Boundless Love

Jesus, Thy boundless love to me no thought can reach, no tongue declare; Unite my thankful heart to Thee, and reign without a rival there!  Thine wholly, Thine alone I am; be Thou alone my constant flame.

O grant that nothing in my soul may dwell, but Thy pure love alone; oh, may Thy love possess me whole, my joy, my treasure and my crown!  All coldness from my heart remove;  my every act, word, thought be love.

This love unwearied I pursue and dauntlessly to Thee aspire.  Oh, may Thy love my hope renew, burn in my soul like heav’nly fire!  And day and night,  be all my care to guard this sacred treasure there.

In suff’ring be Thy love my peace, in weakness be Thy love my pow’r; and when the storms of life shall cease, O Jesus, in that final hour, be Thou my rod and staff and guide, and draw me safely to Thy side!

Hymn text by Paul Gerhardt, 1703-91

“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace which he lavished upon us.”  Ephesians 1:7-8

Lord God, Heavenly Father, thank you for your boundless, endless mercy and love which you poured out upon us through your dear Son, Jesus Christ!  You never stop forgiving us.  You never stop loving us even when we are at our most unloveable.  Help us to remember the gift of grace you gave to us at our Baptism that continues to bless and benefit us each and every day.  Accept our humble thanks and praise.  In Jesus’ name, Amen

 

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Saturday Spiritual Sensibilities

“And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.  Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.  Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”  Ephesians 4:30-32

Only by the Spirit of God am I able to speak lovingly, forgive freely, and listen sincerely.   My sinful nature, by contrast, on its own can do nothing but dwell and swell with negative thoughts that eventually erupt into hurtful words that tear down rather than build up.  I need St. Paul’s reminder of who I am–I am one who has been sealed, marked, stamped with God’s Holy Name as one belonging to Christ crucified.  I often fail to be kind, tenderhearted and forgiving because sin is still a part of my life, but God’s grace and mercy is endless.  He forgives me in Christ and He enables me to begin anew–loving, listening and forgiving.  Thanks be to God!

 

I Am Content

I am content!  My Jesus ever lives, in whom my heart is pleased.  He has fulfilled the Law of God for me, God’s wrath He has appeased.  Since He in death could perish never, I also shall not die forever.  I am content!  I am content!

I am content!  My Jesus is my head;  His member I shall be.  He bowed His head when on the cross He died with cries of agony.  Now death is brought into subjection for me by Jesus’ resurrection.  I am content!  I am content!

I am content!  My Jesus is my light, my radiant sun of grace.  His cheering rays beam blessings forth for all, sweet comfort, hope and peace.  This Easter sun has brought salvation and everlasting exultation.  I am content!  I am content!

I am content!  At length I shall be free, awakened from the dead, arising glorious evermore to be with You, my living head.  The chains that hold my body, sever;  Then shall my soul rejoice forever.  I am content!  I am content!

Hymn text by Johann J. Moller, 1600-1733

“And He [Jesus] said to them, “Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead on the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.”  Luke 24:46-47

God’s Face

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“‘“The Lord bless you
    and keep you;
   the Lord make his face shine on you
    and be gracious to you;
 the Lord turn his face toward you
    and give you peace.”’

Numbers 6: 24-26

Lord God, thank You for turning Your face towards us through Your Son Jesus Christ who always kept His face turned on You.  Even on the Cross when You turned away from Him because He was covered with the filth of all our sins He turned to You and asked You to forgive us.  And You did.  We don’t deserve anything good from Your Hand, but because of Jesus You lavish upon us Your never ending goodness and mercy and love.  How great is Your love for us!  May we share Your peace with those we meet this day.  For Jesus’ sake we pray, Amen.

Friendship

 

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“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.  And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.  Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.  Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”  Ephesians 4: 29-32.

Lord God, thank you for friends.  May we cherish them, seek the best for them, and speak well of them always.  Thank you for being our friend.  For loving us when we were unloveable, forgiving us when we did not deserve it, for saving us from sin and death.  By your Holy Spirit help us this day to be a friend to the friendless and to love them even as we have been loved by you.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Without A Doubt

DSCF006519 So when it was evening on that same day, the first day of the week, though the disciples were [meeting] behind barred doors for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them, and said, [i]Peace to you.” 20 After He said this, He showed them His hands and His side. When the disciples saw the Lord, they were filled with great joy. 21 Then Jesus said to them again, Peace to you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you [as My representatives].” 22 And when He said this, He breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of anyone they are forgiven [because of their faith]; if you retain the sins of anyone, they are retained [and remain unforgiven because of their unbelief].”

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

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

30 There are also many other signs (attesting miracles) that Jesus performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these have been written so that you may believe [with a deep, abiding trust] that Jesus is the Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed), the Son of God; and that by believing [and trusting in and relying on Him] you may have life in His name.  John 20:19-31 Amplified Bible

 

Without a doubt God gives us what we need to hear about who He is, what He’s done, and what He continues to do through the lives of those who believe in Him.

We may not be given all the answers to all the questions that we have, but we have enough.

Doubts come to us all at some point.  Like Thomas we want proof such as nail holes and a spear gash that we can touch and see.

And yet, we do have tangible signs of His presence in our lives–the Waters of Baptism, the Bread and Wine and His Word which is living and active. These all do wonderful things to us and for us in our lives of faith.

We may have our doubts, but God has us firmly in the palm of His Hand!

Thank You Lord for giving us Your Word which never fails!  Thank You for the gift of the Holy Spirit that gives us insight into Your truth and strengthens our faith.  Continue to draw us to You through Your precious Word, for Jesus’ sake.  Amen.

God-Affirmer

Photo by Laura Jostes

Photo by Laura Jostes

“Count yourself lucky,

how happy you must be–

you get a fresh start,

your slate wiped clean.

Count yourself lucky–

God holds nothing against you

and you’re holding nothing back from him.

When I kept it all inside,

my bones turned to powder,

my words became day long groans.

The pressure never let up;

all the juices of my life dried up.

Then I let it all out;

I said,

“I’ll make a clean break of my failures to God.”

Suddenly, the pressure was gone.

Everyone of us needs to pray;

when all hell breaks loose and the dam bursts

we’re on high ground, untouched.

God’s my island hideaway,

keeps danger far from the shore,

throws garlands of hosannas

around my neck.

Let me give you some good advice;

I’m looking you in the eye

and giving it to you straight:

“Don’t be ornery like a horse or mule

that needs bit and bridle to stay on track.”

God-defilers are always in trouble;

God-affirmers find themselves

loved every time they turn around.

Celebrate God.

Sing together everyone

All you hones, hearts,

raise the roof!”

Psalm 32

~Paraphrased by Eugene Peterson

in The Message

Lord God, because of the gracious work of Christ on the Cross and the gift of faith you have made me a God-affirmer.  By the power of the Holy Spirit I can acknowledge you as Lord of my life.  When my sins wear me down, I can come to you freely, confess them, and receive your unburdening forgiveness.  I can shout Hallelujah, Praise You God!  Thank you for your “island” security and your promise to never leave me alone.  I love you!  Amen.