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Showing posts from April, 2019

NOTHING WASTED

Antoine-Laurent de Lavoisier, widely considered the “father of modern chemistry” stated: “Nothing in nature is wasted”. An astute observation for sure, but this fact leads to an even greater truth revealed in Romans: “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead.” So creation bears our Creator’s image and reveals His character. As in nature, nothing is wasted with God. Redemption is God taking the rotting compost of our lives and transforming it into fertilizer for the future. The Bible declares: “All things work together for good to those who love God” and by the Cross, “to reconcile all things to Himself”. In other words, nothing wasted, nothing lost, only transformation! LORD of Lords, Your ways are beyond wonderful! Thank you for redemption. Thank You for wasting absolutely nothing!

JARS OF CLAY

“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels,that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us,” 2 Corinthians 4:7 (NKJV).A trip to a high-end department store confirms a common truism: the more expensive the packaging, the greater the value of what it contains. However, when it comes to the person in whom God dwells the absolute opposite is true. The Bible describes the knowledge of God’s glory within us as “treasure in jars of clay”. While jars of clay may appear sturdy, they are actually quite fragile. Frankly, I am often surprised at the packages through whom God works; me included. The lesson here is simple, I dare not miss the treasure because of my reaction to what I perceive as an inferior package, nor should I doubt the value of Christ in me. Father, though at times I feel I am unworthy of Your indwelling, You are nonetheless present. May the tearing away of my weaknesses reveal Your Glory. May I be fully poured out in pursuit of Your will.

HOLD LOOSELY

“They worship the work of their own hands, that which their own fingers have made,” Isaiah 2:8 (NKJV). In this passage God rebukes His people for literally constructing idols to false God’s and worshipping them. But it begs the question, is it possible for me to be a child of God and yet worship something I have built or accomplished? The sad answer is yes. Frankly I have experienced many times when my pride has led to something needing to be “pried away from my cold, dead fingers” because it had become a point of self-importance. While I still love to achieve important goals, I’ve learned to hold onto both successes and failures loosely. I’ve seen good friends hold onto great ministries so tightly that they not only lose what they held so dear, but even disqualify themselves from ever doing anything of significance again. As God’s servants, we must serve without ownership. When we are finished in this world, we will receive our full inheritance as sons and daughters. LORD Your ways a…

SINGLE-SPACE PASSAGE

The walk of faith is at times a solitary, private path. While others may be willing to join in, inevitably there are places within our journey where there is only single-space passage. However, we are never actually alone since our Heavenly Father has promised in Deuteronomy 31:6 (NKJV): “Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord Your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.” When we feel desolate in our journey of faith we must remember that moments of solitude are invitations to walk closer to God. Rather than bringing sorrow, these defining moments release great joy as we take the Master’s hand and trust His guidance through secret places. Ever-Present Lord open my eyes to see Your faithful omnipresence. Though fears may lurk in the shadows, where You lead I will safely and gladly follow.

MARVELS AMIDST THE STORM

Even in the midst of a violent storm there is beauty all around. Dancing trees, rumbling clouds and the sheer power released are marvels in the midst of a tempest. Every day has marvels sprinkled into it by the Hand of God, even in the stormy ones. Like eyes adjusting to a dimly lit room my heart must attune itself to see what could be easily missed.Peter experienced a miracle amidst a storm: “And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, ‘Lord, save me!’”Matthew 14:29-30 (NKJV). And Jesus did! Divine moments can appear on a crowded plane or in a busy grocery checkout line. New friendships can emerge from nowhere and began patching up the gaping losses that befall us. Blessed LORD, Your Holy Finger dabs beautifying touches onto the canvas of my life in so many ways. May I never miss the marvels you perform nor fail to acknowledge the wonders Y…

DISHONEST SCALES

Proverbs 11:1 (NKJV) proclaims: “Dishonest scales are an abomination to the Lord, But a just weight is His delight.” This is not God’s perfectionism or hatred of inaccuracy are work here; it is His abhorrence of intentional dishonesty. The Perfect One judges no one for imperfection, for without Him nothing is perfect, nor can be. Rather, it is the prideful, intentional attempt to set up false scales that elicits His wrath. Ignorance is not an excuse, yet He is merciful to the innocently uninformed. But when we pridefully attempt to establish a new scale of truth to fit our own desires or needs, His anger is roused. Was that not the Deceiver’s intention in the Garden when he tried to reset the scale by saying “eat the forbidden fruit, it will make you like God”? Like God, but without the need for God. My LORD forgive my dangerous attempts to redefine truth. You Alone are Almighty God. Demolish every false scale within me.

SILENT TRANSFORMATION

“Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool,” Proverbs 1:18 (ESV). Though I’ve never lived where it snowed regularly, I have seen plenty of it in my travels. More times than I can remember I have been surprised upon awakening to a city blanketed with snow. Through the night millions of tiny flakes had fallen, quietly covering everything and silently transforming the cityscape while I slept undisturbed. Silent transformation also happens in my soul. Nagging hurts, troubling circumstances, catastrophic losses, even painful betrayals can be completely covered over by God’s love. Most importantly, upon my sincere confession He obliterates my inward darkness with His resplendent light. The moment we surrender our anxieties to Him the Holy Spirit goes to work unannounced, quietly healing our hearts and blanketing over all remnants of brokenness. Glorious God…

MAJESTY REVEALED

“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” Romans 1:20 (NJIV). In popular styles of art such as abstract expressionism or cubism, the surreal, the viewer-dependent, the incomplete and the vaguely suggested are central to their mystery and beauty. In real life we generally like things to be more definitive, more concrete. Yet, there too we find subtle beauty; the quiet touch on the arm of a loved one, the evoking questions of a friend who knows us well, the smile of a stranger or the perfect moment. In like manner, God is manifest in so many different forms that even the biggest doubter or atheist can at times see His Holy Hand. The beauty of His Majesty is revealed in ways that are not obvious or can even be hidden to most but remaining discernible to the wandering sojourner. God of Wonders, I stand in awe of You. Open my eyes an…

LAVISHED WITH RICHES

“And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19 (ESV). Sometimes His supply comes in the form of a sunny afternoon, other times it is an unexpected financial blessing, or a chance to make a difference for something of value. One of the constant enrichments in my life is giving and receiving so many touches and hugs in friendship and fellowship. Visits to multiple Holy Week events in several churches this past week reminded me how much I enjoy the embraces of people. The love of others, both giving and receiving it, gives me great joy and encouragement and activates the love of God within me. Little arms, huge arms, soft touches, warm embraces, shoulder squeezes, pats-on-the-back, brief handholds, they all combine to nourish my soul. Today, I am lavished with riches. This is just another way that God supplies all our needs “according to His riches in Glory”. Today, I am loaded. Lord, my arms are Yours, may I be Your hands …

BIRTHED INTO LIVING HOPE!

When a person is born again there is a monumental change in that very instant. We may still look the same, feel the same, struggle with the same circumstances, physical or economic conditions, but EVERYTHING has changed! In the instant we believe and confess, we are birthed into a new place of “LIVING HOPE”! We are told in 1 Peter 1:3 (NIV) “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead”. We remain positioned here but only for a moment more, with one foot in a world filled with hopelessness with the other foot in a world of living hope! Isaiah 43:1 proclaims: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; YOU ARE MINE!” No longer orphaned in hopelessness, Our God and Father calls to us by name! The LORD is risen INDEED! Hallelujah! And so shall we.

UNBRIDLED MOCKERY

“A corrupt witness mocks at justice and the mouth of the wicked gulps down evil. Penalties are prepared for mockers, and beatings for the backs of fools,” Proverbs 19:29 (NIV). There is a significant increase of coarse talk everywhere these days. Justified criticisms that should be delivered with a coating of humility are now expressed with swift mocking and harsh judgment of motives. I must admit, I too have done it. Unbridled tongues are harmful and dangerous for both the speaker and hearer. Love grows when a fault is exposed and expressed in a loving manner but dwelling on it destroys any chance of reconciliation or positive change. We are warned in Ephesians 4:29 (ESV), “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Gracious God and Father, please forgive my loose talk. Help me speak the truth in love. I do not want to become a fool through unchecked mockery of others, nor …

HOUSE OF MIRRORS

"For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror.For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like,” James 1:23-24 (ESV). Children have a natural fascination with mirrors, and I was no exception. Few mirrors got by me without at least a passing glance. I was quite young the first time I visited a House of Mirrors; now that was an interesting, funny and creepy experience. I quickly realized a false image is entertaining but useless. As we mature, we use status, relationships, accomplishments and popularity to reveal who we are, but this too, is merely a house of mirrors. It is high time we give up childhood games and face the mirror of God’s Word. And there we must remain since a passing glance will never do. Lord of Truth, only You can accurately reveal the man I am. I thank You for the power of Your Word and Spirit to reveal the unvarnished truth. Transform every part of me into a …

DESPISED

“As the ark of the Lord came into the city of David, Michal the daughter of Saul looked out of the window and saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord, and she despised him in her heart,” 2 Samuel 6:16 (ESV). It is very unsettling to observe someone whom God is touching. For the hungry of heart, it is motivating, unearthing hidden obstacles that are in the way and provoking a fresh desire to go deeper and climb higher. For the person with a calloused heart it is offensive, shaking the very foundation of their spiritual deception. King David’s response? “I will make myself yet more contemptible than this.” His intent was to keep “dancing with all his might”! I desire to be liked and try to not be offensive, but I must embrace the reality that loving God can be very offensive to those who do not. LORD, I am willing to be misunderstood by others in my pursuit of Your highest and best. Grant me greater kindness and wisdom toward others who cannot walk the road less traveled. And…

GOD MAGNET

I typically do not lug past disappointments very far, unfortunately, new ones are ready to take their place as quickly as I let past ones go. While disappointment is something I would rather avoid, it has actually become a useful character builder and motivator for me to try harder. In Psalm 34:18 (ESV) we read: “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” This passage unveils a wonderful spiritual principle, the sorrows of my heart feels are a magnet for God’s presence. He doesn’t just comfort us; He repairs and strengthens our spirit against future assaults. This is another example of God’s power and wisdom; even the evil works of my soul’s enemy can become effective tools for making me better when placed in the Master’s capable hands. I will “not grow weary in doing good” if I remember “the Lord is my Strength”. Father, You clothe me with salvation and fill me with joy as I cast my cares upon You. I’m ditching disappointment and cleaving to Your Divine C…

TAKEN FOR GRANTED

“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful” Colossians 4:2 (NIV). Watch the progression here: first, remain in a state of prayerfulness at all times, then, pay attention to your own heart, the circumstances, the right attitude and actions, and the result, thankfulness. Like most people, I don’t like being taken for granted, but to be completely honest, I take things for granted all the time. Little things, big things, actually, almost anything; these are the objects of my undeserved presumptions. It is embarrassing how quickly our ego can turn an unearned privilege into what feels like an absolute right. How sad and foolish this is for a child of God. A thankful heart is the key to freedom from taking things for granted. Worship and praise embodied in gratitude are a sure path to deliverance from ungratefulness. Lord, I am awakened for a moment from the dulling power of pride. From my heart I sincerely praise you for…well, everything. Help me to recognize Your constant …

SURRENDERED PRAISE

“As he was drawing near—already on the way down the Mount of Olives—the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen,” Luke 19:37 (ESV). First, the multitude of disciples with Him praised God for the miracles they had seen. Then the masses that wanted freedom from Roman tyranny joined in. On that triumphant day as Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a colt, both the multitude of disciples and the masses of Jerusalem were praising God for what they wanted and needed. But glorious praise, the kind that fills heaven and that God deserves is praise for what He wants...which in fact, is what we truly need. Lord, help me to offer surrendered praise instead of seeking praise. Praise that lifts me to You rather than pulls You toward my needs. Praise that blends voices of heaven and earth: “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come! Worthy are You, our Lord and God, to receive glory and h…

JUST DO IT

This is not a NIKE commercial, it is a biblical command: “Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute. Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy,” Proverbs 31:8-9 (ESV). There is a great deal of frustration over how governments and other well-meaning entities deal with poverty and destitution. Much of the criticism is justified but is often made by those who offer opinions rather than a helping hand. Institutional redistribution of wealth is rarely done righteously or in ways that permanently lift the lives of those in need. There is simply no substitute for personal, community-based actions motivated by God’s commands, delivered in God’s love, and guided by God’s wisdom. As “People of the Book”, believers must guide the way by actions not mere words. James 2:18 declares: “But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works. Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.’” So there. Fat…

CALLED OUT

“Do not trust in deceptive words and say, ‘This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord!’” Jeremiah 7:4 (NKJV). The point of this passage and its surrounding context is the tendency of God’s people to focus on “forms and places of worship” instead of their personal attitudes and behaviors while in them. Few genuine believers would admit to false religious behavior, but God holds no such prohibitions; a good read of Jeremiah makes that perfectly clear. In fact, it makes me wince. I personally love the church in all its splendid diversity, from cathedrals to home groups, from massive gatherings to a gathering of a few for a bible study over coffee. But falsehood knows no limits and can appear in any setting. Yes, we are the “Called Out Ones” as people of faith, but not only by mission, we're also “CALLED OUT” by God’s Fatherly scrutiny. LORD, thank you for the cleansing power and light of Your Word and Spirit. I welcome Your loving discipline. Make …

REACTION TO RECOVERY

Everyone sins, everyone makes missteps no matter how spiritual they seem to be, so what can I do? “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord” Acts 2:19 (NIV). By definition, a mistake is not intentional, but we inwardly realize that most could have been avoided by taking greater care in the first place. How we react to the consequences of our wrongdoings is the key to learning from them. “Repent at my rebuke! Then I will pour out my thoughts to you,I will make known to you my teachings” Proverbs 1:23 (NIV). We can sink into a swamp of condemnation in reaction to the ongoing results of past mistakes, or we can grow into a better person by making the needed changes our failures reveal and letting God heal us and teach us. Moving from reaction to recovery is the only sane path for God’s children. Father grant me grace to take heed when I am admonished. Take my hand and lead me forward.

SPARKS WILL FLY!

“As ironsharpensiron, so one person sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17 (NIV). All human interaction is characteristically confrontational; sparks will definitely fly. Every relationship will challenge imbedded selfishness, fears or other hidden issues within our souls. However, reacting negatively to the sharpening process will only guarantee it will last much longer than necessary. Confrontation can be one of life’s greatest gifts; providing a powerful and transformational force of good that will last for a lifetime. A dull blade is useless, the sharpening process brings forth my greatest potential. Ecclesiastes 10:10 (ESV):If the iron is blunt, and one does not sharpen the edge, he must use more strength, but wisdom helps one to succeed.” I must also willingly embrace my role in sharpening others. “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,” Hebrews 10:24 (ESV). Lord You are the Potter; I am the clay. Make me into the man that pleases you. Thank you for th…

PRIORITIES

“The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it,” Matthew 13:45-46 (NKJV). This parable and the one’s surrounding it in Matthew 13 are not about “making good business deals”, they are about the Kingdom of God and the priority it should have in our lives. Advancing the Kingdom requires more than our spare change, spare time and leftover calendar openings. Many worry about their sinful actions when in fact, the greater sin may be their sinful inactions as stewards. We often talk about our Time, Talents and Treasures and our stewardship of them. While it is a helpful subject, we almost always miss the point. It is NOT OUR TIME, OUR TALENTS or OUR TREASURES. These are loaned to us by God for us to prioritize and steward properly. To make good Kingdom choices we must have Kingdom priorities. LORD and Father, all that I am, all that I have, all that I do is Yours. Teach me to liv…

FAMOUS LAST WORDS

I can handle this!” These are famous last words, often spoken just before befalling an impending catastrophe either forced by circumstances, or more often than not, self-imposed. Confidence is a great thing if rightly placed, but hubris is the beginning of many sorrows. To run from fears leaves us in a state of relentless anxiety. To bulldoze through fears in exaggerated self-confidence can destroy us, and worse, others along with us. There is a much better way: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” Philippians 4:13 (NKJV). To confess and surrender our fears to God is to face them and destroy them. Isaiah 41:10 (ESV) instructs us, “Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”Glorious Lord of All, while I myself can do nothing without Your mercy, power and grace, in Your strength I can run through a troop and leap over walls. I c…

ALL THE MORE

“The law was brought in so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more”, Romans 5:20 (NIV). Given how much evil we see on a worldwide basis today, and the considering the spiritual principle revealed in this passage, I conclude that we must be in the time of the greatest outpouring of grace in history. I know that sounds counter-intuitive, but clearly, the volume of mankind’s brokenness invites the outpouring of God’s mercy! As things turn darker even the smallest light becomes all the more effective. Now is no time for believers to “run for the hills” as some suggest. Now is the time to be the “city on the hill” (Matthew 5:14); even small faith looms large among those with no faith. But not with words alone, for “Yes, a man will say, ‘You have faith, and I have works. Show me your faith without works, and I by my works will show you my faith.” James 2:18 (WEV). So there’s that. Not just words.Father strengthen my resolve to live my faith ou…

CHASING IDENTITY

People within our modern culture seem to constantly chase after personal identity using material things, causes, cliques and practically everything else to discover and then proclaim who they are. As a child of God I need not chase identity. I am not what I possess, nor what I have accomplished; I am who God designed me to be. I need not go on a search for identity since He formed me while I was still in my mother’s womb and brought me into this world to do His bidding. The words spoken by God Himself in Isaiah settle the question: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine.” So, there’s that. Lord God, I gladly fall into Your embrace and surrender all pursuits to Your perfect plan. I delight to do Your will.

MIXTURE

Jeremiah 5:10 (ESV) “Go up through her vine rows and destroy but make not a full end; strip away her branches, for they are not the Lord's.” Precious jewels are mined among worthless surrounding rock, and this passage is a diamond easily missed. Buried in a long list of judgements against the people of God a powerful spiritual principle is revealed: “strip away her branches, for they are not the Lord's”. In other words, some things attached to my life are not from God; “branches” get added along the way that actually ruin what IS from God. My spiritual father Costa Deir called this “mixture”; non-biblical ideas, philosophies or actions in a believer’s life that sound reasonable and are commonly seen in others but are not from God. These wild “branches” must be cut out from our lives. Dearest LORD, Vineyard-Keeper of My Soul, cut away worthless attachments from my life. Remove whatever is in the way that is not of Your making.

THE PLUMB LINE

“This is what he showed me: behold, the Lord was standing beside a wall built with a plumb line in his hand. And the Lord said to me, ‘Amos, what do you see?’ And I said, ‘A plumb line.’ Then the Lord said, ‘Behold, I am setting a plumb line in the midst of my people Israel;’” Amos 7:7-8 (ESV). A small weight suspended from a string provides a straight vertical line. Family, friends, culture and even sincere Christians around us are only relative measures. I may feel justified in my actions yet be completely off plumb in the eyes of God or I may be right on target, but wrongly judged or guided by others. What I need is a precise plumb line by which I can see if I measure up to God’s will and ways; human opinions will not do. Only God’s Word enlightened by the Sprit of God is an accurate plumb line. Lord of all Wisdom, Your Spirit and Word accurately measure and expose my pretenses and shortcomings. Deliver me from falsehood from any source and establish my steps according to Your ways…

WORDS

Psalm 19:14 (ESV), “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” Generally speaking, I am consciously careful of what I say and how I say it, knowing how powerful words are once spoken. Then again, at times I hear myself say things that make me cringe! Words of folly, pride, gossip or unkindness sometimes spill out like an unwatched pot boiling over and making an unnecessary mess. Words can build or demolish. Words can heal or bring death. As it states in Proverbs 18:21 “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits” (ESV). And since “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Luke 6:35), I begin this day emptying my heart of bitterness toward anyone, in repentance to God, by allowing the Holy Spirit to fill my heart and the Word of God to shape what I say to others. LORD, in Your mercy, cleanse me, fill me and use me to glorify You and to lift and encourage …

MY SPIRITUAL NEMESIS

“Then He said to them all, ‘f anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me,’” Luke 9:23. And in 1 Corinthians 15:21 this simple phrase says it all, “I die Daily”. A TV commercial during Olympic coverage lauded the value of international travel with this incentive: “We see ourselves in one another”. Nice idea.  And while I believe in the enriching value of exposure to different languages and cultures, the words: “We see ourselves” as the motivation hit me like a ton of bricks. It is so absolutely true that people are constantly looking for themselves, as if self-discovery is the highest standard of value. When is the last time you passed a mirror without taking a peek at yourself? Just can’t get enough, right? How sad. Actually, self-importance has been my spiritual nemesis for as long as I can remember! Selfishness is bondage, dying to self is freedom. Denying the self-centered life is a necessary component of the blessed life and l…

THIRSTY

“For my people have committed two evils:they have forsakenme, the fountain ofliving waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water,” Jeremiah 2:13 (ESV). In Revelation 21:6 (ESV) we read, “He said to me, ‘It is done!I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment.’” Finding drinkable water in a “dry and thirsty land” is critical to survival, but free flowing water is rare. Cisterns were used to store water, but stagnant water becomes undrinkable fairly quickly. If the cistern, usually hewn out of solid stone was broken, it was useless. How often do we attempt to sustain our soul with useless substitutes? Lust for love, entertainment for purpose, happiness for the Joy of the LORD? Truly, we become our own worst enemy when we turn to false stand-ins. LORD, forgive my wanderings from Your highest and best. Teach me to drink deeply from Your daily supply and use m…

THE VOICE

“TheLordwill bless you in the land that theLordyour God is giving you for an inheritance to possess—if only you will strictly obey the voice of theLordyour God, being careful to do all this commandment that I command you today,” Deuteronomy 15:4-5 (ESV). While having dinner at an unusually loud restaurant I noticed a young couple seated in a corner booth. It was obvious they were on a first date, but the surrounding cacophony didn’t seem to bother them one bit; it was as if they were all alone. The lesson is simple; we hear what we are dialed-in to hear. Life can be very noisy at times, but with desire and concentration, I can hear God’s voice if I really want to. The problem is that sometimes I don’t like what He says. But if I treasure His words more than those of all others, I will have a steady stream of His wisdom and blessing. Lord God, You do not hide truth from Your children. You store up wisdom for those who seek Your voice and freely offer guidance for those who follow Your …