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Then they said to Him:  What shall we do that we may work the works of God?”  John 6:28

“Jesus answered……This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.”  John 6:29

I don’t know about you but I don’t particularly enjoy those analogy sections that have been added to quite a few standardized tests these days; something is like something as this is to that.  It is supposed to test the ability to reason which might be why I struggle so much with them.  Yet as I read through so much of the struggles that human beings have understanding the teachings of Jesus, there seems to be a fundamental theme that continues throughout.  We are all about doing.  What do I need to do to have eternal life?  How many times do I forgive my neighbor?  What sign are you going to do that I will believe in you?  If I do, then I can believe.

God sighs.  Jesus sighs.  The Spirit groans.  Christ tries and tries again to tell us:  We can never really do what is needed until first we believe.  By believing in the Father, you can then believe in the Son.  In believing in the Father and Son you can then ask for them to come into your life.  Through Grace, once they have entered your life then you will see and do things much differently.

But God, you don’t understand; we answer.  There’s no such thing as a free lunch.  And you get what you pay for so free is worth nothing.  Payment earned by the sweat of my brow is of immeasurably greater value than charity received by mere asking.  In the end it is the psychology of value of I, or me.  I want to do so that I can be owed.  God you owe me salvation because I am good and decent and give here and do there.  I read my bible every day and I even take some of my precious time and I give it to you in prayer.  Yes God, You so owe me.  I’ve earned my place in heaven!  Satan laughs and demons cheer.

God does understand.  He says I’ve watched you.  I’ve witnessed how your “good” is and the outcome of your “decent” acts.  I have seen the poor ignored and the hungry starve.  I have seen your eye covet what you don’t have and the violence and war you inflict to get it.  I have seen your “love” turn to hate when you get tired or bored with that family member or close friend.  I have seen you destroy yourselves with countless acts and substances as you try to escape the world you build through your own actions. You are correct; God says, You have earned something from me.  I do owe you.  I owe you condemnation and eternal separation from Me.  Yet My Love for you and My desire to give you grace will not allow Me to abandon you.  You are too precious to Me to give you what you have earned.  So instead I will do for you what you can not do for yourselves.  I will give you a salvation that you have not earned.  I will devise a pardon for your guilt.  I will sacrifice My Son, that He will pay the debt that you do owe and His Grace will cover your sins.

What do I want you to do in return?  Believe.  Believe; have faith that I exist and that I Love you.  Believe that I am the Creator of all things; but especially Your Creator and that I want to bless you and keep you, and make My Light to shine upon you.  That is all.

Now wait just a minute, some would say.  You’re saying all I have to do is believe.  That I can sit back and do nothing and God is just going to come right on in and save me.  That I can go on living just the way I am and God is going to make things just peachy.  No I am not saying that at all.  What I am saying is look at Jesus.  See what Jesus Christ did because He believed in the Father.  He was in the Father and the Father was in Him.  Jesus traveled to where the need was.  Jesus fed. Jesus healed.  Jesus comforted.  Jesus taught.  Jesus preached.  Jesus sacrificed.  And most importantly, Jesus Loves.  We will never be as perfect as Jesus was and is; however, our belief in Him and Our Heavenly Father who sent Him, must and will change our behavior; our doing.  And that doing is not an attempt to earn a position we can never achieve or fulfill a debt we can never repay; no, it is simply the natural response, as natural as breathing itself, to the Grace which we have freely received from Our Heavenly Father.  As natural as living a life of praise to His most Holy Name.

Our Most Gracious and Heavenly Father, we humbly admit that we so often have it completely backwards.  We admit that we think about ourselves first and try to devise ways to earn our own salvation.  We try, Most Merciful Father, to judge what we do as worthy enough to come into Your Presence.  Forgive us Dear Father.  Help us to be like Your Son, Jesus Christ, believing not in ourselves first, but in You.  Pour out Your Spirit, Everlasting Father, that we might truly come to completely believe as well as completely surrender ourselves to the One You sent for Our Salvation.  That our lives and our acts would be forever changed to bring Glory to Your Most Holy Name we pray.  In the Name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

“…I shall put a fleece of wool on the threshing floor, if there is dew on the fleece only and it is dry on the ground, then I shall know that You will save Israel by my hand”  Judges 6:37

“And it was so.” Judges 6:38

…Do not be angry with me but let me speak just once more:  Let me test I pray……” Judges 6:39

You have to love the way we use the English language (unless you are a very young person or a person from another country trying to learn it).  We use idioms which are words or phrases in which the meaning is not crystal clear by its use.  I grew up with words like:  groovy, bad (meaning good) and phrases like “far out”.  And we continue to come up with them constantly.  Most of the latest ones I have no clue about.  I recently told a story that I thought was good (or cool in my vernacular) and the person responded that it was “sick.”  I apologized, much to the listener’s confusion (he was trying to tell me it was a good story).  So why start out like this?  Because a word we are using now to convey a sense of disbelief, a sense that no person would actually do or say something, that their actions are beyond defense; is the word really.  It is used in the form of a one word question.  Really? (normally accompanied by a facial expression of disapproval and body language of frustration).  Really?  Tell me you did not just say that I am overweight.  Really?  Tell me you didn’t go out and buy a big new TV when I just sent you out for bread!

So why might we have a sense of disbelief at Gideon in his story in the book of Judges.  Well first an angel of the Lord, physically appeared to him, not in a dream, but actually sitting under a terebinth tree.  He told Gideon to do something and that “the Lord was with him.”  Gideon even then asks for a sign which to which the angel obliges.  Gideon destroys the altar of Baal, the people want to kill him but Gideon is saved.  One might think that is proof enough.  This time the “Spirit of the Lord” comes to Gideon and tells Gideon that he is going to deliver Israel from their oppressors.  Now Gideon is not a soldier by trade and he is a little “ify” on  being the leader to save Israel.  In Gideon’s mind this was astronomically larger than just tearing down an alter.  So he asks for another sign which would be miraculous enough to convince him that the Lord was indeed with him.  Gideon would lay down a wool fleece and overnight dew would come.  It would cover the whole floor, except for the fleece which would stay bone dry.  The Lord fulfills Gideon’s test.  So here is where the “really” comes into play.  The Lord has passed two tests.  He has delivered Gideon once already.  Gideon has previously acknowledged that the Lord is He who saved Israel and led them out of Egypt.  But Gideon requests another test!!!  Gideon knows he’s on thin ice because he starts the request with “do not be angry.”  The test is for the next day, the ground to be bone dry but the fleece only will be drenched with dew.  The next day, Gideon squeezes a bowl full of water out of the fleece while everything else is parched and dry.

To me it’s not necessarily Really Gideon; but Really God?  We humans would have probably handled it quite differently.  We would not have been against the first test when we showed up under the tree.  But once we proved ourselves, we probably would have been annoyed and somewhat perturbed when we showed up again and Gideon wanted to test us.  But, after granting the second test and now Gideon doesn’t trust us enough to follow us and asks for another test, most of us would have kicked him out of our presence and started looking for someone else.

Praise be to Our Heavenly Father who has infinite patience and mercy.  Here’s the thing for us.  Our spiritual enemy would tell us we are never to doubt God.  That we are totally worthless to God if we even think of trying to test Him.  The enemy tries to convince us that God is so judgemental that only the perfect should try to connect with Him in any way.  For the rest of us, we need to turn away and flee from His presence and trust only ourselves.  Am I trying to say what Gideon did was correct?  No.  I know that Jesus in His temptation said that “we are not to put God to a test.”  Though I also know that God knows, we are not Jesus Christ.  God knows that our faith is not perfect.  We will come into His presence trembling.  Not just trembling because the awesomeness of God, but because we are uncertain that God can and will do what we ask or fulfill our needs.  And I will freely and humbly admit that I have longed for a dry fleece or the sun to actually turn back one hour in the sky.  I have prayed the bargain prayer:  “God if you will do this, I will believe and do that…”  I will tell you the response most often is not the bargain I was trying to make, but the response is also not one of judgement or anger.  We have the bible for the very reason to show us, not only God’s capabilities, but God’s wonderful love.  Jesus Christ embodies the all-encompassing capability in His Life, His Death and His Resurrection.  No test we can devise could ever prove more than that.  This story plus those of Abraham, Moses, David, Peter, Paul and so many others show how far God is willing to go for us; when we come to Him, even with our doubts.  Really God, You’d Love even me, just as I am?  Really?  Yes comes His reply.  Really!

Our Most Gracious and Heavenly Father, we humbly confess that we lack the perfect faith that we should have in You.  We do repent of trying to put You to the test to prove You are with us.  We thank and praise You, most Merciful and Patient God, that you have given us Your Word to show how faithfully You have dealt with Your Children and the promise to always do so.  Pour out Your Spirit on us, Wonderful Father, that we might come closer to the true faith and relationship so perfectly shown by Your Son Jesus Christ.  That our lives would show to the world, lives of praise and adoration.  In Jesus Christ’s Name we pray.  Amen

“Take your sandal off your foot, for the place where you stand is holy.  And Joshua did so”.  Joshua 5:15

“…His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them?  I tell you that He will avenge them speedily….”  Luke 18:7-8

Joshua has just led the Israelites across the Jordon, into the promised land.  Moses is not leading him, because he has died.  In fact all who left Egypt with Moses, have died.  They rebelled against God, not just once but over and over again.  Yet God did not wipe them off the face of the earth.  When they forsook God’s commandment and had no faith in Him and would not enter into the promised land because they were afraid, God held them accountable and would not let them ever enter.  But He still remained with them and instead of leaving them and their children alone to perish; God was now bringing their children into the promised land.  Few realize that, just like God used Moses to part the Red Sea to escape the Egyptians, God used the priests of the Ark, to part the Jordon for His people to cross over into the promised land.  And like using the burning bush and the sacred ground around it to speak to Moses before he was sent to Egypt, God sent a holy messenger to speak to Joshua as he led God’s people into the promised land.  After all that the people of Israel had done against God, He did not give up on them.

Jesus tells the story of a judge who gives into the requests of a woman for justice, simply because she keeps nagging him over and over again.  Jesus says if an earthly judge who has no regard for God and men will come to a person’s aid just because she keeps asking and asking; how much quicker will God come to the aid of those who believe and cry to him.  However, do not overlook, I think, an extremely important part  “….though He bears long with them.  God’s elect are not perfect people.  They (or in today’s time I) may very well cry out to him today and totally forget Him tomorrow.  They (I) may very well cry out for justice for me, while I treat someone else equally unfairly.  They (I) may cry out to be avenged, and then when God graciously answers, they (I) may take all the credit as if they (I) were the one solely responsible for my deliverance.

I find it ironic, in a sad sort of way, that God is so often portrayed in a judgmental, harsh, unforgiving way.  They point to the judgment in a story like Sodom and Gomorrah while forgetting about the mercy giving to Nineveh.  They forget that even with S&G, the Lord told Abraham, if He could find as few as 10 just men, in the entire city, He would spare it.  For every story of God carrying out righteous judgment with destruction, there are countless more of Him mercifully sparing those who erred, giving them another chance to change their ways.

God blessed Joshua and he led the Israelites into the promised land.  Alas, they would rebel again.  There would be destruction and being carried away into exile, but God never stopped loving them and protecting them.  And, when the time was right, God said I will bring about my greatest plan of sacrifice, mercy and redemption.  I will send my Only Son, Jesus Christ to pay the ultimate, final atonement for the sins of My beloved creation.  Why would God do that?  Because He says, I have too much Love for them to see them eternally condemned and kept apart from Me.  Jesus Christ echoed that love, not just in His death, but in His request for forgiveness for those who were murdering him.  spoken while hanging on the very instrument of His death, the cross.

Brothers and sisters, we will sin.  The enemy, the prince of this world, will try and convince us that God is a vengeful, judgmental God who wants nothing to do with us because we sin.  But if we look, we will see Jesus Christ, with scarred hands and feet, reaching out to us and saying; See what My Father has done for you.  See the love that He and I have for you.  Come, believe in Me, Christ says, and know that in Me, you will find no condemnation.  Jesus Christ declares, I have taken your sins upon me, promising to you that though you may stray, you are never truly lost to My Father.  May it be that we find strength, reassurance and comfort from knowing that God will never give up on us.

Our Most Gracious and Heavenly Father, we are so thankful for the blessings that You pour out upon us, chief among those being Your Mercy.  Thank you for sparing us from the judgment that we deserve for our actions against our brothers and sisters and against You.  We are eternally grateful for the gift of Salvation that You have made available to us through the life, death and resurrection of Your Son, Jesus Christ.  Help us Dear Father, to live with the sure knowledge of that forgiveness and give us a spirit of forgiveness with others.  Give us the strength to resist temptation as well as the humbleness to repent when we succumb to the lure of temptation and sin.  These things we pray in the Name of Your Son, Jesus Christ.  Amen

 

 

“Look for three years I have come seeking fruit and find none, cut it down………….Sir let it alone this year, also, until I dig around it an fertilize it….”  Luke 13:7-9

Jesus has been teaching about many things.  He has been teaching about; no need to worry, preparing for the His return, divisions among families over Him, and hypocrisy, many weighty topics.  He has pointed out the judgments to come when people are not doing what they should be.  And now he tells a parable concerning a tree who will not bear fruit, with the owner wanting to cut it down.  Perhaps, it sounds like another parable of judgment; the cutting down and casting out.

Yet, built into this story, it seems to me are tremendous themes of mercy, patience and even sacrifice.  First, note how the owner has waited three years.  This is land that he owns, in the parable, this is described as a  vineyard, which is a type of agriculture that takes considerable effort.  So the owner has been putting forth that effort and yet there is no return.  One year goes by, perhaps that is a function of the weather conditions that year.  A second year goes by, maybe there is something with soil, so still the owner withholds action.  Now it is the third year, no matter what has been tried, this tree is taking up space, using up resources and has nothing to show in return.  It is time for the tree to go.

Wait, the gardener intercedes for the tree.  And note this, the gardener doesn’t just say, let’s give it one more year.  No, the gardener takes pity on this tree, He is going to do all that he can to help this tree, even though it has yet to bear any fruit.  He will expend the effort to dig around it, he will pay the expense to fertilize it; still not being assured that fruit will come.

Is it not possible the we are the trees?  God has created us and planted us where He wants us.  He patiently waits for us to produce fruit.  He blesses us with fulfilling the needs in our life and gives us the space, the environment to grow in Him.  Yet, so often we remain barren.  The fruit that He so wants to be able to share with others, does not come.  There is a time for judgment.  Then there is One who intercedes for us.  Whose mission, based upon the Father’s own plan, is to take our judgment upon Himself.  Jesus Christ comes to and for us.  He provides His very Body for us, like digging around us and fertilizes us with His very Blood!.

And what is the fruit that Our Heavenly Father wants from us?  What is the harvest that Jesus Christ works so hard to bring about?  Love.  Plain and simply; Love.  Love first for our Heavenly Father, and then Love for each other.  And, please take note, how much Love our Heavenly Father has invested in us, to bring about a harvest of Love in return.  While there will be judgment, if that is what we focus on, we miss the miraculously great lengths of mercy, patience, forgiveness and love, our Heavenly Father is willing to go, to forestall that judgment.

Our Most Gracious and Heavenly Father, we humbly confess Your Righteousness and Perfect Judgment.  We repent of the sin of not producing the fruit of love for which You planted us on this earth.  We praise You for sending us a Loving Gardner, to nurture us, teach us, sustain us, to show us how to grow and to whose image we should be growing into.  Help us, Dear Father, to bear the fruit of Love toward You and each other that You long for us to have.  That we may truly be the fruit of Your Creation.  In the name of Jesus Christ we pray.

Amen

“And Jesus said, Father forgive them for they know not what they do..”  Luke 23:34

First and foremost I do not claim to be the writer that C.S. Lewis was.  So when I make a comparison, it is a comparison of thought, not talent or wisdom.  When C.S. Lewis wrote his wonderful work, The Problem with Pain, he stated that he first wanted to write it either anonymously or at least under a different name.  Why?  Because he was going to make statements about life, love and pain, which he knew intellectually and spiritually to be true, but he did not want anyone to think that he was able to live those out in his own life.  I can commiserate with him, for as I look at the topic of forgiveness, I see a standard which I can not say that I come close to living up to.  Alas, that does not change or refute the standard.

There is much written and said today about the great need for forgiveness in this world and I whole heartedly agree.  At the same time, the acts of wickedness, hatred and depravity that are requiring of forgiveness seem to multiply, not only in their number but also in their depth of evil.  And what is forgiveness, truly?  Dictionary .com has forgiveness being the act of releasing from penalty for an act.  So what is that?  You have wronged me, either through physical means or insults or both.  The penalty might involve physical restitution but also the penalty of my anger (which I believe to be righteous) and ill will towards you.

Why should I forgive?  For Jesus preaches that I should; not seven times, but seventy-seven times.  In the prayer, He taught us we are to forgive the trespasses of others as we have asked that our trespasses against God be forgiven.   There is a view that says that forgiveness is not about the object of our forgiveness, that is the person for whom our forgiveness is meant, but it is really about us.  It is a way for us to get on with our lives and move past the incident.  I again believe that forgiveness can have a very cathartic outcome for our lives.  Yet seemingly then, the act of pronouncing forgiveness is really about helping ourselves?

Jesus is hanging on the cross.  What does he know?  He knows that the men who have done this terrible thing to him, are sinning.  They are spilling innocent blood.  They have borne false witness against him.  Their penalty should be eternal damnation.  He forgives them.  Jesus knew that He was the Son of God.  Jesus knew that in three days He was going to rise again.  There is no aspect of Jesus’ forgiveness where he is trying to “get on with His life.”  No, Jesus loved them.  He truly did not want them to face the punishment that was rightly due them.  They were evil and for the most part were not interested in and would not accept Jesus forgiveness.  It didn’t matter to Jesus.  He took their sins upon Himself, and forgave them.

Heavy Sigh.  Why?  Because this I know.  I am a sinner and Jesus has taken my sins, my trespasses against Him and He has forgiven me, released me from any penalty.  That fills me with joy!  Jesus says, as I am, so you should be as well.  Gulp.  You, Doug, need to forgive.  Not so that you can move on with your life (which is only a side effect of the act of forgiveness), but so you can learn to love as I love.  You can begin to see others as I see them.  Wow, Really?  That’s what You expect???

The devil would tell us meeting that type of standard is impossible, so don’t even try.  Use the phrase:  I forgive you, then go on with your lives, still harboring the resentment and ill feelings against that person.  I’m forgiving them but not their act.  Jesus forgave them specifically for what they were doing.  I know there is no way that I can live up to that standard.  I can’t!  We, He+I, can!  We can move toward that goal (I being the one who is moving for He is already there).  If (and it is a big, hairy if) I can live in Him, be a branch to His vine, take my eyes from the evil around me and see the perfect goodness of Him, I have a chance.  That’s the only chance, I’ll ever have.

Our Most Gracious and Heavenly Father, it is very evident that the world is in dire need of forgiveness.  Yet we humbly confess that I/we do not first include ourselves as being ones so in need of forgiveness.  So we pray for You to pour out Your Spirit of forgiveness on us.  Yet Dear Father, we also confess we don’t truly forgive others with the same total forgiveness that You provide to us.  We hang on to resentment and bitterness.  We look to forgiveness as a way to further ourselves instead of the way to show true love and mercy to our brothers and sisters.  Teach us Dear Father, how to truly forgive.  How to be in the spirit with Your Son, Our Savior whose death and resurrection has brought forgiveness to us and an everlasting relationship with you.  That in our learning to truly forgive, we may come to further know You and spread Your Perfect Love to a world in such need of it.  That in all things Your Most Holy Name will be praised and in the Name of He who died to bring that forgiveness to us; Jesus Christ we pray.  Amen

“For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us for the Love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord”.  Romans 9:38-39.

Stop a second.  Take a deep breath; more than likely it will become a heavy sigh.  It has been tough recently.  Evil and tragedy seem to abound.  Grieving is widespread and fear is palpable.  For some, there is a sense that two horrible things have happened, and bad things always come in three, so something else horrific is still to come.  For others in this world, today is another day, likes the days, months, even years that have preceded it,  filled with explosions, death, war and fear that seemingly will never end.

Some will say that it is the end of things, some will say that they are at their personal wits end; most of us wish that the tragedies would end.  There was a place where the day became dark, the gospel tells us it was dark over all the earth.  To those witnessing, it was not just a single event of tragedy, but culmination of tragic event after tragic event.  And they weren’t just impersonal witnesses to what was happening to One, it could also easily be a portent of what was going to happen to each of them.  Once the death happened and hasty burial took place, the witnesses left in mourning, fear and uncertainty of what would come next.

And what came next was amazing; though not in a tragic way, but in an unbelievably wondrous way.  What came next was the outcome of the power of love.  What came next was the triumph of good over evil, comfort over tragedy, love over hate.  Jesus Christ had risen.  He was alive and IS ALIVE TODAY!

No matter how you are effected, whether it be by the horrific things that are being revealed in the news, or your own personal tragedy or horror; know this.  You are loved.  Your individual name, is spoken in love by Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and it known and held close by The Creator of All, Our Heavenly Father.  As Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit so eloquently described, there is nothing in earth nor in heaven, that will take away or interrupt that flow of His Love to you and me.  Feel that love today.  Feel that love today and to the extent that you are able, share that love today.

Dear Heavenly Father be with us we pray.  There is not one of us who do not need You though some aren’t aware of that need.  Please, Passionate Father, pour out Your Mercy, Love, Strength, Healing and Restoration to us.  Lift us Most Gracious Father as we are pushed down on our knees.  That we may find the strength and spirit to Praise Your Name, In the Name of Jesus Christ we pray.  Amen

 

 

“For He is kind to the unthankful and evil.  Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful”  Luke 6:36

 

This is one of those things and one of those arguments that seems, on the surface, to be such a difficult concept to explain or reconcile to an unbelieving world (as if it was up to us or we even could, explain God).  There are seemingly so many evil people, dictators who live in the lap of luxury, while their people starve, gangsters and  gang members who commit many heinous crimes yet seem to seldom face justice and terrorists who plan and carry out attacks and brag about them on videos and successfully sneak away avoiding capture.  How can a Loving God allow that!  To our logic; a troubling question.

AND, if we were equals with Our Heavenly Father; perhaps we would be justified in asking that question.  However, to me, first and foremost, we must understand that we are not creators; we are the created.  No matter how high we want to raise up our own wisdom on this earth, it will never match His.   Also, I/we have to be very careful as we look to point the finger at who is truly evil or unthankful.  Jesus Christ is very clear that is not just the action; but the desire for the action which is the sin.  In the situations that I want to do physical harm to the person:  “Oh I could just (smack, punch, hurt, kill) them!” or that I would lust  “Wow it would be great to sleep with him/her”, it is the initial thought that is the sin.  That our earthly courts would deem me not guilty as long as I don’t carry out the act, is irrelevant in the eyes of our Heavenly Father:  “But I say to you whoever is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment”  or “anyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart”.  So it is incumbent upon me to watch out how I throw the “they” pronoun as it applies to what is evil or who is unthankful.

So is there some recompense, some judgment coming to those who are evil and unthankful?  Surely.  For in Jesus Christ’s discussion of anger in lust, in both cases he speaks of being liable to judgment.  Even as we look with a worldly view, we must be careful not to confuse the fantasy of fiction, with the starkness of reality.  In many shows and movies, the villains are seen in constant revelry, joy and carefree living due to their evil.  Yet, when we strip away the façade and look at the reality, we often see anger and tension, loathing of others and sometimes self and yes we often see fear and paranoia.  Is that truly living the good life?  To those who are unthankful, who believe that they are the only reason they have achieved success and any means necessary is acceptable to achieve, what do we see?  Do we not tend to see those individuals isolated or surrounded by similarly shallow people, parasitical companions who will stay around only as long as their own selfish needs are met?  Do we not see the arrogant often as targets for scandals real or imagined, fitting in to that recent phenomenon of loving to watch the “great”  fall from grace.  And when they do fall, which most inevitably do, they find themselves deserted and alone.  Is that a way we want to live?  Is that the good life?

So what does that drive us to?  A humble, thankful and joyous existence.  Humble; that there but for the Grace of God go I.  I, in my human nature, am completely capable of evil and giving myself the credit instead of being thankful to Our Heavenly Father.  Thankful.  Thankful, that Our Heavenly Father would pour out His Grace upon me.  That His will is to “lead us not into temptation and deliver us from evil”  as well as forgiving our trespasses.  Joyous.  Joyous, that our Heavenly Father freely gives his Grace to all.  Those who don’t receive it will have a miserable existence.  In love we are not to gloat about their miserable existence but to have pity, mercy and yes, as tough as it can be to do, love for them as Our Heavenly Father does.  Joyous for us who do receive His Grace, that through the trials and tribulations of this world as well as the attacks by worldly and spiritual foes, we will be victorious!  We will find Peace that surpasses all understanding.

Dear Heavenly Father; in Your Grace, you provide us with so much; even Your Son Jesus Christ to die and rise again that we might have an eternal relationship with You.  May it be that we are humble enough to rely on You to keep us from evil and humble enough to give You the thanksgiving for our blessings that You so justly deserve.  Forgive us, Dear Father, when we are more want to provide judgment to those we deem evil or ungrateful than mercy or forgiveness.  Teach us to be more like You.  That in all things that we do, Your Most Holy Name will be Praised.  In the name of Jesus Christ we pray.

Amen

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