Devotional Thought of the Day:
14 Yet Jerusalem says, “The LORD has deserted us; the Lord has forgotten us.” 15 “Never! Can a mother forget her nursing child? Can she feel no love for the child she has borne? But even if that were possible, I would not forget you! 16 See, I have written your name on the palms of my hands. Always in my mind is a picture of Jerusalem’s walls in ruins. 17 Soon your descendants will come back, and all who are trying to destroy you will go away. 18 Look around you and see, for all your children will come back to you. As surely as I live,” says the LORD, “they will be like jewels or bridal ornaments for you to display. Isaiah 49:14-18 (NLT2)
This is the love which causes holy souls to lose themselves, and to stand amazed, when once they have been allowed to know it. From it spring those burning sentiments of ardor, the desire of martyrdom, joy in sufferings, exultation under the storms of distress, the force to walk on burning coals as if they were roses, a thirst for sufferings, rejoicing in that which the world dreads, embracing that which it abhors. St. Ambrose says that the soul which is espoused to Jesus Christ upon the cross, thinks nothing so glorious as to bear upon itself the marks of the crucified one.”
And we beseech thee, of thy great goodness, quicken and set aglow our cold and indifferent hearts, enlighten our minds and understandings, lead us into all truth, bless and sanctify our bodies and our spirits, grant us devout hearts in prayer, and comfort us in all our sorrow and tribulation. So preserve us, that our faith fail not, our love diminish not, our hope vanish not, and our hearts despair not; but at all times enable us to resist all evil and temptation, and with steadfast hope serve and praise thee unto the end.
It’s called the “IR” by some of my peers in ministry. Somewhat a joke, but with a touch of anxiety, perhaps some are more than touched by this concept – that we have an Intimate Relationship with God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
De Ligouri’s words in purple describe it, a love which causes us to lose ourselves. No need for self-denial is needed when we are lost in His love. The words may flow for someone like him, but no so much for me. Yet I desire everyone to be as lost to self as can only occur when in the presnce of Jesus. How I desire to get to that point, where I can greet every discomfort with such zeal, even thirsting and hungering for those times where, even in pain, I know Jesus presence.
This is not just a thing for Catholic saints – look at Loehe’s prayer in green. See how he desires the presence of the Holy Spirit. There is desired as deep, as intimate of a relationship, as he begs the Spirit to work deeply in his life. That is how dependent Loehe wanted to be on the Holy Spirit, a dependency based in the intimacy the Holy Spirit causes in life. Note that point, this intimacy is intitiated by God.
Get that – the intimacy is inititated by God.
The intimate relationship is His idea, it is what Jesus came to clearly reveal.
Look at what Isaiah writes, look at this Almighty, Creator who put the stars in place… look at how He compares HImself to a mom…look at how God tatoos Himself. This is not a distant God, or one who remains seated when you walk in the door, He is one who gets up, runs to the door and lifts you off the ground in a bear hug.
This is our intimate God. This is the God who desires intimacy with you…
I pray we realize this, and come to adore Him who adores us.
Alphonsus de Liguori, The Holy Eucharist, ed. Eugene Grimm, The Complete Works of Saint Alphonsus de Liguori (New York; London; Dublin; Cincinnati; St. Louis: Benziger Brothers; R. Washbourne; M. H. Gill & Son, 1887), 271.
William Loehe, Liturgy for Christian Congregations of the Lutheran Faith, ed. J. Deinzer, trans. F. C. Longaker, Third Edition. (Newport, KY: n.p., 1902), 145–146.
Devotional Thought for our days…
(The LORD says.) “This is my servant; I strengthen him, this is my chosen one; I delight in him. I have put my Spirit on him; he will bring justice to the nations. 2 He will not cry out or shout or make his voice heard in the streets. 3 He will not break a bruised reed, and he will not put out a smoldering wick; he will faithfully bring justice. 4 He will not grow weak or be discouraged until he has established justice on earth.” Isaiah 42:1-4 (CSBBible)
But what is more astonishing still is, that he could very well have saved us without dying and without suffering at all; but no: he chose a life of sorrow and contempt, and a death of bitterness and ignominy even to the expiring on a cross,—the gibbet of infamy, the award of vilest criminals: He humbled Himself, becoming obedient unto death, even to the death of the cross.1 But why, if he could have ransomed us without suffering, why should he choose to die, and to die on a cross? To show us how he loved us. He loved us, and delivered Himself for us. He loved us, and because he loved us, he delivered himself up to sorrows, and ignominies, and to a death more cruel than ever any man endured in this world.
There is one line in the Isaiah passage that really gets me to think. It is that Jesus would not, did not, grow weak or discouraged. Surely he was tried, surely he faced exhaustion, Yet He remained focused on His desire to save us.
Notice i said desire there, not just mission. All of us have missions, and visions, and goals that we strive for in ecery aspect of life. de Ligouri makes a great point – that Jesus could have chosen a different way to save us. He could have even created us in such a way that we didn’t have the choice to sin. He could have done the inverse of the MCU Characther Thanos, and snapped His finger and all sin would be forgiven, and we could be restored.
Jesus didn’t. He chose to love us, and he chose to reveal that love through his incarnation, his life, his death and the cross. He endured His mission – to gain what He desired, our love, lived out for eternity.
Think on this throughout your day….
Alphonsus de Liguori, The Holy Eucharist, ed. Eugene Grimm, The Complete Works of Saint Alphonsus de Liguori (New York; London; Dublin; Cincinnati; St. Louis: Benziger Brothers; R. Washbourne; M. H. Gill & Son, 1887), 266–267.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
15 until the Spirit from on high is poured out on us.
Then the desert will become an orchard, and the orchard will seem like a forest. 16 Then justice will inhabit the wilderness, and righteousness will dwell in the orchard. 17 The result of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quiet confidence forever. 18 Then my people will dwell in a peaceful place, in safe and secure dwellings. Isaiah 32:15-18 (CSBBible)
It is right that we should think about how we are imitating the Master. We should pause and reflect so that we can learn directly from our Lord’s life some of the virtues which ought to shine out in our lives, if we are really anxious to spread the Kingdom of Christ.
Yesterday, I had the blessing of preaching on the Holy Spirit’s undeniable work, seen as the Spirit filled those drawn to believe in Christ. It was earth shattering, not only because of the crowd doing miraculous things, but because that crowd wasn’t the kind you considered good or Godly – at least according to the Jews of the Day.
The Sunday after next is Pentecost Sunday, when Pentecost changed its meaning. No longer just a Jewish holiday, it now was the anniversary of the Holy Spirit descending on the Jewish believers. There, just like in Cornelius’s mansion, the miracles were amazing, the things that people saw drew them closer and closer to God.
I look at the Church in the world today, and at first I wonder – why doesn’t the miraculous happen today?
Why don’t we have peopel really speaking in languages they don’t know – with other people understanding it so clearly that they are trasnformed by the gospel? Why don’t we have others, seeing what God is doing, and giving thanks and praise – without any prompting but just astounded by God?
Or maybe, it is going on…. and we are to use to focusing on the wrong things, and we miss it?
The Holy Spirit has been given to us, to help us see Jesus. As we and our communities grow more aware of Jesus, the more we see the Spirit doing the work that is always done, and the more we imitate Jesus, for that is the transformation the Holy Spirit causes!
Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Your people, and kindle in them, the fire of Your love, that many will see it, and come to rejoice in that love as well! Amen!
Escrivá, Josemaría. Friends of God . Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
15 For you said, “We have made a covenant with Death, and we have an agreement with Sheol; when the overwhelming catastrophe passes through, it will not touch us, because we have made falsehood our refuge and have hidden behind treachery.” 16 Therefore the Lord God said: “Look, I have laid a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation; the one who believes will be unshakable. 17 And I will make justice the measuring line and righteousness the mason’s level.” Hail will sweep away the false refuge, and water will flood your hiding place. Isaiah 28:15-17 (CSBBible)
In thy name do we receive remission of sin and walk in newness of life. In thy name will our bodies rise from the earth at the last day, and be clothed with immortality, incorruption and glory. And before this great and notable day, arouse those, O Lord, who are dead in trespasses and sin. Quicken them by the power of thy holy Word, that they may hear thy voice and by true faith arise from their sins. By the power of thy ressurrection comfort and relieve those who are in any sorrow, tribulation or temptation, that they may assuredly believe that thou art able to deliver them from all evil and bring them into thine everlasting Kingdom, where thou, in unity with the Father and Holy Ghost, wilt be worshiped and glorified. Amen.
We all choose our places to hide, our ways to escape from life. We think of them as safe places, places of refuge, a place to hide from the insanity and pain in this world.
I believe there is a time where rest is needed, a time for a sabbath, a time to be refreshed, a place to catch our breath.
Regrettably, we do not look for that though, we don’t often look for the presence of Christ to restore us as we find rest and remain in Him.
Anywhere else that we try to escape is making a covenant with death. That is a harsh comment, but one we need to hear. We cannot escape the world by running and hiding in a place in it. For catastrophes will happen, and the false sense of security will be stripped away from us.
God will strip those places away, He will shake and destroy them, not in anger though. He will do this because He loves us, He doesn’t want us caught in the illusion, and trying to find deeper and deeper ways to escape the threat of
death, or it as the norm.
There are days we see this, where we find our peace in Christ, where we are aware that we remain in Him. In those days, as we recognize the peace, as Loehe says we receive the remission of sins, It is then we can ask God to quicken, to bring to life those who are searching for refuge and safety in sin. Where Christ’s comfort ministers to them in the midst of their brokenness, where they find God delivering them into His Kingdom.
This is what faith is – depending on God to provide that safe place, that sanctuary in His presence. So that when the world is shaken, we are at peace. It is something we can share, and desire for others. Faith isn’t the doctrine – that simply helps us define the trust we have in God, based on what He says. Faith isn’t what we do – that is simply celebrating that God is faithful.
Faith is living in the moment – with God….
Let’s us do so, and intercede with others, that they might join us in God’s peace!
William Loehe, Liturgy for Christian Congregations of the Lutheran Faith, ed. J. Deinzer, trans. F. C. Longaker, Third Edition. (Newport, KY: n.p., 1902), 139–140.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
15 It’s true that some are preaching out of jealousy and rivalry. But others preach about Christ with pure motives. 16 They preach because they love me, for they know I have been appointed to defend the Good News. 17 Those others do not have pure motives as they preach about Christ. They preach with selfish ambition, not sincerely, intending to make my chains more painful to me. 18 But that doesn’t matter. Whether their motives are false or genuine, the message about Christ is being preached either way, so I rejoice. And I will continue to rejoice. 19 For I know that as you pray for me and the Spirit of Jesus Christ helps me, this will lead to my deliverance. Philippians 1:15-19 (NLT2)
(Luther said) Although the fathers were often wrong, they ought nevertheless to be honored on account of their testimony to faith. So I venerate Jerome and Gregory and others inasmuch as one can sense [from their writings], in spite of everything else, that they believed as we do, as the church from the beginning believed, and as we believe. So Bernard was magnificent when he taught and preached. However, when he engaged in disputation he assailed what he had before preached. Consequently the fathers aren’t worth much for controversy, but on account of their testimony to faith they ought all to be honored. Bernard was superior to all the doctors in the church when he preached, but he became quite a different man in his disputations, for then he attributed too much to law and to free will. To dispute in the church is therefore bad.”
I love Luther’s attitude toward the saints, show in his discussion above. I wish he could have been as patient with Eck and Tetzel (Roman Catholics) and with Zwingli (protestant). Still, it is easier to see God working in the lives of those who had passed on compared to those you are currently engaging in “disputes.”
I am not better at dealing with some of those I disagree with or who disagree with me.
Some I can honor quite easily, for I see their hearts for God’s people quite easily. Two of my closest friends in ministry are Catholic priests – and their hearts for bringing people to Jesus are pretty obvious. They are about crafting disciples, not just converting numbers. For us, it is about helping our people come aware of God’s presence and His care. I see that in some writers I know of and read- a Southern Baptist, a Methodist.
But others, including some within my own brotherhood, I struggle to respect, and honoring them seems far from my heart and mind. It may be because of disputes between us. I can’t see their heart and soul, and there is obvious
dissonance based on actions and attitudes. Frustration builds Luther’s ability to cope with such people boiled down to their faith – that they trusted in Jesus. He could rejoice in their preaching because it was about Jesus, and it drew people into God’s presence. That is the same bottom line that Paul rejoiced where the gospel was being preached – even if for reasons that seem contrary.
So there is where we need to go if we are going to respect our adversaries if we are going to pray that God bless them. For
that is what we need to do, coming together because of the Lord whom we make known. Find out where God is using them, and praise God for it; even while praying, we all are drawn closer to Him, and therefore to each other.
Our hope in all this is in Christ and in the work of the Spirit. I pray we learn to depend on Him more and recognize His work in others more.
Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, Vol. 54: Table Talk, ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann, vol. 54 (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1999), 104–105.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
(Jesus said) “Whenever you fast, don’t be gloomy like the hypocrites. For they disfigure their faces so that their fasting is obvious to people. Truly I tell you, they have their reward. 17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so that your fasting isn’t obvious to others but to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. Matthew 6:16-18 (CSBBible)
8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord asking: Who will I send? Who will go for us? I said: Here I am. Send me. 9 And he replied: Go! Say to these people: Keep listening, but do not understand; keep looking, but do not perceive. 10 Make the minds of these people dull; deafen their ears and blind their eyes; otherwise they might see with their eyes and hear with their ears, understand with their minds, turn back, and be healed. Isaiah 6:8-10 (CSBBible)
I do not deny that, over the years, people have come to me and have told me with real sorrow: “Father, I don’t know what’s come over me, but I find I am tired and cold. My piety used to be so solid and straightforward, but now it feels like play acting …” Well, for those who are going through such a phase, and for all of you, I answer: “Play acting? Wonderful! The Lord is playing with us as a father does with his children.” (a few paragraphs on…)
“But, Father,” you ask me, “can one put on an act for God? Wouldn’t that be hypocritical?” Don’t worry: for you the moment has arrived to play out a human comedy before a divine spectator. Persevere, for the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are contemplating your act; do it all for love of God, to please him, although you find it hard. How beautiful it is to be God’s jester! How beautiful to act out such a role for Love, with a spirit of sacrifice, not seeking any personal satisfaction, but just to please our Father God, who is playing with us! Turn to our Lord with confidence and say to him: “I don’t feel like doing this at all, but I will offer it up for you.” And then put your heart into the job you are doing, even though you think you are just play acting. Blessed play acting! I assure you it isn’t hypocrisy, because hypocrites need a public for their pantomimes, whereas the spectators of our play, let me repeat, are the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit;
Since i was a little child, Jesus’s words above in red bothered me. I thought it was somewhat hypocritical, and even a lie to pretend what was going on wasn’t going on.
If you are fasting or suffering, why should you hide it?
I get the part of offering it up to God, but to pretend things are different than they are? Isn’t that being a hypocrite?
I have not only heard peopel ask how to deal with the “dry spells” of their faith, I have had them myself, and I am not talking about my childhood, or my time studying to be a pastor. I feel like giving up somedays, and other wonder why Isaiah didn’t! I mean – he walked into the gig – knowing he would have little or no effect! He did it anyway!
I had to read St. Josemaria’s words a few times over to get into the idea of “acting” differently than I am. To persevere in my acts of faith, of searching for the Lord’s pleasure and presence – knowing that I would not always get the satisfaction, at least cognitively.
And not getting the satisfaction cognitively….doesn’t mean it is not there!
And it certainly means that we are not hypocrites, we are not doing this for praise, we aren’t showing off our holiness, we are trying to love God, the God who loves us. We are trying to reach out to the One who came and reached out on a cross to show us His love. It isn’t acting – it is trying to do what we have done, where we have known HIs grace. He knows our hearts better than we, He is the one who empowers our faith as well as our will, and the very desire to keep moving, there is something that pleases Him.
Simply put, if you are worried about being a hypocrite, the odds are you are not. Continue to trust in Him, continue to do what you know will reveal His presence, and HIs grace… for even if you can’t feel it…
THE LORD IS WITH YOU!!
Escrivá, Josemaría. Friends of God . Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
But beyond these, my son, be warned: there is no end to the making of many books, and much study wearies the body. 13 When all has been heard, the conclusion of the matter is this: fear Gods and keep his commands, because this is for all humanity.t 14 For God will bring every act to judgment, including every hidden thing, whether good or evil. Eccl. 12:12–14.
O LORD Jesus Christ, thou holy, precious spotless and innocent Lamb of God, that takest away the sin of the world, we thank thee for thy most holy sufferings and death. Thy soul was exceedingly sorrowful, even unto death, because our sorrows and iniquities, terrors and diseases were laid upon thee. We thank thee for thine anguish of heart and soul, for thy bloody sweat and dying agony, in which thou didst truly taste death for every man. We thank thee for thine agonizing prayer and for thy retirement into the garden, there to offer thyself to the Father as the willing Substitute from us. We thank thee for the bands which bound thee, for by them thou didst release us from the bands of everlasting death. We thank thee for the stripes which thou didst endure for our sakes, and for thy scourging, patience and humility by which thou didst offer a ransom for our disobedience, blindness and hardness of heart.
O eternal Father! I offer Thee the pure affections of the heart of Jesus. If Thou dost reject mine, Thou canst not reject those of Thy Son, who is sanctity itself; may they supply what is wanting in me, and may they render me pleasing in Thy eyes!
I only citred about 1/3rd of Pastor Loehe’s prayer (A 19th century Lutheran Pastor) that was part of my devotions this morning. I needed to re-read it several times, to soak in the attitude I need to have, if I am going to survive this day.
I need to realize the depth of His love, revealed at the cross, and at the altar as we receive His body and blood. It is there we see what de Ligouri (a Catholic saint) calls the pure affections of the heart – the incredible love for God and for our neighbor that we are commissioned to have.
THis is what the writer who ends Ecclestiases is talking about – to be in awe of God – for he brought every act into judgment at the cross – and there poured out His anger, at the pain that we have caused.
Jesus took it all, suffered for it all, loved us enough to do this….
knowing this gets me thorugh the evil and stress encountered on a Monday…..
nothing else will…
Jesus has done it all…
time to live in thanks………………………
William Loehe, Liturgy for Christian Congregations of the Lutheran Faith, ed. J. Deinzer, trans. F. C. Longaker, Third Edition. (Newport, KY: n.p., 1902), 135.
Alphonsus de Liguori, The Holy Eucharist, ed. Eugene Grimm, The Complete Works of Saint Alphonsus de Liguori (New York; London; Dublin; Cincinnati; St. Louis: Benziger Brothers; R. Washbourne; M. H. Gill & Son, 1887), 256–257.
Devotional Thought of the Day
1 A good name is better than fine perfume, and the day of one’s death is better than the day of one’s birth. 2 It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, since that is the end of all mankind, and the living should take it to heart. Ecclesiastes 7:1-2 (CSBBible)
We have been accustomed to hear of the Creation, Incarnation, Redemption, of Jesus born in a stable, of Jesus dead on the Cross. O my God, if we knew that another man had conferred on us any of these benefits, we could not help loving him. It seems that God alone has, so to say, this bad luck with men, that, though he has done his utmost to make them love him, yet he cannot attain this end, and, instead of being loved, he sees himself despised and neglected. All this arises from the forgetfulness of men of the love of God.
O Thou dealest so mercifully with us, and ascribest to us all Thy merit and righteousness; and in Thee the Father himself accounts us as righteous, even as though we were like Thee, Thou Mediator of the New Covenant; and through Thee the Holy Spirit dwells in us, and quickens us to newness of life.
The hands of God are blistered with love and accompany us on the path of life. Let us entrust ourselves to the hands of God, like a child entrusts himself to the hand of his father. This is a safe hand!
As we come out of COVID, the Church is like an anxious bride moments before
the wedding begins. Anxiety-driven by the moment, as concerns over everything
being perfect, everything fulfilling her dreams comes into play. Anxiety over
how the Church will be renewed, how we will get all our people back, and the
anxiety paralyzes us.
I asked a newlywed about her wedding last year, and she summed it up by
saying that she was walking down the aisle one moment the next moment she was
getting kissed. With that a common thought, why is so much time spent in
anxiety needed? If only I could rid them of the anxiety and allow them to savor
every word, every vow, every promise, every indication of the love that is
shared. Some women get caught up in the moment and are terrorized by it.
I see the same thing in de Ligouri’s quote in blue above. We know all about the
work of God; we can even enter into theological disputes about it. The
masterpiece of creation and every moment that God has formed is there to ponder!
To meditate on His love for us that is revealed. Yet instead of that, we worry
about life, we try to find the latest book to read and recommend to others,
that their lives and churches might be full. So we don’t look for His love; in
fact, we abandon Him in search of other, more immediate answers and fixes.
As God stands there with blistered hands and a pierced side so our anxiety
would be replaced with peace! So that our sin would be replaced with His
righteousness! so that the Holy Spirit would quicken us to new life! He would
care for us with such mercy, like the groom who tenderly holds his wife’s hands!
He is caught up in the moment as well – but caught up in the moment because he is with
her. (By the time the sermon is over, even the most anxious bride is caught up
with her groom, in the moment)
That is where we need to be, fully aware of God’s love, fully aware of His
presence. This is where Solomon’s wisdom comes into play and why he says mourning
is better than feasting. It focuses on the transition rather than ignore it. As
we realize the shortness of this life and what comes after, we should long for
that day and the incredible life that follows! We need to hear Jesus, we need
to hear the vows He made to us, we need to see our hands held in His, and
forward to our eternal life spent with Him.
As we do, the anxiety will fade, and the miraculous happens as the Holy
Spirit breathes life into us. We begin to have hope again as we realize the
love of the God who is here… with us.
As we come out of COVID, together, we need to focus on Jesus, on His love that has sustained and comforted us, and the promise of life with Him. As that is our focus, then church will not just come back to normal, it will revive!
Alphonsus de Liguori, The Holy Eucharist, ed. Eugene Grimm, The Complete Works of Saint Alphonsus de Liguori (New York; London; Dublin; Cincinnati; St. Louis: Benziger Brothers; R. Washbourne; M. H. Gill & Son, 1887), 252.
William Loehe, Liturgy for Christian Congregations of the Lutheran Faith, ed. J. Deinzer, trans. F. C. Longaker, Third Edition. (Newport, KY: n.p., 1902), 133.
Pope Francis, A Year with Pope Francis: Daily Reflections from His Writings, ed. Alberto Rossa (New York; Mahwah, NJ; Toronto, ON: Paulist Press; Novalis, 2013), 147.
Devotional Thoguht of the Day:
1 Hallelujah! Sing to the LORD a new song, his praise in the assembly of the faithful. 2 Let Israel celebrate its Maker; let the children of Zion rejoice in their King. 3 Let them praise his name with dancing and make music to him with tambourine and lyre. 4 For the LORD takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with salvation. 5 Let the faithful celebrate in triumphal glory; let them shout for joy on their beds. Psalm 149:1–5 (CSB)
It is delightful to worship God, but it is also a humbling thing; and the man who has not been humbled in the presence of God will never be a worshiper of God at all. He may be a church member who keeps the rules and obeys the discipline, who tithes and goes to conference, but he’ll never be a worshiper unless he is deeply humbled. “A humbling but delightful sense of admiring awe.”
How does one find the balance between the scripture passage and the selection from Tozer above?
The pslamist writes of worship in a way that describes an emotional frenzy, such as would have been seen in Acts when the crowd asked if the 120 believers were drunk! There are more than enough examples of this attitude in worship!
There are also enough passages that are similar to Tozer’s humility in worship. There is a somber nature that comes when one finds themselves a sinner in the hands of God. And that sense leaves us in awe.
When is one proper, when is the other? How do we balance the two?
I wish there was a spreadsheet, or a process one can discern when it is time for this or that. Some program to answer 25 questions and determine it is time for dancing, or times to just sit in awe.For to do so would be to try and control God, and how the Spirit moves us. That is the key of course, the movement of the Spirit in our lives. Ultimately, worship is the response to HIs action on our behalf, in His presence.
And sometimes that means a reverential awe, and sometimes dance, and because nothing is impossible with God, sometimes both!
A. W. Tozer and Harry Verploegh, The Quotable Tozer II: More Wise Words with a Prophetic Edge (Camp Hill, PA: WingSpread, 1997), 197.
Devotions for our day:
1 Hallelujah! How good it is to sing to our God, for praise is pleasant and lovely. 2 The Lord rebuilds Jerusalem; he gathers Israel’s exiled people. 3 He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds. Psalm 147:1-3 (CSBBible)
“God makes fools of both theologians and princes, for he commits to us an impossible task which nobody would undertake if he knew about it beforehand but which he is not allowed to relinquish once it has been committed and undertaken. So it is with the rest of our work. We demand many things, but they aren’t done except to a limited degree. We teach many things, but they are learned only to a modest extent. ‘Nothing is successful,’ as the preacher of Solomon says [Eccles. 1:1, 2].
“Why does God act so? Because he alone is wise and powerful. Because if our suggestions and ideas were carried out we would become presumptuous and would claim wisdom and power for ourselves. Because we surround the glory of wisdom and power with the defects which belong to our nature. We want to set things straight and make everything right. To this God says, ‘Well, then, go ahead! Be clever and do a good job! Be a preacher and make the people godly! Be a lord and mend the people’s ways! Get to it at once!’
“What a retrogression would occur! And the conclusion would be: ‘Vanity of vanities’ and ‘Let wisdom be attributed to God alone’ [Eccles: 1:2; 2:26]. We are fools and wretched bunglers in all we do and attempt.”
As I began to read Luther’s thoughts this morning, I wondered if he had been projecting himself 500 years forward, and was observing me. You see, I resonate to the frustration of things not getting done, and often wonder whether I am helping anyone learn anything, especialy when I wonder if they are learning to depend on Jesus more.
The battle seems to never end, and so I question the efficiency of my work. The experts all talk about being more effective in ministry, how to get better results. ( Note: It is always good to look at their track record and see how they did! If they were truly successul, why did they leave?) But the weight is burdensome, it can even seem to crush you.
But I ask this question – the one that Luther alludes to, why are you expecting you are the one to get it done?
Why do we expect our work to be as successul as the One who was crucified? Why do we spend more time planning and trying to find the ways we need to manipulate life?
I am not saying do not put effort into what we do, but what we do has to originate in what God is doing. The ancients in the church talked about our reaction of praising God for HIs work and promises being what forms our beliefs (our doctrine – what we teach). Those beliefs in turn should cause our actions.
It starts with God, and what He is doing, as we see God renuild His community, as we see God gather and heal His people. It relies on Him for our efficacy, for it is His work, and we follow. WIth HIm we find that we are loving the unlovable, brining healing to the broken, sharing His mercy with those around us that neither deserve the mercy, nor know it exists.
I need to remember this, I need God to remind me of it often, so that life isn’t managed by the fool and bungler that I am, but the God that works within you and I.
Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, Vol. 54: Table Talk, ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann, vol. 54 (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1999), 98.