Monday, May 31, 2010

Evening Devotion 5/31/10

“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”
John 15:13

As we consider the plight of the hostages and the prisoners, the captives and the slaves, let us also take this opportunity to remember the lives of those who have and continue to give all that they are in that deeper sense of sacrifice for the cause of freedom and liberty throughout this world as they have sought to and continue to seek to break all bondage and chains that would so bind men and women to brutal oppression and bitter hurt. Theirs remain the righteous cause of a just God who looks upon His children with favour as He calls on some to rise up and protect the weak and the innocent, the poor and the destitute, the troubled and the restrained.

We have been richly blessed beyond that of what we deserve, dear brothers and sisters, by the lives of our soldiers and our veterans, by the sacrifices they have made and the lives that they have given to stop the advance of wickedness and unrighteousness. In the deepest hours of need they have contended against slavery and persecution, genocide and tyranny, and all for the cause of humanity in the knowledge that life remains sacred and valued in the eyes of the Lord. Amidst that they have been willing to sacrifice all that men and women may be viewed as having a worth to them that had been otherwise robbed from them. They do the work that we cannot in order to protect and serve others for no other reason than they feel it as their calling and their duty.

If there ever were those who could be rightly called imitators of Christ it would be those men and women of uniform who, in the deeper message of Christ, heard that call and found their place in the deeper sacrifices they have been willing to offer as they mark their words with their deeds and say they will give everything for the cause of freedom and liberty that the oppressed shall be ransomed and the persecuted shall be set free.

Let us never forget or undervalue that sacrifice. As dark as the world may, at times, get, as much chaos and pain may be waged in it, as much captivity and bondage as may come to it, it would be nothing but a drop in the bucket of a much worse, a much more wicked existence had it not been for the brave men and women who don their uniform, willing to give all that they are and all that they hope to be for that one great cause that they believe in.

What a blessing they truly are, what a blessed hope their lives become when we recognize the wondrous nature of the divine that pours forth from their hearts as their souls reach out to their fellow man in the love that they have for them. Let us always cherish that amidst our praises of God that He would send them to us in the love and the mercy of His wondrous ways.

Let us pray:

From you O Lord do all blessings flow, from you O Lord do we know that all of those who sacrifice all, those who are so willing to give of themselves, they come from you and they are of you, showing forth a divine nature, a divine mercy that can only come from your hands. We give you praise for them and for the sacrifices they have made in the cause of freedom and liberty, justice and equality, that slavery may be set to flight and persecution may be drawn to an end, that destitution and poverty may no longer wage a war on the souls of men. Though the work is not done, they still give so tirelessly of themselves that there may be a day when we may all rest.

Draw near to you then O Lord, all prisoners and hostages, all captives and slaves, setting to flight all unrighteousness and wickedness, so there will no longer be a need for such men and women, for there will be an encompassing peace and protection that can only come from your hands, that a greater sense of freedom and liberty, equality and justices comes to bear in the lives of your people, that no longer may the youth and the innocence be ripped away from them, that they may have the chance to live the lives they desire. And we pray these things, dear Lord, in the name of your Son, our Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you in the kingdom, one God, world without end. Amen.

Mid-Day Devotion 5/31/10

“Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress.”
Psalm 107:6

There is a great spiritual desert that lies beyond. Amidst it there is no food for the hungry soul, there is no water to quench the thirst of the heart. There is nothing more than the beating sun and the blowing wind the kicks the sand into the eyes of those who wander amidst it, blinding them amidst the Diaspora that so wounds their being.

This is the unrighteousness of our world, the wickedness of transgressions and the brutality of captivity and bondage. It keeps destroys peace as it wages its war against our comfort, seeming endless before us as we look to the horizon and find that as far as the eye can see there is nothing... no home, no solace, no rest, no path, just the great wasteland before us...

Yet God, in His mercy, that mercy that is endless and infinity, more so than even the greatest of deserts, reaching further than our spirits could imagine, never leaves us to wander forever, nor does He let us perish in the wilderness with hope so far from us. Unchanging in His nature He is the same God of deliverance as He always has been. As He led the children of Israel through the desert, feeding them and quenching their thirst, providing a pillar of light to guide them to the Promised Land, raising His hand to protect them from their enemies, so too does He now contend with the cause of His people amidst all of their distress and despair.

Whatever the captivity, whatever the bondage, however near oppression may come to us, or how strong the forces of tyranny may seem against us the power of our Lord, the God of deliverance and mercy, is greater as His abiding, transcending grace makes itself known in the lives of His people. When rest our burdens on Him, calling out His name that His hand may be raised for us and we may be girded with His strength, we draw our confidence in the promises He has made never to fail us or forsake us as He gives us the courage we need and the perseverance that seemed so fleeting amidst our lives as He shows us the power of His ever vigilant, ever faithful love for us.

Let us then rest on this assurance dear Brothers and Sisters as we uplift the prisoners and the hostages, the captives and the slaves in our prayers, crying out onto the name of the Lord, our God, for their deliverance as we rest in the blessings of His Word. Then shall we know that in His time, in His way, He shall move forever for the cause of His people as He whispers His truth through this world like a resounding call to freedom that tells unto us that He is never far off nor is He far distant while His people find themselves in their deepest of struggles and most abiding of challenges.

What a blessing, what a comfort that is...

Let us pray:

We your redeemed children draw near to your promises O Lord as we lift our voices up to you.

We your redeemed children O Lord, we cry out upon your name on bended knees in humble supplication, looking to your promises and to your assurances to come to bless our lives. Be not far from us, bend your ear to our cries, bend your eyes to look upon the suffering that is in this world and let not the struggle and the despair be upon the spirits and the souls of your children. Let not darkness come to them, let not despair be before them. Show your true and beloved nature, show your wondrous comfort, unto all of those who suffer amidst captivity and bondage, let them not struggle amidst the wilderness, wandering amidst such a brutal diaspora, with no hope on the horizon, O Lord. Feed them, quench the thirst of their soul, O Lord, let their spirit be lifted to you as their heart is girt and given endurance even among these darkest of days that now come upon them. Let them not be so blinded by the sands and the wind that blow against them.

Be upon the life of your dear child Alan McMenemy, show your grace upon him, show your grace upon his wife as she pleads for answers, as se pleads for some sort of sign, some sort of comfort. We raise up her call to you O Lord, knowing that you can give her what she seeks in her life. Return her husband to her, and if that is not your plan then give her the peace that she so desires. We plead this of you O Lord, looking to your promises and assurances that they may be the blessing of her life even as it seems like blessings are so far off from her.

O Lord, while the captives and the slaves are hungry, feed them; while they are thirsty, give unto them the water of your word and lead them like that pillar of light from this darkness to the land of your promised rest, as you like a shepherd lead them to the green pastures where your hope forever dwells. Then shall we raise your voice, then shall we raise your soul knowing that you are the God of Deliverance whom we will always and forever place our trust in as you prove yourself to be faithful and vigilant in the lives of your children.

In the name of your Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who came to ransom us all, and now lives and reigns with you in the kingdom, one God, world without end. Amen.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Evening Devotion 5/28/10

“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
2 Corinthians 4:18

The strength of the Lord is a moving presence amidst our lives, yet so often is it also an unseen presence. It is the invisible hand of a God we cannot begin to understand the full nature or the complete character of even as we find ourselves contemplating the purest quality by which He dwells in. It defies the minds of men, visible in all that is created by His hand, yet invisible in how it weaves together all that He has formed and the grace by which He dwells in all of these things.

Yet that is the deeper blessing of our Heavenly Father that makes his miracles all the more blessed and wondrous...

Consider for a moment the nature of that which is seen and that which remains unseen. What we see it is constrained by time and by place. It cannot be where it is not visible, it does nothing except that which is observable and it is limited only to actions that are evident in our own perceptions and understanding. God is not bound by the same rules of the temporal existence. He does not need to be noticed to work, nor does there need to be discernible evidence that makes His presence obvious to us. He can and does move as He will, with or without our understanding.

In a world so prone to chaos and darkness, where captivity and bondage come so near at hand and where the unrighteous rise while the righteous seem to fall, the unseen presence of God must be then held to with an ever present faith in our hearts. Without it all we are left with is the visible presence of this world, and in it the hopelessness of man that arises with the veil that so often covers our eyes.

With it though we come to understand that all of this is temporary. Like a fleeting moment it flashes before it with the blink as God shows forth His grace in our lives. Whatever grim estate may be cast over the hearts and the souls, the bodies and the minds of men, the spirit is called to a greater optimism amidst the expectations that we can place upon the hand of God as it moves through our lives and in our lives. Here he lets us not be cast forever to a pit of despair, but rather moves through us and in us to make himself wondrously known to us, even as we cannot observe Him with our temporal gaze.

Meditate on that dear brothers and sisters and ask of yourselves what presence would you rely on, the ones that are constrained by the laws of life and this temporal existence or the one that knows no limits or bounds, who moves without hindrance or obstacle placed before Him? The one that can only act within the confines of its physical and mental restrictions or the one that moves past all boundaries and borders as it shows there are no edge to the frontiers of His blessed assurance and encompassing hope?

Let us pray:

In all that we are and all that we hope in do we place our trust in Your nature O Lord as we look upon the unseen and observe it’s encompassing grace weaving itself through all that You have created. Be then not far off from Your children, showing unto them that the challenges and the adversity of this existence shall remain temporary as You remain unending in amidst the triumphs that You offer to the soul.

Show unto us that the captivity and the poverty, the destitution and the oppression, the slavery and the persecution of this mortal world shall soon fade as you put to flight the tyrannies of the body and the mind, the spirit and the soul, showing forth Your eternal grace amidst the lives of Your people. Show unto us that whatever the affliction may be that seeks to so bind us there is no chains that cannot be broken as You move so effortlessly through the course of human events to make manifest Your love and compassion in the lives of Your people.

This, O Lord, is the faithful manifestation of Your mercy as Your children are ransomed and liberty is brought to bear in their lives as Your Spirit moves through their lives. As we have seen it through the sacrifice and the freedom that came through Christ show it once more in the temporal as well as the eternal that no more shall we find hardship and despair gripping and strangling the life from Your creation, robbing from them the integrity and the value You have given unto their lives.

Then O Lord shall we find hope in the manifestations of Your love as it reveals itself to be the guiding presence that forever makes way our path and lifts us from all stumbling blocks that our mortal eyes place in front of it, for we shall observe the mercy and the grace, the compassion and the love Your intangible ways make so tangible to us.

In the name of Your Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who lives and reigns with You in the Kingdom, one God, world without end, Amen.

Mid-Day Devotion 5/28/10

Crossing the Jordan River, Christoph Unterberger, 1780s

“Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.”
Joshua 1:5

Whereas the world may only see what we present to it or what we show to it, the Lord, our God, He not only sees our inward being but is also seeking to make us stronger amidst it as He gives courage to our spirit, using His authority, His commands and His divine will to uplift our souls.

Consider for a moment the case of the children of Israel and Joshua....

Fearful was their existence. Having been led from brutal captivity they had wandered through the desert in a state of perpetual Diaspora. The strong hand of Moses’ leadership was now taken from them as the great Prophet sent by God to deliver them was now called home as they stood upon the borders of the Promised Land. Behind them was the land they had been taken from and the sandy dunes they had spent forty years moving through amidst their nomadic trek, in front of them stood the mighty tribes of Canaan, the city of Jericho, the Philistines and countless other enemies who would bring another slavery and oppression upon the people.

Yet the transcending word of the Lord, as revealed unto Moses’ successor would be clear. If he kept his faith even against the most overwhelming of odds, if he was strong and courageous in the power of the Lord’s might, if he was unwavering in the hope that he was given then he would find that the ultimate victory would be delivered into his hands by the power of a mighty God of deliverance who remained faithful to the cause of His people.

This remains the abiding lesson for us amidst our lives.

There are always trials and tribulations that lay before us, there are always challenges that lay behind us. In some cases whichever way a person looks there is the threat of captivity and bondage that surrounds them, whether it is of the body or the mind, the spirit or the soul. Amidst this worldly existence there is physical and mental oppression that threatens to rob all the peace we know and that we seek even as we look to the promises of God’s assurances for our lives.

It is here that we have to be all the more courageous, we have to have all the more strength as we hold fast to our faith. Righteous and faithful, steadfast in His devotion our Heavenly Father does not want us to worry or to lose heart because even when everything around us seems to have risen up against us and there is fear about the next steps we take, God will shower us with mercy and compassion. It is here that He shall gird us with His strength as His love is made manifest in our lives.

The ultimate triumph always awaits the faithful as God, in His righteousness, shows forth His divine authority. Perhaps we may not, at the time, see it, the obstacles in front of us seeming so great and so encompassing. Yet, by His mercy shall all be made known to us in time by the light by which He guides our path with if we just hold fast to Him.

Lord, grant this unto us all...

Let us pray:

In our hearts create courage O Lord, in our spirits let us find strength...

Build in our lives a sense of hope that can and does only come through faith in You knowing that to dwell in You is to dwell in the steadfast assurances of Your transcending, encompassing word that Your miracles shall guide our lives to the blessed expectations of that divine optimism that we have in Your grace.

O Lord, as we look to You our view is obstructed by the presence of so much oppression and so much despair in this world. Captivity and bondage come to Your people, slavery and persecution binds the hearts of Your children as Your creation cries out for Your blessings, seeking and imploring Your grace in their lives that liberty may be restored unto them by the power of Your Spirit.

Be not far off from them O Lord. As You were with Joshua be now with us, as You have promised unto Joshua promise now unto us, and let Your mercy be unchanging through the ages as the mercy of Your precepts move through the righteousness of Your hands to rise up for the cause of Your people amidst their ever present plight and struggles. Show unto them that Your authority is the unquestioned, unending authority of a loving God who shall always shield his children with courage and equip them with strength as You uplift their spirits and their souls and heal their broken hearts, mending the body and the mind from all afflictions that would seek to so overtake them.

Then shall Your unending, unchanging grace be worshiped and praised for the miracles that it offers unto the lives of Your children as You stand fast and firm with them as You have even in the most ancient of days.

In the name of Your Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who lives and reigns with You in the Kingdom, one God, world without end, Amen.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Evening Devotion 5/26/10

"Moses" panel, Lorenzo Ghiberti, 1452, Baptistry of St. John, Florence

“Worship the LORD your God, and his blessing will be on your food and water. I will take away sickness from among you,”
Exodus 23:25

How like a beloved child are we blessed by our Heavenly Father!

For a moment let us look upon the deeper promises of the Lord given unto us by His compassion and mercy. There are few assurances we are handed in our lives like the assurances given unto us by our God. Yet as He gives us the privilege of worshiping Him as our Creator whose hand formed us with care and love He also promises us that to worship Him means that His miracles shall encompass our days as He provides for us, cares for us and heals us. It’s here then that we understand that even the smallest or the most common things are cared for by the love of God. We understand then that there is nothing common about the common in our lives as He raises His hand to make His presence known amidst us. How much more than can He and will He do with the greater and the more encompassing things that are made manifest in our lives?

This was the miracle He showed unto the children of Israel. From the smallest of detail to the greatest of challenges, He blessed and He sustained as His miracles lead them and guided them even from the days of their captivity and bondage. With His life giving water He quenched their thirst, with His spiritual bread He filled their hearts, and with His light He gave them a path in the darkness.

Unchanging, the same yesterday, today and forever, these blessings that He bestowed, though they may be revealed unto us differently than they were at other points in the course of human events, remain as the standing testimony and the transcending witness of a living God of deliverance who always contends with the cause of His people. Sustained and protected, fed and healed by the same hand as saints and prophets, apostles and disciples of generations past our days are counted and our lives are blessed by a Heavenly Father who knows us and loves us with a heart that is always lifted for us and to us.

Here it is rightly and truly recognized that day by day, regardless of the world around us or the state of challenge, whether it is bondage, captivity or Diaspora, we find ourselves as we dwell in grace. By the gift of grace through the power of the Spirit we worship and glorify the Lord, through that grace then we are sustained by the Lord, and in that grace He blesses our lives as He showers us with the care that we so desire and need in our lives.

What an abiding miracle that truly and rightly must be seen as, what a encompassing and transcending love that must be rightly known as.... what a God we have and a blessing He is for us.

Let us pray:

On who shall we build our trust O Lord? On what shall we find the build our hope?

By Your love and in Your grace You have made Your promises known to us as You bless the lives of Your children and assure them of Your transcending, encompassing mercy. We know then that care is not far off when we look upon Your face, when we rely on Your word and when we worship Your name, glorifying You as Your works reveal Your compassion unto us.

Stand steadfast and vigilant then with us O Lord, holding true to the faith that we place in You. Look upon the faces of those who are held amidst the dark bondage and the grim estate of captivity and slavery, oppression and tyranny, poverty and destitution, persecution and disease and let Your name be upon their lips as You write it in their hearts through the deliverance that You offer unto them. Let their lives be given unto You and their hope be made perfect through You.

Lead these, Your children to the waters of Your love and the food of Your mercy, to the healing of Your hand that they may know Your light guides them and protects them through all that they are and all that they face. Lead these, Your children to the hope of Your compassion that they may find that they are brought once more to the blessed air of liberty, as You uplift them and edify them, as You give unto them all that they need to disperse the gloomy clouds of night that bring them to such despair as Your hope is made manifest in their lives.

Then shall Your people find rest in Your blessings as You prepare for them the place of honor in the assurances of Your encompassing love.

In the name of Your Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who lives and reigns with You in the Kingdom, one God, world without end, Amen.

Mid-Day Devotion 5/26/10

“Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.”
Psalm 55:22

Faith in the most dire of circumstances is hard for a person to sustain. As the challenges rise and darkness surrounds the spirit and the soul, as the heart grows heavy and weak it’s hard to maintain a fundamental trust in the Lord. The basic nature of the human character is to look at these challenges and see a void where God should be. Our hope then becomes more of a question that a statement for our lives.

Yet, even amongst the deeper worries that we find overtaking our lives, God never fails or forsakes His children, nor does He abandon them to hopelessness or to despair. Even when it is hardest to see the love and the mercy, the compassion and the grace of the Lord He is there to tell us there is no captivity he will leave us to, as bondage seeks to overtake us in the worst forms of slavery that we could imagine He shall ransom us. Come what may, come what must the sword of His protection and the shield of His strength shall be the force by which our lives shall be guarded.

It is then that we rightly and truly understand the lessons of Christ which tell unto us that whatever burdens we have, whatever struggles we shall face if we cast them to him they shall be lifted from us as we are given optimism in the expectations of the deepest blessings of our Heavenly Father. To cast our cares to the Lord in the knowledge that He will sustain us is to trust Him and His power more than to trust ourselves, knowing that He is wiser than we ever could hope to be. Though we then may not understand how it could be that our difficulties may arise or how God could let this happen when He has promised to love and care for us, we can truly understand that though trials and turmoil happen despite Him He is there to make way our path and to carry us when we have found ourselves cast to a pit, lifting us from it and offering us the healing we so need.

Our God, loving and faithful, vigilant and merciful, always undertakes the task of our greatest care, no matter how small or large the tribulation may seem or how engulfing the darkness may seem. By this light and this compassion we know that we are the beloved of our Heavenly Father as He makes us righteous and thus uplifts us on eagles wings, never letting us fall as we are given the blessed assurances of His promises.

Then, though there may still be worry in our lives, though challenges may still arise, we shall know the truth of God’s word, of His blessings and it shall set us free amidst the power of the Spirit as darkness is turned to light and we are raised up by the hand of God sustaining us through all the days of our lives.

Let us pray:

Abide in us O Lord, let Your mercy and Your love encompass the lives of Your children...

Unto You O Lord do we come looking steadfast and earnestly to the promises You have made amidst the deeper blessings of Your Word, that guiding light from where all hope does dwell. It is in Your assurances that we place our trust as we humbly beseech You, seeking and imploring Your grace in the lives of Your people.

Make manifest Your compassion O Lord, reveal unto us the care that shall sustain Your people...

Gird Your children with strength, protect them in life, that by Your hand they shall be uplifted and set to flight from all troubles and cares that seek so to overtake them. Let not darkness encompass them, let not struggles mark their days, let not hopelessness be the hurt that defines their soul. Raise up Your glory that Your creation shall be sanctified in Your love.

Bless the negotiation in the Sudan O Lord, let them proceed with the guidance of Your direction...

Unto You do we commend the safety of our brothers and our sister held there. Let Your hand be with Laura Archer, Raphael Meonier and Mauro D'Ascanio that they may be sustained even amidst this adversity that has so overtaken them. Let Your love be upon them and Your strength be with them that the chains that keep them in such bondage shall be broken and they shall have the healing that comes from Your hand. Let Your Spirit be upon them that freedom shall come to them, and hope shall never leave them.

Then shall we know that the trust we have placed in You shall never be in vain as You show forth the deepest manifestations of Your transcending and guiding love as it intercedes in the lives of those who are in the greatest need.

In the name of Your Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who lives and reigns with You in the Kingdom, one God, world without end, Amen.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Evening Devotion 5/24/10

Jacob Wrestling with the Angel, Gustave Dore, 1855

“Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me!”
Psalm 66:20

The outward requests of our inwards wants and needs, the nature and the character of prayer is the means by which we make ourselves and our hearts known to the Lord, our God. As Jacob wrestled with the Lord, so too is this our means by which we may grapple with the divine will and the plan of our Creator as He reveals Himself unto us and shows His face unto us.

Consider then long and hard, dear brothers and sisters, not just the words of Your prayer but the heart by which You bring them to the Lord. Let them be a sincere pouring of Your soul unto Him as You seek and implore His grace, actively striving to understand His ways that You may see the true Spirit of His love made manifest in Your life and the lives of those whom You pray for.

Let not Your heart be hardened, nor think yourself more righteous than others, but vigorously and energetically uplift your fellow man in your communications with the Lord. Seek the needs of others, look to the struggles and the suffering of those in captivity and bondage, whether it be of the body and the mind, the spirit or the soul that you may plead their case before the Lord, beseeching His mercy in their lives. Reflect on the nature of this world and pray for the unrighteous and the sinful, those who let darkness guide their way, for like you once were they so are now, finding that wickedness guides their path devoid of the love of God to grant upon them the grace that they so need to work that sincere repentance in their hearts.

Then let the gracious mercy of our Lord show forth His compassion in your life as you learn the deeper lessons of Christ and seek to be as He was, looking to the plights of others before the challenges you yourself face, that you may offer true healing through the blessings of God as You beseech Him, entreating His deliverance in the lives of others, knowing that He works forever for the cause of His people, rejecting not our prayers and withholding not His love from us as we humble ourselves before His mighty throne, casting ourselves before Him as His Spirit takes a hold of us.

Let us pray:

Bend Your ear O Lord to our prayers, hear our humble supplications as we come before You in submission to Your word.

Let Your grace encompass O Lord as we entreat Your mercy, lift Your eyes to us as we look to Your promises of steadfast devotion.

Guide us by Your love O Lord as we beseech You on behalf of those who struggle amidst captivity and bondage, standing firm in Your assurances of deliverance.

By Your hand guide and protect Your people as You withhold nothing from them. As You move let Your authority remain unquestioned and unchallenged by the presence of darkness in this world. Answer the challenges of captivity and bondage, poverty and destitution, persecution and oppression, slavery and tyranny with the loud and resounding voice of You liberty made manifest by Your Spirit as that guiding and encompassing presence for Your children.

Deliverance... bring deliverance into this lost and fallen world. As You have so often before in the lives of Your children show that Your people shall not be forsaken to wickedness and unrighteousness, By Your precepts let Your love be known that all shall see that You have not failed or forsaken any who have found themselves lost amidst this temporal time of trial that threatens to so engulf and overwhelm them.

Then shall we rejoice in the goodness of Your mercy as Your love overtakes us and freedom is shown through the power of Your Spirit moving through this world and in this world according to the blessings that can and shall always and only rise by Your hand amidst the lives of Your children.

In the name of Your Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with You in the Kingdom, one God, world without end, Amen.

Mid-Day Devotion 5/24/10

“As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness.”
Ezekiel 34:12

Imagine dear brothers and sisters, not just the strength of the Lord in protecting the sheep of his flock or the joy of our Good Shepherd when he finds that one sheep that has strayed to bring it back to the pastures of His blessed rest. Imagine as well the desperation of our blessed Shepherd when even one of His sheep find themselves in danger. Imagine as well the deep and abiding relief that He finds in rescuing them from the paw of the lion and the mouth of the wolves waiting to devour them.

The faithful and vigilant promise of our Shepherd is the assurance that His rod and His staff shall always be raised for us. By His encompassing mercy we shall be protected and guided through the dangers of this world to the green fields of His peace as He holds us close to Him, refusing to let harm come to us. When we wander or when we are taken, when we find ourselves lost and astray far beyond those meadows, it is with such anguish in His voice that He calls to us that we may hear His voice that we might hear the love and find our way once more to His blessed strength for the protection that we so need.

Never does there come a time when He fails us or forsakes us, never is there a time when He abandons us, more concerned with the sheep who dwell in safety than He is for the one who finds themselves in such despondency and despair. Never does there come a day when He leaves us to the hopelessness of desolation and the bitterness of darkness, no matter how rocky the path is that separates us from Him.

This is the miracle of our Good Shepherd’s encompassing mercy for us as He moves with authority and strength to show just how beloved we truly are to Him. It is then faithful and true to rightly see Him as the God of true deliverance and abiding liberty as He shows Himself in the compassion and the grace that He truly makes manifest in the lives of His children whom He so cares for with such a love as we have never seen before.

What a rest we are then given in the quiet places He carries us to even in the most chaotic of times that surround us.

Let us pray:

O Lord it is You who are our Shepherd, it is You who guides us by the Rod and the Staff to the blessed places of our encompassing and transcending rest. Upon Your fields do You make for us a place of peace, in Your meadows are we given a place of love.

Lead then Your sheep who have found themselves in the rocky places by the same. Around them they are faced by those who would seek to devour them as darkness and pain so surround them. Persecution and oppression, captivity and bondage so seek to swallow them amidst the despair and the anguish of the misery inflicted on them by the power of unrighteousness lifted against them.

Let not this hurt and sorrow be that which they know, let it not be the hopelessness in which they are carried off from Your pastures by. Show unto them the love that can and only does arise by Your hand raised for their protection and rescue as mercy abounds in their lives and hope is made manifest by the authority in which You move in this world by and through.

Restore the souls of Your sheep and strengthen their hearts that their days shall be blessed and Your goodness shall be rejoiced in through the wonders of Your miracles made present in Your grace.

Then shall the abounding love of Your wondrous compassion be the call by which all know of Your blessed mercy as they look upon Your face to see the Good Shepherd who blesses the sheep of His flock.

In the name of Your Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with You in the Kingdom, one God, world without end, Amen.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Evening Devotion 5/20/10

The Fiery Furnace, from the Catacombs of Priscilla, Rome, Italy. Late 3rd century / Early 4th century.

C.H. Spurgeon: Morning and Evening
Morning – May 3rd: In the world ye shall have tribulation.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33

Art thou asking the reason of this, believer? Look upward to thy heavenly Father, and behold Him pure and holy. Dost thou know that thou art one day to be like Him? Wilt thou easily be conformed to His image? Wilt thou not require much refining in the furnace of affliction to purify thee? Will it be an easy thing to get rid of thy corruptions, and make thee perfect even as thy Father which is in heaven is perfect? Next, Christian, turn thine eye downward. Dost thou know what foes thou hast beneath thy feet? Thou wast once a servant of Satan, and no king will willingly lose his subjects. Dost thou think that Satan will let thee alone? No, he will be always at thee, for he "goeth about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour." Expect trouble, therefore, Christian, when thou lookest beneath thee. Then look around thee. Where art thou? Thou art in an enemy's country, a stranger and a sojourner. The world is not thy friend. If it be, then thou art not God's friend, for he who is the friend of the world is the enemy of God. Be assured that thou shalt find foe-men everywhere. When thou sleepest, think that thou art resting on the battlefield; when thou walkest, suspect an ambush in every hedge. As mosquitoes are said to bite strangers more than natives, so will the trials of earth be sharpest to you. Lastly, look within thee, into thine own heart and observe what is there. Sin and self are still within. Ah! if thou hadst no devil to tempt thee, no enemies to fight thee, and no world to ensnare thee, thou wouldst still find in thyself evil enough to be a sore trouble to thee, for "the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked." Expect trouble then, but despond not on account of it, for God is with thee to help and to strengthen thee. He hath said, "I will be with thee in trouble; I will deliver thee and honour thee."

Let us pray:

Stand steadfast in Your promises O Lord, stand firm in Your love...

Let Your light guide Your children, O Lord, let your Word be their path...

In all that they are and in all that they face be beside them as this world wages its bitterest war against them in a battle for their spirits and their souls. Even amidst the most brutal of captivities let Your compassion be known in the lives of Your people that they shall come to rest in tender solace of Your encompassing mercy.

So often do we see as people are ripped from their lives and the value You give to their lives is held to be cheap and without any intrinsic worth to it. Bondage and oppression, poverty and destitution, persecution and tyranny weave through their lives as if like a noose strangling the life from them as they are left broken and wounded.

Yet the promise of Your Word, encompassing and transcending stand as the firm resolve of Your hope. It is here that we look to Your assurances and place our trust in Your unchanging devotion. Let not darkness stand before these Your children for all times. Let Your compassion be their guide as You cast upon them Your Holy Spirit that they may be uplifted and set above all of their plights and their struggles. Cast off of them their chains and break their bondage that they may, in all that they are and all that see before them, know that You walk beside them, never failing them or forsaking them, giving freely unto them until that day when You set them once more to their freedom amidst the blessed air of liberty.

Then shall Your people stand vindicated for the faith that they have placed in You as their trust is made manifest in the love that You have offered unto them as Your testament to Your faithfulness to them.

In the name of Your Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who lives and reigns with You in the Kingdom, one God, world without end, Amen.

Mid-Day Devotion 5/20/10

The Wedding Feast at Cana of Galilee, Anonymous, Christ the Savior Orthodox Church, Harrisburg, PA

C.H. Spurgeon: Morning and Evening
Morning – May 20th: Marvellous lovingkindness

“Show the wonder of your great love, you who save by your right hand those who take refuge in you from their foes.”
Psalm 17:7

When we give our hearts with our alms, we give well, but we must often plead to a failure in this respect. Not so our Master and our Lord. His favours are always performed with the love of His heart. He does not send to us the cold meat and the broken pieces from the table of His luxury, but He dips our morsel in His own dish, and seasons our provisions with the spices of His fragrant affections. When He puts the golden tokens of His grace into our palms, He accompanies the gift with such a warm pressure of our hand, that the manner of His giving is as precious as the boon itself. He will come into our houses upon His errands of kindness, and He will not act as some austere visitors do in the poor man's cottage, but He sits by our side, not despising our poverty, nor blaming our weakness. Beloved, with what smiles does He speak! What golden sentences drop from His gracious lips! What embraces of affection does He bestow upon us! If He had but given us farthings, the way of His giving would have gilded them; but as it is, the costly alms are set in a golden basket by His pleasant carriage. It is impossible to doubt the sincerity of His charity, for there is a bleeding heart stamped upon the face of all His benefactions. He giveth liberally and upbraideth not. Not one hint that we are burdensome to Him; not one cold look for His poor pensioners; but He rejoices in His mercy, and presses us to His bosom while He is pouring out His life for us. There is a fragrance in His spikenard which nothing but His heart could produce; there is a sweetness in His honey-comb which could not be in it unless the very essence of His soul's affection had been mingled with it. Oh! the rare communion which such singular heartiness effecteth! May we continually taste and know the blessedness of it!

Let us pray:

Hear O Lord as we lift our voices to You, let our cries come to Your ears, let our pleas rest upon Your righteousness.

May all strength, may all courage through the ordeals of this world be found amidst the glory of Your transcending love and Your encompassing mercy. May all hope be restored by the steadfast devotion that You make manifest in the lives of Your children.

So much of our joy is tempered O Lord. We are strengthened by the news of the two children released after 11 months in captivity, held by terrorists, yet we find ourselves heavy hearted as the news that the fate of their parents still remain undetermined while we receive news that their brother may have died at the hands of this ordeal. We rejoice at the release of the St. James Park as its crew may now return home, yet we are burdened by the fact that Pirates are made bolder by the ransom paid and the capture of the Greek Ship Eleni P.

For all that we hear that is good we are given the grim reminder that evil still lurks and unrighteousness still finds refuge in this world.

May vindication arise from Your hands that wickedness shall be set to flight and the lives of Your children shall be preserved. May freedom come through the power of Your Spirit and hope arise from Your hands as You look upon all who suffer amidst their present ordeal and give unto them all that they need to survive their present ordeal. May Your love be made manifest in their lives that, by Your merciful compassion they shall be set free, once more to return home that they may find healing amidst their life.

May, in all things, Your righteousness be made to stand as the everlasting testament of the glories of Your ways.

Then shall our hearts raise joyful songs and psalms of praise as we dwell in the encompassing love of Your transcending hope through all of our days.

In the name of Your Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who lives and reigns with You in the Kingdom, one God, world without end, Amen.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Evening Devotion 5/7/10

Jesus Carrying the Cross, Sebastiano del Piombo, 1516

“My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word.”
Psalm 119:28

There are times in life when it is just easier for us to give up…

With struggles all around us, with difficulties and challenges that seem to mount up with strength, rising as they push against us and cause us so much stress, so much hardship, we can’t help but just wonder to ourselves, what’s the point anymore? So many of our hopes and our dreams, so many of our deepest of desires are given up that way as we find that nothing seems to work the way we had hoped or nothing seems to go the way that we plan.

And then there are times when the world just seems to be conspiring against us, indifferent to who we are or what we are doing or what we long for, what we yearn for out of life. It comes with a bitter captivity and firm bondage that pays no attention to anything but breaking us. It does so with no consideration to the good or the bad, the innocent or the guilty, the weak or the strong. It comes with such weight and pressure that it just seems to be too much for us as it cracks at our hearts and makes weary our souls.

It is here that we need, more than anything else, to grab a hold of the promises made unto us by the Lord our God, to look, with steadfast devotion to the promises that He has made to us, the promises He has made unto us and to trust, beyond all else that He shall remain faithful and vigilant to us even against the force and the weight of this world.

Life is nothing if there is no hope amidst it, and all hope, it flows from the blessings and the assurances that come from the word of our Lord amidst the love that He has for us.

We may not always understand what His plan is, we may not always understand why what happens does happen to us, and it may frustrate us beyond measure or compare. Yet we don’t always need to know, we don’t always have to know, nor do we always have to understand. All that is important, all that is essential to us is that we know that we have the love of our Heavenly Father, and that through His word we find strength amidst our lives as He gives us courage amidst the guarantee that He will never fail us or forsake us through all of the days of our lives.

Though your soul may then grow weary, though it may seem as if all the world has mounted up against you, trust in the Lord your God, and turn to His blessed Gospel, to those words of blessed hope that He made manifest in His Son, our Savior, Christ Jesus and know that you shall find the strength to live and to be, to hold steadfast to Your hopes and Your dreams as You are delivered from all that this world my try to foist upon you in the abiding love of Our Heavenly Father. Signs and wonders shall be shown to you and light and love shall guide your way, for, by God’s blessed miracle you shall know that He is moving in your life, for your life.

Lord, grant this unto us all.

Let us pray:

Proclaim Your power O Lord, declare Your authority O God, that Your majesty shall be seen amidst the heavens and the earth, the skies and the grounds and all that is in between.

Make manifest Your Love O Lord, fulfill Your Promises O God, that Your hope shall be known amidst the lives of the people as their humblest supplications are raised to You.

Open up Your heart O Lord, bend Your ears to our cries O God, that You may hear the yearnings of Your children as they seek and implore Your grace amidst their lives.

Set all sorrow to flight, let not our spirits grow weary from challenges and difficulties, let not our souls find hopelessness and despair flows so easily to them, let not our hearts crack from the pressures of this temporal existence, but, in faithfulness to Your Word, stand steadfast amidst the lives of Your creation, showing unto them hope and love that they shall find the blessings of Your truth shall be made manifest in their souls.

Set all bondage and captivity to flight, let not tyranny and oppress hold power or sway, let not slavery and injustice find refuge amidst this life, let not poverty and destitution rob the people of their peace. Move amidst this world, showing forth the deep and abiding miracles of Your transcending, encompassing promises that all good shall be known as Your righteousness as Your people prosper amidst Your blessings.

Set us apart O Lord that Your freedom shall be the abiding course of our lives and our souls shall testify of Your liberty amidst the deeper blessings of Your transcending, and encompassing hope given forth unto us for our lives in Your miracles.

In the name of Your Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who lives and reigns with You in the Kingdom, one God, world without end, Amen.

Mid-Day Devotion 5/7/10

Callie Scheepers, Hardus Greef, Johan Enslin, and Andre Durant

“Therefore once more I will astound these people with wonder upon wonder; the wisdom of the wise will perish, the intelligence of the intelligent will vanish.”
Isaiah 29:14

Wonder upon wonder the Lord God Almighty shall astound the people, setting to flight the wisdom of the wise as His love and His mercy is made known unto the lives of His people.

Never has a day passed that hasn’t been a miracle from God. Each day is a blessed new wonder formed individually for each of us by the hand of our Heavenly Father as He shows forth His compassion for us by the works of His hand. It’s hard to not marvel at the wonders then that are poured forth by His grace for the lives of His people amidst the abiding hope that He offers unto them.

Yet there are times when those blessings, when those miracles are more clearly seen than others as God shows that faith shall never be in vain and that mercy shall always pour forth from His Spirit. Today, as news reaches us of our dear brothers Andre Durant, Johan Enslin, Callie Scheepers, and Hardus Greef, we realize that today is one of those days.

Contractors kidnapped in Baghdad back December of 2006, there were so many reasons to give up hope that these four would ever return home. The ransom demanded for them was refused to be paid, their company and their government had forgotten about them and left them in the most meager of estates. January of 2007 was the last that anybody heard from them as the final demands were made by their kidnappers and it was rejected. Abandoned and forsaken by those who could have helped them, the most anybody could have hoped for was that eventually their bodies would be recovered and returned to South Africa for a proper burial by their family that finally they might have the closure they needed.

For over three years their families though refused to give up hope. While they were told to declare these four dead and collect death benefits from the government, while the salaries were cut off, while it might have been easier for them just to think that they had gone and move on with their lives, their love wouldn’t allow them to just abandon them as they pushed them out of their thoughts and minds. Praying, remaining faithful to them, they turned to the Lord and trusted that He never would forsake those who they loved so dearly as they found themselves held in emotional captivity, yearning for something, for anything to hang on to, for something, anything to break the chains that bound them.

Their faith would be rewarded…

Despite having been failed in their hour of need, despite having been left for dead, these four have survived and all that can be really be said is thanks be to God for that, thanks be to God for the miracles that He bestows when hope and faith refuse to be let go of even in the darkest of days and the deepest of trials.

Though we cannot stop praying for these four and their families until the day when they are blessedly restored amidst the liberty that flows from the hand of God and healed by the power of His beloved Spirit who binds up all wounds that may so inflict us we can see truly here the miracle of God’s blessed and transcending love as it moves through this world and in this world in the most significant of ways for the cause of His people. It is here that we are given the truest and the firmest of testimonies of His great and encompassing compassion for His children as mercy flows from the deepest of places within Him, transcending all human understanding and wisdom to make possible even what had seemed so impossible.

Perhaps it’s not always easy to see God at work, perhaps it’s simpler at times to just throw up our hands and ask “Oh God, my God, why have You forsaken me.” But He never does. Even in the most hopeless of situations, even in the grimmest of times, He is there to show forth that He is there, that He always has been there to bless the lives of those who hold fast to His promises even when all the world around them seems to have raised up against them.

Praise be His blessed name for that.

Let us pray:

As smoke is blown away by the wind, so have You blown away all fears and doubts from the minds of Your children O Lord. We have now seen the signs and the wonders from Your hand as Your hope abides amidst the lives of your people when their trust is placed in You.

With tears of joy and prayers of thanksgiving do we receive the news of Andre Durant, Johan Enslin, Callie Scheepers, and Hardus Greef, Your blessed and beloved children, so long feared gone. By Your hand have these four been sheltered and protected, by Your strength have they been shielded as their lives have been guarded and word has been brought that they still remain amidst this temporal existence waiting for the day when they can be restored to their homes and their families.

We praise Your blessed name for this wondrous miracle, knowing Your hand has been raised to ensure the integrity and the value of their lives has been held sacred. For this, in Your righteousness are we glad as we rejoice in the works of Your hand. A God of eternal deliverance it is shown through this that You are the Lord of all who yearn in captivity and bondage, longing so desperately for freedom.

Unto You then do we raise our humble supplications that in the same hope, that same blessed hope, You shall set them free amidst the promise of Your abiding mercy and Your transcending love that they may, by Your justice and Your liberty be returned to those who so deeply care for them that they, despite all the wisdom of this world, refused to give up hope in the faithfulness of Your promises.

Unto You do we humbly entreat their release from their captivity, knowing that You have the power and the authority to make all things possible.

You, O Lord, are our sanctuary, shelter and protect Your people in the promises of Your blessed word, according to Your blessed hope.

In the name of Your Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who lives and reigns with You in the Kingdom, one God, world without end, Amen.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Evening Devotion 5/5/10

“You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.”
Isaiah 55:12

When hope, at long last, is restored there is a joy of the soul that is beyond compare as we find that our spirit is, at long last released from the darkness and the despair that has so gripped it, threatening to strangle the life from us. This is a hope that can and does only come from the faithful adherence of God to the promises that He has made in the lives of His children.

You see God understands…

He understands that this world is dark and wrought with challenges that seem to always rise up against us. He knows that there are always struggles that threaten to engulf us in the most significant of ways. Destruction comes through the most bitter of captivity, the grimmest of bondage, the greatest of destitution, the most abiding of persecution that can befall mankind. Amidst that there are times when life is held cheap by oppression and tyranny moving through the lives of the people as unrighteousness comes into this dark world.

Yet by the hand of God, as He moves to contend with the cause of His creation, we are not destroyed. He leads us forth into places of peace, He guides us through hope to the places where we can, at long last, find rest. We may not understand why the moments of difficulties and struggle come, but what we can know, what we must know is that God is always and forever contending with the cause of His children amidst those times, standing faithfully and vigilantly with them.

Here we must praise His name and draw ourselves closer to Him in all that we are and al that we do, knowing that He is the ever present force for God in our lives there to show forth and to magnify His grace within our presence that we may know joy abounding as He stands steadfast to His Word. This world may rise but it also will soon fall, but the glory of our Lord, the glory by which His love is made manifest in our lives will stand forever as the deep and abiding testimony of His gracious majesty.

So sing forth of His blessing and love even when it seems far distant in your life, drawing yourself closer to Him, knowing that as you do He shall draw closer to you as His love is revealed unto You in the most significant of ways and hope is restored unto all of your days. He shall, in faithfulness, stand firm with us in all that we are as He leads us to the places where we can rejoice, even if it does, through the challenges of this world, take us a while longer to get there as we find the moments of difficulty try to put a stumbling block in front of us. Even there though He shall lift us and carry us to the places we need to be amidst His divine love for our lives.

Praise be His Holy name for that.

Let us pray:

Contend, O Lord with Your children’s plight,
Let not their days be engulfed by night
Hold fast to them through this their fight,
Setting captivities bondage soon to flight
That they may walk amidst thy light
Carried forever by thy majesties might.

Mark this O Lord, Your children’s life
Lift them now above this their strife
Though these their days might now be rife
With hurt and sorrow’s deep cutting knife
As integrity is so robbed from their life
That to them is restored all goods, child and wife.

Stand fast O Lord, through all their days
Lead them faithfully by Thy blessed ways
That by Thy faith all bitterness ne’er stays
Cut through by Thy Son’s blessed rays
As praise for You in our hearts does lays
Upon thy love that now does raise.

And then O Lord, when thy people rest
All darkness lifted from their chest
By You they shall find them blessed
As from bondage You did wrest
Their lives held close to Your breast
Thy grace on our souls forever impressed.

In the name of Your Son, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with You in the Kingdom, one God, world without end, Amen.

Mid-Day Devotion 5/5/10

“Then the LORD your God will restore your fortunes and have compassion on you and gather you again from all the nations where he scattered you.”
Deuteronomy 30:3

There are times when it’s hard to see God’s promises of deliverance when bondage comes so easily amidst this world, and the trials and the tribulations are before us. We want to believe that God will, in His righteousness and His mercy, move for us and our cause but the truth is we can’t help but find that there is this lingering doubt in our minds that it will come.

The children of Israel, they had the same problem. Even having seen God’s deliverance in the most triumphant of ways as He handed them the most glorious of victories over the captivity and the slavery that so gripped them, they couldn’t seem to help but doubt. Perhaps it was a response to the long years they had spent at the end of the taskmasters whip, forced to build for the glory of Pharaoh his great cities and monuments, it might have been the fear that in the next moment they would be once find themselves chained and bound.

Whatever it was they found it difficult to stand fast amidst their faith in God as their deliverer. At any chance they got, had they believed that He had even slightly moved away from them or had, for a second, left them, they would turn to foreign gods and idolatrous deities, looking to immoveable statues that would, through their lifeless forms never leave them.

Yet for all our fears and our doubts, for all of the challenges and the difficulties that may lie before us, God is there, and He is waiting for us to turn to Him through all of life’s struggles and tribulations that He may show His compassion unto us and deliver us from whatever may stand before us.

To us God must represent the path to freedom, knowing that it is from His integrity, from His righteousness that the victory is delivered and His people are set to liberty. Our faith in Him cannot waiver even when darkness seems to so encompass us amidst our lives because, in those moments of doubt we open ourselves wide to greater doubts and to greater uncertainty, shutting ourselves off and distancing ourselves from the love of our Heavenly Father.

As hard as it then may be for us we have to look to the throne of God on High and know that He stands ready to stand with us, when we put all of our hope and all of our trust in Him knowing that it will never be frustrated, come what may, come what must through a world of sin and iniquity where unrighteousness stands so ready to choke the life from us. God will, in mercy and compassion, deliver when we put all trust in Him knowing that it is He who restores our fortunes and lifts us high from all that troubles us even as we have been cast to the pits of despair.

We may not know the time or the place or the way in which God will move for the cause of His children, but we can be assured that when we place all hope and faith in Him amidst His love for us, He will, with strength and love move in the most significant of way for them, never failing them or forsaking them through all the days of their lives.

Let us pray:

May You walk with us O Lord, may You shine Your face upon us that Your name shall be known throughout the nations and Your love shall be revealed through the compassion You show unto Your children.

May You be gracious unto Us O Lord, may Your blessings freely flow that Your hope shall abide throughout the generations and Your mercy shall endure forever in the lives of Your people.

Stand steadfast and firm amidst the promises You have made, girding Your creation with Your strength and guiding them with Your hope through all this world’s dark challenges, showing forth Your tender grace in their lives most difficult place.

Stand vigilant and faithfully that hope may endure even through the darkest bondage and the deepest of captivity, that all wickedness and unrighteousness shall be set to flight that dispersed will soon be the dark clouds of night.

For the twenty three aboard the MV Moscow University, taken by Somali Pirates off the coast of Yemen do we pray, seeking and imploring Your mercy amidst the lives of these people who know find themselves in the darkest of estates. Lift Your hand to guard them and protect them amidst these days of challenge that have now befallen them and give them the strength that they need to endure.

Cast upon them Your Holy Spirit and turn their hearts to You that they may see the hope that lives amidst Your great love for them that they may rest in You, knowing that, in Your time and in Your way, they shall be delivered once more to the green pastures of Your grace to breath the blessed air of liberty.

Stand with hope in Your hands O Lord that by Your compassion Your mercy shall be shown and Your righteousness shall be made manifest in the lives of Your children amidst the enduring love that You have for them as You carry them forward in the blessed assurances of Your Word.

In the name of Your Son, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with You in the Kingdom, one God, world without end, Amen.