Monthly Archives: September 2021
Thoughts to encourage us to love and adore Jesus!
21 For since, in God’s wisdom, the world did not know God through wisdom, God was pleased to save those who believe through the foolishness of what is preached. 22 For the Jews ask for signsa and the Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified,ai a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Gentiles. 24 Yet to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. 1 Corinthians 1:21-24 CSB
I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 1 Cor. 2:2 CSB
11 For no one can lay any foundation other than what has been laid down. That foundation is Jesus Christ. 1 COr. 3:11 CSB
To have found God and still to pursue Him is the soul’s paradox of love, scorned indeed by the too-easily-satisfied religionist, but justified in happy experience by the children of the burning heart. (1)
St. Francis de Sales says, that no sooner do children espy a wolf than they instantly seek refuge in the arms of their father and mother; and there they remain out of all danger. Our conduct must be the same: we must flee without delay for succor to Jesus…. (2)
I have heard people say that Paul was a bit narrow-minded, a bit fixated. I think they mean it quite derogatorily, but as I just read through Romans, and now enter 1 Corinthians, I see that fixation, I seen the narrow focus of his work, and…..
I am incredibly grateful for it!
You see what i see him fixated upon is Jesus.
We are to talk to people about Him, helping them to see Him, despite their stumbling, despite their first reaction that it is foolishness. As they are guided past that, they begin to realize what it means for Jesus to be the fullness of God’s power (and ability) and His wisdom. There is nothing else for paul to hold onto in his very complicated, difficult life, and yet his knowledge of Chirst is what sustains the apostle.
As it will sustain us.
Tozer knew this, and talks of pursuing the God, it was enough for him to have saved Him, he has to follow Jesus, to pursure the one who declared him righteous. De Ligouri also sees Jesus as the safe place, just as a child threatened by hostile threats.
No wonder they all still sought the One who created them, found and healed them of their brokenness.!
This is why Paul would have us build our entire lives on him, nothig else.
He is our only true hope, our true comfort, our shelter in the storm, the list goes on and on throughout scripture. Each pointing out that Jesus is our life.
Am I always able to keep my focus there? No i struggle as much as you – but we need to help each other, as Paul does, reminding us (along with the Corinthians) of the narrowed minded focus we need ot have….
(1) A. W. Tozer and Marilynne E. Foster, Tozer on the Holy Spirit: A 366-Day Devotional (Camp Hill, PA: WingSpread, 2007).
(2) 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), 453.
Do not be conquered by evil, but conquer evil with good. Romans 12:21 CSB
Let us come now to the means which we have to employ in order to vanquish temptations. Spiritual masters prescribe a variety of means; but the most necessary, and the safest (of which only I will here speak), is to have immediate recourse to God with all humility and confidence, saying: Incline unto my aid, O God; O Lord, make haste to help me.3 This short prayer will enable us to overcome the assaults of all the devils of hell; for God is infinitely more powerful than all of them. (1)
It is quite natural, and even spiritual, to feel sorrow and heaviness when we see the professed followers of Christ walking in the ways of the world. And our first impulse may easily be to go straight to them and upbraid them indignantly.
But such methods are seldom successful. The heat in our spirit may not be from the Holy Spirit, and if it is not then it can very well do more harm than good.…
In this as in everything else Christ is our perfect example. A prayerful, face-down meditation on the life of Christ will show us how to oppose with kindness and reprove with charity. And the power of the Holy Spirit within us will enable us to follow His blessed example.
It seems that there are two ways to deal with error, especially in the church.
The first is to ignore it, well, at least ignore it while the person is in view Sometimes this can result in the frustrations being shared with those around us, initially as, “how can we help them.” But often, that turns into a form of gossip. Both refusing to deal with it, and the gossip caused by still being frustrated, is sin.
The second way is to treat them like the enemy, to attack them with the sincere intent of eradicating the false belief. The problem here is that the person’s soul or their family’s souls suffer significant collateral damage. While our desire are sincere, our methodology, to be blunt, is sinful.
Tozer is more polite when he simply says the methods are seldom successful. But he is right; such efforts can cause far more harm than good. And we fall into this temptation, especially as we engage in social media, and we are trying to
fix those with whom we don’t have a relationship.
Before we get to correct someone, we must deal with our “need” to correct others! I think De Ligouri has the way to work through the temptation, as he advises us to call out in prayer to God. After all, if we are to be those who work for reconciliation, we need to be in contact with both parties to be reconciled. We need to remember His desire to bring them into a transformation of their mind. Which means we have to remember ours does as well.
It is then, and only then, that we can conquer evil with good. That we can proceed, guided by the Holy Spirit, to work within our relationships, and approach those in error with love, a love that they will recognize.
God’s peace to all, as we care enough to take our time and remember the presence of God, as we care for those He loves.
(1) 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), 450.
(2) A. W. Tozer and Marilynne E. Foster, Tozer on the Holy Spirit: A 366-Day Devotional (Camp Hill, PA: WingSpread, 2007).
Thoughts to encourage your to adore Jesus
16 ‘Afterward I will return and restore the fallen house of David. I will rebuild its ruins and restore it, 17 so that the rest of humanity might seek the LORD, including the Gentiles— all those I have called to be mine. The LORD has spoken— 18 he who made these things known so long ago.’ Acts 15:16-18 (NLT2)
Our insensibility to the presence of the Spirit is one of the greatest losses our unbelief and preoccupation have cost us. We have made Him a tenet in our creed, we have enclosed Him in a religious word, but we have known Him very little in personal experience.
Satan has hindered us all he could by raising conflicting opinions about the Spirit, by making Him a topic of hot and uncharitable debate between Christians. In the meanwhile, our hearts crave Him, and we hardly know what the craving means. (1)
I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ my Lord, or come to him; but the Holy Spirit hath called me through the gospel, enlightened me by his gifts, and sanctified and preserved me in the true faith; in like manner as he calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian church on earth, and preserves it in union with Jesus Christ in the true faith; in which Christian church he daily forgives abundantly all my sins, and the sins of all believers, and will raise up me and all the dead at the last day, and will grant everlasting life to me and to all who believe in Christ. (2)
I think Tozer’s critique of the church has a lot of merit.
Over the last two centuries scholars have reduced the role of scripture to be a document to be studied, instead of the revelation of God. It now longer is the good news which has the ability to save the Jew and the Greek. (Romans 1:16). No longer do we have confidence in it, but it needs stuff to make it work.
In the same way, the church has diminshed the role of the Holy Spirit over the years.
No longer is the Spirti the dynamis – the source of our our ability, our power our freedom. No longer is the Spirit our paraklete, the course of all comfort. And no longer does the church count on the Spirit to make people holy, righteous, and choose and equip them to serve each other, and bring the light of Chirst ot the world.
Or perhaps I should qualify this and say the church in many parts of Europe and the U.S.A.
This isn’t a liberal phenomena, I have seen it among conservatives and confessionals to – those who put more value on youtube videos and blogs (even this one) than in time in quiet prayer. Or ore time studying the word, than in reading it devotionally.
But what if we depended on the Spirit, we expectantly looked for the Spirit to call, gather, enlighten and make holy the entire church. Including those called yesterday, those the Spirit will draw close today, and tomorrow? What if we expected that whne we shared Chirst with others, the Spirit would be cutting their hearts open, just as the Spirit did at Pentecost?
What if we stopped depending on our reason and strength, we relied on the Spirit’s?
Would our dying churches revive? Would our pastors who are burning out be reingorate,
Could revival be that simple… and so not dependent on us?
I beleive so…
Lord, pour out your Spirit in a way that is undeniable, and draws your people together in Your presence. Show us the Spirit calling, gathering, enlightening and making us Your holy people. AMEN.
(1) A. W. Tozer and Marilynne E. Foster, Tozer on the Holy Spirit: A 366-Day Devotional (Camp Hill, PA: WingSpread, 2007).
(2) Martin Luther, Luther’s Small Catechism; Explained in Questions and Answers: For the Use of the Church, School, and Family (Philadelphia: G. W. Frederick, 1863), 13.
Thoughts to encourage you to adore Jesus….
40 But the other criminal protested, “Don’t you fear God even when you have been sentenced to die? 41 We deserve to die for our crimes, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong.” 42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.” 43 And Jesus replied, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.” Luke 23:40-43 (NLT2)
34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” And the soldiers gambled for his clothes by throwing dice. Luke 23:34 (NLT2)
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 5:43-45 (NLT2)
It is 9-11.
And last night, another friend passed away. One who made me think often of the incredible dimensions of God’s love, displayed on the cross.
And I woke this moring, on 9/11, thinking about the thief on the cross next to Jesus. The one who would be with Jesus in heaven in just a few hours.
God’s mercy extended out to him, even a few pain filled hours before he died.
How incredible is GOd’s mercy!
I don’t know how many people in the towers, on the rescue crews, in the planes, knew Jesus prior ot that day.
Even if they didn’t, in their last moments, any of their cries would be met with the same kind of mercy. THe same forgiveness, the same love, the same promise… today you will be with ME, in heaven.
For God did not want any to perish – but all to come to repentance…. (2 Peter 3:9)
And God doesn’t rejoice in the death of the wicked… (Ezekiel 33:11)
We wil never forget the events of 9/11.
But I pray we remember them in such a way that we are motivated to see all reconciled in Christ to the Father. To love those who seem unlovable, to bless and pray for those who persecute God’s people.
Lord have mercy! CHrist have mercy! Lord have mercy on us all!
Devotional Thought of the Day:
“Is not Israel still my son, my darling child?” says the LORD. “I often have to punish him, but I still love him. That’s why I long for him and surely will have mercy on him. 21 Set up road signs; put up guideposts. Mark well the path by which you came. Come back again, my virgin Israel; return to your towns here. 22 How long will you wander, my wayward daughter? For the LORD will cause something new to happen— Israel will embrace her God.” Jeremiah 31:20-22 (NLT2)
These wretched men think that building up the church consists of the introduction of some sort of new ceremonies. They don’t realize that building up the church means to lead consciences from doubt and murmuring to faith, to knowledge, and to certainty.”
Imagine the story of the prodigal son, who goes his way, spends his inheritance, starts feeding the pigs and loathes what his life has beocme. He comes to the realization that he would be better off as the lowest servant, even a slave in his father’s fields. He heads home, and instead of the Bible’s version where the Father runs and greets him,….
He finds a foresale sign, and his family has moved on….
Home is now a myth, hope is all but lost, and there is nothing there for him anymore.
I get that feeling, as I’ve gone “back home” and the church I grew up – the external structure is there, but they built a 4 story school inside. The Denniy’s I worked in at 15 was raised to the ground, and there is an emptiness…there is little of my home to go back to, save a ancient cemetary where i used to go read books in its quiet shade.
I think that is why Luther clarifies what reformation, and the revival of the church is about. It is not about changing things for the sake of being new, nor should things remain the same for those inside the church. There needs to be consistency for the prodigal son’s’ sake, and for the wayward daughter’s return. So people can be led from doubt and murmering into the experience of depending on God,
Where Luther was encouraged to start from scratch he couldn’t -because he saw a need for the prodigal, and the wayward. Perhaps more than any other time in my life, that is needed in these days. Peopel need the place where sin is absolved, where God is revelaed to them through the word, where they can once again receive the Sacraments. A place to come home!
That is the irony, for the mature Christian – the old signs and symbols exist, not for their comfort and preference, but for the sake of those who need to be drawn back to church and the relationship with God nurtured there. It is for those who need to have their life with God restored and revived. I’ve done enough funerals of unbelievers and those who left the church to see this in effect, as the Lord’s Prayer and Psalm 23 are spoken in older ways, and their grief and pain is relieved for a moment, and hope flashes before them as the signposts point again to when peace was known. In those moments, as their hearts recognize the signposts, the Spirit speaks to them again.
Does this mean we can’t change anything? Of course not! New music is written – that is good. New translations come and go, written for the context of people. Yet, there needs to be that which helps a person know they are home, where they belong, where God dwells among His people. It is a balance, but that starts with considering who we are keeping or changing things for, and the effect change has.
Even so, I pray your faith is strengthened by those places in life where signposts and altars are erected.
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), 195–196.
Thoughts to encourage our love for Jesus!
“You are blessed when they insult you and persecute you and falsely say every kind of evil against you because of me. Matthew 5:11 (CSBBible)
St. Teresa wrote this admirable maxim: “Whoever aspires to perfection must beware of ever saying: They had no reason to treat me so. If you will not bear any cross but one which is founded on reason, then perfection is not for you.”
If I work out at a gym, I expect the next day I will be sore. That’s just cause and effect. It is reasonable and logical.
If I treat someone badly, I ought to be treated badly in return. I am the cause and the effect is just and right. (Even though I do not like it – one bit!)
But it is when I am treated unjustly, when I want to say, “I don’t deserve this,” or “they have no reason” as St. Teresa noted, that I encounter trouble. When I am trying to help, and I get mauled by the person needing the help. That is when I tire, and I grow weary and I want to just hang it up.
It is illogical, in this world where sin and brokenness abounds, to think that everything will be justifiable, that everyone will simply love us, because we are trying to show them Christ’s love.
It is also illogical when we know that Jesus says “love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you” (Matt. 5:44, and Paul teaches us to “bless those who persecute you, bless them and do not curse them” (Roman 12:14) to expect that we won’t have enemies and persecutors. We should expect opposition, and that the opposition is not reasonable, logical, and often painful.
Yet, it is wrong, it is sin, if we do not love, pray and bless them.
I don’t like that.
But that doesn’t give me the right to become as disobedient and unreasonable as my heart cries out to be.
And it doesn’t mean passively taking their abuse, for loving, praying and blessing them is as more active than hating, scheming against them, and cursing them. It requires to think about what is truly best for them, and to lovingly do those things, seeing them through.
It is not easy…to take up such a cross, such a burden. It requires realizing the love of Christ for us, even the love that drive Hi to the cross when our sin tortured Him (and the Father) and learning to find the rest and peace that comes from Christ dwelling in us. To understand that He is the answer to every injustice. This isn’t about living in the brokenness – it is about living in the love of God,
ANd for those that do not know such peace, may we pray they leave their dissonant, broken lives and are drawn into Christ as well.
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), 427.
“I will not leave you as orphans; I am coming to you. 19 In a little while the world will no longer see me,x but you will see me.y Because I live, you will livez too. 20 On that day you will know that I am in my Father,aa you are in me, and I am in you. John 14:18-20 CSB
It was a time of drought, and lifting up his eyes to heaven he [Martin Luther] said, “Lord God, thou hast said through the lips of thy servant David, ‘The Lord is near to all who call upon him in truth. He fulfils the desire of all who fear him, etc., and saves them’ [Ps. 145:18, 19]. How is it, then, that thou art unwilling to give us rain? If thou dost not give us rain, at least give us something better, like tranquillity, life, and peace.
Two of Spurgeon’s greatest sermons were “God in The Silence” and “God in The Storm.” The heart that knows God can find God anywhere. I surely join with Spurgeon in the truth that a person filled with the Spirit of God, a person who has met God in a living encounter can know the joy of worshiping Him, whether in the silences of life or in the storms of life. There really is no argument. We know what God wants us to be. He wants us to be worshipers!
This love of poverty should be especially practised by religious who have made the vow of poverty. “Many religious,” says the same St. Bernard, “wish to be poor; but on the condition of wanting for nothing.”2 “Thus,” says St. Francis de Sales, “they wish for the honor of poverty, but not the inconveniences of poverty.”
The last quote stings… it hurts…
I know the truth of it, that I am willing to embrace any suffering God would allow- if I don’t have know I am suffering.
I can endure all things – if I don’t have to really endure it – just sort of let the time pass me by.
That’s the kind of thing we all want, it is why we love to state that God won’t give us anything we can’t handle.
Even as I read that, and am crushed by it’s truth, I resonate with Luther’s take – that if God won’t give us the water, he will give us something better. Not something which hides or denies the pain, but in the midst of it, finds the presence of God and is comforted by the Holy Spirit. That encounter is so…. beyond words… that you begin to love the suffering, and you even find joy int it, (even as you despise it) because there you find the prsence of God.
As Spurgeon notes, there you find yourself worshipping the Lord in whose presence you are!
It may take me a while ot see the suffering I am observing in that way, and yet, by the enxt time I share in the Lord’s Supper, – there it is. Christ is in me, even as the Father was in Him! What an incredible truth this is, when the words sink ito our soul and we realize their truth.
In the midst of this poverty, whether financial, mental or spiritual, here is Jesus, with me… with me!
truly, the truth of that sinking down into my sould can cause me to love that whcih made me aware of His presnce, and His promises.
This is my reality in these days…not so much from my suffering, but that which I witness around me….and weeping (and sometimes laughing ) with them, we find His presence together.
This is a blessing impossible to understand, hard to endure, absolutely one I will not by-pass. Even when there are days I wish I could. So,
Lord Jesus, as we face trials, and spiritual poverty, may your Spirit gather us and make us aware of Your presence. Comfort us, sustain us, and Lord, as You promised, keep us safe in You! Amen.
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), 192.
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), 424.