The heavens are yours; the earth also is yours; the world and all that is in it, you have founded them (Psalm 89:11 ESV).
It’s not everyday that I wake up at 6am to a full moon! What an awesome and amazing way to start the day! What an excellent reminder that the Lord knows and holds it all!
Lord God, thank You and praise You that the sun and moon rise and set on Your time schedule. Thank You Lord that as You know the number of the sand on the seashore, so too do You know those who belong to You. Thank You and praise You Lord for how You use creation to point people to Yourself. Lord, as this world spirals more and more out of control, help Your people to be witnesses, testifying to who You are and what You have done in our lives.
Thank You Lord for the beauty of creation. Thank You Lord that You are mindful of humans and that You loved us so much to send Jesus into this world. Thank You Jesus for dying on our behalf to forgive us from sin so that those who may believe in Your Name will spend eternity with You. Thank You Holy Spirit for convicting us of our need for Jesus and for sealing us with Your Spirit.
It is beyond my comprehension that someday Lord Jesus we will see You face to face. Lord, help us to look for ways to marvel at the works of Your Hands even in the midst of everything that is going on. Thank You Jesus for this reader. Draw this reader closer to You and to Your heart so that others may see You in them. Thank You Lord for today. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.
Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! (Psalm 46:10 ESV)
Lord God, in the midst of the chaos and uncertainty, help us to pause and meditate on You. Lord God, may we not let the sun go down on our anger. Lord God, may Your peace prevail in Your peoples lives, even when the storms and trials rage.
Lord God, may Your people love You and desire You more each day. May Your people be reminded that You will vindicate Yourself; You do not ask Your people to take vengeance into our own hands.
Lord God, as I pray sitting around the fire, I ask that You will remind us that the judgment that is coming will reveal our our hearts and actions. Lord You are an all consuming fire, may we never take Your grace and mercy for granted. Praise You Jesus that one day all the nations will bow before You.
Thank You Lord for this reader. May the glow of the sun and fire point this reader to the True Son, the One who paid it all. Lord, what a gift it is to have people to pray for! Even when we may be annoyed or agitated, thank You Lord for the opportunity to commune with You in prayer and interceding for others. Bless this reader as only You can. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.
Lord God, as You care for the flowers, birds and trees, so too will You care for Your people in this new month. Lord God, thank You that nothing is beyond Your control!
Lord God, help us to become more like Christ in this new month. Lord God, Your Word in both the Old and New Testament tell us not to be surprised or taken off guard by war, rumors of war, pestilence, disease, food shortages, famine and persecution.
Lord God, help Your people to endure trials and to be patient with people more this month. Father God, as the weather in the North heats up, help Your people to be agents of peace and reconciliation not sowers of discord and malice. Lord, help Your people to exercise reason and common sense so that cooler, tempered minds, hearts and hands may prevail.
Lord God, reveal to this reader and myself where we are starting to compromise and look more like the world. Reveal to us in this new month Lord what we are holding on too tightly. Lord God, root out anything in us that is keeping us from growing closer to You!
Lord God, give Your people increased wisdom and discernment in this new month. Lord, it is blatantly obvious that we are living in a post-Christian time period. Help us to be good stewards and witnesses for You as the time of Jesus’s return is nearer with each passing moment.
Lord God, prepare Your people for what they will face, not only this month but in the months to follow. Lord God, Your Word is life; it is our comfort and joy. Help us to apply Your Word this month so that we will be prepared to stand firm in the trials that we face.
Lord God, I pray for the reader who has wandered from the faith, Lord, stir their heart to return to You. Lord God, for the reader who is hostile to the faith, if You lead them to this prayer may You convict them of their sin and their need for a Savior. Regardless of where one positions themselves in regards to the elect/called/chosen/whomsoever, thank You and praise You Lord that You are the One who save us from start to finish. It is not our work or achievements but Christ crucified, buried, resurrected and ascended who is the Redeeming Savior for all those who trust and believe in Him.
Lord God, I am reminded in John 10 that You are the Good Shepherd. But before that, You say You are the Door/Gate for the sheep. So often Lord we want Your provision, protection and blessing as the Good Shepherd but we do not want Your exclusivity, we do not want to enter through the narrow door, walking the narrow path of obedience. Lord God, convict us of our arrogance, our hypocrisy and our lack of love and reverence for You. May we NEVER forget Jesus that You are the Way, the Truth and the Life and that no one comes to the Father except through You (John 14:6).
Lord God, thank You for this reader. Thank You that You know everything about this reader and what they will face this month. Strengthen and guide this reader Lord to lead the lost to You, to encourage believers and to glorify You. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.
I absolutely love the smell of my cherry tree!!! Every time I encounter a fragrant tree, shrub, bush or flower I am reminded of 2 Corinthians 2:14–16:
But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life (ESV).
Lord God, may everyone we encounter smell Jesus on us. Lord God, may we be a fragrant aroma to those in the faith and not shy away and shrink back from being an odious and offensive stench to the unbelieving world. Lord God, thank You for the life that we have in Christ. Lord God, fill this reader with Your presence. Thank You Lord for Your creation. Lord God, may our worship be a pleasing aroma to You. Thank You and praise You Father for Your love for us. Jesus thank You that we are Your Ambassadors and Holy Spirit thank You for indwelling and sealing us. May we be a pleasing aroma to You. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.
1 The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof,
the world and those who dwell therein,
2 for he has founded it upon the seas
and established it upon the rivers.
3 Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord?
And who shall stand in his holy place?
4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
who does not lift up his soul to what is false
and does not swear deceitfully.
5 He will receive blessing from the Lord
and righteousness from the God of his salvation.
6 Such is the generation of those who seek him,
who seek the face of the God of Jacob. Selah
7 Lift up your heads, O gates!
And be lifted up, O ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
8 Who is this King of glory?
The Lord, strong and mighty,
the Lord, mighty in battle!
9 Lift up your heads, O gates!
And lift them up, O ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
10 Who is this King of glory?
The Lord of hosts,
he is the King of glory! Selah
In light of Holy Week 2022, I cannot help but meditate on David’s hymn.
David makes it clear that the earth belongs to Yahweh and that He is the Creator and Sovereign overall (vv 1-2). David’s understanding of creation theology is the antithesis of how Israel’s neighbors understood creation. For most of the Ancient Near East (ANE), they viewed the earth as flat and floating on a cosmic ocean. Water in the ANE was signified with chaos and disorder. (Each ANE civilization had a defeated sea god. For example: the Ugaritic (Canaanite) Baal was the storm/fertility god who defeated the sea god Yamm). To David, “these words signify that the Lord has manifested his wisdom in creating an orderly world, and therefore he rules over all. The biblical perspective is opposed to the deification of nature, for, while everything is glorious, its glory is derived from the glorious Creator” (W. VanGemeren, Psalms REBC, 2008, p. 258).
“Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in his holy place?” (v 3). The hill that David is speaking of is Mount Zion. “The temple of Yahweh was built on a hilltop above the rest of the city. Thus, going to worship at the temple involved a modest ascent. The Temple Mount was the place of God’s throne, which is relevant in this psalm’s call to praise God’s kingship” (J. Hilber, “Psalms” ZIBBC, 2009, p. 342). While the temple was not constructed in David’s lifetime, I love what VanGemeren says, “The hymn instructs God’s people wherever they may be to live in the presence of the Creator-King in order to receive his blessing” (p. 260).
Holiness is required to enter the Lord’s presence! Only those with clean hands and a pure heart, who neither lift up their soul (life source) to what is false nor swear deceitfully (v 4), will “receive blessing from the Lord” (v 5). The Lord requires us to be solely and only devoted to Him. We cannot serve God and something or someone else. It was impossible in the Old Testament and it is impossible today!
“Purity of ‘hands’ and ‘heart’ is the condition of living before God in accordance with his precepts and out of the desire of his heart…The one who has ‘clean hands’ is innocent of wrongdoing and readily asks for forgiveness when he or she has sinned against God. In contrast is the sinner, whose ‘hands are full of blood’ and who needs cleansing, forgiveness, and reconciliation” (VanGemeren, p. 260).
Only a fool would enter the Creator-King’s Holy presence in a manner that is contrary to His Character and Workings. The people of God need to be sensitive and mindful of the condition of their hands and hearts when they enter into His presence. Failure to do so will lead to discipline rather than blessing.
For the “generation of those who seek him” they are the legitimate children of Jacob (v 6). Seek here is a Hebrew participle denoting continuous action. “To ‘seek him’ is an expression of a sincere desire to live in accordance with God’s standards so as to live in the presence of his ‘face'” (p. 260).
Scholars are not in agreement as to what David is referring to in verses 7 and 9. It could be that David is literally commanding the gates and doors of the temple to open or it could be referring to the ancient city of Jerusalem itself. Since the temple was not built in David’s time, I am more inclined to go with the latter; however, I am not dogmatic on this! As VanGemeren states, “Regardless of the referent, the point remains that Jerusalem had been a Jebusite city with a long history…over which Melchizedek ruled in Abraham’s days. It became the city of God because God chose to dwell in it. Consequently, both the city and the people were called on to receive with joy and anticipation the Great King. The repetition in v. 9…bears out the importance of proper preparation for ‘the King of glory'” (p. 262).
Verses 8 and 10 are verbless clauses where the people cry out, “Who is this King of Glory?” The answer is the Lord, Yahweh. “He brings blessing, victory, and vindication to his people because he is their God and Savior” (p. 262). Yahweh is the Divine Warrior (a significant theme in the Old Testament) who fights for Israel rather than against her. David describes the Lord’s divine power as “strong and mighty” and “mighty in battle!”
The Lord of Hosts (ṣebāʾôt) is also translated Almighty. “The Great King has at his command innumerable heavenly ‘hosts,’ reflecting the glory and splendor of undisputed lordship. He is the Divine Warrior, the Commander of all powers in heaven and earth. His battles always win him victory…The presence of the divine Warrior among his people is the ground for tranquillity that drives out fear” (p.263).
In Psalm 24, David celebrates the entrance of the great Divine Warrior, the King of Glory, the Lord Almighty Himself coming into Zion. Yesterday, April 10, 2022 Protestants remembered the Triumphal entry of Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a colt, where the crowds met Jesus with palm branches, spreading their cloaks on the road, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” (John 12:12; c.f. Ps 118:25-26).
Only a few days later these same people along with their chief priests and religious leaders cried out for Pilate to “crucify” Him (Luke 23:21; John 19:6). In prophetic irony, Pilate put an inscription on Jesus’s cross which read, “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews” (John 19:19). Onlookers who were coming to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover would have seen this sign. For three hours Jesus suffered before succumbing to death. His body was then taken down and buried in a new, yet borrowed tomb (v 41); however, this was not the end, because on the third day, Jesus rose from the grave! This Overcoming King of Glory defeated death, the grave and Satan forever!
For those who believe in Christ, we know that Jesus is the Soon Returning Conquering King who will enter the holy city of Jerusalem bringing His reward with Him (Rev 22:12). For those who believe in Christ we know that our reward is being with our Triune God forever. For those who do not know Christ, their reward is separation from God and eternal torment (see Matthew 25). In a world full of uncertainty and zero guarantees, Jesus’s return is certain. None of us are promised tomorrow, please seek Jesus while there is still time!
Jesus is the ultimate Davidic King. Jesus is the Messiah. Jesus is the King of Glory, the One who fights on behalf of His people. May we allow Jesus’s death, burial and resurrection take root more in our lives this year. For the reader who is a part from Christ, do not spend another day without Jesus being Your Redeemer, Savior and King. All glory to Jesus both now and forevermore.
Father God, prepare our hearts to worship You both now and in eternity. Thank You Jesus for coming to earth, being born of a virgin, living among sinful man, being crucified, dead and buried, rising on the third day so as to reconcile Your repentant sinful people to Yourself for the glory of God the Father. Holy Spirit, thank You for indwelling and sealing Your people. Thank You Holy Spirit for helping us to become more like Jesus each and every day. Help us to want more of You and less of ourselves. Lord God, help Your people to have clean hands and a pure heart. May we never forget that we come to You and stand in Your presence because of Your grace and mercy and not because of anything good in us. Lord God, may we never forget that salvation has always been by grace through faith, never because of our works! Lord God, help Your people to be a generation who seeks Your face. Lord God, help believers to not lift their soul to what is false nor swear deceitfully. Lord God, thank You for this reader! Lord God, You are strong and mighty in battle and NOTHING is too great for You. Thank You Lord that nothing will stop Your will from being accomplished. Thank You for this reader. Lead and guide this reader to love You more each and every day. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.
While the sun is shining and some of the trees are starting to bud, the air is chill. Spring has yet to appear. This does not deter Nathan from fishing!
In the next month or so the eaglets will leave their nest. I am fascinated by the bald eagle (and raptors in general). Watching the eagle fly is remarkable. (I missed an awesome opportunity to photograph the eagle diving into the lake, capturing its fish and taking off). Any time I see an eagle, I cannot help but ponder:
28 Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. 29 He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. 30 Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; 31 but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint (Isa 40:28-31 ESV).
Lord God, thank You and praise You that You do not slumber or sleep! Thank You and Praise You Jesus that You give rest, strength and an easy load to those who belong to You! Lord God, for the reader who does not know Jesus as Lord and Savior, may today be their day of salvation.
Lord God, strengthen Your people. Help us to not grow weary in doing Your will and work even when it is unpopular. Help us to stand for Truth, help us to be a light to this dark world. Help us to rise above the struggles and challenges of this world and to live and rest in You.
Lord God, thank You and praise You that as You care for the eagle, the bunny, the flowers in the field, how much more You care for Your people. Prepare our hearts to celebrate Your Resurrection. Lord teach us to live as a people with Hope more and more each day. Thank You Lord for this reader. Lord, renew this reader and give them courage today. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.
It is hard to believe that the PQ puppy is 3 today (March 31, 2022). I absolutely love this doggie; it will be a sad day(s) for me when he meets his demise! Like the previous two, I have learned more about myself through PQ this year. I have learned that I am still impatient. I still get frustrated when he doesn’t listen or when he barks at nothing! PQ still has NOT met a leaf he doesn’t like. Leaves totally distract him, I confess it’s amusing to watch! I have also learned that PQ’s well-being matters to me. I still called him an “awful wretched beast” at times; however, with traveling more this past year, I have learned that I miss him if I don’t see him for a few days! PQ truly is my fur baby!
I am thankful that while I am impatient, God is patient! I am thankful that when I get distracted chasing leaves and other frivolous things that God redirects my path. I am thankful that our Good Shepherd doesn’t yell at me out of frustration! I am becoming more aware and grateful each day that when I meet my earthly demise, I will see and be with Jesus forever!
I am thankful for each person, animal and plant that God has given me the opportunity and responsibility to care for and love. I am thankful for ALL the love and kindness that people show my puppy PQ. It amazes and humbles me how happy and excited people are to see PQ, even those who only meet him for a moment at the park, on the street, in Lowes etc.
Dear reader, I pray that you will take a moment to celebrate those who matter the most to you today. I am so thankful for all the love and support that you give to me and my family; please know that it is reciprocated. PQ will be spoiled today. From meeting Nathan for lunch to having dinner with friends, I am so thankful for the opportunity to celebrate in the midst of all the chaos and turmoil that the world is facing. With all my heart, thank you for journeying with PQ, Nathan and I these last three years!
Lord God, thank You for PQ. Thank You that You have called us to care for Your Creation from the environment, to animals, to plants, and those created in Your image, humans. Lord God, may we rise and honor the call that You have placed upon us. Lord God, help Your people to love well all those whom You have entrusted to us. Help us to serve others in a manner that is pleasing to You and that glorifies You. Lord God, thank You for this reader! Lord God, reward this reader for their love and kindness for me and my family! Lord God, thank You and praise You for all of those who pray for me and my family. Thank You God for opportunities to celebrate. May we look for ways to do good, cheer others on and celebrate Your goodness even in a world gone mad. Thank You Lord that for the believer in Christ, this world is not our home. Thank You that our demise will not end in torment but in victory. Lord God, for the reader who does not know You, may today be their day of salvation. Thank You again Lord for this reader! Lead us and guide us today! In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.
One of my assignments for this week is to contrast secular contentment with biblical contentment. I have to confess, I have little contentment and joy with this writing class. In fact, taking this class reminds me of how much I hated scholastic writing when I was younger!
The weather where I live is finally starting to feel like Spring. My Okame Cherry tree is starting to bud; yet, I am a malcontent. Everywhere I turn people (myself included) are trying to process how to deal with all the changes that are occurring in our world.
Contentment is truly a learned behavior. Patience is definitely not the first word (nor the top 50 words) that my family and friends would use to describe me. If they were also asked to rate my level of contentment, it would also be really, really low.
We all know the Apostle Paul learned to be content with little or with much (Phil 4:11-12). Contentment is the context of Philippians 4:13 where Paul can do all things through Christ who strengthens him. I will be honest, I keep preaching to myself, “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things (Phil 4:8 ESV); yet my mind is still set on myself and not God.
I praise God there will be a day when all this discontentment, anger and strife will cease. I praise God for the fact that the Kingdom that is coming has NO room for invaders, usurpers, exploiters, oppressors and con artists. I praise God that even when I am a malcontent that the Holy Spirit continues to call me to Himself.
Please folks, do NOT think that I have it all together! The person that I am online, is the same in person. God hates falsity and I do not ever want to have to stand before the Lord and hear Him say that my walk, talk and presence were inconsistent.
There is much in this world to dislike. Each day I am reminded of how little control I have over anything. Areas like thoughts and emotions where God calls me to exercise self-control, I am failing. I know that God is good. I know that God is Sovereign and that God is in control. Even though I absolutely loathe this one class, I know that God will help me see me through.
The greatest indictment on my demeanor at this moment is that I am choosing to have a mindset of a person who has no hope. I tell myself all the time that Christ is enough for me. But if that were true, I would be content “both in [my] circumstances and with [my] circumstances” (S. Ferguson, emphasis original).
Dear reader, how present is contentment in your life?!
Lord God, thank You for Your grace and mercy! Thank You Lord that You are greater than our fears, anxieties and circumstances. Lord God, help Your people to look to You rather than our circumstances. Lord God, help us to trust You as this world spirals more and more out of control. Lord God, as geopolitical alliances change daily, help us to focus on Your Kingdom that is coming, and not on the kingdoms of the world. Lord God, I ask that You bring more people to Yourself through these events. Lord God, help those who are truly lost and hopeless to know they have a hope and home in Christ. Lord God, may we never forget that it is in Christ and for Christ that we live, breathe and have our being. Lord God, thank You for this reader. Lord God, help this reader to cling to You today. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.
“Why do we write” is topic for the week in my Excellence in Theological Writing class. Since there is no self-reflection question as to why I write, I find it necessary to share why I write with y’all!
In the event y’all cannot read my handwriting (I have NEVER had good penmanship either too small or too sloppy) my immediate answer was:
“I write for God, for the people who believe in me and for myself. I write to encourage others to love Jesus, to know Jesus and to make Him known to others. I write in accordance to Hebrews 10:24 which says, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works” (ESV). I take this call seriously. Everyone likes to receive mail that isn’t junk or bills. I write to glorify God, it is my ultimate form of worship!”
[As to the thought of me writing for God, those who believe in me and for myself; I have recited that for every seminary paper I have ever written. Why? As a way to remind to myself that I have done my best and that I have learned through the researching and writing process regardless of my grade. In essence, I am always reminding myself why I write. If why and who I am writing ever changes, I know something has drastically gone wrong!]
I write (and take pictures) every chance I get. From journaling, to sending prayer texts and emails, to research papers, to blog posts, to sending handwritten cards via snail mail, I love (and live) to write! Other than cards from ex-boyfriends (they were happily discarded to the trash!) I have saved every card I have ever received since middle school.
I have journaled almost every day since 2006. My mom always asks me, “what will you do with those?!” My hope and prayer is that people will read them and see how the Lord worked in my life. They will read my personal prayers, my triumphs and some bitter struggles. Yes, I have written VERY unkind things about people in my journal; however, I do mention in later dates how I was wrong for what I said! I do not cross out those entries because they are real.
For those who never read, “What is a Blue Collar Theologian?” the one thing I strive to be above all else is real, authentic and genuine. Meeting people right where they are. While I get it wrong ALL the time, I praise God for the opportunity to write and to leave pieces of Mandy flair wherever I go. I pray that I am doing so in a manner that points people to jesus more often than not! My professor for this class defines writing as, “marking the world with our presence.” May our presence (communication) glorify God, encourage believers and point the lost to Christ.
For anyone willing to share, I would love to hear your why you write!
Lord God, thank You and praise You that You created and know intimately every language that will ever be written or spoken! Thank You Lord that You bound communication in history and that You love and value words and history even when the people on the earth do not. Lord God, may we never diminish the gift of writing. May we never diminish how You have preserved Your Word through each generation. Lord God, may we impress on our young people today the importance of reading and writing (as well as history). Lord God, thank You for this reader! Thank You Lord for allowing us to live in the digital age where a written message has never before been able to be seen as quickly as it is today. Lord, with this privilege comes GREAT responsibility. Lord, may we use our words wisely on social media platforms! Thank You again Lord for this reader! May they take some time to write a prayer or praise to you and write a card or email for a loved one. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.
Lord God, thank You for today. Thank You Holy Trinity that You are intimately involved with Your Creation! Thank You Lord that for those of us who are in Christ we are no longer covered in sin and hell bound, but are a people alive with hope and purpose. Lord God, help us this week to live more for You. Help us to be more like Jesus. Lord God, stir our hearts to share Jesus while there is still time.
Lord God, thank You for this reader. May this reader take comfort and courage in You. May this reader be refreshed by Your Word and renewed knowing there is nowhere they can go that is out of Your grasp. Thank You and praise You Lord for this reader. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.