Prayer and Spam Calls!

Devotional Thought of the Day:

9  And he said, “Yes, go, and say to this people, ‘Listen carefully, but do not understand. Watch closely, but learn nothing.’ 10  Harden the hearts of these people. Plug their ears and shut their eyes. That way, they will not see with their eyes, nor hear with their ears, nor understand with their hearts and turn to me for healing.” Isaiah 6:9-10 (NLT2)

I have often said that we must not allow these periods of conversation with Jesus, who sees us and hears us from the Tabernacle, to degenerate into an impersonal type of prayer. If we want our meditation to develop right away into a personal dialogue with our Lord (for which the sound of words is not necessary), we must shed the cloak of anonymity and put ourselves in his presence, just as we are. We must avoid hiding ourselves in the crowd that fills the church, or diluting our prayer into a meaningless patter that does not come from the heart and is little better than a reflex habit, empty of any real content.

P. O Lord, hear my prayer.
R. And let my cry come unto Thee.
P. The Lord be with you.
R. And with thy spirit.

As I was doing my reading this morning, several spam calls happened. The calls come in on the church phone and on my cellphone. Recordings for free Marriot stays, google business listings. They were not even interesting, just the usual lifeless recordings that are frustrating because they mean absolutely nothing to me. They actually have a negative value as they waste my time and distract me from ministry.

As I looked at my readings this morning, I wonder if our prayers don’t take on the same tone at times.

Do we just mouth the words without hearing ourselves, never mind actually crying out to God to hear our prayer? Do we even bother to listen to His reply? Or do we just want our Father in heaven to press 1 to confirm the prayer is answered the way we want, 2 if it is denied, and 3 if the Holy Spirit is busy right now and will get back to us later? Is our prayer that impersonal? Has it degenerated, as Josemaria asks? Are our hearts as hard as phone solicitors, who hang up on us when we ask them if they know Jesus?

It doesn’t matter if our prayer comes spontaneously (from the heart?), or we read it out of a prayer book or hymnal. Either way can be impersonal, self-centered, even hypocritical. And as beneficial to us as a spam call. God very well might answer it, but we may never be aware of it, for we weren’t looking to Him.

So how do we fix this? How do we speak to God? How can our prayer life become more intimate and complete? How do we stop spam calling God? How do we delevlop so intimate a relationship… that we communicate with Him?

The most important thing is to know there is a real person who cares about you on the other side of the “call.” To know God personally, not just as some inanimate force, but as Jesus, who comes into your world to hear you…and to heal you. To depend on Him like you do, your best friend, to know He is there,  just as He promised. That was proven at the cross, when you were drawn into Him, and died with Him that you would rise to a new life with Him.

And then you pray, cry out to Him… let Him have it all…He is with you… and wants to be there for each one of us.

It comes down to this – the Lord is with you!

Escrivá, Josemaría. Friends of God . Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

William Loehe, Liturgy for Christian Congregations of the Lutheran Faith, ed. J. Deinzer, trans. F. C. Longaker, Third Edition. (Newport, KY: n.p., 1902), 81.

Satisfaction …

Photo by Ric Rodrigues on Pexels.com

Devotional Thought of the Day:

14  Oh, satisfy us early with Your mercy, That we may rejoice and be glad all our days! Psalm 90:14 (NKJV)

P. O satisfy us early with Thy mercy;
R. That we may rejoice and be glad all our days.

Devotional Thought of the Day:

14  Fill us each morning with your constant love, so that we may sing and be glad all our life. Psalm 90:14 (TEV)

I used to enjoy climbing up the cathedral towers to get a close view of the ornamentation at the top, a veritable lacework of stone that must have been the result of very patient and laborious craftsmanship. As I chatted with the young men who accompanied me, I used to point out that none of the beauty of this work could be seen from below. To give them a material lesson in what I had been previously explaining to them, I would say: “This is God’s work, this is working for God! To finish your personal work perfectly, with all the beauty and exquisite refinement of this tracery stonework.” Seeing it, my companions would understand that all the work we had seen was a prayer, a loving dialogue with God. The men who spent their energies there were quite aware that no one at street level could appreciate their efforts. Their work was for God alone.

As I came across the liturgical (in purple above) response this morning, I began to think about what it takes to get satisfaction, to be satisfied with life.

And in the background of my mind I kept hearing the Rolling Stones chanting that you can’t get no satisfaction! (Does that mean they got satisfaction?)

The Psalmist tells us that satisaction can be found with God, as we call on Him to reveal His mercy early in the moring. That is where satisfaction is known, experiening the mercy of God, and it provides so much satisfaction that it turns into joy!

What a great thought – even more when you see that modern translations use “unfailing love” instead of mercy. What an incredible way to start each day! To know how God comes to us, no matter how broken, no matter how sinful, and loves cares for us. He picks us up and restores us!

It is this kind of joy that causes the work that Josemaria revelled in, the hidden work of great beauty, that required great skill and craftsmanship.

This is the same kind work that most of us do as we care for people, as we minister to each other. Sure some of it is seen on Sunday moring. But more of it happens behind the scenes. The elder taking communion to the shut-in. The ladies laughing and giggling together as they sew things, the group that shows up for an elderly person’s 95 birthday, driving by in a parade by their home.

It is beautiful, and yet not visible. It is the work done that no one may ever see…

Yet it is done in joy, an expression of the knowing we dwell in Chirst, of being filled with His constant love…

This is the life we have in Jesus.


William Loehe, Liturgy for Christian Congregations of the Lutheran Faith, ed. J. Deinzer, trans. F. C. Longaker, Third Edition. (Newport, KY: n.p., 1902), 80.

Escrivá, Josemaría. Friends of God . Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

We Could Not…So He Did! Part 2 – Guard this Treasure

a lenten series from concordia

We could not…so He Did!
Guard this Treasure!

† In Jesus Name †

May the grace and peace of God our Father help you to recognize the treasure given to you in your relationship with Jesus Christ!

The Dark Night of the Soul

As we walk with Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, we have the opportunity to witness the darkest night that has ever occurred spiritually. The night when evil was more powerfully present than ever when that evil created despair so powerfully it assaulted Jesus. It created a dark night, the darkest night, even for Jesus.

He would cry out to His Father, our Creator, in the depth of His despair, he would be so physically overwhelmed by anxiety and the darkness that He would sweat blood. The emotional and spiritual trauma was greater than anything ever experienced by mankind.

The Darkest Night of the Soul…

And perhaps a night of unshakable beauty…a night to not only remember… but to be in awe of the beauty of the darkness.

You see, we need to look at Jesus, the one Isaiah identified as the man of sorrows, and be in awe of the beauty. We need to treasure these moments.

Can We Keep the Watch? Can we stay aware of what Jesus went through?

Or will we be like the apostles… and fall asleep on our watch?

Keeping Watch…

It had been an emotional week, with many ups and downs.  Preparing for the feast was an enormous task for this traveling band of homeless missionaries.

The feast itself was a challenge, with two of the brothers fighting, with Peter nearly ready to walk away rather than let Jesus wash his feet. Then the comment by Jesus, about someone ready to betray him… a question that caused them all to question themselves, none of them confident in that moment…

The fiery scene with Judas, the long walk to the garden in the dark… and Jesus so serious, so perplexed.

It was draining.

We need to experience Jesus there; we need to pay careful attention to what He went through that evening. Our point of focus during these weeks of lent is a few hours described in just a few sentences… What will get in the way?

Will it be sleep? Will it be our own weariness? Will it be our own dark nights of the soul?

Will we be able to stay awake, to keep watch, to guard the truth of this night in our hearts, meditating on Jesus, being with Him there…

I am going to be bluntly honest.  You will fail during this time… You will have the same level of t

You will sin…you might experience despair, and you might forget about the hope you have.

You will know the feeling that the 12 apostles had, as Jesus woke them up for the third time. There will be times where you will feel as guilty and ashamed as they did. As they witnessed His arrest, to follow Him at a distance as he was tried and beaten and crucified.

There have been times and will be times where you could not keep watch…where you did not treasure this suffering of Jesus.

We could not… so He Did…

I never want to tell you that it is okay to fall asleep on God, to fail to treasure what God is giving you in Christ Jesus.

But where we can’t keep our focus on Him, when we can’t guard the treasure of what He’s given us because of His passionate embrace of suffering, we find out He did.

He treasured that night, He suffered through it, He didn’t fall asleep.

And while He was disappointed that they could not treasure it, while Jesus is disappointed in our failures, He continues to come to us, to wake us up.

We have to realize the love that drives Him to do this is beyond our ability to understand. He doesn’t just love us if we fall asleep 7 times, or 70 times,

He loves us.

So He kept the watch that night. He treasured the relationship He has with you and me. 

He kept watch over them, treasuring them, and not one of the apostles would die with Jesus because Jesus was faithful.

This is what we need to know in our dark nights, in our moments where anxiety and doubt take their toll when evil seems to have Jesus and obliterated God.

He is still there; Jesus treasures us. Because of that fact, we know a peace that passes all understanding, as He guards our hearts and minds.. in Him.  AMEN!

Why Do YOU Need Jesus?

The good news of
GOD with us!

Devotional Thought of the Day:

53  Jesus said to them, “I am telling you the truth: if you do not eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you will not have life in yourselves. 54  Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them to life on the last day. 55  For my flesh is the real food; my blood is the real drink. 56  Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood live in me, and I live in them. 57  The living Father sent me, and because of him I live also. In the same way whoever eats me will live because of me. John 6:53-57 (TEV)

Too many want the Holy Spirit in order that they may have the gift of healing. Others want Him for the gift of tongues. Still others seek Him so that their testimony may become effective. All of these things, I will grant, are a part of the total pattern of the New Testament. But it is impossible for us to make God our servant. Let us never pray that we may be filled with the Spirit of God for secondary purposes.
God wants to fill us with His Spirit in order that we should know Him first of all and be absorbed in Him.

Had men but always recourse to the Most Blessed Sacrament to seek from it the remedy for their ills, they certainly would not be so miserable as they are.

If you talk to some, being a Christian is about making it to heaven. Talk to
another, and it is about Jesus’ social teaching. Talk to another, and it is
about being considered righteous by God. Some confuse that with thinking
Christians are always right! There is a myriad of reasons that people become Christians in their own minds.

There are many more why Christians call out Jesus, and as Tozer points out,
reasons people want the Holy Spirit to be manifest in our lives.

None of them are “the” reason.

I find that reason in John’s gospel, where Jesus gives his insight about His Body and His Blood. The fellowship, the Life together, the intimacy with God causes us to experience love and peace beyond all understanding. (see Eph. 3:18ff and Philippians 4:7) This is what all of Christianity, all of the scriptures, all the conversations at coffee shops with those struggling to have faith, has as its goal.

This intimate relationship, where God cares for His people, is why we need
Jesus. Anything else is not Life. de Liguori notes that those who seek the remedy to their ills (physical, social, psychological, all of the above) says that the misery leaves in the presence of Christ, especially as He is present in the Sacrament.This again is that peace that comes from dwelling in Christ, and His dwelling in you!

This fellowship, intimate this communion, is beyond the suffering we endure in this life. It is everything, for it will endure far beyond our time on this planet for we rise to live with Christ.  Going to the altar is the greatest of ways to look beyond this life to see that eternal connection. When we take, eat and drink the Body and Blood of Jesus, in and under the bread and wine. When we pause and recognize Him in this meal. This intimate relationship, which endures eternally… this is why we are drawn to Jesus, why He carries us to the Father…

This is why we need Him…

A. W. Tozer and Marilynne E. Foster, Tozer on the Holy Spirit: A 366-Day Devotional (Camp Hill, PA: WingSpread, 2007).

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), 163.

Is there a Biblical Work Ethic?

Devotional Thought of the Day”

15  Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth. 16  Avoid worthless, foolish talk that only leads to more godless behavior. 2 Timothy 2:15-16 (NLT2)

Since we should behave at all times as God’s envoys, we must be very much aware that we are not serving him loyally if we leave a job unfinished; if we don’t put as much effort and self-sacrifice as others do into the fulfillment of professional commitments; if we can be called careless, unreliable, frivolous, disorganized, lazy, or useless … Because people who neglect obligations that seem less important will hardly succeed in other obligations that pertain to the spiritual life and are undoubtedly harder to fulfill. “He who is faithful in very little is faithful also in much; and he who is dishonest in very little is dishonest also in much.”

It was known as the “protestant work ethic” but it was imbedded in me while I grew up Roman Catholic. Simply stated we were to work hard, simply because our work habits would reflect on our parents, our school, and our God. So, getting good grades, or doing the dishes, or shoveling the driveway was done the best we could do. To do less than a perfect job, well that brought into question our devotion to God, and our appreciation for the family God gave us as a gift.

So we pushed the limits, in our schoolwork, in our early jobs. We could be told to slow down, to stop embarrassing others who did not put as much (if any) effort into their work. Now we were embarrassing people we had to work with, live with and that too was uncomfortable.

As I read St. Josemaria’s words, I wondered about the tie between working hard and the two great commandments. Are we truly loving our neighbor Do we love them if we only invest ourselves 40% in the work, we are doing for them?  DO we love God if our work reflects poorly as we fail to love our boss, our employer, our clientele? (Never mind the commandment about not stealing – which we do if we work at our best!)

These are heavy thoughts and could turn into using the Law to motivate behavior.

Because someone used the wrong tool to motivate us, are we free to slack off?  Can we find the justification to argue we are only working at the level for which we receive pay?

I think we find the answer in Paul’s words to Timothy – the idea that we are presenting our work, not to a manager, owner, or board. We present ourselves to Him, the Lord who loves us, the Lord who cares, the Lord who fixes our mistakes, who forgives our sin. Our reaction to that is what our work is, or at least it needs to be. We do this because, not out of obligation, not out of some guilt motivated, but as a response to love. The response is not mandated, forced, it simply comes from know the love that is shown us.

Spend time with the Lord who loves you! Spend time thinking about the cross. You will never have to worry about whether you are working hard enough, or doing enough.  

Escrivá, Josemaría. Friends of God . Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Do We Reduce God’s Role in Our Lives to that of a Barista?

How badly do you need this!

Devotional Thought of the Day!

18  So the LORD must wait for you to come to him so he can show you his love and compassion. For the LORD is a faithful God. Blessed are those who wait for his help. Isaiah 30:18 (NLT2)

31  But those who wait on the LORD Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31 (NKJV)

31  But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31 (NLT2)

There is an inactivity that, paradoxically, is the highest possible activity. There can be a suspension of the activity of the body, as when our Lord told His disciples to “tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high” (Luke 24:49). They waited. And the Holy Spirit came on them in power.
In the Old Testament, to wait on God meant coming before His presence with expectation and waiting there with physical and mental inactivity.

Do we expect prayer to work like a drive-thru? We wait in line, somewhat impatient as our body cries our for coffee. We place our order, drive up, sacrifice something and get what we dearly wanted ( or in my friend Mike’s cases – desperately needed!)

Is that how we picture prayer?

Do we reduce God to a barista? Do we expect Almighty God to be there for our present need, then once that is quenched we don’t have to see him until the need strikes aagain?

Tozer’s words got me thinking about our expectations of God when it comes to prayer. Do we wait on Him only until we get what we want? Or can find peace in His presence in the midst of the need, in the midst of the emergency?

I do find it interesting that the NKJV uses the classic “they that wait on the Lord,” whereas my preferred NLT translated the passage, “those who trust in the Lord.”  There is a difference. For trust speaks of a deeper relationship, a sense of dependence.  Wait sounds like there are only 18 cars in front of us in the drive thru! We aren’t good at waiting, and the idea of being dependent on God frustrates those who were raised to be self-sufficient.

This kind of waiting God gets to the heart of the matter, far beyond the humility it takes. For while we are waiting, while we are trusting the all-powerful, all-wise, all-loving God to act, we are doing the greatest thing that we can do, hanging out with our Creator. This isn’t time in a drive thru line, or in a waiting room. Prayer and waiting on God is done while we are in His presence, looking at Him, talking with Him, listening to Him. When we are here, it is not a matter of just getting what we want… it is about life. It is about being at peace, it is about knowing we are loved.

You see prayer isn’t being in line in a drive thru. It is about coming home…waiting for the barbecue feast and enjoying the company of our Father, as He creates the masterpiece!

May we come to realize this… and so desire to spend more time aware of His presence in our lives! Amen!

A. W. Tozer and Marilynne E. Foster, Tozer on the Holy Spirit: A 366-Day Devotional (Camp Hill, PA: WingSpread, 2007).

You Are Part of THIS! A Church that isn’t ~2000 years old!

The church, is always in the midst of a storm… but safe in Him

Devotional Thought of the Weekend

39  All these people earned a good reputation because of their faith, yet none of them received all that God had promised. 40  For God had something better in mind for us, so that they would not reach perfection without us. Hebrews 11:39-40 (NLT2)

The Christian Church came into existence immediately after the Fall, when God, having applied the Law to fallen men orally (Gen. 3:8–14), gave mankind the oral promise of the Woman’s Seed, who was to destroy the works of the devil, that is, free men from the guilt of sin and all its consequences (Gen. 3:15), and Adam and Eve believed the “first Gospel.” Through the oral Word, proclaimed in various ways, God continued to build His Church until the days of Moses.[1]

And (we believe) in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Life-giver, who proceeds from the Father and the Son,who with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified, who has spoken through the prophets. In one holy, catholic, and apostolic church. We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins; we look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the age to come. Amen.

The quote from Pieper (in purple above) is one I had to think about for a while. I included it in a paper that I recently submitted, and the reaction was what I worked through, that the church started at Pentecost.

It wasn’t.

You are part of something that has been around signficantly longer than 2000 years. It goes back to the beginning of time, the cadre of people that know God as their God, and have been brought to realize that they are His holy, precious, chosen people.

The promise of God calling them His people does go back to the Garden, when Adam and Eve ate the of the fruit that gave them the knowledge of evil (they already knew only good) and opened the door to sin.

It was then, with the sacrifice of an animal, that the sacrifice of Christ was pictured, and the redemption and reconciliation of man to God was made known.

This is the church that awaits us, that surrounds us, cheering us on as they wait for the perfection that comes when Christ returns for us all, His bride.

You are part of it, and integral, necessary, planned, valuable part of this body.

It is a church that from that point forward had the law and the gospel, had the promises, had the plan of Gods work revealed, perhaps not completely, but it was there. We can look back and see it! We can see these lives that depend on God, the God who reveals Himself in the universe He created, in the Scriptures, and most clearing, in the visible image of God, Jesus Christ. Revelaed to Adam and Even, to Moses, to Elijah, to Abraham, Issac and Jacob, to all of those who are

For He is with us, that is what makse the church, God gathering His people together, bringing them back, reconciling them to Himself. Providing the sacrifice necessary to accomplish this desire of His.

This is who we are … even some who don’t know it… yet.

We get to bring them the good news that they are. We get to see them drawn into His presence. Just liek the great cloud of witnesses waits to praise our God together… with us.

This is the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church. God’s people.


[1] Francis Pieper, Christian Dogmatics, electronic ed., vol. 1 (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1953), 193.

“The Nicene Creed” Robert Kolb, Timothy J. Wengert, and Charles P. Arand, The Book of Concord: The Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2000), 23.

We Could Not, so HE Did! Part 1: Stay here, and Pray! (A Lenten Series from Concordia)

We could not… so He Did!
Stay Here and Pray!
Luke 22:39-46

 † I.H.S.†

May the grace, mercy, and love of God our Father assure you of your forgiveness and restoration!  AMEN!

There in the Garden

During Lent, we will get very familiar with the Garden of Gethsemane!  We will become so aware of the Garden, which is the background of that slide, that by Holy Week, we will be able to imagine ourselves there, with Jesus. And we will realize what He is going thru because we could not…

We fail so often! That is why we are wearing Ash this evening. We wear it, in the sign of the cross, but I don’t know if we get why! The grief of the cross is that Jesus had to die for my sin and yours, too. I feel the guilt and shame of mine.. just as you do yours.

This is the Garden, the night of anguish, the night of pain, the night when Jesus takes on all we could not.

We’ve heard Luke tell the story… but let’s make it personal.

Stay Here and Pray?

You get to the Garden, you’ve left Jerusalem and odd Passover dinner.  Judas is not there. Something weird happened, and he ran out. Peter is still talking about Jesus washing his feet. James and John are still arguing about who is the more important apostle.

Jesus is bothered. He does not seem himself. You’ve come away and prayed with Him before, but this night is different…strange.. odd…and dark… so dark.

He asks you to stay… and pray that you don’t fall into temptation….

You try…but it has been so long a day… and you are trying to concentrate on praying. But you are weary, and your fall for the tempting, comfortable boulders on which you can rest. Your tiredness turns into a subtle temptation to disobey Jesus, and that turns to sin as you drift off to sleep…ignoring Him and His pain and grief.

Of course, it is not just in the Garden you sin, but any time where you turn away from Him, where you enter into temptation, where you walk away…

He asked you to stay and to pray…. and we could not
He did… despite the agony for you!

He stayed and prayed… except His temptation was more incredible than ours. He had to face the temptation to walk away from the suffering. To walk away from Peter’s betrayal and Judas’s kiss. To walk away from our sin…and the cross.

But Jesus stayed there! He prayed, agonizing over the events that were to come.  Agonizing to the point where his sweat was blood…pouring from him, just as it would at the cross.

While there are days we can stay and pray and meditate on His word for an hour… we can never do what He was preparing to do that night…to save us from our sin.

He did what we could not!

This is why we come during lent, why we receive the ashes and the sign of the cross.

To grieve over our sin, but to do so with the hope of the cross and what it means. That Jesus did what we could not… and paid for our sin so that we could be with Him, and the Father, and the Holy Spirit, forever!  Amen!



Stop “if only”ing life!

Cling to Him, Depend on Him! Christ Crucified!

Devotional Thought of the Day:

26  Eight days later the disciples were together again, and this time Thomas was with them. The doors were locked; but suddenly, as before, Jesus was standing among them. “Peace be with you,” he said. 27  Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and look at my hands. Put your hand into the wound in my side. Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!” 28  “My Lord and my God!” Thomas exclaimed. 29  Then Jesus told him, “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.” John 20:26-29 (NLT2)

Some people wish they could have lived in Jesus’ day so they could have heard His voice and His teaching. They forget there were thousands who heard Jesus but who had no idea what He was talking about. They forget that His own disciples had to wait for the Holy Spirit at Pentecost to know what He had been telling them.
“If only I had heard Jesus,” you may have said. No, you are better off now. You have the Light that lights every person. You have the voice of the inner conscience.

Blessed are those who believe without seeing me….”

Think about those words. Probably you have yet to see Jesus face to face. But think about the fact Jesus declares you more blessed than Thomas. You are more blessed than the disciple who, burnout, weary, and grieving sees his dead Rabbi/Savior/Friend before him,

He was talking about you and me there… when He spoke ot the emotion wreck that was Thomas.

Now, let’s apply that to your present situation.

How often do we grieve our present circumstance by saying, “if only?”

If only there wasn’t COVID? If only the political parties could truly get along and work for what is best? If only I had a better job, better car, better spouse, better behaved kids, if only I had better…

god?

Like one here right now to tend to my every desire. a god who would let me do things perfectly?

We may even spiritualize it, as Tozer suggested people do. If only I was one of the people who worked beside Paul, and got to hear His teachings. Or maybe his teaching was hard, if only I walked with Peter. If only I was one of the 12? I would sin less, I would understand more, I would… I would…

No, you wouldn’t.

They were sinners there, just like now. They struggled to learn, just like now. They didn’t get it at times…just like now.

All the “if only’s” are is a veiled sense of sin. Either the sin of coveting what you perceive is an advantage someone else has, or covering up your own shortfalling and sin. I know it all to well… I do it myself.

And we need to stop…

For we have something that the “if only’s” could never provide. We dwell in the presence of God. The Holy SPirit has revealed God to us..and guarantees God will be there, always. We don’t have to wait for nail scars or epiphanies. He is here.

We need to just trust Jesus, the One we don’t see in the flesh, yet we consume in communion. The Jesus who sent His Spirit to abide in us. That Jesus…

Believe in Him, and you are blessed. Not you will be blessed, you are blessed. Depend on Him, and You will know a peace, a serentiy, a contentment that is beyond anything you can imagine. Because everything else that can cause anxiety, anguish, greed or shame is eliminated.

You will realize you don’t need the “if only”‘s anymore…

For you dwell in the presence of God, now and for all eternity.

AMEN!

A. W. Tozer and Marilynne E. Foster, Tozer on the Holy Spirit: A 366-Day Devotional (Camp Hill, PA: WingSpread, 2007).

Is Unity Possible?

Devotional Though of the Day:

32  For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33  But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.
Matthew 6:32-33 (CSBBible)

On account of my great sins [against the first table] I can’t get to the others in the second table.”

Accept me, O Lord, and dispose of me as Thou pleasest. I will never again complain, O my love, of Thy holy dispensations; I know that, as they all take their source in Thy loving heart, they all will be full of love, and for my good. It is enough for me to know that Thou willest them; I will them also in time and in eternity. Do all that Thou willest in me and with me; I unite my entire self to Thy will, which is all holy, all good, all beautiful, all perfect, all loving. O will of my God, how dear art thou to me! My will is ever to live and die united to and bound up with Thee.

Luther’s words in purple this morning scare me. They actually terrify me.

For those unaware, the 10 Commandments can be divided into 2 sections. The first group are those that deal with our love of God. Have no other Gods, don’t use God’s name the wrong way *but use it t call uoin Him) Spend time with God, finding rest with Him. Great stuff!

The second group are those that define how we should relate to others, Don’t kill, be faithful, don’t take there things, don’t damage their reputation with any kind of gossip or slander. Don’t be so jealous that yuo scheme to get what they want.

If the second group was followed, we wouldn’t see the division and the hatred spewed toward people today. Stop thinking only “they” do that – because you are adding to my terror.

Everyone wants peace, everyone is promising we will be unified, once we get rid of them, once they realize we are the ones who have it right. I have seen this in politics at every level in the last year. From school boards to the congress and presidency. I have seen it in church denominations, as catholics fight over a word from their liturgy, and my branch of Lutherans fight bitterly over worship practices. I have seen it in congregations, and in families.

And in the midst of it all, I hear people try to justify their division with a cry to be united.

What is the terrifying thing of this is what Luther holds out to be the hope for unity, the hope for loving relationships.

We have to stop sinning against God.

We have to seek His kingdom first, not our own. We have to pray that His will be done, not ours.

We have to realize He is our Lord, and relate to Him in that way.

There are days I think that concept is harder to understand in the church than out of it. Until we humble ourselves and walk with God, we will see people not as the assests they are, but as risks to our preffered way of life.

I read the prayer of de Ligouri, and an amazed at the words. I know that is how we should pray, it reflects the first few petitions of the Lord’s prayer, and prayers like Psalm 25. I want to pray this way, but I realize what it will cost to do so. And I realize that unless I begin to… how can I expect others too, and if none of us prays this way…. if none of us seeks first His ways….

then unity is a vain dream, and an empty hope.

Rather than face that, and sink into depression, I must trust in God, I must prioritize communion with Him. I know I treasure those times, so why not find ways for them to increase. I need to find ways to grow in my trust of Him, of His promises, of His work. The way to fulfill the first group of the commandments is simple. to live life in reaction to His love and mercy.

All of this will grow, as I think on His presence, on the body broken and blood shed for you and me.

My you find the unity you seek with others, and you are drawn into Chirst Jesus.

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), 53.

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), 150.

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