Monthly Archives: July 2020
The Hammer or the Hatchet
† Jesus, Son, Savior †
May the mercy and love of God, our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ empower you to reach out to others, knowing it will work for good, and it can’t separate you from God.
The Wrong Tool…sort of?
Yesterday a picture from the past brought up a lesson I learned the hard way. My dad had taught me the lesson growing up, but let’s just say I did not listen as well as I should have.
A simple lesson, “make sure you have the right tools to do the job.”
Every year when I went camping, I forgot one tool, the hammer to pound the ground stakes of our camper into the hard ground. And every year, it would take a while for me to do it with a hatchet. It would eventually get done, but the hatchet is made to chop, not pound. This is the business end of a hatchet, not that end.
I had the wrong tool, the job still got done, but…
As I endured this week, I started wondering more and more about whether I use the reading from Romans 8 the right way…
You see, the passage does the job for two tasks, but I think, it was made to be used as a hatchet, Romans 8:28-39 should free the church to minister to this broken world. Even as it offers comfort, it should be empowering us to provide warmth and light to this broken world.
As a Hammer
So if you notice, this hatchet has this end, so you can use it as a hammer. It is kinda dangerous to use it this way, especially for a klutz like me. Or anyone standing in the immediate area! Hammers are used for securing something in place; to stop it from falling again.
I usually use verse 28 to bring comfort to people who are broken, who are struggling with sin and personal failure. Hey, let God pick you up. God will work this out – He has promised to do so – right here…
And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.
Similarly, I have used verse 38 to bring comfort to those who are struggling, to those who wonder if what has happened means God isn’t with them.
I assure them, nothing can separate you from God. You are His, and the Lord is with you!
This is all true, and it works, but like using the wrong side of the hatchet, there is a danger here. A danger that we just hear those messages find comfort in them, and do nothing else.
Yes, God will work this out, and yes, I am safe with Him. Therefore, it is time to go sit by the pool and have a beer! Or go binge-watch another 2 seasons of a favorite show!
If all we get out of these passages is that, I did not preach the passage correctly. I just picked you up and nailed you in place.
As a Hatchet
A camping hatchet has another job. You use it to cut up kindling and split small pieces of wood to use to build a fire. Something that you can sit down next to, invite some neighbors from other campsites nearby and talk and have a good time. The hatchet is a tool to build a place of community, a place that is inviting and encouraging.
So too, does this passage serve a different purpose than just comforting broken people. It frees them from the brokenness to serve others. It treats us like the kindling, bringing us together to warm and show Christ’s light to the world!
Bob, you screwed up and dropped a few words you should not have. Go apologize, and see how God will use it.
Tom, you have no idea how God will work through you – things are too crazy and unknown! Don’t worry, go do it and rejoice. Even if you screw up, you can not mess it up so bad that God will toss you away. Nothing in all creation can cause that!
The gospel in this passage goes beyond comfort, it should empower you to serve alongside Jesus in mission even more than ever. Hear again part of the passage that lies in the middle, that gets overlooked,
Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? 36 (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) 37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. 38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love.
It is the church, being the church, loving, encouraging, comforting, and drawing people into a relationship with God – even to the point of martyrdom, that is the context for these words about God.
God still loves us. Even when we screw up. Even when we have to lay down our lives. Or lay down our pride, which may be harder!
This chapter is full of that message
You’ve sinned, it’s covered. There is no condemnation in Christ, get up, and get ready to serve.
You are so broken you don’t know how to pray, don’t worry, the Holy Spirit interprets the pain in your heart
You’ve screwed it up? God will make it work out
Your oppressed, beaten, at the end of your wits, and losing your mind? Keep going, nothing can separate you from the love of God in Christ Jesus.
Get the message, the Lord is with you, working in your life, and He’s not leaving you.
Even in you face death, or covid19,
Yesterday in devotions, we look at a passage from Jude. It told us what we can do, even amid hardship, even as the world falls apart. It is this,
21 And keep in step with God’s love, as you wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to show how kind he is by giving you eternal life. 22 Be helpful to all who may have doubts. 23 Rescue any who need to be saved, as you would rescue someone from a fire. Then with fear in your own hearts, have mercy on everyone who needs it. Jude 1:20-23 (CEV)
My friends, let God pick you up, and believe He will use all your lives to make a difference. Know that all you encounter will result in good. Serve with Jesus, knowing that nothing, not even the hardest times you can encounter, not even the most oppressive times Satan can throw at you, can separate you from God’s love.
This victory is yours because Jesus won it at the cross. So let’s pray.
Devotional Thought of The Day:
20 But you, dear friends, must build each other up in your most holy faith, pray in the power of the Holy Spirit, 21 and await the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will bring you eternal life. In this way, you will keep yourselves safe in God’s love. 22 And you must show mercy to those whose faith is wavering. 23 Rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgment. Show mercy to still others, but do so with great caution, hating the sins that contaminate their lives. Jude 1:20-23 (NLT2)
When we say ‘God’ we confess a constant, unchangeable being, always the same, faithful and just, without any evil. It follows that we must necessarily accept his words and have complete faith in him and acknowledge his authority. He is almighty, merciful, and infinitely beneficent.… Who could not place all hope in him? Who could not love him when contemplating the treasures of goodness and love he has poured out on us?
This damage is so unspeakable that it may not be recognized by a rational process, but only from God’s Word. 10 No one except God alone can separate the corruption of our nature from the nature itself. This will take place wholly by way of death in the resurrection.
Over the last few days, I have seen more and more lamenting (okay, complaining) by the people of God in American. Oh no! Tthe government is stopping us from gathering. Oh no! We have to sue because the government has banned singing. Oh no! Churches are being vandalized, we must defend “our” churches. People are wondering if the end times are here.
It is as if we believe the pandemic has put an end to the Great Commission, or that it has put on pause the commandments to “Love God and love your neighbor as yourself.” that the church should just hunker down, go on defense and wait for the pandemic to end.
I am as guilty of this as any… but it is time to stop.
As I prepared a devotion on Jude’s letter to the church for this morning, I was struck by the context. There was a demonic attack on the church, there were false teachers, and scoffers who mocked the gospel and those who trusted in God. They dealt with famine and plague. They were dealing with real persecution, as people were killed if they didn’t dismiss God. Even Michael the Archangel was remembered, and how he depended on Jesus, more than on his own prowess.
Tough times the early church.
So we are not the first!
God read Jude’s next words to the church above again. Seriously, go re-read it.
In the midst of all those challenges, God says minister to each other and to the world!
Help strengthen each other’s faith. Show mercy and help those whose faith is wavering, who are struggling to depend on God, show that compassion and care to people who are so pressed by the times that they aren’t sure He exists! They need us, really we all need each other.
He also mentions rescuing people who are close to being judged, whose idolatry and sin are drawing them to condemnation. In the midst of all the trauma they were facing, all the spiritual warfare, Jude calls the church to be the church, to be the place where broken and sinful people find help and compassion, and mercy.
This si the time for the church to act, for you and I to take seriously a call to action. Not to defend the church, but to be the church, blessing the world. Luther notes the damage of sin s so horrible we cannot even see it, unless God exposes it. and if that is true, so the rest, that only in God can we find hope. That is the hope the Catholic Catechism speaks of, that it talks about confessing.
This is the hope people need, so desperately, a hope that we can be there to share with them, even over 6 feet of distance.
This is our time, the time for us, as the people of God, to be the light that is needed.
it is not time to sit and pity ourselves.
Heavenly Father, Your works through men are glorious, so glorious that the people become etched in our memories. Lord help us in this time of the coronavirus, empowering us to encourage those whose faith is weak, to reach out and show mercy to those who are unaware of it, and live lives dominated by sin, shame, and guilt. Lord, Help us to be your people, those who are being healed in Jesus while helping others heal.
Catholic Church, Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd Ed. (Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1997), 506.
Theodore G. Tappert, ed., The Book of Concord the Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. (Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press, 1959), 467.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
These tents we now live in are like a heavy burden, and we groan. But we don’t do this just because we want to leave these bodies that will die. It is because we want to change them for bodies that will never die. 5 God is the one who makes all of this possible. He has given us his Spirit to make us certain that he will do it. 6 So always be cheerful! 2 Cor. 5:4-6
Full of burning affection he toiled, like Jacob for Rachel, until the whole of her purchase-money had been paid, and now, having sought her by his Spirit, and brought her to know and love him, he awaits the glorious hour when their mutual bliss shall be consummated at the marriage-supper of the Lamb.
Of all the people in scripture, I pity, I don’t think anyone deserves it more than Leah. She who was the first wife of Jacob, the sister of Rachel. I thought of her as I read Spurgeon’s words this morning. She didn’t have someone “full of burning affection” for her, she had someone whose marriage to her was like a duty. He did it, gave her sons (lots of them), but there was no passion, no desire.
There are days I do not just pity here, I resonate with her. I wonder if God treats me the way Jacob treated Leah. He loves and desires the rest of you, but the cost of that is fulfilling his duty and saving me so that He can bring His true love, YOU, home.
I know the feeling isn’t valid, but it is still there. Using the wedding analogy, you all have your reception at some posh Bel-Air hotel, and I get drive-through at Burger King. I am still glad to be provided for, I am glad to be in the household, yet am I a second class citizen?
I think this is just weariness from the burden that Paul describes to the church in Corinth. We want to give up theses second class bodies, this life that isn’t really living. This being Leah. We want the first-class life, the real living, knowing that we aren’t just loved, but really loved.
And in this part of life, the weariness gets to us, the burden of brokenness challenges our hearts and minds. We begin to think we are second class, that we belong in the background, that even in heaven, we will be given the “nose-bleed” seats. (Maybe this is why the back rows of churches are so popular?)
It is hard to realize we are viewed more like Rachel than Leah. It is hard to believe God could love billions of people, including us, with that same level of passion. That there aren’t 999,999,999,999 people in front of us for God to care for, to cherish, to love and adore.
There isn’t. He desires your love, your companionship, as fully as He does anyone. You aren’t on His list of things to do today… You are whom He wants to spend the day with, whom He rejoices in the presence of, you are the beloved.
Understand this, He loves you! (me too) The presence of the Holy Spirit, the promise of our baptism, earned for us at the cross, proves it. Look at all the promises God makes, to you and me. Look at the love He shows us, directly. Spend time with Him now, hear Him reveal His love for you, through His word, See His desire for you, and the joy He looked forward to, even while embracing the cross to make it happen.
Think about that… and be at peace… for you are loved like Rachel… by the One who is love.
C. H. Spurgeon, Morning and Evening: Daily Readings (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1896).
Devotional Thought of the Day:
7 When people sin, you should forgive and comfort them, so they won’t give up in despair. 8 You should make them sure of your love for them. 2 Corinthians 2:7–8 (CEV)
Try this, therefore, and practice it well. Just examine yourself, look around a little, cling to the Scriptures. If even then you feel nothing, you have all the more need to lament both to God and to your brother. Take others’ advice and seek their prayers, and never give up until the stone is removed from your heart.
84 Then your need will become apparent, and you will perceive that you have sunk twice as low as any other poor sinner and are much in need of the sacrament to combat your misery. This misery, unfortunately, you do not see, though God grants his grace that you may become more sensitive to it and more hungry for the sacrament.
During my lifetime I have seen two reactions to people who have been caught in sin.
The first to ignore it, often quote Jesus’ comment about those who are without sin can cast the first stone. So we ignore the sin, justifying it our mind somehow.
The second way people (and especially pastors) deal with it is to condemn it, banishing the person from the presence of those who are holy, less the sinner infects the rest of the people in the church. They justify this based on the idea of ex-communication in Matthew 18.
IN the Bible passage today, we see a third option. Translated here as forgive and comfort, we need to understand these things. Forgiveness here is the word for grace, to give them a gift they do not deserve. They do not deserve it, because of the sin. However, that is grace, we receive what we do not deserve, what could not even be asked with any sense of expectation, except for the promise of God.
And then the challenging part, the comfort. The word is one of the names of the Holy Spirit, being a paraclete. What Paul is asking us to do is to go alongside the brother or sister who is held captive by sin, and support them. To lift them up, to support them, to help them know that God is still their God. They are still part of the church, the family of God that finds healing and hope in Jesus while helping others heal as well.
Is this easy, no. Will the people you are trying to reach snap your head off at times, or resist the assistance, yes. Ministering in this way requires patience, and a willingness to wait until the opportunity is there. Not easy.
Yet, in the end, when the sinner realizes their need, there is no better feeling than when they are at the altar with you, and together you receive the Body and Blood of Christ, together. That is why Luther tells us when our hearts are hardened when sin has blinded us to our need for it, it is when we need it the most! That is when we need the comfort of God, as He reveals to us out need.
This is how we are to deal with sin and make it known that it is how we deal with sin.
Heavenly Father, help us to reach out to those who are broken, and when they reach out to us, let us gather in Your presence and bring us healing and comfort, and the desire to reach out with that to others. We pray this in Jesus name… amen!
Theodore G. Tappert, ed., The Book of Concord the Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. (Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press, 1959), 456.
Devotional Thought of the day:
9 In fact, we felt sure that we were going to die. But this made us stop trusting in ourselves and start trusting God, who raises the dead to life. 2 Corinthians 1:9 (CEV)
Each Commandment makes sense only when you see it in the light of love. Take the first, for example: “You shall have no other gods before me.” Why? Because God is an egotist? No, because God is a lover. What lover wants half the heart of his beloved? Also God is a realist. He knows that false gods simply cannot make us happy, however many times we are deceived into believing and acting as if they could. Love, of course, seeks the beloved’s happiness. It is God’s love of us, not self-love, that is behind His jealousy.
I have had a number of people ask me how I, as a pastor, cope with all that is going on in these days. I have pause for a moment because what I know is going on in people’s lives, I can’t always share. Matter of fact, that is too often the story.
I have my challenges, but they are nothing compared to those that people are experiencing. In the midst of that experience, I am trying to help them experience something else. What I want is for them to experience the love of God, which I know I can’t explain clearly enough. There are no words for it, but that love sustains us through the most broken parts of our lives.
So perhaps it is good for people to ask me how I am coping. By being honest with the fact that I could not cope without God holding me up, perhaps they can know His comfort as well. Perhaps they can see, in the midst of my struggles, that God doesn’t give up on us, that He will comfort us,
This works into Kreeft’s observation about God’s jealousy, about the idea that He isn’t jealous for His sake, but for ours. God wants what is best for us, and being smarter than us (what an understatement) He longs for what is best for us. As Kreeft indicates, it is love, and a desire for our joy, that drives the jealousy of God
That is why Jesus hung on a cross for us. It is why he spent years teaching and mentoring people like John and James, “the sons of Thunder”. It is why Jesus is not only merciful to sinners but is patient with us as well. And it is why He sens and equips apostles and pastors and missionaries and teachers to train us to serve others. As they train us like Paul did, training us by example.
Even when that example was tiring, frustrating, painful, and heart-rending. Because you, child of the King, need to know He is there for you in those times. If God was with Paul, and with me, certainly He will be there for you, for He loves you.
Peter Kreeft, The God Who Loves You (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2004), 45.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
2 You’re blessed when you follow his directions, doing your best to find him. 3 That’s right—you don’t go off on your own; you walk straight along the road he set.
Psalm 119:2-3 (MSG)
Let us use texts of Scripture as fuel for our heart’s fire, they are live coals; let us attend sermons, but above all, let us be much alone with Jesus.
When I made you a present of that Life of Jesus, I wrote in it this inscription: “May you seek Christ. May you find Christ. May you love Christ.” These are three very distinct steps. Have you at least tried to live the first one?
I have often struggled to find the words to encourage people (and pastors) to meditate on Scripture.
To treat it more than a textbook, or a self-improvement novel, or something they have to do, in order to be better believers, to be loved by God.
I would love to blame it on the enlightenment, or modernism and the need to rationalize and have a purpose for everything we do. But we, conservative or progressive, high church or low church, all seem to be willing to forgo spiritual disciplines like prayer and meditation on the words through which God reveals Himself to us.
It is too easy when trying to encourage people to spend time contemplating God and His love, to resort to tactics which can produce guilt or shame. It is challenging to help someone see the blessing of spending time, no, cherishing the time that comes when we slow down and hear the word of God, describing how we are loved by the Word of God.
Notice that the translation doesn’t say go and find your blessing? It simply acknowledges you are, when you follow the directions to find Him and do. He’s not that far off, even today amid a pandemic. Spurgeon says we need to be alone with Jesus, he gets the blessing that it is! St. Josemaria urges us to find Jesus, with the same concept. Not because we have a duty too, but because of the blessing.
This is our time of refuge, our time of peace, it is the time where we are loved and affirmed, and our hearts set on fire, our passion for God grows because we realize how passionate He is about us. It is the time of restoration, a time where we spend intimately with God, a time we need to survive, to take a time out, to breathe, to regain hope, to be healed, to realize that God is even dealing with our sin.
All that and more happens when a believer finds Jesus, right were they are. When they spend time savoring the message of Scripture when they don’t just read it to read it, but let it soak deep inside them.
I can only but urge you to do so, to spend time with God as He reveals Himself to you… and how He is you God, and you are His beloved people.
C. H. Spurgeon, Morning and Evening: Daily Readings (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1896).
Escriva, Josemaria. The Way . Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
It’s better to go to a funeral than to attend a feast; funerals remind us that we all must die. Ecc. 7:2 CEV
Blessed is he who keeps the moment of death ever before his eyes and prepares for it every day.
I guess God likes a sense of irony.
Tomorrow I go under the knife.
Just cataract surgery, but still, it is surgery.
Read through the Bible in a year, and the reading I come to the day before surgery deals with death! So did the book report I had to deal ith last night, chapter after chapter of dying to self that as awesome, but also passages that told us to desire death
Not what I want to think about, at least that is my first reaction.
But why not?
We need to think about death for a number of reasons, that are practical, and spiritual.
1. So we learn to value the life we have.
To often we take life for granted, we don’t think about making the most of it, we just let it slide by. Especially in these days of isolation. We can see God at work in every day of our lives, working in relationships good and bad
2. So we leave things somewhat in order, as a blessing to others.
It can be things as simple as your favorite songs for your funeral. Or where money is stashed and other issues of that note. (Of course, now I have to think of all this stuff) Wills, testaments, advanced directives, all that messy stuff. But it is even messier if you don’t do it.
3. Not taking even for granted, or the gifts that assure us of our eternity.
Living life fearing deaeth is no fun… I spent nearly half my life living in fear of dying. THat’s what happens when you have Marfans and you think about it. Working as a hospice chaplain, and seeing many people pass away has led to the point where I am not as afraid of dying.
But what I am talking about is being excited about seeing God face to face. NOt just the benefits of less back pain, and less trauma, and no more dang surgeries. But see God, who loves us so much, and being welcomed into His presence, and sharing in the glory and love of God, Father, son and Holy Spirit. That is more than exciting, that should leave us in awe,
Kempis’s thought is that we should think about heaven, so that we behave better in this life. Not quite fear driven, but somewhere between fear and reward driven behavior modification. That might work, but works better is to live life, thinking about the glory and love of God. Of letting the thought of that love, that care fill your life. That will change you far deeper than mere intellect. It will change your soul, and you will desire to see others find that place of rest, that place of pace.
So making me think of death… it’s not that bad. Actually, it is a huge blessing.
Now, thinking of them slicing my eye open, to replace the lens… ugh!
Thomas à Kempis, The Imitation of Christ (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, 1996), 46.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
2 Nothing makes sense!
Everything is nonsense.
I have seen it all—
nothing makes sense!
3 What is there to show
for all of our hard work
here on this earth?
4 People come, and people go,
but still the world
Ecc 1:2-4 (CEV_
12 But the Scriptures teach that if we piled together all the works of all the monks, no matter how precious and dazzling they might appear, they would not be as noble and good as if God were to pick up a straw
Heaven too is a gift and a glory, not a payment. All talk of merit and law and obedience—necessary as it is on earth—will disappear in Heaven, except perhaps as a joke.
There are days when one wakes up on the wrong side of the bed. Then there are days when one wakes up, finds out the bed is upstairs still, and that somehow they have woken up at the bottom of the stairs. (though the idea is figurative, the body aches make one wonder if it is reality!)
And the day proceeds to get worse.
Devotions do not always help, as you see clearly in the first two readings above. One thinks, well we’ve escaped the tedious nature of Job, only to come across Solomon in a grand funk. His heart isn’t soaring; in fact, it seems like it is plunging into the abyss. Luther doesn’t help as his cry indicates everything mankind does for God is about as meaningful as picking up a dried weed.
So how do we keep going? How do we handle the pervasive emptiness and meaninglessness of life that seems our destiny under COVID? We can’t keep up with the changes, we struggle to make things work, workplaces are shutting down, or reducing hours of valuable employees…
This brings us to the third quote…
I think some of us, no matter how well we know scripture, still feel like we have to be valuable to the world to be valuable to God. That our value, our success, our ability to please everyone in life directly affects whether we matter to God. That our view our perception of our value to our families and workplaces isn’t accurate is another story. We simply believe that our perceived value here is reflective of how God does not care.
Our minds, our theological knowledge, may agree and confess that we get to heaven by grace, but our hearts and souls are breaking at the same time – and they feel otherwise.
We are, in a way, right, our merit, our value is not enough to meet a standard to enter heaven. That is if there was such a standard.
There is no such standard.
Heaven is a gift, given by One who values us and loves us more profoundly than we can perceive. It is a glorious thing this love, the desire of God to have us as HIs companions, as His beloved children.
That is where our value comes from, the fact we are loved, that we are treasured by God Almighty. So treasured that God gave up His Son to show all creation what He knows of us. That we are worth saving.
Even when we get up on the wrong side of the bed….or at the foot of the stairs.
God is with you… when things seem the worse.. cry out to him. AMEN!
Theodore G. Tappert, ed., The Book of Concord the Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. (Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press, 1959), 438.
Peter Kreeft, The God Who Loves You (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2004), 34.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
The LORD is our God, bringing justice everywhere on earth. 8 He will never forget his agreement or his promises, not in thousands of years. Psalm 105:7-8 CEV
But the efficacy of prayer consists in our learning also to say “Amen” to it—that is, not to doubt that our prayer is surely heard and will be granted.
We see this principle reflected in Scripture. The bridegroom in Solomon’s Song of Songs is traditionally interpreted as God the lover of our souls. We are His bride. But this divine Bridegroom says to the human bride: “You are all fair, my love” (4:7). God says this to us!
But how can it be true that we are “all fair” when we still struggle with sin? Is God blind? If not, then what He says must be true. It is true as prophecy, a prophecy of our eternal identity and destiny. Christ refers to this when He says, “You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Mt 5:48). God speaks from eternity and sees us as we are eternally before Him. To us, this “all fair” perfection is only in the future. But to God everything is present. For that is what eternity is: not endless futures but all times actually present with no dead past or unborn future, no “no longer” or “not yet”.
Everyone, at some time in their life, struggles with prayer.
I think Luther has it right when he says it is because we struggle with honestly saying “Amen!”
Perhaps we’ve lost the meaning of AMEN< but it is a declaration of faith, a “this is true” when we ask in God’s name. Itis a statement of dependence, of trust, of faith. It should be said with great confidence, always followed by an exclamation point!
Too often, doubt creeps in, s Satan tries to convince us that our prayers are empty, or vain. If Satan cannot try to convince us God doesn’t exist or at least have us forget God exists, He will try to convince us that we aren’t worth God’s time. He will try to cause us to believe that God will not waste His time on us. Satan and His demons will try to convince us…
…that we are too insignificant,
… that we are too broken,
… that our sin is too great, and we are too evil.
This is were Kreeft’s reminder that we are the Bride of Christ needs to be heard. We need to hear that God, beyond time, sees us one way – beautiful, holy, His beloved.
When we realize it is how God sees us, now and in the future, that prayer becomes more effective. We begin to realize God listens, and in all of His wisdom He does answer those prayers. W just begin to see it, and count on His love to answer it, not just in view of today and tomorrow, but eternity as well.
For as the psalmist rights, God will not break HIs promises. Learn them, know them, but more, know the one who makes them, and as you cry out to Him, as you offer Him your burdens, say AMEN – knowing He is with you.
Marting Luther – The Large Catechism, found in The Book of Concord the Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church.Theodore G. Tappert, ed., (Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press, 1959), 436.
Peter Kreeft, The God Who Loves You (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2004), 32.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
2 Our LORD, how long must I beg for your help before you listen? How long before you save us from all this violence? 3 Why do you make me watch such terrible injustice? Why do you allow violence, lawlessness, crime, and cruelty to spread everywhere? 4 Laws cannot be enforced; justice is always the loser; criminals crowd out honest people and twist the laws around. 5 Look and be amazed at what’s happening among the nations! Even if you were told, you would never believe what’s taking place now. Habakkuk 1:2-5 (CEV)
We still stumble daily and transgress because we live in the world among people who sorely vex us and give us occasion for impatience, wrath, vengeance, etc.
87 Besides, Satan is at our backs, besieging us on every side and, as we have heard, directing his attacks against all the previous petitions, so that it is not possible always to stand firm in such a ceaseless conflict.
88 Here again there is great need to call upon God and pray, “Dear Father, forgive us our debts.” Not that he does not forgive sin even without and before our prayer; and he gave us the Gospel, in which there is nothing but forgiveness, before we prayed or even thought of it. But the point here is for us to recognize and accept this forgiveness.
223 Along the way to personal sanctity we can at times get the impression that we are going backwards instead of forwards, that we are getting worse instead of better. As long as there is interior struggle this pessimistic thought is only an illusion, a deception to be rejected as false. Persevere and don’t worry. If you fight with tenacity you are making progress and are growing in sanctity.
I came across the Luther quote this morning, and it resonated with me.
We stumble and sin far too often. We want to use other people for the reason, but it is still our weakness that allows us to sin. Luther was right, it is not possible always to stand firm in such a ceaseless conflict. Every fall seems highlighted by Satan, emphasized to cause us to grow in despair, and even to doubt God’s presence and work in our lives.
My reaction to the passage from Habakkuk is that I don’t have ot look out into the world to see the brokenness he describes. He could be looking at me, prophetically. Maybe at you as well. I resonate deeply with the question of why do we have ot watch this all? Why do we have to see the sin and brokenness in the world, and then realize it is just a reflection of our own lives?
I missed out on other things in those passages, and it took St Josemaria to see what I was missing.
It is the impression that I am going backward, not necessarily reality. It is a deception of Satan, much as he did when he took Peter’s eyes off of Jesus while he was strolling on the waves. (I just realize the winds and waves weren’t the issue to be scared of – drowning was!) St Josemaria urges us to keep struggling, don’t worry about the progress, for the struggle is proof of it.
The struggle is proof of God at work in us.
God is still doing what He promised Habakkuk – He is at work, and if we look at Him and see it, we should collapse in awe. God is at work, and even the passage from Luther notes that – we need to recognize and accept the forgiveness God already provided. He forgave us already! He took care of it!
I didn’t see that beforehand but reminded of His promise, I remember He is there. Perhaps that too is understandable, for God says, “Even if you were told, you would never believe what is taking place now…” We just have to trust Him that He is at the world, and depend on His view, for He is at work in us.
Mercifully, lovingly, compassionately comforting and healing broken sinners like you and me.
Even before we cry out, “Lord have mercy on me, a poor sinner!” God has, and our healing is beginning and guaranteed to be completed!
Theodore G. Tappert, ed., The Book of Concord the Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. (Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press, 1959), 432.E
Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge . Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.