Author Archives: justifiedandsinner

Will We Worship Together? And what does that mean?

church at communion 2Passover wasn’t celebrated in the first month,l which was the usual time, because many of the priests were still unclean and unacceptable to serve, and because not everyone in Judah had come to Jerusalem for the festival. So Hezekiah, his officials, and the people agreed to celebrate Passover in the second month. 
Most of the people that came from Ephraim, West Manasseh, Issachar, and Zebulun had not made themselves clean, but they ignored God’s Law and ate the Passover lambs anyway. Hezekiah found out what they had done and prayed, “LORD God, these people are unclean according to the laws of holiness. But they are worshiping you, just as their ancestors did. So, please be kind and forgive them.” 20 The LORD answered Hezekiah’s prayer and did not punish them.2 Ch 30:1–4, 18-20  CEV

Before all else, the teacher of peace and master of unity desires that we should not make our prayer individually and alone, as whoever prays by himself prays only for himself.

In Cyprian’s words about the Lord’s Prayer, we find described a call to pray together. Not just physically together, but really together.  To pray with one heart and one mind.

It was the reason for Passover being delayed that year so that all could pray together. That those who were unclean, those damaged by sin could deal with it, according to God’s provision.  According to how God laid out one could become cleansed of sin.

They, as a people, needed to pray together, they needed to worship together, they needed to realize that they lived in the presence of God, who so desperately wanted to care for them.

But they needed to do it together.

I will repeat myself, not just together physically, but together spiritually, emotionally, cognitively.

We need this today as well. Isolation is oppressive, we grow more and more distant apart. We become more protective of what belongs to me and less aware of each other, and each other’s needs. Cyprian describes that well, as he talks about only praying for oneself.

That needs to stop.

We need to be praying for everyone.  Everyone in our church, everyone in our community, everyone we don’t feel like praying for.

So as we come together, let us pray that the Lord unite His church and the communities in which it dwells. May the church help the community to learn, not only how to find reconciliation, but how to love.

Tertullian, Cyprian, and Origen, On the Lord’s Prayer, ed. John Behr, trans. Alistair Stewart-Sykes, Popular Patristics Series, Number 29 (Crestwood, NY: St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2004), 69.

Time to Stop Running and Hiding… Trust Him Instead!

dscf1215-copy-copyDevotional thought fo the Day:

I don’t know what will happen to me in Jerusalem, but I must obey God’s Spirit and go there. 23 In every city I visit, I am told by the Holy Spirit that I will be put in jail and will be in trouble in Jerusalem. †24 But I don’t care what happens to me, as long as I finish the work that the Lord Jesus gave me to do. And that work is to tell the good news about God’s great kindness.   Acts 20:22-24 CEV

Thinking of the love of God as something nice is forgetting that the love of God is the love of God. The awesomeness of God makes the love of God equally awesome. As Rabbi Abraham Heschel, a great Jewish theologian of the twentieth century, said, “God is not nice. God is not an uncle. God is an earthquake.” If you do not like that (one of my students responded to that quotation, “I prefer a God I can handle”; indeed!), then you do not like the love of God, for the love of God is also an earthquake, not an uncle’s love, but a Father’s.

“To die is a good thing. How can anyone with faith, at the same time, be afraid to die? But as long as the Lord wants to keep you here on earth, it would be cowardice for you to want to die. You must live, live and suffer, and work for Love: that is your task” (1037).

I wish I had Paul’s attitude.

I think I am far more like Jonah, who faced a difficult task and chose ot be cast overboard rather than do what God had called him to do.

The is a temptation to run and hid, even if that means embracing death for the wrong reason. For while we know, we are bound to heaven, even though we know God desires us there; eventually, it is not a place to escape the pain and suffering life brings. 

We can’t be cowards, abandon our lot in life, and run away.  No matter how tempting it may seem.

We have been called to share in the ministry of reconciling people to God. Every single one of us has a role in this. That means we have to be so sure of God’s presence, that we can enter their darkness, that we can break through the gates of hell and endure it, in order to be there and witness God’s love shattering their darkness.

God isn’t the kindly uncle, He is the Father who expects us to take on the family work, to embrace the suffering and pain it will require. To trust Him enough to hand over to Him the things we cannot understand or handle, freeing us to love those we minister too.  We need to trust Him enough to let the Holy Spirit comfort us in our distress, as is promised.

That is the key, depending on His promises.

To know that even if we are heading toward imprisonment, or martyrdom, or simply the struggle of our lives, He is with us.

He will see us through. He will be with us through it all…

Lord Jesus, help us to know You, to experience Your love so deeply, that our trust in You overrides our ignorance, our doubt, our fears.  Help us embrace the life You have created in us, and called us to live. AMEN!

 

 

Peter Kreeft, The God Who Loves You (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2004), 201.

Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge. Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

The Prayer I Am Not Comfortable with… but need to pray!

54e14-jesus2bpraying

God, who am I?

Devotional Thought of the Day:
41  Then he went off from them about the distance of a stone’s throw and knelt down and prayed. 42  “Father,” he said, “if you will, take this cup of suffering away from me. Not my will, however, but your will be done.” 43  An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him.
Luke 22:41-43 (TEV) .

Imploring God in his own words, sending up to his ears the prayer of Christ, is a friendly and familiar manner of praying. When we make our prayer let the Father recognize the words of his own Son. May he who lives inside our heart be also in our voice, and since, when as sinners we ask forgiveness of our failings we have him as an advocate for our sins in the presence of the Father (1 Jn 2:1), let us set forth the words of our advocate.

The New Testament and the lives of the saints are chock-full of the joy in suffering. How can this be explained? Only by love. Only love willingly endures suffering

Thought the words in purple are about the Lord’s prayer, my mind went to  Jesus’ other prayer, in the gospel of Luke. A prayer Jesus must have shared with them later, even taught them, because we know the apostles were all asleep when Jesus was praying.

I had already read Kreeft’s words, the ones highlighted in green when I read these. So perhaps that is what set me thinking this way.  Or perhaps it is having another 8 major prayers added to my list this week. People who have lost loved ones, people who are worried about friends and relatives with COVID, people who are struggling with work loss, people struggling with family issues, people who…can’t even explain what is troubling them, but they know life just isn’t right.

In the midst of this, we learn to pray as He did. We have to if we are going to survive. We need to admit that we don’t like what is going on, that it is crushing us, even begging God to take it away. Paul did, as he experienced his own “thorn in the flesh”, and yet, we need to realize God can make it work for good – for we love Him, and we are called by His name.

Knowing His love, and depending on Him because we do, we can learn to embrace the pain, the stress, the anxiety. For we know He will fulfill His promises.  

More than that perhaps, in the moment 

Tertullian, Cyprian, and Origen, On the Lord’s Prayer, ed. John Behr, trans. Alistair Stewart-Sykes, Popular Patristics Series, Number 29 (Crestwood, NY: St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2004), 66.

Peter Kreeft, The God Who Loves You (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2004), 196.

Does God Still Love Me?

Devotional Thought of the Day:

25 He doesn’t need help from anyone. He gives life, breath, and everything else to all people. 26 From one person God made all nations who live on earth, and he decided when and where every nation would be. Acts 17:25-26 CEV

We must accept that there will be defeats in this interior fight, and we may be threatened with the danger of discouragement. That is why the Founder of Opus Dei contantly instilled in souls that cry of Possumus!—”We can!”—of the sons of Zebedee.6 It is not a cry that arise from the presumption but from a humble trust in God’s Omnipotence.

How can I know God loves me? I believe it, or I want to believe it. But how can I know it for sure? How can I get assurance of the most important thing in the world?
The question is an excellent one. It demands something more than the mere mental acceptance of the three-word proposition “God loves me.” It demands three greater forms of intimacy or closeness.
First, I want to know that God loves me, not just everyone. Me, with all my very specific and very real sins and uglinesses and unlovablenesses. Does God really love me just as I am? Am I really completely forgiven? All my sufferings and failures seem to me to be a just punishment that proves that God does not and should not love me completely because I do not deserve it. I need to know instead that my very sufferings and failures are the caress of his personal, individual love-plan for me, not the inevitable result of His impersonal justice.

The title of my blog post this morning is not a rhetorical question.

It is a question I struggle with, and have struggled with often in my life. Apparently I am not the only one, as the notes in the introduction to the Forge indicate.

We are going to have days when we struggle, when we face discouragement because our spiritual life, our “interior life” seems poor, lifeless, oppressed. We bay seem beaten and rundown. In the midst of physical, mental and spiritual exhaustion, I don’t have to wonder what I’ve done wrong. Satan is there to remind me of my sins, and of my failures. He will throw it all at me, for that is what Devil means in the original language.

And my cry out to Jesus, do you still love me, do you still care is actually a cry of the soul engaged in spiritual warfare. It is not just a cry of despair, for this cry will be answered. It is the cry, as Peter Kreeft notes, that betrays an intimacy with God that requires trust.

Trust that He will answer. Trust to even dare ask, trust to realize He is listening and will answer.

He always does.

Look at the cross, there is your answer. Let the Holy Spirit comfort you, and be the assurance, the guarantee that Paul described.

21  It is God himself who makes us, together with you, sure of our life in union with Christ; it is God himself who has set us apart, 22  who has placed his mark of ownership upon us, and who has given us the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the guarantee of all that he has in store for us. 2 Corinthians 1:21-22 (TEV)

God guarantees that He loves us, for we are His, and we need to hear this often, especially in this midst of despair, or depression, or whatever struggle we are facing.

Remind each of this, often!

The Lord is with you!

Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge . Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Peter Kreeft, The God Who Loves You (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2004), 194.

Why We Don’t Understand the Sin is Sin… a matter of perspective.

clydes-cross-2

Devotional Thought of the Day!
31 So you should earnestly desire the most helpful gifts. But now let me show you a way of life that is best of all. 1 If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. 3 If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing. 1 Corinthians 12:31–13:3 (NLT)

999    And what is the secret of perseverance? Love. Fall in Love, and you will not leave him.   

We must see things in their proper and real perspective if we are to live well. But the key to this seeing, in turn, is loving things rightly. If we over-love things, we tend to over-value them in our minds in order to rationalize our over-valuing of them in our lives. If we under-love God and people, we tend to undervalue them in our mind to rationalize our undervaluing of them in our lives. If I love money more than God, I tend to think of money as an absolute need and God as a mere extra. Thus loving and seeing depend on each other. If I do not love properly, this clouds my vision. And if my vision is clouded, I will not love aright.
This sounds complicated, but it is simple when we live it. Say I want to take revenge on someone. God forbids this. Therefore I see God as a bother. But if I first loved God, I would then see that revenge was the bother. When I am in the grip of a lust, God appears as a puritanical interferer. But when I am in the grip of God’s love, lust appears as it truly is: a pale perversion of true love and joy.

Since the 1980’s I have been reading books and articles written by Peter Kreeft, from Socrates meets Jesus and the Best Things in Life, to the classic “Christianity for Modern Pagans”  (which is simply a modernized version of Pensees by Pascal) The man is brilliant, as much of a scholar as any I’ve met or worked with over the years.  Nothing he has written has hit me as deeply as this.

We see God as a bother, we see His rules to heavy-handed, too restrictive, As Kreeft notes we see him as the puritanical interfered, whose disciples are for the most part hypocrites.  If we are honest, we don’t understand the logic in them, simply because we don’t understand that we are truly, deeply, loved by God

And it all boils down to what the Apostle Paul wrote nearly 2000 years ago.  It boils down to love. It boils down to what we adore, what we cling to, what we cherish and value, what we try to perfect in life. What we love, we are committed to, what we love, we guard and protect.  We persevere to keep it in our own lives.

In Colossians, the apostle Paul talks of circumcision our hearts, cutting away these idols, letting them fade into the distance. In doing so, we can see His love clearly. demonstrated there on the cross. A love for us that no person, nothing could ever have. The more we love God, the more these other things we cling to are revealed to be what they are. The more we don’t need them around. When we realize we can love God, this stuff we have wrongly loved is revealed to be the crap that it is. And its grip on us grows dim, as the hymn noted, in the light of His glory and grace (love).

That is why we preach Christ crucified, the hope of glory, the hope of finding what we can truly love. For He loves us.

I pray we all come to know Him more, that this time leaves us the room to contemplate His love.  AMEN!

Escriva, Josemaria. The Way . Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Peter Kreeft, The God Who Loves You (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2004), 192.

Will We Accept What God Has Established?

dscf1215-copy-copyDevotional Thought of the Day:

20 When I am raised to life again, you will know that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. 21 Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. And because they love me, my Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal myself to each of them.”  John 14:20-21 NLT

After we sin, God wants to show us (if we only listen to Him rather than Satan, which is something sin makes much harder to do) the compassionate face of the father of the prodigal son to keep us from despair. Thus we are doubly surprised if we listen to God: first, by how serious sin is when we feel it is not so bad; and, second, by how forgiving God is when we feel only how serious sin is. We should remember these two faces and turn to the one Satan is hiding and God is offering at all times.

There are many things that God spoke through the prophets, his servants, which he wants us to hear. But how much more would he have us hear those which the Son spoke, to which the Word of God, who was in the prophets, bears witness through his own voice; now not simply ordering that the way of his coming be made ready, but coming himself, showing us and opening to us the way, so that we who previously were wandering, blind, and reckless in the shadow of death, should be illuminated by the light of grace on the journey of life and keep to the way with the Lord as our leader and guide.

Cyprian, one of the early church leaders ( about 250 AD) makes an interesting point about treating the words of Jesus as more important than the very important words of scripture. ( As a side note, similar thinking would lead to why we have Bibles with Christ’s words in red today) Apart from the idea that God gave us all the words in scriptures, there is a point I want us to see.

Jesus came himself. And that changes our lives.

He illuminates our darkness. He breaks through our stubbornness, thru the walls we build up to hide our brokenness, through the hell that is smothering us and forgives us and heals us.

Kreeft reiterates it, in his discussion of seeing the way God communicates with us, how He wants us to stay away from the sin that will crush us, and how he mercifully cares for us when we realize how serious sin is.

We need to trust Him, even when life is painful, when life makes no sense when we don’t want to keep going, but we want to run.

There are times we don’t like what God has set into being, what He has established. When what He has called us to do, or be does not seem like it could possibly be. Yet we need to trust in Him, more than our own emotions, more than our own unbelief.

This is what we do, we realize His love for us, we realize His care for us… and we find ourselves in peace that defies logic, as we do…

Peter Kreeft, The God Who Loves You Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2004), 190.

Tertullian, Cyprian, and Origen, On the Lord’s Prayer, ed. John Behr, trans. Alistair Stewart-Sykes, Popular Patristics Series, Number 29 (Crestwood, NY: St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2004), 65.

The God Whom You Worship!

 

0This God Whom You Worship!
Acts 17:16-31

In Jesus Name

May the grace of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ help you worship the God you know…

I Don’t think that word means….

In one of the most quoted moves of all times, a Sicilian mercenary captain keeps on using the word “inconceivable.” Over and over, you head the word come from this short, balding guy, inconceivable, inconceivable, inconceivable!

Finally, his swordmaster utters this favorite quote, ““You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” ( Inigo Montoya, Princess Bride)

Now, what was funny was all the inconceivable things, well, they were actually conceivable, and doable.

This sort of reminds me of the people of Athens in this week’s reading from Acts. They had all these statues and temples dedicated to “gods.” The Greek gods, the gods of the countries they conquered, any god which they could find someone worshipping, hear of someone worshipping, they even had the one shrine dedicated to a god they prayed to when all else failed.

The “unknown” God.

They had to have a shrine with that name, for they really didn’t understand what a god was, never mind who God is, and how He would relate to all of His creation.

This word god that they used, they simply did not mean what they thought it meant… and for some, that would change, this day.

So my question for you today, when you use the word “God,” do you know what the word means?  If not, I pray you to do by the end of the day!

Who is this God?

Man creates and searches for gods for a reason. They know they need someone else to connect to, they know there is a presence that is missing.

So they create a god for this, a god for that, and attach to these gods a dream. For example, a lot of people are looking to authorities to save us from COVID, or the economic downturn that it has caused.  We blame those we think are interfering with that recovery, even calling them evil or demons.

We put all our hope and the joy that accompanies hope.

And then that god fails, or that dream turns out to be false, and the contentment we thought it promised turns out to be more heartache and more pain.

We need a God that takes care of more than one problem, who is not created, who is more than someone who provides us what we want, or what we think we need for life to be right.  We need the God Paul described.

This God, whom you worship without knowing, is the one I’m telling you about. 24  “He is the God who made the world and everything in it. Since he is Lord of heaven and earth, he doesn’t live in man-made temples, 25  and human hands can’t serve his needs—for he has no needs. He himself gives life and breath to everything, and he satisfies every need. 26  From one man he created all the nations throughout the whole earth. He decided beforehand when they should rise and fall, and he determined their boundaries. 27  “His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him—though he is not far from any one of us. 28  For in him, we live and move and exist. As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.

This is what a God is, this is Who we need to find peace, to find fulfillment, to have a real hope at life – for as Paul said, in Jesus, in Him we live and move and exist.

This is what happened at the cross, when all that was not god that we invented, all our idols, and the sins they led us to commit, were stripped away.

We realized that we are the children of God, His beloved children!

Judgment is coming.

Which is a good thing, because Paul then moves his discourse into something that could be frightening.

30  “God overlooked people’s ignorance about these things in earlier times, but now he commands everyone everywhere to repent of their sins and turn to him. 31  For he has set a day for judging the world with justice.

Judgment day!

For those who don’t know God, who keep on going back to their idols, who keep on putting hope in some they think will solve all their problems, there is a day when God will ask why – why didn’t you trust in  Me?

Why didn’t you consider my love, which I laid out before you?

Why did you create or find answers that won’t provide the hope and peace you need in the long run?

Why not just cry out to me?

Why not let me save you?

For the judgment day surely has two parts – the full justice of God.

The judgment of idolaters, the judgment of those who would reject God, and the part that truly gives us hope.

31  For he has set a day for judging the world with justice by the man he has appointed, and he proved to everyone who this is by raising Him from the dead.”  

This is our hope… this is everything that God appointed on to judge us, would die to make things just and right. Jesus would not only strip away those things that draw us away from God but would heal us. That would heal the broken hearts, our broken souls, if we would but let Him.

It is time to call out to Him now, knowing this,

19  and how very great is his power at work in us who believe. This power working in us is the same as the mighty strength 20  which he used when he raised Christ from death and seated him at his right side in the heavenly world. Ephesians 1:19-20 (TEV)

I pray that you know this God and know what it means that He is your God and that you learn to depend on Him… and trust in Him…matter of fact, let’s pray right now…

Heavenly Father, help us to stop chasing after other gods, help us stop finding hope in things other than you… deliver us this morning, and surround us with your glory, that we may dwell in Your peace.  AMEN!

 

We have a place in this world!

man wearing jacket standing on wooden docks leading to body of water

Photo by Wouter de Jong on Pexels.com

Devotional Thought of the Day:

46 But Paul and Barnabas bravely said: We had to tell God’s message to you before we told it to anyone else. But you rejected the message! This proves that you don’t deserve eternal life. Now we are going to the Gentiles. 47 The Lord has given us this command, “I have placed you here as a light for the Gentiles. You are to take the saving power of God to people everywhere on earth. Acts 13:46–47 (CEV)

1533 Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist are sacraments of Christian initiation. They ground the common vocation of all Christ’s disciples, a vocation to holiness and to the mission of evangelizing the world.

THE FIFTH (Commandment)
“You shall not kill.”
10 What does this mean?
Answer: We should fear and love God, and so we should not endanger our neighbor’s life, nor cause him any harm, but help and befriend him in every necessity of life.

As I was working through my devotions this morning, in the back of my mind was lurking the idea of what difference do I make in this world.  I know I am not the only one who is pondering this. This virus situation has taken away from so many how they perceive they are valued, as jobs, schools, and interaction with people that would normally give their life meaning has been stolen away.

I have friends whose children are graduating from junior high school, high school, college, and graduate degrees.  They cannot celebrate these accomplishments in normal ways, stealing from them the celebration of their endurance.  Preschool teachers I know, who live for interacting with their kids, and getting hugs, cannot. In my case, my primary joy is communing people – the 50-70 people that show up on a given Sunday, and have not been able to for the last 8 weeks. This has been my dream and desire, and I believe my calling since I was 8.

It is brutal to our psyche, to our mental health.

It is wearying, and those around us, who are going through the same things, feeling the same pressures, are struggling with each other.

And hope is given and taken away with every newscast, with every internet article.  The roller coaster of our heart and soul seems to have no one at the controls, as we are wildly whipped around, and unable ot catch our breath.

The Catholic Catechism, notes our common place in life is found via the sacraments. That in that grace pouring out on us as we are cleaned and united to Jesus, we find our place.

We find we are being made holy, that we share in the same vocation as the Apostle Paul, as those tasked with sharing the news that God loves us, that God is with us, that we can, (and should) help other people know this!  Not just in church on Sunday morning, but throughout our week, in our homes, our zoom meetings, our telephone calls.

God has placed us here, (even as the Father sent Jesus) to be a light to the gentiles. e

We do this by loving them, and helping them and befriending them in every possible way. Including the incredible necessity, they may not be aware of, the necessity to know God’s presence. The necessity to know they are loved, the necessity of knowing they have a place, and God redeems the world.

This is hard to see and easy to get distracted from by the cares and pressures. It is a place that takes up our entire lives, and yet..happens best when we don’t force it, but we simply live in this amazing relationship with God.

This is our place.. this is where we find out ultimate meaning in life, as the ones whom God loves, as the ones He shares His greatest work with, the recreation of everything.

Let us find our peace and joy, there, as we work side by side with Him.  AMEN!

Catholic Church, Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd Ed. (Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1997), 383.

Theodore G. Tappert, ed., The Small Catechism from The Book of Concord the Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. (Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press, 1959), 343.

We are tired…and yet…

closed eyed man holding his face using both of his hands

Photo by Ric Rodrigues on Pexels.com

Devotional Thought of the Day:
10  Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.
Isaiah 41:10 (NLT2)

994    “My enthusiasm is gone,” you wrote me. Yours has to be a work not of enthusiasm, but of love, conscious of duty— which means self-denial.

There are times we are physically exhausted.

There are times where we are emotionally exhausted, or spiritually exhausted.

There are some days when these all roll in together, and staying away, or even getting out of bed seems like to great a burden.

In this pandemic, there are too many of these days. When we feel like the person St. Josemaria is advising, where enthusiasm is gone, where we feel drained, where life is without energy.

It is that moment that what we have left is love.

Not just our ability to love.

God’s love, sustaining us.

Enabling us to love others, enabling us to love ourselves…

God has promised us to be here… with us, given g a reason to get beyond the lethargy, to get beyond the discouragement, to get beyond the weariness.

Listen to these promises… rely on them… and know He loves you. AMEN!

Escriva, Josemaria. The Way . Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Questions From our Youth: A sermon based on John 14 and our confirmands.

Questions from our Youth
John 14:1-14

† In Jesus Name †

May the grace and peace of God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ provide “the” answer to your question of life!

The questions overlooked?

Since September, we’ve had a confirmation class of 4, plus my own youth who was confirmed before. We finished going through the small catechism and these young people asked incredible questions, Noah, Nathan Isabelle and Jonah.  They really are trying to understand who God is and what He does, and how He is with us.

Sometimes it is good to get another set of eyes on the passage I am going to preach on, and this week, I did just that. I asked the 4 young people to look at the passage from the gospel, and come up with a question on it, that I would make part of the sermon.

So here are these three questions,

Since we were talking about God preparing a place for you when we go to be with Him, one asked, “Where did God put you before you were born.”

The second question echoes the apostle Phillip’s comment, and asks “why hasn’t anyone ever seen God.”

And the third was more a request to talk about what Jesus means when he says, ““I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works because I am going to be with the Father.”

Where were we before we were born.

The first question is one that a potential future pastor might ask. I say that because it is difficult to answer because scripture does not directly tell us. Instead, we stay up late at night and discuss these things, debating various theories, trying to determine what is true, despite God not telling us directly.

The question, “Where were we, when before we were born, where did God put us?”

I only found a couple of verses on this, the first being in the Old Testament prophet 5  “I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.”  Jeremiah 1:5 (NLT2)

Notice it does not say God put us in this corner of heaven or that back closet.

It does say that God knew us, who would be. Before He formed us in our mother’s wombs, God knew all about us, after all, He created us. Because He knew us, he also created us with a plan, in Jeremiah’s case, to make Him a prophet to the nations. He does the same for each of us, crafting our lives and the opportunities we have to love Him, and love those around us, by sharing with them the love of God.

Why hasn’t anyone seen God?

The next question was, Why hasn’t anyone seen God?

While there are a few people that have in history, like Adam and Eve who walked with God, and Abraham who scriptures say talked with him as a man talks with a friend. The 70 elders and Moses and Aaron saw God and ate with Him in the desert. Phillip and the other apostles saw God as well, hear again Jesus words

“ Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” 9  Jesus replied, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and yet you still don’t know who I am? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father!”

So what about us today, who haven’t seen God, and am not sure we have heard Him talk?

I would say we have often seen God, not as I see Bob over here, but we see God when we see him. I see God like I know if someone is on the beach, I see the marks that He leaves in my life, and in the lives around us. There are things we see God doing in people’s lives, bringing peace and love. We hear God in the voices of those people we love, who remind us God is with us, that remind us that God forgives our sin, to remind us that God loves us.

And we look forward to the day when we will see Him face to face, when we will hear His voice directly, rather than through His word and the love God shows us.

He will provide views into His life.

Greater works than I have done

The last comment is one that intrigues me as well, a promise that Jesus makes. We should hear this again, ““I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father.”

We know what Jesus did, he taught to thousands, without the benefit of sound systems or youtube channels, and no one, absolutely no one, has had more followers in History.  He healed people, he even raised some from the dead, and He conquered death. He was even able to get stubborn people like Peter to become saints, and killers like Paul and King David to repent.

So what can we do, that is ever greater than all of that?

The interesting thing is, we don’t know when we do! We just simply follow God and try to depend on Him to love like only He can love.

Let me explain, in the judgment scene in Matthew 25, we read,

34  “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. 35  For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. 36  I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’ 37  “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38  Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? 39  When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40  “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!Matthew 25:34-40 (NLT2)

Did you see what King Jesus will praise them for, they don’t even remember they did it?  They simply were loving the people around them. They saw needs and met them, they visited and cared for and loved those that others ignored.

And Jesus recognizes us and says that we are obviously blessed by our Father for doing these things. We show God’s love in doing these things, in reaching out and loving those people as God would do it if He was here.

This shows the Holy Spirit at work in us, This shows us that united to Jesus, fused to Him in our baptism, doing the very things God the Father planned for us to do, we see God at work, in each other. From young kids like those that paraded around our parking lot to the older folk like Kurt, who called me this week to encourage me.

We might not think anything about it, but that is God at work….and when we love as Jesus, did, there is no work greater… and we show God’s love and work in us.

Some great questions… all pointing to God’s work in our lives…

For the Lord is with you!  AMEN!

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