The Quickest and Most Courageous Way to Make an Attitude Adjustment. Hebrews 4:10-13

Hebrews 4:10-13 Amplified Bible

10 For the one who has once entered His rest has also rested from [the weariness and pain of] his [human] labors, just as God rested from [those labors uniquely] His own. 11 Let us therefore make every effort to enter that rest [of God, to know, experience it for ourselves], so that no one will fall by following the same example of disobedience [as those who died in the wilderness]. 12 For the word of God is living and active and full of power [making it operative, energizing, and effective]. It is sharper than any two-edged [a]sword, penetrating as far as the division of the [b]soul and spirit [the completeness of a person], and of both joints and marrow [the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and judging the very thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 And not a creature exists that is concealed from His sight, but all things are open and exposed, and revealed to the eyes of Him with whom we have to give account.

The Word of God for the Children of God.

Adeste Fidelis! Venite Adoremus! Dominum.

Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen.

The 19th-century English preacher Charles Haddon Spurgeon once said the Reformation began when Martin Luther found an old discarded Bible in his monastery.

As he postured himself, he began to read it, subtly God’s Word grew like a seed in his heart and his soul, and the result was a world-transforming movement.

But this gentle image of a seed is not the way the incomparable power of God’s Word is described in Hebrews 4:12, one of the key verses in the foundational idea of sola Scriptura, or “Scripture alone.”

Here God’s Word is described as a sharp, powerful, and precise blade, dividing the whole complete truth from all of the rebellious lies we harbor in our hearts.

Only Scripture has this power—not the traditions of any church, nor the acutely accurate insights of any leader.

As Luther said, “A simple layman armed with Scripture is greater than the mightiest pope without it.”

Indeed, in speaking about the Reformation that he initiated, Luther said, “I did nothing. The Word did everything.”

God’s Word, the Bible, has a precision and a power we will find nowhere else.

Will you let it be active in you?

Read it with an open heart?

Let it form the words that come from your mouth?

Let it shape the actions you take?

Adjusting (without our permission and utterly against our wills) our attitudes?

Eventually arriving at the God anointed place where only by knowing and living in and through God’s Word can we please him and serve him in our daily lives?

Is there enough moral courage to let the Word of God take command of our life?

What Does it take to be Courageous?

Isaiah 45:5-7Amplified Bible


“I am the Lord, and there is no one else;
There is no God except Me.
I will embrace and arm you, though you have not known Me,

That people may know from the rising to the setting of the sun [the world over]
That there is no one except Me.
I am the Lord, and there is no other,

The One forming light and creating darkness,
Causing peace and creating disaster;
I am the Lord who does all these things.

Courage back-builds as we spend time soaked in the Truth of God’s Word.

Understanding who God is and who we are as His children allows us to realize our need for Him.

When we don’t know what’s going to happen, God is already there.

He is all-knowing, everywhere, all of the time.

There is no other God, …..

Isaiah repeated three times in today’s key verses.

Any time a word or phrase is repeated in Scripture, we can assume it’s of heightened importance. 

There is no other God. 

He alone is mighty to save.

He gives us what we need to live the lives He’s put us on earth to live, before we even know who He is.

We have a never-ending supply of courage available to us, through Christ Jesus.

His Holy Spirit lives in us, activating a supernatural bravery in each of us who dare to publicly proclaim Him our Lord and our Savior.

The One True God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

There is no other – period!

There can never be another – period!

There will never be another – period!

Our only living hope is in living for Him.

Our only living hope comes from living from Him,

…. as does the courage and bravery we need to wait patiently on Him. 

How does the Word of God define Courage?

Joshua 1:5-9Amplified Bible

No man will [be able to] stand before you [to oppose you] as long as you live. Just as I was [present] with Moses, so will I be with you; I will not fail you or abandon you. Be strong and confident and courageous, for you will give this people as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers (ancestors) to give them. Only be strong and very courageous; be careful to do [everything] in accordance with the entire law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may prosper and be successful wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall read [and meditate on] it day and night, so that you may be careful to do [everything] in accordance with all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will be [a]successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not be terrified or dismayed (intimidated), for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Courage is born from confidence in our Creator.

Courage shows up 124 times in the Amplified translation of the Bible.

https://www.biblegateway.com/quicksearch/?quicksearch=courage&version=AMP

The dictionary definition of courage is “the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear; bravery.”

We aren’t promised an easy life following Christ Jesus, but we are guaranteed all we need is the courage drawn from living into, out from, the unchangeable moral, ethical truths in, and throughout the length and breadth of the Word of God to move forward boldly to accomplish what the Lord has set us here to do.

Halley’s Bible Handbook Notes explains “God’s superiority over idols is proven by His ability to foretell the future.

Says Isaiah, our God, whom we worship in our Hebrew nation, not only can do what human beings do, He can do some things that they cannot do: He can foretell things to come.” 

Psalm 27:14 says, 

“Wait patiently for the LORD. Be brave and courageous. Yes, with patiently for the LORD.”

Courage can be stillness, seeking the Lord and waiting patiently for His direction and wisdom.

Instead of rushing to the aid of others to download a situation in exchange for opinions, we wait on the Lord.

Instead of allowing our reactions to go unfiltered, we wait on the Lord’s direction.

It sometimes takes more courage to be still and silent.

Jesus often retreated to pray to the Lord, and returned strengthened.

Isaiah wrote:

“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).

God is doing all of the work!

He is with us, and He is God!

He strengthens us and helps us. He holds us up in His victorious right hand. Christ Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father, victorious over death.

He willingly sacrificed His life for us on the cross, rose three days later, and then ascended into heaven to be seated at the right hand of His Father.

It’s His sacrifice and His victory we draw strength from!

Moses told God’s people, and Joshua, before they entered the promised land:

“So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the LORD you God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you” (Deuteronomy 31:6).

God is doing all of the work!

He is with us, and He is God!

He strengthens us and helps us. He holds us up in His victorious right hand.

Christ Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father, victorious over death.

He willingly sacrificed His life for us on the cross, rose three days later, and then ascended into heaven to be seated at the right hand of His Father.

It’s His sacrifice and His victory we draw strength from!

Moses told God’s people, and Joshua, before they entered the promised land:

“So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the LORD you God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you” (Deuteronomy 31:6).

Quickest Way From Timidity to Courage to Attitude Adjustment

Hebrews 4:12Amplified Bible

12 For the word of God is living and active and full of power [making it operative, energizing, and effective]. It is sharper than any two-edged [a]sword, penetrating as far as the division of the [b]soul and spirit [the completeness of a person], and of both joints and marrow [the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and judging the very thoughts and intentions of the heart.

Have you ever found yourself in need of an attitude adjustment?

If so, be encouraged, as you’ve reached the most critical step in receiving one by acknowledging and recognizing, confessing and believing you are in need of it. 

Realizing and recognizing there are wrong attitudes in your heart and mind is the breakthrough moment to a new attitude.

So many of us walk around, living day-to-day with no idea we might need some adjustments. 

For sure, God is quick to recognize wrong attitudes in us, even if we think we’re covering them up with our words.

“These people honor Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me” (Matthew 15:8).

Although wrong attitudes are often easy for us to see in others, for some reason, they are usually very difficult to see in ourselves.

Because it is sometimes almost impossible to see wrong attitudes within us, what is the quickest way to an attitude adjustment? 

As Hebrews 4:12 explains, when we commit to reading God’s Word, it has the power to cut through our soul and spirit and to judge our heart’s attitudes.

Nothing else in the world has the ability to do so like the living Word of God.

God’s Word Actively Exposes and Corrects Wrong Attitudes

God’s Word is so vital to our daily lives and the quickest way to recognize and reveal hidden mindsets, especially helpful in addressing and adjusting wrong and sinful attitudes.

Because it is alive and active, it doesn’t ever grow outdated or irrelevant to correct current incorrect thoughts and ways of thinking. 

Before wrong attitudes can enter our hearts, God’s Word has the power to stop them before we accept them into our thinking.

As 2 Timothy 3:16 explains, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness”

Three Ways God’s Word Adjusts Attitudes

As well, Proverbs 6:21,22 describes three ways it has the ability to help us live daily with the right attitude when we take the time to make it the top priority in our lives by reading, studying, and applying it to our lives. 

”Bind them always on your heart; fasten them around your neck. When you walk, they will guide you; when you sleep, they will watch over you; when you awake, they will speak to you.”

1. God’s Word guides our attitudes.

His Living Word will not ask our permission to take the lead in our lives to help us guide our thoughts, Words, and actions each and every day to be aligned with His ways over worldly wisdom and philosophies. 

As 2 Corinthians 10:5 explains, with God’s Living and Active Word,

“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

2. God’s Word protects our attitudes as we sleep.

Have you ever woken up in a bad mood, feeling disgruntled, upset, negative, and on edge, not knowing why?

Well, that isn’t just by accident.

The enemy of our souls works through the night to influence our thoughts and attitudes. 

But as Christians, we don’t have to wake up with wrong thinking and mindsets because God says His words will protect and watch over us when we’re sleeping, guarding our hearts and minds against the onslaught of the enemy’s attacks.

His Word works as a shield against the enemy’s midnight assaults.

As Proverbs 30:5 assures, “Every word of God is flawless; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.”

3. God’s Word speaks to our attitudes during the day.

When we’re awake, God will personally speak to us through His Word.

Because it is alive and active, when we take the time to read it, study it and too, know it, God will speak to us through it at times when we need to hear His voice.

Although some think and believe God’s Word only speaks to us in a general way, truth and Holy Spirit reality reveals He speaks through it to our hearts, to our souls and minds in very personal deep, life-changing, transformational ways.

Intersecting Faith and Life:

How is your attitude today?

How is your attitude right exactly in this exacting moment?

Did you wake up in a bad mood?

Wake up on the Wrong side of the bed or the leftover grounds Coffee Pot?

Too many twists and turns and not enough “straight roads ahead?”

Everybody and their grandmother honking their horns behind a stalled car?

Most of us often don’t recognize wrong attitudes within ourselves, or even worse, until somebody else notices us, repeatedly, annoyingly starts tapping on our shoulder, or nudges their elbows in our ribcage and we justify having them.

If you and I are not sure how you and I are doing today, Pray to God to expose any wrong attitudes in your heart and correct wrong thinking with His Word.

A Hand holding a wrench to adjust the brain in an opened human head.
adjusting, fixing or changing, or creating a new ,better way of thinking.

In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,

Let us Pray,

Lord, today, in this moment I must confess that sometimes I choose to focus on the contraries and negatives, instead of focusing on what you’ve called me to focus on. Help me take the words of Philippians 4:8 to heart. Help me to find those Words of Scripture which in every moment of every day, will help me to narrow my focus onto whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely and admirable, so that my attitude may adjusted, fine tuned to reflect and honor you. As I practice shifting my perspective, keep my heart from growing cold or bitter. Teach me to remember that I am not a slave to my negative emotions. Because of your Holy Spirit, I can tell those emotions to be removed and turn my eyes to the things of you, instead. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Adeste Fidelis! Venite Adoremus! Dominum.

Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen.

https://translate.google.com/

Benefits and Value of God’s Wisdom. Proverbs Chapter 2

Proverbs 2:1-5 English Standard Version

The Value of Wisdom

My son, if you receive my words
    and treasure up my commandments with you,
making your ear attentive to wisdom
    and inclining your heart to understanding;
yes, if you call out for insight
    and raise your voice for understanding,
if you seek it like silver
    and search for it as for hidden treasures,
then you will understand the fear of the Lord
    and find the knowledge of God.

The Word of God for the Children of God.

Adeste Fidelis! Venite Adoremus! Dominum.

Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen.

Wisdom, Knowledge and Happiness

As a boy, Charles Dickens knew poverty from bitter experience.

He never forgot what he had learned.

Many of his novels deal with the huge gap between wealth and poverty.

Perhaps the most unforgettable is A Christmas Carol.

Its main character, Ebenezer Scrooge, is a “grasping, clutching, covetous old sinner” who can squeeze blood out of a stone.

Bob Cratchit, his underpaid bookkeeper, shivers in his unheated corner of the office.

But Bob has learned to be content in his situation.

At the meager Cratchit-family Christmas dinner, Bob proposes a toast: “Merry Christmas to Mr. Scrooge, the founder of the feast!”

Mrs. Cratchit objects with the scornful words about Scrooge, but Bob, in all humility replies mildly, “My dear, it’s Christmas … and for the children!”

For all his poverty, Cratchit has wisdom and happiness.

But Scrooge, for all his wealth, has a bleak and miserable “business sense” life.

Here is something of the complexity and mystery about wealth and poverty.

Most people think and deeply believe that wealth brings happiness.

But that is not always so.

Happiness and contentment can exist in the midst of scarcity.

What’s more, the rich can be righteous, and they can be a blessing to the poor.

And just the opposite is equally true, the righteous poor can be a humble and humbled and humbling blessing to the rich – all one needs is a bit more wisdom.

Knowledge of God, Understanding of God through study of His Word, Faith in God, Wisdom from God and living by his love are the keys to finding happiness.

The “Keys” to “Finding” Happiness

Have you ever had someone try to sell you something? What’s the typical pattern a salesperson uses? First, they tell you all the amazing benefits of their service or product. “Our miracle product…

…will lower cholesterol…”
…will help you burn fat and lose weight…”
…will keep your information safe and secure…”
…will give you better gas mileage…”
…will make you happy and content…”

And then once you’re convinced they show you the price tag…

“For only four payments of $999.99…”
“If you only eat Subway for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day…”
“If you sign up for our monthly never-ending subscription-based service…”
“Your monthly car payment can be as low as…”
“If you sign your life and soul over we will…”

The typical pattern is—here’s the benefits and then here’s how you get them.

Today, I want to reverse that pattern.

First, I want to tell you how to get wisdom, then I want to tell you its benefits.

This is the pattern our passage takes and I like it because when I finally tell you the benefits of wisdom you’ll be able to weigh in your own mind if it’s worth it.

So first… 

How to get Wisdom

Wisdom is “skill for living”, but living God’s way instead of our own way.

Once again the father-figure in Proverbs is teaching his son (who we can all put ourselves in the place of) how to get wisdom.

He tells him four ways to get wisdom (not four different ways).

You should do them all if you want to get wisdom.

Proverbs 2:1-5New International Version

Moral Benefits of Wisdom

My son, if you accept my words
    and store up my commands within you,
turning your ear to wisdom
    and applying your heart to understanding—
indeed, if you call out for insight
    and cry aloud for understanding,
and if you look for it as for silver
    and search for it as for hidden treasure,
then you will understand the fear of the Lord
    and find the knowledge of God.

The first way to get wisdom we find in verse one.

1. BELIEF IN GOD’S WORD (VERSE 1)

The father-figure says, “My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you…”

The author Solomon is talking about a father’s words found in the book of Proverbs, but he’s also talking about God’s whole Word, the Hebrew Scriptures.

The word for commands (mitzvah) can also mean the laws God gave his people Israel (Genesis 26:5; Exodus 26:28).

So it’s like Solomon or the father-figure is saying, “My son, if you want wisdom, believe in God’s Word.” 

Each one of us comes to a turning point in our lives where we have to decide the final rule for our lives.

Is it going to be God’s unchanging perfect words and commands that although they are hard we know they are good, true, and best?

Or are we going to choose our own feelings and intuitions and desires and what the world says is best?

God’s Word offers us a firm-foundation for our lives, a foundation that won’t let us down.

But if we choose anything else we’re choosing something that might say one thing today and a different thing tomorrow.

Eggs are good for you. Eggs are bad for you.

Drink coffee. Coffee is bad for you.

Drink more milk. Drink soy milk. Drink almond milk.

Turn right when we should have turned left or stayed straight and narrow.

Stay with Gasoline Vehicles or “Go Green” with Hybrids and Electric cars.

This career path or that career path

How about with what we understand to be the “serious things” of our lives?

Changing and Shifting winds, sands, and crashing waves “defining” what our “correct” Morals and Ethics are “supposed to be” according to the wisest of the most educated, connected, influential, powerful, wealthy “people” on internet.

How many issues can you think or heard of where 10-20 years ago everyone said one things was seriously averse, now today people say just the opposite?

That is generational shifting sands, that’s stormy waters (James 1:5-8).

How about those who “stay the course on the narrow road” and stay steadfast:

“I only want to build my life on the rock of God’s Word that never changes!” 

Resolving the Ceaseless Conflict between belief and unbelief in Christ the Lord.

Does knowledge and understanding the Word of God for His Children and the outpouring of the anointing oils its blessed wisdom still have any relevance?

First, we get wisdom by believing in God’s Word.

2. MEMORIZATION OF GOD’S WORD (VERSE 1)

We’re still in verse one. What does it mean to “store up” something?

Did any of you prepare for the Y2K bug?

So kids, a long time ago everyone was worried that when the clocks on our computers turned from December 31st 1999 to January 1st 2000 there was going to be a computer meltdown that would cause world food shortages and financial errors—basically, the apocalypse to end all apocalypses.

So prepare people stored up canned food, powdered food, dried food, and water and drinks that would not go bad.

Our single person household bought whole shelves of Kool-Aid powdered drink.

So by golly if the world failed I am still going to have a storehouse of Kool-Aid.

And when Y2K came and no one but Blockbuster video had problems I still had my Kool-Aid powdered drink, for a while it tasted good, then I got tired of it all.

Wisdom ended up throwing most of it out, to this day wisdom will not drink it.

I “stored up” for the long term to avert disaster.

But so much of what I had stored up for the long term spoiled, went to waste.

Likewise, God calls us to “store up” his Word within us to avert disaster in our lives.

How do we do that?

By memorizing themes and passages weaved in and throughout the Bible.

I want to encourage everyone to “store up” God’s Word in our own hearts because God uses it to strengthen us, give us hope, and teach us how to live.

Outline, underline, color mark foundational verses from the bible – what text speaks to your heart and to your soul and to your life at the moment you read it.

Put it on your mirror or fold it over in your Bible, somewhere you will see it and memorize it.

Read, study, pray and memorize other verses too, one’s that will remind you of the never ending relevance, significance of hope and God’s love and promises. 

Second, we get wisdom by memorizing God’s Word. 

3. ACCEPTANCE OF GOD’S WORD (VERSE 2)

Proverbs 2:2 says to turn our ears to wisdom and apply our hearts to understanding.

Do you ever get in a disagreement and the person you are fighting with says, “You’re not listening to me!”

Sometimes that’s true.

One person is not paying attention because they’re too busy talking or thinking.

But usually that means “You’re not agreeing with me.” 

Proverbs 2:2 is saying to get wisdom we need to hear it with our ears and accept it with our hearts and agree to it with our lives.

We need to open ourselves up and let God’s Words and ways sink deep into who we are.

In Hebrew culture the heart was the core of a person, their true identity.

We do not want God’s Word to go in one ear and out the other, but go in through the ear, through the mind, and down deep into our heart.

When I prepare devotionals that’s one of the things I think about.

I want God’s Word to affect me first but then I want it to affect you all too.

We don’t want to just sit here and hear without listing or agreeing.

The absolute significance of God’s Word and truth is too eternally important. 

Third, we get wisdom by accepting God’s Word. 

4. ASK GOD FOR IT THROUGH PRAYER (VERSES 3 AND 4)

This is perhaps the simplest way to get wisdom, ask God for it.

Verse 3 tells us to “call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding” (NIV).

If you and I want wisdom, pray that God will give us some.

Sometimes prayer is the only step we take.

We ask God for wisdom but we don’t try to memorize and understand his Word.

Prayer goes hand and hand with God’s Word.

It’s like peanut butter and jelly or eggs and bacon or it is like fish and chips.

God’s Word and prayer together make a delicious wisdom platter.

If you and I want wisdom, we have to ask God for it. (1 Kings 3:5-15) 

James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. (NIV) 

One of the points Spurgeon makes is that wisdom isn’t just knowing how to “be wise ‘enough’ to make the ‘right decisions’,” but wisdom is a character quality molded, shaped, then reshaped by “interpreting” our experiences.

When you and I pray for wisdom it’s not only that we would make the right choice (it is that) but it’s also praying that God would make us into the kind of people who would make the right choice.

It’s praying God would mold, shape, develop and transform our moral and our ethical character so we choose to do we do it with integrity and discernment. 

So how do we get wisdom? 

First, by believing in God’s Word.

Second, by studying and memorizing God’s Word.

Third, by accepting God’s Word,

and fourth, by asking God for wisdom through prayer. 

Now I’ve told you how to get wisdom, but what are the benefits of wisdom?

What makes it worth doing all those things?

What makes it worth signing up for and sitting inside a classroom for?

The Benefits and Value of Wisdom

The point of these things is not just to do them for the sake of doing them, but for the sake of something greater.

Did you ever watch those old Mastercard commercials?

A man and woman walk into a gas station.

As the gas station attendant rings up their purchases he says:

chips: $3
frozen beverage: $2
gas: $31
starting a new life together: priceless… 

But then the woman shakes her head “no” so the gas station attendant tries again.

rekindling a fire that never went out? (she shakes her head again)
satisfying a much-needed slushy fix?… Priceless.

So what’s the priceless things we are seeking by pursuing wisdom?

God himself. 

Proverbs 2:5-6New International Version

then you will understand the fear of the Lord
    and find the knowledge of God.
For the Lord gives wisdom;
    from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.

Verse 5 says if we seek wisdom, “then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.”

The fear of the Lord is believing that God’s “threats are real and his promises are true”.

Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection from the grave shows us that God’s threats are real—that if we don’t deal with our sins he will put us to death—but his promises are real—that if we put our faith and trust in him he will forgive us of our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

It’s as we come to understand who God is through Christ Jesus that we begin to actually know God.

Do you want to know about God or know God?

You might know a lot of things about your favorite celebrity or professional sports athlete, you might know what movies they’re in or their batting average, but that doesn’t mean you know them.

There’s a simple test for if you know them.

Do they know you?

If I were to walk up to Tom Cruise or Tom Brady and if I were to name drop your name what would they say?

“Oh yeah. I know him!” Or more likely … “I am sorry, Who?” 

Come with me one step further.

If I were to walk up to God and to name drop your name what would he say?

“Oh yes, I know him/her. I love him/her very much … Or “I am sorry, Who?”

We seek wisdom because we’re seeking God.

We want to know him.

But the next verse tells us this is only possible by God’s grace.

Proverbs 2:6 
For the Lord gives wisdom;
from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. (NIV)

We can only know God if we want to acknowledge God, to know us.

We can only acquire wisdom if God wants to give it to us.

It’s both an “as we seek” and an “as he gives” kind of exchange.

We seek to obey and know God and God gives us a relationship with him.

Or put it in the reverse.

God gives us a relationship with him and so we obey and know God. 

What’s the priceless benefit of wisdom? Knowing God himself. 

The benefits just keep growing out of this.

If you know God you are part of the family and God protects you.

Proverbs 2:7-8New International Version

He holds success in store for the upright,
    he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless,
for he guards the course of the just
    and protects the way of his faithful ones.

Benefit and Value of God’s Protection (Verses 7-19)

Proverbs 2:7-19 New International Version

He holds success in store for the upright,
    he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless,
for he guards the course of the just
    and protects the way of his faithful ones.

Then you will understand what is right and just
    and fair—every good path.
10 For wisdom will enter your heart,
    and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.
11 Discretion will protect you,
    and understanding will guard you.

12 Wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men,
    from men whose words are perverse,
13 who have left the straight paths
    to walk in dark ways,
14 who delight in doing wrong
    and rejoice in the perverseness of evil,
15 whose paths are crooked
    and who are devious in their ways.

16 Wisdom will save you also from the adulterous woman,
    from the wayward woman with her seductive words,
17 who has left the partner of her youth
    and ignored the covenant she made before God.[a]
18 Surely her house leads down to death
    and her paths to the spirits of the dead.
19 None who go to her return
    or attain the paths of life.

God’s wisdom grants us protection from potential disasters.

I don’t mean natural disasters but rather God’s wisdom protect us from ourselves, from bad things we might do.

God’s wisdom protects us from:

  • Committing injustice (v9-11) – Sinning against others by treating them unfairly. If God gives us his wisdom we will want to treat others with fairness and equity even at cost to ourselves.
  • Wicked men (or women) who love sin (v12-15) – “those who take advantage of others for their own gain.” As God grants us wisdom and character like His we won’t be drawn to them but will learn how to recognize them for who they are.
  • Unfaithful women (or men) who break their marriage promise (v16-19) Verse 16 says that “Wisdom will save you […] from the wayward woman with her seductive words.” (NIV) Sometimes beauty might cause a break in marriage vows but often it is words, words of affirmation and acceptance. It’s a listening ear. Emotional adultery comes before acting it out. God gives us wisdom so we know how to stay away from relationships that lead to this kind of disaster.

But there’s one more benefit to wisdom. 

A FOREVER HOME WITH GOD (VERSES 20 to 22)

Proverbs 2:20-22New International Version

20 Thus you will walk in the ways of the good
    and keep to the paths of the righteous.
21 For the upright will live in the land,
    and the blameless will remain in it;
22 but the wicked will be cut off from the land,
    and the unfaithful will be torn from it.

Proverbs 2:21 says, “For the upright will live in the land, and the blameless will remain in it;” (NIV)

It’s an interesting way to close this passage in Proverbs because it’s a reminder to the Israelite people that they get to stay in the promised land if they obey God and keep his commandments (Exodus 20:1-17). 

But where’s the promise for us?

The benefits of wisdom are knowing God, protection from mistakes in this life, and an eternal home with God in the life to come.

Hebrews says that the heroes of our faith “were longing for a better country—a heavenly one” (Hebrews 11:16).

If that’s you, if you are the one longing for a better home, then pursue wisdom.

Seek God by believing his Word, memorizing it, accepting it, and prayer.

John 14:5-14New International Version

Jesus the Way to the Father

Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know[a] my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”

Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”

Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. 11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. 12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.

Wisdom is a gift, but it’s a gift we help work for.

Knowing God is a gift!

Spending eternity with him is a gift!

His protection is a gift!

But they are gifts we have to choose to seek by choosing to seek His wisdom.

John 14:1-3New International Version

Jesus Comforts His Disciples

14 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God[a]; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.

Let our hearts not be troubled.

Believe in God!

Believe in His Resurrected Son, Jesus!

Believe in God’s Holy Spirit!

Let our Hearts Seek His wisdom and we WILL find our forever home with God!

In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,

Let us Pray,

Holy God, Word made flesh,
let us come to this word open to being surprised.
Silence our agendas; banish our assumptions; cast out our casual detachment.
Confound our expectations; clear the cobwebs from our ears;
penetrate the corners of our hearts with this word.
We know that you can, we pray that you will,
and we wait with great anticipation. Amen.

Empty us, Great God, of all that prevents us
from hearing what you want us to hear.
Empty us of our preconceptions,
our preoccupations and our prejudices.
Empty us that we might be filled
with your Spirit and your Word.
Empty us that we might be filled for ministry and mission.
In Christ’s name we pray, Amen.

Calm us now, O Lord, into a quietness that heals and listens.
Open wounded hearts to the balm of your Word.
Speak to us in clear tones so that we might feel our spirits leap for joy
and skip with a living hope as your resurrection witnesses. Amen.

Adeste Fidelis! Venite Adoremus! Dominum.

Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen.

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Prerequisites for Purposeful Living: “Give Ear and Hear My voice, Listen and Hear My Speech.” Proverbs 2:1-5

Proverbs 2:1-5 The Message

Make Insight Your Priority

1-5 Good friend, take to heart what I’m telling you;
    collect my counsels and guard them with your life.
Tune your ears to the world of Wisdom;
    set your heart on a life of Understanding.
That’s right—if you make Insight your priority,
    and won’t take no for an answer,
Searching for it like a prospector panning for gold,
    like an adventurer on a treasure hunt,
Believe me, before you know it Fear-of-God will be yours;
    you’ll have come upon the Knowledge of God.

The Word of God for the Children of God.

Adeste Fidelis! Venite Adoremus! Dominum.

Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen.

On a brochure I saw in the Narthex of a new church I read these words in red:

“If I am really a Christian … then why isn’t Jesus Christ more real in my life?”

It made for rather interesting reading considering the church was a new plant and had only opened its doors to the community a scant ninety days before.

It was actually quite thought provoking – even more so than I first expected.

If you have ever wondered about that, “why isn’t Jesus more real to me,” you should know that you are not the first and you will not be the last one either.

Even writers of the Bible, especially the psalmists, wrestled with this question.

Even the Book of Proverbs offers its readers many intriguing statements which even today have turned into contemporary Parent to Children admonishments.

1. Many hands make light work

When many people work together to accomplish a difficult task, it doesn’t seem so difficult. That is the general meaning of this proverb. In other words, if many people work together, the work is easier and is usually completed more quickly.

2. Honesty is the best policy

It is best to always be honest and tell the truth, even when telling the truth hurts you. By doing so, humbling self will win the trust and respect of others.

3. Don’t judge a book by its cover

Don’t be too quick to form an opinion or make a judgment about someone or something based on its outward appearance – you could embarrass yourself.

4. Where there’s a will, there’s always a way

If your desire to accomplish something is strong enough, you will find a way to do it.

5. Actions speak louder than words

A person’s true character can be seen by what he does, not by what he says. A person can talk as much as he wants, but he may not actually do anything to back up his words. All the bluster and bravado of leadership loses its luster if the one doing all of the bragging inevitably does nothing, retreats from their words.

6. Always put your best foot forward

The meaning of this proverb is that you should always try your best to make a good first impression on others; reveal and show your best traits and qualities.

7. Do not be wise in thine own eyes

The meaning of this proverb is very clear: the consistent witness of Scripture is that Jehovah God and God alone is the One, only true source of wisdom and life.

If we are faith-filled and faithful in following Him, He will “abundantly” bless us; if not, in our own self righteousness, we risk significant peril and judgment.

One of the most dangerous traps we can fall prey to is justifying ourselves based on our own self reported, ideals, definitions and understandings of judgment.

When we assume that we are more in the right than not and others are more in the wrong than not, including “God is more wrong,” it is a recipe for disaster.

When we automatically assume we are smarter than others, then find out we are not … much to our detriment and personal embarrassment – “eating crow.”

When we try to assume that our understanding of smart is the same as God’s and we come up square against the mirrors of our wildest display of ignorance.

The Book of Proverbs puts our perspective of our lives directly in God’s face, the end result is we invariably learn we are neither smarter nor wiser than anyone.

God desires we understand balancing our life, morals and ethics with His Ways.

We desire and boast of our own abilities, about how we ourselves balance our own lives with our own understanding of own morals and ethics absent God.

There are many reasons, of course, why people might sometimes feel that way.

I will let each reader draw from their own experiences for their own rationales.

Wisdom of Self Reliance versus Wisdom of Reliance on God and God alone?

One place to start in reflecting on this is to recognize that God highly desires and also highly values an ever growing spiritual depth, maturity in his people.

Not necessarily intellectual depth or all kinds of biblical knowledge —though these things are good—but connectional depth in relationship with God, as opposed to the shallowness, superficiality of human to human relationships.

“That we may know HIM more, that we may know OUR selves less.” (John 3:30)

Proverbs 2:1-5 talks about accepting and storing up and turning our ear and soul and applying our heart and calling out for insight and crying aloud for greater and greater understanding of God and looking and searching for God.

It uses action words like these; applying, calling, crying, looking, searching for, to describe what we should be actively engaging in our daily pursuit of wisdom.

Bottom line?

If we want to have it,

If we have to want it,

We have to be willing to engage in a process which involves actual action.

We have to be fully committed to the pursuit, wantonly going after wisdom.

It will take an enormous amount of work, and it will take your whole heart.

Most things, which nowadays, humanity is quite more reluctant to engage in.

But, without that, God, Jesus and Holy Spirit—and wisdom—won’t seem real.

With my eyes being widened from their slumber ….

With a constant sensation of a “tap tap tap” upon my shoulders ….

With someone or something putting their “elbows” into my side ….

With my interest being peaked ….

With my soul being quickened by something or someone ….

It makes me want to dig a little deeper, again.

It makes me want to listen more to what the Holy Spirit is trying to say to me.

“Where is Jehovah God nudging me towards … what future with what hope?”

What if we really listen and hear what God really says in Proverbs?

Proverbs 2:1-5 Amplified Bible

The Pursuit of Wisdom Brings Security

2 My son, if you will receive my words
And treasure my commandments within you,

So that your ear is attentive to [skillful and godly] wisdom,
And apply your heart to understanding [seeking it conscientiously and striving for it eagerly];


Yes, if you cry out for insight,
And lift up your voice for understanding;

If you seek skillful and godly wisdom as you would silver
And search for her as you would hidden treasures;


Then you will understand the [reverent] fear of the Lord [that is, worshiping Him and regarding Him as truly awesome]
And discover the knowledge of God.

Have you ever thought about the difference between hearing and listening?

Did you know there was a real difference?

To “listen” means that we are paying attention to the sound, thoughtful and considerate attention to the sound.

To “hear” refers to perceiving something with our ears, kind of like seeing with our ears.

In the long and winding concourse of living and loving life today there are quite literally hundreds of diverse noises a day which are competing for our attention.

There are so many different noises and sounds that most of us do not pay very much attention to most of them – we shut them out as “background noises.”

The television can be on, the phone ringing, video games blasting, radios in our ears and everyone in my house talking at once and I can still tune most of it out.

It is not I am not hearing all the cacophony of noise, but I am not listening to it.

But all of that discipline of “tuning out,” and “not listening” carries a big risk.

What else am I “tuning out,” or “not hearing” or “listening to?”

Psalm 19:1-3 Amplified Bible

The Works and the Word of God.

To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David.

19 The heavens are telling of the glory of God;
And the expanse [of heaven] is declaring the work of His hands.

Day after day pours forth speech,
And night after night reveals knowledge.

There is no speech, nor are there [spoken] words [from the stars];
Their voice is not heard.

My Mom used to tell me when everything seemed to be going backwards;

“Look unto the sun by day and the stars by night and know it will be alright!”

God gave us eyes to see the sunshine, beauty and grandeur of nature around us.

God gave us a curiosity that when we see the stars at night – we have to know just how many of them we can count – so we lie back on the ground and count.

God also gave each and everyone of us two ears to hear the beauty of sound and one mouth, He gave us the ability to listen so that the sound can be understood.

When both hearing and listening and minimal speaking working together in unison, we have a quiet, quieted, understanding of the purpose of the sound.

You can hear music and feel music but not actually listen to the words.

When both music and lyrics are understood, the beauty and meaning of the whole song is revealed to you.

You can hear the words of a person speaking to you, but if you truly listen to the person, you will better understand their heart, the meaning behind their words.

The same principle holds true with God’s Word.

We can hear the Word preached, taught and read.

We can read the Word ourselves and hear our own voices speak it.

But, when we really listen to God’s Word, then our understanding begins to change.

So many times, people leave church after having heard a sermon and not ever remember anything about it.

When we look up to the heavens, we may only hear the sound of the winds rushing through the trees, crickets or the frogs in the pond, birds in the air.

We cannot see the winds nor the crickets nor the frogs nor the birds in the air.

We know they are there because we can hear the sounds of the winds through the leaves, from rubbing of the crickets legs, frogs croaking and birds singing

When we are listening and giving consideration to what we are hearing, we will leave thinking about what we just heard.

The next step is to start talking back to God, asking Him to open up more of our hearts and souls to understanding what is being communicated from all sides.

Take time today, think about how much you hear versus how much you listen.

How much are you missing of what God has for you?

Is He talking to you but you are not paying attention?

Take your Bible, dust off its cover and read today’s text from Proverbs 2:1-5.

Instead of just reading the words and hearing them in our heads, pray the Holy Spirit will give us the power to listen, to understand the message God has for us.

When the Word of God truly becomes His voice in our life, then our hearing and our listening will open up our souls unto a new world of understanding for us.

Our lives are guaranteed to change.

But it all begins with God’s wisdom which comes from understanding the difference between hearing and listening—so, start listening to God today.

In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,

Let us Pray,

Jehovah God, Lord of wisdom, Author of my life, there are so any truths to sort out, so many ways of understanding what my eyes behold and what my ears hear, I cannot listen to it all for it is just too overwhelming. Being overwhelmed, I am sometimes finding understanding the wisdom of Bible to be difficult. I know you want me to apply your word to my life. I thank you for giving me your word so I can grow in my relationship with you. Help me to grasp what you want me to know as I read your revealed word. Open my eyes to see the wonderful truths in your instructions. Be my teacher, so I can live and obey your word. Thank you for your wise advice. Amen.

Adeste Fidelis! Venite Adoremus! Dominum.

Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen.

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“My Dear God, Great Instructor of My Life, My God, Teach Me Your Lessons for Living, So I Stay on the Right Course!” Psalm 119:33-40

Psalm 119:33-40The Message

33-40 God, teach me lessons for living
    so I can stay the course.
Give me insight so I can do what you tell me—
    my whole life one long, obedient response.
Guide me down the road of your commandments;
    I love traveling this freeway!
Give me an appetite for your words of wisdom,
    and not for piling up loot.
Divert my eyes from toys and trinkets,
    invigorate me on the pilgrim way.
Affirm your promises to me—
    promises made to all who fear you.
Deflect the harsh words of my critics—
    but what you say is always so good.
See how hungry I am for your counsel;
    preserve my life through your righteous ways!

The Word of God for the Children of God.

Adeste Fidelis! Venite Adoremus! Dominum.

Gloria! In Excelsis! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen.

At whatever level of education, there is something truly special about learning from a master teacher: a confident, renowned expert in his or her chosen field.

Many graduate students select their universities based on the opportunity to work with esteemed professors in their desired specialties.

But have you considered that as Christians, at whatever measure of faith we have the singularly unique opportunity and the privilege to learn “life” daily from our Master Teacher, as His Spirit works in our hearts through His word?

His experience of navigating life in all of its facets, is infinitely extensive.

His preparation for navigating life, more thorough than anyone can imagine.

His instruction is comprehensive, and He promises to do the teaching Himself, with His Holy Scriptures as our “textbook” guide.

And even better, He does so as a master instructor who is also a Father, taking a deeply personal, deeply intimate interest in the welfare of each of His children.

God’s instruction for life is vital.

It is vital for beginners in the Christian life.

We begin our journey of Christianity as infants on our knees, unaware of God’s ways, truths and dealings and consequently unaware of truths about ourselves.

But when we are born into life with God, Jesus and Holy Spirit, we become new creations in Him, we cease to take pride in our own opinions, live for ourselves, or to regard Christ from any worldly point of view (2 Corinthians 5:12-17).

Our anointing into His life, the outpouring of His oils upon who we are and who we will become begins, at first drop by ever precious drop, then like a wide river.

As we raise in our faith experiences, understanding truth, from knees to feet, we become ready to hear what God says instead of telling Him what we think.

By grace, we learn to see, learn to live life clearly, through God’s perspective.

God’s instruction is also vital for those who are confused or uncertain.

The Bible tells us we are wayward and foolish, ignorant and arrogant people.

When the apostle Paul wrote to Timothy, he sternly warned that among his congregations there would always be those “led astray by various passions, always learning and never quite able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 3:6-7).

Only through the continuous ministry the Holy Spirit is it possible for us to spiritually mature instead of drifting like children from one idea to another.

His instruction is also vital for the careless and the forgetful—and however long we may have been Christians, we get careless and are easily forgetful!

That’s why the Word of God for His Children tells, teaches us, again and again to remember. Paul urged Timothy to “remember Jesus Christ” (2 Timothy 2:8).

The man, Rabbi Jesus urged His disciples to “remember Lot’s wife” (Luke 17:32), who looked and turned back.

The Teacher, in the wise and ancient words from Ecclesiastes calls out to us, “Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth” (Ecclesiastes 12:1).

Indeed, the ministry of teaching and preaching is essentially a ministry of reminders—and so are our own personal daily personal devotional times.

Charles Spurgeon once said,

“He who has made you his child, He will put you to school, and He will teach you until you shall know the Lord Jesus alone as the way, the truth, the life.” 

When we ourselves, enter into our own private “prayer closets,” alone with our God, as we attentively sit at our desks, in “His Classroom,” as we read with Him or listen with Him, to Bible teaching, we are all participating in a divine, sacred time of invaluable dialogue and begin to experience deep-seated heart change.

Somewhere in our core, we know holy instruction is taking place—we are being instructed by the very one who inspired the book whose pages we are studying.

Reality; Living Life on our own terms, we are so helpless apart from the Lord.

Like the Psalmist in Psalm 119 Vs 33-40, it is so very important that we all learn to ask and depend upon God to teach us His decrees and then to follow them.

How can we come to an understanding of “living life” absent of God’s Word?

Again, we must ceaselessly ask Him to help us to understand and obey His law.

Sadly, I think many Christians are weak because they depend upon themselves; they believe they have the onerous ability in themselves to be obedient to God. 

Reality is, we are each creatures of this world, creatures of sin, and as such are greatly influenced by those all around us to redefine what it means to do good.

However, only our master Teacher God, through the life, death, resurrection of His Son can show us the truth of His Word and then give us the ability to obey it.

Continually ask Him, plead with Him, to help you humble yourself before Him.

As a Christian, He is your only Lord and Savior, He alone can turn your eyes away from worthless things and preserve your life according to His Word.

What then are the results for the Christian who turns to God for help?

He gives us Kairos, the grace, to be obedient to Him and takes away disgrace.

Not the disgrace of the world, but disgrace before God which comes from deep within the deepest recesses of our disobedient hearts and unrepentant lives.

Then, like the Psalmist we will long for God’s precepts to turn the upside down to the right side up, we will find our lives preserved inside His righteousness.

Do you and I understand that?

Do you and I seriously desire or want to understand that?

Do we severely desire or want to come to even a minimal understanding?

On the surface …. probably …. even most definitely, more decisively NOT!

Deeper down though, where only God can reach us through His Word (Hebrews 4:12), though if we were to actually look eye to eye, face to face, at the deepest desires, needs, desperate wants of our souls, I am of the opinion, our soul wins!

I don’t always try to understand the Words of my Teacher as much as I ought to.

I wonder when I fail in learning His lessons, Why does He even bother with us?

But, praise God, He does –

John 3:16-18 The Message

16-18 “This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him.

He grants us the true joy in life which can only come from an obedient heart.

Pray, like the Psalmist in Psalm 119 Vs 33-40, God will give you understanding, teachable hearts, then direct you on the path of obedience to Him, to His laws. 

This is what God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit enables all His servants to do.

What an opportunity, and privilege, it is to open His word, anticipate the work of His Spirit, and pray, “Teach me, O LORD, the way of your statutes”! (verse 33)

In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,

Let us Pray,

Almighty God, in you are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Open our eyes that we may see the wonders of your Word; and give us grace that we may clearly understand and freely choose the way of your wisdom. God, source of all light and truth, by your Living and Active Word you give light and life to the soul. Pour out upon us the spirit of wisdom and understanding that our hearts and minds may be opened. Prepare our hearts, O God, to accept your Word. Silence in us any voices but your own, so we may hear your Word and also do it; through Christ our Lord. Amen

Adeste Fidelis! Venite Adoremus! Dominum.

Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen.

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Whatever You do for God, Do it All with Gusto! Because He “Anoints” Our Heads With Oil and All of Our Cups Overflow! Psalm 23:5, Ecclesiastes 9:7-10

Psalm 23:5 New International Version

You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.

Ecclesiastes 9:7-10New International Version

Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for God has already approved what you do. Always be clothed in white, and always anoint your head with oil. Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all the days of this meaningless life that God has given you under the sun—all your meaningless days. For this is your lot in life and in your toilsome labor under the sun. 10 Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.

The Word of God for the Children of God.

Adeste Fidelis! Venite Adoremus! Dominum.

Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen.

In this psalm, we see a beautiful portrait of God as our good and faithful Shepherd Who leads us by still waters and guides us into the way of peace.

He is, indeed, worthy of our worship and praise.

He is the One Who upholds and protects, Who blesses and comforts, Who bountifully provides good things for us in the presence of our enemies.

Enemies, up to and including ourselves as our own worst enemies.

And He is the One Who intercedes for us in heavenly places.

The picture is painted in this well-loved psalm of David, is that of our faithful God, our merciful and gracious Saviour, our good and caring Shepherd Who keeps us, protects us, provides for us through all the changing scenes of life.

Our faithful, and merciful God first identified Himself as Jehovah-Jireh, our gracious Provider, to Abraham when he was halted, by the Lord, from offering up his son, first born son, Isaac, as his sacrifice of abiding love and obedience.

And throughout both testaments, we discover God as the One Who provides rain and sunshine for the earth, nourishment for the flowers and ravens, a father for the fatherless, a righteous judgment for the widow, a friend for the friendless.

Our faithful God is the one who fed the hungry multitude, provides comfort for the broken-hearted, gives succor to the weak, strength to the weary, hope to the afflicted, salvation to all who trust in Christ Jesus for the forgiveness of sins, for while we were yet His enemies, grievous unrelenting sinners, God in His grace provided a Kinsman-Redeemer to save His people from their sins.

Our good and loving God supplies all our needs, according to His riches in glory, through Christ Jesus our Savior.

And here in this well-loved and oft-repeated psalm of David, we discover:

“The Lord has prepared a table before us in the presence of our enemies. He has anointed our head with oil, our cup of overflows with His goodness and love.”

Though we may be afflicted on all sides… pressured, perplexed, and persecuted for righteousness sake, we are not forgotten nor abandoned by our Heavenly Lord… for Jesus is with us always and forever, even to the end of the age.

He has prepared a table before us, in the presence of those that hate and despise us, He has covered it with all we need and every spiritual blessing – which He Himself had purchased for us through His own life’s blood, on Calvary’s Cross.

Though we live in the combat-zone of this fallen world system, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ… and the peace of God which guards our hearts in the midst of an abundantly, severely crooked and perverse generation.

The anointing oil that is being continuously poured over our heads is the soothing ointment of His incomparable never-ending love.

It is a precious promise to all His children, for we have been made kings and priests and prophets of the living God – and have an eternal guarantee that His Word is faithful and true and all of His promises are ‘Yes’ and ‘Amen’ in Christ.

Surely, in the company of all of God’s angels and with David we can proclaim,

“My cup of blessing runneth over,” for His grace is limitless, His love is boundless, His charity and mercy endures from one generation to another.

Why such an inconceivable magnitude of maximum Joy?

Because together, in the presence of our Great Shepherd, we have just seen, and envisioned and witnessed and can now testify to all the prophetic descriptions of heavenly places like green pastures, quiet waters, and paths of righteousness.

By the Word of God for the Children of God, our heads have been anointed with His oil of abundant life and incomprehensible love and now our cups overflow.

We have seen through the Word of God for His Children, the strong, steady hand of the ever vigilant shepherd at work with his shepherd’s rod and staff.

By the Word of God for His Children, We have received the invitation to the table of the Lord which is prepared for his precious flock before our enemies.

And now there is one more activity we need to plumb, to see in this final scene.

“He Anoints My Head With Oil”

This may seem like an odd custom since it is something that never occurs much anymore in our own time and culture, in our faith traditions and in our church.

Maybe this custom of pouring oil over the head needs a little more explanation.

First of all, we are not talking about the kind of oil that comes from petroleum.

The 1st century people in the Bible did not drill any oil out of the ground, they did not even know what petroleum oil was, nor would they have any use for it.

So, please do not think at all about oil in the Bible as anything like we use today.

We are not talking about motor oil; it’s not the 5W-30 synthetic blend you find at the Valvoline shop or any local vehicle repair establishments down the road.

The region around the Mediterranean is perfect climate for growing olive trees.

The most common oil in Israel was olive oil used for cooking.

There were also other plant-based oils used mostly as perfumes and medicines from such sources as myrrh and nard.

It is probably the closest equivalent to what we use today as “Essential Oils” (if you are familiar with the use that term).

Let’s also remember that the people back in Bible times did not all have showers in their homes, and there was no such thing as shampoo and perm in that time.

The use of fragrant oils in their hair was a common way of what people in that day would have considered basic hygiene.

Not that people would do this every day as we might consider hygiene to be part of our regular habits; it was more the mark of a special occasion in their time.

Putting fragrant perfume in hair was considered part of the expectation to be presentable before coming to a party, other type of important social gathering.

That’s the launching point we are taking today in order to consider how this last scene of Psalm 23 applies into our world today.

Jump with me, then, to the Book of Ecclesiastes for another brief glimpse at how this cultural custom of ointment poured in a person’s hair shows up.

Ecclesiastes 9:7-10 New International Version

Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for God has already approved what you do. Always be clothed in white, and always anoint your head with oil. Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all the days of this meaningless life that God has given you under the sun—all your meaningless days. For this is your lot in life and in your toilsome labor under the sun. 10 Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.

Perhaps it is helpful to explain that anointing with oil had several other uses and meanings in the Bible.

This may help clear up any confusion for people who may be familiar with many of the other places in scripture that anointing with oil occurs.

It shows up as a medicinal practice for healing since they thought that fragrant oils had significantly positive medical benefits.

It also shows up as a symbolic declaration of royalty; kings would be anointed as a part of the Coronation sequence.

It also would take place as part of the burial ritual whenever somebody in those ancient of days and that time passed away.

I do not think the anointing with oil mentioned in Psalm 23 has anything to do with these functions of ointment.

Context of Psalm 23:5 makes it clear anointing with oil is understood as basic hygiene people would do as preparation for joining a special social occasion.

And this is certainly the same function of anointing we see in Ecclesiastes 9:8.

For this devotional today, then, let’s dig into what is happening in these few verses in Ecclesiastes as a way of helping us understand what David means by this scene in which the shepherd is seen anointing his flock of sheep with oil.

Ecclesiastes can be a difficult book of the Bible to contextually understand.

I can see where this passage from chapter 9 might be easily misunderstood.

At eye level the way it comes at us translated into the English language, it might seem like a kind of an off-putting and depressing outlook on our everyday life.

One big proverbial hardcore slap in the face saying “You might as well just go eat your dinner because your meaningless, ridiculous life isn’t going anywhere else.”

Of course, through revelation from the Holy Spirit, there’s definitely something much different going on in this passage; and it is not have a depressing outlook.

The key here is that we cannot get hung up on a few English words which don’t do the best job of conveying to readers all the richness of the Hebrew language.

Let me pull at two examples of difficult Hebrew words in Ecclesiastes, and one Hebrew word from Psalm 23.

In the book of Ecclesiastes, our NIV Bibles repeat the theme of “meaningless” over and over again (an eye popping 33 times) throughout the entire book.

Other English translations use the word “vanity” as the repeated theme.

The Hebrew word is hebel.

It literally comes from the same Hebrew root as “a breath.”

Hebel carries with it the nuance of being incredibly insignificant or extremely momentary.

I would say that in the context of Ecclesiastes, the word “momentary” would be a much better English word to use in order to capture what the wisdom writer is really trying to say about the experience of human life when compared to God.

It is not that life is meaningless in the sense that human life has no purpose.

It is more the point of Ecclesiastes to show human life is so very momentary when placed in comparison and contrast directly next to the eternity of God.

Hang onto that one. we will pull it back in a minute to consider how the brief and limited experience of human life plays into understanding this passage.

The other Hebrew word in Ecclesiastes I want us to consider here is heleq.

The NIV translates this into English as “lot.”

Verse 10 says that our lot in life and in all our toilsome work is simply to enjoy our family and a meal.

I think the word “lot” might just make it sound like a random fate over which we have absolutely no control.

An English dictionary defines lot as fate, predicament, plight, or doom.

It is generally considered a negative thing.

But this is not the meaning of the Hebrew word heleq.

It refers instead to something which we can better be defined as “portion, distribution, allocation, or share.”

The wisdom writer in Ecclesiastes is pointing out that even in this human life which is so very momentary and comparatively brief next to the eternity of God, in grace, Jehovah Jireh still freely, gifts, gives out a portion/share of goodness.

The writer of Ecclesiastes identifies this portion/share of goodness from God coming in the simple little things of life.

Enjoying the blessing of good food and drink in the company of family and friends is the example of goodness to which the writer refers in this chapter.

And about these simple enjoyments, the wisdom writer says in verse 8.

Always be clothed in white, and always anoint your head with oil. 

Here again, the wearing of bright clothing and pouring of fragrant ointment in the hair is an expression of a special social occasion.

This kind of celebration didn’t happen every day.

But the point of Ecclesiastes here is to say treat every single day like that.

Life is so very momentary, take each new day as a precious gift from God.

And each new day which we receive from God contains the portion/share of his blessing for us to enjoy.

Treat every single day as a singularly unique, singularly special example of God’s grace, because these unique and special examples of God’s grace show up most often every single day in the simple, most ordinary little things of life.

Look at how Eugene Peterson translates these verses from Ecclesiastes in his Message version of the Bible.

Ecclesiastes 9:7-10The Message

7-10 Seize life! Eat bread with gusto,
Drink wine with a robust heart.
Oh yes—God takes pleasure in your pleasure!
Dress festively every morning.
Don’t skimp on colors and scarves.
Relish life with the spouse you love
Each and every day of your precarious life.
Each day is God’s gift. It’s all you get in exchange
For the hard work of staying alive.
Make the most of each one!
Whatever turns up, grab it and do it. And heartily!
This is your last and only chance at it,
For there’s neither work to do nor thoughts to think
In the company of the dead, where you’re most certainly headed.

This is why verse 10 can go on to say, in a more contemporary sense: “Go ahead! Do not fear! Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might for God.”

“There is only one way to go, in whatever you do for God,

Whatever You Do For God … Just Max it out! Go for the Gusto!

Do not ever underestimate exactly how much God is right there with you even in the small or inconsequential, ordinary or less than ordinary, things of this life.

How frequently do we fail to realize, or do we take for granted the ways in which all of the tiny simple blessings, the miracles of each and every day stack up to be a never ending stream of Jehovah Jireh’s faithful and abiding provision of grace.

But, the often unspoken truth of the matter is we do miss it because so often we will see these things as so tiny and ordinary and insignificant and momentary.

Yet this is exactly the place in our everyday lives where God chooses to meet us.

Even though Ecclesiastes points to this daily provision of blessing as our “lot in life” (our portion/share), it stacks up day after day, week after week, and month after month, year after year becoming an extraordinary gift beyond measure.

Our proper place then is to see each new day as an extension of that gift from God. “Always be clothed in white, and always anoint your head with oil.”

Always treat each and every new day as a remarkably special gift from God.

Bringing it back to god and Psalm 23 now.

The seventh and final scene is one of embracing the LORD as our shepherd each and every day.

It is a recognition of just how incredibly remarkable it is that the eternal creator of the universe who have existed forever and ever beyond our brief momentary lives, that this God, Jehovah Jireh chooses to make himself our shepherd.

That Jehovah God redeems us in his love which, through grace, portions itself our to us each and every day.

Here’s a secret.

The word anointing never actually shows up in Psalm 23.

Yes, I know we have been focusing this entire last scene on a line from Psalm 23 which says he anoints my head with oil.

The Hebrew word for anointing is mashach.

https://www.blueletterbible.org/kjv/1ki/19/16/t_conc_310016

https://www.blueletterbible.org/lexicon/h4886/kjv/wlc/0-1/

But that’s not the word which David uses here in Psalm 23.

https://www.blueletterbible.org/kjv/psa/23/1/t_conc_501005

https://www.blueletterbible.org/lexicon/h1878/kjv/wlc/0-1/

It is a much more obscure Hebrew word, dashen, which only shows up eleven times in the entire Bible.

Most of those times it is translated into English as “fatten” or “make fat.” It carries the idea of making something bigger or more abundant.

Do you see what David is actually saying here in Psalm 23?

The LORD is my shepherd who dashen [anoints?] my head with oil.

No; we are to understand that it’s far, far, more deeper than that.

The LORD is my shepherd who dashen [abundantly pours out an excessively lavish amount] of oil upon my head.

Contemplating the depths of David’s heart and soul at its writing, perhaps this is why David chose to finish the verse of Psalm 23:5 with “my cup overflows.”

Let’s find an application by connecting these two passages from Psalm 23 and Ecclesiastes 9.

Perhaps we all find ourselves from time to time stuck waiting for something better.

Like so many of you, I’m waiting right now for a time when we can all have more economic certainty, lower inflation rates, better housing markets.

I would love to be able to fulfill a life long dream of building a log cabin for my retirement from plans my late father drew up when he was preparing to retire.

He never got a chance to fulfill those dreams because he got sick and died.

I would love to fulfill that legacy for my family, but interest rates are too high.

Maybe it’s waiting for our health to stabilize, a job promotion; maybe it is waiting to be done with school; maybe, like me, it’s waiting for retirement.

We can always make a million excuses why we might think the ‘real’ anointing of God’s blessing in our lives has not yet arrived.

We get trapped into thinking the anointing of God’s blessing is some kind of heavenly lottery which at some point is going to just dump upon us because scripture tells us that the blessing of God is extravagantly abundant.

So that’s what we expect: extravagant abundance.

And then real life intrudes and our lives are stuck waiting for it to “unstuck.”

Scripture is not wrong. God’s blessing is extravagantly abundant.

But what we should also see from scripture today is that the blessing of God is portioned out to be exactly what we need for each and every day.

The extravagant abundance of God’s blessing is not something for which you have to wait.

You and I have got it already.

You and I are receiving it right now.

And God constantly weaves his blessing into all the tiny ordinary pieces and places of everyday life.

The poet of Ecclesiastes says,

“whatever your hand find to do, do it with all your might.”

Do not miss the opportunity to treat each and every new day as a miracle gift from God filled with exactly what it is you and I need from God, to live in his will and thrive abundantly as a disciple of His Son and our Savior Jesus.

It may look small and ordinary and insignificant and momentary.

But day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year it piles up into a lifelong testimony which declares:

Psalm 23 Amplified Bible

The Lord, the Psalmist’s Shepherd.

A Psalm of David.

23 The Lord is my Shepherd [to feed, to guide and to shield me],
I shall not want.


He lets me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still and quiet waters.


He refreshes and restores my soul (life);
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
for His name’s sake.


Even though I walk through the [sunless] [a]valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod [to protect] and Your staff [to guide], they comfort and console me.


You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
You have anointed and refreshed my head with [b]oil;
My cup overflows.


Surely goodness and mercy and unfailing love shall follow me all the days of my life,
And I shall dwell forever [throughout all my days] in the house and in the presence of the Lord.

The whole Psalm 23:5 experience serves to strengthen our faith, draw us closer to our heavenly Father, and to envision and realize just how faithful He truly is.

In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,

Let us Pray,

Heavenly Father, how I praise and thank You for Your Word and the comfort and strength it gives me. Thank You that You are my Shepherd and my Provider. Thank You that You are with me through the darkest days as well as during the sunny times, and thank You that You have provided all that I need, according to Your riches in glory. Thank You that You are my God and Saviour. You have, indeed, prepared an overflowing table before me in the presence of my enemies and have anointed my head with the oil of abundant, eternal gladness. My cup overflows with Your never-ending blessings, for which I give praise and shout “thank You!” In Jesus’ name.

Adeste Fidelis! Venite Adoremus! Dominum.

Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen.

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What is the Witness of Our Churches? Churches With No Heart for, Nor any Memory of their ‘FIRST’ Love for God? Revelation 2:1-7

Revelation 2:1-7Amplified Bible

Message to Ephesus

“To the angel (divine messenger) of the church in [a]Ephesus write:

“These are the words of the One who holds [firmly] the seven stars [which are the angels or messengers of the seven churches] in His right hand, the One who walks among the seven golden lampstands (the seven churches):

‘I know [b]your deeds and your toil, and your patient endurance, and that you cannot tolerate those who are evil, and have tested and critically appraised those who call themselves apostles (special messengers, personally chosen representatives, of Christ), and [in fact] are not, and have found them to be liars and impostors; 3 and [I know that] you [who believe] are enduring patiently and are bearing up for My name’s sake, and that you have not grown weary [of being faithful to the truth]. But I have this [charge] against you, that you have left your first love [you have lost the depth of love that you first had for Me]. So remember the heights from which you have fallen, and repent [change your inner self—your old way of thinking, your sinful behavior—seek God’s will] and do the works you did at first [when you first knew Me]; otherwise, I will visit you and remove your lampstand (the church, its impact) from its place—unless you repent. Yet you have this [to your credit], that you hate the works and corrupt teachings of the [c]Nicolaitans [that mislead and delude the people], which I also hate. He who has an ear, let him hear and heed what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who [d]overcomes [the world through believing that Jesus is the Son of God], I will grant [the privilege] to eat [the fruit] from the tree of life, which is in the Paradise of God.’

The Word of God for the Children of God.

Adeste Fidelis! Venite Adoremus! Dominum.

Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen.

Throughout the first century A.D., Jesus’ followers fanned out across the Roman Empire to spread the good news of God’s salvation in Christ.

They formed communities to support and encourage each other in life, faith, and witness.

Yet by the end of the first century, persecution came to many Christians in Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey), and they needed support.

The Apostle John, the one whom Jesus loved to the utmost, one of the exiled leaders, took the people into his heart, wrote the book of Revelation to them.

It’s filled with words meant to encourage the hearts of men and visions of eternal hope from Jesus to the churches, whom he calls golden lampstands.

What a comfort to know Christ the King walks among the churches he loves.

In the first of seven messages to different churches, Jesus tells the church in Ephesus that he knows their deeds, hard work, and perseverance.

He also directly challenges them, giving compliments before critique.

That’s a pattern we can definitely follow in our families, schools, workplaces, and churches: which is to edify, build each other up before naming challenges.

Church communities are filled with blessing because Jesus walks among us!

Christians which gather together, Koinonia, Fellowship, Care for each other, hear biblical preaching and teaching, Love God, praise God, and pray together.

We host programs, help community causes, and contribute to Local missions causes which demonstrate how much we love God, our neighbors and selves, we serve and respond to natural disasters international relief and World missions.

IDEALLY …. WE LOVE GOD AS MUCH AS WE LOVE NEIGHBORS AND SELVES!

WE ALL CALL THESE CHURCHES ONE’S WE LOOK TO BE CONNECTED WITH!

FIRST, WE SAY THESE CHURCHES ARE INTENSELY IN LOVE WITH GOD!

SECOND, WE SAY THESE CHURCHES ARE INTENSELY IN LOVE WITH PEOPLE!

But ….

And envision this very real possibility ….

Exceedingly and Abundantly and Carefully and Critically and Realistically,

Diligently, Prudently, with 20/20 Hindsight and with Prophetic Foresight,

A church which seems to model exactly the opposite of that Ideal Church?

What About A Church Which Exhibits No Heart, No Love for God?

Love is definitely a many splendored thing or at least the essence of the words and lyrics were popularized into culture by the movie of the same name in 1955.

Crooner Andy Williams and the Four Aces continued to make the song popular.

While love can, and indeed, should absolutely be viewed as a “many splendored thing,” ultimately it’s defined, splendored by what a person does with that love.

Saying one loves another is an important step to building a relationship but love is found and demonstrated in and through our daily actions, not just by words.

Many Splendored Love is an infinitely deeper emotion than just liking a person.

To like another is to share in common pursuits on a casual basis but love is a bond which cements a multitude of hearts into one with steadfast, immovable devotion, deep abiding care, absolute fidelity, commitment, and allegiance.

It is important in marriage to be friends but marriage is deeper when love is at the root of all feelings – which is especially true with our relationship with God.

We so casually say and preach it is easy to like God and to view Him as a friend.

This does not require any commitment or allegiance.

Having a friendship with God likes various aspects of His character but never covenant obligates the individual to a linked mutual commitment of devotion.

Many people are friends of God but never grow to love Him.

Sometimes, relationships blossom with passionate love but wane in time and space to become a “manufactured” vision of 2 people living in the same house.

Love fades into Friendship which gradually, subtly, “takes over” and while the relationship is, remains “civil”, there is little prophetic vision or no true love.

Proverbs 29:18 Amplified Bible

18 
Where there is no vision [no revelation of God and His word], the people are unrestrained;
But happy and blessed is he who keeps the law [of God].

The growing trouble with many in the church is they are more comfortable being friends of God rather than having a “deeply devoted” love for Him.

What little is known about the church in Ephesus comes from the writings of Luke, Paul, and John.

Dr. Luke describes the history of the church in the Acts of the apostles, Paul writes a wonderful letter to the saints at Ephesus and Apostle John’s revelation reveals the church in Ephesus had gone through many changes over the years.

The beginning of the Ephesian church was filled with great promise and hope.

Paul spent three years working with the people of God in this great city and there were many saved through the preaching of the gospel.

The letter of Ephesians is a treatise on the majesty of the church and character, testimony and witness of the Church there and witness of its kingdom citizens.

In the final book of the Bible, Jesus commends the saints in Ephesus for their work, their diligent labor, and patience in defending the cause of Savior Christ.

They had preserved through difficult times and were to be commended.

However, the church had lost something over the years that threatened its existence – The church at Ephesus had fallen out of love with the Lord God.

There is no doubt the church was doing all the right things in the right way.

It was evident they were a working group, laboring mightily in the work of the kingdom and withstanding all those who would oppose the teachings of Christ.

While these were indeed very commendable traits, what they lacked was the love they once had – The Lord challenged them because of their lack of love. 

Sometimes in marriage, love will decline and grow tired.

Two people live together in the same place but have little or no interest in the needs, the hopes, the dreams, the wants, the deep requirements of the other.

This can likewise happen to the Children of God.

They can like God and obey His commandments but have no real love for Him.

Their hearts are filled with the socio-cultural, socio-economic, socio-political world and they have a deeper, greater interest in worldly matters than spiritual.

Love, as a “many splendored thing” must absolutely, be cultivated daily.

Steadfast, Immovable Devotion for the Lord does not come by simple osmosis but a very constant, hardcore, effort to learn more, grow more and love more.

It must be continually built upon through a heart of seeking the love of God.

Revelation 2:4-7 The Message

4-5 “But you walked away from your first love—why? What’s going on with you, anyway? Do you have any idea how far you’ve fallen? A Lucifer fall!

“Turn back! Recover your dear early love. No time to waste, for I’m well on my way to removing your light from the golden circle.

“You do have this to your credit: You hate the Nicolaitan business. I hate it, too.

“Are your ears awake? Listen. Listen to the Wind Words, the Spirit blowing through the churches. I’m about to call each conqueror to dinner. I’m spreading a banquet of Tree-of-Life fruit, a supper plucked from God’s orchard.”

It is easy to fall out of love with the Lord when the spiritual becomes routine.

A church leaving their first love is forgetting the grace of God and His mercy.

Regaining the first full measure of God’s first love comes from committing our spirit once again to knowing, understanding, longing to be drawn closer to God.

Jesus knows each church community and each person in it.

He knows every single one of our strengths.

He knows every single one of our faults, failures, failings and weaknesses.

The community of believers at Ephesus received praise from Jesus for their persevering in the truth.

Yet there was a definite character flaw needing their immediate attention.

They had lost their first love.

This is a powerful revelation.

Church communities can be faithful defenders of God’s truth, but their first love for God can become clouded with cultural minutiae can also grow cold.

“God Splendored” Love is what happens when the amazing grace, mercy, and love of God wash over us, cleansing us, flooding our souls, and making us new.

It seems incredible, almost impossible to wrap our hearts and souls around, but God absolutely loves us without limit, though we do not deserve any of his love.

Every church community and every member of it needs to labor in the utmost, linger to the outermost tolerance and live in the wonder of God’s gracious love.

We need to always strive to envision new ways to remember and celebrate this “God splendored” love in our studies, the songs we sing, the prayers we raise, the stories we share, the sacraments we celebrate, the care we give to others.

Jesus uses a word in this letter that brings us back to the way he started his public ministry: “repent.”

This is a call to turn around, change direction, and get back on course.

For church communities to be Spirit-filled, “golden lampstands,” the passion of God’s very first love for each of us needs to be pulsing throughout our veins.

The more “many splendored” deposits of God’s first love for us, made into the divine love bank, the greater the eternal dividends received from our Lord God.

It takes much labor and even greater sacrifices to make a marriage “work,” to never let our “first love” diminish, never allow “splendored” love to grow stale.

It is unacceptable to leave behind the first love experienced in the family of God.

Let us pray to the Holy Spirit, to revive our first vision of our first love for God!

Let our first love for God grow more and more, draw closer unto God every day.

In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,

Let us Pray,

God who is Love, Lord of All, life is a journey full of stumbling blocks and challenges. With each hurdle, there is growth. With each setback, a valuable lesson. Lord, I ask that You give us the wisdom and presence of mind to learn from our mistakes and pitfalls. by thy Holy Spirit, Remind me and Your Church of our very first love for You, Help us to approach these things with maturity, so that we can live closer to You.

Adeste Fidelis! Venite Adoremus! Dominum.

Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen.

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Is there Christianity without our Living, Loving, the Life of Christ? John 13:34-35

John 13:34-35 Amplified Bible

34 I am giving you a new commandment, that you [a]love one another. Just as I have loved you, so you too are to love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you have love and unselfish concern for one another.”

The Word of God for the Children of God.

Adeste Fidelis! Venite Adoremus! Dominum.

Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen.

There is something Jesus said that I want you to seriously think about.

Jesus said to those who followed Him: “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.

As we see a war-torn nations–a nations which are economically, socially, and politically sick and pained with out of control poverty, oppressed, confused and bewildered–we have to believe that this is the hour for the church to speak out.

This is the hour for the the Body of Christ, the church, to show forth the love and grace of God in Christ!

This is the hour for the nations to hear Christ saying throughout the church, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6).

There is something Jesus said I want you to seriously, severely think a lot about.

Jesus said to those who followed Him: “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).

That verse of Scripture is tremendously important at this hour in history.

In another part of the Bible we find the same thing stated by John:

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:7-10).

The Bible repeatedly declares in no uncertain terms we who follow Jesus Christ should be just as much in love with each other, without exception, as God was in love with us when He sent His Son to die on the cross.

I want you to see what it means to love as God loves, because the Bible says, “God is love” (1 John 4:16).

The basic attribute of God is holiness, but love is another basic attribute of God.

It is a part of God’s nature to love, and all who know Jesus Christ as Savior also have this supernatural love instilled within their hearts by the Holy Spirit.

The greatest demonstration of the fact we are Christians is we love one another.

1 Corinthians 13, we have first a description of a man who does not possess love.

The Apostle Paul emphatically says,

“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal” (1 Corinthians 13:1).

The Late Reverend Dr. Billy Graham puts it succinctly ….

“In other words, suppose I could speak with the oratorical strength of a William Jennings Bryan. Suppose I could speak with cryptic language like Winston Churchill. Suppose I could speak with the power of Franklin Roosevelt, in which he used to sway an entire nation in war and in peace. Suppose I could sing opera like the great Enrico Caruso. Suppose I had a thousand tongues that could speak a thousand languages all at the same time. The Bible says all that is nothing, and I am nothing, unless I have this divine, supernatural love that God gives.

The apostle Paul goes on to write,

Though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge … but have not love, I am nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:2).

“I could be a man of tremendous knowledge; I could understand all the mysteries and all of history, and be able to put all the patterns together. I could know the Bible from one end to the other; memorize thousands of verses of Scripture. I could be a great Bible teacher; I could even be a preacher from the pulpit–and have not love. I know people in this country who are conservative in their theology–people who would die contending for the inspiration of the Bible–and yet there is so little love. I might know the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, but if I had not love, it would mean absolutely nothing in the sight of God.

“I might be a man of great faith. The Bible says that I might have faith so that I could move mountains, but if I have not love, it is nothing. Suppose I could stand here today and say to that mountain, “Move into the sea,” and it would move! You would say, “Well, Billy Graham is certainly a man of tremendous faith to pray a mountain into the sea.” The Bible says that is absolutely nothing unless my faith is tempered with love.”

“I could be a man of great charity. The Bible says, “though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor … it profits me nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:3) unless I have this divine love that God gives. I could give everything I have to charity, but if the motive were not divine love, it means nothing in the sight of almighty God.”

Here in this country we give billions of dollars away, but sometimes I wonder if our motive is not selfish. We are always asking the other nations and the other people, “What return is America going to get?” The motive of all giving and all charity should be love. I could also be a man of consuming zeal. Paul continues, “though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:3). Suppose I were like many Korean pastors during the Korean War. Seventeen hundred Korean pastors paid with their blood for their faith in Jesus Christ. Suppose I died at a stake or was shot for my faith in Jesus Christ. You would say, “Billy Graham is a man of consuming zeal. He died as a martyr.” God says it is nothing, unless I am filled with the love of God.”

What a brilliant life this man lived–this mythical man the Bible describes. He was a man of eloquence, knowledge, power, charity, zeal, but the Bible says he was absolutely nothing without love.”

“What a powerful thing love must be! How much stock God puts in love.”

“You say, “Well, Billy, what do you mean by love? What is a demonstration of love?” We have it demonstrated in 1 Corinthians 13. This might cut some of us to the heart. It is going to probe down deep, because one thing that the church of Christ in America lacks is the demonstration of love, and Jesus said, “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35).

This love that the Bible is talking about in 1 Corinthians 13 “suffers long” (verse 5). In other words, it is patient. It is kind. It “does not envy.” There is no jealousy in this divine love that God gives. It “does not parade itself.” It is “not puffed up,” gives itself no airs. It is a love that demands humility. It never pushes itself to the top, never tries to promote itself, never tries to advertise itself. It is always in the background, truly humble. The thing that we need in the church today is genuine, old-fashioned humility.

Then, again in 1 Corinthians 13:5, the Bible says love “does not behave rudely.” It is always courteous and gracious at every turn. It “seeks not its own,” is never selfish. God looks after you, and you are to look after others, the Bible says. It is not easily provoked–not touchy or irritable. If people have to handle you with kid gloves, have to watch out what they say to you, you don’t know anything about this love that God is talking about.”

Love “thinks no evil” (1 Corinthians 13:5). It never holds a grudge–never has malice. It rejoices not in iniquity, but in the truth (1 Corinthians 13:6). It is never glad when another falls. I know so many Christians today who, when they hear that another Christian has fallen, say, “Isn’t that too bad?” but they don’t mean it! They are happy that the other Christian has fallen because that places them just a little higher on the ladder of estimation in other people’s eyes.”

“Then the Bible says that this love “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:7). It is slow to expose the evils and faults in others. It is eager to believe the best, and it is always hopeful and optimistic concerning the future. The Bible teaches that love is greater than faith and hope (1 Corinthians 13:13). Love is the greatest thing in all the world.

I will never forget when singer and composer Redd Harper came to Christ in Hollywood. He said that to him the most amazing and thrilling thing after he came to Christ was this fact: “I found that I loved everybody, no matter what race or color or creed they might be. I just wanted to go hug the whole world.”

“When radio broadcaster Stuart Hamblen came to Christ, he said the same thing: “I fell in love with the whole world. There were certain people who had different racial characteristics from myself that I did not like before I was converted, but after I gave my heart to Christ, I fell in love with every one of them.”

Only this divine love that God gives will make us love others, and before we have revival in America we must have that kind of love among God’s people.”

However, the greatest demonstration of love was God sending His own Son to die for you. You did not deserve to have Him die for you. You are a sinner!”

“The Bible says that you know nothing about this love if you are outside of Christ. It is impossible for you to have this divine love, because it is a gift of God only to those who love Christ.”

But–God loves you! It makes no difference how deep in the mire of sin and transgression you have gone. God loves you today! He proved it by sending His Son, Jesus Christ, to die for you on the cross.”

“At this exact moment you can receive Christ into your heart. God will give you this supernatural love until you too love the whole world. That is the solution to the international problems that we face at this hour. It is the solution to your personal problems–to let Jesus Christ come in. When Jesus Christ comes in, His love comes in, His Life enters in, the love of God shines out everywhere you are.

Romans 5:8-10Amplified Bible

But God clearly shows and proves His own love for us, by the fact that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Therefore, since we have now been justified [declared free of the guilt of sin] by His blood, [how much more certain is it that] we will be saved from the [a]wrath of God through Him. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, it is much more certain, having been reconciled, that we will be saved [from the consequences of sin] by His life [that is, we will be saved because Christ lives today].

I am reminded of the comprehensiveness of these words by so renowned a preacher, teacher, the stature, influence of Late Reverend Dr. Billy Graham.

Indeed, when I remind myself of them from time to time by reading, listening to his evangelistic crusades on the internet and You Tube, I am reminded of one more truth – as much as these words continually reach me, and I pray would too reach you the reader of this blog, “If I had not the love of Jesus in my heart ….?”

The same love of Jesus which He had in His Heart to do what He did for us …..

Even though we were at constant enmity with each other and with Him too …..

What then is “My Christianity?”

What then is my “Sermon in Shoes?”

— Turn the Volume of Your Computer or Your Phone to MAXIMUM! —

MY CHRISTIANITY ABSENT MY LIVING THE LOVE OF CHRIST.
MY CHRISTIANITY ABSENT MY LOVING THE LIVING CHRIST?

Christianity absent Living and Loving the Living Love of Christ is pointless! 

It is infinitely worse than nothing, it negatively affects the world around us. 

Have you ever had someone talk at you? 

Not talk to you or with you, but at you. 

Where it becomes evident that the person that is supposed to be conversing with you is not actually involving you in the exchange. 

They are just expressing their love of and preoccupation with themselves all over you. 

It is like a verbal vomiting attack. 

They have no interest in any response from you or your feeling about what they are saying.

They are just in getting their “two cents worth” out of what they want to say.

How does that make you feel?

It is really hard to have any interest in the subject that person is talking at you about, right? 

You want to pull the ripcord and get out of there as quickly as you can. 

Loved is just about the last emotion that comes to mind, isn’t it? 

This is Christianity without love. 

It is lots of words and thoughts coming at people, but it is missing the part that makes it alive and vibrant.

Have you ever heard a really unpleasant noise? 

Like hearing someone scratch their nails on a chalkboard or the sound of a dentist’s drill in your ear as they stand over you and drill out your tooth. 

It is terrible, terrifying, annoying and effects you down to your very bones. 

The louder it gets the worse it is.

This is the picture of religion without love from the Bible. 

Christianity is no exception. 

It is an expression of selfishness that comes off as really monstrously bothersome, unpleasant, unsettling and unnerving to those around. 

Yikes, it sounds kind of harsh, doesn’t it?

1 Corinthians 13:1-3Amplified Bible

The Excellence of Love

13 If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not [a]love [for others growing out of God’s love for me], then I have become only a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal [just an annoying distraction]. And if I have the gift of prophecy [and speak a new message from God to the people], and understand all mysteries, and [possess] all knowledge; and if I have all [sufficient] faith so that I can remove mountains, but do not have love [reaching out to others], I am nothing. If I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body [b]to be burned, but do not have love, it does me no good at all.

This is the idea that Paul is getting at in his first letter to the church at Corinth.

Paul is often called the Apostle to the Gentiles but it is even more obvious from his writings in this thirteenth chapter, that love is equally as important to him.

SAVIOR JESUS WITHOUT LOVE … IS NOT SAVIOR JESUS

Religiosity without love is nothing! 

It is also really annoying! 

This is what Paul says in these verses.

C’mon, say what you really mean Paul!

He compares loveless Christianity to two really annoying discordant sounds of his day.  

We don’t hear noisy gongs or clanging cymbals much today but the idea is something making a ton of noise and is deafening, jarring and irritating. 

Think of perhaps a fire engine’s siren, though less rhythmic. 

If the Apostle was writing today, he might have written if you don’t have love it is like a thousand nails moving up and down and all over upon the chalkboard. 

It is a sound that is clear and not easily misunderstood. 

One that is so wrong that no matter how loud you make it doesn’t come close to getting any better or less bothersome and irritating – it is just louder bad noise.

Paul was writing to Christians who were noisy gongs. 

Their lives had become so caught up in themselves they had lost sight of love in the following of Jesus. 

Their church was acting like 1000 ancient religious nails on the chalkboard.

Much like a person talking at you, they had made everything about them and their expressions of self. 

They were supposed to be following Jesus but in fact, their church was about their pride. 

Their faith was self-centered and self-serving.

Church became a contest to see who could speak the loudest or in the best tongue.

Without His Love, No One Sees Jesus…Even in Church

Since they made life all about them rather than Jesus, it was impossible for them to demonstrate true love for others. 

Loving yourself that much precludes loving others with any authenticity. 

You just care too much about taking care of yourself to care much for others.

The flesh is a greedy beast to feed.

The Corinthians were so prideful and self-focused in their walks with Jesus, even their use of the gifts of the Holy Spirit was worthless. 

Paul says it is nothing to prophesy or speak in tongues if we don’t have love.

Even worse, their actions were like the noisy gong or clanging cymbal. 

They were creating an unmistakable, discordant, and annoying impression for everyone around them. 

Paul goes so far as to say that it would have been better if they did not meet as a church for all the damage they were doing.

For their lack of love, they were changing the beauty of God’s own gifts given through His will through His Spirit into something worthless and off-putting.

What was meant to be the Body of Christ moving perfectly together throughout the known world to testify to God’s glory became one uncoordinated hot mess.  

Simultaneous Love for the Lord and love for each other is what is supposed to keep the Body of Christ in harmony. 

Since it was nowhere to be found, the Corinthian church was stumbling around like a newborn colt. 

They were doing a lot but not everyone would call it beautiful at the same time.

The Love of Christ, Love of His Life is Supposed to be our Calling Card

John 13:34-35Amplified Bible

34 I am giving you a new commandment, that you [a]love one another. Just as I have loved you, so you too are to love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you have love and unselfish concern for one another.”

We may be shocked by this idea, or not shocked enough by this idea, but look around at some portions of the church today. 

You don’t have to go far on the internet to see pastors preaching with such anger and hatred, that what comes across is quite ugly and lacking in power.

There are others who are doctrinally sound but so intellectually focused that the Gospel that they preach comes across as being cold, aloof and forbidding. 

They have the truth of the Bible but without the love of God, it is creating and introducing and delivering a really confusing picture into where chaos reigns. 

They have lost sight of God’s love so they have completely lost the message brought to us by Jesus Himself.  For God so loved the world He sent His Son.

God is love. 

Jesus is God and is also therefore love. 

Jesus was sent into this world as a man because God so loved the world. 

Jesus said that the greatest commandments were to love God and love our neighbors while we are loving ourselves as God sacrificially first loved us. 

Jesus said that the world would know us as disciples by our love. 

Love is so essential to who God is and to what we are as Christians that Paul makes his really strong statement. 

Without love, even Christianity is nothing. 

We can never lose sight of love and still live the life that Jesus has for us in Him.

God is love. 

A life lived absent the first love of Christ, is a life without God prominently in it. 

So if we have gotten far down a path that looks like Christianity but is not filled with love, do a 180 degree turn – dare to turn around – to face God – facing you. 

If we are working really hard for the church but are doing it in anger and spite and resentment, or out of our “duty and obligation – that is, works” stop it. 

If we are so busy with “serving others” we have no time to love the people we are supposed to be serving…just stop. 

It profits us nothing and creates a jarring discordant sound. 

Only start again when we are able to say for certain that it is the love of Jesus compelling us and the love of the Holy Spirit coming through us.

No matter what it looks like to our eyes, if we don’t have love we are nothing.

Why? 

Great Question … I am very glad you asked it in such a Kairos timely manner!

1 John 4:7-8Amplified Bible

God Is Love

Beloved, let us [unselfishly] [a]love and seek the best for one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves [others] is born of God and knows God [through personal experience]. The one who does not love has not become acquainted with God [does not and never did know Him], for God is love. [He is the originator of love, and it is an enduring attribute of His nature.]

Because Scripture is clear – if there is no love then Savior Jesus is not with us. 

He is love and brings love wherever He walks.

He is love and brings love wherever He Talks.

He is love and brings love wherever He Ministers to God’s Children.

We all want to be something, someone like Christ in the Body of Christ, right?

RIGHT?

How do you recognize Jesus’ followers?

How do you find Christians?

Jesus said they love each other just as he loved the disciples.

In the immediate context this means he is willing to give sacrificially and extravagantly by dying for them at the cross, and he is also willing to love selflessly and practically by washing every single one their “filthy” feet.

His ministry reveals he will do almost anything in between extravagant and practical.

Imagine if we all gathered in fellowship to read and study and pray the Gospels and committed to love each other in the same way Jesus first showed his love!

Envision that first Love displayed through yourselves and the Body of Christ.

What do you anticipate seeing?

What do you expectantly hope and pray to see?

What do you actually see?

BETTER YET … WHO DO YOU SEE?

So, for the sake of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,

Go Live and Live greatly! 

Go Love and Love greatly!

In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,

Let us Pray,

Father of all Charity and Compassion and God of all grace, I thank you for teaching me to love through the words and teachings and example of my SAVIOR Jesus. May my words and actions reflect his love toward your people today, tomorrow, and until you bring us all home to you. In the name of Christ, my Great Example, I pray. Amen.

Adeste Fidelis! Venite Adoremus! Dominum.

Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen.

https://translate.google.com/

What if we are Contemplating Falling Out of Love with God? We Desire No time alone with God? Our Preference? We will devote No more time for God. Psalm 13

Psalm 13 The Message

13 1-2 Long enough, God—
    you’ve ignored me long enough.
I’ve looked at the back of your head
    long enough. Long enough
I’ve carried this ton of trouble,
    lived with a stomach full of pain.
Long enough my arrogant enemies
    have looked down their noses at me.

3-4 Take a good look at me, God, my God;
    I want to look life in the eye,
So no enemy can get the best of me
    or laugh when I fall on my face.

5-6 I’ve thrown myself headlong into your arms—
    I’m celebrating your rescue.
I’m singing at the top of my lungs,
    I’m so full of answered prayers.

The Word of God for the Children of God.

Adeste Fidelis! Venite Adoremus! Dominum.

Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen.

David the psalmist had feelings of God-forgottenness.

He had a multitude of times of being surrounding by enemies.

This was no brief time, these were extended periods of time – weeks, months and perhaps even a short number of years.

He wrote of the consistent continuous feeling of aloneness one can feel when it seems God has turned His face away and the enemy is forever at the gate of life.

Does it seem as if right now that David’s thoughts are now seeping into your soul becoming your thoughts, leaking like a sieve, from a heart which is fast becoming a stranger to the feelings of love, to the desire for feeling any love?

What if we and our heart and our soul are at the point where we are simply tired of believing and hearing from men, “the Lord is my Shepherd, I have all I need.”

We are at or nearing the “breaking point” where those encouraging words “God is Love” is very fast becoming utter nonsense, wildly clashing cymbals, gongs.

We will hear no more of “God’s Love” – “do not dare to step on my last nerve!”

Do we dare to believe that our current measure of our alleged forever “unfailing love” for the Lord our God can even .01% fail and falter under the worst of tests?

Do we dare to believe such a notion our “unfailing faith, steadfast hope and our immovable love for God are miles and miles from the very precipice of failure?

Do we dare to allow ourselves to believe we are so iron clad strong in ourselves?

Do we dare to allow ourselves to believe that any failure of our faith, any failure of our hope in our future, any failure of our Love for God is 100% inconceivable?

If David had dared to have those thoughts, failure was inconceivable, that he should throw God out of his life we would not now have the words of Psalm 23.

What of our fleeting thoughts, feelings about God’s 100% Love?

Dare we to ask ourselves, our “Sermon in Shoes” Christianity, the question:

ARE WE FALLING OUT OF LOVE WITH GOD, OUR SAVIOR JESUS?

Never say Never …. We are not God, our Savior Jesus or the Holy Spirit!

Failure is always a meal that has been prepared for our feasting on our tables!

Failure is always waiting to be served, to be placed in some corner of our plate.

We can in no way escape failure …. it will forever be before us.

Despite the unceasing fervency of our prayers ….

God will not remove failure from our DNA!

Jesus, the Logos, will not remove the word failure from the Holy Scriptures.

The Holy Spirit will not remove our self will nor keep us from failure, failing.

Failure is always an option – it is absolutely inescapable!

But then again, even though we may have lost or given up “that loving feeling,” our God who is love, has not lost or minimally given up on that “loving feeling.”

God is still speaking directly to us even though we refuse to listen any longer.

The face of God is still facing us, the Words of God still mouthing these words as if we are always directly looking at each other – face to face and eye to eye:

1 Corinthians 13:1-10 The Message

The Way of (GOD’S) Love

13 If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.

If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.

3-7 If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.

8-10 Love never dies. Inspired speech will be over some day; praying in tongues will end; understanding will reach its limit. We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be canceled.

I have been a Christian for a long time – just over 21 years. 

The weirdest thing to me about being a Christian is how often I will forget the miracle of God’s love.

I forget the power of it.

I will take it for granted at every opportunity I get. 

I forget how wonderful it is that a holy God should pursue me.

It stops being such a big deal. 

It stops feeling so amazing.

I fall out of love with him a bit.

For a long time, whenever I’d hear the phrase “God loves us,” I pictured a kind, doting, grandpa.

But you know what? 

Grandpa love is not the kind of love you get with God.

God is a lot more like a spouse.

God’s Love for me is Sometimes Uncomfortable

God pursues us with this wonderful, miraculous love. 

Then He moves in, begins turning everything upside-down and inside out. 

He wants us to share everything with him. 

He wants us to talk to him. 

He wants us to consult him about all our decisions. 

He’s always there, aware of everything.

And he wants us to give him our all.

That kind of love love – true love – isn’t all that comfortable. 

It doesn’t always feel miraculous. 

It doesn’t always feel easy or cozy or even based in reality. 

In fact, the love of God doesn’t feel all that miraculous when I am busy living in my faults, failures and failings, because God is busy rearranging my entire life.

Even when the Prodigal Son angrily left the home of his Father, Love remained in the home, love waited for the Prodigal to return, love waited to welcome him.

Do We Get too Used to God’s Love?

God’s love isn’t very comfortable, but even so, over time we get used to it.

That happens sometimes with love.

I was single for so long; at first, then met my wife, and the sudden, subtle prospect of one day, every day of being with my wife felt like a great gift.

Fast-forward a 12 1/2 years and I’ve gotten used to her. 

She’s always around. 

I can hardly remember what it felt like to be single.

I hardly want to remember what it felt like to be dedicated to my singleness.

This happens with God’s love too — especially for those of us who grew up in the church. 

We can hardly remember a time when we didn’t know God’s love. 

We get used to it.

We might even get “too” used to it.

We start to take Him and all He is and forever will be, for granted a little.

Acknowledge that Sometimes God’s Love Hurts

Sometimes we will fail God and we will struggle greatly to hold on to any kind of truth that God still loves us because God lets us suffer. 

We hear the words, “God loves you and He has a wonderful plan for your life,” but then we look around, and maybe our life’s not all that wonderful.

We ask “How can a loving God, an all-powerful God, let this bad stuff happen?”

How, Why, do we keep trusting in the love of God when we are so disappointed?

I try to remember that God is not me and I am not Him.

And sometimes that is a rather tough one for my belief system to sort out.

He’s mysterious and big. 

He’s complicated. 

His ways are not my ways, and his thoughts are not my thoughts.

When I do not want to, I still need to keep giving God the benefit of the doubt.

I need to keep believing in God’s good intentions for me, in the fact that he never allows pain unless it has a purpose. 

He loves me. 

The best thing I can do when I am hard at work distancing myself from God is not distance myself so far from God’s face or give him the silent treatment.

That just makes me more miserable. 

His love is the source of all comfort.

The prophet Jeremiah understood this. 

In the book of Lamentations, Jeremiah is crying out to God. He’s devastated — and with good reason.

He weeps. 

He yells at God.

But then he says this: 

Though the Lord brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love. For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to any human being (Lamentations 3:32).

He also says this: 

Because of the LORD’s great love, we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for Him” (Lamentations 3:22-24).

This is what we have to hold on to. 

The LORD is our portion — his love might not make perfect sense to us. 

But it’s also what keeps us from falling apart.

It’s the only thing, really, that ultimately brings us from utter sadness to joy.

We Will Have to Contemplate Falling in Love Again!

So what do we do when the excitement of God’s love seems to wear off?

When I start to get irritated with my wife, when I start to think it’s no big deal I am married to this woman, I work very hard at thinking back to the beginning. 

I take some time to remember our early days.

I call to mind all the reasons I can recall I fell in love with her in the first place.

We can do this with God too.

 We should do it. 

In fact, it’s why God gave us the ritual of communion (the Lord’s Supper). 

The bread broken for us, the blood spilled for us — it’s the labored discipline of remembering over and over again how wonderful it is Jesus gave himself for us.

By reading, studying the Word of God, meditating on the cross, we can go back.

The other thing I do is I ask myself, “What would life be like without him?” 

I imagine how life would look if my wife did not love me.

Imagine what life would be if God didn’t love me. 

Imagine if my Savior Jesus had not died for me.

Being a faithful human being, I will get angry and I will sin mightily ….

I cannot help myself.

I cannot help being myself …. Romans 7:13-25

It’s all too easy to take God’s love for granted.

It is all too easy being all too human – and turn my face and walk away.

But it’s also easy to be bowled over by God’s love all over again.

Psalm 13The Message

13 1-2 Long enough, God—
    you’ve ignored me long enough.
I’ve looked at the back of your head
    long enough. Long enough
I’ve carried this ton of trouble,
    lived with a stomach full of pain.
Long enough my arrogant enemies
    have looked down their noses at me.

3-4 Take a good look at me, God, my God;
    I want to look life in the eye,
So no enemy can get the best of me
    or laugh when I fall on my face.

5-6 I’ve thrown myself headlong into your arms—
    I’m celebrating your rescue.
I’m singing at the top of my lungs,
    I’m so full of answered prayers.

Dare Yourself – To Fall in Love with God AGAIN!

If God feels far away, go back to the beginning, back to the cross, and labor to remember what God has done for you. 

Read the accounts of Jesus’ sacrifice each day for the next week.

Meditate on them, asking God to show you the depth of his love for you.

If your life is in turmoil, give God the benefit of the doubt. 

If you have been giving him the silent treatment, you can return to him right now, knowing God will hear your prayer.

Commit to an extended time of prayer each day for a week.

Start your prayer time by listing out the qualities of God.

Focus on who God is and who you ARE NOT. 

No matter the ceaseless fervency, motivation of, or behind our prayers,

We can never pray ourselves into actually becoming God.

God will not answer that prayer as we prayed it – it is not in His will.

Acknowledge and Remember – We ARE NEVER stronger than GOD!

Bring your concerns to God and then take time to listen to him.

Dare to ask thyself; Where Am I in my own relationship with God?

In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,

Let us Pray,

O soul are you weary and troubled
No light in the darkness you see
There’s light for a look at the Savior
And life more abundant and free

Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in his wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of his glory and grace

His word shall not fail you he promised
Believe him and all will be well
Then go to a world that is dying
His perfect salvation to tell

Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in his wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of his glory and grace

O soul are you weary and troubled
No light in the darkness you see
There’s light for a look at the Savior
And life more abundant and free

Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in his wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of his glory and grace

Adeste Fidelis! Venite Adoremus! Dominum.

Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen.

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Marking out our Pathways to Solitude. “Alone Time,” Making Time with God, Having our Time with God. Luke 5:14-16

Luke 5:14-16 The Message

14-16 Jesus instructed him, “Don’t talk about this all over town. Just quietly present your healed self to the priest, along with the offering ordered by Moses. Your cleansed and obedient life, not your words, will bear witness to what I have done.” But the man couldn’t keep it to himself, and the word got out. Soon a large crowd of people had gathered to listen and be healed of their sicknesses. As often as possible Jesus withdrew to out-of-the-way places for prayer.

The Word of God for the Children of God.

Adeste Fidelis! Venite Adoremus! Dominum.

Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen.

Sometimes we each find that our hearts and our souls get crowded out by life.

This way, that way, every way, by someway outside of our sphere of influence, life envelops us, immerses us in tornado force whirlwinds and deep whirlpools.

Surrounded By Souls – A Poem

I’m in touch with the thought, the idea’s in my mind,
This fleeting dream, doesn’t leave me behind.


I need to hold on, to these glimpses of pure life,
To bypass the confusion, the agony, the strife.


The simple life is there, just there, now gone,
Between the bursts of light, I think I’m alone.


But alone in the sense of being comfortable with me,
Not lost in a desert of all that I see.


But now I feel that I’m not alone at all,
The world’s full of souls, I just need to call.

Alan Bruce Thompson

Why “Alone Time” With God?

Why should we spend time alone with God?

Why is meeting with God in the “solitary places” so important?

Until we gain an understanding of the immense value and the opportunity of encountering the shekinah Glory, the presence of our Living God, we will never consistently engage in this foundational, vital practice: “Time Alone With God.”

As we prayerfully come together, discover God’s heart to meet with us in order that we might experience the depths of his love, I pray that our lives would be marked by a new grace to consistently and powerfully encounter the living God.

Luke 5:14-16 Amplified Bible

14 Jesus ordered him to tell no one [that he might happen to meet], “But go and show yourself to the priest, and make an offering for your purification, just as Moses commanded, as a testimony (witness) to them [that this is a work of Messiah].” 15  But the news about Him was spreading farther, and large crowds kept gathering to hear Him and to be healed of their illnesses. 16 But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray [in seclusion].

Why is time alone with God so important?

Why can’t just going to church, a community group, or a Bible study be enough?

Those of you who have grown up in church or have been going to church for many years have been told and repeatedly taught that time exclusively spent alone with God is indescribably vital to our connection, relationship with him.

Many of you, including me, however, were never given a reason why.

And in order for us to consistently and effectively engage in this abundantly life giving, life sustaining crucial practice, must understand why it is so important.

Here’s what we learn from Scripture about having time alone with God.

Scripture makes it abundantly clear that Jesus spent time alone with his heavenly Father. 

Luke 5:16 states, “Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” 

Mark 1:35 states, “And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.” 

Often in Scripture, Jesus withdrew from the crowd to pray.

So the first reason to spend time alone with God is because Jesus did.

If Jesus needed time alone with his heavenly Father, we can all be sure we need it even more.

Jesus walked in God’s presence constantly.

Jesus constantly responded to God’s will for his life.

He is our perfect example.

And even still, He needed time alone with God.

God–seekers welcome lonely places at times.

They will sometimes go miles in any direction just to find a place where open sky, wide spaces, and the starry heavens and winds are their only companions.

Even though God’s presence is clearly to be found among his children (as our Lord promised when two or three gather in his name—Matthew 18:20), God also meets us in those far away places, miles from humanity, in times of solitude.

Jesus often sought solitude.

He began his ministry by spending forty days in the desert (Matthew 4:1–11).

He spent a whole night in the desert hills before calling his twelve disciples (Luke 6:12–15).

After a powerful healing mission, he called his disciples to come with him “to a quiet place” (Mark 6:31).

For his transfiguration, he found a lonely mountain (Matthew 17:1–8).

And to find strength to face his death for us, he sought out the solitude of the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36–46).

Solitude rescues the lonely from loneliness.

As Richard Foster, a teacher and writer on Christian spirituality, points out, “Loneliness is inner emptiness; solitude is inner fulfillment.”

Solitude is the discipline of tuning our hearts to hear nothing but the voice of God, whether it comes to us in a whisper or a roar.

When we “pick ourselves up” to move into solitude, we seek to silence all other voices which clamor for all our attention, just to be attuned to hear God’s voice.

Psalm 19:1-5The Message

19 1-2 God’s glory is on tour in the skies,
    God-craft on exhibit across the horizon.
Madame Day holds classes every morning,
    Professor Night lectures each evening.

3-4 Their words aren’t heard,
    their voices aren’t recorded,
But their silence fills the earth:
    unspoken truth is spoken everywhere.

4-5 God makes a huge dome
    for the sun—a superdome!
The morning sun’s a new husband
    leaping from his honeymoon bed,
The daybreaking sun an athlete
    racing to the tape.

We also see from Jesus’ example that time alone with God empowers us and inspires, refreshes, invigorates us, to carry out God’s purpose for our life.

It was after withdrawing into the wilderness in Luke 4 that we read he began performing miracles.

Jesus entered the Garden of Gethsemane filled with grief and sorrow, asking God for a way other than his own death to achieve salvation for his people.

After spending time alone with God, he came out of the garden empowered to endure the worst atrocity in history.

Spending time alone with God empowers us, quickens us to live a life filled with a knowledge of God’s purposes and the ability to faithfully see them through.

Lastly, Jesus is clear in Matthew 6:5-6 how we are to pray.

Scripture says, 

“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” 

God rewards time spent alone with him in prayer.

It’s by praying in secret we clearly and tangibly encounter God’s love for us.

It’s by spending meaningful, quality time alone, in solitude, in quiet, thru engaging in quiet conversation with the Spirit that we learn what his voice sounds like, who it is we are responding with the entirety of our lives to.

It is only by asking God questions we come to discover His solitary, abundant will.

And it’s by spending time alone with him that our lives gradually become laser focused, centered not around our lonely, but around his nearness and goodness.

All of the money in the world cannot buy the rewards God longs to give you.

All the favor of men will not satisfy your insatiable desire to be fully known and fully loved more and greater and best by someone, something other than “self.”

God’s desire to spend time alone with you is not meant to add stress or pressure to your life but to relieve you from it.

He is not a God who is after you religiously checking off a quiet time box, but a good, good Father who longs to fill our lives with his grace, power, and love. 

Receive right now, in this exact and exacting the best gift you could be offered, one-on-one communion, one-on-one Koinonia, with your heavenly Father.

In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,

Guided Prayer:

1. Wherever you are, find a place to get alone and pray.

Seek out a place that you can find solitude that will be uninterrupted.

“Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” Luke 5:16

“And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.” Mark 1:35

2. Read and pray through this Scripture.

May God give you a revelation of his provision and love for you as you pray Jesus’s model prayer.

“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.” – Matthew 6:9-13

3. Engage in conversation with God. 

Ask him how he feels about you.

Come before him with anything which is weighing you down and lay your burdens at his feet.

Rest in the peace that comes from his singularly unique, peaceful presence.

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

Father God, giver of every good and perfect gift, by thy grace and mercy, give me a heart that welcomes solitude and quiet places as openings for your voice to be heard and your glory to shine. Keep me quiet, keep me quietly in tune with you, I pray.

Adeste Fidelis! Venite Adoremus! Dominum.

Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen.

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Our Time Alone With God. Jesus, with His Sleeping Disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane. Luke 22:39-46

Luke 22:39-46Amplified Bible

The Garden of Gethsemane

39 And He came out and went, as was His habit, to the Mount of Olives; and the disciples followed Him. 40 When He arrived at the place [called Gethsemane], He said to them, “Pray continually that you may not fall into temptation.” 41 And He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, 42  saying, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup [of divine wrath] from Me; yet not My will, but [always] Yours be done.” 43 [a]Now an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him. 44 And being in agony [deeply distressed and anguished; almost to the point of death], He prayed more intently; and His [b]sweat became like drops of blood, falling down on the ground. 45 When He rose from prayer, He came to the disciples and found them sleeping from sorrow, 46 and He said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray that you may not fall into temptation.”

The Word of God for the Children of God.

Adeste Fidelis! Venite Adoremus! Dominum

Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen.

Jesus’ final hours of suffering and death were the weakest moments of his life.

They were the weakest moments ever experienced by any human being.

Jesus drank the bitterest cup any human ever drank.

His closest friends betrayed him, denied him, fled from him.

Jesus was convicted in a sham trial, mocked and flogged, tortured and stabbed.

While on the cross, it seemed that even his Father in heaven had abandoned him. He cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Finally he gave up his spirit and died. He knew all this was coming.

How did he prepare?

How could anyone prepare for the ultimate torture?

AS WAS HIS HABIT ….

Jesus turned to the source of his strength: his Father.

Jesus pleaded with God he would not have to face the horror of death on a cross.

But there was only one thing he wanted more than avoiding the cross; it was obedience to God.

At the conclusion of his prayer, Jesus set aside his own desire for safety, comfort, and peace.

“Not my will, but yours be done.”

Can there be any better way to turn weakness to strength?

Jesus himself modeled for us the very kind of habits and rhythms of life we need in any age.

Even as God in human flesh, he prioritized time alone with his Father.

Imagine what “good” he might otherwise have done with all those hours.

But he chose again and again, in perfect wisdom and love, to give his first and best moments to seeking his Father’s face.

If Jesus, even Jesus, in the Garden of Gethsemane, in his coming anguish carved out such space in the demands of his human life, should not we all the more?

Our own struggles and suffering will never compare to the titanic struggle between good and evil that Jesus willingly chose.

But his prayerful solitary choice to steadfastly obey his Father over any other choice comforts and strengthens me as I fervently pray it strengthens you too.

His victory is mine.

His victory is yours!

We may have but glimpses of Jesus’s habits and personal spiritual practices in the Gospels, but what we do have is by no accident, and it is not scant.

We know exactly what God means for us to know, in just the right detail — and we have far more about Jesus’s personal spiritual rhythms than we do about anyone else in Scripture.

And the picture we have of Christ’s habits is not one that is foreign to our world and lives and experience.

We find timeless and trans-cultural postures that can be replicated, and easily applied, by any follower of Jesus, anywhere in the world, at any time in history.

How many of us have the presence of mind, and heart, and soul, and spirit, to discern and prioritize, genuinely actualize, solitary prayer time as Jesus did?

The account of Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane before being taken away to be crucified is one of the most personal glimpses into the relationship between Jesus and his Father, God.

It shows us the close relationship and trust Jesus had with his Father.

Jesus went to the Father with his deepest troubles, honestly cried out to Him.

Not only did Jesus trust God with his fears, sadness, and requests, he also trusted the perfect plan God had for his future.

Even when it would cost him his life, Jesus trusted the will of his Father and even prayed for it.

Jesus lived on Earth as a man for 33 years.

In the Gospels, we have a record of the three years he spent in ministry.

As he traveled preaching the gospel, healing the sick, and training up disciples, all the while Jesus knew what was coming and how his life would end.

He knew that his purpose on Earth was to become the perfect lamb to be sacrificed for the sins of the world.

He understood to become that perfect sacrifice he would suffer greatly, be put to death, have the relationship between him and the Father broken for a time.

In these verses, we get a glimpse of Jesus as being fully man and fully God.

We see his anguish, fear, and dread.

He was overwhelmed and sorrowful as he is betrayed and abandoned.

Jesus was suffering in his soul as well as in his body.

It was a sorrow that leads to death.

A sorrow that you and I couldn’t survive; soul sorrow; even agony.

Every one of us can identify with deep sorrow on some level. 

At some point in our lives, most of us have felt these deep emotions, maybe even to the point of wishing we would die instead of suffering so much.

These feelings are human.

There is nothing sinful about any of them.

Even Jesus felt this way.

It’s what we choose to do with these feelings that matters most.

Just Go Away to A Solitary Place ….

P.U.S.H. – Pray Until Something Happens – against the Gates of Heaven.

Luke 22:45-46Amplified Bible

45 When He rose from prayer, He came to the disciples and found them sleeping from sorrow, 46 and He said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray that you may not fall into temptation.”

Take a minute, read and observe what happened in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Notice the actions, and then notice the LACK of actions of the disciples ….

We Need Each Other’s Times of Solitary Prayers ….

The gospel accounts describe Jesus as being in a type of agony.

He was sorrowful and very heavy; signifying a sorrow that makes a man neither fit for company nor desirous of it.

Even so, the first thing we see Jesus do is to gather his closest friends for support.

He doesn’t bring all twelve disciples to Gethsemane, only three; the closest three, Peter, James, and John.

These were the ones who also had witnessed his glory in his transfiguration.

Peter, James, and John have witnessed Jesus’ glory as no one else had.

Because of their witness, they are probably the most prepared of all the disciples to witness his agony.

They know Jesus in a different way than the others.

So Jesus chooses them to share in his emotional agony.

He rallies them for companionship and asks them to pray.  

This is a lesson for us. Jesus gathered his friends and expresses his sorrow.

We need friends too; not as a substitute for God, but as an earthly comfort.

There’s a delicate balance between oversharing and putting on a happy face to suffer in silence.

In times of greatest heartbreak, grief, and sadness, we need our closest friends to surround us.

We need to share our feelings with them asking for support, companionship, and prayer.

But, as we read the Gospel account, the disciples fell asleep ….

Friends may fall asleep on us, but God does not!

Jesus returns to the three disciples he has brought with him and finds them sleeping.

He has brought them along so that they would keep their solitary watch and pray with him, and thoroughly fatigued from the day, they have fallen short.

Once again, a lesson for us. Our closest friends and family are important resources for us, especially when we are going through tough times.

However, they can never replace the perfect comfort, reliability, and peace that only God can supply.

As humans, we fall short, we fail each other all the time.

Our intentions are good and honest, but sadly, our own emotions, priorities, schedules, and opinions get in the way of being ‘everything’ for someone else.

ONLY GOD can do that.

God is always awake and aware ….

Psalm 121The Message

121 1-2 I look up to the mountains;
    does my strength come from mountains?
No, my strength comes from God,
    who made heaven, and earth, and mountains.

3-4 He won’t let you stumble,
    your Guardian God won’t fall asleep.
Not on your life! Israel’s
    Guardian will never doze or sleep.

5-6 God’s your Guardian,
    right at your side to protect you—
Shielding you from sunstroke,
    sheltering you from moonstroke.

7-8 God guards you from every evil,
    he guards your very life.
He guards you when you leave and when you return,
    he guards you now, he guards you always.

It appears that God didn’t answer Jesus’ prayers.

At the very least, it would seem that Jesus was told, “No. I will not stop this punishment by death.”

It’s true, God’s perfect will was for Jesus to die and become the sacrificial lamb for the sins of the world.

He did not stop that from happening.

But he did answer Jesus’ prayer.

He sent an angel to strengthen Jesus to give him the encouragement, the ability to carry through the most daunting task in history which awaited before him.

Also, he rescued Jesus from death.

Although Jesus would suffer greatly and it would be painful for a time, he didn’t allow Jesus to stay dead.

He brought him back to life, took him to heaven to sit a the right hand of the Father. 

Thankfully, for our sakes and for all of humanity, Jesus’ solitary prayer was answered in the perfect will of our sovereign God.

Because of Jesus’ solitary, steadfast obedience to the will of His Father we have a singularly unique solitary and prayerful relationship with Jesus Christ today.

As it was HIS Habit, Let it also become OUR Habit

That’s why I love this account of Jesus in the Garden so much.

It shows me the humanity of Jesus, his agony in trusting, obeying the Father.

It shows me that it’s OK to struggle and plead with God.

It shows me that trusting God is hard work and won’t always come easily.

It also shows me that trusting and obeying is between me and God – no one else can do the hard work for me.

I see that even though I may not understand God’s will for me at the moment, God has a single, solitary, uniquely mine plan for all my future circumstances.

Even when he answers my prayers differently, singularly, uniquely, solitarily, than I had hoped, this Gospel Narrative teaches me that His plan is always best. 

So, let’s take this example from Jesus.

Let’s worship Him for how he trusted and obeyed the Father so that we could be saved and have a relationship with him forever.

And, let’s continue to work on our own trust issues, as we work on trusting and obeying Him, even when we do not understand the plan – It is our only HOPE.

In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,

Let us Pray,

Psalm 42The Message

42 1-3 A white-tailed deer drinks
    from the creek;
I want to drink God,
    deep drafts of God.
I’m thirsty for God-alive.
I wonder, “Will I ever make it—
    arrive and drink in God’s presence?”
I’m on a diet of tears—
    tears for breakfast, tears for supper.
All day long
    people knock at my door,
Pestering,
    “Where is this God of yours?”

These are the things I go over and over,
    emptying out the pockets of my life.
I was always at the head of the worshiping crowd,
    right out in front,
Leading them all,
    eager to arrive and worship,
Shouting praises, singing thanksgiving—
    celebrating, all of us, God’s feast!

Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul?
    Why are you crying the blues?
Fix my eyes on God—
    soon I’ll be praising again.
He puts a smile on my face.
    He’s my God.

6-8 When my soul is in the dumps, I rehearse
    everything I know of you,
From Jordan depths to Hermon heights,
    including Mount Mizar.
Chaos calls to chaos,
    to the tune of whitewater rapids.
Your breaking surf, your thundering breakers
    crash and crush me.
Then God promises to love me all day,
    sing songs all through the night!
    My life is God’s prayer.

9-10 Sometimes I ask God, my rock-solid God,
    “Why did you let me down?
Why am I walking around in tears,
    harassed by enemies?”
They’re out for the kill, these
    tormentors with their obscenities,
Taunting day after day,
    “Where is this God of yours?”

11 Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul?
    Why are you crying the blues?
Fix my eyes on God—
    soon I’ll be praising again.
He puts a smile on my face.
    He’s my God.

Adeste Fidelis! Venite Adoremus! Dominum.

Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen.

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