My gracious favour is all you need

My gracious favour is all you need.  My power works best in your weakness…Since I know it’s all for Christ’s good, I am quite content with my weaknesses and with insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. (!)  For when I am weak, then I am strong.—Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might…take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.

You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the LORD on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed. Tomorrow go out against them, and the LORD will be with you. 

O my God, in you I trust; let me not be put to shame; let not my enemies exult over me. Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame—LORD, don’t hold back your tender mercies from me.  My only hope is in your unfailing love and faithfulness. For troubles surround me–too many to count!

Oh, the joys of those who trust the LORD…

II Cor.12:9,10 NLT; Eph.6:10,13 ESV; II Chron. 20:17 ESV; Ps. 40:11-12 NLT; Ps.25:2-3 ESV; Ps. 40: 4

My life is not overflowing with troubles right now.  They loom, it is true, in the recesses of my imagination.  Any number of factors could change without a moment’s notice; I am only too aware of this. Truly “man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward” (Job 5:7 ESV); this is part of the human condition ever since the Garden.  But I don’t think we’re meant to live in fear of what might be just around the corner. 

I tend to live in a sort of braced gratefulness.  I am very thankful for this peaceful interlude in our lives…but a niggling fear nibbles at my heart, warning me to ‘be ready’, ‘watch out!’, ‘brace yourself’ a squall is coming. This temptation to fear prompts me to rely on my own sense of ‘readiness’.  It would steal present peace in exchange for a false sense of future control.  It would undermine my trust in God’s good and sovereign hand over all of life if I yield to its incitements.  So today these verses lay down a strong foundation for faith, the perfect shield for all the enemy’s darts, leaving me free to just be thankful!

O LORD my God, you have done many miracles for us. Your plans for us are too numerous to list.  If I tried to recite all your wonderful deeds,
I would never come to the end of them! Ps.40:5

What do you have that God hasn’t given you?

My conscience is clear, but that doesn’t prove I’m right. It is the Lord himself who will examine me and decide. So don’t make judgments about anyone ahead of time–before the Lord returns. For he will bring our darkest secrets to light and will reveal our private motives. Then God will give to each one whatever praise is due. … For what gives you the right to make such a judgment? What do you have that God hasn’t given you? And if everything you have is from God, why boast as though it were not a gift? … We appeal gently when evil things are said about us. Yet we are treated like the world’s garbage, like everybody’s trash, right up to the present moment. —For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. 

For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. —Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”—When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 

God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” 

My soul makes its boast in the LORD; let the humble hear and be glad. 

I Cor. 4:4-5, 7, 13 NLT; Rom 12:3 ESV; Rev 3:17-19 ESV; Mt. 9:13 ESV; Mt.9:36 ESV; I Cor. 1:28-31 ESV; Ps. 34:2 ESV

Oh my, is it ever easy to think negatively and critically of others.  I can get slinging mud in my mind without even knowing the other person–just based on a momentary glance, or a comment overheard, or some other flimsy notion of my superiority (or inferiority!).  It’s all based on appearances and it’s not only ridiculous but deplorable.  

What do you have that God hasn’t given you? is still ringing in my ears after a moment of being brought up short this week by the Spirit and having to do a little review of how out of line my own thoughts were as compared to Christ’s.  He exuded compassion, even to those He had to rebuke severely (‘white-washed sepulchres’!).  His intent was merciful–to save them from themselves and their blindness to their own condition.  I am humbled and grateful at this evidence of His presence and love–this Spirit at work to conform me to the image of Jesus, this foretaste of future glory!


Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. I Jn.3:2 ESV

P.S. I was helped this week by some considerations by C.S.Lewis in his book Mere Christianity.  He suggests some factors we may not have thought of when we presume to condemn others for their behavior.  I’ve posted the quote over here, at my quote collection blog:

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Is judgmentalism just part of the human condition? How have you wrestled with this tendency?

The Best Use of Mirrors

The bronze washbasin and its bronze pedestal were cast from bronze mirrors donated by the women who served at the entrance of the Tabernacle—For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. 

The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men [are], extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. 

For the word of God is living and active…discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account—Good and upright is the LORD; therefore he instructs sinners in the way. He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way. 

… And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as [his] eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. 

But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” —But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.

Whenever they walked past the altar to enter the Tabernacle, they were to stop and wash……as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word—Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; for he is faithful that promised. 

Ex.38:8 NLT; Ja. 1:23-24 ESV; Lk. 18:11 KJV; Heb 4:12-13 ESV; Ps. 25:8-9 ESV; Lk.8:13 KJV; Ja. 4:6 ESV; Ja. 1:25 ESV; Ex.40:32 NLT; Eph. 5:25-26 KJV;  Heb 10:22-23 KJV


The bronze basin stood between the Holy of Holies and the Altar for Burnt Offerings. Once the sacrifice had been made the priests washed their hands and feet there before entering God’s presence…

I am making my way through Exodus with all its details describing the assembling of the Tent where God would meet with His people.  Very little is said about the Bronze Basin, so this detail stands out–it was constructed using the donated mirrors of the women who served at the entrance of the Tabernacle. Would it be a stretch of analogy to suppose that once they knew what they looked like, they realized it  would be better to have a place to wash than to keep on looking?!  A mirror is of great value but after the looking must come the washing.

I have needed this reminder this week.  Looking at myself in the mirror of others or my own mental reflections can be disheartening.  There is so much of Christ that is wanting in this view.  I cringe, feeling so unlovely, and I admit, caring what others must think?!  But this looking leads me nowhere useful unless I quickly turn and look at the sacrifice that has been made on my behalf and then take time to wash in the Word, which is the best of mirrors! Only here will I see rightly,  who I am and  who God is.  As I wash here, affirming what God has said to be true, I am made ready for His presence–a saint justified despite my warts and wobbles, accepted in the Beloved, not on the basis of what I look like, but on the basis of Jesus’ sacrifice.

I have loved you deeply… but I am not at all pleased with you

“I have loved you deeply,” says the LORD. 

But you retort, “Really? How have you loved us?”  

I am not at all pleased with you, says the LORD Almighty, and I will not accept your offerings…Listen to me and take it to heart. Honour my name…it was I who sent you this warning so that my covenant with the Levites may continue…the purpose of my covenant…was to bring life and peace, and this is what I gave them.  

For whom the LORD loves He corrects, just as a father the son in whom he delights—And scourges every son whom He receives—The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise—for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord—If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 

Mal.1:2NLT; Mal.1:10;2:2,4,5; Prov. 3:12 NKJV; Heb. 12:6 NKJV; Ps. 51:17 ESV; Eph, 5:8-10 ESV;  I Jn. 1:8-9 ESV

The words we want to hear are not always the words we most need to hear. In a world gone wild grasping for Kudos the children of God must be wise in their giving and receiving of words.  I am as eager to be found pleasing as anyone.  I smart from even a perceived cold shoulder.  But I am reminded today that even the One who loves me most, especially the One who loves me most, must sometimes issue warnings and correction.  Where would I be if He didn’t?  And in my words, whether issuing from tongue or fingertips may I be guided by the wishes of the One whose pleasure matters most! 

Let God’s People Sing!!!

All ye who hear, now to His temple draw near. Join me in glad adoration!

I’ve been reading through Nehemiah. Today, the wall was finished; everyone had had a part and now it was time to celebrate. Bring on the choirs!   Two large choirs led a procession along the top of the wall each marching in opposite directions to meet at the temple for the festive event–Cymbals, lyres and harps accompanied them in songs of praise and thanks to God.

They played and sang loudly and clearly under the direction of Jezrahiah the choir director—Many sacrifices were offered on that joyous day, for God had given the people cause for great joy. The women and the children also participated in the celebration, and the joy of the people of Jerusalem could be heard far away!

The custom of having choir directors to lead the choirs in hymns of praise and thanks to God began long ago in the days of David and Asaph. 

Long before that the angels sang at creation!

when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy? 

And a new song will be song at the consummation of time as we know it:

“Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, 

In the meantime, it seems God’s people are hard-wired to respond to His greatness in song.  Where His Spirit dwells there is song–

About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them—Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God—And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart…. 

Neh.12:42,43,46NLT; Job 38:7 ESV; Rev 5:9 ESV; Acts 16:25 ESV; Col 3:16 ESV Eph 5:18-19 ESV

After this morning’s readings in Nehemiah one of my favorite hymns came to mind. It seemed a fitting benediction–I got it started ok but had to pull out my old hymn book for the rest of the words and a hearty bit of praise in the sanctuary of my little home.  Singing is good for the soul–I commend it to you ( :

Praise to the Lord, the Almighty

Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation!
O my soul, praise Him, for He is thy health and salvation!
All ye who hear, Now to His temple draw near;
Join me in glad adoration!
Praise to the Lord, who o’er all things so wondrously reigneth,
Shelters thee under His wings, yea, so gently sustaineth!
Hast thou not seen how all thy longings have  been
Granted in what He ordaineth?
Praise to the Lord, who with marvelous wisdom hath made thee
Decked thee with health, and with loving hand guided and stayed thee;
How oft in grief hath not He brought thee relief,
Spreading His wings for to shade thee!
Praise to the Lord who doth prosper thy work and defend thee
Surely his goodness and mercy here daily attend thee
Ponder anew what the Almighty can do,
If with His love He befriend thee.
Praise to the Lord! Oh, let all that is in me adore Him!
All that hath life and breath, come now with praises before Him!
Let the Amen sound from His people again;
Gladly for aye we adore Him.

Words: Joachim Neander (1650-1680)
Translated by Catherine Winkworth (1829-1878)

Don’t let hymn singing become a lost art; if you don’t have a hymn book do check your local Thrift store.  Hymns are a such a treasure trove of singable tunes and solid doctrine.

Let God’s people sing!