Author Archives: justifiedandsinner

Thoughts on the day before the cross: You don’t have to settle for a “victorious Christian Life!” There is something far better!

Devotional Thought of the Day:

7  I will bless the LORD who guides me; even at night my heart instructs me. 8  I know the LORD is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me. 9  No wonder my heart is glad, and I rejoice. My body rests in safety. 10  For you will not leave my soul among the dead or allow your holy one to rot in the grave. 11  You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever. Psalm 16:7-11 (NLT2)

The deeper life has … been called the “victorious life,” but I do not like that term. It appears to me that it focuses attention exclusively upon one feature of the Christian life, that of personal victory over sin, when actually this is just one aspect of the deeper life—an important one, to be sure, but only one.
That life in the Spirit that is denoted by the term “deeper life” is far wider and richer than mere victory over sin, however vital that victory may be. It also includes the thought of the indwelling of Christ, acute God-consciousness, rapturous worship, separation from the world, the joyous surrender of everything to God, internal union with the Trinity, the practice of the presence of God, the communion of saints and prayer without ceasing.

I have known a few dark times in my life… to be honest, more than a few. I’ve done enough battling wondering why crap happens to me and those I care about. The Psalms explain many of those dark days. matter of fact your can’t praise God, if He wasn’t the one who delivered you from dark days. Such is Psalm 16, as you can’t help noticing the depth of the writer’s pain.

So when I see posts about being victorious, or claiming that life is “better’ with Christ, that everyone in Christ is an overcomer, I take a step back, and want to hear how they are saying this, and how they define victorious, or what it means to overcome.

I resonate deeply then with Tozer’s words, there is something far deeper in life than simply winning a victory or a battle. There is something far deeper, and far more meaningful.

Realizing the presence of God, whether life is victorious or not! Knowing His promise that even if we die, we shall live..

That is more than enough…

Whether life is great or life sucks, the presence of God is going to be there for you. Not to change the situations, but to change us… much as the psalmist described… chaging our focus, remidning us of the promises.

That presence means everything… and I have known it, even the midst of suffering.. (though somedays – need reminding)

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

Thoughts 2 days before the cross..

How do you communicate this?

Devotional Thought of the Day:

5  Then the angel spoke to the women. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6  He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen. Come, see where his body was lying. 7  And now, go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and he is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there. Remember what I have told you.” Matthew 28:5-7 (NLT2)

This is the way our Church wants us to be today: men and women freeof compromises, unprejudiced, free of ambitions, and free from ideologies, in other words, men and women of the gospel and only the gospel.

It was not an easy task which the Church faced.… To carry on the work of a man who was known to have died … to persuade others that this man had risen again from the dead and that He was the Son of God and Saviour: this mission was, in the nature of it, doomed to failure from the start. Who would credit such a fantastic story?…

Have you ever needed to have your mind and heart jump-started?

Tozer’s words (in purple) did that for me this morning, and then Pope Francis’s words resonated with them. We have to be gospel-centered people. We have to carry on the work of redeeming the world, the work that Jesus is sending us, just as the Father sent Him.

Imagine being the women sent to proclaim the good news to the disciples!  I am pretty sure they didn’t need to be told to remember – I think the angel’s words would have burnt into the heart, soul, and mind.

“He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead – just as He said would happen!

How do you explain that to those who saw Him tortured and dying on the cross?  Who heard nails driven through his wrists, who saw the spear pierce His side, as the water drain from His taxed lungs, and the heart emptied of the blood that was left…

How do you find the words to make them believe this?

How do we truly believe it, not just as a historical event, but as something that has more impact on our lives than anything else?

Over the next 5 days, I have to preach 4 sermons, all geared to helping people know, to help them dwell upon their union with the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. To know they were drawn to Him at the cross, united to Him there through their baptism.  To know He came to them at the celebration of the Eucharist. To understand the intimate fellowship that God wants with His people.

How do we lay everything else aside? How do we communicate this to people who live compromised lives? People who are struggling with realizing their own prejudice? (or being accused of it!) How do we open the eyes who are driven to ambition to gain…what exactly?

To be honest, I cannot compete with all of that, and the greatest preacher doesn’t have any greater chance than you and I. I have to tell them about Jesus. We just have to do it, with lots of prayer, before, during, and after Jesus is talked about. Not praying because it will make us successful, but because it will remind us to depend on the Holy Spirit. For it is the Spirit that will cut open their hearts and open the opportunity for healing.

Let’s remember what the angel told the ladies – and let us go tell all who would follow Him that Jesus is alive! He has risen, just as He said!

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), 114.

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

Thoughts 3 Days before the Cross

Devotional Thoughts for these days

49  When the other disciples saw what was about to happen, they exclaimed, “Lord, should we fight? We brought the swords!” 50  And one of them struck at the high priest’s slave, slashing off his right ear. 51  But Jesus said, “No more of this.” And he touched the man’s ear and healed him. Luke 22:49-51 (NLT2)

How then shall we deal with our problems? First, expect them so you will not be taken off guard. Second, realize that every live body of Christians has its troubles, from Christ and His apostles to the present day, so yours are not unique. Third, pour in copious amounts of love, the best lubricant in the world. Love will reduce friction to a minimum and keep the whole body working smoothly and without injury to its parts.
Where does this love come from? The love of God bursts forth from the Holy Spirit in our hearts.

Malchus was his name. A slave of the high priest, one of those brought along
for his muscle. We know this from John’s gospel. John informs us that it was
Peter who took a swing at him and hit him in the ear. (Peter was not a skilled
swordsman!)

An enemy.

Someone ready to do violence to Jesus and His followers.nd Jesus walked up to him and healed him.
Let that sink in; think about it.

Jesus healed Malchus. The man whom the church (as Peter represents) attacked
and brutalized, Jesus healed.

Yes! Peter was afraid! Yes, the man was out to do Jesus and the disciples
harm. Yes, Peter thought he was defending Jesus,

Peter attacked, Peter caused damage to the man. Jesus healed him.

The church today acts more like Peter than we think. We are so afraid of
tribulation, persecution, the world on the attack trying to kill us or
disempower us.

So we launch pre-emptive attacks. We shouldn’t, our fear should be overwhelmed
by our faith, but we do.

The question is, can we see Jesus heal the damage we have done? Can we see
and rejoice in His bringing healing to where we, his followers have spiritually
and mentally mutilated people?

We need to be… we need to grow in faith, and be like the deacon who didn’t
hold Saul or his minions responsilbe for his death. We need to reach out to
those in Nineveh, or like the Naaman the general. We need to love them, and the
only way to do that, is to see Jesus’ love for us. For then we can plea, with a
heart they can see, that they be reconciled to God. That they can see Him heal
them of all unrighteousness.

The gospel is glorious, because Jesus heals Malchus, and restores Peter. For
God so love the world…


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


Thoughts 4 Days prior to the Cross…

Thoughts for Monday on Holy Week:

7  No, the wisdom we speak of is the mystery of God—his plan that was previously hidden, even though he made it for our ultimate glory before the world began. 8  But the rulers of this world have not understood it; if they had, they would not have crucified our glorious Lord. 1 Corinthians 2:7-8 (NLT2)

To know God, this is eternal life; this is the purpose for which we are and were created. The destruction of our God-awareness was the master blow struck by Satan in the dark day of our transgression.
To give God back to us was the chief work of Christ in redemption. To impart Himself to us in personal experience is the first purpose of God in salvation. To bring acute God-awareness is the best help the Spirit brings in sanctification. All other steps in grace lead up to this.

When the loving Shepherd,Ere he left the earth,
Shed, to pay our ransom,
Blood of priceless worth,—
These his lambs so cherish’d,
Purchased for his own,
He would not abandon
In the world alone.

Ere he makes us partners
Of his realm on high,
Happy and immortal
With him in the sky,—
Love immense, stupendous,
Makes him here below
Partner of our exile
In this world of woe.[1
]

St Paul wrote that the leaders of the world would not have allowed Jesus to
be crucified if they knew the plan of God. The irony is that He had to face
death in order for that plan to be effective. His crucifixion was not just to
pay for our sin.

Tozer explains it well; it is not just to pay for our sins that Jesus died.
It was to impart Himself to us, and the Spirit’s best work is to help us be
acutely aware of the presence of God.
This is what the church has to get
back to, to help people be aware of how God wants to be involved in our life,
to be intimately involved in every part of it. To be able to bring healing,
peace, comfort, and meaning to life as we work, empowered and guided by Him,
together in ministry.

This is where Holy Week is such a blessing, to spend more time at the place
where God grabs our attention. He draws us back to the cross, to the altar, to
the place where we let Him wash our feet and feed us the Lord’s Supper. It is
there we find the blessing that de Ligouri talks about, the fact that Jesus
never leaves us, that He is a partner in our exile.

Realizing this desire for not just a relationship with Jesus, but a deep
intimate one causes devotion to Him and dependence on Him. This isn’t about
being weak and broken and needing the healing that does come in Christ. It is
about what that leads to… what God has planned for us,

to know Him.

Lord, may this Holy Week give us the opportunity to gather around your
altar, to contemplate you sacrifice, and to know Your desire for us to be yours
.


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

[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), 210.

Just Deal with It – Your Way: A sermon for the Sunday of the Passion based on Psalm 118

Just Deal With It!
Your Way!

Psalm 118:19-29

† I.H.S. †

May the grace of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ cause you to rest, knowing God has a plan!

  • Somebody’s Day

In 6 weeks, it’s Mother’s Day!

You know what that means, right? Mom’s all over the United States will pretend that they are doing exactly what they want to do that day!

A few weeks after that is Father’s Day, and dads everywhere will “choose” as their favorite restaurants those their kids like!

There are other days, grandparent’s days, teacher appreciation day, even Tom Brady Day, the first Sunday in February.

All these days have in common is that the person who is honored usually ends up doing what everyone else wants! Moms, Dads, teachers, don’t get those days off! They spend time entertaining rather than being cared for by those who say they want to honor them.

With that in mind, hear verse 24,

But before the ink is even dry on that thought, comes…

PLEASE LORD, please save us!

Please, LORD, give us success!

And the Day the Lord made, to rest and walk in the presence of His people… becomes another day of work for God!

  • But I want it my way!

Growing up, I still remember some old guy singing a song about the end of life, and facing the final curtain, sure of his fate, because, in his words, “I did it my way.”

I pray at the end of our lives that we aren’t so…proud? Self-centered? Ignorant?

And we wonder why the younger generations seem so self-centered when people applaud Sinatra for choosing to do it his way, rather than Gods!

This may sound like a minor thing, a song written in the 1960s or 70s. But it shows that self-centeredness is nothing new, and it wasn’t then. It is what Satan appealed to, as he convinced Eve and then Adam to eat the apple. It is what makes politics so captivating, the fear that someone else will get what is ours or that our plans must be fulfilled. That self-centeredness challenges marriages. It appears in workplaces and demands that we get ours, even if it is illegal or immoral.

Our way leads to a mess. Look around, and we see that! People are arguing over water bottles. People are at war with each other over this right or that one. Couples struggle with each other while their kids look on, and the world has become a brutal place simply because people want what they want when they want it.

And at the bottom, we finally cry out, either in sarcasm or in despair, for God to save us. Lord, Just deal with it!  Deal with it YOUR WAY!

And as we do, we are yelling out with the crowds on the first Palm Sunday, “Hosanna! Hosanna! Son of David, Save us!”

  • This is the Day the Lord Has Made!

Hear the words again, the words before the people of God crying out for God to deal with it…

19  Open for me the gates where the righteous enter, and I will go in and thank the LORD. 20  These gates lead to the presence of the LORD, and the godly enter there. 21  I thank you for answering my prayer and giving me victory! 22  The stone that the builders rejected has now become the cornerstone. 23  This is the LORD’s doing, and it is wonderful to see. 24  This is the day the LORD has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.

Jesus, the righteous one, would go through those gates and thank the Father. He walks through Jerusalem’s gates that are opened, and as He does, the way into the presence of God the Father is opened to all!

See there that what was rejected! He has become the cornerstone/Archstone. He is the stone that not only sets the foundation, but He is the stone that locks it all together.

His plan, His work, and it had one focus, saving us. That is the purpose of this Palm Sunday, and why it is called the Sunday of Christ’s Passion – he went through those gates for us…

He would be fastened to the place where He would be the sacrifice! He is both High Priest – and the Atoning Sacrifice.

That is why, when this is realized, there is nothing but worship…

Hear it again,

You are my God, and I will praise you! You are my God, and I will exalt you! 29  Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever!

It all boils down to this: when we cry out for the Lord to deal with it… He did already… at the cross.

That was His intent all the time, as He looked to those gates, as He heard the people of cheer, and cry out praises and cries for deliverance….

He knew how He would respond to both…by taking on the cross.

And there, having dealt with it, He has led us into a peace that goes beyond all understanding, that guards our hearts and minds, for they are in Christ. AMEN!

Which Message Needs to be Preached?

Is there joy or suffering in this nativity scene?

Devotional Thought for this day:

23 Jesus replied, “Now the time has come for the Son of Man* to enter into his glory. 24 I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels—a plentiful harvest of new lives. 25 Those who love their life in this world will lose it. Those who care nothing for their life in this world will keep it for eternity. 26 Anyone who wants to serve me must follow me, because my servants must be where I am. John 12:23-26

If you want to be faithful and fruitful, our homilies should always disseminate and harvest hope.

Later they will know that they are to be educated to be pastors. Afterward they will offer their services when some position is unoccupied. That is to say, they will not force their way in but will indicate that they are prepared, in case anybody should ask for them; thus they will know whether they should go. It is like a girl who is trained for marriage; if anybody asks her, she gets married. To force one’s way in is to push somebody else out. But to offer one’s service is to say, ‘I’ll be glad to accept if you can use me in this place.’ If he is wanted, it is a true call. So Isaiah said, ‘Here I am. Send me’ [Isa. 6:8]. He went when he heard that a preacher was needed. This ought to be done.

There is a lot to being a pastor, to preaching the word, to ensuring people receive the sacraments. It is a calling from God and recognized by the church. You go when you are needed, as Luther discusses. And yet, there is a question of recognizing the need, and responding to it.

The passage in red, from the gospel is one message that needs to be proclaimed. It seems to ask for a lot, for the believer to follow Jesus and sacrifice himself for the needs of others. It seems different than Pope Francis’s words about providing and havesting hope.

Do I preach about self-sacrifice and Christlikeness? Or

Do I give a message of hope?

Or is there a third option, to so clearly preach about being in Christ that one realize the hope found in self-sacrifice. That is the challenge when presented with the dilemna of preaching this or that. It is not one or the other, it is where they intersect, and that intersection always is found where we meet Jesus. For our greatest hope is found when and where we are closest to Christ, when the Holy Spirit is transforming us into His image. There, no matter the sacrifice, the work of God is seen, a work that is joyful beyond anything else we can experience.

It’s not preach self-sacrifice or preach hope. It is both/and… in Christ Jesus

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), 110.

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), 80.

How is this Overlooked? How many need this connection?

Devotional Thought for our Day:

Earth, do not cover my blood; may my cry for help find no resting place. 19  Even now my witness is in heaven, and my advocate is in the heights! 20  My friends scoff at me as I weep before God. 21  I wish that someone might argue for a man with God just as anyone would for a friend. Job 16:18-21 (CSBBible)

15  I do not call you servants anymore, because a servant doesn’t know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything I have heard from my Father. John 15:15 (CSBBible)

I have an extensive digital library. Thousands of books that I can search with on two different platforms. Devotionals, Theological Volumes, Sermons Collections. Only some of the commentaries referenced Job 16:21, an incredible plea for help. The rest were silent on this incredible passage.

In those programs, I can search scripture cross-reference indexes. These indexes exist to link one scripture to another based on common thought or topic.  They have developed over decades and usually provide significant links. I would have thought one of these indexes would link Job’s plea to Jesus’ statement… “I have called your friends.”

I am not sure why this oversight; I don’t know why Job’s cry for help is overlooked, but it is.

I’ve been in both places. I have cried for help in despair as deep as Job’s. I have tried to be there, pointing people to God during such troubled times. I have often wondered whether God listens and wondered what I’ve got to do to get His attention. That’s why I don’t like reading Job. His words resonate too well, although I know I cannot be considered as holy. Still, I want to know someone who is praying for me. I despaerately need to know someone is arguing on my behalf with God – even fighting on my behalf.

That is what the cross is, the ultimate argument that a sinner like me, a broken, oppressed person, can be made holy. Holding on to that thought sees me through times of despair and the times when our world’s brokenness is beyond the ability to cope.

Jesus is our friend. The friend who will plead with the Father.

He is Job’s answer, and mine, and yours…

Make the connection, don’t overlook this…

Rejoice in it instead!

 

 

Spiritual Formation/Devotion > Theology

Devotional Thought of The Day

5  You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. 6  Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. 7  Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, 8  he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.
12  Dear friends, you always followed my instructions when I was with you. And now that I am away, it is even more important. Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. 13  For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.
Philippians 2:5-8, 12-13 (NLT2)

Our Lord asks for generous hearts that are truly detached. We will achieve this if we resolutely cut the thick bonds or the subtle threads that tie us to ourselves. I won’t hide from you the fact that this entails a constant struggle, overriding our own intelligence and will, a renunciation which, frankly, is more difficult than the giving up of the most prized material possessions.

I know many theologians, good ones who are also great teachers, imparting
information in ways that their students gain knowledge. Their knowledge is
beneficial, and I rely on them when considering the problematic intersections
of life and religion.

But there is more to Christianity than doctrine. There is the relationship with
God that is established. Surely good Theology describes that, and its
understanding of scripture ensures we do not go off and recreate God in our own
image or imagination.

Spiritual Formation is different. It is getting involved in the
relationship. It means God is working in us, giving us the desire and the power
to live life in a way that resonates with Him and thereby brings Him joy. Being
devoted to God means what St Josemaria describes, detached hearts where our
intellect and will are overridden.

St Paul was describing this when he was quoting the early Christian hymn known as the Carmen Christi. This is what Jesus did,
what we are called to do! The Theologian looks at this, and words describe the incredibly sacrifice of self that we see in Jesus. The pastor, guiding the disciples formation, sees verse 5 and says -here – how will this happen.  They see this attitude develop because of God’s
work, not human will, and so they focus the believer on Jesus, on His love and mercy, on His presence.

This isn’t a either or, we are not getting rid of Theology or Theologians, But
there needs to be as much effort, no there needs to be more effort in forming
disciples. We need to help people be able to have the mind of Christ, to be
able to see God’s work in their lives. To see God manifested in their
relationships. This is what shepherding, about what being a pastor or a
minister is truly about. It is why elders and Sunday teachers, exist as well,
as we work together to present every person perfect in Christ Jesus.

Father in Heaven, help us keep the desire of studying Theology in its proper place, balancing it out with drawing people deeper and deeper in their relationship with you. Lord, help us to help them imitate Christ, as you give them the desire and the power to serve and love as He did.  Help us as well to see that our efforts keep this balance, so that we can continue to see the Spirit at work, making disciples and seeing them grow.  We pray this in Jesus most precious name. 
AMEN!

 

 

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

Can We Enjoy Faith?

Devotional Thought of the Day:
The whole community that had returned from exile made shelters and lived in them. The Israelites had not celebrated like this from the days of Joshua son of Nun until that day.l And there was tremendous joy.m 18 Ezra read out of the book of the law of Godn every day, from the first day to the last. The Israelites celebrated the festival for seven days, and on the eighth day there was a solemn assembly, according to the ordinance. Neh. 8:17-18 CSB

This anti-emotionalism … is an unwarranted inference, not a scriptural doctrine, and is in violent opposition to psychology and common sense. Where in the Bible are feeling and faith said to be at odds?
The fact is that faith engenders feeling.… We can have feeling without faith, it is true, but we can never have faith without feeling. Faith as a cold, unemotional light is wholly unknown in the Scriptures.

Unite me, my Lord, entirely to Thyself, and make me forget myself, that I may have the happiness one day to lose all things, and even myself, to find Thee alone, and to love Thee forever. I love Thee, my Sacramental Lord; to Thee do I bind myself, to Thee do I unite myself; make me find Thee, make me love Thee, and never more separate Thyself from me.

These thoughts came from my devotions yesterday, and even today, I am still processing them.

For nearly 4 generations, the church has been taught to not trust our feelings, to disregard our emotions. I can’t count the sermons and lectures I have heard that challenge or diminish those who are too celebratory, too enthusiastic, too ruled by emotions. It is time to clarify that, for a lack of visible emotions is just as much an emotional outburst as the most visible.The question is what is driving the emotions, are they a simple reaction, or are they manipukated by some internal or external force.

The third quote, the prayer, cannot be said without passion, either as translated or in a more modern translation. Not can trusting and depending on God be a dry, emotionless act of will. That kind of prayer comes out of our brokenness, the guilt and despair Christ freed us from when we were joined to His death and resurrection.

It is not unlike being caught in an undertow and thinking you will drown, only to be free and surface. There is an exhilaration, a joy, a realization that life is more than what life was before being captured by the current. Like the Israelites, the celebration is natural… and then… a time of peace… and rest.

But that comes from the journey through the darkness. And that means a incredible sense of relief as one is converted from death to life. It should be marked by emotional feelings, by a sense of great joy, by a level of gratutde that is overwhelming. A joy that needs to be shared.

Rejoice – you have been saved!

Saved from sin, Satan and the threat of death, saved for a loving relationship with God and HIs people, the Body of Chirst!

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), 200.

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

Deal with it Lord! Deal wth our Ignorance! A sermon for the 5th week of Lent

Deal with it Lord!
Deal with our Ignorance!

Hebrews 5:1-10

In Jesus Name

May you realize the gentleness of the grace of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, as you see revealed that Jesus is the source of your salvation!

  • Instinct When Dealing with Ignorance

The illustration for today is simple.

You are going to teach someone who has never seen a old fashioned charcoal barbecue, how to cook a nice steak, and maybe a few beast loaf burgers on the grill.

Simple? Easy? Sure!

Except they are completely ignorant about the process.

So you tell them to make a nice pile of Kingsford charcoal in the grill, and they get the bag and do so.

Step two, you get some handy barbecue lighter fluid and tell them to squirt some on the briquets, and then using the torch, which you have demonstrated, light the fire.

A moment later you see them dousing the charcoal, and they keep dousing it, you go inside to grab a drink, come out and in their left hand they are still dousing the charcoal and in the right hand they have the torch, and they’ve lowered it into the grill, where there now ¼ of an inch of lighter fluid in the bottom. 

What do you do next?

Wait!!!  Before you answer than, I’ve got one question, which is more dangerous, an ignorant person with something flammable and even explosive, or an ignorant and wayward person tempted to sin?

  • Will This Work with the Sinner?

I am going to assume you are all brave and honorable and would somehow try to save the person you were supposed to be teaching before he or she burns down the entire neighborhood.

But can you use the same technique with the person about to give into temptation? Can you reach the person ignorant of God’s grace yet caught up in sin the same way?

Imagine, you are the ignorant, wayward sinner about to gossip, and racing across the church comes Bob, and he is about to tackle you!  Or maybe you were about to covet something, and Tom starts screaming at you to stop! I will not event get into what Manny might do if you don’t find a sabbath rest with God!

I do not think that any of them are going to stop you from sinning, in fact, they may create another response or two that is sinful!

So back to what is more deadly than lighting 3 cups of lighter fluid at close distance.

The acts of the ignorant and wayward person caught up in sin.

  • Jesus Does it

Our passage in Hebrews tells us how Jesus, the great high priest will deal with him.

And he is able to deal gently with ignorant and wayward people because he himself is subject to the same weaknesses.

I love that, he is able to deal gently with ignorant and wayward people… like you and me.

Jesus doesn’t tackle us or scream at those caught up in sin. He deals with us, and he does it gently, with grace and compassion.

  • How He does it

So how does Jesus deal with those who get caught up in sin, who don’t understand He is here to rescue us?

He does two things according to this passage. He identifies with us and our trials, and He offers the sacrifice that

Let’s deal with the identity idea first. 

Remember it said that “he Himself is subject to the same weaknesses.”

Living among us wasn’t easy, even as God. Besides dealing with Satan, He had to deal with sinners like Peter and hotheads like James and John, and Matthew and Simon the Zealot on opposite sides of the political spectrum.

I imagine Jesus might have been tempted to let some of them light the barbecue grill once or twice…

Remember, he faced temptation, just as we have, without sinning. He lived our kinds of lives and didn’t give in to sin.

Knowing He went through what we do, it makes it easier to realize His compassion and sympathy for us.

While Jesus was here on earth, he offered prayers and pleadings, with a loud cry and tears, to the one who could rescue him from death. And God heard his prayers because of his deep reverence for God. Even though Jesus was God’s Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered.

That doesn’t sound like the easy life.

Jesus felt the pain and the anxiety of dealing with sin around Him, and He knew when death was coming, and how it would come… and for what reason.

Which leads to the second way in which Jesus helps us. He is not just offering the sacrifice for our sins.

The writer of Hebrews said this about Jesus’ role,

In this way, God qualified him as a perfect High Priest, and he became the source of eternal salvation for all those who obey him.

Going back to our illustration, as our playing with sin is likened to lighting half a bottle of lighter fluid on fire. Jesus deals with us by moving us away, and taking all the heat Himself. He protects us from the consequences of our actions and does becomes our salvation.

Every sin you’ve committed. Every single one. He takes your place and my place, taking all of God’s wrath as the ultimate sacrifice.
A sacrifice we realize as we take His Body and His blood at communion, and realize the penalty of sin was dealt with, as His body and blood were broken and spilled for us.

He moves us out of the way, and takes all the heat….

And the Holy Spirit recreates in us a holiness that reflects Jesus’s

We just confess our sins, and realize He did the hard stuff.

  • Lent and Outreach

During Lent, we go back to these basics. We work through them, remembering Jesus gentleness with ignorant and wayward ones for two reasons.

The first is simple – we need to work gently with the ignorant and wayward ones in our lives. We have to not tackle them or scream at them, but bring them Jesus slowly, prayerfully and patiently. Gently, drawing them to Jesus, letting the Holy Spirit convert them.

The second is more touchy. Some of you here today are wayward, and if not ignorant of God’s mercy, it has been forgotten as we are buried under guilt and shame. If that is the case, knowing God’s nature, we stop hiding or fighting Him, and let Him bring healing into our lives.

That is where we are – either the ignorant and wayward, or called to gently minister to the ignorant and wayward…. Or of course, we are both.

Either way, Jesus is our high priest, and the one who offers the sacrifice. AMEN.

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