Category Archives: Devotionas
devotional thought of the day
8 And when he comes, he will prove to the people of the world that they are wrong about sin and about what is right and about God’s judgment. 9 They are wrong about sin, because they do not believe in me; John 16:8-9 (TEV)
Prayer does not fall into a void; neither is it just a kind of psychotherapy that helps us to assemble our spiritual forces and bring them once more into balance; nor is it merely a kind of pious fiction to exercise our souls and calm them. Prayer is directed to reality. It is both heard and heeded. God, then, is someone who has the power, the ability, the will, and the patience to listen to us men. He is so great that he can be present even for those who are small.
If I bring you to this point, I have also brought you to confession. Those who really want to be good Christians, free from their sins, and happy in their conscience, already have the true hunger and thirst. They snatch at the bread just like a hunted hart, burning with heat and thirst,
33 as Ps. 42:2 says, “As a hart longs for flowing streams, so longs my soul for thee, O God.” That is, as a hart trembles with eagerness for a fresh spring, so I yearn and tremble for God’s Word, absolution, the sacrament, etc.
34 In this way, you see, confession would be rightly taught, and such a desire and love for it would be aroused that people would come running after us to get it, more than we would like.
I am curious about who you thought “they” would be, when you read the title of this blog.
Maybe you were hoping I would lay into those rejoicing over the jailing of the court clerk in Kentucky. Maybe you were hoping I would chastise those who complained about her being arrested, sure that she is the bravest person under persecution in the world today.
What if both groups of people are those that are wrong about sin? What if, when they are describing sin, when they are pointing out sin in others are proving Jesus correct. They don’t understand sin because they don’t get that it isn’t about breaking this rule or that rule.
It is because they don’t trust in God, they don’t know Him. They don’t understand about sin because they don’t have the relationship where they depend upon Him.
Take away hat intimate relationship with God away from someone’s understanding, and sin can only be defined as breaking all the rules. But that can’t be what defines sin, because to do so would result in condemnation, and there would be no hope.
For hope, for relief and comfort comes within a relationship. Forgiveness, mercy, love are all words that exist withing the nature of a relationship.
And sin is ultimately, denying that relationship is the ultimate sin.
You see that clearly in the quote from Pope Benedict XVI where he talks about prayer, about what it is and what it isn’t. It is that greatness of God that He can relate to us, not in a condescending manner, but He comes to us. He listens to us, not as a king listens without empathy or interest to his serfs, (or a CEO to one of his p/t employees) but as a friend, as a Father, as one who loves us. He listens, He cares, He knows us.
Which brings us to the quote from Martin Luther, about confession and absolution. Sometimes we treat a sin, or a tendency to sin as if it is the worst thing that can happen. In the Kentucky case, she is either the greatest sinner since Hitler, or those that deny her the office she was elected to.are the equivalent of those who crucified Jesus. In either case, I will not say there is no sin, my instinct is that both groups of observers need to be called to repentance, and to reconciliation. As do the actual people involved in the case
In fact, if there is a need to be reconciled to another person, you can be pretty sure that there is a need to be drawn closer to God. Not for Him to punish, but for Him to heal. For God to be so manifested in their life that His call on their life is understood, not just a law to obey, but as the loving guidance of a parent, We need to realize His law is not punitive, bt based in wisdom. Wisdom beyond us.
That is why reconciliation, why confession and absolution are so critical. We desperately need to hear that our sin is not going to wreck our relationship with God, that He will still hear and answer our prayers, that He will comfort us as anxiety threatens, That is what absolution does. It reconciles us to Him; it assures us of His presence. It helps us to trust, to wait in His presence.
That’s why Luther says if we understand what Absolution gifts us with, we won’t hesitate to confess our sins. We wouldn’t hide in denial of them, we wouldn’t play the game of “their” sins are worse than ours. We would rejoice in the word of God, rejoice in our forgiveness, and we would plead with others to be reconciled, rather than condemn others without the intent of showing them the love of God.
May we spend our days rejoicing in God’s answers to our plea – “Lord have mercy on us sinners!”. Amen.
Ratzinger, J. (1992). Co-Workers of the Truth: Meditations for Every Day of the Year. (M. F. McCarthy & L. Krauth, Trans., I. Grassl, Ed.) (p. 286). San Francisco: Ignatius Press.
Tappert, T. G. (Ed.). (1959). The Book of Concord the confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. (pp. 460–461). Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
14 Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. 15 These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death. James 1:14-15 (NLT)
20 But that isn’t what you learned about Christ. 21 Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, 22 throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. 23 Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. 24 Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy. Ephesians 4:20-24 (NLT)
1002 To save mankind, Lord, you died on the Cross. And yet for one mortal sin you condemn a man to a hapless eternity of suffering. How much sin must offend you, and how much I ought to hate it!
For maybe 20 years, there has been a platitude circling around Christianity. It goes like this, “we should hate the sin, but love the sinner.”
It isn’t scriptural, in that it doesn’t come from the word of God. We accept it because it seems logical, and it gets us out of sticky situations.
I don’t think we hate sin anymore. I think we tolerate it, welcome it, choose it, and count on God to take pity on us.
If we’ve been brought up in the church, we know what the Bible says about sin. We know that what it earns death and destruction. Sin separates us from all that is good; it separates us from God and His love.
It deserves our hatred. It is something we should fear, as it seduces and enslaves people. It does such a thorough job, burying us deeper and deeper beneath its weight. We excuse it, we claim that not sinning is an inconvenience, that living as God teaches isn’t possible anymore. Theologians dismiss it with the very phrase that provides the title of my blog – that we are simply justified sinners, and that is all we will ever be in this life.
I think that we’ve come to a point where we don’t hate our sin anymore. The sins of Isis, the sins of “those” people, the sins committed against us, yes, we still hate that sin.
Do we hate our sin? Do we hate the sins of our friends? Do we hate the sins of our children? Do we fear the grip that sin can have over people, and the damage it can do to their lives? Do we see it wrecking the relationships around us?
If we did, how glorious would the cross be? How central to our lives would our baptism be? what a celebration the Lord’s Supper would be, and the relief we would know as we heard the words, “you’re sins are forgiven!”
He broke the power of sin; he crushed it. He saved us from it. He brings healing to our hearts and peace to weary souls.
During this Lent, we pause and take the time to not only love the sinner, but fear for them, and struggle to see them freed. We look to Christ, setting that sin, that desire, that temptation aside… knowing He endured the cross so that we could be free. Fr that to Him was His joy, to see us freed, cleansed and made holy.
Do we hate sin? We need to…..
Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 3534-3535). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.