“Oh, that I had the Wings of a Dove! My Soul would fly away and be at rest, My Heart, so to fly far away from the raging “Tempest” in My Life!” Psalm 55:1-8

Psalm 55:1-8 The Message

55 1-3 Open your ears, God, to my prayer;
    don’t pretend you don’t hear me knocking.
Come close and whisper your answer.
    I really need you.
I shudder at the mean voice,
    quail before the evil eye,
As they pile on the guilt,
    stockpile angry slander.

4-8 My insides are turned inside out;
    specters of death have me down.
I shake with fear,
    I shudder from head to foot.
“Who will give me wings,” I ask—
    “wings like a dove?”
Get me out of here on dove wings;
    I want some peace and quiet.
I want a walk in the country,
    I want a cabin in the woods.
I’m desperate for a change
    from rage and stormy weather.

The Word of God for the Children of God.

Adeste Fidelis! Venite Adoremus! Dominum.

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

Our inner storms can be intense when we are immersed in situations which are far beyond our abilities to cope with using our own limited devices and manage.

Personal situations, family situations, work situations, financial situations, health situations, personal safety and security, school situations – all on the warpath, steadily accumulating, building momentum, all at once!

In perfect and not so perfect storms like that, we often cannot think straight.

We are surrounded by people we do not need nor want to be surrounded by.

We are in a place which we would not otherwise choose to be if we had one more choice to make – homeless, or being at risk of being homeless, addictions, the unemployment line – again and again again, the hospital – over and over again.

We question everything.

Stop the cycle ….

Shut the merry go round off …. no more spinning in the ceaseless circles going nowhere as fast as the mind and soul can conceive or better yet, not conceive.

Better still, stop the world – build me a rocket ship to anywhere in the universe!

Where can a solution be found?

The writer of this psalm wanted the same solution we would—to get away.

How wonderful it would be to fly away like a bird to the furthest reaches of “who cares where – just not here” when we are faced with such an array of circumstances coming at us all at once from every known compass direction.

Such situations are not far fetched in this age of rapid change and technology.

It would be such a relief to be able to go somewhere, anywhere, just to be alone for a little while, leave all our troubles behind, unplug from all the challenges.

Conventional wisdom might suggest losing yourself in the wide array of video games you can find online or with any game system, become someone else for a while, spend hours taking out the host of frustrations upon some fantasy quest.

Get behind the wheel of your car and go for a long drive with the radio blasting or take a long walk in any direction that makes itself available in the moment.

Still others just want to “sprout wings like a dove” and fly into the sunset of life.

Still others will do anything to get away from the whirlwind: drugs and alcohol.

The whole point is this … they know they just want to be, they need to be alone and they need that “alone time” right in this very exact and exacting moment!

Have you felt the sting of the “tempest”?

Perhaps these words have discovered you living in that kind of storm right now.

Perhaps, and please ponder this, I am not the “one” who has just “found you.”

Perhaps, the One who has just “found you” is yourself in need of the Lord God?

Perhaps, its your soul, the anguished part, the languishing part, the all seeking part, silently, not so silently, subtly or nor quite so subtly, starts looking in not so quiet desperation, outward and heavenward, looking far outside your spaces.

Uttering words you cannot hear, words which you would not otherwise conceive saying to yourself, to any other human being, hidden words stuck in “tempest.”

Words uttered, muttered behind your back, spoken without your permission.

Words which would never consider seeking out your authorization to speak of.

Words which when they become known to you – would shock you to the core.

Words which require an extended explanation, direct confrontation with and from your soul – for daring to go outside your own “established parameters!”

Words from your soul, when your soul looks directly into your “eyes” and says straight into what you know is your “you are in no place to argue with me, life:

YOU NEED GOD RIGHT NOW!

Psalm 27:4-6 The Message

I’m asking God for one thing,
    only one thing:
To live with him in his house
    my whole life long.
I’ll contemplate his beauty;
    I’ll study at his feet.

That’s the only quiet, secure place
    in a noisy world,
The perfect getaway,
    far from the buzz of traffic.

God holds me head and shoulders
    above all who try to pull me down.
I’m headed for his place to offer anthems
    that will raise the roof!
Already I’m singing God-songs;
    I’m making music to God.

“But, I have my own way of doing things, I need no help!”
“Yes! I know, I have seen how well you don’t handle things.”
“But, who else could possibly know me even better than I do?”
“I’m Asking for Time Alone With God!” Sincerely, Your soul.

I am going to pause this devotional right here to give you, your soul some much needed time outside of yourselves, even more needed space alone.

Has this plea from your soul caught you by surprise?

Has this plea from deep within your “tempest” achieved or attained even 0.01% of your undivided attention?

To ponder for a time the actual relevance and significance, of these words?

I NEED TIME ALONE WITH GOD!

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

Let us Pray,

Psalm 42 The 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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My Success Reframed by God: “I Will Surely Be Blessed Even Though (____) Because The Lord Is All I Ever Need.” Psalm 23

Psalm 23Amplified 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 Word of God for the Children of God.

Adeste Fidelis! Venite Adoremus! Dominum.

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

Most everyone has heard of the 23rd Psalm even if they can’t quote it correctly.

It’s a poem with no peer and has been called the sweetest psalm ever written.

Abraham Lincoln read it to cure his blues, and President George W. Bush read it publicly to calm our nation’s fears after 9-11.

We could very easily and simply call it the psalm that calms the savaged soul.

Since this psalm is so familiar, we are in danger of missing the depth of its meaning.

Because its setting is in the world of sheep and shepherds, many of us can slide right past its richness.

Are you aware the Bible refers to us as sheep nearly two hundred times?

This is not usually a compliment because sheep are smelly, stubborn, and prone to wander.

One commentary explains that this passage is a hymn of resting confidently in the Lords care.

It uses two images: the first is the Lord as a shepherd who cares for the sheep.

We see this in verses 1 through four.

The Lord is my shepherd – He makes me lie down in green pastures, do you know what green pastures in Israel looked like?

They are not the image that may come to your mind of rolling meadows and hills of green with alfalfa waist high but they are rather more like this:

The regions in Israel where shepherds live are predominantly wilderness areas.

They have two seasons:

First is the rainy season from November through March (when even the desert becomes green), and then the dry season from April through October when the landscape is brown.

Even during the rainy season, the wilderness grasses remain short.

Blades of grass grow in the shade of rocks, where moisture is trapped.

At first glance, the “green pastures” of Israel look like a barren, rocky wasteland.

But each day, a few blades of grass grow and there is enough to nourish the flocks for another day

The Lord providing and giving provision for the sheep (or for us) is not giving us more than we will ever need but rather providing our needs for the moment.

The shepherd will take care of his flock, and the sheep are not worried about tomorrow,

They are not worried about an hour from now, they are definitely not worried about the current circumstance for they are taken care of by the Shepherd.

The truth is that the Good Shepherd will lead you in green pastures and by the still waters.

This psalm paints the peaceful picture of the Lord’s care for his children.

Ask the Lord to refresh your soul and guide you along righteous paths of healing and restoration.

Experiencing this rest requires submission to the shepherd

Louie Giglio writes in his book, Don’t give the enemy a seat at your table,

“You may be surrounded by pressures and troubles and uncertainties and misunderstandings, but God has set a table for you in the middle of all this. God’s got your back. He is the Lord of all creation. All strength and power and authority belong to Him. He’s king of the universe. When God is walking you through the valley, you can stop worrying about managing all the outcomes. You can stop looking over your shoulder.”

Which leads us into the second image in verses 5 and 6.

Where we see the Lord as Host who cares for his guest.

These two images are familiar experiences in David’s life but they also elicit and evoke other ideas which were common in the ancient Near East, with the chief deity as shepherd of his people and also the deity as chief host of the meal.

In worship, the faithful celebrate God’s greatness and majesty; and when they sing this psalm, they see the magnitude of His majesty in the way he personally attends to each and every one of his covenant lambs.

A single flock can have as few as 10 animals or as much as hundreds of them.

A good Shepherd knows each and every sheep in the flock regardless of how big the numbers could be, (John 10:3-5).

“To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.””

Likewise, David when he uses the metaphor of the Shepherd to describe God, talks not just about a designation or a name for the Lord, but the relationship between God and his covenant children.

He is the shepherd for Israel as a whole; and in being such, He is the shepherd for each faithful Israelite as well.

Verse 4 says, “even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for you are with me, your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”

The shadow of death itself may be the shadow that death casts or it may be what scholars say is “deep darkness”.

In Job 10:21-22 it’s written, before I go–never to return–to a land of darkness and gloom, to a land of utter darkness, of deep shadow and disorder, where even the light is like darkness.”

In the ESV Study Bible that the shadow of death is perhaps the idea that in a valley in the desert in Judah one can encounter deep shadows, and cannot know for sure who (whether bandits) or what (animals, flash floods) lurks in them.

Even in such periods of suspense and danger, the faithful find assurance that God is with them, and thus they need not fear.

Greg Morse, staff writer from DesiringGod writes this,

“We do not often consider who leads us into the valley. This path of deathly shadows was not self-chosen. The sheep, sheepish as they are, do not walk willingly into unlit places. They aren’t a lion to be so careless; dark paths are where sheep die. So how did David end up walking there of all places? His Shepherd led him. Christ, the good Shepherd, lays us down in green pastures, leads beside still waters, and guides us through dark valleys.”

How important to realize this?

When life overwhelms us, we are tempted to believe that — if we were truly his — we would never travel into such places.

But David thinks otherwise.

When he writes, “I shall fear no evil for you are with me,” David does not see a Shepherd scratching his head wondering where they took a wrong turn.

David trusts that his Shepherd meant for him to pass this way!

Even though there are challenges in life,

God goes before us into and through all the blind bends and corners.

God is with us in all the North, East, South, West twists and turns.

God is 100% reliable, faithful and just and trustworthy and true.

God is worth thanking in highs and lows.

This looks different for everyone, but we see in scripture that the Lord fulfills his promises and his faithfulness is certain.

We see that Even though Abraham and Sarah were far beyond childbearing age, God gave them a child to fulfill His promise. (Genesis 18:13-14, 21:1-2)

a. God declared his name Abraham, which means “Father of many nations” and yet at the age of 99 he had never had a single child with his wife Sarah who was 90 years old at the time – no heirs to legitimately carry on the family lineage.

They were visited by three men and one of them told Abraham that Sarah would bear a child in the next year.

Despite laughing, Sarah soon became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham, at the very moment which had been predicted.

Abraham, then a hundred years old, named the child “Isaac.”

Isaac would go on to become a crucial character in the biblical narrative, fathering Jacob the eventual Patriarch of Twelve Tribes of the Israelites.

God used this to test Abraham and Sarah but used them mightily through their trust and His faithfulness. When you are tempted to give up while you wait, look at the examples in scripture of God’s faithfulness to deliver, even when the circumstance seems to point otherwise.

Or how about this? Even though building an ark seemed odd, it saved Noah’s family and God’s faithfulness was revealed. (Genesis 6:11-14; 7:22, 6-7)

Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence. 12 And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth. 13 And God said to Noah, “I have determined to make an end of all flesh,[a] for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth. 14 Make yourself an ark of gopher wood.[b] Make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch.

The Lord was bringing destruction to the Earth yet he was faithful in his promise to Noah.

Noah endured and in the end God was right about the flood He was bringing, and He saved Noah and his family just like He promised.

Even though all of Job’s possessions and health were taken, he stayed faithful to God. (Job 1:13-22)

13 One day when Job’s sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother’s house, 14 a messenger came to Job and said, “The oxen were plowing and the donkeys were grazing nearby, 15 and the Sabeans attacked and made off with them. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”

16 While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, “The fire of God fell from the heavens and burned up the sheep and the servants, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”

17 While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, “The Chaldeans formed three raiding parties and swept down on your camels and made off with them. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”

18 While he was still speaking, yet another messenger came and said, “Your sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother’s house, 19 when suddenly a mighty wind swept in from the desert and struck the four corners of the house. It collapsed on them and they are dead, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”

20 At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship 21 and said:

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,

and naked I will depart.[a]

The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away;

    may the name of the Lord be praised.”

22 In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.

Job was faithful to God and served Him.

Even so, he greatly suffered. Job knew though that his suffering was not worth comparing to the blessing of not cursing God but continue following God.

What an affirmation of faith, what an incredible example this is, to serve and stand firm in our faith in Jesus Christ no matter the circumstance or suffering.

Let’s look back at Psalm 23 verse 4 again,

5. “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.”(Psalm 23:4)

This verse reminds me of another long forgotten message — now blessedly, thanks be to God for Holy Spirit, gratefully recalled to the forefront of my soul:

I appreciated the insight of another pastor who once preached to me one Lenten Season,

“Moses teaches us how to thank God for giving us a whole myriad of blessings.”

Let me say that again,

“Moses teaches us how to thank God for giving us a whole myriad of blessings.”

Deuteronomy 8:1-10Amplified Bible

God’s Gracious Dealings

“Every commandment that I am commanding you today you shall be careful to do, so that you may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land which the Lord swore [to give] to your fathers. And you shall remember [always] all the ways which the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, so that He might humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart (mind), whether you would keep His commandments or not. He humbled you and allowed you to be hungry and fed you with manna, [a substance] which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, so that He might make you understand [by personal experience] that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord. Your clothing did not wear out on you, nor did your feet swell these forty years. Therefore, know in your heart (be fully cognizant) that the Lord your God disciplines and instructs you just as a man disciplines and instructs his son. Therefore, you shall keep the commandments of the Lord your God, to walk [that is, to live each and every day] in His ways and fear [and worship] Him [with awe-filled reverence and profound respect]. For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, flowing forth in valleys and hills; a land of wheat and barley, and vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive oil and honey; a land where you will eat bread without shortage, in which you will lack nothing; a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills you can dig copper. 10 When you have eaten and are satisfied, then you shall bless the Lord your God for the good land which He has given you.

He then continues by saying, “David comes along and teaches us how to thank God not just for the myriad and myriads of blessings but also “even though….”

Psalm 23:4-5

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

This remembered pastor wrote,

“This is a graduated form of gratitude. This is the remedial level. Again, Moses taught us to Thank God “ for the” blessing . But this is the place where you learn to praise God even through every single “even though” we can think of.”

This is where you could have everything of the very worst kind of mess breaking loose in one area of your life, but say,

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will not fear …

— it is well with my soul when peace like a river which attendeth my way, when sorrow like sea billows roll,

— even though my heart is broken,

it is still well well with my soul.

— even though you and I are in the direst straights, grieving the loss of a job, grieving the loss of our health and wellness, or grieving the loss of loved ones,

it is yet an still well with our souls.

— even though I’m going through ____,

it is now and forever well with my soul and God is still forever and ever, faithful

“EVEN THOUGH.

This is the table where you learn to thank God for what you can see.

This is the table where you learn to trust God with what you cannot.

Even though I walk through the darkest valley.

We see the “Even though ___, God is faithful theme” continue throughout scripture.

John 6:1-14Amplified Bible

Five Thousand Fed

After this, Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee (or [a]Sea of Tiberias). A large crowd was following Him because they had seen the signs (attesting miracles) which He continually performed on those who were sick. And Jesus went up on the mountainside and sat down there with His disciples. Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was approaching. Jesus looked up and saw that a large crowd was coming toward Him, and He said to Philip, “Where will we buy bread for these people to eat?” But He said this to test Philip, because He knew what He was about to do. Philip answered, “Two hundred denarii (200 days’ wages) worth of bread is not enough for each one to receive even a little.” One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to Him, “There is a little boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what are these for so many people?”  10 Jesus said, “Have the people sit down [to eat].” Now [the ground] there was [covered with] an abundance of grass, so the men sat down, about [b]5,000 in number. 11 Then Jesus took the loaves, and when He had given thanks, He distributed them to those who were seated; the same also with the fish, as much as they wanted. 12 When they had eaten enough, He said to His disciples, “Gather up the leftover pieces so that nothing will be lost.” 13 So they gathered them up, and they filled twelve large baskets with pieces from the five barley loaves which were left over by those who had eaten. 14 When the people saw the sign (attesting miracle) that He had done, they began saying, “This is without a doubt the promised Prophet who is to come into the world!”

6. John Chapter 6:1-14 gives the picture of how 5,000 men and their families ate and ate and ate until they were full with food leftover …..

EVEN THOUGH there were only five loaves of bread and two fish!

An author describes John chapter 6:1-14 like this,

When the disciples saw the crowds and their lack of resources, they were each overwhelmed and knew there was an unsolvable problem.

But when they looked to Jesus, the problem was solved and the Lord provided.

There is never too large of a lack that God cannot provide.

But similar to before, God will be glorified whether that means He provides, or He doesn’t intervene.

If He doesn’t intervene, it doesn’t mean that he can’t, but that it’s not in line with his will.

Know that He is able. He is infinite in resources, while we are finite in ours.

7. Even though Jesus was put to death, He was raised from the dead. (Matthew 28:6)

God’s power is able to do the unthinkable—raise the Lord Jesus Christ, the promised Messiah from the dead to fulfill His ultimate plan from before the foundation of the world.

8. Even though Paul was a persecutor of Jesus and the church, his heart was turned and God saved him. (Acts 9:1-19)

God can change any heart, even the hardest stone heart that you know of.

The beauty of the Gospel is that Jesus is the only savior of sinners and He is all-powerful, not incapable to save because the coldness of one’s heart.

His power is able to turn the greatest wretch into a radical lover of Jesus.

9. Even though Peter was in chains and bound by guards, he miraculously escaped from the prison. (Acts 12:5-19)

And possibly the biggest one,

10. Even though we are sinners, God came to save us. (Romans 5:8)

Many people miss the truth implied by the fact that Christ died for us while we were still sinners.

The chronology is important. Christ did not wait for us to “clean up our act”; He sacrificed Himself even though we were still actively, vigorously opposed to Him

Salvation does not depend on our meeting God halfway, on our all keeping the commandments, or trying to be as good as we can.

No, God completed the work of our salvation even though we were in a state of open rebellion against Him.

That’s grace.

Even though Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were thrown into the fiery furnace, God delivered them from it,

You see this is the even though….

God is faithful, for each and every single depth of faith that we want to have.

Let me give some context on this passage from Daniel 3,

Three young men named Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego were taken from their homes in Israel when they were children.

They, along with Daniel, became important men in Babylon.

The king of Babylon had created a huge statue as an idol.

This was to be used for people to worship the king.

He had made a law that said that all who did not bow down and worship the idol would be thrown into a furnace of fire.

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego had become governors in the kingdom.

But they did not allow their position to keep them from obeying God.

They refused to bow down to the idol. As a result they were put into the fiery furnace.

However, they did not burn up and die.

In fact, the Bible says they were walking around in the furnace.

And, there was a fourth person in the fire with them.

The king said that it appeared to be the Son of God!

The fire is extinguished.

They were brought out of the furnace and the king repented of his pride and worshiped God.

Their faith inflated and they said to the kind, “even though we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand.

But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

Whether or not they were rescued, the faith that they showed is the depth that we want. Even though, stayed faithful to God regardless of the circumstances.

What is the commonality in all these things?

The power of God.

And, God works through our obedience: our obedience to trust him within the most impossible circumstances,

the obedience to rely on him even in tough times, and the obedience to worship him even when the most unexplainable things happen to us.

In all these “EVEN THOUGH” things, we can trust in him and we can faithfully say that He is 100% faithful.

Look at the ending verses of the book of God’s Prophet Habakkuk, 

Habakkuk 3:16-19Amplified Bible

16 
I heard and my whole inner self trembled;
My lips quivered at the sound.
Decay and rottenness enter my bones,
And I tremble in my place.
Because I must wait quietly for the day of distress,
For the people to arise who will invade and attack us.
17 
Though the fig tree does not blossom
And there is no fruit on the vines,
Though the yield of the olive fails
And the fields produce no food,
Though the flock is cut off from the fold
And there are no cattle in the stalls,
18 
Yet I will [choose to] rejoice in the Lord;
I will [choose to] shout in exultation in the [victorious] God of my salvation!

19 
The Lord God is my strength [my source of courage, my invincible army];
He has made my feet [steady and sure] like hinds’ feet
And makes me walk [forward with spiritual confidence] on my [a]high places [of challenge and responsibility].

For the choir director, on my stringed instruments.

The Sovereign Lord is my strength;

he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights.

The phrases we see in Habakkuk’s prayer lay out a strong cause and effect relationship for us as an example to follow.

Even though bad things happen, I will still praise the Lord.

Even though bad things happen, I will not let my mind be lost to the enemy and even though _______, God is faithful.

This past Veterans Day, I heard an Iraqi War veteran say ….

Even Though I cannot walk, and I am confined to a wheelchair;

Even Though half my face is paralyzed, and I cannot even smile;

Even Though I am extremely impaired, and I cannot take care of my kids;

Yet I will rejoice in the Lord,

I will be joyful in God my savior!

He finishes by saying;

“This is not the faith of a Christian who “believes” in God only when the sun shines. This is not a faith that easily wilts under pressure. This faith flourishes even though the pressure is on. This faith says, Even though bad things are still happening, and they will continue until the day I die, I will still forever praise the Lord.”

Like this veteran, how might we personalize Habakkuk’s prayer?

Even though I am under intense (_________) pressure….

Even though my body walks through the valley of the shadow of (_____)

Even though my spirit wanders through the valley of the shadow of (_____)

Even though ______

Yet I will rejoice in the Lord

I will be joyful in God my Savior

Brothers and sisters, Fix your eyes on the good shepherd today.

No matter what circumstances, tell yourself

Even though I am Blessed and Highly Favored and Successful ….

Even though failure seems to define every single move that I make ….

“Even though … I will choose to obey God”

What is your blank space you are dealing with that even in the midst of these circumstances, you are choosing to say yes to God, surrender your life to him.

What act of obedience is God calling you to do in regards to that circumstance?

Is he asking you to Trust or wait or go?

Could God be asking you to worship or seek Him or give to Him all of those “even though” moments or how about even submitting each of them to Him?

Seek God today through His Word and in prayer, and wait upon him for

He. Is. Faithful.

He. Is. True.

He. Is. Life.

He is the Lord, who is our Shepherd and we have all that we will ever need!

EVEN THOUGH ….

EVEN THROUGH ….

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

Let us Pray,

Thank You Father that You are the faithful, good and righteous God. You are the Lord who always keeps Your promises.

You are gracious and merciful in salvation.

We thank You for Your faithfulness throughout the centuries, throughout all the millennia; You have always kept Your promises, Your plans for our salvation have been unwavering.

We thank You Father that You are the God who makes promises out of a character of love and grace, and keeps those promises with all faithfulness even though we will all continue to sin mightily against you.

We thank you for all that you are continually doing in our homes, in our lives, in our communities, in our church. God, we are abundantly blessed by your faithfulness and your continuous goodness to us. We ask that this devotional message be impactful for us as we inspect ourselves and find the blank space that we need to surrender to you. God, we fervently seek after you in prayer, in your word and we now wait upon you.

Adeste Fidelis! Venite Adoremus! Dominum.

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

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Proverbs 21:20-21 > The Great Single Minded Christian Pursuit of Success.

Proverbs 21:20-21 Amplified Bible

20 
There is precious treasure and oil in the house of the wise [who prepare for the future],
But a short-sighted and foolish man swallows it up and wastes it.
21 
He who earnestly seeks righteousness and loyalty
Finds life, righteousness, and honor.

The Word of God for the Children of God.

Adeste Fidelis! Venite Adoremus! Dominum.

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

Should Christians Be Pursuing Success?

“It is, of course, always a joyful thing to succeed. But the joy is very deceptive if it comes from the satisfaction of an ambition that is contrary to the will of God. What is success and what is failure? The answer of the Bible is, ‘What is the will of God? Are you obeying Him?’” Paul Tournier, Breakfast for the Soul

Should “Sermon in Shoes” Christians be pursuing success?

The answer is an emphatic “yes” if we understand that a successful life is one that is intent on knowing God as He has revealed Himself, seeks to believe and obey all that the Word of God proclaims, views life through the lens of eternity.

The answer is, however, as should be expected, a tad bit more complicated if we are defining the single minded pursuit of our success only by the world’s terms.

At its core, the word “success” is quite ambiguous, defined rather simply as a favorable or desired outcome.

It means to reach one’s expectations, to accomplish a predefined goal.

Today’s culture sees a successful person as one who is either famous, wealthy, or comfortable, or has a certain level of influence and power.

We succeed when we make good grades, earn high honors, or earn promotions, lifetime achievements, start and successfully build, grow our own businesses, gain material possessions which set us apart from those less-successful peers.

Success is achieved when we we can “retire early,” no longer need to work hard, ride around in private airplanes, and still have all of our desires and wants met.

The world also acknowledges success as accomplishing humanitarian goals – becoming missionaries, disaster relief workers, feeding the hungry, providing for the sick or mentally ill or homeless, or helping people overcome addictions.

None of these would necessarily make a person rich or famous, but they would certainly be considered successful in Christian life for their accomplishments.

However, if our focus is simply on the physical needs of this world without concern for the eternal souls of men, does God interpret this as “success?”

What Does God Say About Success?

If we are ourselves tempted to pursue the kind of success as the world defines it, we should first examine what God says about success.

One of the more familiar passages about success in the Hebrew Testament was given to Joshua.

God’s words to Joshua as he humbles himself, accepts an important assignment are a good place to begin.

Joshua 1:7-8 Amplified Bible

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.

https://www.blueletterbible.org/esv/jos/1/7-8/t_conc_188007

https://www.blueletterbible.org/lexicon/h7919/esv/wlc/0-1/

The Hebrew word is śāḵal, meaning to be prudent or circumspect, to have insight and understanding, or to prosper.

Joshua was charged with a great task.

He was to take up the mantle of his beloved mentor, Moses, and finish the work of bringing God’s people into the Promised Land.

His success would be guaranteed, according to God’s promise, if he continued to obey the commands set forth in the Law of God.

As He sought God’s wisdom, meditating on God’s Word, he would have what he needed to make right decisions and succeed in his mission.

The prosperous, the successful way, for Joshua, would be the path of obedience.

In fact, in the King James Version of the Bible, the only time the word “success” is used is right here in this passage of text from Joshua.

In truth, the word “success” is not to be found in the New Testament writings.

To the New Testament writers, success is defined by the eternal – the prosperity of the soul.

Health and prosperity in the physical world would be meaningless if one’s soul languished in the pursuit of temporal, earthly things.

Matthew 16:26Amplified Bible

26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world [wealth, fame, success], but forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?

Mark 8:36 Amplified Bible

36 For what does it benefit a man to gain the whole world [with all its pleasures], and forfeit his soul?

Luke 9:25 Amplified Bible

25 For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world [wealth, fame, success], and loses or forfeits himself?

Rabbi Jesus made this distinction clear as he addressed both His disciples, the unbelieving Pharisees, and to the crowds pursuing Him for physical provision after He fed five thousand with a small boy’s rather meager lunch.

John 6:27-29 Amplified Bible

27 Do not work for food that perishes, but for food that endures [and leads] to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you; for God the Father has authorized Him and put His seal on Him.” 28 Then they asked Him, “What are we to do, so that we may habitually be doing the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered, “This is the work of God: that you believe [adhere to, trust in, rely on, and have faith] in the One whom He has sent.”

Success Through Obedience and Service

God defines success as living in obedience to His commands and seeing our physical work as ultimately serving Him.

1 Chronicles 22:9-12 Amplified Bible

Behold, a son will be born to you, who will be a man of peace. I will give him rest from all his enemies on every side; for his name shall be Solomon, and I will give peace and quiet to Israel in his days. 10 He shall build a house for My Name (Presence). He shall be My son and I will be his father; and I will establish his royal throne over Israel forever.’ 11 Now, my son, may the Lord be with you so that you may be successful and build the house of the Lord your God, just as He has spoken concerning you. 12 Only may the Lord give you wisdom and understanding, and give you charge over Israel, so that you may keep the law of the Lord your God.

Proverbs 6:6-8 Amplified Bible


Go to the ant, O lazy one;
Observe her ways and be wise,

Which, having no chief,
Overseer or ruler,

She prepares her food in the summer
And brings in her provisions [of food for the winter] in the harvest.

Proverbs 21:20 Amplified Bible

20 
There is precious treasure and oil in the house of the wise [who prepare for the future],
But a short-sighted and foolish man swallows it up and wastes it.

God often gives physical and spiritual success to His people as they employ their talents and spiritual gifts.

Missionaries would not be on the field without the financial generosity of those who have a talent for business and the gift of giving.

The gospel can be proclaimed with great influence as we live with a kingdom perspective while succeeding in our earthly work.

Humanitarian work can be a great blessing to a hurting world, but is successful when we see past physical needs to the spiritual needs of those we are serving.

The very real danger comes actualized, and too realized when the success of the work of our hands and its benefits distracts us from the higher purpose of God’s glory and the proclamation of the gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Proverbs 16:1-3Amplified Bible

Contrast the Upright and the Wicked

16 The plans and reflections of the heart belong to man,
But the [wise] answer of the tongue is from the Lord.

All the ways of a man are clean and innocent in his own eyes [and he may see nothing wrong with his actions],
But the Lord weighs and examines the motives and intents [of the heart and knows the truth].

[a]Commit your works to the Lord [submit and trust them to Him],
And your plans will succeed [if you respond to His will and guidance].

The Word of God: The Rewards of Working Hard

2 Thessalonians 3:7-10Amplified Bible

For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example, because we did not act in an undisciplined or inappropriate manner when we were with you [we were never idle or lazy, nor did we avoid our duties], nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with labor and hardship we worked night and day [to pay our own way] so that we would not be a financial burden on any of you [for our support]; not because we do not have a right to such support, but [we provided our own financial support] to offer ourselves as a model for you, so that you would follow our example. 10 For even while we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone is not willing to work, then he is [a]not to eat, either.

Warning Against The Love of Money

God also gives us guidance on the purpose of wealth, and the dangers of the love of money and possessions.

Luke 12:13-21 Amplified Bible

Covetousness Denounced

13 Someone from the crowd said to Him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.” 14 But He said to him, “Man, who appointed Me a judge or an arbitrator over [the two of] you?” 15 Then He said to them, “Watch out and guard yourselves against every form of greed; for not even when one has an overflowing abundance does his life consist of nor is it derived from his possessions.”

Parable of the Wealthy Fool

16 Then He told them a parable, saying, “There was a rich man whose land was very fertile and productive. 17 And he began thinking to himself, ‘What shall I do, since I have no place [large enough in which] to store my crops?’ 18 Then he said, ‘This is what I will do: I will tear down my storehouses and build larger ones, and I will store all my grain and my goods there. 19 And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many good things stored up, [enough] for many years; rest and relax, eat, drink and be merry (celebrate continually).”’ 20 But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own all the things you have prepared?’ 21 So it is for the one who continues to store up and hoard possessions for himself, and is not rich [in his relationship] toward God.”

I didn’t think I was greedy until I read this passage again.

Jesus warns us to watch out for all kinds of greed.

The kind of greed I usually thought about had to do with very wealthy people always wanting more – but Jesus does not focus on that kind of greed here.

In the context of this passage, a man is arguing with his brother over their inheritance.

The family has enough to hand down, but Rabbi Jesus sees that this man is still worried if he will truly have enough.

He is greedy not for luxury but for security.

In the second Parable, the wealthy man looks to build “bigger storehouses” to 19 And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many good things stored up, [enough] for many years; rest and relax, eat, drink and be merry (celebrate continually).”’

Kind of sounds like “Just in case of the worst possible scenario” or “Just in Case I might actually find one use for it ten or twenty years from now” Hoarding.

It’s in this context that Jesus goes on to teach some familiar lessons.

Be faithful in the little things, so that God can trust you with the big things.

Don’t fall into the trap of serving and living and striving and possessing for money; it will master you and you will be unfaithful to your Master, Jesus.

Ouch! I didn’t even realize the extent of that kind of unfaithfulness ­existed.

But many of us have it and do not realize how deeply we are entrenched in it.

We want a little bit more so that we don’t have to worry.

Jesus points us away from greed based on worry.

So long as we aim to live God’s way, aligning ourselves with God’s purpose for us in this world (seeking his kingdom), and so long as it is not yet time for our heavenly inheritance, God will give us what we need to live for him each day.

Wanting more than that is a type of greed.

And that will distract us from fully living the life of joy, peace we are created for.

So let’s remember this admonition, learn to let go of our worry-based greed.

Hebrews 13:5-6 Amplified Bible

Let your character [your moral essence, your inner nature] be free from the love of money [shun greed—be financially ethical], being content with what you have; for He has said, “I will never [under any circumstances] desert you [nor give you up nor leave you without support, nor will I in any degree leave you helpless], nor will I forsake or let you down or relax My hold on you [assuredly not]!” So we take comfort and are encouraged and confidently say,

“The Lord is my Helper [in time of need], I will not be afraid.
What will man do to me?”

Summarizing: Should Christians Pursue Success?

By all means.

Work hard where God has put you.

Be a faithful, dependable, honest employee.

Use the influence and position God gives you to boldly proclaim the gospel.

Be generous with your material possessions and financial blessings and use them wisely and prudently for kingdom purposes.

Take care of your spouses, your loved ones and leave your children and your grandchildren an “inheritance” – including a spiritual one – your witness!

Psalm 119:9-16Amplified Bible

Beth.


How can a young man keep his way pure?
By keeping watch [on himself] according to Your word [conforming his life to Your precepts].
10 
With all my heart I have sought You, [inquiring of You and longing for You];
Do not let me wander from Your commandments [neither through ignorance nor by willful disobedience].
11 
Your word I have treasured and stored in my heart,
That I may not sin against You.
12 
Blessed and reverently praised are You, O Lord;
Teach me Your statutes.
13 
With my lips I have told of
All the ordinances of Your mouth.
14 

I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies,
As much as in all riches.
15 
I will meditate on Your precepts
And [thoughtfully] regard Your ways [the path of life established by Your precepts].
16 
I will delight in Your statutes;
I will not forget Your word.

Live your life to glorify God alone, and according to Him, you WILL find success.

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

Let us Pray,

Psalm 23 The Message

23 1-3 God, my shepherd!
    I don’t need a thing.
You have bedded me down in lush meadows,
    you find me quiet pools to drink from.
True to your word,
    you let me catch my breath
    and send me in the right direction.

Even when the way goes through
    Death Valley,
I’m not afraid
    when you walk at my side.
Your trusty shepherd’s crook
    makes me feel secure.

You serve me a six-course dinner
    right in front of my enemies.
You revive my drooping head;
    my cup brims with blessing.

Your beauty and love chase after me
    every day of my life.
I’m back home in the house of God
    for the rest of my life.

Adeste Fidelis! Venite Adoremus! Dominum.

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

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Whether Living a Mindset of Success or Living a Mindset of Failure: Living Into a Mindset of Spirit, of His Life, His Peace. Romans 8:5-8

Romans 8:5-8 The Message

5-8 Those who think they can do it on their own end up obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle but never get around to exercising it in real life. Those who trust God’s action in them find that God’s Spirit is in them—living and breathing God! Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life. Focusing on the self is the opposite of focusing on God. Anyone completely absorbed in self ignores God, ends up thinking more about self than God. That person ignores who God is and what he is doing. And God isn’t pleased at being ignored.

The Word of God for the Children of God.

Adeste Fidelis! Venite Adoremus! Dominum.

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

Lately, I have been focusing my devotional efforts on success and failure, being in an living out the “balanced” “Sermon in Shoes” God devoted Christian life –

In my search and study of the Scriptures, learning an praying over the idea of flesh vs. spirit, I’ve been reading through Paul’s letter to the Romans recently.

And I am stuck on one passage that I keep coming back to over and over.

I am kind of stuck on it, not because it is particularly difficult to understand.

But because it has just grabbed hold of my heart and my soul and won’t let go.

Am I “a Sermon in Shoes” living according to the Spirit?

Or am I “a Sermon in Shoes” living according to the flesh?

Is there supposed to be some kind of balance between the two mindsets?

Not to be “so heavenly minded to be no earthly good ….”

Not to be “so earthly minded to be no heavenly good ….”

Living in the Flesh or Living in the Spirit?

Romans 8:5-8 New International Version

Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.

This passage provides a test.

Am I living according to the flesh, or according to the Spirit?

In this passage the flesh refers to my own nature, who I just naturally am. 

In our natural state we all live according to the flesh.

And in that state our minds are set on what the flesh desires. 

Is this necessarily a bad thing?

Is this necessarily a good thing?

The best answer to either one is probably …. Not in and of itself.

It is just what we are. 

For some, the flesh desires things that are hurtful to self and others.

And we condemn the expression of those desires. 

For others, the flesh desires things that are helpful to self and others.

Things of beauty, wisdom, knowledge and understanding, peace and love.

We rightfully, righteously hold these in high regard and set them as examples.

But what both of these extremes, and any middle ground, hold in common, is that they are hostile to God.

They are unable to please him, and lead to death.

It is not too challenging to apply this to an icy path on the “broad road leading us to our own inevitable and eternal destruction. (Matthew 7:13-14)

We find it altogether different to apply it to a great humanitarian who dedicates his life to helping the helpless. 

But Paul is clear that if I am following the desires of my own nature I am in deep trouble – stunningly it makes no difference where those desires might lead us.

Paul contrasts this person with the one whose mind is set, not on what they want, but on what God’s Spirit wants.

That one will experience life and peace in relationship with their Creator. 

It is ironic that only in dying to self will I find true life.

Only in giving up will I discover what I was created to be.

Life in the Flesh, Life in the Spirit: Taking the Test

It is so easy to read and study this passage without actually taking the test.

I have done it for several decades.

But it is demanding an answer now.

As I walk through my day, do I do what I want, or what the Spirit wants of me?

Do I take any quantity or quality time to inquire of the Spirit what he wants?

Or do I just take my own quantity, quality time to just act on my own desires?

Am I trying to please God?

Or am I doing what I want and hoping and praying that it is pleasing to him? 

According to Paul’s teachings here, if my response is the latter, then I am not pleasing him, but I am actually using my time to be more, more hostile to him.

No matter how good my actions might be, if it is in response to my own desire rather than at the Spirit’s leading, then, guess what folks, I have fallen short.

I am afraid too much of my life is lived without regard for the Spirit’s leading.

But this passage is stuck on a continuous replay cycle in my mind and soul.

It rigorously, vigorously challenges me every single day to change the channel, listen to the Spirit rather than to my own success vs. failure nature and desires.

Will I dare to let go of the tightly held reins of my success vs. failure mindset and lifestyle, which I have continuously, purposely, tightly held for so long?

What Are The Two Lives Referring To?

Paul shifts from preaching (second-person) to teaching (third-person) so that you an I can better understand the message of this passage more clearly.

He elaborates on two types of people — those who live according to the flesh vs. those who live according to the Spirit. 

In describing these two groups of “spiritual” people, Paul establishes a key spiritual principle.

In verse 5, we notice 2 verbs laid out — “set” and “live”.

What is the implicit connection between these 2 verbs? 

Paul is saying that we live according to what we set our minds on. 

What does it mean to set?

It carries with it the idea of choosing to build upon something only after careful inspection.

It is a simple, but very important principle. 

Many of us think that we are autonomous, self-sovereign, rational human beings, but this is not true.

We are the sum of our choices, and so much of who we are is a result of what we chose yesterday.

Romans is helping us see that those who live in the Spirit have set their mind on things in the Spirit, and those who do not, have made the choice not to. 

We need to set our minds on something.

There’s no way we can choose not to set our minds on anything.

Yet, many of us have neglected this simple truth.

So, what have you set your mind on? 

What have you fixed your thoughts on?

What have you chosen to be the site of your daydreaming, imagination and fantasizing?

A simple way of identifying it, would be to think about the things that have succeeded and disappointed and failed you, encouraged you, given you hope.

After all, Romans 8:5 remind us that the way we live reflect where we have set our thoughts and minds. 

Let’s press it a bit further.

What is one implication of this verse?

If you are a “Sermon in Shoes” Christian today, it means that there was a time when you lived in the flesh and set your mind on things of the flesh, but there was a turning point to mark the change to the mind, to mark life in the Spirit.

It could be that moment when you realized the greatness of God and His love became real and evident when told to you.

It could also be that heart warming moment when before, church, Bible study, sermons and prayer were all boring and did not make sense, but then they did.

What marks the Christian and what changes in the mind of a Christian?

The Christian sees truths about his or her true state, and has a fundamental awareness of his or her inability to do what God requires.

Or, as Reverend Dr. Timothy Keller aptly describes it, we suddenly realize that

“we are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we would have ever dared ourselves to hope before.” 

The good news of what our Savior Jesus Christ did became the very wisest of good news indeed, and the truths of the gospel becomes ever more clear and truly results in transformative actions such as gratitude, forgiveness, love, etc.

Dear “Sermon in Shoes” Christian, does this begin to describe your journey?

Whether our life has been abundantly blessed with life’s successes …

Whether our life has been abundantly weighed down with life’s failures …

Do you know, Oh Christian, you’re a sermon in shoes?
Do you know, Oh Christian, you’re a sermon in shoes?
Jesus calls upon you, to spread the gospel news,
(1) So walk it, and talk it, a sermon in shoes.
(2) Live it, and give it, a sermon in shoes.
(3) Teach it, and preach it, a sermon in shoes.
(4) Know it, and show it, a sermon shoes.
(Ruth Harms Calkin)

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

Let us Pray,

Psalm 16 The Message

16 1-2 Keep me safe, O God,
    I’ve run for dear life to you.
I say to God, “Be my Lord!”
    Without you, nothing makes sense.

And these God-chosen lives all around—
    what splendid friends they make!

Don’t just go shopping for a god.
    Gods are not for sale.
I swear I’ll never treat god-names
    like brand-names.

5-6 My choice is you, God, first and only.
    And now I find I’m your choice!
You set me up with a house and yard.
    And then you made me your heir!

7-8 The wise counsel God gives when I’m awake
    is confirmed by my sleeping heart.
Day and night I’ll stick with God;
    I’ve got a good thing going and I’m not letting go.

9-10 I’m happy from the inside out,
    and from the outside in, I’m firmly formed.
You canceled my ticket to hell—
    that’s not my destination!

11 Now you’ve got my feet on the life path,
    all radiant from the shining of your face.
Ever since you took my hand,
    I’m on the right way.

Adeste Fidelis! Venite Adoremus! Dominum.

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

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We Are Not Defined by Our Failures! Begin by Letting Go of Self and Move thy Life Into Christ. 2Corinthians 13:5-9

2 Corinthians 13:5-9 The Message

5-9 Test yourselves to make sure you are solid in the faith. Don’t drift along taking everything for granted. Give yourselves regular checkups. You need firsthand evidence, not mere hearsay, that Jesus Christ is in you. Test it out. If you fail the test, do something about it. I hope the test won’t show that we have failed. But if it comes to that, we’d rather the test showed our failure than yours. We’re rooting for the truth to win out in you. We couldn’t possibly do otherwise.

We don’t just put up with our limitations; we celebrate them, and then go on to celebrate every strength, every triumph of the truth in you. We pray hard that it will all come together in your lives.

The Word of God for the Children of God.

Adeste Fidelis! Venite Adoremus! Dominum.

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

We all make mistakes. We all have failures in our lives.

Do you define yourself by your failures? For your sake I fervently PRAY not.

Our failures don’t define us, it’s how we rise after we fall that defines us.

Failing is not bad.

When we try something new there is a very good chance it won’t go as planned.

Those with the courage to try, should definitely expect, will occasionally meet, with disappointment or even apparent failure.

When things don’t go as planned, we must take the time to pray, evaluate what went wrong with God and together, try to figure out what we need to do better.

With God, If we are willing to learn from our failures, they aren’t failures at all.

Isaiah 40:27-29Amplified Bible

27 
Why, O Jacob, do you say, and declare, O Israel,
“My way is hidden from the Lord,
And the justice due me escapes the notice of my God”?
28 
Do you not know? Have you not heard?
The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth
Does not become tired or grow weary;
There is no searching of His understanding.
29 
He gives strength to the weary,
And to him who has no might He increases power.

The essential message from this passage from Isaiah is this:

The only difference between a failure and a lesson is the way we choose to look at it, the way we acknowledge the Presence and Sovereignty of God in our life.

Am I afraid of failure? Absolutely!

Are you afraid of failure? Probably – Absolutely!

Or do you an I always try to not make any mistakes? Probably – Absolutely!

Well, probably, absolutely, both mistakes and failures are a big part of our lives.

However, neither can or should be allowed or given permission to define us.

Why mistakes and failures cannot define us

1. Mistakes and Failures Should Not Be Personalized.

Both mistakes and failures are just events that naturally happen during our journey in life. Trust yourself, take risks, and make mistakes. Step out of your comfort zone and translate your failures as “God steps” leading unto success.

The way you choose to translate failure either moves you forward or holds you back. See everything as a God lesson from which you can gain something new.

2. Sometimes We All Suck in Life and That is OK.

Accept that it is inevitable, at some point, we all mess things up. We will make awful mistakes and appear less than what we wanted to. Truth is that we are all humans and nobody is perfect – we are all allowed to make mistakes and fail.

To fail and to make mistakes means you are trying to do something new and as long as you are alive, you always try to do your best.

Just pray to God because sometimes our best is not good enough, and that is OK.

3. If we Make Mistakes and we Fail it is Most Possible, With God, and through Christ, We will Eventually Make it Right or Succeed.

I used to have an Elementary School teacher who every time I would make a mistake (frequently) would tell me ‌it is ok and that the only person who makes no mistakes is the only one who will never make an effort to do something.

Yes, making mistakes and failing means that there is room available for you to grow into something better and bigger. 

It is most possible at some point, with God you will make it right and succeed.

4. You are Much More Than Your Mistakes or Your Failures.

Sometimes you have this tendency to call mistakes the things that happened that did not turn out the way you had planned them and wanted them to be.

Even if they were mistakes, accept them and do not let them define you and your value as an individual.

Sometimes those mistakes or failures exist to show you the way to something different, the way of life of our Savior Jesus, which would be a better fit for you.

5. Mistakes and Failure Can Teach You about God’s Forgiveness

Maybe the most valuable lesson we can take from our failures and mistakes is how to be gentle with ourselves, accept God’s mercy and to forgive ourselves.

We usually find it easier to forgive others than we find it to forgive ourselves.

Pray to God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit ….

Fervently …. and Without Ceasing ….

Psalm 25:5-7 The Message

Take me by the hand;
Lead me down the path of truth.
You are my Savior, aren’t you?

Mark the milestones of your mercy and love, God;
Rebuild the ancient landmarks!

Forget that I sowed wild oats;
Mark me with your sign of love.
Plan only the best for me, God!

6. Through Mistakes We Can Overcome Your Fears

People are usually afraid of making mistakes or trying to do new things.

How could we ever come to understand whether something is a good fit for us or not without ever trying, without trial and error, without success or failure?

And how could we ever become good at something without being the total, inconceivably inept and clumsy amateur – that is, really bad at it at first?

We are all afraid, but through daring choices, running headlong into mistakes, and into full throttle failures, we ‌push our lives forward and grow as persons.

Pray to God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit ….

Fervently …. and Without Ceasing ….

Psalm 27:12-14The Message

11-12 Point me down your highway, God;
    direct me along a well-lighted street;
    show my enemies whose side you’re on.
Don’t throw me to the dogs,
    those liars who are out to get me,
    filling the air with their threats.

13-14 I’m sure now I’ll see God’s goodness
    in the exuberant earth.
Stay with God!
    Take heart. Don’t quit.
I’ll say it again:
    Stay with God.

7. If We Make Mistakes We Have No Regrets

Most people, as they mature, as they grow older and presumably wiser, think back on their lives, remember things they regret and wish they were not that coward and attempted to do this crazy thing they kept on thinking about.

If they had attempted it even though it might have succeeded in some measure, not turned out as well, at least they would have taken it out of their systems.

This choice that they never made would not return to their minds as regret.

Psalm 16:7-11The Message

7-8 The wise counsel God gives when I’m awake
    is confirmed by my sleeping heart.
Day and night I’ll stick with God;
    I’ve got a good thing going and I’m not letting go.

9-10 I’m happy from the inside out,
    and from the outside in, I’m firmly formed.
You canceled my ticket to hell—
    that’s not my destination!

11 Now you’ve got my feet on the life path,
    all radiant from the shining of your face.
Ever since you took my hand,
    I’m on the right way.

Failures and mistakes are all part of our journey in life.

We all make mistakes and we will all fail some time during our lives.

None of them should be taken personally.

When we meet them, treat them as stepping stones onto our narrow road to something, someone significantly bigger – Road to Salvation in Christ Jesus.

Identify them as what they are, events that occur in order to teach us a lesson.

Often, we can become stuck in the present by our past mistakes and failures.

How can we move forward effectively, learning and growing from our mistakes, and letting them go at the same time?

Learning how to forgive ourselves starts with accepting the grace which states quite clearly that God has already forgiven you through Christ’s atoning love.

We each need to better understand a few things when it comes to seeing failure through God’s eyes:

  • We are human and will make mistakes; we all have weaknesses. Therefore, we must learn to live with our failures. Strong character is developed in accordance with how we deal with our mistakes and move on from them.
  • Remember that failure is actually important for our spiritual development. Mistakes can teach us vital lessons about what to do differently in the future, which helps us avoid repeating them!
  • It is from within our greatest weaknesses that Jesus is best able to teach and strengthen you: (2 Corinthians 12:7-10) Realize God’s Grace and Work is never limited by any of our failures. He does not reject us in our weakness but rather embraces us so that we can each receive strength to be all He intended us to be.
  • God doesn’t hold our failures and mistakes over us; he gives us limitless grace and mercy. His love totally outweighs any mistake we have made, so we can begin to forgive yourself in this knowledge. And He designed you and me to have a loving relationship with him. Thus, “failure” in God’s sight is our living outside of the way He intended us live. Our biggest mistakes would be to reject our loving Creator and Savior. As such, this kind of failure is genuinely hard to achieve for those who genuinely strive every day to keep both their eyes on Him.

Our histories and our mistakes do not even minimally define who we are.

Our maximum identity is in Christ, not in any event or words said in the past.

Letting go and moving on from failure can be achieved through the love of God, which leads to our acceptance and pursuit of the person He intended us to be.

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

Let us Pray,

Psalm 23 The Message

23 1-3 God, my shepherd!
    I don’t need a thing.
You have bedded me down in lush meadows,
    you find me quiet pools to drink from.
True to your word,
    you let me catch my breath
    and send me in the right direction.

Even when the way goes through
    Death Valley,
I’m not afraid
    when you walk at my side.
Your trusty shepherd’s crook
    makes me feel secure.

You serve me a six-course dinner
    right in front of my enemies.
You revive my drooping head;
    my cup brims with blessing.

Your beauty and love chase after me
    every day of my life.
I’m back home in the house of God
    for the rest of my life.

Adeste Fidelis! Venite Adoremus! Dominum.

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

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Are We Asking Ourselves the Hardest Questions? Broad Road to Narrow, Do We Know How to Move Past all of our “Epic” Failures? Hebrews 4:15-16

Hebrews 4:15-16Amplified Bible

15 For we do not have a High Priest who is unable to sympathize and understand our weaknesses and temptations, but One who has been tempted [knowing exactly how it feels to be human] in every respect as we are, yet without [committing any] sin. 16 Therefore let us [with privilege] approach the throne of grace [that is, the throne of God’s gracious favor] with confidence and without fear, so that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find [His amazing] grace to help in time of need [an appropriate blessing, coming just at the right moment].

The Word of God for the Children of God.

Adeste Fidelis! Venite Adoremus! Dominum.

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

“FAILURE IS NEVER AN OPTION!”

How often have we heard that line from our parents, our teachers, our coaches?

It is one of those infamous statements which serves to drive us, our competitive natures in life: “to succeed is everything, failure will never learn you anything.”

To fail is to fall short, to be perceived as weak, to break down, to fall, to not strive for “being good enough”, to not reach your purpose, to lack success.

No wonder we are so afraid of anything which minimally connects us to failure!

When it comes to failure, we must decide whose rules we are playing by.

Would you and I rather be a success in business and a failure as a parent, or vice versa or would I/we rather be successful by the world’s standards or by God’s?

Now is the time to decide what definitions of success and failure you will live by.

Hebrews 4:15-16The Message

The High Priest Who Cried Out in Pain

14-16 Now that we know what we have—Jesus, this great High Priest with ready access to God—let’s not let it slip through our fingers. We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin. So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.

Believe it or Not ….

Contrary to popular belief, counter-cultural to the maximum ….

Failure is the most important step to reaching success, but it can still feel like it’s crushing your soul.

To make failure your friend and not your enemy, you must overcome it.

Here are some strategies for moving on after a tough break….

Identify: What is Failure

Failure is defined as a lack of success, but its true definition is really up to you.

Small things can be failures.

Maybe you blew an easy task today at work, or forgot to grab something important when you left home for work in a hurry or when at the store.

We all make mistakes, and the mistakes we make that have some weight to them — big or small — the weight of them make us feel like we’ve failed.

Normally, we reserve the word failure for the bigger things.

The times when we’ve let others down, and, more importantly, ourselves.

Trying our hardest, every ounce of effort, our maximum best to do something important and then failing is when it really stings, and shakes your confidence.

Sometimes failure can leave a huge and visible scar — but it doesn’t have to.

Even our successes can be interpreted as “epic” failures ….

In the National Football League, the competition for the worst record and the right to draft the “#1” player out of the College ranks is highly competitive.

Our desire to win never really goes away despite all the epic failures and losses.

This season 2022, two teams were vying for that “#1” game changing player.

Houston Texans and the Chicago Bears.

All Houston had to do was fail to win their final game of the season – and the #1 pick of the 2023 College draft was theirs: the opportunity to change everything.

Except their competitive nature that Sunday lead to a come from behind victory.

The end result, however, was they had a 1/2 game better record than the Bears.

The end result of their hard fought success was their failure to achieve being the number one failure for the 2022 regular season – and the first 2023 draft pick!

Judging a Good Failure or Bad Success will have to wait for time to pass us by.

And how the two teams work and coach and mentor their ways through them.

Succeed or Fail, Feel What You Need to Feel … It is Okay with God!

Failure can take a hefty emotional toll, and that’s okay with God.

What’s important is getting the negative feelings you have out of your system so you can regroup and tackle what’s next.

Don’t keep how you feel trapped inside of you like a shaken up soda.

Bottling your emotions can lead to two things:

  • An emotional outburst: Eventually the pressure will build and it will be too much for you to contain. In a moment of weakness, everything you’ve kept inside could explode and set you back even further. This not only affects your mental state, but it can affect your relationships too. When you have an outburst, the people you care about often end up in the crossfire.
  • Creeping negativity: If you only loosen the cap, the negativity will slowly and persistently enter your mind. You need to openly confront the mistakes you made and give yourself the chance to feel it all. Otherwise, anxiety will start to linger in the back of your mind and the soft hiss of failure will continue. TBT, Constant anxiety is incredibly unhealthy and can lead to even more problems.

So, how do you let it all out?

There are a few ways to get the bad,

and — most importantly — retain the knowledge you gained:

  • Set aside some time: It’s ok to feel like you’ve hit rock bottom. Completely ignoring what happened isn’t helpful, so set aside a specific amount of time to wallow as much as you want. Take some time to be angry, upset and frustrated so you can get it all out. If it’s something small, all you may need is an hour to pace around or cry in a pillow. For something larger, give yourself a full 24 hours to let it all out and wake up the next day with a clean slate. If you need more than a day, that’s OK, but make sure it’s an amount of time set by you and that you stick to it. You get that time to be as mopey as you want, but when it’s over, move on.
  • Talk about it: Talk to somebody you know about how you’re feeling. It’s well known that just talking about something can make you feel better. Take a load off and express yourself. Chances are whoever you talk to will try to make you feel better, but even if they do not, saying and processing how you feel out loud puts that information out somewhere besides taking up residence in your brain.
  • Don’t let it become a part of your identity: Failure is something that happens, not something you are. Just because you haven’t found a successful way to do something doesn’t mean you are a failure at that thing. Be careful not to blur the lines between making mistakes and being that someone who only makes mistakes. Our actions may define us, but our failures do not. The actions you take to move past failure and reach success will define you in the end.

Failure, left unaddressed can leave an open wound and it’s unwise to ignore it.

Without acknowledging it, wounds will continue to hurt, take longer to heal.

Look at the Failure of Others

Don’t think for a second that you’re the only person on the planet to nose dive.

Often we look at other’s success, assume they have everything together when the reality is that they assuredly encounter failure just as much as anyone else.

Some are better at hiding it than others, but failure is universal.

Before you start bashing yourself for not hitting the mark, explore the world of failure and see how vast it truly is.

What successful person do you look up to?

Take a look at the failures they have encountered in their lives and work.

Read biographies, blogs, and listen to witness talks, testimonies and speeches.

Successful people talk about failure just as much as they talk about success, and it is because they respect how important it is to embrace it.

Even the greatest people in our world have fallen, and fallen hard at one point or another –

Ask yourself, “What if these people had let their failure shut them down?”

  1. Basketball Hall of Famer, Michael Jordan, was cut from his high school team.
  2. Walt Disney was fired from his job at a newspaper early in his career–they said he lacked imagination.
  3. Steven Spielberg was rejected from film school three times.
  4. John Grisham’s first book, “A Time to Kill”, was rejected twenty-eight times.
  5. Albert Einstein had the label “mentally slow” put on his permanent school record.
  6. Henry Ford’s first two automobile companies failed.
  7. Oprah Winfrey was fired from an early job as a television news anchor.
  8. Jerry Seinfeld was booed off stage in his first stand-up comedy appearance.
  9. Sir James Dyson suffered through 5,126 failed prototypes before he landed on the first working Dyson vacuum.
  10. Elvis Presley was fired from the Grand Ole Opry and was told to go back to truck driving.
  11. Colonel Harland Sanders of KFC fame was rejected over 1000 times before finding a franchise partner.

You will Fail, I will Fail and Your friends and family will fail too.

We will all inevitably fail at something ….

Think about failures they have encountered, remember that you are not alone.

It is never to point and laugh, but to reveal to yourself that failure is ok.

You are human, I am human …. just like everybody else.

Feel better?

You should.

We have all been there.

It’s all in our frame of reference and determination to keep moving forward, to move off of the broad road to destruction to the narrow road leading to Life that is lived in the presence of God, the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

It is choosing to redefine our frame of reference which is always in our control.

SPEAKING OF GOD THE FATHER, SON AND HOLY SPIRIT ….

Changing our Frame of Reference, our Conceptualizations about failure ….

According to today’s devotional Bible text in Hebrews chapter 4:15-16, there is Someone who does understand – infinitely more than we do: Our Savior Jesus.

He came to earth to live our lives from beginning to end.

Came down, Born as a human being who dealt with all kinds of struggles and challenges just as we do in life, he identified with us—and much more, because he also gave his life so that we can have new life and be reconciled with God.

As Hebrews assures us, we have a high priest who can feel what we feel.

As The Message puts it,

“We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin.”

When no one else understands or knows how we feel, the Lord Jesus knows.

If you feel alone and misunderstood, isolated by failure, by your failures, come and talk to him – He 100% knows how you feel, what you have gone through.

Have I mentioned that failure is a good thing?

Re-Read and ponder carefully the Beatitudes …. Matthew 5:1-16 (Amplified)

Pay careful attention and consideration to what is said between the [_____]

The Sermon on the Mount; The Beatitudes

When Jesus saw the crowds, He went up on the mountain; and when He was seated, His [a]disciples came to Him. Then He began to teach them, saying,

“Blessed [spiritually prosperous, happy, to be admired] are the poor in spirit [those devoid of spiritual arrogance, those who regard themselves as insignificant], for theirs is the kingdom of heaven [both now and forever].

“Blessed [forgiven, refreshed by God’s grace] are those who mourn [over their sins and repent], for they will be comforted [when the burden of sin is lifted].

“Blessed [inwardly peaceful, spiritually secure, worthy of respect] are the [b] gentle [the kind-hearted, the sweet-spirited, the self-controlled], for they will inherit the earth.

“Blessed [joyful, nourished by God’s goodness] are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness [those who actively seek right standing with God], for they will be [completely] satisfied.

“Blessed [content, sheltered by God’s promises] are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.

“Blessed [anticipating God’s presence, spiritually mature] are the pure in heart [those with integrity, moral courage, and godly character], for they will see God.

“Blessed [spiritually calm with life-joy in God’s favor] are the makers and maintainers of peace, for they will [express His character and] be called the sons of God.

10 “Blessed [comforted by inner peace and God’s love] are those who are persecuted for [c]doing that which is morally right, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven [both now and forever].

11 “Blessed [morally courageous and spiritually alive with life-joy in God’s goodness] are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil things against you because of [your association with] Me. 12 Be glad and exceedingly joyful, for your reward in heaven is great [absolutely inexhaustible]; for in this same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Disciples and the World

13 “You are the [d]salt of the earth; but if the salt has [e]lost its taste (purpose), how can it be made salty? It is no longer good for anything, but to be thrown out and walked on by people [when the walkways are wet and slippery].

14 “You are the light of [Christ to] the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; 15 nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good deeds and moral excellence, and [recognize and honor and] glorify your Father who is in heaven.

It can be hard to reframe your thinking to that “Beatitude way”, but changing your definition and worldly vs. heavenly perception of failure can help us cope.

Failure is God’s Gift to us, a gifted chance of learning and growing opportunity, spiritual immaturity to spiritual maturity in God, that is necessary for growth.

John 21:15-19The Message

Do You Love Me?

15 After breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?”

“Yes, Master, you know I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”

16 He then asked a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?”

“Yes, Master, you know I love you.”

Jesus said, “Shepherd my sheep.”

17-19 Then he said it a third time: “Simon, son of John, do you love me?”

Peter was upset that he asked for the third time, “Do you love me?” so he answered, “Master, you know everything there is to know. You’ve got to know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. I’m telling you the very truth now: When you were young you dressed yourself and went wherever you wished, but when you get old you’ll have to stretch out your hands while someone else dresses you and takes you where you don’t want to go.” He said this to hint at the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. And then he commanded, “Follow me.”

Peter knew he had failed Jesus.

No one had to tell him.

But Jesus used that failure three times to help Peter focus on Him and grow.

How can Jesus use failure for our spiritual growth?

Failure is not fatal in the eyes of Jesus.

Failure teaches us that we need a Savior.

Peter heard the word “love” from the lips of Jesus again, again and again.

Jesus was not testing him but reaffirming his love for Peter by asking him to see his life lived out far beyond the depths of his failures, reaffirm his love for Jesus.

Peter also learned that Jesus had not given up on him.

Jesus came directly to him and called him to lead again.

Jesus gifted Peter a singularly unique opportunity to lead by dying to himself –

Jesus even predicted in his death, Peter would quite successfully glorify God.

Peter had wandered, so Jesus had to get him back on track.

As Lord and Savior, failures or successes, He calls the shots in our lives.

Failure can bring us back to the Lord, who by His grace and mercy finds us “out fishing naked with the boys” and gives us another opportunity to follow him.

Every mistake is a learning opportunity, and after we have moved past our emotions, it’s important to revisit your mistakes with a new perspective.

Look at what we did that went wrong, but also look at what we did that was right, and what we can do better next time – failure is rarely so black and white.

Come to him boldly, with confidence, and tell him exactly how you feel. And when you do, you will “receive mercy and find grace” in your time of need.

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

Let us Pray,

Psalm 16The Message

16 1-2 Keep me safe, O God,
    I’ve run for dear life to you.
I say to God, “Be my Lord!”
    Without you, nothing makes sense.

And these God-chosen lives all around—
    what splendid friends they make!

Don’t just go shopping for a god.
    Gods are not for sale.
I swear I’ll never treat god-names
    like brand-names.

5-6 My choice is you, God, first and only.
    And now I find I’m your choice!
You set me up with a house and yard.
    And then you made me your heir!

7-8 The wise counsel God gives when I’m awake
    is confirmed by my sleeping heart.
Day and night I’ll stick with God;
    I’ve got a good thing going and I’m not letting go.

9-10 I’m happy from the inside out,
    and from the outside in, I’m firmly formed.
You canceled my ticket to hell—
    that’s not my destination!

11 Now you’ve got my feet on the life path,
    all radiant from the shining of your face.
Ever since you took my hand,
    I’m on the right way.

Adeste Fidelis! Venite Adoremus! Dominum.

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

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Daring to ask ourselves the Question: Take the Broad Road or Narrow Road, – Is Salvation Easy? Matthew 7:13-14

Matthew 7:13-14The Message

Being and Doing

13-14 “Don’t look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don’t fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. The way to life—to God!—is vigorous and requires total attention.

The Word of God for the Children of God

Adeste Fidelis! Venite Adoremus! Dominum.

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

The people who have gathered around him are so many, hundreds, perhaps by now, as the Sermon on the Mount has continued for an extended period of time, and as Rabbi Jesus continues to sit and speak and teach even into the thousands.

However many people have gathered around that Mount, the people remain very interested in what this man, Jesus is saying – it is radically different!

It is a new teaching they have not heard before from their Temple leaders.

This blessing is pronounced upon their lives and then another and another.

Each one seemingly more contrary and more counter – Temple traditions.

Each one is more thought provoking than the previous one, taking all these listeners on a journey from traditional thought into one of Kingdom thought.

Rabbi Jesus is teaching this gathering the obvious, that there is a “traditional way”, a more or less “relatively easy, acceptable way” of moving through life.

Now, Rabbi is introducing a new thought process he wants each of us to begin considering, to begin devoting some time to discussion and debate amongst themselves – but not just amongst themselves – but their families, neighbors.

Jesus lays out another clear “a-traditional” choice that each of us can make.

It is in no way a covenant command or “a do right it now or else” demand.

But a “new” teaching meant to encourage listeners to a new pattern of thought.

Question: What effects, if any, did this “new” teaching have upon the thoughts, actions upon those 1st century listeners, upon their choices of faith, hope, love?

The Gospels are not too specific in this regard other than to repeatedly mention that this Rabbi consistently had large followings and gatherings everywhere he walked, that hundreds and even thousands came when he had entered a village.

When he had left those villages, the people would “move heaven and earth” to follow him through storms and over waves an waters which threatened to end their very lives, wherever he went, they did, for more of his radically teachings.

Radically different, the thought there is a wide, easy road leads to destruction. And there is a decisively harder, narrower road of discipleship leading unto life.

It can be easy to assume that the broad road includes only people who do not believe in God, or maybe people of some other faith who do not “know” Jesus.

So, today, we might ­assume that Jesus is drawing a contrast between people in the church and those who, for some reason, are now completely outside of it.

But in light of Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount, there’s another way to think about this passage.

Jesus has been teaching his listeners that they need to move from outward religion and ritual into a true relationship with God, our need to go beyond merely “behaving” ourselves to ­actually walking in union with the Father.

So, today, as we read this passage again, as we refresh ourselves with truth, we seek a new anointing of wisdom greater than our own, we need to realize Rabbi Jesus is describing, for those who ARE listening, and DOING. not only a choice between choice or no choice, faith or no faith, hope no hope, love and no love.

There is also a choice to be made between empty, surface-level religion and genuine hardcore “walk the walk, talk the talk, living the life” discipleship.

The call of this passage is to move “beyond” rituals or cultural faith and to truly enter a full-life, full throated relationship with God, a connection marked by our maximum dependence and maximum an utter submission unto his will.

IS THE CHOICE OF SALVATION AN EASY CHOICE?

Matthew 7:13-14Easy-to-Read Version

The Way to Heaven and the Way to Hell

13 “You can enter true life only through the narrow gate. The gate to hell is very wide, and there is plenty of room on the road that leads there. Many people go that way. 14 But the gate that opens the way to true life is narrow. And the road that leads there is hard to follow. Only a few people find it.

Here is the appeal to which Jesus has been moving through the whole sermon.

He gives those who had gathered that day, those who were listening, the call to choose, decide now about becoming a citizen of God’s kingdom and inheriting eternal life, or remaining a citizen of this fallen world and receiving damnation.

The way to life is on God’s terms alone; the way to destruction is on any terms a person wants to contrive, because every way but God’s leads unto the same fate.

Rabbi Jesus has been teaching the people to begin thinking of, about, God’s own standards throughout the sermon, standards that are holy and perfect and that are a-traditional, diametrically opposed to the self-righteous, self-sufficient, hypocritical standards of man-typified by those of the scribes and Pharisees.

He introduces to them the very real possibility of what God’s kingdom is like and having them compare, contrast, what its people are like-and are not like.

Now, here, Rabbi Jesus presents the choice of entering the kingdom or not.

Rabbi Jesus focuses upon the inevitable decision every person must make, the crossroads where he must decide on the gate he will enter, the way he will go.

Our lives are filled with “brutally” complicated internet driven decisions-what to wear, colors in vogue, what to eat, where to go, what to do, what to say, what not to say, what to buy, whom to marry, what career to follow, and on and on.

Many so called- and allegedly complicated decisions are actually “trivial and insignificant,” and some are beyond critically essential and life-changing.

The most critical of all is our decision about Jesus Christ and His kingdom.

That is the ultimate choice that determines our eternal destiny.

It is that decision that Rabbi Jesus introduces here and calls upon us to make.

In perfect harmony with His absolute sovereignty, God has always allowed men to choose Him or not, to “follow Him or walk away” and He has always pleaded with them to decide for Him or face the consequences of a choice against Him.

Since mankind has consistently turned their backs on Him from the Fall, God has bent every effort, spared no cost in wooing His creatures back to Himself.

He has provided and shown the way, leaving nothing to man but the choice. God made His choice by providing the way of redemption.

The choice is now and forever more present before the entirety of mankind.

While Israel was in the wilderness the Lord instructed Moses to tell the people,

“I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants, by loving the Lord your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him” (Deuteronomy 30:19–20).

After Israel came into the Promised Land, at the end of his long life, Joshua confronted the people again with a choice: of continuing to serve the Egyptian and the Canaanite gods they had adopted or of turning to the Lord who had delivered them from Egypt and given them the land promised to Abraham.

“Choose for yourselves this today whom you will serve ….” Joshua pleaded (Joshua 24:13–15).

On Mount Carmel the prophet Elijah asked the people of Israel,

“How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him” (1 Kings 18:21).

The Lord commanded Jeremiah to set the choice again before His people:

“Thus says the Lord, ‘Behold, I set before you the way of life and the way of death’ ” (Jeremiah 21:8).

In John 6:66–69, Jesus called for a choice from all of the people who gathered:

“As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew, and were not walking with Him anymore. Jesus said therefore to the twelve, ‘You do not want to go away also, do you?’ Simon Peter answered Him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. And we have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.’ ”

That is the choice to compare and contrast call God has been making to men since they turned away from Him, and it is the supreme appeal of His Word.

In his poem The Ways, late British poet, hymnwriter John Oxenham wrote,   

To every man there openeth
    A Way, and Ways, and a Way,
    And the High Soul climbs the High Way,
    And the Low Soul gropes the Low,
    And in between, on the misty fiats,
    The rest drift to and fro.
    But to every man there openeth
    A High Way and a Low,
    And every man decideth
    The Way his soul shall go.

He also writes the hymn “In Christ There is No East or West.” (1908)

1 In Christ there is no east or west,
in him no south or north,
but one great fellowship of love
throughout the whole wide earth.

2 In Christ shall true hearts ev’rywhere
their high communion find.
His service is the golden cord
close binding humankind.

3 Join hands, then, people of the faith,
whate’er your race may be.
All children of the living God
are surely kin to me.

4 In Christ now meet both east and west,
in him meet south and north.
All Christly souls are joined as one
throughout the whole wide earth.

The not so simple process of making the compare and contrast, world versus God choice we are asked by Rabbi Jesus to make is complicated by being simply somewhere in between the poem and the hymn, our souls and His eternal life.

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

Let us Pray,

Psalm 16The Message

16 1-2 Keep me safe, O God,
    I’ve run for dear life to you.
I say to God, “Be my Lord!”
    Without you, nothing makes sense.

And these God-chosen lives all around—
    what splendid friends they make!

Don’t just go shopping for a god.
    Gods are not for sale.
I swear I’ll never treat god-names
    like brand-names.

5-6 My choice is you, God, first and only.
    And now I find I’m your choice!
You set me up with a house and yard.
    And then you made me your heir!

7-8 The wise counsel God gives when I’m awake
    is confirmed by my sleeping heart.
Day and night I’ll stick with God;
    I’ve got a good thing going and I’m not letting go.

9-10 I’m happy from the inside out,
    and from the outside in, I’m firmly formed.
You canceled my ticket to hell—
    that’s not my destination!

11 Now you’ve got my feet on the life path,
    all radiant from the shining of your face.
Ever since you took my hand,
    I’m on the right way.

Adeste Fidelis! Venite Adoremus! Dominum.

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

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Asking Ourselves the Easy and Hard Questions About Walking Upon the Broad or Straight and Narrow Paths. Matthew 7:13-14

Matthew 7:13-14The Message

Being and Doing

13-14 “Don’t look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don’t fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. The way to life—to God!—is vigorous and requires total attention.

The Word of God for the Children of God.

Adeste Fidelis! Venite Adoremus! Dominum

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

When given the chance, I will argue to no end that much of life’s success boils down to one simple maxim: do the real thing and stop doing fake alternatives.

DOING THE “REAL THINGS” NOT THE “FAKE ALTERNATIVES”

Knowing the “differences” always begins by our daring to ask ourselves:

“How would I do this, if doing it well and good were all that mattered?”

“How would I do this, if convenience made all the difference in doing it well?”

“How would I do this, if I had all the time in the world to draft the best plan?”

“How would I do this, if I had a matter of a few hours to draft the best plan?”

“How would I do this, if this situation was life or death and I need a plan now?”

Do I still do the absolute best that I can or do I start looking for “shortcuts”?

Do I throw all caution into the tornadic whirlwinds of inconceivable change?

The Easy Way or The Hard Way?

The High Road or the Low Road?

The Paved Road over the Mountains or the Rained out, Rutted out Dirt Path?

Which will get me to the place I want to be? I need to be? – with the least risk?

How desirous, am I to going all out to get there, risking life, limb and liberty?

Which will get me to the one single place which Jehovah God requires me to be?

My asking each of us these poignant questions this soon in the New Year ….

Now, in answering them, you might object: “You don’t have enough time. You have two jobs, kids and responsibilities – Doing it well sounds too daunting.”

This is okay.

The point of this thought experiment is not to deny that obstacles to living into the Christian life under the all watchful eyes and presence of God do fully exist.

Rather it is an effort to open your eyes, in this moment, to begin thinking about how connected to God or distracted from God, to stop and consider the road you are on, the road you need to be on, the road which Jehovah God requires of you.

Rather, it’s to start with the best plan and make accommodations as needed.

The “Christian life” never remains an easy one.

The “Christian life” is never going to stop happening.

Sometimes, our “Christian life” is absolutely going to spiral out of our control.

Apathy and Complacency become a threat, what results is usually much closer to not the ideal than if you simply start with something that feels easy enough.

The Good News is this:

JEHOVAH GOD IS ALWAYS IN CONTROL!

As we seek out our God, as we meditate daily (do we meditate daily?) about our immersing ourselves in our life journey with Jesus, the Way, I so fervently pray that we find that Rabbi Jesus offers to each of us lots of helpful guidelines for us.

Our Scripture for today from Matthew 7:13-14, comes at the end of his “Sermon on the Mount,” which is like a guidebook for everyday living in God’s kingdom.

Sometimes this style of living is called “the Christian counter-culture.”

That’s because the God-honoring lifestyle of following Jesus often goes against popular opinion – In other words, reality check – we take the road less traveled.

Taking the narrow road doesn’t mean we are narrow-minded or we just prefer to go against what “everyone else is doing.”

It means, simply, we do what we do because God calls us to do what is right.

Jesus indicates that many people want to follow an “anything goes” lifestyle.

But in that kind of world people tend to be selfish, uninhibited, putting their own desires ahead of everything else, and lots of other people will get hurt.

Eventually that kind of life leads to self-destruction, so, in the end, it hurts the selfish individual too.

How many lives, marriages, families, communities, and societies have been harmed, even destroyed because people have insisted on going their own way?

Rabbi Jesus calls us to choose which way we will walk

…..“the seldom taken high risk, straight and narrow gate … that leads to life.”

….”the easiest path with least amount of risk and the least level of resistance” which will inevitably lead us down the pathway to our inevitable destruction.

In John 10:7 he calls himself “the gate.”

He alone opens the way to life—now and for eternity!

“Outside” the Presence of Jehovah God ….

FIRST:

Ask yourself the easy, easier and the easiest questions.

Ask yourself the hard, harder and hardest questions.

THEN ULTIMATELY – IN THE PRESENCE OF JEHOVAH GOD ….

Ask yourself the “easy, easier and the easiest” questions.

Ask yourself the hard, harder and hardest” questions.

Now contemplate ….

Choose this day where your heart and soul genuinely rest ….

Self …. Now you’ve got my feet on the life path,
    all radiant from the shining of your face.
Ever since you took my hand,
    I’m on the right way.

Jehovah God …. Now you’ve got my feet on the life path,
    all radiant from the shining of your face.
Ever since you took my hand,
    I’m on the right way.

WALK ON THE PATH THAT SERVES YOU BEST!

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

Let us Pray,

Most Merciful God, You are invisible to us, Your salvation is opaque to us, and Your grace is an enduring mystery. Who is it who can actually plumb the depths of Your wonders? Who has seen Your face and yet lived? Lord, let me comprehend You. Help me to understand the astonishing depths of Your love and grace. Forgive us, Lord, for wanting to go our own “easy, easier, an easiest” way. Have your way with us; mold us and remake us, guiding us to do what is right in all we do. Help me to continue to grow up into this infinite affection, that I may walk upon Your pathway to life, that I may serve you and your neighbors more, and become “more” pleasing to You. Amen.

Adeste Fidelis! Venite Adoremus! Dominum

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

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The Divine Order of Things: Seeking the Lord Who Is our God: Walking, Living, Upon the Straight and the Narrow Path. Matthew 7:13-14

Matthew 7:13-14 Holman Christian Standard Bible

Entering the Kingdom

13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the road is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who go through it. 14 How narrow is the gate and difficult the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

The Word of God for the Children of God.

Adeste Fidelis! Venite Adoremus! Dominum

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

To a newspaper inquiry asking what is wrong with the world, the writer and philosopher and Christian Apologist and Literary Critic, G. K. Chesterton sent back the shortest letter the editor had ever received:

Dear Sir, Regarding your article “What’s wrong with the world?”—I am. Yours truly, G. K. Chesterton

This demonstrates a humility that is lacking in most people.

Frankly, most of us would much rather note to the utmost detail someone else’s shortcomings rather than their own.

However, it is worth a minute or two of our attention to note the first step to transformation is for us to discover our own faults and face up to our sins.

Rather than denying our failures and getting too defensive about the foolish choices we’ve made, we must admit we have wandered from God’s pathway.

The road to God is narrow.

The way of heaven is straight. 

I have learned this from reading, studying and praying over and through the Word of God and from personal experience, as well as from divine revelations. 

It is literally a straight and narrow path.

It is straighter, narrower, and more difficult than most Christians realize.

Let’s look at what the Scriptures say about this topic.

Straight is Jehovah God’s Divine Order

As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet: “A voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him. Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low. The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth.'” (Luke 3:4-5)

“They have left the straight way and wandered off to follow the way of Balaam son of Bezer, who loved the wages of wickedness.” (2 Peter 2:15)

“Who have left the straight paths to walk in dark ways,” (Proverbs 2:13)

“I instruct you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths.” (Proverbs 4:11).

“He led them by a straight way to a city where they could settle.” (Psalm 107:7).

“In all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:6).

“Whoever has understanding keeps a straight course.” (Proverbs 15:21b).

“Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.” (Proverbs 4:27; cf., Joshua 1:7).

The apostle Paul said the ways of the Lord are straight (Acts 13:10).

The Scripture says, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Also see the following Scriptures in the NASB version: Deuteronomy 32:5; Psalm 5:8. Psalm 18:26; 125:5; Proverbs. 2:15; 3:5-6; 8:9; 17:20; 21:8; 28:6, 18; Isaiah 40:3, 59:8; Ecclesiastes 7:13, Jeremiah 31:9, Ezekiel 1:9,12; 10:22; 46:9; Philippians 2:15.

Narrow is Jehovah God’s Divine Order

Rabbi Jesus said, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But  small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14).

He said this at the end of His sermon on the mount, which summarizes the content of that sermon recorded in Matthew 5-7.

In that sermon, He taught that something you say can put you in danger of the fire of hell (Matthew 5:22).

The sin of adultery can be committed in your heart without even having physical contact with the other person (Matthew 5:28).

He taught the need for radical obedience to God at all costs (Matthew 5:29-30).

Indeed, it is not only our outward actions that must be perfect, but also our thoughts, motives, and words (Matthew 5:48).

As much as possible for any person, self must be denied, the body kept under subjection, corruptions put to death; temptations must be resisted on a daily basis; duties must be carried out that are against our natural tendencies.

We must wrestle, with ourselves, against cultural and worldly ways which morally and ethically distract us from God, we must watch in everything, and walk with care and prudence, wary of that which would endanger our souls.

We must change and transform our attitudes and perceptions of how life works to pass through our many trials and tribulations (John 16:33; 1 Peter 4:12-19).

Radically new attitudes, thoughts and perceptions and new ways of addressing how we approach living life in the presence of God come to the forefront of life.

Fruits of the Holy Spirit

22 For we know that the whole creation has been moaning together as in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only this, but we too, who have the first fruits of the Spirit [a joyful indication of the blessings to come], even we groan inwardly, as we wait eagerly for [the sign of] our adoption as sons—the redemption and transformation of our body [at the resurrection]. 24 For in this hope we were saved [by faith]. But hope [the object of] which is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he already sees? (Romans 8:22-24 Amplified)

16 But I say, walk habitually in the [Holy] Spirit [seek Him and be responsive to His guidance], and then you will certainly not carry out the desire of the [a] sinful nature [which responds impulsively without regard for God and His precepts]. 17 For the sinful nature has its desire which is opposed to the Spirit, and the [desire of the] Spirit opposes the [b]sinful nature; for these [two, the sinful nature and the Spirit] are in direct opposition to each other [continually in conflict], so that you [as believers] do not [always] do whatever [good things] you want to do. 18 But if you are guided and led by the Spirit, you are not subject to the Law. 19 Now the practices of the  [c] sinful nature are clearly evident: they are sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality (total irresponsibility, lack of self-control), 20 [d]idolatry, [e]sorcery, hostility, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions [that promote heresies], 21 envy, drunkenness, riotous behavior, and other things like these. I warn you beforehand, just as I did previously, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit [the result of His presence within us] is love [unselfish concern for others], joy, [inner] peace, patience [not the ability to wait, but how we act while waiting], kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23  gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the [f]sinful nature together with its passions and appetites. (Galatians 5:16-24 Amplified)

We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God (Acts 14:22).

We must learn and practice and weave God into our life, discipline ourselves to more fully rely upon God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.

This is definitely not the way that the majority of the “self reliant” people go.

Most people go through the wide gate and take the broad road that leads to destruction.

But only a few seek, find, the small gate and the narrow road that leads to life.

All too many are going to their destruction, but only a few are going to heaven.

He also said, “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to.” (Lk 13:24).

If many try and are unable to enter through this narrow door, then it must be very narrow.

It’s difficult to find and difficult to get through, so every effort must be made to do so.

It’s hard but not impossible by God’s grace if we strive.

We will not be able to enter if you are complacent or half-hearted, because there are many Sins that will keep you and me from Heaven.

The devil has set many traps for you to try and capture you into hell.

We must avoid all the side roads.

It’s easy to be lured away from the straight path by the ways of seductive materialism, pride, and sensual satisfaction.

To avoid these and more, we have to name sin for what it is and not allow its evil influence to sidetrack us.

A relatively recent hymn based on Psalm 23 offers divine encouragement:

THE LORD MY SHEPHERD RULES MY LIFE Christopher Idle Hymn Text Words © 1977 The Jubilate Group (admin. Hope Publishing Company)

1 The Lord my shepherd rules my life
and gives me all I need;
he leads me by refreshing streams,
in pastures green I feed.
2 The Lord revives my failing strength,
he makes my joy complete;
and in right paths, for his name's sake,
he guides my faltering feet.

How Jehovah God Brings it All Together For Our Sakes

Alive, we are constantly and continuously staring at an upcoming crossroads.

Alive, we are constantly and continuously confronted by “forks” in our paths.

The Scriptures clearly teach that in everything the straight way is God’s way.

Indeed, the way to heaven is both straight and narrow. 

In fact, it is more so than even either you and I actually think it is.

But even one second, one minute, hour in heaven will make it all worthwhile.

Therefore, we must study and pray and strive to enter the Kingdom of God on the way of righteousness, holiness, and truth.

It’s long past the divinely allowable time we cease from standing in the broad and crooked path of sinners, and going along with the crowd.

It’s high time we consecrate ourselves to our Savior Jesus, and follow Him with pure and simple devotion (2 Corinthians 11:3). 

Continuously Seek Him earnestly (Psalm 63:1), stay close to Him (Psalm 63:8).

Let neither our Hearts nor our Souls be Troubled this day nor any other day;

Cling to God! All you His people, let’s Pray for the Ancient Paths once again.

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

Let us Pray …. (Psalm 40 the Message)

40 1-3 I waited and waited and waited for God.
    At last he looked; finally he listened.
He lifted me out of the ditch,
    pulled me from deep mud.
He stood me up on a solid rock
    to make sure I wouldn’t slip.
He taught me how to sing the latest God-song,
    a praise-song to our God.
More and more people are seeing this:
    they enter the mystery,
    abandoning themselves to God.

4-5 Blessed are you who give yourselves over to God,
    turn your backs on the world’s “sure thing,”
    ignore what the world worships;
The world’s a huge stockpile
    of God-wonders and God-thoughts.
Nothing and no one
    compares to you!
I start talking about you, telling what I know,
    and quickly run out of words.
Neither numbers nor words
    account for you.

Doing something for you, bringing something to you—
    that’s not what you’re after.
Being religious, acting pious—
    that’s not what you’re asking for.
You’ve opened my ears
    so I can listen.

7-8 So I answered, “I’m coming.
    I read in your letter what you wrote about me,
And I’m coming to the party
    you’re throwing for me.”
That’s when God’s Word entered my life,
    became part of my very being.

9-10 I’ve preached you to the whole congregation,
    I’ve kept back nothing, God—you know that.
I didn’t keep the news of your ways
    a secret, didn’t keep it to myself.
I told it all, how dependable you are, how thorough.
    I didn’t hold back pieces of love and truth
For myself alone. I told it all,
    let the congregation know the whole story.

11-12 Now God, don’t hold out on me,
    don’t hold back your passion.
Your love and truth
    are all that keeps me together.
When troubles ganged up on me,
    a mob of sins past counting,
I was so swamped by guilt
    I couldn’t see my way clear.
More guilt in my heart than hair on my head,
    so heavy the guilt that my heart gave out.

13-15 Soften up, God, and intervene;
    hurry and get me some help,
So those who are trying to kidnap my soul
    will be embarrassed and lose face,
So anyone who gets a kick out of making me miserable
    will be heckled and disgraced,
So those who pray for my ruin
    will be booed and jeered without mercy.

16-17 But all who are hunting for you—
    oh, let them sing and be happy.
Let those who know what you’re all about
    tell the world you’re great and not quitting.
And me? I’m a mess. I’m nothing and have nothing:
    make something of me.
You can do it; you’ve got what it takes—
    but God, don’t put it off.

Adeste Fidelis! Venite Adoremus! Dominum

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

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Being A Sermon in Shoes: Living Out Our Lives Walking, Wearing the Sandals of our Rabbi Jesus: Walking by Faith Upon His Straight, and Narrow Path. Matthew 7:13-14

Matthew 7:13-14New King James Version

The Narrow Way

13 “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. 14 [a]Because narrow is the gate and [b]difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.

The Word of God for the Children of God.

Adeste Fidelis! Venite Adoremus! Dominum.

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

Every child of God walks by “faith,” each and every step that we take reveals to God’s neighborhood, to all God’s neighbors, the visible measure of our “faith.”

Our Christianity is our most visible part and we must have the willingness to hear, a doubtless heart to believe, godly sorrow to repent, be unashamed to confess, the obedience to be baptized, the moral strength to endure till the end.

When we are willing to take up our cross and follow after Christ, we are taking the right steps on the straight and narrow path that leads to life everlasting.

At one time or another, I can practically guarantee that every Christian has heard another person tell them – (truth be told – this was my favorite line.)

“I do not need God, I do not need Jesus, I do not need church, I don’t really need anyone’s religion; I just try to be that good person and live by the Golden Rule.”

It’s not uncommon to hear people talk like this, usually they are trying to say “not interested” “go away” minimize God’s demand for how we should “live.”

As long as our visible “lifestyle” communicates to everyone around us, that we innately treat others as we want to be treated, God should accept us—right?

And usually this is enough to dissuade us from furthering the conversation.

We may never even start that conversation because we have assured ourselves beforehand that that is exactly the “automatic” response we will each receive.

The Question then becomes, If our Rabbi Jesus were to turn around in the exact moment we had that thought, looked us straight and narrowly into our eyes,

What would those soul piercing eyes immediately, not so subtly communicate?

Do you know, Oh Christian, you’re a sermon in shoes?
Do you know, Oh Christian, you’re a sermon in shoes?
Jesus calls upon you, to spread the gospel news,
(1) So walk it, and talk it, a sermon in shoes.
(2) Live it, and give it, a sermon in shoes.
(3) Teach it, and preach it, a sermon in shoes.
(4) Know it, and show it, a sermon in shoes.
(Ruth Harms Calkin)

Rabbi Jesus most likely wore very simple sandals ….

So, without Rabbi Jesus ever using any words, can we hear his eyes tell us ….

“Do you know, Oh Christian, I am a sermon in very simple sandals ….?”

“Do you know, Oh Christian, I am a sermon in very simple sandals ….?”

“I am calling upon you, to spread the gospel news ….

“(1) So I walk it, and talk it, a sermon in very simple sandals ….”

“(2) So I live it an give it, a sermon in very simple sandals ….”

“(3) So I teach it, and preach it, a sermon in very simple sandals ….”

“(4) Because I know it, therefore I show it, a sermon in very simple sandals ….”

Matthew 7:13-14 The Message

Being and Doing

13-14 “Don’t look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don’t fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. The way to life—to God!—is vigorous and requires total attention.

Have we ever stopped to consider how demanding Jesus’ words truly are?

How challenging is it to meet the needs of others with the same creativity, the same energy, the spontaneity, the same devotion that we want from others?

No wonder the man Rabbi Jesus describes this way of life as narrow and small.

The man Rabbi Jesus poignantly points out only a few are walking on this road.

When we are walking down any paved or gravel or well trod path through the middle of a forest – we will probably see signs everywhere along the way which sternly tell us to “stay on the path, protect our forests and protect our wildlife.”

We definitely want to see the forest through the trees so we walk the pathway which is before us, prepared by somebody before us that we might enjoy it all.

We want to keep the rest of the forest pristine for those who are coming after us, that they too may enjoy the enormous beauty God has placed before them.

We do not want to be the one person who ruins someone else’s experience.

We make every effort we can to stay on the pathway someone else prepared.

As tempting as it is to wander through forest glades, through flowing streams.

Christianity is like that …. staying on the moral and ethical path Jesus gave us by his giving up quite literally everything of “value” to him (Philippians 2:5-11).

Romans 5:6-8The Message

6-8 Christ arrives right on time to make this happen. He didn’t, and doesn’t, wait for us to get ready. He presented himself for this sacrificial death when we were far too weak and rebellious to do anything to get ourselves ready. And even if we hadn’t been so weak, we wouldn’t have known what to do anyway. We can understand someone dying for a person worth dying for, and we can understand how someone good and noble could inspire us to selfless sacrifice. But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him.

Despite all of the opposition he would receive, despite all the plots against his life, all the violence, humiliations he had to endure from both friend and foe, to walking out the straight and narrow pathway leading to a place called Golgotha.

To Communicate, for our “attentive(?)” listening ears the Immortal Words …

“Father, forgive them – for they know not what they do ….” Luke 23:33-35

“It is Finished….” John 19:28-30

After His resurrection … to receive the motivation of all motivations ….

John 21:15-17Amplified Bible

The Love Motivation

15 So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these [others do—with total commitment and devotion]?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I [a]love You [with a deep, personal affection, as for a close friend].” Jesus said to him, “Feed My lambs.” 16 Again He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me [with total commitment and devotion]?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You [with a deep, personal affection, as for a close friend].” Jesus said to him, “Shepherd My sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me [with a deep, personal affection for Me, as for a close friend]?” Peter was grieved that He asked him the third time, “Do you [really] [b]love Me [with a deep, personal affection, as for a close friend]?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know everything; You know that I love You [with a deep, personal affection, as for a close friend].” Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep.

Are you and I willing to receive, to immerse ourselves into such a motivation, prepared to love, say, your overbearing employer with kindness and courtesy?

Are you and I willing to sacrificially meet the needs of your spouse, children, and neighbors even if your needs aren’t the ones which not about to be met?

Will you and I care for the least lovely persons around us without expecting anything in return?

Psalm 23:4-6Amplified Bible


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.

How about those who are truly difficult to love – like your own “enemies?”

Preparing a table before them ….

with the prospect of “anointing and refreshing their heads with oil ….

extending the invitation to God’s “goodness and mercy and unfailing love” which will absolutely follow them for all of the remaining days of their lives ….”

to dwell forever, throughout all their remaining days, in the house and in the presence of the Lord – who could, on confession, be their everlasting salvation.

When we are being transformed by the enormity of the love of Jesus, who is our Savior, we can definitely, but with difficulty, walk on this narrowed way of life.

Rabbi Jesus alone lived and loved this way….

Rabbi Jesus alone live and loved and died for us this way ….

Jesus walked the narrow way out his sealed tomb,

Peter, John and Mary Magdalene walked the narrow way down and through the narrow opening of the tomb – witnessed and testified to its eternal emptiness.

Jesus is Resurrected, Jesus is ALIVE!

He calls us to follow, the narrow path, serving not in our own strength but in his.

How will his love empower you to walk, love others with his kindness today?

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

Let us Pray,

Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Your Son to us that we may come to know Your greater and ever more wiser and eternal ways, that through His teachings we may experience the only meaningful pathway to everlasting life, that in Christ Jesus, my Savior, I have been saved by grace and have an eternal inheritance kept for me in heaven. I pray that I may be disciplined enough to die daily to all that is of self and live every day of my life for Christ. Help me to choose to enter the narrow gate of disciplined, dedicated discipleship, which leads to an abundant life here on earth.

Adeste Fidelis! Venite Adoremus! Dominum

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

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