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Company and Praise

Praise be to you, Lord Jesus, my Shepherd and King, as I woke to find myself with you. My dreams were unpleasant, having one obstacle after another–kind of like real life, but without your presence–so it was good to come back to reality with you!
Thank you for the wonder of knowing you, Lord Jesus, of having your grace, goodness and greatness in my life, of being continually offered rest and hope, a partnership of purpose and power in prayer, of being able to join you in what you are doing.
Thank you that this day before me will be filled with multiple possibilities of honoring you with faith, responding to disappointments, interruptions, problems and challenges with thanksgiving and the chance to thereby defeat frustration, impatience, selfishness, fear and worry.
To respond with faith is to do something that has eternal value, fulfilling the purpose you have given me in life of honoring you rather than focusing on myself and what is visible.
Thank you that you have made faith the primary means of joining you, so anyone can do that: young and old, illiterate and highly educated, rich and poor, powerful and weak, new believer or old.
This is an exciting truth, for it shows how everyone in the spectrum of maturity, from the newest believer to the most mature saint, can all give you glory at each moment in time, simply by responding in faith–getting up the shield of faith by offering the sacrifice of thanksgiving “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name” (Heb. 13:15).
I praise you for what you have before me today, Lord; help me to partner with you, knowing that all will flow from your hand of goodness, from your heart of wisdom, from your boundless grace, from your desire for me to join you in your great plans.
Help me to see each next negative as a positive possibility to offer you honor through thanksgiving, to grow spiritually and to be a shining light to those around me. What a privilege! Thank you for it and for what you will do in and through me today.
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Psalm 20:4-5

Psalm 20:4 “May he give you the desire of your heart”
[This echoes the statement of Psalm 37:4, “Delight yourself also in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.” As we find our delight in you, Lord, it is safe for you to answer our prayers, for you know that the answer will not become an idol.
Lord, truly you are my delight, my joy, my goodness, my God; help me to consistently focus my love on you, to reject the temptation to let events and people siphon off that love to lesser things.]
“and make all your plans succeed.”
[Lord, may only those plans that flow from you succeed. May you be glorified, honored and exalted by the success of any plans we seek to implement. May you come first, may you be praised, may you be lifted up in any success that comes.]
Psalm 20:5 “We will shout for joy when you are victorious”
[We will glorify you, Lord God, for any and all victories–for people being set free, coming to know you, overcoming temptation, maturing in you, sharing with unbelieving friends. You are the great Doer of the wonderful, the powerful Bringer of good, the mighty Victor in all.]
“and will lift up our banners in the name of our God.”
[It is your name that should be lifted up, magnified and glorified. Whatever results come from our efforts to obey you should result in honor for you, not for us. May the world see your power and purpose, your grace and goodness in whatever success comes into our lives through your hand.]
“May the LORD grant all your requests.”
[May you fulfill whatever requests line up with your will, Lord. May none of my requests that you know aren’t right be granted. I don’t want to be asking for a king, as the Israelites did, or for a longer life, as King Hezekiah did, when that is not your will.
Protect me from myself and my own ideas. I surrender my all to you and ask that you lead, that I might follow and do what is your desire. Today may my thoughts, motives, words and actions please you, give you honor and exalt your name before all those around me.
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What a God we have!

From my worship journal, written in 2010
You, Lord, are the God of provision, flooding our lives with your gracious goodness, your constant kindness, your wide wisdom, your illuminating insight, and great grace.
Truly, our cup overflows; you have brought us into a spacious place; you have rescued us because you delight in us.
What rich goodness you have poured out on us:
–The great and glorious privilege of being your children, sons and daughters of the Most High King.
 
–The grace of knowing and living ever more intimately with you, the Gracious and Glorious God.
 
–The worldview-shifting truth that whatever comes into our lives is part of your plan to work good, to give opportunity for us to fulfill the purpose of our lives (giving you glory) and to give us significant parts in moving history to its conclusion.
 
–The powerful possibility to rewrite every hurt from your
point of view and to forgive the offender as you have forgiven us, thereby freeing ourselves from the cruel bonds of resentment.
 
–The wonder of your love lavished on us in undeserved richness, in marvelous breadth and height, length and depth.
 
–The joy of belonging, of having worth, of being competent in you.
 
–The security of knowing where we are going.
 
–The anticipated joy of spending eternity with you.
With these shining, beautiful and powerful truths, I can enter this day at your side, joining you in the adventure you have for me, the work you have for me to enter into in partnership with you.
There may be disappointments, hurts, troubles and difficulties, but each one is a fine tool you will use to shape me more into the image of Christ. And each one will be an opportunity to be weak in myself but strong in you, to praise, to rise on wings of eagles, to see things from on high and to give you glory.
What a life you’ve bequeathed, what joy you share, what a God you are! May you be glorified in my life today by the working of your Spirit and Word to bring me to quick, eager, loving obedience in each situation.
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Psalm 20:1-3

Psalm 20:1 For the director of music. A Psalm of David (and a wonderful prayer for us.)
 
“May the LORD answer you when you are in distress;”
 
[Praise you, Jehovah Yahweh, that you DO answer: “I will call upon the Lord in the day of trouble, for he will answer me” (Ps. 86:7). As each of us has seen over and over, you pay attention, you answer, you supply, you protect, be it something as simple as making it home without an accident.
 
Unfortunately, we often take your answers for granted, forget them, treat each crisis and answer as a separate event, rather than seeing them in the stream of your grace. If we remember, we can say, “As He helped me there, and there, and there, so He will help me here!”]
 
“may the name of the God [Elohim] of Jacob protect you.”
 
[You, heavenly Father, are the strong and faithful One. In your name is persistent power, demonstrated in your working with that rascal, Jacob, the deceiver. You pursued him to the end through all his lying, cheating, favoritism and selfishness; and you finally brought him to surrender in worship on his death bed. And now, in spite of his ugly past, you are not ashamed to be called “The God of Jacob!”
 
As Elohim, “the powerful and faithful One,” you protected Jacob all through his life. In like manner you protect me at all times, in every place, in all circumstances. You are rock-solid-sure in your faithfulness and power.]
 
Psalm 20:2 “May he send you help from the sanctuary and grant you support from Zion.”
 
[Praise you, Lord God, that by prayer we can enter your sanctuary at any time and know that you will hear and accept us. Praise you that you always send help, just the right help, at just the right time—which may be much later than we want it–but then we have a chance to live by faith as we wait for your perfect and wise timing.]
 
Psalm 20:3 “May he remember all your sacrifices and accept your burnt offerings.”
 
[Praise you, Lord Jesus, that in your name and by your grace, we are able to offer the acceptable worship of the sacrifice of thanksgiving to you throughout the day. We are able to give you honor and glory in ways that are pleasing to you. Only in you and by your own sacrifice is this possible. Praise you for opening the way for us.]
 
Lord, help us to see your certain and clear answers to our prayers in our lives today. Thank you for how you will respond as the Lord, our God.
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Insight

[The following devotional was especially appropriate for me in 2016 when I read it in my hospital bed after having an incident of “Atrial Flutter,” another adventure with God. This flutter caused my blood pressure to go way down and my pulse way up, resulting in a trip to the emergency room. There I got an infusion of drugs that corrected the destructive rhythms, which could have caused blood clots resulting in a stroke or worse.
They don’t know what caused the flutter but said I “lucked out” in having it straighten out so quickly. However, no luck involved, only our gracious God answering prayer. I was prescribed some meds to prevent it again.]
I praise you, Lord, for what will come today: the planned and the unexpected, the accomplishments and the interruptions, the painful and the pleasant. You, Lord God, are my shield, my strength and my stronghold, always there to protect, provide and carry me through whatever challenges you allow. You are all the light I need, shining into my life in love, clarity and wisdom.
You are all I need for today for you will do what is best in your faithfulness, in your goodness, in your wisdom, in your love, in your righteousness, in your grace and in your power.
I praise you, Lord, for the privilege of being weak, of resting in your might—there is so much out of my control, while all is within yours. You know what you are doing, you have a plan, you are moving all to a conclusion, bringing it down to an end, from which all will then expand into eternity, filling the universe with good, righteous, godly and gracious beings, acts, and events. Because you are the Almighty One, no one can stop you, no one can thwart you.
I praise you, Lord God, for your Word and for the wonder of meditating on it, having it trickle down into my being to bring cleansing, insight, transformation and joy. For you are the infinite One, always having more to reveal to us of your Great and Gracious character.
I praise you now for what you will show today, do today, provide today. May I give you glory all through the hours, Lord, by choosing to obey what I know to be true, by trusting you, praising you in and for all things, delighting in my weaknesses, rejoicing in your strength and exalting in your righteousness, wisdom and power.
I bow before you now in worship, I will rise up in surrender, wanting to walk with you in obedience and godly fear, desiring to bring you glory before the seen and unseen hosts. Help me to do this consistently through the day, choosing in each event to trust you by offering the sacrifice of thanksgiving in all that comes. Amen.
 
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Autobio

Autobio continued

Right from the start of my life I tried to gain freedom in my own way. My parents told me that I was eager to get out into the world and began to walk at 10 months. But even before that, I’d already “run away” from home, crawling off the porch, down the driveway and out into the field where my father was working.

 
This was followed by other escapes. Shortly after my first birthday, while my mother was doing the dishes, there came a knock on the front door. She hurriedly wiped her hands on the dishtowel and ran to answer it. To her surprise, there I was in the arms of a neighbor, Cliff Williams.
“Is this your boy?” he asked. “I found him sitting in the middle of the road at the top of your driveway!”
My mother blushed, flustered at not having noticed that her boy was missing.
 
“Oh, thank you for rescuing him,” she stammered. “I was so busy with house work that I didn’t notice he was gone.”
The neighbor smiled, “Well, now that he can walk, you’d better keep a closer eye on him!” He paused and looked up the lane before continuing, “I’ll bet your husband, Max, is working in the fields up there across the road.”
“Yes, I think he is and Steve was probably off to join him!”
“Well if he’s that eager to get to work, he’ll make a good helper, he will,” said the neighbor as he departed.
 
That evening after my father had finished the milking and sat down to supper, Mom told him how I had run off after him.
My Dad laughed. “Well, he has the first quality necessary to be a good worker: desire! I just hope he lives long enough to be of help to me!”
 
My own earliest memories were of taking my first steps; this was imprinted in my memory because all the adults watching clapped and cheered as I staggered about carrying a small pumpkin in each little hand.
 
I also remember from very early on my feelings of insecurity, somehow understanding the uncertainty of life and my inability to deal with it.
 
So the next bars of my internal prison cell were already in place by my first birthday and there were more to come from a variety of sources. The influence of work, family, school and church all contributed both positives and negatives to my life.
 
In many ways we had an almost idyllic childhood. My family’s 135 acre farm in the rural town of Canterbury, Connecticut was a great place to grow up.
My grandfather’s grandfather had bought this farm in the early 1870’s, which made us the fifth generation of our family to live there. We were a little community to ourselves, being so far from our neighbors that we couldn’t see them in either direction.
 
My grandparents lived in the old farmhouse, built before 1740, while we lived in a newer, smaller, two-bedroom house next door. We were five siblings: my older sister Andrea, then three boys–myself, Les and Sam—and finally my little sister.
Along with the ever-present farm work, there was also time to play. We played cowboys and Indians, dug tunnels in the hay in the barn and caught fish in the brook, as well as building forts, tree houses and huts –we even built two actual log cabins.
 
Summer was a wonderful time. Getting up early, going out into the freshness of the dawn to hoe in the garden, walking down to the little pond in the swamp to catch frogs, having an afternoon game of baseball in the field, swimming in the neighbor’s pond after the heat of haying, playing “kick the can” in the cool of the evening,—these were all great pleasures we experienced in our younger years.
 
We also enjoyed the interaction with all our animals. Along with the dairy cows there were always lots of cats and a string of dogs that accompanied us through our growing up years. There were also chickens, ducks, pigs, a sheep and even a pet raccoon. It was a good place to be.
 
Picture: us five kids, I have the pistol
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Psalm 19:

Psalm 19:14 “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight,”
Yes, Lord, may both my inner and outer speech please you. Lord, bring the continual transformation of my heart so I will please you in my thought life, so my public life may honor you before others, remembering that out of the heart flow the words of my mouth.
May my impatience, selfishness, pride and ambition be replaced with patience, Christ-centeredness, humility and contentment.
Help me to consistently meditate on your Word, to think your thoughts, to respond with your wisdom and to speak your Truth. And may you be greatly pleased with that obedience growing in my being, the result of your good work.]
“O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.”
[You are my unmovable foundation, the Rock of Truth, my LORD. You are Yahweh, Jehovah, the Holy God, pure and sinless, separate and supreme, who hates sin and will judge it, while somehow you love sinners and therefore provided for us a way of escape from your just wrath.
You are the God of wondrous qualities: of gracious goodness, of lavish love and of perceived paradoxes. You are able to join together what looks contradictory from our limited perspective: justice and mercy, truth and grace, judgment and love.
As my Rock, you are the stability of my life, the only solid source of rest, of shade, of protection, of hope. In you alone I can take refuge, for you will never be shaken, changed, fail or be defeated.
You are my Redeemer, the purchaser of trash so you can turn it into treasure. You are the One who could take upon yourself the sins of the whole world because you want each person in creation to come to you, to believe, to become your child, to be dearly loved, deeply cared for, eternally doted on, doubly cherished and delighted in—even though many will refuse your amazing offer.
Praise be to you for your long-lasting love, your wild wisdom, your glorious grace, you forever forgiveness. You are worthy of our worship today and throughout all eternity. I bow before you now, O King of the universe, Lord of time, Ruler of all creation. “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight….” To you be honor, glory, praise and exaltation in my life today. Amen.]
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Marvelous God

“…he stretches out the heavens like a tent and lays the beams of his upper chambers on their waters.”
Psalm 104:2
 
Praise be to You, Lord God, for your greatness as seen in your creation. To think of the expanse of the heavens, even if we limit that to only the earth’s atmosphere, it is amazing. The layer of gases, stretching miles up from the surface, carrying water from one area to another, providing protection from harmful rays, burning up meteors before they hit us, giving the needed mixture of oxygen and other gases necessary for carbon-based life—this you just stretched out over the earth, and it stays there, preserving your creatures. And you did this simply by speaking! You are marvelous, incredible, a wonder, rising far above any created being in every aspect of your character.
 
“He set the earth on its foundations; it can never be moved” (Ps. 104:5). In this you have given us a powerful stability: only you can move the earth and until you do so, all will remain steady, reliable, sure, rotating at the same rate century after century, circling the sun in exactly the same time each year—revealing your faithfulness.
 
“You covered it with the deep as with a garment; the waters stood above the mountains. But at your rebuke the waters fled, at the sound of your thunder they took flight; they flowed over the mountains, they went down into the valleys, to the place you assigned for them.” Ps 104:9
You, O Lord God, are amazingly powerful. You are the final authority, you are fully in charge: when you speak, the universe responds; when you decide, that is the way it is; when you set limits, nothing can cross them.
 
You are mighty, great, strong, unconquerable, unstoppable and wise. You only are worthy of worship, of praise, of honor—it is you only we should obey, it is you we should love with all our hearts as we see your greatness and your grace.
 
Prayer: “Lord, help me to glorify you today in my motives, attitudes, thoughts, words and actions, for you are the great One, totally worthy of worship in every sense of that word. May you be exalted in my life today. Amen.”
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Psalm 19:12-13

Psalm 19:12 “Who can discern his errors?”
[My inner being, below my consciousness, is to a large part, inscrutable and opaque to me. In there I unknowingly sin with wrong motives, wrong attitudes and wrong desires. These sins are from my flesh as well as from the inherited residue of sin from past generations, from the subtle working of the devil, from input from the world–and from my giving in to them. These sins are there—but their penalty has been paid in Christ’s death and resurrection, praise be to you.
We can pray, along with David, “Forgive my hidden faults” and know that we are forgiven.
As I spend time in worship (giving you, Lord, honor for who you are), you are slowly increasing the depth of understanding of what’s in my inner being–showing me more and more of these hidden faults. Then I can knowingly confess and reject them and instead obey you in these areas. Praise you for your persistent, patient and powerful work in my life.]
Psalm 19:13 “Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me.”
[This is where I am fully responsible and where I very much need your grace, your help and guidance, Lord Jesus, my great Shepherd. I thank you that you have prepared me for this struggle, as it says in 2 Peter 1:3, “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” I have to learn to take up and use what you have provided.
Praise you for the continual upward progress of your transformational work in us, which I see daily within and without, as the Holy Spirit warns me, giving conviction, insight and protection. You make it possible to stand against the pressures that push me towards personal sin. As I obey you, you are making supernatural responses (praise, denying self, patience and mercy) more “natural” for me.
You are at work: you are my Rock, my Fortress, my Deliverer, my Shield, my Strength, my Stronghold. In you alone is the needed help in the battle with sin, self and Satan. With you alone is there hope, power and victory.]
“Then will I be blameless, innocent of great transgression.”
[Only in you, Lord, only in you is there the possibility of being blameless, without reproach, innocent of great sin. Praise be to you for your unwarranted desire to help, your unearned love, your undeserved grace.
 
You are marvelous in your Might, great in your Grace and wonderful in your Wisdom as you usher us farther up and further into the freedom, growth and goodness of your Kingdom. Glory be to you. Help us today to follow you wholeheartedly in this journey into the light of transformation.]
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From Edified

 
“Praise the LORD, O my soul. O LORD my God, you are very great; you are clothed with splendor and majesty.”
Psalm 104:1
 
Praise be to you, my God, the God of relationship, of intimacy, of personality, of interaction and communication. You, O Yahweh, I will praise with my mind, my will, my emotions, with my whole being; without reservation I will exalt you.
 
You are worthy of worship for you are great: you are mighty, immense, immeasurably expansive, filling the universe with your presence, knowing all, seeing all, performing all that is good.
 
You are glorious, clothed in garments of splendor and grace—rich, beautiful, gorgeous, lovely and majestic. You are lofty, high and lifted up, powerfully overwhelming and wonderfully good.
You are the God of goodness,
the Lord of Love,
the King of Kindness,
the Judge of Justness,
the Sovereign of the Supernatural,
the Highest of Heaven,
the Ruler of Righteousness,
the Protagonist of Purity,
the Adopter of antagonists,
the Transformer of truants,
the Spring of Spirituality,
the Spirit of Sanctification,
the Paragon of Patience,
the Terminator of time,
the Ender of the earth,
the Extender of eternity,
the Eliminator of evil
and the God of Glory—you only are worthy of worship!
 
Words fail to express the greatness of your goodness, the perfection of your personality, the beauty of your being. In response to your love, I fall before you in wonder and weakness, and rising up filled with the Spirit, I move into the day in obedience. To you be glory and exaltation, joy and pleasure in my worship of you all this day.
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