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

Psalm 23:5 New International Version

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

Ecclesiastes 9:7-10New International Version

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

The Word of God for the Children of God.

Adeste Fidelis! Venite Adoremus! Dominum.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why such an inconceivable magnitude of maximum Joy?

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

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

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

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

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

“He Anoints My Head With Oil”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ecclesiastes 9:7-10 New International Version

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Hebrew word is hebel.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The NIV translates this into English as “lot.”

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

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

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

It is generally considered a negative thing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This kind of celebration didn’t happen every day.

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

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

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

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

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

Ecclesiastes 9:7-10The Message

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bringing it back to god and Psalm 23 now.

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

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

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

Here’s a secret.

The word anointing never actually shows up in Psalm 23.

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

The Hebrew word for anointing is mashach.



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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So that’s what we expect: extravagant abundance.

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

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

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

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

You and I have got it already.

You and I are receiving it right now.

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

The poet of Ecclesiastes says,

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

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

It may look small and ordinary and insignificant and momentary.

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

Psalm 23 Amplified Bible

The Lord, the Psalmist’s Shepherd.

A Psalm of David.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let us Pray,

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

Adeste Fidelis! Venite Adoremus! Dominum.

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


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

Revelation 2:1-7Amplified Bible

Message to Ephesus

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

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

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

The Word of God for the Children of God.

Adeste Fidelis! Venite Adoremus! Dominum.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He also directly challenges them, giving compliments before critique.

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

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

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

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





But ….

And envision this very real possibility ….

Exceedingly and Abundantly and Carefully and Critically and Realistically,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This does not require any commitment or allegiance.

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

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

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

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

Proverbs 29:18 Amplified Bible

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sometimes in marriage, love will decline and grow tired.

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

This can likewise happen to the Children of God.

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

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

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

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

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

Revelation 2:4-7 The Message

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jesus knows each church community and each person in it.

He knows every single one of our strengths.

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

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

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

They had lost their first love.

This is a powerful revelation.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let us Pray,

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

Adeste Fidelis! Venite Adoremus! Dominum.

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


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

John 13:34-35 Amplified Bible

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

The Word of God for the Children of God.

Adeste Fidelis! Venite Adoremus! Dominum.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Apostle Paul emphatically says,

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

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

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

The apostle Paul goes on to write,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Romans 5:8-10Amplified Bible

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

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

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

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

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

What then is “My Christianity?”

What then is my “Sermon in Shoes?”

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


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

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

Have you ever had someone talk at you? 

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

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

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

It is like a verbal vomiting attack. 

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

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

How does that make you feel?

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

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

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

This is Christianity without love. 

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

Have you ever heard a really unpleasant noise? 

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

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

The louder it gets the worse it is.

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

Christianity is no exception. 

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

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

1 Corinthians 13:1-3Amplified Bible

The Excellence of Love

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

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

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


Religiosity without love is nothing! 

It is also really annoying! 

This is what Paul says in these verses.

C’mon, say what you really mean Paul!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Paul was writing to Christians who were noisy gongs. 

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

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

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

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

Their faith was self-centered and self-serving.

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

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

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

Loving yourself that much precludes loving others with any authenticity. 

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

The flesh is a greedy beast to feed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

John 13:34-35Amplified Bible

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

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

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

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

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

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

God is love. 

Jesus is God and is also therefore love. 

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

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

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

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

Without love, even Christianity is nothing. 

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

God is love. 

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

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

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

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

It profits us nothing and creates a jarring discordant sound. 

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

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


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

1 John 4:7-8Amplified Bible

God Is Love

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

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

He is love and brings love wherever He walks.

He is love and brings love wherever He Talks.

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

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


How do you recognize Jesus’ followers?

How do you find Christians?

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

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

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

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

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

What do you anticipate seeing?

What do you expectantly hope and pray to see?

What do you actually see?


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

Go Live and Live greatly! 

Go Love and Love greatly!

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

Let us Pray,

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

Adeste Fidelis! Venite Adoremus! Dominum.

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


Marking out our Pathways to Solitude. “Alone Time,” Making Time with God, Having our Time with God. Luke 5:14-16

Luke 5:14-16 The Message

14-16 Jesus instructed him, “Don’t talk about this all over town. Just quietly present your healed self to the priest, along with the offering ordered by Moses. Your cleansed and obedient life, not your words, will bear witness to what I have done.” But the man couldn’t keep it to himself, and the word got out. Soon a large crowd of people had gathered to listen and be healed of their sicknesses. As often as possible Jesus withdrew to out-of-the-way places for prayer.

The Word of God for the Children of God.

Adeste Fidelis! Venite Adoremus! Dominum.

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

Sometimes we each find that our hearts and our souls get crowded out by life.

This way, that way, every way, by someway outside of our sphere of influence, life envelops us, immerses us in tornado force whirlwinds and deep whirlpools.

Surrounded By Souls – A Poem

I’m in touch with the thought, the idea’s in my mind,
This fleeting dream, doesn’t leave me behind.

I need to hold on, to these glimpses of pure life,
To bypass the confusion, the agony, the strife.

The simple life is there, just there, now gone,
Between the bursts of light, I think I’m alone.

But alone in the sense of being comfortable with me,
Not lost in a desert of all that I see.

But now I feel that I’m not alone at all,
The world’s full of souls, I just need to call.

Alan Bruce Thompson

Why “Alone Time” With God?

Why should we spend time alone with God?

Why is meeting with God in the “solitary places” so important?

Until we gain an understanding of the immense value and the opportunity of encountering the shekinah Glory, the presence of our Living God, we will never consistently engage in this foundational, vital practice: “Time Alone With God.”

As we prayerfully come together, discover God’s heart to meet with us in order that we might experience the depths of his love, I pray that our lives would be marked by a new grace to consistently and powerfully encounter the living God.

Luke 5:14-16 Amplified Bible

14 Jesus ordered him to tell no one [that he might happen to meet], “But go and show yourself to the priest, and make an offering for your purification, just as Moses commanded, as a testimony (witness) to them [that this is a work of Messiah].” 15  But the news about Him was spreading farther, and large crowds kept gathering to hear Him and to be healed of their illnesses. 16 But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray [in seclusion].

Why is time alone with God so important?

Why can’t just going to church, a community group, or a Bible study be enough?

Those of you who have grown up in church or have been going to church for many years have been told and repeatedly taught that time exclusively spent alone with God is indescribably vital to our connection, relationship with him.

Many of you, including me, however, were never given a reason why.

And in order for us to consistently and effectively engage in this abundantly life giving, life sustaining crucial practice, must understand why it is so important.

Here’s what we learn from Scripture about having time alone with God.

Scripture makes it abundantly clear that Jesus spent time alone with his heavenly Father. 

Luke 5:16 states, “Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” 

Mark 1:35 states, “And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.” 

Often in Scripture, Jesus withdrew from the crowd to pray.

So the first reason to spend time alone with God is because Jesus did.

If Jesus needed time alone with his heavenly Father, we can all be sure we need it even more.

Jesus walked in God’s presence constantly.

Jesus constantly responded to God’s will for his life.

He is our perfect example.

And even still, He needed time alone with God.

God–seekers welcome lonely places at times.

They will sometimes go miles in any direction just to find a place where open sky, wide spaces, and the starry heavens and winds are their only companions.

Even though God’s presence is clearly to be found among his children (as our Lord promised when two or three gather in his name—Matthew 18:20), God also meets us in those far away places, miles from humanity, in times of solitude.

Jesus often sought solitude.

He began his ministry by spending forty days in the desert (Matthew 4:1–11).

He spent a whole night in the desert hills before calling his twelve disciples (Luke 6:12–15).

After a powerful healing mission, he called his disciples to come with him “to a quiet place” (Mark 6:31).

For his transfiguration, he found a lonely mountain (Matthew 17:1–8).

And to find strength to face his death for us, he sought out the solitude of the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36–46).

Solitude rescues the lonely from loneliness.

As Richard Foster, a teacher and writer on Christian spirituality, points out, “Loneliness is inner emptiness; solitude is inner fulfillment.”

Solitude is the discipline of tuning our hearts to hear nothing but the voice of God, whether it comes to us in a whisper or a roar.

When we “pick ourselves up” to move into solitude, we seek to silence all other voices which clamor for all our attention, just to be attuned to hear God’s voice.

Psalm 19:1-5The Message

19 1-2 God’s glory is on tour in the skies,
    God-craft on exhibit across the horizon.
Madame Day holds classes every morning,
    Professor Night lectures each evening.

3-4 Their words aren’t heard,
    their voices aren’t recorded,
But their silence fills the earth:
    unspoken truth is spoken everywhere.

4-5 God makes a huge dome
    for the sun—a superdome!
The morning sun’s a new husband
    leaping from his honeymoon bed,
The daybreaking sun an athlete
    racing to the tape.

We also see from Jesus’ example that time alone with God empowers us and inspires, refreshes, invigorates us, to carry out God’s purpose for our life.

It was after withdrawing into the wilderness in Luke 4 that we read he began performing miracles.

Jesus entered the Garden of Gethsemane filled with grief and sorrow, asking God for a way other than his own death to achieve salvation for his people.

After spending time alone with God, he came out of the garden empowered to endure the worst atrocity in history.

Spending time alone with God empowers us, quickens us to live a life filled with a knowledge of God’s purposes and the ability to faithfully see them through.

Lastly, Jesus is clear in Matthew 6:5-6 how we are to pray.

Scripture says, 

“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” 

God rewards time spent alone with him in prayer.

It’s by praying in secret we clearly and tangibly encounter God’s love for us.

It’s by spending meaningful, quality time alone, in solitude, in quiet, thru engaging in quiet conversation with the Spirit that we learn what his voice sounds like, who it is we are responding with the entirety of our lives to.

It is only by asking God questions we come to discover His solitary, abundant will.

And it’s by spending time alone with him that our lives gradually become laser focused, centered not around our lonely, but around his nearness and goodness.

All of the money in the world cannot buy the rewards God longs to give you.

All the favor of men will not satisfy your insatiable desire to be fully known and fully loved more and greater and best by someone, something other than “self.”

God’s desire to spend time alone with you is not meant to add stress or pressure to your life but to relieve you from it.

He is not a God who is after you religiously checking off a quiet time box, but a good, good Father who longs to fill our lives with his grace, power, and love. 

Receive right now, in this exact and exacting the best gift you could be offered, one-on-one communion, one-on-one Koinonia, with your heavenly Father.

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

Guided Prayer:

1. Wherever you are, find a place to get alone and pray.

Seek out a place that you can find solitude that will be uninterrupted.

“Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” Luke 5:16

“And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.” Mark 1:35

2. Read and pray through this Scripture.

May God give you a revelation of his provision and love for you as you pray Jesus’s model prayer.

“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.” – Matthew 6:9-13

3. Engage in conversation with God. 

Ask him how he feels about you.

Come before him with anything which is weighing you down and lay your burdens at his feet.

Rest in the peace that comes from his singularly unique, peaceful presence.

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

Father God, giver of every good and perfect gift, by thy grace and mercy, give me a heart that welcomes solitude and quiet places as openings for your voice to be heard and your glory to shine. Keep me quiet, keep me quietly in tune with you, I pray.

Adeste Fidelis! Venite Adoremus! Dominum.

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


Our Time Alone With God. Jesus, with His Sleeping Disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane. Luke 22:39-46

Luke 22:39-46Amplified Bible

The Garden of Gethsemane

39 And He came out and went, as was His habit, to the Mount of Olives; and the disciples followed Him. 40 When He arrived at the place [called Gethsemane], He said to them, “Pray continually that you may not fall into temptation.” 41 And He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, 42  saying, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup [of divine wrath] from Me; yet not My will, but [always] Yours be done.” 43 [a]Now an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him. 44 And being in agony [deeply distressed and anguished; almost to the point of death], He prayed more intently; and His [b]sweat became like drops of blood, falling down on the ground. 45 When He rose from prayer, He came to the disciples and found them sleeping from sorrow, 46 and He said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray that you may not fall into temptation.”

The Word of God for the Children of God.

Adeste Fidelis! Venite Adoremus! Dominum

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

Jesus’ final hours of suffering and death were the weakest moments of his life.

They were the weakest moments ever experienced by any human being.

Jesus drank the bitterest cup any human ever drank.

His closest friends betrayed him, denied him, fled from him.

Jesus was convicted in a sham trial, mocked and flogged, tortured and stabbed.

While on the cross, it seemed that even his Father in heaven had abandoned him. He cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Finally he gave up his spirit and died. He knew all this was coming.

How did he prepare?

How could anyone prepare for the ultimate torture?


Jesus turned to the source of his strength: his Father.

Jesus pleaded with God he would not have to face the horror of death on a cross.

But there was only one thing he wanted more than avoiding the cross; it was obedience to God.

At the conclusion of his prayer, Jesus set aside his own desire for safety, comfort, and peace.

“Not my will, but yours be done.”

Can there be any better way to turn weakness to strength?

Jesus himself modeled for us the very kind of habits and rhythms of life we need in any age.

Even as God in human flesh, he prioritized time alone with his Father.

Imagine what “good” he might otherwise have done with all those hours.

But he chose again and again, in perfect wisdom and love, to give his first and best moments to seeking his Father’s face.

If Jesus, even Jesus, in the Garden of Gethsemane, in his coming anguish carved out such space in the demands of his human life, should not we all the more?

Our own struggles and suffering will never compare to the titanic struggle between good and evil that Jesus willingly chose.

But his prayerful solitary choice to steadfastly obey his Father over any other choice comforts and strengthens me as I fervently pray it strengthens you too.

His victory is mine.

His victory is yours!

We may have but glimpses of Jesus’s habits and personal spiritual practices in the Gospels, but what we do have is by no accident, and it is not scant.

We know exactly what God means for us to know, in just the right detail — and we have far more about Jesus’s personal spiritual rhythms than we do about anyone else in Scripture.

And the picture we have of Christ’s habits is not one that is foreign to our world and lives and experience.

We find timeless and trans-cultural postures that can be replicated, and easily applied, by any follower of Jesus, anywhere in the world, at any time in history.

How many of us have the presence of mind, and heart, and soul, and spirit, to discern and prioritize, genuinely actualize, solitary prayer time as Jesus did?

The account of Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane before being taken away to be crucified is one of the most personal glimpses into the relationship between Jesus and his Father, God.

It shows us the close relationship and trust Jesus had with his Father.

Jesus went to the Father with his deepest troubles, honestly cried out to Him.

Not only did Jesus trust God with his fears, sadness, and requests, he also trusted the perfect plan God had for his future.

Even when it would cost him his life, Jesus trusted the will of his Father and even prayed for it.

Jesus lived on Earth as a man for 33 years.

In the Gospels, we have a record of the three years he spent in ministry.

As he traveled preaching the gospel, healing the sick, and training up disciples, all the while Jesus knew what was coming and how his life would end.

He knew that his purpose on Earth was to become the perfect lamb to be sacrificed for the sins of the world.

He understood to become that perfect sacrifice he would suffer greatly, be put to death, have the relationship between him and the Father broken for a time.

In these verses, we get a glimpse of Jesus as being fully man and fully God.

We see his anguish, fear, and dread.

He was overwhelmed and sorrowful as he is betrayed and abandoned.

Jesus was suffering in his soul as well as in his body.

It was a sorrow that leads to death.

A sorrow that you and I couldn’t survive; soul sorrow; even agony.

Every one of us can identify with deep sorrow on some level. 

At some point in our lives, most of us have felt these deep emotions, maybe even to the point of wishing we would die instead of suffering so much.

These feelings are human.

There is nothing sinful about any of them.

Even Jesus felt this way.

It’s what we choose to do with these feelings that matters most.

Just Go Away to A Solitary Place ….

P.U.S.H. – Pray Until Something Happens – against the Gates of Heaven.

Luke 22:45-46Amplified Bible

45 When He rose from prayer, He came to the disciples and found them sleeping from sorrow, 46 and He said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray that you may not fall into temptation.”

Take a minute, read and observe what happened in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Notice the actions, and then notice the LACK of actions of the disciples ….

We Need Each Other’s Times of Solitary Prayers ….

The gospel accounts describe Jesus as being in a type of agony.

He was sorrowful and very heavy; signifying a sorrow that makes a man neither fit for company nor desirous of it.

Even so, the first thing we see Jesus do is to gather his closest friends for support.

He doesn’t bring all twelve disciples to Gethsemane, only three; the closest three, Peter, James, and John.

These were the ones who also had witnessed his glory in his transfiguration.

Peter, James, and John have witnessed Jesus’ glory as no one else had.

Because of their witness, they are probably the most prepared of all the disciples to witness his agony.

They know Jesus in a different way than the others.

So Jesus chooses them to share in his emotional agony.

He rallies them for companionship and asks them to pray.  

This is a lesson for us. Jesus gathered his friends and expresses his sorrow.

We need friends too; not as a substitute for God, but as an earthly comfort.

There’s a delicate balance between oversharing and putting on a happy face to suffer in silence.

In times of greatest heartbreak, grief, and sadness, we need our closest friends to surround us.

We need to share our feelings with them asking for support, companionship, and prayer.

But, as we read the Gospel account, the disciples fell asleep ….

Friends may fall asleep on us, but God does not!

Jesus returns to the three disciples he has brought with him and finds them sleeping.

He has brought them along so that they would keep their solitary watch and pray with him, and thoroughly fatigued from the day, they have fallen short.

Once again, a lesson for us. Our closest friends and family are important resources for us, especially when we are going through tough times.

However, they can never replace the perfect comfort, reliability, and peace that only God can supply.

As humans, we fall short, we fail each other all the time.

Our intentions are good and honest, but sadly, our own emotions, priorities, schedules, and opinions get in the way of being ‘everything’ for someone else.

ONLY GOD can do that.

God is always awake and aware ….

Psalm 121The Message

121 1-2 I look up to the mountains;
    does my strength come from mountains?
No, my strength comes from God,
    who made heaven, and earth, and mountains.

3-4 He won’t let you stumble,
    your Guardian God won’t fall asleep.
Not on your life! Israel’s
    Guardian will never doze or sleep.

5-6 God’s your Guardian,
    right at your side to protect you—
Shielding you from sunstroke,
    sheltering you from moonstroke.

7-8 God guards you from every evil,
    he guards your very life.
He guards you when you leave and when you return,
    he guards you now, he guards you always.

It appears that God didn’t answer Jesus’ prayers.

At the very least, it would seem that Jesus was told, “No. I will not stop this punishment by death.”

It’s true, God’s perfect will was for Jesus to die and become the sacrificial lamb for the sins of the world.

He did not stop that from happening.

But he did answer Jesus’ prayer.

He sent an angel to strengthen Jesus to give him the encouragement, the ability to carry through the most daunting task in history which awaited before him.

Also, he rescued Jesus from death.

Although Jesus would suffer greatly and it would be painful for a time, he didn’t allow Jesus to stay dead.

He brought him back to life, took him to heaven to sit a the right hand of the Father. 

Thankfully, for our sakes and for all of humanity, Jesus’ solitary prayer was answered in the perfect will of our sovereign God.

Because of Jesus’ solitary, steadfast obedience to the will of His Father we have a singularly unique solitary and prayerful relationship with Jesus Christ today.

As it was HIS Habit, Let it also become OUR Habit

That’s why I love this account of Jesus in the Garden so much.

It shows me the humanity of Jesus, his agony in trusting, obeying the Father.

It shows me that it’s OK to struggle and plead with God.

It shows me that trusting God is hard work and won’t always come easily.

It also shows me that trusting and obeying is between me and God – no one else can do the hard work for me.

I see that even though I may not understand God’s will for me at the moment, God has a single, solitary, uniquely mine plan for all my future circumstances.

Even when he answers my prayers differently, singularly, uniquely, solitarily, than I had hoped, this Gospel Narrative teaches me that His plan is always best. 

So, let’s take this example from Jesus.

Let’s worship Him for how he trusted and obeyed the Father so that we could be saved and have a relationship with him forever.

And, let’s continue to work on our own trust issues, as we work on trusting and obeying Him, even when we do not understand the plan – It is our only HOPE.

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

Let us Pray,

Psalm 42The Message

42 1-3 A white-tailed deer drinks
    from the creek;
I want to drink God,
    deep drafts of God.
I’m thirsty for God-alive.
I wonder, “Will I ever make it—
    arrive and drink in God’s presence?”
I’m on a diet of tears—
    tears for breakfast, tears for supper.
All day long
    people knock at my door,
    “Where is this God of yours?”

These are the things I go over and over,
    emptying out the pockets of my life.
I was always at the head of the worshiping crowd,
    right out in front,
Leading them all,
    eager to arrive and worship,
Shouting praises, singing thanksgiving—
    celebrating, all of us, God’s feast!

Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul?
    Why are you crying the blues?
Fix my eyes on God—
    soon I’ll be praising again.
He puts a smile on my face.
    He’s my God.

6-8 When my soul is in the dumps, I rehearse
    everything I know of you,
From Jordan depths to Hermon heights,
    including Mount Mizar.
Chaos calls to chaos,
    to the tune of whitewater rapids.
Your breaking surf, your thundering breakers
    crash and crush me.
Then God promises to love me all day,
    sing songs all through the night!
    My life is God’s prayer.

9-10 Sometimes I ask God, my rock-solid God,
    “Why did you let me down?
Why am I walking around in tears,
    harassed by enemies?”
They’re out for the kill, these
    tormentors with their obscenities,
Taunting day after day,
    “Where is this God of yours?”

11 Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul?
    Why are you crying the blues?
Fix my eyes on God—
    soon I’ll be praising again.
He puts a smile on my face.
    He’s my God.

Adeste Fidelis! Venite Adoremus! Dominum.

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



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

Psalm 55:1-8 The Message

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

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

The Word of God for the Children of God.

Adeste Fidelis! Venite Adoremus! Dominum.

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

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

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

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

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

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

We question everything.

Stop the cycle ….

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

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

Where can a solution be found?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have you felt the sting of the “tempest”?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Psalm 27:4-6 The Message

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

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

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

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

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

Has this plea from your soul caught you by surprise?

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

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


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

Let us Pray,

Psalm 42 The Message

42 1-3 A white-tailed deer drinks
    from the creek;
I want to drink God,
    deep drafts of God.
I’m thirsty for God-alive.
I wonder, “Will I ever make it—
    arrive and drink in God’s presence?”
I’m on a diet of tears—
    tears for breakfast, tears for supper.
All day long
    people knock at my door,
    “Where is this God of yours?”

These are the things I go over and over,
    emptying out the pockets of my life.
I was always at the head of the worshiping crowd,
    right out in front,
Leading them all,
    eager to arrive and worship,
Shouting praises, singing thanksgiving—
    celebrating, all of us, God’s feast!

Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul?
    Why are you crying the blues?
Fix my eyes on God—
    soon I’ll be praising again.
He puts a smile on my face.
    He’s my God.

6-8 When my soul is in the dumps, I rehearse
    everything I know of you,
From Jordan depths to Hermon heights,
    including Mount Mizar.
Chaos calls to chaos,
    to the tune of whitewater rapids.
Your breaking surf, your thundering breakers
    crash and crush me.
Then God promises to love me all day,
    sing songs all through the night!
    My life is God’s prayer.

9-10 Sometimes I ask God, my rock-solid God,
    “Why did you let me down?
Why am I walking around in tears,
    harassed by enemies?”
They’re out for the kill, these
    tormentors with their obscenities,
Taunting day after day,
    “Where is this God of yours?”

11 Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul?
    Why are you crying the blues?
Fix my eyes on God—
    soon I’ll be praising again.
He puts a smile on my face.
    He’s my God.

Adeste Fidelis! Venite Adoremus! Dominum.

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


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

Proverbs 21:20-21 Amplified Bible

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

The Word of God for the Children of God.

Adeste Fidelis! Venite Adoremus! Dominum.

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

Should Christians Be Pursuing Success?

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

Should “Sermon in Shoes” Christians be pursuing success?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Does God Say About Success?

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

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

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

Joshua 1:7-8 Amplified Bible

Only be strong and very courageous; be careful to do [everything] in accordance with the entire law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may prosper and be successful wherever you go.  This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall read [and meditate on] it day and night, so that you may be careful to do [everything] in accordance with all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will be [a]successful.



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

Joshua was charged with a great task.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Matthew 16:26Amplified Bible

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

Mark 8:36 Amplified Bible

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

Luke 9:25 Amplified Bible

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

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

John 6:27-29 Amplified Bible

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

Success Through Obedience and Service

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

1 Chronicles 22:9-12 Amplified Bible

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

Proverbs 6:6-8 Amplified Bible

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

Which, having no chief,
Overseer or ruler,

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

Proverbs 21:20 Amplified Bible

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

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

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

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

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

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

Proverbs 16:1-3Amplified Bible

Contrast the Upright and the Wicked

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

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

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

The Word of God: The Rewards of Working Hard

2 Thessalonians 3:7-10Amplified Bible

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

Warning Against The Love of Money

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

Luke 12:13-21 Amplified Bible

Covetousness Denounced

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

Parable of the Wealthy Fool

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

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

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

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

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

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

He is greedy not for luxury but for security.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jesus points us away from greed based on worry.

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

Wanting more than that is a type of greed.

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

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

Hebrews 13:5-6 Amplified Bible

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

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

Summarizing: Should Christians Pursue Success?

By all means.

Work hard where God has put you.

Be a faithful, dependable, honest employee.

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

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

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

Psalm 119:9-16Amplified Bible


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

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

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

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

Let us Pray,

Psalm 23 The Message

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

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

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

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

Adeste Fidelis! Venite Adoremus! Dominum.

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


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

Romans 8:5-8 The Message

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

The Word of God for the Children of God.

Adeste Fidelis! Venite Adoremus! Dominum.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Living in the Flesh or Living in the Spirit?

Romans 8:5-8 New International Version

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

This passage provides a test.

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

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

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

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

Is this necessarily a bad thing?

Is this necessarily a good thing?

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

It is just what we are. 

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

And we condemn the expression of those desires. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I have done it for several decades.

But it is demanding an answer now.

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

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

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

Am I trying to please God?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Are The Two Lives Referring To?

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

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

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

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

What is the implicit connection between these 2 verbs? 

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

What does it mean to set?

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

It is a simple, but very important principle. 

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

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

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

We need to set our minds on something.

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

Yet, many of us have neglected this simple truth.

So, what have you set your mind on? 

What have you fixed your thoughts on?

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

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

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

Let’s press it a bit further.

What is one implication of this verse?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let us Pray,

Psalm 16 The Message

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Adeste Fidelis! Venite Adoremus! Dominum.

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


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

2 Corinthians 13:5-9 The Message

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

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

The Word of God for the Children of God.

Adeste Fidelis! Venite Adoremus! Dominum.

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

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

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

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

Failing is not bad.

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

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

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

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

Isaiah 40:27-29Amplified Bible

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

The essential message from this passage from Isaiah is this:

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

Am I afraid of failure? Absolutely!

Are you afraid of failure? Probably – Absolutely!

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

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

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

Why mistakes and failures cannot define us

1. Mistakes and Failures Should Not Be Personalized.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fervently …. and Without Ceasing ….

Psalm 25:5-7 The Message

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

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

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

6. Through Mistakes We Can Overcome Your Fears

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

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

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

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

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

Fervently …. and Without Ceasing ….

Psalm 27:12-14The Message

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

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

7. If We Make Mistakes We Have No Regrets

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

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

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

Psalm 16:7-11The Message

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

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

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

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

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

None of them should be taken personally.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let us Pray,

Psalm 23 The Message

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

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

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

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

Adeste Fidelis! Venite Adoremus! Dominum.

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


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

Hebrews 4:15-16Amplified Bible

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

The Word of God for the Children of God.

Adeste Fidelis! Venite Adoremus! Dominum.

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hebrews 4:15-16The Message

The High Priest Who Cried Out in Pain

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

Believe it or Not ….

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

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

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

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

Identify: What is Failure

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

Small things can be failures.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Houston Texans and the Chicago Bears.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bottling your emotions can lead to two things:

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

So, how do you let it all out?

There are a few ways to get the bad,

and — most importantly — retain the knowledge you gained:

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

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

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

Look at the Failure of Others

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

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

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

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

What successful person do you look up to?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We will all inevitably fail at something ….

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

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

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

Feel better?

You should.

We have all been there.

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

As The Message puts it,

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

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

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

Have I mentioned that failure is a good thing?

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

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

The Sermon on the Mount; The Beatitudes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Disciples and the World

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

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

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

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

John 21:15-19The Message

Do You Love Me?

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

“Yes, Master, you know I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”

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

“Yes, Master, you know I love you.”

Jesus said, “Shepherd my sheep.”

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

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

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

Peter knew he had failed Jesus.

No one had to tell him.

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

How can Jesus use failure for our spiritual growth?

Failure is not fatal in the eyes of Jesus.

Failure teaches us that we need a Savior.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let us Pray,

Psalm 16The Message

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Adeste Fidelis! Venite Adoremus! Dominum.

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