A Fresh and Sure Sighting of the Occupied Throne of Heaven. The Worship of Heaven. Revelation 4

Revelation 4:1-4Amplified Bible

Scene in Heaven

After this I looked, and behold, [a]a door standing open in heaven! And the first voice which I had heard, like the sound of a [war] trumpet speaking with me, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after these things.” At once I was in [special communication with] the Spirit; and behold, a throne stood in heaven, with One seated on the throne. And He who sat there appeared like [the crystalline sparkle of] [b]a jasper stone and [the fiery redness of] a sardius stone, and encircling the throne there was a rainbow that looked like [the color of an] emerald. Twenty-four [other] thrones surrounded the throne; and seated on these thrones were [c]twenty-four elders dressed in white clothing, with crowns of gold on their heads.

The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.

This morning I find myself meditating upon the Book of Revelation and its stark description of worship in heaven and the songs of praise sung to God.

Meditating about worshiping in God’s presence has set my heart on eternity, the greatness of God, the grandeur of the throne room of God, the angels are singing loud and the wonderful things He has done for us and will do for us.

I got to pondering about how exactly how thrilling will it be to be in the very Presence of the Lord with saints from every tribe, tongue, nation, and period throughout all of history doing nothing but lifting high the name of Jesus!

Below is a list of verses from Revelation describing worship in heaven.

As you read them, I encourage you to use the words for your own praise and worship to our Maker and Savior, as well as dwell on the following themes:

  • The holiness and greatness of God
  • The content of the praises, specifically the gospel, in which Christ redeems people from every nation through His blood
  • The benefits believers have in Christ
  • The diversity of worshippers in heaven
  • The justice of God

Worship in Heaven According to Revelation

And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!” 

And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying, “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.” (Revelation 4:8-11)

And they sang a new song, saying,

“Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.” 

Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” 

And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped.   (Revelation 5:9-14)

When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne. They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” (Revelation 6:9-10)

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.” (Revelation 7:9-12)

And the twenty-four elders who sit on their thrones before God fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying, “We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, who is and who was, for you have taken your great power and begun to reign. The nations raged, but your wrath came, and the time for the dead to be judged, and for rewarding your servants, the prophets and saints, and those who fear your name, both small and great, and for destroying the destroyers of the earth.” Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple. There were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake, and heavy hail. (Revelation 11:17-19)

And they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, “Great and amazing are your deeds, O Lord God the Almighty! Just and true are your ways, O King of the nations! Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship you, for your righteous acts have been revealed.” (Revelation 15:3-4)

And I heard the angel in charge of the waters say, “Just are you, O Holy One, who is and who was, for you brought these judgments. For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and you have given them blood to drink. It is what they deserve!” And I heard the altar saying, “Yes, Lord God the Almighty, true and just are your judgments!” (Revelation 16:5-6)

After this I heard what seemed to be the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, crying out, Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, for his judgments are true and just; for he has judged the great prostitute who corrupted the earth with her immorality and has avenged on her the blood of his servants.”

Once more they cried out, “Hallelujah! The smoke from her goes up forever and ever.” And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who was seated on the throne, saying, “Amen. Hallelujah!” And from the throne came a voice saying, “Praise our God, all you his servants, you who fear him, small and great.” Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. 

Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure”— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.” (Revelation 19:1-9)

So, as you have meditated and pondered these verses over the past few minutes,

Will you now tell God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit exactly how do you feel?

You are standing in the doorway to heaven.

Before you, taking central stage, is God sitting on his great throne.

You cannot make him out clearly because of the dazzling splendor.

You see something like bright, beautiful jewels.

An emerald rainbow surrounds the throne, and from the throne shoots forth flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder, and before the throne stand burning seven torches of fire.

Can you tell God that you feel the unquestioned, undeniable majesty of God?

Or is the fullness of your heart and soul and mind just far too deep in minutiae?

A few concluding observations:

  • We often love to praise God for loving us, but how often do we praise Him for His judgment? How often do we even speak of His judgment? Not speaking of God as a god of judgment can reflect a one-dimensional view of God who is love, but also a God of holiness and justice that hates sin enough to send people to hell for all of eternity. This should cause us a holy fear of God and magnify in our hearts His awesome justice and mercy shown to us in Christ on the cross.
  • The mighty works of God throughout history have not come to an end. A reason why a “new” song is sung is because God will do amazing works at the end of history that He hasn’t received praise for yet. When God does something great in your life–praise Him for His marvelous works! (To go deeper, see Psalm 107.)
  • We are only able to clothe ourselves in bright and pure fine linen and worship our true God through the blood of the lamb spilt for us. Praise be to God for His unlimited authority, undeniable, immeasurable grace shown us in the gospel!

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

Let us Pray,

Heavenly Father, on a regular basis, life reminds us how little control we have over anything—over the quality of the weather, or the quantity, measure, of our disappointments; over unexpected windfalls, and days that take the wind out of us; and over circumstances we don’t like, and people we do love; over local and national and international news, or our limited views, our children’s views.

Yet, Father, through the riches of your grace, we are actually becoming more comfortable with acknowledging you are God, and we are not. Just keep giving us an unobstructed, undiminished, 20/20 sighting of you sitting upon your throne, totally engaged and joyfully and absolutely sovereign over everything.

We don’t really need a timeline of when everything’s going to be okay. All we need to know, in our heart of hearts, is that you are at work for your pleasure and your purpose alone in our lives, and that your plans for us are good—even in the moments (seasons) when it might seem, overwhelmingly so, otherwise.

Since you’ve given Jesus for our perfect and full salvation, we can be certain that you’ll never withhold anything central to your purpose for our lives, or for the entire cosmos. You quite literally DO have the whole world in your hands.

You promise sufficient grace, not the satisfaction of our agenda. You promise to make us like Jesus every day; not to place us in a hammock under a cool breeze. You promise full redemption, not immediate relief. Thank you. Father, we want to want what you want, more fully, gladly, and quickly. So very Amen we pray, in our Lord and Savior Jesus’ kind and always to be exalted and glorious name.

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Fresh Fire: Plug into His Power. Move from Your strength into His Strength

By myself I have little power and strength of my own, but God, by Himself has all of the power and all of the strength.

If anything at all is going to exist or be created, it will not be by any of my own weak use of my own power, but exclusively, by God’s use of His own power.

God alone has the power and strength required not only to bring things into existence, but all the power and strength to keep them out of existence as well.

I have conceived a lot of things in my mind that God in His wisdom and by His maximum grace, which God has kept me from having any knowledge and possession of.

20 Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped,

21 And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.

So, every day I need to end my day by saying, “Lord, I know that, first of all, You are the only one in control of what has happened and not happened to me today.

Thank you, God my Father, that when my life may have seemed out of control to me, Your power, Your grace alone kept me alive long enough to pray to you!”

“You were in control all of the time I perceived I was not. The heavens declare the power of God. The throne of Heaven is never empty. You God are 100% there and seated with Your Son, Jesus, in absolute control and sovereign over it all.”

When in the complete failure and ethical and moral weakness of my humanity I am not strong enough to deal or contend, I simply have no power whatsoever to contain its power over my life, I can plug myself into the full moral power of my God and move from my strength to His strength, my defeats to His victories.

And my prayers link my weaknesses and failures with His strength and victory.

Psalm 84:5-8 Amplified Bible


Blessed and greatly favored is the man whose strength is in You,
In [a]whose heart are the highways to Zion.

Passing through the Valley of Weeping ([b]Baca), they make it a place of springs;
The early rain also covers it with blessings.

They go from strength to strength [increasing in victorious power];
Each of them appears before God in Zion.


O Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer;
Listen, O God of Jacob! Selah.

The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.

Being a believer is a journey to God and with God, where your faith is inspired, empowered and strengthened. 

Everything we go through makes us know God more. 

The journey, every trial and the unpleasant paths we must endure, has been making us stronger and stronger; in God, inside us. 

You have been getting stronger, becoming a warrior: brave, courageous, and rich in character.

Your ultimate destination is with Your God.

To come into your inheritance, you must travel forward, claiming, obtaining, and becoming the upgraded identity that God has always intended for you.

Your victory in the past season becomes your platform or moral authority in the new beginnings of the next oncoming season.

Your everyday assignment is to stand on the platform of what God has done in your life and inspire and invite people onto the journey into the life of Christ.

Reverend Charles Haddon Spurgeon:

  • Trusting God in trouble brings present comfort.
  • Present comfort ensures still larger supplies.
  • So far from being wearied they gather strength as they proceed.
  • Each individual becomes happier, each company becomes more numerous, each holy song more sweet and full.
  • We grow as we advance if heaven be our goal.
  • If we spend our strength in God’s ways we shall find it increase.

“Every one of them in Zion appeareth before God.”

This was the end of the pilgrims’ march
-the center where all met
-the delight of all hearts.

Not merely to be in the assembly, but to appear before God was the object of each devout Israelite.

Unless we realize the presence of God, we have done nothing; the mere gathering together is nothing worth.

Malcolm MacLaren:

“One of the deep distinguishing joys of a Christian career of pressing forward towards closer communion and conformity with our Lord and Master, in whom God is manifested: viz. (namely) that we grow day by day in strength, and that effort does not weaken, but invigorates.”

Life is a journey to God, now; where we find the hidden strengths, that we were born with; and develop them, with God, towards God, and for God’s glory and to share with others.

Believers are pilgrims or sojourners whose goal in life is to seek, find, and live with God; and their happiness is found and based in a complete investment of their lives, while they are always growing stronger, from the inside out, until they see God here.

Our lives are redemptive journeys and stories, where we gain strength in God, through ongoing perseverance, where the saints are seasoned into courageous warriors, on a pilgrimage to see God.

Plug into God as God is Plugged into You!

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

Let us Pray,

Father, teach me to do your will, for you are my God. May your Holy Spirit lead me on level ground. I see your faithfulness and goodness in what you have done for me throughout my life. I think about these things, and I thirst for you.

Let me tap into your power and your strength, feel of your unfailing love every morning, for I am empowered by trusting you. Show me where to walk, for I give myself to you. Keep me on firm footing for the glory of your name. Amen.

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Ordering our First Steps. Moving Forth into Mission and Ministry. Proverbs 9:10

Perhaps each and every one of us has our own nuanced version of this story.

A little boy comes to his father: “Daddy, I cannot get these two pieces of my model airplane to fit together. I know they come together somehow, but no matter what I try or how I try it, they just will not come together for me.”

The father walks his young son back to where he was working on his model. He sits down with his son and looks over the table where the model is now laid out.

The father picks up the directions which came in the box with the model, and he carefully looks over and through them – occasionally looking back at the pieces that were laid out on the table. He moved the pieces around a couple of times to try and make sense and match up the individual pieces to the written directions.

He calls his son over to the table and together they now both starts looking at the pieces, then at the directions, then back to the pieces arrayed on the table.

Then together they both discover the problem was that both of the parts should have been brought together s few steps sooner in the model building process.

Dad and son now look at each other with giant smiles plastered on their faces. In the next several hours, both Father and son complete the model as it looked on the box. They put the completed model next to the box – it all came together!

See what happens? The father asked the son. “They tell you to put these pieces together early because they know it will be way more difficult to do so later.”

Lesson being, sometimes when it seems that life’s pieces do not fit together, it maybe because we skipped over the first step because we thought it was all too obvious what that first step was supposed to be. We skip over the first steps.

We seem to “automatically” skip over the first essential steps – then we cannot figure out why all those later steps just do not work the way the directions read.

The first step to any project – big or small – always and forever start with God.

Proverbs 9:9-12 Amplified Bible


Give instruction to a wise man and he will become even wiser;
Teach a righteous man and he will increase his learning.
10 
The [reverent] fear of the Lord [that is, worshiping Him and regarding Him as truly awesome] is the beginning and the preeminent part of wisdom [its starting point and its essence],
And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding and spiritual insight.
11 
For by me (wisdom from God) your days will be multiplied,
And years of life shall be increased.
12 
If you are wise, you are wise for yourself [for your own benefit];
If you scoff [thoughtlessly ridicule and disdain], you alone will pay the penalty.

The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.

“What to do first and then what to do next?”

Who is ordering our steps – giving us our directions – step by step directions –

Adam and Eve, evicted from the Garden to cultivate and toil the soil – where did the very first step of those very first step-by-step instructions come from so to even begin what had not been previously known – the cultivating of new soils.

Whose wisdom first taught and then guided Adam on those very first “best gardening practices” how to till and cultivate the previously unworked soils?

Patriarch Noah and God’s command to build the ark. Such a vast and seemingly impossible building project.

What skill sets did Noah possess to even begin such a magnanimous project?

Where did the “blueprints” come from? Who drew them up and hands them off to Noah alone? Blueprints are truly complicated and detailed drawings – who drew, detailed the plans for the construction of the Ark?

Where did Noah begin? Genesis 6:13-17 Amplified Version

It began with God’s command –

13 God said to Noah, “I intend to make an end of all that lives, for through men the land is filled with violence; and behold, I am about to [a]destroy them together with the land. 14 Make yourself an [b]ark of [c]gopher wood; make in it rooms (stalls, pens, coops, nests, cages, compartments) and [d]coat it inside and out with pitch (bitumen). 15 This is the way you are to make it: the length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, its width fifty cubits, and its height thirty cubits (450’ x 75’ x 45’). 16 You shall make a [e]window [for light and ventilation] for the ark and finish it to at least a cubit (eighteen inches) from the top—and set the [entry] door of the ark in its side; and you shall make it with lower, second and third decks. 17 For behold, I, even I, will bring a flood of waters on the earth, to destroy all life under the heavens in which there is the breath and spirit of life; everything that is on the land shall die.

How would Noah know what the first and most essential steps would be? The first step in any project is always the most essential step to get “exactly right.”

Such a vast and previously untried and seemingly impossible task as building that very first and specifically “God-detailed, God directed, God measured,” mission minded and ministry-oriented project to be finished by man’s hands.

Genesis 12:1-7Amplified Bible

Abram Journeys to Egypt

12 Now [in Haran] the Lord had said to Abram,

“Go away from your country,
And from your relatives
And from your father’s house,
To the land which I will show you;

And [a]I will make you a great nation,
And I will bless you [abundantly],
And make your name great (exalted, distinguished);
And you shall be a blessing [a source of great good to others];

And I will bless (do good for, benefit) those who bless you,
And I will curse [that is, subject to My wrath and judgment] the one who curses (despises, dishonors, has contempt for) you.
And in you all the families (nations) of the earth will be blessed.”

So Abram departed [in faithful obedience] as the Lord had directed him; and Lot [his nephew] left with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he left Haran. Abram took Sarai his wife and Lot his nephew, and all their possessions which they had acquired, and the people (servants) which they had acquired in Haran, and they set out to go to the land of Canaan. When they came to the land of Canaan, Abram passed through the land as far as the site of Shechem, to the [great] terebinth (oak) tree of Moreh. Now the [b]Canaanites were in the land at that time. Then the Lord appeared to Abram and said, “I will give this land to your descendants.” So, Abram built an altar there to [honor] the Lord who had appeared to him.

Consider the scope and magnitude of the task God placed before Abram –

How did it all begin – “The Lord said to Abram …

The Lord commanded a polytheistic man who had not ever heard God before.

The Command – Verse 1

“Go away from your country,
And from your relatives
And from your father’s house,
To the land which I will show you;”

Can we presume that Abram would automatically know which ‘land’ God was talking about?

Can we presume Abram already knew exactly where that ‘land’ was located?

Can we presume that Abram knew the exact route to any and every ‘land’ God might have in mind to ‘blindly’ send him to?

What maps did Abram possess as there certainly was no Garmin GPS system?

Read that first and last line again – “Go! … To the land which I will show you …”

This incomprehensible mission and ministry project began with God’s Wisdom.

Verses 2 and 3

It outlined the promises of “if you, Abram, follow me step – by – step …” then the rewards of your fullest obedience to “MY step – by – step …” instructions.

It moved to Abram’s obedience – Verses 4 – 6

Verse 7: It concludes with Abram’s praise and worship for God’s step – by – step directions. Then the Lord appeared to Abram and said, “I will give this land to your descendants.” So, Abram built an altar there to [honor] the Lord who had appeared to him.

In fullest possible obedience to God’s carefully detailed, specific step – by – step directions, Abram obeyed! Let God order each of Abrams’ steps and his journey.

The Reward – God made Abraham the Father of “Many Nations.”

Genesis 17:1-5 Amplified Bible

Abraham and the Covenant of Circumcision

17 When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the [a]Lord appeared to him and said,

“I am [b]God Almighty;
Walk [habitually] before Me [with integrity, knowing that you are always in My presence], and be blameless and complete [in obedience to Me].

“I will establish My covenant (everlasting promise) between Me and you,
And I will multiply you exceedingly [through your descendants].”

Then Abram fell on his face [in worship], and God spoke with him, saying,


“As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you,
And [as a result] you shall be the father of many nations.

“No longer shall your name be Abram (exalted father),
But your name shall be Abraham (father of a multitude);
For I will make you the father of many nations.

Everything we have received, everything we have right now in life, everything we will receive in the future always came arrived and will always and forever come to us, will come to us from God, the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, with the already fulfilled and forever promise of “new beginnings.”

The word ‘beginning’ can mean either “the first part” or “the main part.”

In both cases, the eminently practical message is exactly the same.

The absolute most essential “first step,” and the continual first and foremost priority, in fitting all the parts of life together is to glorify, to honor, to revere, and to worship God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.

Why?

Because all knowledge, and all wisdom and all truth comes first from God!

And in obedience, we must absolutely first seek our answers only through Him.

If we find ourselves stumped with a part of our life that completely refuses to fit together no matter manners and methodologies, we try –

Revelation 1:8 Amplified Bible

“I am the [a]Alpha and the Omega [the Beginning and the End],” says the Lord God, “Who is [existing forever] and Who was [continually existing in the past] and Who is to come, the Almighty [the Omnipotent, the Ruler of all].”

#1: THINGS WITH GOD!

THEN END ALL THINGS WITH GOD!

Revelation 22:12-14Amplified Bible

12 “Behold, I (Jesus) am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, [a]to give to each one [b]according to the merit of his deeds (earthly works, faithfulness). 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End [the Eternal One].”

14 [c]Blessed (happy, prosperous, to be admired) are those who wash their robes [in the blood of Christ by believing and trusting in Him—the righteous who do His commandments], so that they may have the right to the tree of life and may enter by the gates into the city.

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

Let us Pray,

Lead Me on Level Ground Prayer,

God, my Creator, God, the Author of the entirety of my life, teach me to do your will, for you are my only true God. May your Holy Spirit lead me on level ground. I see your faithfulness and goodness in what you have done for me throughout my life. I think about these things, and I thirst for you. Let me hear of your unfailing love every morning, for I am trusting you. Show me where to walk, for I give myself to you. Keep me on firm footing for the glory of your name. Amen.

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I am reaching for the unquestionably great promise of now unquestionably living the unquestionably great life of Christ – seeking God with my WHOLE heart, my WHOLE soul. Acts 2:37-39

The first Pentecost after Jesus’ death and resurrection was the birthday of Jesus’ church.

The Holy Spirit moved in Jesus’ apostles; they suddenly proclaimed the good news to people from many parts of the Mediterranean area (Acts 2:8-11).

Thousands were baptized, forgiven of their sins, and given the Holy Spirit as God’s gift.

But even in the unquestionable greatness of that day, there was the promise of more unquestionably great days to come.

The promise of God’s forgiveness and the gift of the Holy Spirit are for all whom the Lord calls, including us and others he will call.

Like all unquestionably great stories with unquestionably great promises of an unquestionably great future attached to it, they must all begin with a minimum of at least one someone somewhere who will take the risk to jump in with both feet with at least a minimal degree of belief it will actually, absolutely be true.

Someone, somewhere, somehow must dare to question the “truth” of such an unquestionably great promise – it must somehow be proven if it is to continue.

Life must be lived – but we have that choice to determine how we should do so.

“Nothing Ventured – Nothing Gained”

“Go for the Gusto or Just plain Go Away.”

Live as if it is only according to the principle of “maintaining the Status quo.”

Live as if there is the possibility that the unquestionably great promise being offered of unquestionably great things coming your way – if you’ll take a risk.

“As a guiding principle, life shrinks, and life expands in direct proportion to your willingness to assume risk.” Casey Neistat

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casey_Neistat

The Holy Spirit moved in an unquestionably powerful way that first Pentecost Day.

Unquestionably remarkable and unquestionably miraculous events took place in the thousands of lives of those who had gathered Jerusalem that day.

Lives were unquestionably changed.

Unquestionably a great promise had been fulfilled by God to come among them.

Now, how would these people respond to such an unquestionably great event.

A shrug of the shoulders and the maintenance of “Status Quo?”

Somebody “girding their loins” learning how to get trained up in the operation of the Gospel Train of God – because now people could know – that God is now completely on our whole life’s train track – and there’s no stopping God now!

Peter makes a promise for all those everywhere who will turn their hearts to God and submit themselves to him in baptism, fully trusting in Jesus as their Lord and Savior!

They will be filled with God’s Spirit and forgiven of their sins because of the mighty name and gracious work of Jesus Christ.

This whole passage (Acts 2:33-47) demonstrates that Peter and the apostles had begun fulfilling Jesus’ Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20):

they were making disciples by going, baptizing, and teaching people to obey what the Lord commanded.

Like those early disciples, let’s accept the challenge, share this grace so the whole world can unquestionably know Jesus is not only our Lord, He is also unquestionably Savior and King for all who hear God’s call and trust in him.

God’s great promise of Holy Spirit guiding, getting our whole life on His track!

This unquestionably great promise of God is extended too literally everyone!

Without exception – one promise for literally everyone to come to and “LIVE!”

If that first person would dare to come forward out of the crowd – and prove it!

By the power of the Holy Spirit, have you or anyone you know ever shared this life transitioning message of promise, forgiveness, and power with others?

Acts 2:37-39Amplified Bible

The Ingathering

37 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart [with remorse and anxiety], and they said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what are we to do?” 38 And Peter said to them, “Repent [change your old way of thinking, turn from your sinful ways, accept and follow Jesus as the Messiah] and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus Christ because of the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise [of the Holy Spirit] is for you and your children and for all who are far away [including the Gentiles], as many as the Lord our God calls to Himself.”

The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.

The Bible says in Acts 2:38 

“Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost”.

The word repent is to express sincere regret, remorse one’s wrongdoing and sins. Repentance is the action we ourselves choose to exercise of turning away from that wrongdoing and sin and our choosing not to partake in that again.

The thing we really need to understand is that repentance is not a one-time event that one does to receive salvation.

True repentance causes a person to say,

“I want to live in Christ, prove it with a 180-degree change of their direction.”

Repentance requires true brokenness.

It is NOT asking our God for forgiveness with the intent to sin again, but is an honest, regretful acknowledgement of sin with a true and total commitment to change – to choose between sin’s “status quo” and freedom in Christ Jesus.

I remember some years ago while I was still young in “my Christianity” we had a Pastor at our spiritual retreat, and I remember him saying to us one Sunday:

“We all need to change every day therefore we need all to repent everyday”.

I was then still in the ‘young’ mind-set that repentance was something just for salvation until I found myself having to repent not committing some atrocious sin prese but omitting something, like not studying like I should, not fasting in the “prescribed biblical way” and when I was or was not praying like I should.

Since God was dealing with my “youthful Christianity” as the first partaker with that message, I had to repent because I began to see what I was omitting and falling short of the glory of God in my life personally (Romans 3:23).

I began to be like David and pray like he did in Psalm 51:6-10 

“Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice. Hide thy face from my sins and blot out all mine iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me”.

Now before someone gets the wrong impression, I am not talking about my committing a sin that is punishable with Hell’s damnation, but I am talking about realizing your personal short comings, being totally pleasing unto God.

There’s a saying that confession is good for the soul. It comes from an old Scottish proverb, which said in full, “Open confession is good for the soul.”

There is biblical truth in that!

When John the Baptist was preparing people to meet Jesus, his first advice was to repent.

Peter then on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2:38 said

“Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost”.

I remember being handed a two-sided bookmark for my Bible which had this prayer printed on its front and its back –

A Prayer for Daily Repentance

Dear Lord, thank you for your forgiveness. Thank you for not abandoning us to our mistakes, but for reaching out instead to bring us home. Help convict me of sin and help me accept your mercy without shame. Thank you for the love you have poured out for me and all your children. Help me live out of that love today. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

That was almost seventeen years ago, and I believe I still have that bookmark.

I truly believe my “Christianity” has grown up and matured just a bit in these intervening years since my long weekend attendance that spiritual retreat.

But sometimes I find that my premise of a “more mature” Christian life being tested by the unquestionably life changing events of these last several months.

We have experienced unprecedented life events that leave us bewildered at best.

The truth of the matter is that these past two years have changed society as a whole and will continually and continuously change many of us personally in ways unlike any we could not have even imagined, for many more months.

For many, the old pattern of life has been broken, and a new one has come into play. Social distancing has changed the way we will each choose to interact with people probably forever. Hand shaking and the ever-popular hug except for our close family members will if ever done again will be done with extreme caution.

When we look back over the last two years, we have been inundated with events, information, rather good or bad, racism played out to the fullest, hatred spewed from the mouths of leaders both political and spiritual, never before imagined acts of gun violence being done in the United States carried out by Americans.

We see the War in the Ukraine.

We have seen hospitals pushed to the limits; deaths reaching and seemingly passing Biblical proportions. We have experienced seismic paradigm shifts in politics, life and religion, today is so majorly different then it was only a year ago. In the prophetic, immortal words of Marvin Gaye “What’s Going On”. 

I can honestly say for myself and maybe for a lot of you I haven’t watched CNN or other major news stations as much as I have these past two years in my life.

I, like many of you, am completely inundated by my television set with all the bad news, all the intrigue, killings, politics, civil uprisings, unbelievable reports of increasingly lethal mass shootings, deaths, panic, Breaking News Headlines.

I saw this statement that said there are more televisions in the average home than there are people. And this does not include other electronic devices upon which television shows and programming can be watched.

I believe it can literally be blamed that the increase in violence, unrest, hatred, and godless upheaval being seen in our society today is a direct result of what is coming across our computer and television and other social media outlets.

The Bible says it like this in Galatians 6:7 “Whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.”

“We must reap the change which only comes from living Christ to the fullest.”

For 20 years, I “grew and matured in my faith” in the church and I know for a fact many times this scripture will be used when it comes time for the offering.

However, today I am going to deal with something different because we need to understand we reap what we sow more today than probably any time in history.

We are sowing not so much monetarily into a ministry or church organization, but we are sowing and having sown more than you realize into your spirit. We are allowing things to affect us in ways more than we normally would. Many of us have developed new patterns and habits that we did not have just a year ago.

Now is the time that we need to be cognizant of the influences of our lives and what is being sown into our spirit.

Proverbs 4:23 says “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life”.

In the Old Testament the word “heart” is used more than 800 times, but more than 200 times it deals with one’s thoughts, emotions, and the wellsprings of the choices we make about living life, those things that motivate and mold us.

Solomon says in Proverbs 23:7 “For ah he thinketh so, is he?” WHY – Because this will control the rest of your life. What you think is what you are.

Your thoughts rather positive, negative, good, or bad control your attitudes.

Your attitudes are the sum of your thoughts.

Your attitudes lead to your actions.

That is why we must guard our hearts and be careful with what we allow to be sown or what we sow into our spirit.

It is so easy to be influenced by what we see on T.V., the internet, read in the paper or are texted across and upon the whole host of social media outlets.

Luke 22:31 says “And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired [to have] you, that he may sift [you] as wheat”.

That means to continually and continuously confuse and poison your heart.

Don’t be confused by the manipulation of people.

The devil wants to continually and continuously contaminate and corrupt your WHOLE heart. You must guard your heart against contamination from jealousy, philosophies, traditions, speculation, arrogance, pride, lies and everything else.

God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit wants your heart for Himself.

It was the basis of your original union with Him.

God didn’t appeal to your intellect; He asked for faith.

The enemy despises your heart because it is with your heart that you believe unto righteousness. 

Romans 10:10 says “For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation”

Reaching for the promises of God, the unquestionable truth of abundant life in Christ, we must live to fully protect our hearts from being contaminated at all.

We must guard our hearts from anything that is contrary to the Word of God.

When you realize how much is sown into your heart by the avenue of your eyes or your ears, then unquestionably, we need to pray, ask God for a clean heart.

I’m not asking for high men to know my name, I’m not asking for fortune or my “15 minutes of fame” but give me ‘Lord a clean heart and I’ll follow thee.’

The best way to guard your heart with all diligence is to seek God with your whole heart.

Seeking God with All Your Heart!

The Bible promises that if you seek God with all your heart, then you will find Him.

If you seek to know God in real and personal ways with all your heart, then you will get to know God by Him revealing Himself to us.

I believe this is called Progressive Revelation!

When I say progressive revelation, I believe it is a move originated from God, not man which God brings us through spiritual infancy to spiritual maturity.

It is a growing process that is done by the planting of good seed.

This is what the devil is trying to stop from happening in your and my life at any chance he can. 

Luke 22:31 says “And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired [to have] you, that he may sift [you] as wheat”.

Meaning of Seeking God

In the Bible the words for “seek God with all your heart” means to: to seek the face of God, the glory of God and not just His hand.

It is to desire Him more than one desires oneself.

Psalm 42:1 says, “As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God”.

It is fixing our conscious and focusing our attention and our heart’s affection on God.

This setting of the mind is the opposite of mental coasting.

It is a conscious choice to direct the heart toward God.

This is what Paul desires for the church in 2 Thessalonians 3:5 “May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ”.

It is a conscious effort on our part.

To seek God with all your heart is all about having a love and desire to know Him.

Paul said in Philippians 3:10 “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death”. 

1 Chronicles 22:9 says, “Now set your heart and your soul to seek the LORD your God”.

Understand this is not some emotional aspect of seeking God like He is lost, God is not lost, but striving to find that which has been hidden. 

Proverbs 25:2 says, “It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honor of kings is to search out a matter”.

There is always something through which or around we must go to meet God spiritually, emotionally, and consciously.

It is this going through or around is what seeking is.

Paul said I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God.

The woman with the issue of blood came in the press to “just touch the hem of His garment.”

My own repentance was due to the fact that I was unquestionably letting things block me from seeking His face like I should have but the honor was my own making the living choice, searching Him out in the midst of what was going on.

Please Understand there are always going to be obstacles which we so need to avoid, seeds that are trying to be planted that bring nothing but weeds in our lives that try to block out our sight of God, that try to slow or stop our maturity. 

Matthew 13:25-26 says, “But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also”.

We must be aware of the tricks of the enemy and know the things which causes us to become insensitive to God and the try to block us from seek Him with our whole heart.

That is, unquestionably, what unquestionably seeking God with our whole heart and unquestionably our whole soul is all about.

Isaiah 55:6 says, “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near”.

The Lord is always near – Acts 2:1-13

Job 8:5 says, “If thou wouldest seek unto God betimes, and make thy supplication to the Almighty”.

This is what David was doing in Psalm 51:6-10 

“Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice. Hide thy face from my sins and blot out all mine iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me”.

and what I did this week. WATCH THIS:

– Unquestionably seeking God involves my calling and pleading unto the Lord.

“O Lord, have mercy on me, open my eyes, my ears, my heart to be sensitive to you Lord. Unquestionably remove anything that is not like you, unquestionably cleanse me from all unrighteousness for I want to unquestionably know you Lord.

This is humility which is essential in seeking God. 

Psalm 10:4 says, “The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts”.

We must avoid pride in order to seek God with our whole heart.

Remember in the beginning of this devotional we talked about reaping what we sow. We guard our ever-questioning hearts, and we can seek all of God with our whole heart by unquestionably reducing the trash that we put into our spirit.

Guarding your heart is more about feeding your soul than avoiding sin.

When our heart is strong, we can resist the temptations that cause many to stumble.

Minimize the trash in will reduce the trash out.

Unquestionably guarding your heart includes unquestionably seeking God, but we cannot ignore the instruction to strive to minimize the trash from our lives.

Some trash is easy to identify. Moral corruption, perverse sexual behavior, evil towards others. Other trash is more difficult to discern and to remove.

A lack of faith, unforgiveness, materialism, pride, hatred, racism, bigotry envy, strife. Trash, big or small, is still, unquestionably, nothing but stinking trash.

Hebrews 12:1-2 says

“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God”.

Unquestionably guarding your heart is unquestionably critical to experiencing all that God unquestionably desires for your life.

God in His infinite wisdom knew that we would have problems with guarding our heart with all diligence, so He created us and made it impossible to be able to focus on more than one thing at a time.

So here is a little secret on how to unquestionably guard your heart, seek God.

Philippians 4:8-9 unquestionably says to our questioning hearts and souls,

“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do and the God of peace shall be with you!”

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

Let us Pray,

Praise to you Almighty and gracious Father. You have given me hope when there was none. You have given me unquestionable strength when my questionable resolve was gone. You have unquestionably blessed me with grace and poured your love into my heart through your Holy Spirit, your gift from above. For your love, grace, forgiveness, salvation, and Holy Spirit, I praise you. In Jesus’ name. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen.

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Encountering the Resurrection – The Presence of Jesus – “Breathe on Me!” The Gospel of John 20:19-23.

“And with that he breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’” John 20:22.

Our personal journey of faith travels past many milestones where God “simply shows up,” sometimes in surprising ways and sometimes in rather subtle ones.

There’s no rhyme or reason for us to be sitting around waiting for God to do something supernatural in our lives.

If we have responded to God’s call on our lives, we need to be moving forward in those areas we already know God would have us travel.

God will equip us further as we progress on our very personal spiritual journey.

Today’s verse reminds us we need to be open to what God might do when God in Christ Jesus enters into what we believe, even prefer to be, our “locked away” lives, living like our ideas are set in concrete, thinking now we are Christians.

“God hasn’t anything further for us.”

“God may want to equip us for something we don’t feel ready to do it.”

I’m reasonably sure the disciples didn’t feel like being “sent” anywhere there might be an “arrest warrant,” a Roman spear or sword to greet them (verse 22).

At this point, these disciples were still “meeting alone” behind locked doors.

Then without any notice whatsoever, catching each and every one of them,

inside their own uniquely personal “I’m too busy getting my story straight in their own heads in case the door should be splintered” moment,

Jesus enters.

His sudden presence – “ALIVE?” materializes – Can they be any more shaken?

What can the presence of Jesus bring into our lives behind our locked doors?

What happens when we allow Jesus’ presence to come through our locked doors and straight into our hearts, our minds and our souls?

Let’s look at what Jesus did for these disciples and discover what He can do for all of us this morning.

John 20:19-23 Amplified Bible

Jesus among His Disciples

19 So when it was evening on that same day, the first day of the week, though the disciples were [meeting] behind barred doors for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them, and said, “[a]Peace to you.” 20 After He said this, He showed them His hands and His side. When the disciples saw the Lord, they were filled with great joy. 21 Then Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you [as My representatives].” 22 And when He said this, He breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of anyone they are forgiven [because of their faith]; if you retain the sins of anyone, they are retained [and remain unforgiven because of their unbelief].”

The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.

Grace and peace from God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit!

Have you ever been in a room when suddenly (or subtly) someone walks into your seclusion and suddenly there is this air of electricity; this certain spark of energy that accompanies them?

Is it you or is it I as we are bristling at our privacy suddenly ending?

It seems that certain people just possess an added bit of charisma or charm that can change the very atmosphere of a room or a meeting. They possess a certain “uniqueness,” a “specialness” which causes people to stop and pay attention.

Some would see this as an intentional, malicious act of major annoyance and maximum rudeness and almost immediately be “turned off” and “ticked off.”

In spite of how we feel in that exact moment when our privacy ended without our permission, have you ever noticed that certain people defuse our annoyance with their ability to possess an extra amount of charisma, charm, and allure?

Their presence makes a room come alive. There is a magnetic pull towards them as they begin to talk and walk around.

They have that something “special” that causes people to stop and listen. They have that something “special” that speaks to the very heart of people’s lives.

When they walked into a room, the whole atmosphere of the room changed.

You knew immediately someone important was present. You rushed forward, people rushed through you to be near them and hushed to hear them speak.

People like Elvis Presley. Elvis was able to electrify audiences with his voice and presence even before his band played a note or before he sang his first words.

However, there is one that possessed more charisma, more of that something “special” than any of those that I have mentioned.

As charismatic, as charming, electrifying as all of the most charismatic men throughout history, there were none who had more power to change the atmosphere of a room than our Savior and LORD Jesus Christ. No one.

Jesus was able to immediately command the attention of thousands of men, women and children for hours, for days at a time. He possessed charisma plus.

Our reading (John 20:19-23) this morning deals with one of those electric moments in the life of Jesus and his followers.

It deals with one of those singularly unique times when Jesus’ mere presence in a room immediately transformed everything.

Instantly, with Jesus’ presence things went from negative to positive.

With Jesus in the room there came courage and faith where there once was fear and doubt.

With Jesus in the room there was laughter and joy where once there had been sorrow and despair.

And what Jesus was able to do in that room so long ago, I believe this morning He wants to do in our lives and in our Church Services each and every worship session, every bible study session, every prayer and fellowship session.

I believe when encounter Christ, we invite Jesus into our sinful humanity, to be with us and within us, to be present among us, we will experience seasons of newness, joy, peace, transformation, salvation, courage, faith in amazing ways.

Ways that will certainly unsettle us in unanticipated ways, change not only the atmosphere of our worship settings, but ways that will change all of us as well.

In our passage this morning, we see Jesus doing the same thing.

The Disciples locked away in that Upper Room were all wondering in their own way if their Messiah Jesus had really died, was actually dead or actually alive.

Then suddenly Jesus comes into the disciples’ room and the whole atmosphere inside that locked Upper Room is transformed.

Things go from being downcast and negative to becoming electrifying and positive.

The disciples go from being anxiety ridden and fearful to possessing courage.

They go from experiencing feelings of severe uncertainty, anger, fear, anxiety, confusion and sorrow to experiencing blessed assurance, joy, peace, happiness.

I. Jesus’ Presence Brought Peace and Stability

In verse 19 we read where Jesus’ disciples were hiding behind a locked door because they were afraid.

Even though they had heard the message of the Risen Lord from the women and had then listened intently to what Mary had said, listened intently to Peter and John to the “apparent emptiness” they had witnessed at the “empty tomb” they were still very much afraid of “My God! My God! What could possibly be next?”

They were afraid for their lives and for the lives of their families.

Down deep, the disciples knew it would not be long before the Sadducees and the Pharisees would want them silenced.

They knew that both Pilate and the Temple would be doing all they could to destroy any teachings or influence of the Jesus Movement.

After all, the Temple had been successful in finding Jesus guilty of both treason and blasphemy.

That meant that Jesus’ disciples could also be arrested for the same things, treason and blasphemy.

They could find themselves arrested, beaten and at the very least thrown into prison and at the very worst hanging on a cross taking their last breaths of life.

I am sure the people huddled down in that room were wondering how long they would have to hide out in Jerusalem until things died down.

How long would it take before they could safely go back to Galilee and disappear back into the woodwork of their old lives?

What would they do now?

+Could Andrew, Peter, James and John go back to fishing?

+Could Matthew go back to being a tax collector?

+Could Simon the Zealot get back into politics?

+Could Bartholomew go back to his royal family?

Would they or their families ever be safe?

What would the new normal look like?

Just as they were perhaps wondering about all of those things it happened.

Suddenly, in the middle of all their anxiety and angst Jesus appears.

Right there standing in front of them was Jesus, alive and well.

I am sure it had to startle them.

After all, the doors were shut. But right here in front of them was Jesus.

There was no denying that it was Jesus.

He showed them His hands and feet.

They saw the nail prints and they heard His voice speaking peace

– “Peace be with you.”

“Peace – Be – With – You”

There is no fussing about why they were not at the tomb.

There is no fussing about locking the door in fear.

There is no fussing about how they had abandoned him.

There is no judgment or condemnation.

There was just the voice of peace.

There was just the voice able to bring harmony, stability, courage and calmness.

That is what happens when Jesus enters our rooms when they are filled with fear, with doubt and despair.

That is what happens when Jesus enters our rooms when they are filled with uncertainty, confusion and chaos.

Jesus brings peace.

Our Risen Lord brings tranquility.

He replaces doubt and despair with peace and salvation.

He removes the negative and replaces it with positivity.

Remember Psalm 107?

It is a song about peace.

A song of praise and worship and prayerful contemplation centered on how the LORD brought peace to four diverse and uniquely different groups of people:

+Verses 1-9 – Wanderers who have nowhere to go

+Verses 10-16 – People who find themselves imprisoned

+Verses 17-22 – People injured by their own sinfulness

+Verses 23 – 32 – Sailors who are overcome by a storm

All four groups are beleaguered and overwhelmed.

In each case their only hope is in God.

Only God can rescue them.

Only God can bring them peace.

Only God can bring them harmony, stability and joy and in all four cases God does bring them peace, harmony and stability.

It’s why we love some of the old hymns that speak of peace in the midst of trials and tribulations:

+I Need Thee, Every Hour

+It is Well with My Soul

+Peace Like a River

+Blessed Assurance

+Amazing Grace

+To God be the Glory

+Great is Thy Faithfulness

and our own singularly unique lists which are far too long to be placed here.

They all remind us that in Christ there is peace.

They all remind us that when we feel like shutting and locking the doors, we need to invite the Presence of Jesus.

They all remind us that when fear, doubt and worry overtake us we need to understand that in the midst of it all is our Lord and Savior Jesus wanting to bring to us an amazing measure of peace, salvation, stability and tranquility.

Today, no matter what we are going through the truth is right beside us is the Risen One. Right beside us is the Alpha and the Omega. Right beside us is the pre-existing one who can bring peace to our troubled hearts, minds and souls.

Jesus can bring us a peace and a stability that is tangible. Jesus can bring a peace that passes all understanding (John 14:25-27, Philippians 4:4-9)

II. Secondly, Jesus’ Presence brought Great Joy and Forgiveness

Not only did Jesus bring peace into the room but He brought a great deal of joy and forgiveness.

When those disciples saw Jesus’ hands and His side it revealed to them that what the women had said was true.

Jesus had in fact risen from the dead.

The proof was right there in front of them.

He was there to see, to feel and to experience.

Can you imagine how much joy suddenly rushed into that room?

The one they thought was dead was not dead; He was right there with them.

Jesus had risen from the dead. He was alive. Their friend, their teacher and Lord was alive. There was no doubt now that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God.

Today, there are a great many people trying their best to manufacture their own joy.

Often, they take a similar route taken by the Prodigal Son we read about in Luke 15:11-32 (Parable of the Prodigal Son.)

+If you remember that young man thought that he could find ultimate joy in possessing certain material goods or belonging to the right crowd.

+If he could just enjoy certain physical pleasures then he would have joy.

+If he could just have enough money then he could have joy.

He did everything he could to manufacture true joy.

He spent everything to experience joy but, in the end, he discovered that true joy had escaped him.

Instead of finding true joy he found himself sitting in a hog lot wishing that he had it as well as the hogs.

We know deep down that true joy cannot be bought.

It can’t come from immoral pleasures.

It can’t come from just having a bank account full of riches.

The young man found joy when he went back to His Father.

He found true joy when he found himself surrounded again with people that truly loved and cared for him.

He found lasting joy when he found himself surrounded with people that understood how to forgive him, accept him and that wanted him.

This is the joy that Jesus gives. It is the joy that Jesus’ church is able to give.

III. Jesus’ Presence Brought the Holy Spirit

In verse 21 we read where Jesus simply breathed on them His Holy Spirit. He filled the air with His Spirit for them to receive, enjoy and experience.

This is the same Holy Spirit that we read about in Genesis chapter one that helped creation take form.

It is the same Holy Spirit that God breathes into a lump of clay called Adam and he comes alive.

It is the same Holy Spirit that we read about in Ezekiel chapter thirty-seven where a valley of dry, dead bones comes to life.

And now Jesus breathes on those gathered there and gives them

+Peace +Stability +Joy +Forgiveness +New Purpose

They no longer have to live under their own power.

They are now able to live with the breath of God inside of them,

the Holy Spirit in their lives, revealing to them how to live and leading them into what Jesus earlier called the Abundant Life.

It is astonishing, utterly amazing what the Holy Spirit can do in a person’s life.

John 20:20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.

The disciples were overcome with joy when Jesus arrived in their midst.

More than anything they needed and wanted to be with Jesus.

Joy is such a wonderful thing and yet for all to many people it is evasive.

These disciples learned that true joy is relational in nature.

That is to say, true, lasting joy happens between people.

Our society promotes that true joy can be found in things and in the possession of things.

All you have to do is watch a car or phone commercial.

The idea is that if you own this item or that item you will surely, suddenly be overwhelmed with great lasting joy and happiness.

And yet, history is littered with stories that belie that premise.

Joy lasts about as long as the shine does on our new toy. In a matter of days people are again overwhelmed with a sense of loneliness and despair. Often because after the shine wears off the payments continue on and on.

The disciple rejoiced that day – peace and joy filled that little house – because the resurrected Jesus was in their midst.

Joy replaced fear and sorrow because of Jesus being there.

Joy, laughter and celebration filled the air.

If we could only experience this as we gather together as His people today.

If only Jesus’ disciples today could only experience His presence of joy, laughter and celebration in the same way those first disciples did amongst themselves.

How different would be the air in our sanctuaries. Our services, our study times, our prayers, must be saturated by His Peace and His Joy.

And what a big difference that would make in how we learn to respond to the presence of God, what we do here, what we experience here each Lord’s Day.

Pope Francis is right when he stated;

— “An evangelizer must never look like someone who has just come back from a funeral.” (“Evangelii Gaudium,” Nov. 24, 2013).

In other words – in our churches there should be a spirit of joy, of laughter and celebration. For in the Church there is life – in the world there is death. In the Church there is peace and joy – in the world there is sorrow, pain and despair.

But without Jesus – the Church will look and feel forlorn.

Without Jesus these disciples were full of gloom, heartache and despair.

Without Jesus they could only hide and lock their doors.

But with Jesus – there is JOY.

Breathe on Me, Breath of God by Edwin Hatch, 1835-1889

1. Breathe on me, Breath of God,
fill me with life anew,
that I may love what thou dost love,
and do what thou wouldst do.

2. Breathe on me, Breath of God,
until my heart is pure,
until with thee I will one will,
to do and to endure.

3. Breathe on me, Breath of God,
till I am wholly thine,
till all this earthly part of me
glows with thy fire divine.

4. Breathe on me, Breath of God,
so shall I never die,
but live with thee the perfect life
of thine eternity.

There is a spirit of enjoyment, there is an atmosphere of praise.

Is it not time we allow Jesus to bring joy back into our fellowships?

It is not time to cast out doom and gloom from our faces?

Paul tells us to rejoice, to rejoice evermore (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

Because this is the power of the resurrection living and breathing within us,

This is the covenant call of Christ Jesus on our lives!

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

Let us Pray,

Lord God, my Way-maker, I know you have a destiny for me to achieve in this life. I want to follow the plan that you have laid out. Help me to understand and follow your call. Show me your will for my life and what I need to do right now to get started. Enable me to know who I am in Christ, and the special gifts and abilities you have given me. Give me the spirit of wisdom and revelation as I seek to know you more intimately. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.

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Is my cup half full or half empty? Is my doubt a half a doubt or a whole doubt? The Doubting Thomas that lives and breathes within Us all. John 20:24-25

“Are ye able,” said the Master,
“to be crucified with me?”
“Yea,” the sturdy dreamers answered,
“to the death we follow thee.”

“Doubt sees the obstacles;

Faith sees the way.

Doubt sees the darkest night;

Faith sees the day.

Doubt dreads to take a step;

Faith soars on high.

Doubt questions, “Who believes?”

Faith answers, “I!”

Faith always has its doubts.

I once had the impression that if you doubted, you could not have faith — that faith and doubt were contrary to one another.

But I gradually began to understand that this is not true.

Doubt is the very proof of faith. Doubt is actually an attack upon the very faith we have. You cannot have doubts unless you have faith.

Faith is the way God works, and so the enemy is bound to attack your faith immediately as he sees you beginning to act and live and walk by faith.

Therefore, doubts will always begin to arise and seek to live— as a result of Satan’s attempt to overthrow your faith. There is no faith without doubts.

Jesus himself, though he always lived by faith, and everything he did was by faith, nevertheless was subjected to times of severe doubt.

Otherwise, he was not one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sinning, (Hebrews 4:15 RSV).

Doubt is part of the life of faith.

If you and I are trying to walk by faith in a promise God has given you, and you and I are troubled by doubts, this is the proof you and I are really living by faith.

We are all supposed to have doubts and we are supposed to have questions.

God gave us our free will.

When we were being formed in our mother’s womb, God gave us our emotions though yet unformed and undefined, totally unknown and unexpressed by us.

From the time we were born – without our realizing it or knowing it, we took our very first crying session and blessed every last pair of ears within hearing distance. God created us and authored our whole lives, and we went and lived.

We went forth from our mother’s womb and God being God, knowing the full length and breadth of humanities sinful ways, then God gave us the Psalms.

Hang in there!

God knows who we are.

We are not always too sure who God is.

So, we have our doubts, and we have our questions.

Still, Jesus comes to our doubts and answers.

Jesus gives us an opportunity to see him.

Jesus gives us an opportunity to know him.

When our doubts are severe, and questions are many and deep.

Jesus notices us, He looks at us and He acknowledges us fully.

Jesus lets us come to him.

Jesus lets us touch him.

Jesus lets us question him.

Are we learning to see our doubts as corollary to our faith?

Do we process our doubts through what we have proven to be true?

Have we experienced the holy fear of living into an audacious faith?

“Lord, we are able. Our spirits are thine.
Remold them, make us, like thee, divine.
Thy guiding radiance above us shall be
a beacon to God, to love, and loyalty.”

John 20:24-29Amplified Bible

24 But Thomas, one of the twelve [disciples], who was called Didymus (the twin), was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples kept telling him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the marks of the nails, and put my finger into the nail prints, and put my hand into His side, I will never believe.”

26 Eight days later His disciples were again inside the house, and Thomas was with them. Jesus came, though the doors had been barred, and stood among them and said, “Peace to you.” 27 Then He said to Thomas, “Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and put out your hand and place it in My side. Do not be unbelieving, but [stop doubting and] believe.” 28 Thomas answered Him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Because you have seen Me, do you now believe? Blessed [happy, spiritually secure, and favored by God] are they who did not see [Me] and yet believed [in Me].”

The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.

Each of the four synoptic Gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John – include in their Passion/Resurrection narratives a series of startling episodes related to the appearances of the risen Christ to his disciples locked behind a heavy door.

In these episodes the remaining disciples (minus Judas who betrayed Jesus), after having passed through a phase of doubt, unbelief, trouble, confusion and astonishment, come to the point of believing that Jesus has been risen indeed.

There is, however, a special episode preserved by the Gospel of John that stands out from among the post-resurrection scenes.

This is the incident of the appearance of the risen Lord to Thomas, brilliantly narrated by John (Jn. 20:24-29).

The specialty and the importance of this event lie in the fact that it presents the relation between doubting, seeing and believing in God, in the resurrection of our Savior Jesus the Christ, in a truly splendid, superbly formulated manner.

More specifically, it reveals the significance of believing after, or because of, having seen the risen Christ, and believing without having seen him.

Therefore, the Thomas incident as it is reported in John 20:24-29, is worthy our investigation and discussion. 

The Appearance of the Risen Christ to his Disciples

John is the only Evangelist who has preserved the story in which Thomas is depicted as moving from unbelief to belief after his encounter with the risen Lord (John. 20:24-29). 

The episode took place one week after Jesus had appeared to the disciples in the absence of Thomas (John 20:19-23).

In the above-mentioned appearance of Jesus to his disciples, he showed them his hands and his side (edeixen autois tas cheiras kai ten pleuran autou), and the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord (idontes ton Kyrion) (John. 20:20).

What we have here, despite the brevity of the description, is the emphasis on the visible aspect of the appearance, even to the very specific mentioning of the “placing our fingers and our thoughts and doubts” in his hands and of his side.

The two main verbs at the center of the narrative are verbs of optical impression, of seeing: Jesus showed … The disciples saw (edeixen … idontes).

In the scene that immediately follows, namely John 20:24-26, the disciples tell Thomas, “We have seen the Lord” (eorakamen ton Kyrion) (John 20:25). 

Here, a basic verb of seeing (eorakamen) is employed by John the Evangelist as a startling expression of the experience of these disciples’ encounter with Savior Jesus Christ the resurrected, and of their questions, their doubts, faith in him.

Thomas’ response to the information/witness offered by the other disciples, includes in an emphatic way the very same verb of sight:

“Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails … I will not believe” (ean me idon … ou me pisteuso) (John. 20:25).

Disciple Thomas without “explicitly dismissing out of hand the other disciples’ confession,” refuses, nonetheless, to confess his personal believe that Jesus is risen from the dead, is alive and there, unless he sees him with his own eyes. 

The condition imposed by Thomas is clear and absolute: personal verification by sight, direct access by eye contact and nothing less.

Thomas even intensifies his terms by adding the need not only to see but also to touch Jesus at the very marks of his crucifixion:

“Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails and place my finger in the mark of the nails, and place my hand in his side, I will not believe” (John. 20:25)

Thus, Thomas makes his own individual test, his personal direct seeing of the visible marks of the crucifixion and even the touching of these marks, the absolute condition and the strictest, non-negotiable term for our believing.

Any other evidence is inadmissible. The disciples’ affirmation that they have seen the Lord is treated with utter skepticism that borders on rejection.

An unyielding attitude of greatest doubt is being described here, a situation where our believing seems to be unthinkable without seeing, without direct “hands on, eyes on, ears upon” physical evidence and strictest verification.

Have you ever had that degree and measure of doubt in God and resurrection?

I believe there isn’t a person alive who hasn’t lived that doubt in his or her life.

In his book The Thomas Factor, Winkie Pratney says that

“One of the major reasons that God will allow doubt in our lives is because we have not grown.” (Winkie Pratney. The Thomas Factor. Old Tappan. Chosen Books, 1989, p. 103).

He says that “Doubt comes when we take our eyes off God” (page 94).

In the whole passage of this scripture (John 20:19-31) we see that Thomas is struggling with his “growing pains”. He is struggling mightily with his lack of faith. It is as if he is on the exacting border between believing and doubting.

Considering Thomas’ struggles as we read today in John’s narrative,

As we consider what we know to be our own deeply personal struggles …

We must ask ourselves, “Who is the object of our faith God or ourselves?”

This is a question all of us must confront at times when our faith is being tested.

As much as it was devastatingly true for Thomas as he himself lived in those days, directly effected, and affected by the depth of his emotions and course of events as they actually played out, took place, is it also as mightily true for us?

Today, as we move towards the celebration of the Pentecost, I want you to think about the ways that you see that Thomas’s doubt is mirrored in your own lives.

I want you to think about how the Gospel of John mentions Thomas in three different ways,

Thomas the courageous believer,

Thomas the inquisitive and

Thomas the doubter.

THOMAS THE COURAGEOUS

How would you define courage?

1) An athlete’s definition:

Would it be as the late Tennis Star Arthur Ashe described it?

“True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever the cost”.

2) An actor’s definition: Or would it be as the late actor John Wayne said,

“Courage is being scared to death but saddling up and riding ahead anyway”. 

3) A disciple’s definition: Or would it be one of Jesus’s own disciples Thomas defined it,

“a faithfulness unto death” (John 11:16).

Can you imagine a modern-day press conference where journalists might try to question Thomas with a gotcha question?

Imagine their piercing questions.

The interview is going fine, and Thomas is calm until they ask this question:

“You once said that you would follow Jesus. Your exact words were, “Let us go that we might die with Him” (John 11:16). What happened?”

All of a sudden, the interviewee, Thomas, begins to appear intimidated and angry that they put him on the spot.

Take it a step further,

imagine that you are Thomas in this interview.

How would you have responded to all of the cameras and microphones?

How would you have responded to the sudden barrage of repeated questions from every corner of the room, reporter and journalist, at the same time?

THOMAS THE INQUISITIVE

Recall Thomas’s question to Jesus about where it is He is going in John 14:6?

1) A hope graph: If you could graphically picture Thomas’s hope on a scale, then what would it look like between when Thomas had confidently expressed his “faithfulness unto death” up to the moment where he wanted to know the way?

2) A silent minority? Already, you can see the character of Thomas shifting toward doubt in this very question as compared to the courageous statement that he made in John 11:16.

Notice how Thomas says “we” when he really seems to be speaking for himself, at least for the time being.

3) Is seeing always believing? But then we get to Philip’s request to see the Father (John 14:8) and it becomes apparent that maybe there is a “we” after all.

It seems that he might have a little bit in common with Thomas’s need to see in order to believe.

Jesus clarified not only His direction, but also His identity.

1) Jesus’s answer: In answering Thomas’s question, Jesus said,

“I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

2) Our future: Not only was Jesus telling them that He was soon going to die (John 13:33), but He was also telling them about where He was going.

He also spoke of hearts having no fear, of the rooms He was preparing in the Father’s house when He would come and receive each of them (John 14:1-4).

That promise is true for all of His believers.

THOMAS THE DOUBTER

The other disciples had already seen Jesus, but Thomas was not there when they saw Him.

We have to remember that by this time, that there were only 11 other disciples because Judas had hung himself as the result of his severe doubts and anguish.

Ten of those 11 had seen the resurrected Jesus.

1) Jesus’ appearance behind locked doors:

Those 10 disciples were present in the room with the doors locked in fear of the Jewish authorities when the resurrected Jesus appeared among them, saying, “Peace be with you” (John 20:19).

2) Needing proof: It was not until eight days later that Thomas saw Jesus Christ resurrected (John 20:26).

It was not until Thomas saw Jesus just over a week later that he believed.

He said that he would not believe unless he put his hand in Jesus’s hands where the nails were and the wound in His side.

Jesus told him to do just that.

John’s narrative does not specifically mention it. We do not know if Thomas actually physically touched both the nail scared hands and wounded side.

Thomas had to live in doubt for over a week. I know a lot of people who say that they do not like to miss church because they do not feel right all week long.

3) Feeling awkward because of absence:

There have been those rare times in history when we have had to practice social distancing for a great length of time.

Going to church is not something that we do for somebody else.

Going to church is something that we do for ourselves!

We go to church to nurture our faith as well as to encourage one another in the faith.

From John’s narrative, we are not told why Thomas was absent. We are told that his absence made him insecure and doubtful where the others were secure.

4) Needing peace:

We all need that blessing of peace that Jesus gives to us (John 20:19).

Thomas still seemed to be afraid.

Maybe he was still afraid of death. The others were liberated from the prison of that fear whereas Thomas was still one of its prisoners.

Until Thomas saw Jesus resurrected himself, he said that he would not believe.

Faith in Jesus is not something that we just talk about.

Faith gives a bridge over troubled waters!

It is something that we all have to walk on and cross over whenever we find ourselves facing our own barrage of ever greater questions and our doubts.

Satan would love nothing more than to use our doubt to his advantage.

He is betting against us. Satan will try to cheat in order to win.

He tries to use our doubt for leverage.

St. Augustine of Hippo ever so eloquently stated it this way:

“Faith is to believe what you do not yet see; the reward of faith is to see what you believe.” 

“For what we see now we see dimly as a poor reflection in a mirror, then we shall see face to face” (1 Corinthians 13:12)

Until we are able to have the reward of faith—to see what we believe,

we will have to walk by faith until we receive our sight.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this devotional,

Doubt sees the obstacles;

Faith sees the way.

Doubt sees the darkest night;

Faith sees the day.

Doubt dreads to take a step;

Faith soars on high.

Doubt questions, “Who believes?”

Faith answers, “I!”

If we are honest with ourselves, then we will admit that there are lots of times when we possess doubt as Thomas did.

When Jesus came to Thomas and told him put his finger in the holes of his hands and side from His crucifixion scars, Thomas began to believe.

In much the same way, God uses our faith to help others to develop the eyes of faith so that they, too, may begin to believe without having to rely on sight.

They see us having peace that passes all understanding in spite of the trials of everyday life.

It is then our faith becomes a living testimony of trusting and believing in the resurrected Christ so unbelievers may want to have the faith that gives us hope in knowing Christ holds our future just as much as He helps us in the present.

It’s the place where we can confidently connect the question with our response:

1. “Are ye able,” said the Master,
“to be crucified with me?”
“Yea,” the sturdy dreamers answered,
“to the death we follow thee.”
Refrain:
Lord, we are able. Our spirits are thine.
Remold them, make us, like thee, divine.
Thy guiding radiance above us shall be
a beacon to God, to love, and loyalty.

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

Let us pray,

Father, stir my heart to continue to seek after you. I want to know more about you, and I also want to be more aware of your presence in my life. I want my character to be conformed to your will. So please know that my doubts and questions are my seeking you and not my seeking some random tidbit of knowledge. Give me the Spirit of revelation to know you more completely so that I might be transformed by your will rather than being conformed to the culture around me. In Jesus my Savior’s name, I pray. Gloria! Alleluia! Amen.

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O’ My Soul, Never Give Up! ALWAYS BELIEVE! There is always hope! God is always there to uphold Us! Psalm 22:1-2

 I wonder how many times you and I have been let down by someone we know.

People understand well the term and implications behind the word: betrayal.

There are many people who promise us that they will stand by us, no matter what comes our way.

They say, ‘we have your back so do not worry, we will be right behind you’.

However, when trouble strikes, armed with that promise of support, many of them end up so far behind us that we cannot see them, even with a telescope!

We are constantly being left behind and hurt by those we believe we should be able to trust with quite literally everything which we hold dearest to our souls.

But when we are shocked, hurt and feeling betrayed by those we are closest to, sometimes even from within our own families – parents, children, and siblings, and spouses, the shock value, the hurt soar to completely indescribable levels.

When it reaches such an intimate and deeply personal level, there is that inner most feeling of.

“My trust is completely shattered.”

“I absolutely believe that in this exact moment I have no one to turn to!”

“What do I do now?”

“This is way too intimate, way too personal to tell anyone!”

“Who would ever understand what is going on within me?”

Is there any greater sense of loneliness that anyone can feel than this?

18-year-old stranger drives three hours to a supermarket in Buffalo, New York. In a state of greatest rage against a class of people with different colored skin, they park their car, get out and start shooting, then they enter the store —

18-year-old teenager gets mad at his mother over Wi-Fi, leaves the house, then drives away, crashes their car into an Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas — A classroom filled with fourth graders, their teachers, is suddenly shot to pieces.

Yes humanity!

As only God knows and all of humanity surely and certainly dreads,

There is always a worse kind of inconceivable pain and anguish, of a souls’ indescribable betrayal, of utterly shattered trust and undefinable loneliness.

Who dares now to enter into this indescribable, inconceivable whirlwind?

Who has answers to all of the questions, both ponderable and imponderable?

Where to turn in the search for truth and trust?

Who to wise enough for us to ultimately turn to for truth and trust?

Psalm 22:1-2 Amplified Bible

A Cry of Anguish and a Song of Praise.

To the Chief Musician; set to [the tune of] Aijeleth Hashshahar (The Doe of the Dawn). A Psalm of David.

22 [a]My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?
Why are You so far from helping me, and from the words of my groaning?

O my God, I call out by day, but You do not answer;
And by night, but I find no rest nor quiet.

The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.

King David was incredibly sad when he wrote this psalm, wasn’t he?

He was telling God that he felt completely alone. He felt like he couldn’t find God anywhere. He cried out in desperation, but God didn’t seem to answer.

Have you and I or literally everybody else we know ever felt like that? 

Sometimes we are sad beyond our own capability to sufficiently express, maybe we do not trust those around us with our very deepest, most intimate thoughts.

When we are in that place where we are sure no one else can understand exactly what is going on in our hearts and in our souls, but also know we cannot keep it to ourselves because it is too powerful, overwhelming to sufficiently contain.

When we even in that place, question whether or not to dare to tell God about it.

Psalm 22 gives us words to unleash on our own when we feel God is not nearby.

We uncontrollably unleash upon any unsuspecting soul, Psalm 22:1-2 with a measure of trust and certainty that “we do not care who hears it, but we know from deep within the deepest places of our souls, there is someone who cares deeply enough to actually respond because our words have not scared them off.

When a person expresses their saddest feelings to God, that’s called a “lament.”

Psalm 22 is a lament.

Psalm 22 teaches us something else, though, about talking to God.

Read a few more verses—Psalm 22:3-5:

Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One;
    you are the one Israel praises.
In you our ancestors put their trust;
    they trusted and you delivered them.
To you they cried out and were saved;
    in you they trusted and were not put to shame

In these verses David switches from telling God about his great sadness to remembering that God is great. God helped his ancestors.

David reminds God how others were saved when they trusted in God.

Perhaps David is remembering when Israel trusted God to save them from their enemies. Perhaps he is thinking of stories that you and I know too—stories about Ruth and Boaz, stories about Gideon and Joshua or Abraham and Isaac. Maybe David is remembering how God helped him defeat the giant Goliath.

Whatever he is thinking of, David quickly moves from sadness to praise. As we will see when we read more of this psalm, David isn’t done being sad, but he comes to God with two things on his mind: how sad he is and how good God is.

We can tell our sorrows to God too, but, like David, we should also remember how great God is. We can talk to God about our sorrows because we know that he listens to us. Isn’t it beyond great that we can talk to God about anything?

We can affirm our faith in the faithfulness of our God.

We can affirm our faith in the steadfast presence of His Son Jesus.

We can affirm our faith in the constancy of Holy Spirits intercession,

My own personal affirmation of faith in such times is from John 1:1-5

John 1:1-5Amplified Bible

The Deity of Jesus Christ

1 In the beginning [before all time] was the Word ([a]Christ), and the Word was with God, and [b]the Word was God Himself. He was [continually existing] in the beginning [co-eternally] with God. All things were made and came into existence through Him; and without Him not even one thing was made that has come into being. In Him was life [and the power to bestow life], and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines on in the [c]darkness, and the darkness did not understand it or overpower it or appropriate it or absorb it [and is unreceptive to it].

In spite of all questions, answerable and imponderable, YES! I Believe…!

I believe in the living God, the Creator and complete truth of the universe,

  who is the pulse and purpose of all things seen and unseen,

  who from the dust of earth calls up living beings to be children of eternity,

  who through countless ages has provided for us many liberators

  and tirelessly seeks to bring victory out of defeat and life out of decay.

I believe in Jesus the Christ, the Resurrected, God’s ONLY true Son,

  who is bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh,

  who took upon himself the healing of the human race,

  who bearing the burden of our sins went to Golgotha carrying his cross,

  who was betrayed, crucified, dead and buried in a borrowed tomb,

  who on the third day was found to be gloriously alive,

  meeting with those who trust him and serve him to the end of the world.

I believe in the Holy Spirit of God,

  within and among all who cherish Christ and his way,

  who brings hope out of despair, love out of apathy, and joy out of sorrow,

  who unceasingly regenerates and reforms the church

  that it may always be the contemporary body of the risen Christ,

  loving the world through prayer, word and deed.

I believe that even I am caught up in the resurgent life of Christ Jesus,

  and that nothing in life or death can separate me from his love and joy.

In spite of unanswered, imponderable questions, YES! I believe.

YES! I BELIEVE!

I believe in truth as a living Reality,

not captured in theory or a creed,

but revealed to those who love;

the truth of Jesus,

the Spirit of truth,

the truth of God.

YES! Because I believe I trust,

not blindly but open eyed and bold

as a child climbing into a mother’s lap;

the truth of Jesus,

the Spirit of truth,

the truth of God.

YES! Because I believe I serve,

not as a slave that serves a tyrant

but like farmers reaping a harvest;

the truth of Jesus,

the Spirit of truth,

the truth of God.

YES! I BELIEVE

God is big enough to hear about our biggest hurts and our deepest sorrows.

He wants us to tell him everything

YES! I BELIEVE God is faithful!

God is trustworthy!

God is true!

YES! I BELIEVE

We can trust his promises to be kept and his purposes to be good.

How do we know?

Because from the very beginning of all things, God spoke and God Created;

The sunrise each morning is a reminder that the Father of heaven and earth is at forever and ever at work diligently keeping His universe in working order.

If it is true in nature, (Psalm 19:1-2) it is true in the spiritual realm as well.

Greet each new beginning, each sunrise as a reminder of God’s faithfulness.

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

Let us Pray,

God, Builder and Creator of all things, I know that when I acknowledge your authority and your power that you will make my paths straight in front of me.

Please empower me to live a greater life in Christ. May your Holy Spirit who lives in me draw me closer to you. Give me a mind of understanding. Let me see as you see, and not as the world sees. I trust your judgment fully and know that my own judgment is limited. I believe you have everything in control, and you will guide me exactly where you want me to go. Gloria! Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen.

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Walking into the crying faces of Uvalde, Texas, of Buffalo, New York. Can I have Confidence in God’s Presence? What Assurances that God has not, will not, leave us behind? Deuteronomy 31:1-8

When Susanna Wesley was on her deathbed, she gathered her children around her. As she was about to be called home to heaven, she admonished them not to weep but rather to “sing a hymn of praise.” Then with her last breath, she then reminded them the greatest comfort we have in any, all, circumstances are, that the unchangeable truth of life is “God always goes before us,” “God is with us.”

When we consider and ponder the scope of the tragedies of Uvalde, Texas, the magnitude of what has happened to the black community in Buffalo, New York, it is a good thing to be reminded that our “God always goes before us.”

God is always with us and lives within us.” How easy is it to “back away from God,” from within such experiences as this, how easy is it to believe God has left humanity behind by allowing these events to gain entry into our psyche?

Like Job, we are on the threshold of questioning God, questioning our faith.

If like Job, we are going to come to faith or reaffirm our faith in our God in all circumstances, to set aside the very worst which could happen or has already made its presence felt – causing us to suddenly reconsider, retreat a few steps, we need to have that sacred place of assurance that our trust in God will not be violently thrown back into our faces, will not be abused, but always 100% there.

Deuteronomy 31:1-8New International Version

Joshua to Succeed Moses

3Then Moses went out and spoke these words to all Israel: “I am now a hundred and twenty years old and I am no longer able to lead you. The Lord has said to me, ‘You shall not cross the Jordan.’ The Lord your God himself will cross over ahead of you. He will destroy these nations before you, and you will take possession of their land. Joshua also will cross over ahead of you, as the Lord said. And the Lord will do to them what he did to Sihon and Og, the kings of the Amorites, whom he destroyed along with their land. The Lord will deliver them to you, and you must do to them all that I have commanded you. Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the presence of all Israel, “Be strong and courageous, for you must go with this people into the land that the Lord swore to their ancestors to give them, and you must divide it among them as their inheritance. The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; and do not be discouraged.”

The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.

God has given Christians a difficult assignment. One that seems impossible and for which we feel unbelievably inadequate and unqualified. We bring people to a living, abiding faith in God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.

John 10:14 – 18 NIV

14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. 17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”

When the first inclination upon receiving the news of Uvalde, Texas, Buffalo is to stay “a safe distance in the background” start a truly wondrous crusade against something or something else, sound like you are all about achieving maximum results with inactions, it is a sad testimony against you that you prefer “full boots in maximum retreat” against what is the most essential.

“The Knowledge and Maximum Demonstration of the full Presence of God!”

It is a sad testimony against the ones who cry out: “enough, no more prayers!” Against the ones who so quickly refuse to invoke the absolute presence of God in all situations and all circumstances, with all people, absolutely all the time.

Such stances are 1000% contrary to the long-standing promises of our God. As others prefer to retreat kicking, screaming into the world of “I am powerless!” we must recall there will always be those whose first response is to “rush in!”

As Christians, As First Responders, As Christian First Responders, and being the Body of Christ, Being God’s Church, the Steadfast Presence of Lord Jesus Christ,

We are also covenanted to somehow keep our faith when we are summoned into times, seasons which require us to walk alongside of all of humanity when it is or might become painfully apparent when our presence will not be welcomed.

In such times we must recognize the stunning flaws within our own humanity,

“We, the unwilling, led by the unknowing, are doing the impossible for the ungrateful. We have done so much, for so long, with so little, we are now qualified to do anything with nothing.”

― Konstantin Josef Jireček

In my Standing before my Holy God,

In defending my “Courageous Christianity,”

To the beginning of that quote, I would add to these –

“We, the inadequate …”

“We, the unqualified …”

“We, the uncertain …”

“We, the ‘courageous’ of this world …”

Moses questioned God mightily of his qualifications to go back to Egypt.

The enormity of that personal struggle, questioning himself before God’s fire?

Moses certainly did not do any cartwheels or somersaults when God called him to lead the millions of Israelites out of Egypt. He was not the least bit excited in the prospect of going “before God” because he felt poorly equipped to succeed.

That is when spoke to Moses these courage infusing words …

Exodus 3:12 Amplified Bible

12 And God said, “Certainly I will be with you, and this shall be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve and worship God at this mountain.”

These few precious words remind us that with God’s presence and help, we can courageously come to God in confidence. We can accomplish any assignment.

His “I am always with you” presence before us instills confidence into shattered hearts, into questioning hearts, into unwilling hearts, into unqualified hearts, into inadequate hearts, into unequipped hearts, into faithless, hopeless hearts.

From Deuteronomy 31:1-8, we read where Moses announced his coming death.

Joshua was now declared to be God’s designated “First Responder.”

A not so confident, courageous Joshua was going to need a whole lot of God’s words of assurances in the coming days, weeks, months and years ahead to be able to “GO! succeed from where Moses, the “great Law Giver” just left off.

As a Christian community, we too are going to need a whole lot of God’s Word, God’s Truth, if we are going to “GO!” continue to faithfully fulfill our covenant requirements, and faith-filled covenant commitments to the Kingdom of God.

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

Let us Pray,

Thank You, Father, for the truth that is contained in the Scriptures. Sometimes I wish I could see the Shekinah glory or be led by a pillar of fire, but I understand that today we live by faith in Your Word and not by sight. Thank You for Your promises to be with us, to lead and to guide us, to protect us, and supply all our needs, according to Your riches in glory. We praise Your holy name that Your whole Word is true, both toward Uvalde, Texas and Buffalo New York and those places where our faith, our hopes, our love are most mightily tested. Glory be to Your holy name, in Jesus’ name I pray, In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Alleluia! AMEN.

Faith of Our Fathers Text: Frederick W. Faber, 1814-1863

1. Faith of our fathers, living still,
in spite of dungeon, fire, and sword;
O how our hearts beat high with joy
whene’er we hear that glorious word!
Refrain:
Faith of our fathers, holy faith!
We will be true to thee till death.

2. Faith of our fathers, we will strive
to win all nations unto thee;
and through the truth that comes from God,
we all shall then be truly free.
(Refrain)

3. Faith of our fathers, we will love
both friend and foe in all our strife;
and preach thee, too, as love knows how
by kindly words and virtuous life.
(Refrain)

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See! I am raising my un-holy hands. I have Made my decision to Speak, my demands to be Heard. But tell me who is there to hear me, to come between me, my friends and my God? Job 9.

(Job’s) Prayer for Help, and Praise for Its Answer.

A Psalm of (Job first?) then David.

28 To you I call, O Lord,
My rock, do not be deaf to me,
For if You are silent to me,
I will become like those who go down to the pit (grave).


Hear the voice of my supplication (specific requests, humble entreaties) as I cry to You for help,
As I lift up my hands and heart toward Your innermost sanctuary (Holy of Holies)
.

Job was a righteous man before God. Job was a prosperous man, a family man. It was a good life for Job, he was confident in how he was living that life. It seemed that nothing could go wrong that could not be effectively, efficiently, handled. I can see Job, even be jealous of Job for living such an endlessly successful life.

We want to move into Job’s home. We want to live and prosper like Job lived and prospered. It is everybody’s lifelong dream to model their whole lives as Job did. We have control over what happens around us. God is Good and it shows daily.

Until that goodness of God suddenly disappears faster than we can blink an eye.

It does not just disappear at warp speed; it disappears in the most traumatic of ways. The whirlwind of trauma grows ever stronger and its more unstoppable than we could ever have allowed ourselves to imagine possible. Levels of trauma from which there’s no apparent avenue of recovery, can things get even worse?

Suddenly, there seems to be no words which are sufficient to respond with. It suddenly becomes a giant vacuum for which words seem to get stuck within us. Suddenly this “growing zone of silence” is introducing itself, surrounding us.

The inevitable question is “Why Me? Why Now, come on explain yourself God “

What does Job hope to hear?

Job is sure of God’s response because Job is “faith on steroids” and he knows God is always responsive to the max with those who are faithful to God. But all Job hears is complete silence from God and the bleating voices of his friends.

Not exactly what Job desires, wants or needs to hear in this ultra-critical “Faith shaping” time and season. Job’s problem is that he has no way to examine God, to “Call God Out” and that is what he goes on to state in very eloquent terms.

Exasperated, He says that God’s wisdom is beyond man: How can you get hold of a God like that to debate with Him the issues that are causing the pain of life?

What can I do?

How can I get at this whole “God is Silent” problem? 

Exasperated, Job makes his case before his friends and before his God.

AND BEFORE EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US RIGHT THIS EXACT MOMENT!

Job 9:1-12 Amplified Bible

Job Says There Is No Arbitrator between God and Man

Then Job answered and said,


“Yes, I know it is true.
But how can a mortal man be right before God?

“If one should want to contend or dispute with Him,
He could not answer Him once in a thousand times.

God is wise in heart and mighty in strength;
Who has [ever] defied or challenged Him and remained unharmed?

It is God who removes the mountains, and they do not know it,
When He overturns them in His anger;

Who shakes the earth out of its place,
And its pillars tremble;

Who commands the sun, and it does not shine;
Who seals up the stars [from view];

Who alone stretches out the heavens
And tramples down the [a]waves of the sea;

Who made [the constellations] the Bear, Orion, and the Pleiades,
And the [vast starry] spaces of the south;
10 
Who does great things, [beyond understanding,] unfathomable,
Yes, marvelous and wondrous things without number.
11 
“Behold, He passes by me, and I do not see Him;
He moves past me, but I do not perceive Him.
12 
“Behold, He snatches away; who can restrain or turn Him back?
Who will say to Him, ‘What are You doing?’

The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.

Job has decisions to he has make in assessing and evaluating and living out his relationship with God and with mankind. Job deeply needs to hear from God.

He asserts his desire to hear from the Lord who has ever been 100% faithful to him, he asserts his desire to let God know he intends to be ever the more faithful in spite of all the absolute mess that is whirling, swirling, going on around him

Out of the deep darkness that surrounds this “patient” suffering saint, comes a ray of light breaking through. It is the first significant break in Job’s gloom. 

Job’s realization, acknowledgement, what is needed is a mediator, an arbitrator who can come between man, who understands us both and brings us together, 

Job says. For the first time in this book, we begin to see what God is producing in this man, why he is putting him through this protracted trial.

For now, Job begins to feel, deep in his bones, the nature of reality: the terrible gulf between the pleas of man and God that must be bridged by another party.

We who live in the full light of the New Testament know that he is crying out and feeling deep within the need for just such a mediator as Jesus himself.

Job is laying the foundation here in his own understanding for the tremendous revelation that comes in the New Testament when God hears, becomes a man.

When we in our sin believe with all of our heart God has suddenly gone silent,

God Absolutely Listens!

God Absolutely Hears!

God Absolutely Acts!

God Absolutely Intercedes in the affairs of Mankind

God Absolutely Sent His Son at the appropriate time.

God takes our place, God lives as we live, feels as we feel, solves the great problem between us and God, and brings the two—God and man—together.

For the first time in the long suffering words and pleas of Job and his friends, we begin to sense something mighty is taking shape, what God is driving at.  

Psalm 119:65-72 Authorized (King James) Version

ט  Teth

65 Thou hast dealt well with thy servant, O Lord,
according unto thy word.
66 Teach me good judgment and knowledge:
for I have believed thy commandments.
67 Before I was afflicted, I went astray:
but now have I kept thy word.
68 Thou art good, and doest good;
teach me thy statutes.
69 The proud have forged a lie against me:
but I will keep thy precepts with my whole heart.
70 Their heart is as fat as grease;
but I delight in thy law.
71 It is good for me that I have been afflicted;
that I might learn thy statutes.
72 The law of thy mouth is better unto me
than thousands of gold and silver.

You and I can learn theology from a book, and we can study it and get it clear in your mind, but until you go through the hurts and difficulties and trials of life.

We never really understand what God’s truth is. It takes suffering to get a clear vision of what God is saying to us, and that is what the book of Job is all about.

Because we live in a fallen world, there will be times in our life when we will all have to endure trials and difficulty. Job went through such a time; however, he realized that had Someone to stand in his defense. Job called Him his Redeemer.

Job’s suffering helped inform and shape and transform his understanding of the Whole truth of God. The New Testament reveals far more of who God is.

How might Job’s experience, his friends’ experiences, inform, shape and transform our own personal understanding of the “silence” of our God???

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

Let us Pray,

God of truth, sometimes I am not sure if I’m actually hearing your voice, or if it’s just my own sinful thoughts, my friends’ thoughts or even another spirit.

Please God, sharpen my spiritual hearing, Lord, so I can recognize your words when you are speaking to me.

Author of my Life, Shaper of my heart and my soul, help me know it’s really you, with no long shadow of doubt or reason for any of my second-guessing.

When I’m asking for your guidance in important decisions, by your mercy, give me your place of peace that surpasses understanding with your answer. Help me remember that your words to me will never go against your written word in the Bible. Give me a clear mind and push out all my confusion. Alleluia! Amen.

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About our Addressing the Silence of God in our life. Turning our Silence and our Souls over to God. “Unto God I Will Turn and Lift Up My Hands.” Psalm 28

“God our Father, We Your Children Challenge You to be Silent No More in our Lives.”

Only in the sacredness of inward silence does the soul truly meet the secret, hiding God. The strength of resolve, which afterward shapes life, and mixes itself with action, is the fruit of those sacred, solitary moments. There is a divine depth in silence. We meet God alone. – Author: Frederick William Robertson

To address what we perceive to be the “silent treatment” from God, we must, by all necessity recognize that there is a silence in the first place. It means we must first make that initial recognition somewhere within our souls that there is a place we do not recognize within us that is starkly different from what we are used to experiencing, vastly contrasting with our “encoded status quo.”

We must not just acknowledge that our “encoded status quo” is being “tickled” by something or someone we do not recognize, but there is also, likewise, that inner sensation that we are being “tickled,” we are not so inclined to ignore it.

The noise we are all too familiar with is somehow now becoming an irritant. It is not just a small irritation otherwise we would continue to so easily dismiss it.

No! it becomes more and more noticeable – it is ever so slowly interjecting itself further and further into those places which were previously declared numb or even dead spaces in our souls and our lives, and they are now becoming alive.

These numbed or dead spaces within our souls suddenly becoming alive within us lack a specific name. We are complete strangers to such places awakening in us. These are places which possess no boundaries, sadly, lacks true definition.

All our conscious and unconscious efforts to suppress them completely fail us.

Now, out of nowhere, without any degree or measure of advanced warning there is that irrepressible urge to put “words” to our souls being “tickled.”

“Yo! Anybody who is listening to me right now –

Pray! Tell Me PLEASE, what is Up with my Soul!”

Psalm 28 Complete Jewish Bible

28 (0) By David:

(1) Adonai, I am calling to you;
my Rock, don’t be deaf to my cry.
For if you answer me with silence,
I will be like those who fall in a pit.
Hear the sound of my prayers
when I cry to you,
when I lift my hands
toward your holy sanctuary.

Don’t drag me off with the wicked,
with those whose deeds are evil;
they speak words of peace to their fellowmen,
but evil is in their hearts.
Pay them back for their deeds,
as befits their evil acts;
repay them for what they have done,
give them what they deserve.
For they don’t understand the deeds of Adonai
or what he has done.
He will break them down;
he will not build them up.

Blessed be Adonai,
for he heard my voice as I prayed for mercy.
Adonai is my strength and shield;
in him my heart trusted, and I have been helped.
Therefore my heart is filled with joy,
and I will sing praises to him.

Adonai is strength for [his people],
a stronghold of salvation to his anointed.
Save your people! Bless your heritage!
Shepherd them and carry them forever!

The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.

Psalm 28:1-2 Amplified Bible

A Prayer for Help, and Praise for Its Answer.

A Psalm of David.

28 To you I call, O Lord,
My rock, do not be deaf to me,
For if You are silent to me,
I will become like those who go down to the pit (grave).

Hear the voice of my supplication (specific requests, humble entreaties) as I cry to You for help,
As I lift up my hands and heart toward Your innermost sanctuary (Holy of Holies).

David’s soul is and has been trying to get David’s attention.

How long David’s soul has been “tickling him” we cannot say?

We cannot put a specific period of time to this – moments, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months or an indeterminate number of years, even decades.

We can say that finally David’s soul has been reached and David recognizes it.

David and his soul are clearly in a space neither of them likes nor appreciates.

David, “a man after God’s own heart,” puts his words and his soul in the same room at the same time and gives them both free reign to say what must be said.

We, ourselves, in this 21st century whirlwind, must now lend our souls to this ancient “heart to soul to God” silent or raucous conversation, its implications.

David tells us in verse one that if the Lord will not hear his prayer that he would be like one of those who go down to the pit.

I take this to mean that this was not only a life and death situation but that it also very likely had some deeply significant eternal implications as well.

I say this because of verses 3-5 where the wicked men who show no regard for the Lord will be torn down and the Lord will not build them back up again.

David, a “man after God’s own heart” now confessing himself as “wicked” and having “no regard for the Lord” with no foreseeable measure or degree of hope?

I suppose that we could all agree that life has its ups and down’s.

Those who identify themselves as “struggling” today may not be in the future and those that identify themselves as “carefree” today may have a whole lot of concerns next week.

These are the “regular” ebbs and tides of life, liberty, pursuit of joy we accept, acknowledge and readily recognize and “live” as being a “normal part of life.”

Yet, here in verse one David is praying from a place of urgency and great need.

Life might be so good for you right now that you cannot identify with David here.

However, I bet you personally know someone who could be praying like David is right here.

There are friends of mine who are facing some really tough situations, and some are even wondering if they will recover from these things.

When David starts this Psalm, he both inwardly, outwardly prays to the LORD.

In other words, David prays by using the personal name of God.

He knows who he is praying to, he knows the nature and character of the Lord.

I try to keep this in mind when I pray too. If I am facing an overwhelming trial.

From that undefinable place of silence, which is now alive and well within me, I cry out to the LORD who delivered His people from their not so silent cries.

I pray to the LORD whose steadfast love is enduring and whose mercy is new every morning.

When I seek the LORD with these things in mind I am encouraged, and my faith is made strong.

I really like verse two. It is this verse that sheds some light on to the specific things David mentioned in verse one.

For example, not only does David pray in verse two but we discover that he prays over and over again for mercy.

David says, “Hear the voice of my pleas for mercy.”

I am glad that David models for us the consistency that he had both in prayer and the theology behind his words.

David needs help and so he prays, raises hands, and pleas to the Lord for mercy.

Then David says, “…when I lift up my hands toward your most holy sanctuary.”

I love this part.

Notice that David lifts not only his souls undefinable place of silence but also his hands and turns away from himself and toward the most holy sanctuary.

Let me share with you what I like about this. Each week I face things that overwhelm me as the writer of this blog. If nothing else does this to me, I know turning to the Word of God through my devotional define my “soul’s silence.”

My silence will be given a defining voice. As the week goes on, I find myself more and more research and study and prayer busying myself with that task.

So much so that I freely admit God is busy not being silent, and I find myself and my soul both figuratively and quite literally, losing much sleep over it.

The Holy Spirit living within me intercedes and “tickles” my soul to find God.

Here David speaks of men and workers of evil. He speaks of those who speak well to their neighbor, but they have evil in their hearts.

Perhaps his soul is referring David back to himself and his whole host of actions contrary to the will of God – David and Bathsheba, Uriah the Hittite, Failures as king and as a father, Ceaseless Palace Intrigue, Absalom’s death, His Census.

Yet, even when David and his soul are facing such people, David takes time to “enter the holy of holies” God’s sanctuary, to raise up his hands to the Lord. David’s inward silence becomes David’s soul’s outward expression of prayer.

He ceases from the everyday pressing business of “royal intrigue” and the concerns and lifts his hands. You may think that this is a small thing, but I really do not think that this is a minor deal. I bet many souls struggle to still their hands and stop their work to lift their hands and souls up to the Lord.

I want “my soul’s silence” to be more like David’s – expressed through prayer.

Did you notice what the Holy Spirit and David’s soul compel David to do next?

He turns toward the most holy sanctuary.

You see, when my good friend asked me how we can help ‘souls’ in “our spheres of influence (which means quite literally everyone) and our church turn to God in the midst of their troubles I immediately recognized the voice of God speaking, acknowledging these verses.

That is exactly what David does here.

Picture David in your mind praying while looking at these wicked men in front of him in his mirror. Then all of a sudden David turns from them and sets his gaze to the most holy sanctuary. What an image. Even if he had enemies in that direction it seems to me that David is now looking beyond them to the LORD.

Imagine how transforming it would be for us if we would do this in some way.

Say I am struggling with some teaching in scripture. If I would look in the direction of our Holy Lord in that moment things would get clearer.

Say that I am struggling with my soul to forgive myself or someone else. If I would look at the Holy Lord and what does for me, I would quickly forgive.

When I find the cares of this world and see the wickedness all around me and it is all staring back at me, my soul’s and my greatest comfort would come when I would set my gaze upon the Holy Lord. This perspective would change it all.

“Bless the Lord, O, My Soul! And all that is within me, BLESS His Holy Name!”

“Bless the Lord, O, My Soul, and forget NONE of His Benefits!”

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

Let us Pray,

Holy God, make me a partaker of your Holy Spirit. Enlighten me, oh, God. May I taste this heavenly gift that you reserve for your righteous people. Cleanse me of any barriers in my heart and mind and soul that may stop me from feeling your presence in me. Flood any dark spots in my heart with your light. Help me to walk in your light and shine your beauty and grace on everyone I meet. Amen.

Hymn:When, In Our Music, God Is Glorified
Tune:Engelberg
Words:F Pratt Green (1903-2000)
Music:C V Stanford (1852-1924)

Verse 1

When in our music God is glorified, 

And adoration leaves no room for pride, 

It is as though the whole creation cried 

Alleluia! 

Verse 2

How often, making music, we have found 

A new dimension in the world of sound, 

As worship moved us to a more profound 

Alleluia! 

Verse 3

So has the Church, in liturgy and song, 

In faith and love, through centuries of wrong, 

Borne witness to the truth in ev’ry tongue, 

Alleluia! 

Verse 4

And did not Jesus sing a psalm that night 

When utmost evil strove against the Light? 

Then let us sing, for whom he won the fight, 

Alleluia! 

Verse 5

Let ev’ry instrument be tuned for praise! 

Let all rejoice who have a voice to raise! 

And may God give us faith to sing always 

Alleluia! 

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