1. God Brings Me To A New Year
The calendar on my wall has counted all the days of 2016, and I have come to the last one, 366. For 366 days the Lord has awakened me each morning. For 366 days God has watched over me and guided me through the storms. For 366 days I have had food on my table and clothes to wear. God has been good to me throughout the year, and now as I get ready to step into 2017, He gives me faith that He will go with me, day by day, week by week, and month by month into the New Year. I can count the days, one by one, and although I don't know what a single day will bring, I know that God is already there. As Job reminds me, He sees all my ways and knows my every step. So I can step into 2017 with calm assurance that God will continue to be with me and care for me.
"Doth not he see my ways, and count all my steps?" Job 31:4
2. Happy New Year!
We Walk By Faith
Farewell 2016. Hello 2017. Can you believe we have come into another year? The past year brought many changes to our world, and not all of them were good. But let's not let the past keep us from experiencing God's peace and joy today. It is certain that we don't know what the year will bring. But we can walk by faith, step by step, and trust the Lord to go with us just as He promised in Matthew 28:20, "... lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen." We can go into this year just as we did this time a year ago, step by step, with the Lord leading the way. And on days when the clouds dim our view so that we can't see our way, He can strengthen our faith, and help us make it through another day.
"(For we walk by faith, not by sight:)" II Corinthians 5:7
3. The Steps Of A Good Man
As I step into a new year, I want to go with the Lord. Actually, I feel like Moses in Exodus 33:15, "And he said unto him, If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence." If I can't go with the Lord, I don't want to go. God gives me protection. I have peace that no matter what I may face in 2017, the Lord is watching over me. God supplies my needs. God has blessed me in so many ways. He not only supplies my needs, but gives me the desires of my heart. "Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart." (Psalm 37:4) And our thought for today, He guides my steps. And if I fall along the way, He shall lift me back up.
"The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand." Psalm 37:23-24
4. Thou Hast Enlarged My Steps
We spent a lot of time outdoors when I was young. My verse today reminds me of following in my Dad's steps. Sometimes we would go pick blackberries and the field was full of sticks and briers. If I followed right behind Dad, it was easier when I could step in his big footprints, where he had mashed the briers and sticks to the ground. In the winter, following behind him also helped keep the snow from getting in my shoes when I could walk in his footsteps. In our daily walk we may travel on some rough paths. Sometimes we find ourselves on unsteady ground and our feet almost slip. David said in Psalm 18:36, "Thou hast enlarged my steps under me, that my feet did not slip." God can help us when the road is steep and we grow weary in the way. When I feel like I can't go another step, I pray and the Lord lifts me up and gives me strength to go on. Frances J. Crosby wrote this beautiful song in 1875 and I enjoy singing it. When your weary steps falter, look up to the Lord and He shall be there for you.
All the way my Savior leads me,
What have I to ask beside?
Can I doubt His tender mercy,
Who through life has been my Guide?
Heav’nly peace, divinest comfort,
Here by faith in Him to dwell!
For I know, whate’er befall me,
Jesus doeth all things well;
For I know, whate’er befall me,
Jesus doeth all things well.
All the way my Savior leads me,
Cheers each winding path I tread,
Gives me grace for every trial,
Feeds me with the living Bread.
Though my weary steps may falter
And my soul athirst may be,
Gushing from the Rock before me,
Lo! A spring of joy I see;
Gushing from the Rock before me,
Lo! A spring of joy I see.
All the way my Savior leads me,
Oh, the fullness of His love!
Perfect rest to me is promised
In my Father’s house above.
When my spirit, clothed immortal,
Wings its flight to realms of day
This my song through endless ages:
Jesus led me all the way;
This my song through endless ages:
Jesus led me all the way.
5. He Lights My Steps
Today I am stepping back into the past, to the beginning of this devotional website. As I was designing the first page I knew that I wanted a Bible verse and I chose Psalms 119:105. "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path." This verse is special to me because it speaks of the present, "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet..." This is my walk and God shines the Light of His Word on my feet, whether I am still and waiting on the Lord, or moving ahead step by step. If I were walking through the darkness and had a flashlight I would shine the light at my feet to see where to step. But also in this night time walk I would shine the light ahead from time to time to see where I was headed. That is the "...light unto my path." God's Word not only provides Light for my daily walk, but He gives guidance for the path ahead. In my example of the walk in the dark with the flashlight, it would not do me any good to carry the flashlight if I never turned it on. If we want to go forward in the Light of His Word, we need to read His Word and carry it with us in our heart.
6. Do We Follow In His Steps?
People often make comments to parents about their children following in their foot steps. As parents, Michael and I, did not try to lead our children in the jobs they should take, or tell them where they should live, or determine who they should marry. But, as Christians, we did want our children to follow in our steps and be saved. The most important step a person will ever make is that first step he or she makes toward salvation. Then once we are saved, we are to follow in the steps of Christ. Peter explained this to the early church, and his words are still relevant for us today. Are we following in His steps?
"21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:
22 Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:
23 Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:
24 Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed." I Peter 2:21-24
"1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God." Romans 12:1-2
7. Watch Your Step
With the weekend forecast calling for snow, my thought for today is "Watch your step." I have heard too many stories of people slipping on the ice or snow and breaking an arm or ankle. Be careful out there. The predictions are also showing temperatures to drop down in the single digits, so I had a busy day. I was not quite ready to put away all my Christmas decorations but with the predictions of snow and freezing weather it is nice to be able to use the wood stove, and that would have been impossible with all the Nativities and Snoopy Christmas toys surrounding it. I dusted the pieces, cleaned little finger prints, and wrapped and boxed most of the morning. I have a few Nativity pieces that are very special to me and as I carefully took my shepherd candle globe from the mantle, dusted it and began wrapping it in tissue paper it slipped from my hands and shattered on the floor. (I mentioned this to illustrate that even when we are careful, sometimes things still happen.) Getting back to my thoughts on watching your steps, we can put this on a spiritual level, as we are reminded several times in the Bible to watch. Jesus said, "Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." (Matthew 26:41) Paul also reminds us to watch. "Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong." (I Corinthians 16:13) "Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving;" (Colossians 4:2) So, this weekend, and on throughout the New Year, "Watch your step." Not only physically, but also mentally, and spiritually. Be careful, but also realize that things can shatter in our lives and don't always turn out the way we expect, but be assured that God is still in control and He knows what's best.
8. The Lord Directs Our Steps
In expectation of the freezing temperatures Michael went by the church to turn the heat up a little to help keep the water pipes from bursting. In the parking lot of the church he saw some keys, my keys, house key, car key, and all the others that I carry. He called me to tell me that he found them and I told him that I did not even know they were missing. We had grandchildren with us at church Wednesday night and I guess the keys fell from my coat pocket as I helped them into the car. I spent Thursday and Friday at home, so I have not even missed them. God is good! Even when I did not know I needed them, God led Michael right to them. My verse today is Proverbs 16:9, "A man's heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps." We make our plans each day, but aren't you glad that the Lord directs our steps. I know I am!
9. Steps Lead To Walking
After taking our first steps for the past week, it is time to take the next step, walking. We will begin with the first mention of walking in the Bible. God came down and walked with Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden in the cool of the day... until Adam and Eve broke that fellowship.
"8 And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden.
9 And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?
10 And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself." (Genesis 3:8-10)
When we first believe on Jesus as our Savior, we are excited to read our Bible, and talk to the Lord in prayer, and want to walk close to God. But when we sin, the Holy Spirit brings conviction and we try to hide from God. The sooner we realize that we can't hide from God, and confess our sin to Him, the quicker we can restore that fellowship and continue our walk with Him. "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (I John 1:9) Then we can pray like David, "Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit." (Psalm 51:12)
10. Enoch Walked With God
As we move on to our next walking verse in the Bible we come to the story of Enoch. We read in Genesis 5:24, "And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him." Jude 1:14 tells us he was the seventh from Adam, and Hebrews 11:5 says, "By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God." Enoch walked with God, and he had a testimony that he pleased God. What a great testimony to leave behind. I want that for my life. My desire is to walk with God and live for Him so that after I am gone it could be said of me like it was of Enoch "And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him." God is going to take me one day. As an old preacher used to say, "I will go by the clods or by the clouds." In fact, we will all go to meet God one day. It is important that we walk with Him here on this old earth, and we can be happy to live with Him throughout eternity.
11. Noah Walked With God
Each time I read the Bible it makes me sad to read about the story of Noah. Let's begin with the scriptures...
"5 And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
6 And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.
7 And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.
8 But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.
9 These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God." (Genesis 6:5-9)
God created Adam and Eve and they had children. After Cain killed Abel, they had a son named Seth, and Adam lived 800 more years and they continued to have sons and daughters. When looking at a time line between Adam and Noah, it seems very likely that some of his children were still living when Noah was born. Adam's grandson, Enos, was still living and many more of his relatives may have known Noah. I know that many of them died before God sent the flood, but it is sad to think that instead of passing down faith in God through the generations, they became more and more wicked until "every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually." "But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD" and "Noah walked with God." Noah also worked for God in building the ark. He witnessed for God. "And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly;" (II Peter 2:5) In the ark Noah waited on God. And after their deliverance Noah worshiped God. It is wonderful that Noah's wife, sons and their wives, and the animals were saved on the ark. But it is sad to think that Noah had aunts and uncles who did not believe. He left behind brothers and sisters and cousins that died in the flood. We need to do all we can to make sure the gospel message is carried down through the generations following us. Let's
witness and work for God, wait on God, and worship Him as we walk with Him each day.
12. Are You Walking With Jesus?
The sixth chapter of John opens with the great multitude following Jesus and He healed them, and fed the 5,000 with a young boy's lunch of five loaves of bread and two small fish. The people wanted to take Jesus by force and make Him king. Jesus went across the sea and they sought Him, but Jesus knew their hearts. "Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled." (John 6:26) When we come to the end of the chapter most of the multitude had turned away. But Simon Peter stood with the Lord.
"66 From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.
67 Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away?
68 Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.
69 And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God." (John 6:66-69)
We all have a choice today. We can decide to follow Jesus and walk with Him, or we can turn our back to Him. Are you walking with Jesus?
13. I Can Walk With My God
I have been talking about walking with God, and there may be some that see this devotional today and wonder how my God is different than any other god. My God is living! He speaks to my heart. He hears me when I pray. He leads me by His Holy Spirit. He calms my fears, forgives my sin by His mercy and grace, and gives me peace the world can't understand. God loves me so much He gave His only Son, Jesus Christ, to die for my sin. And all I had to do to receive all the goodness He gives was believe. It's that simple, just believe that Jesus came to die for you and ask Him to save you and He will. After you accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you too, can walk with God. I saw a post on facebook yesterday where a young girl took a picture of a small figurine and said her grandma thought it was a spiritual figure and had been praying to it for several months. The young girl explained to her grandma that it was a Star Wars character. My God is living in heaven and the Holy Spirit lives in my heart. His Word tells us what is different about other gods.
"1 Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth's sake.
2 Wherefore should the heathen say, Where is now their God?
3 But our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased.
4 Their idols are silver and gold, the work of men's hands.
5 They have mouths, but they speak not: eyes have they, but they see not:
6 They have ears, but they hear not: noses have they, but they smell not:
7 They have hands, but they handle not: feet have they, but they walk not: neither speak they through their throat.
8 They that make them are like unto them; so is every one that trusteth in them." (Psalm 115:1-8)
14. When You Feel It In Your Heart
After Jesus was crucified and rose from the dead His followers were sad and discouraged. Some had walked with Him during His three years of ministry, and then He was gone. I can imagine their joy when they realized that He had risen from the grave. I like this account of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. Just as they said in verse 32, "Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way..." there have been several times in my life when the Lord talked with me in the way and my heart burned with joy and gladness.
"15 And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them.
16 But their eyes were holden that they should not know him.
17 And he said unto them, What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad?
18 And the one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answering said unto him, Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days?
19 And he said unto them, What things? And they said unto him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people:
20 And how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him.
21 But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done...
25 Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken:
26 Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?
27 And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.
28 And they drew nigh unto the village, whither they went: and he made as though he would have gone further.
29 But they constrained him, saying, Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And he went in to tarry with them.
30 And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them.
31 And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight.
32 And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?" (Luke 24:portions of 15-32)
15. "Can Two Walk Together, Except They Be Agreed?"
I have enjoyed watching the birds outside my kitchen window. Each morning I take a red solo cup full of birdseed out to refill the feeder. Sometimes as the birds land on the feeder it swings and some of the seed falls to the ground. When I went shopping yesterday I saw a different variety and I thought maybe the birds would like it better and eat more of it off the ground, so I bought a large bag. I took some out today and soon a little chickadee was perched on the feeder. I was surprised to see that it was throwing some of the feed to the ground. It would eat a little, and then a piece would fly off behind him. I guess that is okay because two sparrows were feeding on the fallen seed underneath. I thought about how some people do this with God's Word. They accept the part they like, and they just toss the part they don't like behind them. They may not be as bold as Jehudi in Jeremiah 36:23. "And it came to pass, that when Jehudi had read three or four leaves, he cut it with the penknife, and cast it into the fire that was on the hearth, until all the roll was consumed in the fire that was on the hearth." God told Amos, "Can two walk together, except they be agreed?" (Amos 3:3) If we want to walk with the Lord we must accept His complete Holy Word. We can't pick and choose what we want to believe. To walk with God we must be in agreement with Him.
16. Walking In Fellowship With My Lord
We had snow last weekend and the temperatures dipped to 5 degrees Fahrenheit on Monday. On Friday the temperatures rose to 72 degrees. It was great to get out of the house and I walked around my garden spot and started some mental planning for the spring. The ground was wet from the melting snow and it looked like a deer had walked right through the center of the garden. I hope that won't be a problem this summer. Anyone who read my devotions last summer knows how much I enjoy my garden. Dad and Mom always had a garden when I was growing up and I learned to enjoy it at a young age. One of my Dad's favorite songs was "In The Garden", written by Charles A. Miles in 1913. I have come to understand his joy in the sweet fellowship with the Lord, walking and talking, and being so thankful for the Lord's bountiful blessings. And even in the midst of winter, when the earth is at rest, and the garden is bare, the sweet memories of my Dad and the words of this old song filled my heart and mind with peace and joy. "God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord." (I Corinthians 1:9)
"I come to the garden alone,
While the dew is still on the roses,
And the voice I hear falling on my ear
The Son of God discloses.
And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own;
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.
He speaks, and the sound of His voice
Is so sweet the birds hush their singing,
And the melody that He gave to me
Within my heart is ringing."
17. No Greater Joy
Yesterday I talked about the joy I have walking with my Lord through my garden. Talking with Him and praising Him as I work and see the blessings He gives. Today I want to look at another joy. "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth." (III John 1:4) I want my children and grandchildren to know the joy of walking with Jesus. I am grateful for all the things the Lord has given me, but they are just borrowed and will all be left behind when I leave this world. But, think about it, our children and our grandchildren and our dear family and friends don't have to be left behind. That is why this verse is one of my favorites. "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth."
18. "As I Walk Through The Valley"
As I thought on the 23rd Psalm, especially verse 4, "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me;..." my mind went back about 20 years. I was scheduled to have surgery, and although it was not considered a major surgery, it was major to me. I had to be there early and I was sitting in the waiting room, just waiting, just sitting, while the anxiety started to rise. I tried to think of scriptures that I knew to calm my fears, and Psalm 23 came to mind. I began reciting the verses over and over in my head.
"1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever." (Psalm 23)
The Lord calmed my fears. The truth in these scriptures gave me peace. We may go through trials that feel like the "shadow of death" in this life. But our Lord has promised never to leave us, and His promise comforts us even on the darkest of days. "... lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen." (Matthew 28:20)
19. "They Shall Walk And Not Faint"
When my son went away to college I tried to send him encouraging messages through the scriptures. Those devotional emails became the starting place for this devotional web site. Just as I tried to be a help to him, it is my prayer that God will use these daily devotions to lift others and encourage them in the faith. My message today is for those who need a little extra strength in the Lord. The Lord can give you the strength you need. Don't give up. Keep the faith and keep your trust in the Lord.
"28 Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding.
29 He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.
30 Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall:
31 But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint." (Isaiah 40:28-31)
20. What Is Required To Walk With God?
Does God require burnt-offerings to allow us to walk with Him? The children of Israel were commanded to give offerings to God to pay their sin-debt. Praise the Lord, Christ came to give His life to pay our sin-debt once and for all. We don't have to offer lambs because Jesus was the spotless Lamb of God. This verse does tell us what God requires of us. We would do well to remember this verse and try to live by it daily. "He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?" As you search for your purpose in life, don't overlook the basics of everyday living.
"Wherewith shall I come before the LORD, and bow myself before the high God? shall I come before him with burnt-offerings, with calves of a year old? Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?" Micah 6:6-8
21. We Walk By Faith
Most of the time we don't watch much television, but during the head colds we shared back and forth, we watched much more than usual. One of the movies we watched recently was built on the message that everything happens for a reason. I believe that several of the characters even said, "Everything happens for a reason." Well, all the little quirky things that happened pushed the man and woman towards the same direction until they finally came together. When it was over I told Michael that as a Christian I do believe that everything happens for a reason. I have faith in God and in His promises, such as Romans 8:28, "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." But in this particular movie God was totally omitted from the equation. I don't understand how people can say that everything happens for a reason and not believe in the Almighty God, Creator and Master of the universe, who holds it all together. What could possibly make everything happen and work together except for our God? Are they putting their faith in "chance" or "luck"? Our "walk" verse today is II Corinthians 5:7, "(For we walk by faith, not by sight:)" I have faith in my God that all things in my life are working together for good and that even when I don't "see" what is happening, God is still in control. I don't believe this means that our faith is blind, because Jesus is the Light of the world and when we follow Him, He will show us the way.
22. Walk In Wisdom
We have been talking about walking with God in the New Year and there are a few more verses which may be an encouragement that I didn't use. I pray that these verses will help us walk in wisdom and love and walk worthy of our God, through 2017.
"Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time." (Colossians 4:5)
"1 Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.
2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.
3 And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper." (Psalm 1:1-3)
"Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls..." (Jeremiah 6:16)
"Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." (John 8:12)
"And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour." (Ephesians 5:2)
"And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it." (II John 1:6)
"That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;" (Colossians 1:10)
"That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory." (I Thessalonians 2:12)