The Lord is my shepherd
Based on Psalm 23
The good Shepherd gives my soul rest.
He is my comfort in times of distress.
My Shepherd revives me when weary.
He lights the path when my way is dreary.
My Shepherd guides me each day.
He guides what I do and say.
I shall walk the path without fear.
The Shepherd is near.
He pours the oil of blessing on my head.
His angels stand guard around my bed.
My Shepherd protects me from harm.
He upholds me with his mighty arm.

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God, have mercy! (Based on Psalm 51)

God, have mercy!
Show unfailing love to me.
Hear my confession.
Show me compassion.

Have mercy on me,
Blot out my iniquity.
Cleanse me from sin,
Make me whole again.

I know my sin,
And guilt without end.
Against you, I have disobeyed,
Sin causes me to stray.

Grant me transformation,
Let me rejoice in your salvation.
May I experience your mercy,
And rejoice in your love for me.

I will sing your praise,
And teach transgressors your ways.
I will declare that your promises are true,
So sinners will turn back to you.

Open my lips to declare your praise,
I will bless you all my days.
Praise you, God, for divine mercy,
And for your love towards me.

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Perseverance in hope

Perseverance in hope

Hebrews 10:35-39

The writer encouraged his readers to hold on to faith during times of testing. He encouraged them not to lose hope and faith. These are words of encouragement believers need to hear today. The times are challenging, and believers are urged not to lose their hope and faith in Christ.

We are living in challenging times. The pandemic has caused fear and disrupted lives. It is easy to hope and faith in God and to see no hope. During these trying times, don’t lose hope in God’s care.

Friends, have patience, and hold on. God will bring us through this difficult time. It’s hard to have patience during times such as this. We want this crisis to be over quickly. It will end, maybe not as soon as we would like. These times can strengthen people in faith and cause people to support each other.

Don’t live each day in fear. Live each day in faith and hope. This hope stands upon Jesus, who gives strength through trying times. Such a hope gives the perseverance to press on and see the Savior’s presence. In these times, encourage each other and face the coming days with faith and hope.

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Tearing down walls

I remember where I was on the night of November 9, 1989. I was in graduate school at Concordia Seminary in Fort Wayne, Indiana. On that evening, I had gathered with other students to watch a historic event-the fall of the Berlin wall.

In the same year, communist governments in Europe fell. The ‘Iron Curtain’ was ripped apart when people rose as one. The people demanded an end to the oppression and injustices that they had long suffered. From the rubble of the walls built by communism would come nations reunited and new nations.

I rejoiced when the wall fell. In recent times, I’ve thought about the ‘walls’ that still exist. I use the word ‘walls’ to describe actions and attitudes that divide people because of race, religion, and orientation.

I am referring to bigotry, discrimination, and behaviors that belittle and isolate people. These are attitudes of intolerance and hatred which strip people of dignity and freedom.

Attitudes of bigotry and hatred still exist in society and have foundations built upon ignorance, fear, and mistrust. While some walls of hate and bigotry have fallen, other forms of hate remain and also must fall.
Walls of bigotry and hate are built by those who are fearful and despise others because of race, economic status, religion, and orientation. These are not physical walls, but walls which are built by beliefs, attitudes, and experiences. These walls are built and reinforced over many years. These walls block out other views and are hard to tear down.

I have only briefly touched on this topic, and there are many examples around us of existing walls.Rather than focus on the problem, I want people to focus on tearing down walls of hate and build bridges of unity.
How do we do this? Each person can be a part of the solution. I think that before passing judgment upon others, we should first look at ourselves and see our own strengthens and weaknesses. Then, we can be honest and meet people where they are.

The walls of racism and discrimination will not be torn down by acts of violence and bitterness. These actions serve to strengthen the walls of bigotry. When people change their attitudes, the walls come down, and reconciliation occurs

I believe the work of reconciliation involves both dialogue and action. People should honestly express their views and listen intently to other viewpoints. If we wish to build bridges of respect and equality, there needs to be cooperation among people of different races and backgrounds.

Recently during a visit to Oak Park, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, I saw a sign in front of some homes. The sign read, “Hate has no place here.” I wonder if each of us could point to ourselves and declare the same thing.

Each one of us can help tear down the walls in society. Ask yourself, “What can I do?” Many vocations allow people to tear down walls of bigotry, and lift people. Some of these vocations are medicine, education, social service, religious service, and legal service. Find a place to be of service and help tear down the walls of division. Together, we can end the evils of bigotry and discrimination and build a beloved community.

Michael Carter 06/9/2020

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I see a world of people from every land.
People of every race standing hand in hand.
Let us strive to live in peace with each other.
Every person is my sister and brother.
May all people come together in unity.
Together, we can be a beloved community.

Acts of violence and cruelty tear at my heart.
Such acts break the unity of the human family apart.
Some in the family suffer hardship and despair.
Let us reach out and provide love and care.
May the needs of others bring us together in unity.
Let us strive to build a beloved community.

Strive to live with other people in harmony.
No matter how difficult this might be.
If you desire a better world, it starts with you.
Don’t sit and grumble. Get busy. There is much to do.
Be a person who works to bring peace and unity.
You can help to build the beloved community.

May brotherly love flow like a mighty stream.
And may peace shine upon all like a bright beam.
Bigotry and discrimination will be no more.
Peace and justice will endure forevermore.
Then people shall walk together in unity.
They will join together as the beloved community

Michael Carter 06/6/2020

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Have mercy! Psalm 51: 7-9

Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. 8 Make me to hear joy and gladness, Let the bones which You have broken rejoice. 9 Hide Your face from my sins. And blot out all my iniquities.

Verses 7-9

David prayed to God to be whole and be pure from sin. He realized that he wore garments of sin that needed to be washed clean. The prayer of the repentant sinner is for cleansing from the stain of sin and restoration.

This restoration is through faith in Jesus Christ. Confession opens the door to the blessings of forgiveness and restoration through Jesus. The Lord purges away the impurities that stain the soul and brings restoration and renewal.

Through the forgiveness of sins, the Lord removes the tarnished clothes of sin. He purges impurities and gives renewed peace. David wanted forgiveness and peace from God. His confession gave him peace and lifted from him the weight of guilt.

David prayed that the Lord would not hide his face from him. He wanted the Lord to take his wickedness and grant him pardon. Prayers for pardon and renewal are a part of the Christian’s life. It is a recognition of the need for God’s mercy. God’s grace produces thankfulness and gratitude for this mercy and restoration.

To be continued.

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Have Mercy! Meditations on Psalm 51

This is a penitential psalm written by King David. He had an adulterous affair with a woman named Bathsheba. David was responsible for the death of Uriah, the husband of Bathsheba. God confronted David concerning his sin. The king acknowledged his sin and sought God’s forgiveness.

Verses 1-6

David cried to God for mercy and forgiveness for his sinful affair. He acknowledged his behavior and did not have excuses for his sinful actions. The author the Book of Proverbs made this observation. ‘He who conceals his sins do not prosper but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy.’(Proverbs 28:13) Those who hide their sins hurt themselves and have little peace. People who acknowledge their sins and confess them to God will find mercy and forgiveness.

After he had been confronted, he accepted responsibility for his actions. He neither denied nor made excuses for his sin. Some people do this. Rather then admit to their sins, they try to deny or make excuses. David humbled himself and asked God to forgive him for his sin. This is the example of a repentant sinner acknowledging sin and seeking forgiveness.

David has been confronted and was willing to make amends to God. He put his trust in the mercy of God. The mercy of God is able to restore broken lives and to restore hope. Here is an example of humbling oneself, admitting faults, and seeking restoration and renewal.


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Divine Mercy

Praise the Lord for divine mercy,
Divine mercy that makes us free.
Savior, your mercy expresses your love,
Which showers upon us from above.
Jesus, the mercy of the faithful who die,
They will reign with you on high.
Jesus, the mercy of those burdened by fears,
You will wipe away all tears.
Jesus, in your mercy we trust,
Let your mercy shine from us.
May we show mercy in all we do,
Jesus, divine mercy, we trust in you.

Michael Carter 04/27/2019

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Jesus, as you suffered(Seven last words. Part two)

“Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
Luke 23: 43

A criminal crucified next to the Lord acknowledged his need for Christ.
Jesus declared the man would be with him in paradise.
May we acknowledge our need for Christ,
And yearn to share with him the joy of paradise.

When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.

John 19:26,27

Near the cross stood his blessed mother who was in despair,
Also present was the disciple he loved. Jesus placed her in his care.
Jesus when our hearts are torn and burdened with despair,
Strengthen us with your grace and care.
May we realize that all people are bound to one another.
Help us to see each person as a sister and brother.

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Jesus, as you suffered,(Seven last words. Part one)

Jesus, as you suffered, you looked to the sky,
Praying for those who wanted you to die.
Lord, you suffered sin’s punishment in our place.
Holy love radiated from your face.
Blessed Jesus, you suffered to win our release.
You bore the pain. We have peace.

“Father, forgive them, for the know not what they do.”

Luke 23:34

Jesus, have mercy when we reject you.
In love you prayed, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do,”
Savior crucified because of unbelief.
Your death on the cross fills us with grief.
Lord, may we see your loving face,
And fall to our knees and plea for your pardon and grace.

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