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Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. – Ephesians 1:2-10

Here I come! | Anahuac NWR | December 2020

Lord willing, I will be preaching on this passage this coming Sunday, January 31, 2021, for my final message at St. John Lutheran Church in Cypress, Texas. I’ve served here for 16 years and continue to be thankful to God for his faithfulness and grace to me. 

Early on in my encounter with Lutheran teachings, I learned of the centrality of God’s grace. It’s where we go. In fact, my son once offered a thinly veiled bit of constructive criticism. “Dad,” he said, “I notice that whatever you preach about, you always come back to Jesus.” Indeed. On purpose. God’s grace in Jesus is central to my identity as his follower. It’s central to my motivation for ministry. It’s the fuel for God’s mission to and through me. 

God’s grace is glorious. I’ve been to Las Vegas: Glamorous. Not glorious. I’ve been to Times Square: Glitzy. Not glorious. I’ve been to Paris: Grand. Not glorious. I’ve been to the Grand Canyon: Great, and almost glorious, a reflection of the glory of God, its creator. Same for Mount Denali, Pike’s Peak, the oceans, and even the starry sky. All of the latter of these are a reflection of the glory of God. 

God’s creative majesty and grandeur is testimony to his glory. His might, justice, righteousness, and holiness are reflections of his glory. So too, God’s sovereign power. But note here what gets the nod of praise in the eternal moment when all things are united in Jesus Christ – things in heaven and on earth. God’s glorious grace takes center stage. God’s glorious grace sets the heavens afire with joy, worship, and honor. We will praise God’s glorious grace!

We were at a church leadership conference at Willow Creek Community Church in the Chicago area. On the second night of the event John Ortberg (author of several books, including The Life You’ve Always Wanted) spoke. He had provided the 2500 of us in attendance with a 3X5 inch index card and asked that we write the following on it: You are precious and honored in my sight and I love you. It’s a quote from Isaiah 43:4, and it had a profound impact on us all. That message is a message of grace. Glorious. Praise-worthy. 

Philip Yancey has written a book, What’s so Amazing About Grace?. In it he spells out how “grace is the church’s great distinctive. It’s the one thing the world cannot duplicate, and the one thing it craves above all else–for only grace can bring hope and transformation to a jaded world.” 

Max Lucado says in his book, When God Whispers Your Name“I’ve never been surprised by God’s judgment—but I’m still stunned by his grace!” 

I am deeply thankful for God’s glorious grace!

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. – Ephesians 1:2-10

Fight or ??? | Anahuac NWR | December 2020

My last day as (Senior) Pastor at St. John Lutheran Church is this coming Sunday, January 31, 2021. I will be sharing a message about God’s grace, based on the passages I’ll be sharing in my blog posts this week. 

Those who have heard me preach and who have been in Lutheran churches with any regularity will possibly recognize that I do not begin my messages with the familiar, “Grace to you and peace…” or “May the words of my mouth…” or, “In the name of the Father and of…” I have nothing against these pastoral greetings. Nor do I wish to neglect to offer grace and peace. I deeply desire that my words are pleasing to God. And I believe that I do speak in the name of God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

I’m not certain I can even articulate why I eschew those greetings. Perhaps it’s because I’m not a life-long Lutheran. Maybe it’s because I don’t feel the need to “start my engine” before beginning my sermon. In any case, however, the practice though edifying for many, is neither commanded nor forbidden by the word of God. I claim no fame by not using the greeting. No one may legitimately say that I am deficient because my practice.

But let me be clear: life and ministry is all about grace. And that brings incredible peace. As I reflect on my nearly 42 years of ministry as a Pastor in The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod, I am deeply convinced of the vital role of God’s grace in my ministry. From first to last. From message to ministry. From success to failure. From joy to disappointment: God’s grace has sustained, covered, enabled, and guided all that I do. 

Some have offered a carefully-worded suggestion that there needs to be stronger law preaching in our churches.” I’ve seen what the Law can do. I’ve blistered some folks in my life, and it can have short-term success. But I’ve also seen what the grace of God can do. God changes hearts and lives through grace. There are times, to be sure, when we need to be silenced before God. But grace wins hearts. Grace saves. Grace is the premier attribute of God.

In the late summer of 1977, my vicarage supervisor preached a sermon based on John 6:37, where Jesus promises that “whoever comes to me I will never turn away.” A young woman came out of the service and said to that Pastor, “Thank you so much for that message. I really needed to hear that.” It was pure grace. Her heart was changed. And I realized that’s what I wanted to do. To the extent that I have done so, I credit God’s grace at work in, through, and on me and those whoever I’ve touched. 

That awareness of God’s grace brings me great peace!

O God, Almighty, Merciful, Gracious, and Good: Look with mercy, kindness, favor and love upon your people. We need your help. Heal us, O God! We especially pray for Pastor Mark Wuggazer, and Pastor Jeff Doria, who are infected with the Covid-19 virus. Protect their families as well. Be with Maggie as she, too, suffers from this disease. Have mercy on your church: the people of God at St. John. Be with me as I must distance myself for a few more days from others. Let us not lose hope. Let us not look away from you, O God. Let us see your goodness, love, mercy, and healing hand in the land of the living. Give us courage, joy, faith, and hope in these days and in the days to come. In Jesus’ name; Amen.

PS: I am not at St. John this morning because I am in quarantine for the next few days (having started on Thursday). I had close contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19, but I am well and hopeful to be back at St. John next week for my final sermon as pastor there. I am retiring on January 31, and will continue writing, but no longer serve as full time pastor. I’m excited about how I will discover God’s plans for me these next months and years. I may be retiring from being a full time senior pastor, but I’m not retiring from being a follower of Jesus.

Selected verses from Psalms 24; 54; 84; 114; & 144 for your personal reflection and meditation on this Lord’s Day

Psalm 24:1-5

The earth is the Lord‘s and the fullness thereof,[a]
    the world and those who dwell therein,
for he has founded it upon the seas
    and established it upon the rivers.

Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord?
    And who shall stand in his holy place?
He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
    who does not lift up his soul to what is false
    and does not swear deceitfully.
He will receive blessing from the Lord
    and righteousness from the God of his salvation.

Psalm 54:6-7

With a freewill offering I will sacrifice to you;
    I will give thanks to your name, O Lord, for it is good.
For he has delivered me from every trouble,
    and my eye has looked in triumph on my enemies.

Psalm 84:1-4

How lovely is your dwelling place,
    Lord of hosts!
My soul longs, yes, faints
    for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and flesh sing for joy
    to the living God.

Even the sparrow finds a home,
    and the swallow a nest for herself,
    where she may lay her young,
at your altars, O Lord of hosts,
    my King and my God.
Blessed are those who dwell in your house,
    ever singing your praise! Selah

Psalm 114:7-8

Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord,
    at the presence of the God of Jacob,
who turns the rock into a pool of water,
    the flint into a spring of water.

Psalm 144:9-15

I will sing a new song to you, O God;

    upon a ten-stringed harp I will play to you,
10 who gives victory to kings,
    who rescues David his servant from the cruel sword.
11 Rescue me and deliver me
    from the hand of foreigners,
whose mouths speak lies
    and whose right hand is a right hand of falsehood.

12 May our sons in their youth
    be like plants full grown,
our daughters like corner pillars
    cut for the structure of a palace;
13 may our granaries be full,
    providing all kinds of produce;
may our sheep bring forth thousands
    and ten thousands in our fields;
14 may our cattle be heavy with young,
    suffering no mishap or failure in bearing;[b]
may there be no cry of distress in our streets!
15 Blessed are the people to whom such blessings fall!
    Blessed are the people whose God is the Lord!

Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. And on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” 28 And they told him, “John the Baptist; and others say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.” 29 And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.” 30 And he strictly charged them to tell no one about him.

31 And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32 And he said this plainly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33 But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”

34 And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? 37 For what can a man give in return for his soul? 38 For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” – Mark 8:27-38

Let’s Dance! No! Let’s Fight! | Anahuac NWR | December 2020

I recall it, and have referenced it a few times. I’m in the second row of desks in first grade. Fifth or fourth from the front. The teacher is going through the roll to see how old each child is. When she came to me, she said, “David, you’re still 5 aren’t you?” I was so ashamed. I need not have been. It might actually be a sort of complement: I was only 5 and yet able to be in first grade.  A “Smiling E” was the grade given for excellent work. I didn’t earn many “Smiling E’s” in first grade.

Shame is a “painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior” (Google Dictionary). Biblically, however, shame is a much more far-reaching. 

Shame is a consequence of sin. Feelings of guilt and shame are subjective acknowledgments of an objective spiritual reality. Guilt is judicial in character; shame is relational. Though related to guilt, shame emphasizes sin’s effect on self-identity. Sinful human beings are traumatized before a holy God, exposed for failure to live up to God’s glorious moral purpose. The first response of Adam and Eve to their sinful condition was to hide from God, and consequently from one another ( Gen 3:7-8 ; 2:25 ). Christ’s unhindered openness to the Father was both a model for life and the means of removing humanity’s shame. Christian self-identity is transformed “in him.” – Bible Study Tools (The entire article is very insightful and worth reading.)

Would we ever be ashamed of Jesus? Would we ever wish not to be associated with him? Would we ever not wish to be known as one who believes in and follows Jesus? Jesus is the one who took our grief, guilt, and shame. Jesus is the one who was shamed on the cross for our sins. Jesus despised the shame of the cross and sat down at the right hand of God (Hebrews 12:2). 

To be ashamed of Jesus would mean not wishing to be identified as a sinner. Being ashamed of Jesus would involve rejecting his love, finding hope in our strength and righteousness, and ignoring his call to repentance and faith. There is a grave danger in this.

The above-cited reference says, “The prospect of shame at Christ’s return is sometimes a necessary inducement to godliness ( Rev 3:18 ; 16:15 ).” We would wish only to be motivated by love. Sadly, however, as sinful and broken human beings, we sometimes need this lesser motivation to godliness. As Luther says, “We should fear and love God…” 

The cure for shame is repentance and faith in Jesus, the love of God, and the forgiveness of sins. Then praise replaces shame – gloriously! That praise will echo throughout the heavens at the Great Last Day of our Lord Jesus Christ!

Then Jesus and his disciples went to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say I am?”

28 They answered him, “Some say you are John the Baptizer, others Elijah, still others one of the prophets.”

29 He asked them, “But who do you say I am?”

Peter answered him, “You are the Messiah!”

30 He ordered them not to tell anyone about him.

31 Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man would have to suffer a lot. He taught them that he would be rejected by the leaders, the chief priests, and the experts in Moses’ Teachings. He would be killed, but after three days he would come back to life. 32 He told them very clearly what he meant.

Peter took him aside and objected to this. 33 Jesus turned, looked at his disciples, and objected to what Peter said. Jesus said, “Get out of my way, Satan! You aren’t thinking the way God thinks but the way humans think.”

34 Then Jesus called the crowd to himself along with his disciples. He said to them, “Those who want to follow me must say no to the things they want, pick up their crosses, and follow me. 35 Those who want to save their lives will lose them. But those who lose their lives for me and for the Good News will save them. 36 What good does it do for people to win the whole world yet lose their lives? 37 Or what should a person give in exchange for life? 38 If people are ashamed of me and what I say in this unfaithful and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of those people when he comes with the holy angels in his Father’s glory.” – Mark 9:27-38

Bad Feathers Day | Anahuac NWR | December 2020

I first learned about the “Joe Harry Window” in a strategic ministry planning seminar some 25 years ago. It’s often called the Johari Window, but I was told it was named simply by the two guys who first thought it up. It deals with the known and unknown realities of our relationships.

The same concept can be applied to Defining Self and Staying Connected. (I promise I’ll get to Jesus real soon!) If we are merely self-defined, we become a clanging cymbal. If we have only deep connection we’ll be a “Barney” (I love you, you love me…), not a bad thing, but nothing that will make any significant impact. Nor do we want to be a confusing cloud: not defined, nor connected. Rather we are called to be a blessing to the world – starting with those closest to us. 

Jesus asks his disciples who the people thought he was. But he is not asking to be defined. He was asking whether people recognized who he really was. He knew who he was, and what was his eternal purpose on earth. And he remained completely connected with his disciples. He did all he could to have us all connect with him, and to make that possible.

To make that possible, Jesus would go to the cross. He would engage the Jewish leaders. He would define himself for Pilate and the crowds. But he would never do it simply to prove he knew who he was. He did it to provide a pathway of reconciliation for all people. That path is one of repentance and faith. We repent of our sin, acknowledge our need for a Savior who would die to forgive our sins, and believe in him and his promises. 

Jesus was never a confusing cloud. He was anything but a “Barney.” Nor was he a clanging cymbal. Jesus was and is the ultimate “Blesser.” As God’s Son and our Savior his favor, grace, love, mercy, forgiveness, and truth provide footholds for deep connections to our ultimate and eternal good. 

Then Jesus and his disciples went to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say I am?”

28 They answered him, “Some say you are John the Baptizer, others Elijah, still others one of the prophets.”

29 He asked them, “But who do you say I am?”

Peter answered him, “You are the Messiah!”

30 He ordered them not to tell anyone about him.

31 Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man would have to suffer a lot. He taught them that he would be rejected by the leaders, the chief priests, and the experts in Moses’ Teachings. He would be killed, but after three days he would come back to life. 32 He told them very clearly what he meant.

Peter took him aside and objected to this. 33 Jesus turned, looked at his disciples, and objected to what Peter said. Jesus said, “Get out of my way, Satan! You aren’t thinking the way God thinks but the way humans think.”

34 Then Jesus called the crowd to himself along with his disciples. He said to them, “Those who want to follow me must say no to the things they want, pick up their crosses, and follow me. 35 Those who want to save their lives will lose them. But those who lose their lives for me and for the Good News will save them. 36 What good does it do for people to win the whole world yet lose their lives? 37 Or what should a person give in exchange for life? 38 If people are ashamed of me and what I say in this unfaithful and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of those people when he comes with the holy angels in his Father’s glory.” – Mark 9:27-38

Great Heron & Snowy Egret | Anahuac NWR | December 2020

Have you ever thought you had something learned only to learn that there was much more to learn? Maybe you learned trigonometry, thought it was the top of the mountain, only to discover that there was calculus! You mastered the chain stitch in crocheting and learned about the moss stitch, single mash stitch, and the thick and thin front loop single stitch. (I’ll admit, I had to google “crochet stitches” to discover that there are 10 most popular stitches.) I’ve learned – in my lifetime of photography pursuits – that there is black and white and color photography, slides, film, digital, infrared (film and digital), wet plate, and a host of other methods and means by which an image is captured and displayed. And I’m still learning.

Jesus has been with his disciples for three years. He’s teaching them about his mission, God’s kingdom, life, faith, obedience, and love. Note the word teaching. This is not a throw-away word. This is not a little thing. Jesus is teaching them. This implies three important things. 

It first must imply a base of knowledge. They had to learn some things, some truths, some tenets of the faith. Some of those they surely knew. God is one. We must love him above all else. We must love our neighbors as ourselves. There are 10 Commandments. They needed to know these things. 

We must also learn how to apply those truths and tenets we believe and confess. They are not static truths or mere theological propositions. They are the stuff of life. They order our lives. They shape our souls. 

The soul shaping aspect of learning leads to the third move of being taught. First we learn information. Next comes imitation – where we imitate those who teach us and how make a major impact in our lives. Finally comes innovation. This is when we take what we have learned and apply it to new and different situations. 

The study of the Bible is unique in that it is not a once-read book. Seldom have I re-read a book; at least not on purpose. But I pour over the words of Scripture again and again, and each time some new facet of truth, some new way of seeing, or different manner of application presents itself. 

And when it comes to this particular moment of teaching, it bears repeating: Jesus is going to suffer, be rejected and die. That was his plan. That was his purpose. Next time the good things of God seem to be going awry this moment will help us – if we put ourselves with the disciples at Jesus’ feet. The more we understand the implications of Jesus’ life and teachings, the more fully we will be able to navigate the challenging times that come our way. 

Then Jesus and his disciples went to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say I am?”

28 They answered him, “Some say you are John the Baptizer, others Elijah, still others one of the prophets.”

29 He asked them, “But who do you say I am?”

Peter answered him, “You are the Messiah!”

30 He ordered them not to tell anyone about him.

31 Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man would have to suffer a lot. He taught them that he would be rejected by the leaders, the chief priests, and the experts in Moses’ Teachings. He would be killed, but after three days he would come back to life. 32 He told them very clearly what he meant.

Peter took him aside and objected to this. 33 Jesus turned, looked at his disciples, and objected to what Peter said. Jesus said, “Get out of my way, Satan! You aren’t thinking the way God thinks but the way humans think.”

34 Then Jesus called the crowd to himself along with his disciples. He said to them, “Those who want to follow me must say no to the things they want, pick up their crosses, and follow me. 35 Those who want to save their lives will lose them. But those who lose their lives for me and for the Good News will save them. 36 What good does it do for people to win the whole world yet lose their lives? 37 Or what should a person give in exchange for life? 38 If people are ashamed of me and what I say in this unfaithful and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of those people when he comes with the holy angels in his Father’s glory.” – Mark 9:27-38

Snowy Egret | Anahuac NWR | December 2020

Right up there with “You talkin’ to me?!?” is the phrase, “Them’s fightin’ words!” Somethings are better left unsaid. Calling someone a bad name, impugning her integrity, calling his ancestry into question. Not a good idea. But all those take a back seat to being called Satan. And that’s exactly what Jesus does on this occasion. He calls Peter Satan.

If Peter were a fighting man (and he was) and unconstrained by the grace and truth of God (which he was not), he might have taken Jesus on. Wonder how that might have turned out. Glad we don’t know. But there is actually both grace and truth in Jesus’ words. 

Let’s start with truth. We’d rather not admit that we are evil. But Jesus has no problem calling even his disciples evil, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:11; cf. also, John 2:24-25). All too easily and too often we are tools of Satan – most times unknowingly, but often simply denying the truth we know. 

We might immediately see how Jesus’ calling Peter, “Satan” as anything to do with grace. But grace truly is there. For Satan would want to undercut the work of God to redeem and save lost people. Satan would want to discredit Jesus, turn him away from God’s mission, and destroy God’s good intent. Jesus’ commitment to saving the lost, dying for the sins of the world, offering himself as the atoning sacrifice for the whole world is at stake here. Peter – thinking he was defending Jesus from unjust treatment and a fate worse than death – stands in the way of God’s redemption.

Calling Peter out is not only an act of truth, but also of grace. For Jesus will give his life. He will suffer and die. He will be treated shamefully by the religious leaders. He will be crucified. And through that we will be forgiven. We will be redeemed. We will be saved. 

These are not fightin’ words. But he is talkin’ to us all. Will we hear his call to repentance and faith? Will we acknowledge we best not try to tell God what to do or not do? Will we entrust ourselves to the One who went to the cross, died in faith, and was raised from the dead for our salvation? Will we entrust ourselves and rejoice at the Great Last Day when Jesus comes to consummate his victory over sin, death, and Satan? That’s why he came. That’s why he died. That’s what he hopes for us!

Then Jesus and his disciples went to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say I am?”

28 They answered him, “Some say you are John the Baptizer, others Elijah, still others one of the prophets.”

29 He asked them, “But who do you say I am?”

Peter answered him, “You are the Messiah!”

30 He ordered them not to tell anyone about him.

31 Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man would have to suffer a lot. He taught them that he would be rejected by the leaders, the chief priests, and the experts in Moses’ Teachings. He would be killed, but after three days he would come back to life. 32 He told them very clearly what he meant.

Peter took him aside and objected to this. 33 Jesus turned, looked at his disciples, and objected to what Peter said. Jesus said, “Get out of my way, Satan! You aren’t thinking the way God thinks but the way humans think.”

34 Then Jesus called the crowd to himself along with his disciples. He said to them, “Those who want to follow me must say no to the things they want, pick up their crosses, and follow me. 35 Those who want to save their lives will lose them. But those who lose their lives for me and for the Good News will save them. 36 What good does it do for people to win the whole world yet lose their lives? 37 Or what should a person give in exchange for life? 38 If people are ashamed of me and what I say in this unfaithful and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of those people when he comes with the holy angels in his Father’s glory.” – Mark 9:27-38

Gator! | Anahuac NWR | December 2020

Do you know anyone who is clearly well grounded in his identity? He never looks over his shoulder to consider who is watching. She never flinches from being who she is. I’m not talking here of someone who is an in-your-face kind of self-identified person. I’m not speaking about a blustering or bulldozer personality. I can think of one or two right off the top of my head.

One is my wife. Although she does not put herself out there or make a big splash. She lives well within her identity. Another is a good friend and former co-worker. She knew who she was and was a strong force of God’s grace to many, and to me personally. People who know who they are, embrace their true identity in humility and grace can have a powerfully good impact in others’ lives. 

Of course the key is humility, clarity, and grace when it comes to we who are saints and sinners. For it is all too easy to bluster and overpower others if we lack those traits – or if we are really insecure in our identity. Insecurity in our identity works its way out so very often in ways that look anything but insecure. 

Then there’s Jesus. He does not ask his disciples who they think he is because it is insecure. He knows who he is. He heard it from his Father at his baptism: “You are my beloved Son, with you I am well pleased.” (Mark 1:11). He faced down Satan who challenged him: “If you are the Son of God…” (Matthew 4:3ff). He was certain of who he was. He was living into and out of that identity purposefully, intentionally, and clearly. He knew who he was and why he came. 

And on this occasion, he reveals the earthly end to his ministry. He would die at the hands of the religious leaders. And on the third day he would be raised from the dead. When he was challenged about this by Peter, he stood fast. Calling Peter “Satan” (we’ll look at that tomorrow), he aligned himself with his Father’s will and his purpose as the Son of God and Messiah. I

It doesn’t matter what others may think in terms of Jesus’ identity and purpose. Their opinion will not change the way he is living. Their opinion will actually serve to bring his earthly life to its ultimate earthly end. Here, Peter confesses that Jesus is the Messiah. On the day of his death, the Roman centurion will declare, “Surely this was the Son of God” (Mark 15:39). What will be your confession today about this Jesus of Nazareth? Will you let him identify you as his beloved sister or brother? 

Consider these Psalms as your prayer this Lord’s Day

Psalm 17:6-8

I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God;
    incline your ear to me; hear my words.
Wondrously show[a] your steadfast love,
    O Savior of those who seek refuge
    from their adversaries at your right hand.

Keep me as the apple of your eye;
hide me in the shadow of your wings,

Psalm 47:1-4

Clap your hands, all peoples!
Shout to God with loud songs of joy!
For the Lord, the Most High, is to be feared,
a great king over all the earth.
He subdued peoples under us,
and nations under our feet.
He chose our heritage for us,
the pride of Jacob whom he loves.

Psalm 77:1-2

I cry aloud to God,
    aloud to God, and he will hear me.
In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord;
    in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying;

Psalm 107:1-3

Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
    for his steadfast love endures forever!
Let the redeemed of the Lord say so,
    whom he has redeemed from trouble[a]
and gathered in from the lands,
    from the east and from the west,
    from the north and from the south.

Psalm 137:1-4

By the waters of Babylon,
    there we sat down and wept,
    when we remembered Zion.
On the willows[a] there
    we hung up our lyres.
For there our captors
    required of us songs,
and our tormentors, mirth, saying,
    “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”

How shall we sing the Lord‘s song
    in a foreign land?