his two children’s schooling, in computer science. And Janet remembered she had been good with computers, though she never had a degree, she knew more than most programmers and technicians.
They talked for hours, as Bill helped her remember things that were just on the edge of her awareness. He had to go but he came back then every day for a week and then once a week. The memories flooded in, like an angry sea in a hurricane at first, and then they started to organize, settle, smooth out. She started to dance in the morning. She swore at the computer, for the fun of it, before she sat down to type in her journal.
One day she saw a photo on line. It caught her, bounced her up out of her chair and tossed her back against the furthest wall. She didn’t know why. As the raging storm settled, she dared to look again. It was a photo of a lake, like the ones her family lived on through her High School years. Memories flooded in, of her mom walking with her and Bill. He was her first love. She’d never told her husband that is why she insisted they name their son Bill. Ted was earlier and Bill was everything to her, and then nothing but pain.
The love, the wonders, the fights, the break up and unequaled pain and chaos of life for months in her senior year in High School. She’d met her first husband, Greg, at a grad party and escaped into his life, but he turned out to be abusive and unfaithful. She stuck it out with him longer than she should have. He should have been in the car accident instead of her 2nd husband, Roger, and her kids should not have been there at all. But Greg would not bring the kids back after their visitation time with him, so Roger and Janet had gone to pick them up … and the drunk driver who rear ended them into the oncoming train brought them all to an end. Except Janet sort of survived in the storm of nothing remembered, loved or lost.
That weekend when her son came to visit, he brought his two grown children with him and their spouses and their little kids … and Bill said he had a surprise for her.
Her Bill from senior year in High School walked in and time stood still. He an old man. She an old woman in a rocker with her family all around. And she remembered before he spoke that she was the one who broke up with him because he would not marry her. She’d buried that for years through all that pain that it brought.
Her family talked. Bill talked. Janet sat stunned, quiet. Then Bill’s family, all ten of them came in. His wife had died decades ago. He walked with a limp, turns out from a surgery that was not quite successful. His grandchildren and great grandchildren danced and played and mingled with her children’s children.
Her son put some music on, one of her favourite waltzes. He danced with his wife. Then Bill asked Janet to dance. She caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror, smiling for the first time in so long.
Today, may the wisdom of God be yours, that you may dance and smile and remember all that God has shared with you, the sorrows and the joys, as the water laps on the shore of the waters of memories.
At the command of the Lord the Israelites would set out, and at the command of the Lord they would camp. As long as the cloud rested over the tabernacle, they would remain in camp.
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.
Words of Grace For Today
Nomads moving according to the command of the Lord, moving only when the cloud over the tabernacle disappeared.
Doing everything in Jesus’ name, and giving thanks to God.
As our days fill with challenges, rewards, chance goodnesses and grace, kindness, and the ever-present traps of evil, this is the difference between living abundantly and struggling every day: how do we approach each moment?
Do we taken on the challenges, temptations, and take in the joys, goodnesses, and graces with the assurance that God walks with us, so that for everything we can give thanks.
Do we see our demise threatened after the next corner that even joy can bring us to round?
This is life abundant:
To know we are not settled, not ever, in a security provided by our circumstances in this world.
To know that we move through this world even as we do not take direction from God, then God accompanies us down into the messes and hell-holes we create for ourselves or other toss us into.
To know that our demise is not the end, it is not to be feared, and in it God will gather us home, to a home with all the blessings and security we wished for in this life.
To know that until then we get to share with everyone God’s promise to walk with us and show us how love, grace, and kindness bring goodness to life even in the dankest corner of our lives.
Happy are the people who know the festal shout, who walk, O Lord, in the light of your countenance.
As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.
Words of Grace For Today
How are we to live in this world that feels so much like a hell hole so many days?
Well it’s like this man who walks down the street, trips and falls into an open hole and cannot get out because the sides are so steep. He calls out for help but no one seems to hear him.
Finally a very wealthy man comes by and stands at the edge of the hole. Hearing the trapped man’s plea the rich man throws down a fist full of money and walks on.
Eventually a doctor comes by and stands at the edge of the hole. Hearing the trapped man’s plea the doctor throws down a prescription and walks away.
That’s what so much of our days look like. Either we are in the hole, or we are trying to help people stuck in holes, but there really is little change from day to day.
We all just keep walking on.
But there’s more. There is the rest of the Hole Story.
Remember that man in the hole unable to get out. His sage continues after the rich man tosses in money and the doctor a prescription. A lawyer tosses down a brief. A drug dealer spills in some smack. Finally a farmer hands down a bag of produce. Some of that helps a bit, some certainly not.
Hours later a friend of the trapped man comes by and stands at the edge of the hole. The trapped man says with some relief, “Thank God you’ve found me. Find a rope or a ladder and help me get out of here.” The friend instead jumps into the hole.
See that’s the surprise that God provides for us each day. God sends good friends to jump right in with us, if they are not in the hole already!
The first man exclaims: “How stupid! Now we’re both trapped.”
We are right there, how stupid can God be to walk with us or send others down here. We want out, not company in the ‘hell holes’ we’ve gotten ourselves into. Then comes the next surprise.
God, like the friend responds, “It’s okay. I’ve been down here before and I know the way out.” (story told on West Wing by Leo to Josh dealing with post trauma syndrome after he was shot. 2007 reworked and added rich man. Edited 2022)
So Christ calls us forgiven sinners made saints to clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.
Then we will walk in God’s countenance and know the festal shout well, for each day will be a celebration of all that God can do in spite of us, for us, and through us for others. Each day is not like the last, except that God’s Grace abounds again and again, in surprising ways.
Rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.
Let us then pursue what makes for peace and for mutual edification.
Words of Grace For Today
The power of the tongue is famous.
More powerful than the sword. As is the pen. Though the mouth can out do the pen when wielded effectively.
The power is not necessarily damaging and evil. It can be more destructive than the sword. The power of the pen and of the mouth can be exactly opposite that of a destructive sword.
The words of the mouth and of the pen can be words that reflect God’s grace, and in that address the greatest evil that can ever come at us, and turn it from destruction to healing.
Smooth words of deception are not healing words, though. They are, despite all appearances and sounds, more destructive than the sword. Only truth can heal. Only truth which names evil as it is, and offers God’s merciful response to it, can heal.
So we go into each day, confessing our sins, acknowledging the great destructive power of deceptions and evils of all kinds, and trusting that God has a response to it all which brings us to live life as God created us to live it, in peace.
Hear, O my people, while I admonish you; O Israel, if you would but listen to me!
2 Timothy 4:17
But the Lord stood by me and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth.
Words of Grace For Today
God does not give up on us.
While we wander away and ignore all God would give to us as wisdom, putting ourselves first and leaving others to fend for themselves against hopeless odds, God still cries for us: Hear, O my people while I admonish you! If you would be listen to me!
When we tune our ears to hear God’s Word to us each morning, noon and night, it is full of surprises what we will hear. We thought we’d hear God condemning us and or others for all the dregs of sin we toss around, at each other and at the planet.
We thought we’d hear God demanding reparations.
We thought or rather fully hoped we’d hear God giving it to our enemies with lots of ‘smote keys’.
Doch, God is prodigious with love, forgiveness, and mercy, especially for the likes of us, great sinners that we are. Ready to deny it at moment’s notice.
And God is prodigious with love, forgiveness, and mercy for our enemies that we think are so much worse than we are.
Well, they may well be by some scale of measurement of terribleness, though that scale is useless or even hugely damaging in God’s world.
So God is merciful to us all, each as we require to hear that we are invited back to the table at the banquet. All of us ‘saved from the lion’s mouth’ as it were.
The Lord is my strength and my might; he has become my salvation.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Words of Grace For Today
On this side of disaster, destruction, and demise (unearned but foisted on us by our enemies that claimed to be our family) we breathe and know it is a miracle.
We see the sun rise, and know it is a miracle.
We see the grass grow, the pine trees fill with acorns, the chicks grow to mature ducks and geese, and we know it is a miracle.
We work hard to prepare for the hard winter predicted ahead, and see the resulting piles of wood, completed repairs and improvements, and we know it is all wonder-filled miracles.
For God has become again and again our salvation, our breathe, and our hope.
So we would hope for you, that you would know the miracles that God works wondrously in your days, and thus find peace in the Holy Spirit’s power to transform the worst of the worst into blessings unending.
[Remember the glorious acts of God,] things that we have heard and known, that our ancestors have told us. We will not hide them from their children; we will tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done.
Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. You received without payment; give without payment.
Words of Grace For Today
While living a life, self-sustained and self-determined, no great mishaps interrupting one’s plans and trajectory, it is all too easy to forget so much.
How one’s ancestors worked so hard to bring us to the beginning we were given as a gift.
How God provided for their survival in wondrous ways.
And how at each turn in our own lives, God is there, walking with us, calling us, blessing us, begging us to return to God.
Then disaster strikes. Small or huge, particular or general. And our self-sustained life is no longer possible, as if it ever were that.
Then we will only survive if we remember what our ancestors have taught us about God’s great blessings, and we return to God.
Simple: Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. You received without payment; give without payment.
One day awaits us each morning, filled with opportunities to remember, to return, to serve others with the love that cures, raises, cleanses, and casts out.
It’s not 16 tons and deeper in debt to the company store, but it is that each day we receive more than we can possible give back, and we live blessed to be deeper and deeper in debt to God for all the blessings poured over us. It is impossible to repay that debt, and it will never be called. Miracles and wonders.
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.
Selfish and destructive strivings, yearnings, and desires.
The world is going to ‘hell in a hand basket’ quickly enough. Why do we have to help it along it’s way so effectively?
How are we to deal with all this?
We need to understand the root causes and work to end or at least mitigate them!
We need to work to mitigate the ‘downstream’ effects on so many lives as much as we can.
We need to get our own ‘houses’ in order, our own hearts, minds, and souls in order, except that is impossible without God cleaning, organizing, and renewing us from the inside out.
This God does through Jesus, the Christ, moving us from thinking we can earn our way forward, to relying wholly on God’s grace each day anew. God heals our weary, embattled souls.
For this we give God thanks, as we gather, knowing God is present with us always, also where we gather. God listens, so we beg and pray for help and healing and resolution and mitigations, and freedom from destruction from without and from within.
Because God not only promises us exactly that healing, but also pours it over us prodigiously each day, we return God thanks in our songs of joy.
The world may be going to hell in a hand basket quickly enough. We do our part to impede this progress as we are able and we trust God that Evil and Hell will not triumph in the end; not in our lifetimes, and not in the time of humans in the universe.
On with the day’s work that promises to be enough or more for the precious time given to us.