Monthly Archives: August 2021
Some thoughts to help you see Jesus in your lives!
Listen to what I’m telling you: Open your eyes and look at the fields, because they are ready for harvest. 36 The reaper is already receiving pay and gathering fruit for eternal life,d so that the sower and reaper can rejoice together. 37 For in this case the saying is true: ‘One sows and another reaps. 38 I sent you to reap what you didn’t labor for; others have labored, and you have benefited from their labor John 4:35-38 CSB
Simon Peter told them, ‘I am going out fishing’; and they said, ‘We too will go with you.’ So they went out and embarked on the boat; and all that night they caught nothing. But when morning came, there was Jesus standing on the shore.”26 He passes by, close to his Apostles, close to those souls who have given themselves to him, and they don’t realize he is there. How often Christ is not only near us, but in us; yet we still live in such a human way! Christ is so close to us, and yet we can’t spare him an affectionate glance, a loving word, a good deed done by his children.
The angel told Mary Magdalene that Jesus would meet the disciples in Galilee – so we know Jesus knew they would go there, to return to their old ways, their old work. That without help they would go back to what they knew.
Even after knowing Jesus was risen from the grace – they still did this! They didn’t connect the Resurrection to the Mission of God, to draw all people tto Him.
But in their pain, in their anxiety, dealing with the change, they forgot this.
I think the church has done the same thing in the last 2 years. We have been struggling with COVID, many of us are helping people deal with grief, or struggling families, trying to hold up each other – all these things are good and right, and beneficial.
But we’ve forgotten who we’ve been sent to help, who we are called to serve, who we’ve been called to guide, as the Spirit calls them, into the realization that God truly loves them.
Even though they knew Jesus was there, that He had preceded Him there (Mark 16:7) they didn’t look for Him. And they didn’t look for the men they would catch. And so Jesus comes by – and reminds them the harvest is ready (Peter – feed my sheep!) He reminds them of His presence. amd the work they would share.
Perhaps they needed that moment set aside… perhaps not. It happened though, and Jesus refocused them on the ministry they had together. MWe aren’t any different. This time of COVID has been our time in the boat together. Now its time to throw our nets in on the other side, and see the catch God has for us to bring in – a great harvest of souls.
Let’s go fishing my friends… but not for fish – the Spirit says it time to gather all God would call!
Escrivá, Josemaría. Friends of God . Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
A Time for Tears
† In Jesus Name †
May the grace and mercy of God the Father and our dear Lord Jesus so transform our lives, that we can’t bear the thought of people going without it.
An Awkward transition?
I love the way the song we just sang told the story of Jesus….
From a throne of endless glory, to a cradle in the dirt
To reconcile the lost, to redeem the whole creation, You did not despise the cross…
the lamb had conquered death…
By His blood and in His Name
In His freedom I am free
For the love of Jesus Christ
Who has resurrected me!
I could go on, or we could just re-sing the song!
As I listened to the song yesterday over and over…the irony of the title of this sermon to the song…seemed huge…
How do we go from praising the Holy Trinity for how they have interacted with all creation, for how they interact with us
A Time for Tears?
Thinking about it, I re-wrote the sermon outline… and I will tell you this… it’s not time for tears… yet.
Unless they are tears of incredible joy.
Psalm 119 is going to cause us to be in awe, to be amazed at two things – the revelation of God’s word and the meaning of His presence in our lives.
So Let’s look at the blessings
The Blessings of His WORD
129 Your laws are wonderful. No wonder I obey them!
It starts by saying these words of God are wonderful! The word there is law – but it means the entire law – the entire story we just sang about, that David only knew a small part of, a tiny bit about.
And of course, you’ve heard it from me before – Biblical obedience isn’t blind; it is to treasure and guard these words because they are so incredible!
God’s revelation in His word is so miraculous… so incredible… it is just natural that we see it as our greatest treasure!
It goes on to talk more about this revelation,
The teaching of your word gives light, so even the simple can understand.
That is what God’s word does – as we heard in the song. We were alone in the darkness; life was empty, without hope. That dark, lifelessness was shattered by these words, I am with you! I love you!
What a simple concept, to look at this cross, and know Jesus was nailed to a cross, to not only free us from Sin- but to make us His! The Old Testament pointed forward to it. The New Testament constantly calls us to remember our Lord!
131 I pant with expectation, longing for your commands.
The more we realize that this is the message of God’s word, the more we thirst for it. The more we recognize our need for it.
I love the illustration of not just thirsting for the revelation of God’s love but panting for it! That we can be so thirsty to take it in, so aware of our need for it, that everything we are focuses on it. And as we are given Jesus, the living water, everything mellows, and our body begins to relax as life returns to normal.
It is the same as some of us have been able to come back to church, and we realize how much we miss the Lord’s Supper. (Remember – if you are at home – Dane, one or the other elders, or I will gladly bring you communion!
This is my prayer that you realize your need for the word and sacrament, not out of duty, but because we need to commune with God, to realize His presence and mercy and love!
What His Presence Means
We move from the incredible blessing of God’s word, revealing all the love and glory of God, to seeing what that practically means in a normal… David provides that in the Psalms as well,
132 Come and show me your mercy, as you do for all who love your name.
The first thing David asks for is God’s mercy, just as we did when we confessed our sins and heard the fact that we are forgiven! What a glorious thing it is we praise God for, knowing that all who love His God are forgiven!
133 Guide my steps by your word, so I will not be overcome by evil.
Because He is with us, God guides our steps with His word! Amazing promise here – for it is not just a casual thing! The Hebrew word talks of thoroughly guiding them, planning out the route, even preparing it for us.
134 Ransom me from the oppression of evil people; then I can obey your commandments.
That route preparation includes this, the ransom from the oppression of evil people. God’s faithfulness made such an impression on David that David knew – and the Holy Spirit wants us to know that we can pray for this. That God will indeed save us when we are under someone else’s power. That may be by removing us, or it may be by God converting our adversary, our enemy.
But when someone has that kind of power over us, we have an advocate, a defender in Jesus…
135 Look upon me with love; teach me your decrees
In the last section, what an amazing prayer of faith! Look upon us Lord, and teach us all that You have commanded into existence, from the promise of our sharing in the glory of Jesus to the freedom we have, that opens up our ability to enter your presence boldly, even as is recorded in Hebrews
19 And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. Hebrews 10:19 (NLT2)
This is the incredible message of God that David saw in part and treasured and wanted us to treasure…. More than anything.
All this that God called into being – so we could be His people, so He could care for us as our God.
This brings us to the title of the sermon… the thought that will bring us to tears… as it did David.
136 Rivers of tears gush from my eyes because people disobey (do not treasure) your instructions.
There are no words to say when thinking of people that go throughout this life without the love and mercy of God, who go without the comfort and peace that comes from seeing Jesus revealed. ….that will go without that, not only in this life… but will spend eternity without Jesus, in hell.
Thinking of this should flood this room with gushing tears… and there is nothing else to say…
All power and authority has been given to Jesus, who wants you to go make disciples of all people, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to treasure what He has called into existence,
And know this… He will be with us, teaching, guiding, comforting, and loving us, until the end of the ages! AMEN!
Something to help you learn to adore Jesus….
20 And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 5:20 (NLT2)
The Venerable John of Avila wrote as follows to a priest who so complained to him: “My friend, busy not yourself with what you would do if you were well, but be content to remain ill as long as God thinks fit. If you seek the will of God, what matters it to you whether you be well or ill?”
de Ligouri’s comments hit me hard this morning.
I should be grateful that I can do what I can do… I have friends that both temporarily and permanently are more restricted by issues of health, both physical and mental health.
But de Ligouri goes beyond just being grateful for what we can do, suggesting that we should be grateful for the suffering that stops us, that stops us from living – as least living as we want to live.
I can try to justify my limitations, but rejoicing in them? Rejoicing in the pain, the weariness, the grief, the tears? Rejoice?
That is beyond my ability…..
There has been too much, there is too much..
Until I find myself at the altar, or at the table, or in the bed, and share a prayer with another believer. Or even better, share Christ’s body and blood with another. Until the peace that follows such a moment, where the presence of God is so clearly revealed.
God is surely with those in bed, and has promised to make those moments good for those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. I’ve seen it so many times, that I know it will happen.
It is simple – in those moments, one needs to be encoruaged by God’s faithful, comforting presence. For those there, it is what they have to trust in as well, and encourage the stricken with,
God is here, revel in HIs presence, find your hope, eternal hope in that presence.
There is a point you get too, in the midst of the trial, where God’s presence becomes so real, so true, so comforting… that everything else grows strangely dim, as the hymn tells us, in light of His glory and grace.
If you need someone to sit with you, until that time – that is what pastors and chaplains are for…. and if yours won’t… give me a call.. or message me. You aren’t alone, but sometimes a familiar face helps that reality become revealed.
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), 417.
A Hard Devotional Thought for these Days
Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, because they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided his clothes and cast lots. Luke 23:34 CSB
It appears that too many Christians want to enjoy the thrill of feeling right but are not willing to endure the inconvenience of being right.
Therefore the entire sum of what it means not to kill is to be impressed most explicitly upon the simple-minded. In the first place that we harm no one, first, with our hand or by deed. Then, that we do not employ our tongue to instigate or counsel thereto. Further, that we neither use nor assent to any kind of means or methods whereby any one may be injured. And finally, that the heart be not ill disposed toward any one, nor from anger and hatred wish him ill, so that body and soul may be innocent in regard to every one, but especially those who wish you evil or inflict such upon you.
I knew what was coming today in my Bible reading.
It made me want to delay it as much as possible.
The words from the cross above frustrate me… significantly frustrate me. Especially if the Apostle Paul’s words are echoing through my mind at the same time.
Imitate me, as I also imitate Christ. 1 Corinthians 11:1 CSB
Yesteday, I was planning the service for the day after the twentieth anniversary of 9/11. Flashing across my news feed and social media were call for revenge, including a horrific prayer for it to have quickly, to wipe out a people. It wanted revenge, not justice, and definitely not mercy.
And my first reaction was to agree, even as it soured my stomach… and I knew it was wrong.
Did I mention following Jesus was inconvenient?
Another line from the Scriptures, this time from Jesus,
43 “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. 44 But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! 45 In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:43-45a (NLT2)
This isn’t just inconvenient… I don’t even have the words.
It is more tha just difficult, it is impossible… at least for me.
Never mind those who have killed people in what they consider war… this is true for those in all sorts of positions. Some actively hate, some unintentionally hurt (how could they not see their own narcicism?)
But on this day, as I read of Jesus on the cross, I realize again how much I have to be united to that cross, to let my narcicistic self die there, and rise to life with Him. How that means I give up my desire for revenge (though I call it justice – let’s be honest here) I need His mercy, I need His love…
I need Him to heal me of my hurt.
This isn’t about being weak, about not standing up for what is right and wrong. Luther’s quote makes that clear – we can’t let our hearts be ill-disposed, but rather we need to lift these enemies to the Lord in prayer, and desire, as God does, that they come to repentance. That’s not being weak….
It is accepting the inconvenience of following Christ, and realizing that Him joy
As we do, it will take prayer, it will take a lot of thought about the cross, and the grave, and why Jesus, for the joy set before Him,… set aside revenge… and loved.
A. W. Tozer and Marilynne E. Foster, Tozer on the Holy Spirit: A 366-Day Devotional (Camp Hill, PA: WingSpread, 2007).
Martin Luther, The Large Catechism, trans. F. Bente and W. H. T. Dau (n.p.: WORDsearch, 2003).
Thoughts to draw us to Jesus… and His love.
Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me—nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”
43 Then an angel from heavenu appeared to him, strengthening him. 44 Being in anguish,v he prayed more fervently, and his sweat became like drops of blood falling to the ground. 45 When he got up from prayer and came to the disciples, he found them sleeping, exhausted from their grief. Luke 22:42-45 CSB
That faith which passively accepts all the pleasant texts of the Scriptures while it overlooks or rejects the stern warnings and commandments of those same Scriptures is not the faith of which Christ and His apostles spoke.
Usually, as we read the story about the garden of Gethsemane, we focus in on the incredible suffering Jesus sufffers, and the prayers that He prays.
Which is good and right….
And usually, we look at the disciples as a bunch of weak lazy failures, who couldn’t keep their eyes open…. We usually use their failure to stay awake as a sign of their weakness, of their sin. I mean, why couldn’t they down a red bull or a mountain dew or something?
As I was reading the Bible passage show above, I saw something I ahve seen in 50 years of readings and hearing this.
This translation says they were “exhausted from their grief”.
Since I didn’t remember it, I checked a few others …
“worn out by grief” TEV
“exhausted from grief” NLT
“Sleeping from sorrw” ESV, NKJV, NASB, KJV
Emotionally, the week had been draining. There were emotional highs and lows, Lots of people in need, and many of things Jesus taught, well, they were simmering in the souls of these men. Jesus talking about His blessed death didn’t help, nor did that scene with Judas…
And so late in the night, wearing, drained, crushed…. and while we are focused in on Jesus… the Holy Spirit and the scriptures recognize the burden the dsiciples carry… and even then, Jesus is there for them.
Just as God realizes the burdens we carry. And the spiritual exhaustion that is leaving us weak , and needing rest and sleep. Evening to the point of dreading life.
In the morning, Jesus would endure even more… the beatings, the trials, more betrayals, and eventually, the cross.
But even seeing all of that coming, He cared for those who the Father gave Him….He wanted them to know the presence of the Spirit, just as God wants us to know that today in the midst of our grieving, in the midst of the burdens we carry.
He is here… He will provide you the rest for your soul that you need. Just as He was there in the Garden for them, He is there for you in the midst of your pain… and He is here with me…in the midst of my grief.
Rest in His love… even as you take up your cross.. He is there with you…
A. W. Tozer and Marilynne E. Foster, Tozer on the Holy Spirit: A 366-Day Devotional (Camp Hill, PA: WingSpread, 2007).
Devotional Thought of the Day
2 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:2 (NLT2)
Whoever, therefore, gives himself up to obedience, must needs detach himself totally from his own opinion. “What though each one,” says St. Francis de Sales, “has his own opinions, virtue is not thereby violated; but virtue is violated by the attachment which we have to our own opinions.”1 But alas! this attachment is the hardest thing to part with; and hence there are so few persons wholly given to God, because few render a thorough submission to obedience.
True faith requires that we believe everything God has said about Himself, but also that we believe everything He has said about us. Until we believe that we are as bad as God says we are, we can never believe that He will do for us what He says He will do.
It is one of our modern idols.
It’s not made of gold or wood, or bronze, but it is as surely an idol for modern times.
We believe we have the right to our opinions, we believe we have the right to think and say whatever comes to mind.
Not only do we believe we are entitled to our opinions, but the world is entitled to them as well. And we will freely tell in them on our Instagram page, our Twitter, our Facebook page, and our blogs.. (err…hmmmm)
De Ligouri had it write when talking about the need to slay these idols, and this attachment is the hardest thing to part with in our lives. It cannot save us, it cannot bring healing to our lives, it cannot be trusted, swayed by our emotion, and our fallen logic.
Our opinion can create a false sense of pride, or it can abuse us. THat is why Tozer reminds us to believe what God has said about us, both that we are bad, and that He can take care of that…. and has. Only dwelling in Christ, believing in God’s opinion do owe find what we truly need, and then with that, we find His comfort and His peace. When we lay aside our opinion, and seek Christ, we see things far differently, for His opinion matters, and ours is revealed for what it is… and falls aside.
Lord, this day, take into captivity any thoughts, any opinions which are not from You. Renew our hearts, souls and minds by the power of Your Spirit, and help us to enjoy the peace and comfort there is, as our minds reflect the mind of Jesus. Amen!
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. Gcill & Son, 1887), 410.
A. W. Tozer and Marilynne E. Foster, Tozer on the Holy Spirit: A 366-Day Devotional (Camp Hill, PA: WingSpread, 2007).
Devotional thoughts for this day…
31 “ ‘Son,’he said to him, ‘you are always with me,l and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ ” Luke 15:31-32 CSB
26 Those who heard this asked, “Then who can be saved?”
27 He replied, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.” Luke 18:26-27 CSB
Gracious Lord, I wish to impose on Your Grace once more. A son was just born to me, and I am a father again. Please help the poor fellow get where he belongs
Today, for so many starts a new year of school, whether it is preschool or a new semester chasing a Ph.D. These are the children of our community, and our prayers need to rise on their behalf. And at the end of the day they need to know they are welcome home, here in our churches, and yes, in our homes.
We need to rejoice when any enters the church, no matter where they come from or what they’ve done, they are our brothers, or our beloeved children. It is possible and even should be expected that some will come from very unpleasant places where sin has broken them. No one is impossible, no one is beyond salvation.
God is bringing them here….
And we need to go let them know they are welcome.
We need to treat those in our community witht he same love a father would show to his son…. we need to be patient, loving, truly merciful – not hiding sin, but acknowledging ti to be what it is…but still calling them to the mercy of Christ.
Haven’t been doing that? Well – it is a new time of learning… let’s get to it!
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), 184.
Thoughts to encourage our love for Jesus
10 All I want is to know Christ and to experience the power of his resurrection, to share in his sufferings and become like him in his death, 11 in the hope that I myself will be raised from death to life. 12 I do not claim that I have already succeeded or have already become perfect. I keep striving to win the prize for which Christ Jesus has already won me to himself. 13 Of course, my friends, I really do not think that I have already won it; the one thing I do, however, is to forget what is behind me and do my best to reach what is ahead. 14 So I run straight toward the goal in order to win the prize, which is God’s call through Christ Jesus to the life above. Philippians 3:10-14 (TEV)
Clearly we must begin to produce better Christians. We must insist on New Testament sainthood for our converts, nothing less; and we must lead them into a state of heart purity, fiery love, separation from the world and poured-out devotion to the Person of Christ. Only in this way can the low level of spirituality be raised again to where it should be in the light of the Scriptures and of eternal values.
Many books, even good ones, have the same effect on the student. So he is like the man who dwells everywhere and therefore dwells nowhere. Just as in human society we don’t enjoy the fellowship of every friend every day, but only of a few chosen ones, so we ought to do in our studies.”
There are a lot of books out there, very good books. There are some bad ones as well.
But as one who has more than my fair share of them, if I read through them quickly, I often don’t get to use the information processed in my life. I just gain the knowledge, store it somewhere in the catacombs of my mind, and move on to the next text.
It takes time, and effort to use what we read, to let it sink deeply into our hearts and souls.
Looking at Luther’s words and Tozer’s, I wonder if there is a connection between the man who reads too many books and not growing any deeper in our faith. That we move from this book to that, like a bee collecting and disbursing
pollen from one flower to the next. We look for this answer, then that, and then the next. And beyond our libraries, we now have podcasts, and blogs, and tweets, and we take in so much, we take in nothing.
As I looked at my new textbooks, as I consider what I am reading for devotional time (including Luther and Tozer), as I look at a small stack of books I have been given to read, I am changing my mind about how to approach them.
Usually, I try to consider priorities, which things do I have to read, which will give me options, and then try to speed read through the highest priorities. What if instead going for quantity of quality, I chose one or two
books to savor, to truly get into and digest. Then helping my people do the same…. With the scriptures and with whatever else we are reading. To really think through and meditate on the scripture passage… to ask the hard questions about what it presents to us, and to take the time to rejoice…
Perhaps it is time to savor what we take in more… to press on to reach what God is telling us…that we may answer God’s call through 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), 179.
Some thoughts to encourage your love of God
As the boy was still approaching, the demon knocked him down and threw him into severe convulsions. But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, healed the boy,ak and gave him back to his father. 43 And they were all astonished at the greatness of God. Luke 9:42-43 CSB
Glorious Lord, Thyself impart!
Light of Light from God proceeding;
Open THou our ears and heart
Help us by Thy Spirit’s pleading
Hear the cry Thy people raises
Hear and bless our prayers and praises.
It is in the wounds of Jesus where we are truly secure; there we encounter the boundless love of His heart.
O fire of God, begin in me;
Burn out the dross of self and sin,
Burn off my fetters, set me free,
And make my heart a heaven within.
Baptize with fire this soul of mine;
Endue me with Thy Spirit’s might
And make me by Thy power divine
A burning and a shining light
We will not want to admit it, but many of us need to have Jesus heal us the way he did the young boy in the gospel reading in red above. Some of those demons are of our own making, some are real – those who oppress us, trying to distract us from God. Some unbelievers we know are enslaved by demons, possessed by demons beyond our perception, beyond our comprehension as well.
The old hymnal I was given starts out the answer, the way we find freedom from every kind of evil. It is God’s answer to the prayer of hymn #3. We need the Lord to enter our lives, His light surgically removed the scars from battles that were lost against sin. This is done as the spirit intercedes for us in prayer, translating what we ask and praise God for, making it what we really need.
That thought is reiterated in Tozer’s poem, as he realizes the need for God to burn out that which is not of God. That is a ministry we can’t do for ourselves, and to be honest, a pastor only does as he teaches God’s love and mercy. (He has to establish the need for it as well) The result of this – we reflect God’s glory (see 1 Cor. 3:18) into the darkness of the world, bringing hope were there is despair.
We cannot do any of this on our own. We need the Holy Spirit continuing to minister to us, comforting and healing us, drawing us out of the darkness in which we sometimes hide. We need that stuff burnt out of our lives, and that is something only God can do, as we hear His word, and receive the blessings found in baptism and the Lord’s Supper, and when we are told, “rejoice – your sins are forgiven, in the Name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit. AMEN!”
Evangelical Lutheran Hymnbook 1927 Hymn #3
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), 266.
“The SIxth Sola –Serve God Alone!”
Joshua 24:1-2a, 14-18
† I.H.S. †
May the grace and love of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ amaze you to the point where you only serve and worship God.
Three Solas, Five Solas, or is there a 6th?
If you look on the church’s back wall, you will see the early rallying cry of the church. A simple cry, expressed by the word “Solas” or in English, Alone.
We are saved by Grace ALONE, through Faith ALONE, in Jesus Christ ALONE!
Later they would add – as revealed in Scripture alone, to the praise of God ALONE!
That’s a pretty good rallying cry! It is a simple phrase, and people have remembered it and preached on it for 5 centuries.
But I think in today’s Old Testament reading, Tom stumbled across a sixth sola. Or maybe it is a part of the fifth, the one that all the others and everything is to the glory of God ALONE…
What is said over and over in this passage Joshua is to serve or worship God alone.
So the question today… will you take on Joshua’s challenge… and serve and worship God ALONE?
Serve, or WORSHIP?
Just for clarification, the words in English for serve and worship are the same in Hebrew. It has even more profound meaning – to acknowledge that the Lord is God. Therefore our actions are in response and obedience to Him.
What that makes clear is that there is no difference between serving God and worshipping Him. The word is really about that we are His, and we do what He gives us to do.
And we do that because we trust Him.
Luther explained it this way,
The works of monks and priests, however holy and arduous they may be, do not differ one whit in the sight of God from the works of the rustic laborer in the field or the woman going about her household tasks, but all works are measured before God by faith alone.
The point is simple – serving God and worshipping Him is when we are doing what He’s asked us to do, and we do it because we trust and love Him, and for no other reason…
So if we clean our house to honor our parents, or because we love our wife, that is worship. If we lead worship or preach or teach because we want people to be able to praise God for what He has done and is actually doing, that’s worship. If we, knowing God has called us all to make disciples, ask friends or relatives or even a person we just met to church, praise God.
God calls us to do all those things, and to do them in love is worshipping and serving Him. He is our Lord, and because He loves us, we want to make Him happy.
But will we follow through and do so?
Struggling with worship and serving God.
In the time of Abraham’s father, Terah, people didn’t know about God, so they found other gods to serve and worship. They did not know Him; therefore, they did not know any better.
But the people that walked with Moses and Joshua from Egypt did, and they struggled with false gods – from the golden calf to so many other things they wanted to care for them…, and they serve, and they enslave themselves to other things… false Gods, idols
We do the same thing today, though maybe more or less sophisticated. Who or what do you do when facing stress? What do you do when life just is upside down? When you don’t understand what’s going on…
There is your god, and if it isn’t the Trinity, that god is an idol, and it will become your master. It will enslave you, as it has so many others.
And Joshua is saying, no longer.
Choose today – that idol, whether it be another religion or a version of God that you know contradicts scripture, whether it be a sin-filled coping mechanism, whether it even is another person.
Choose believer; will you trust in God? Will you depend on Him. Will you worship and serve Him alone?
Now is the challenge – its time to put away the idols
The people’s answer was simple – they took stock of what they had seen God do in their midst. Hear their words,We would never abandon the Lord and serve other gods. 17 For the Lord our God is the one who rescued us and our ancestors from slavery in the land of Egypt. He performed mighty miracles before our very eyes. As we traveled through the wilderness among our enemies, he preserved us. 18 It was the Lord who drove out the Amorites and the other nations living here in the land. So we, too, will serve the Lord, for he alone is our God.”
Notice that people based their faith on what they knew God had done even before the cross and the resurrection!
He rescued them! He provided for them! He cared for them! And amid pressures, He preserved them.
Even as He did for us at the cross! Now, the power of the Holy Spirit who dwells within us because of Jesus.
This is what keeps us focused on worshipping and serving God ALONE. The answer is considering what he’s done for us.
Look at the cross… receive His body and blood at the altar. Consider how God is providing for you…
And allow Him to teach you how to live, how to worship, how to minister to those caught in this broken world, and know you dwell in His presence.