Category Archives: Devotions

We all know God loves us, but far too often the stresses, anxieties and problems in life crowd Him out of our view. Here find a moment to re-focus and remember how incredible it is that God loves us, and what it means to live in His presence, in the peace that passes all understanding…

When Grace Compels, and Causes Us to Act.

Devotional Thought of the Day:

3  Restore us, God; make your face shine on us, so that we may be saved. Psalm 80:3 (CSBBible)

It is also necessary to make a thanksgiving after Communion. There is no prayer more dear to God than that which is made after Communion. We must occupy this time in acts of love and prayers. The devout acts of love which we then make have greater merit in the sight of God than those which we make at other times, because they are then animated by the presence of Jesus Christ, who is united to our souls.

As a Lutheran, I am well attuned to the fact that we are saved as God’s gift to us. There is not one thing we must do to be saved. God will hear our cry, just as He heard the Psalmist. Heaven isn’t a reward for good people, it is a place of rest that God prepared for the sinners, for the broken, for those that found their only hope – is found in Him.

So when a religious writer says that we must do something, that it is “necessary”, I take a step back. I look at why it is necessary, why we must do this thing. Is it to impress God that He might save us?  Is it to earn His admiration? Or is there something that has happened, that compels us to respond with thanks, praise, and even adoration?

30 years ago, this summer, I died. I experienced a cardia arrest and had to be shocked 5 times. Before the fire department arrived and rendered that aid, a lady did CPR on me. She was the secretary to the Dean of Students. When I asked if there was anything that I could do to show her my thanks, she indicated no, there was not. That bothered me, and in a way it still does. I had a need to show my thanks, I felt compelled to do so.

That feeling is what I believe de Liguori means when he says it is necessary. Someone saved you, He revived you, He brings you healing, and in the celebration of that, how do you not give Him thanks?

I would disagree with de Liguori’s pronouncement of those prayers being more meritorious, for I believe it is not about merit, nor value, but the fellowship. Certainly, we should be aware of the presence of Christ as we share in the Eucharist. But that awareness should be remembered and realized throughout the week. And anytime we experience that love, as we realize our deliverance, as we see what God is saving us from, we must respond… with thanks, praise, and adoring the one who saved us.

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), 227.

Many Messengers, One Message! An Easter Sermon on 1 Cor. 15:1-11

Many Messengers, One Message
1 Corinthians 15:1-11

Jesus! Son! Risen Savior!

May your gift from God today be more confidence in this message – that Jesus died for your sins, He was buried, and he was raised from the Dead!. And therefore, you are risen in Him! AMEN!

Simple Message!

I came up with an illustration for this morning’s message that would be perfect! It would illustrate the idea of many messengers, one message, it would drive home.

Only one problem, we can’t do it because of social distancing!

Too bad!  We could have defeated the most frustrating team-building exercise in history if only social distancing weren’t an issue!

We could have beaten the classroom game, “telephone!”

You see, the message I would start on this side of the room with would be simple.

“Alleluia! He is Risen!”

And I am 99.9 percent sure that when the message gets over here to Brian, he tells it to me… I will be able to reply. “He is Risen indeed, Alleluia! and therefore…. Therefore…

That message would be remembered!

Remembered like it was in the days following the Resurrection and Pentecost!

Peter shared what he witnessed, the rest of the discipled shared what they witnessed, 500 others would share it, and James, and then by all those sent out with the message. (remind me to talk about that later!) And finally, Paul would encounter the risen Lord Jesus on the road to Damascus…. And it would change everything!

The Message Obscured

There are two reasons teams fail at the telephone game.

The first is that the message is too complex, too complicated.

The second is that the message has absolutely nothing to do with the people passing it.

Let’s say the message is that “Woodworth Cadillac was acquired 46 years ago, and was nominated in 2011 for the Time Dealer of the Year.”  That’s a pretty prestigious nomination! It is a great car dealership. But none of you know where it is!

So if we used that sentence in the telephone game, it would be obscured by the third person it was communicated to.

It is a complex sentence, and except for the Parkers, no one in this church knows the DeLuca family.

If there is a reason the church doesn’t grow in this time and in this place, it is because we make other messages more critical. We talk about politics, and social issues, and sports.

I am not just talking about this church. I am talking about churches in general, so people think that church is nothing more than another location for questionable news and views.

The problem with the church today? It has sinned! What Paul identifies as “most important, and what has been passed on to us” has faded into the background.

We can’t do that anymore!

We have to pass on what has been given to us.

Not because it is an obligation, but because we know the difference it will make in someone’s life, to know God loves them this much.

A simple message…

Alleluia! HE IS RISEN!

  • But, ALLELUIA! HE IS RISEN!

And therefore… I AM RISEN INDEED!  ALLELUIA!

Paul continues on,

10 But whatever I am now, it is all because God poured out his special favor on me—and not without results.

It doesn’t matter to Paul whether he is an apostle, a pastor, an evangelist. The results are what matters.

God pours out the grace, and there are results, and he will claim this,

yet it was not I but God who was working through me by his grace. 11 So it makes no difference whether I preach or they preach, for we all preach the exact message you have already believed.

If 20 people lined up to get baptized here this morning, I would not care if Bob brought them, or Tom or Doug or Gerry. There would be 20 people brought here to know God’s love, and that is worth rejoicing over!

It doesn’t matter which one of us God used!  We would have 20 new people to share God’s love with.  It doesn’t matter if they are 4 or 14 or 84 or 94! It doesn’t matter what ethnicity they are or what sins they were delivered from by Jesus!

This message which you already believe, they need to come to believe! That because Jesus died, was buried, and rose from the grace, they are being saved. They have been separated from their past and future sin.

Just as we are…. They are saved by the blood of Christ, made alive through the power of the resurrection.

  • This is the Message

This is our message, the one passed on to us and entrusted to us. Not just for us to keep and ponder, but to pass on to those around us.

It meets the two criteria I had for establishing something that could be easily spread and kept correct in the telephone game.

  1. It is simple.  “Alleluia, His is Risen.”

And it concerns you, for, “He is Risen Indeed, Alleluia! And therefore We Are Risen indeed, Alleluia!”

Twelve me, some women, 500 people saw then and changed the entire Mediterranean Basin in 50 years. Keeping the message simple and showing people how it affected their lives.

Now the test, I want you to spread it from there to here, from the east to the west!  AMEN!

how to change church….

Devotional Thought of the Day

32  All the believers were united in heart and mind. And they felt that what they owned was not their own, so they shared everything they had. 33  The apostles testified powerfully to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and God’s great blessing was upon them all. 34  There were no needy people among them, because those who owned land or houses would sell them 35  and bring the money to the apostles to give to those in need. Acts 4:32-35 (NLT2)

To be 100 percent positive would be as fatal as to inhale steadily all your life without exhaling. You can’t do that.…
When the Church inhales the Holy Spirit she must exhale everything that is contrary to Him.

Our evangelizing vocation asks us to cultivate the humility of being stewards, not masters, who assume the reproach and contempt for the cross of Christ in our daily work, in the service of the Son of God who went before us along the way.

The church, in its early days, must have been something to see in action! To watch people, who found unity in Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection, live out that unity sounds incredible! As you go through history, similar times have
been documented. The church reacted to being freed from hell and the dear of death with unbelievable generosity.

That spirit is the result of lives where the Holy Spirit has breathed life into them. Where a constant diet of God’s presence, of His mercy, of celebrating His love changes them. It is then the church becomes stewards of life and of everything God has given them. As stewards then, their reward is in an investment result that provides the Lord great joy. This investment is a reaction to the blessing of God! It is not a reaction made in fear of salvation but because of the joy of being saved!  Rather than attempting to win God’s favor, one recognizes that they are in God’s favor because of Jesus. This is the life in Christ, the life where the Holy Spirit dwells within the believer, within the church.

That life embraces the challenge; it embraces even martyrdom as Stephen did, knowing that God will use it for good! It, therefore, doesn’t require a triumphant spirit; it doesn’t act condescendingly to those who are unbelievers or of another belief.  This life in Jesus shows them love and desires; as God does that He transforms them.  We are stewards of everything, our assets, our words, our very lives. 

It gives out the gospel because that is all that it has… for that is what it has been fed…and everything else is being expelled. The nicer way to put it is exhaled, but that which is not of God is expelled!  This is the only way to grow the church – to give them Christ, and watch the change He works in them!

The implications of this are huge, for instead of the church focusing on modifying sinners’ behavior, it needs to instead feed them on the love and mercy of Christ. It needs to take the gift of grace and assure people it is theirs, despite the sin that had them bound. Repentance is more the transformation of the heart and mind now cleaned than trying to force yourself to do good. This is our blessing!

This is our life, in Christ!

Lord Jesus, You desire that all are drawn to You. Help us bring them there, as they are, and rejoice with them as they realize that Your resurrection from the dead brings them to life in You.



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

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), 121.

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).

God’s Creativity…

A five hundred year old cross…brought to life by an artist who is more of a work of art than she knows

Devotional Thought of the Day:
9  How can a young person stay pure? By obeying your word. 10  I have tried hard to find you— don’t let me wander from your commands. 11  I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. Psalm 119:9-11 (NLT2)

“God resists the proud, but gives his grace to the humble,”11 the Apostle Saint Peter teaches. In any age, in any human setting, there is no other way to live a godly life than that of humility. Does this mean that God takes pleasure in our humiliation? Not at all. What would he, who created all things and governs them and maintains them in existence, gain from our prostration? God only wants us to be humble and to empty ourselves, so that he can fill us. He wants us not to put obstacles in his way so that—humanly speaking—there will be more room for his grace in our poor hearts.

In our devotions this morning, we came to the verse in psalm 119, Drvien by some need, I looked up the word pure, and was a little surprsed by the definition. One of my Hebrew dictionaries talked about that form of the verb being translucent or transparent. About having nothing in you that people couldn’t see, therefore being innocent.

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We talk about leaders needing to be that way, about being transparent, about their agendas being clearly seen. We need to be as well. So that people see what they get. So that we don’t try to hide anything from them, from ourselves, or believing that somehow we can hide things from God.

That brings a different view on God and his insistence on simplicity and on humility. Humiliation is a way of stripping ourselves of all that obscures the transparency and translucency. It affects our pride, because often what we are proud about is not an accurate portrayal of who we are in Christ. Simplifying it and clearly seeing who we are.

Sometimes revealing that reveals the cracks in our personality, and how we are broken. To see that revealed is not easy. It can only be handled by depending on God toll fill in those cracks, to make us whole again, even as He has promised. He will do this, and the final creation of our lives, fully transparent, will reveal what God has made in us, what God has made of us.

A masterpiece, a work of art, something that God himself treasures.

Lord, help us to trust in You, as You remove layer after layer of that which we created to obscure who we are…and help others see the new creation You have made of us, so that it can happen to them as well!

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

A Person Every Church Needs…. and Needs More of.

Devotional Thought of the Day:
The LORD is with you when you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you,a but if you abandon him, he will abandon you. 3 For many years Israel has been without the true God, without a teaching priest, and without instruction, 4 but when they turned to the LORD God of Israel in their distress and sought him, he was found by them. 5 In those times there was no peace for those who went about their daily activities because the residents of the lands had many conflicts. 6 Nation was crushed by nation and city by city, for God troubled them with every possible distress. 7 But as for you, be strong; don’t give up, for your work has a reward.” 2 Chr. 15:2-7 CSB

Every pastor knows … the plain people who have nothing to recommend them but their deep devotion to their Lord and the fruit of the Spirit which they all unconsciously display. Without these the churches … could not carry on.
These are the first to come forward when there is work to be done and the last to go home when there is prayer to be made. They are not known beyond the borders of their own parish because there is nothing dramatic in faithfulness or newsworthy in goodness, but their presence is a benediction wherever they go.
They have no greatness to draw to them the admiring eyes of carnal men but are content to be good men and full of the Holy Spirit.…

If eagles, says St. Jerome, on scenting a dead body go from afar to seek it, how much more should we run and fly to Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament, as to the most delicious food of our hearts! Hence saints in this valley of tears have always as parched harts run to this fountain of paradise.

Tozer applauds those people that are necessary to the church.

They will rarely be found in leadership (though you can occasionally help them find their role in it!) They are more comfortable being behind the scenes. They are more likely to read a blog than write one. A church can survive without a dynamic pastor; it can grow and thrive if these people are allowed and freed to serve.

And they are too often forgotten in the day-to-day grind of trying to get a church to grow. Sometimes, the church may think they are insignificant or dysfunctional, hindering the church’s growth. Yet, these people are the core.

Yet they are the ones that treasure the church…

De Ligouri describes them well when he describes them as eagles, who intuitively hone in on that which nourishes and sustains them. Take that away, without showing them how what replaces it, and you will know it. They find that nourishment at the altar, and in Sunday School, in workdays and potlucks. They recognize the presence of Christ but may not realize that until you point it out to them, and you should, quite often. But like the eagle, this is more intuitive to most and not as easily explained by them. 

They are at their best… when they see the Jesus that they treasure, active in their lives. All of the squabbles, all of the dysfunction caused by not pointing them to Jesus, will fade away when they realize they are in His presence when they are taught why their church’s facility is so special.

And energized by the presence of God, they are that blessing wherever they go. Help them find Him, help them realize what it is that they treasure…

They are more important than all the preachers, all the leaders, all the visionaries…they are the children of the Most High God…..we (leaders) are but their servants.

Treasure them! Show them Jesus and how they already treasure Him in their church lives. And then let them bless others as they are a blessing!

 

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), 176.

The Hardest Part of Prayer

Could you speak in a moment like this?

6  “Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace. Matthew 6:6 (MSG)

10  Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will lift you up.
James 4:10 (NJB)

Not all silence is spiritual. Some Christians are silent because they have nothing to say; others are silent because what they have to say cannot be uttered by mortal tongues. We … will confine our remarks to the latter.
Where the Holy Spirit is permitted to exercise His full sway in a redeemed heart, the progression is likely to be as follows: First, voluble praise, in speech or prayer or witness. Then, when the crescendo rises beyond the ability of studied speech to express, comes song. When song breaks down under the weight of glory, then comes silence where the soul, held in deep fascination, feels itself blessed with an unutterable beatitude.
At the risk of being written off as an extremist or a borderline fanatic, we offer it as our mature opinion that more spiritual progress can be made in one short moment of speechless silence in the awesome Presence of God than in years of mere study.… The exposure may be brief, but the results are permanent.

Let us now consider some of these human virtues. While I am talking I would like you, on your own, to keep up a conversation with our Lord. Ask him to help us all, to encourage us to penetrate more deeply today into the mystery of his Incarnation, so that we too, in our own flesh, may learn how to give living witness to our fellow men of him who has come to save us.

If it is hard when we are alone, it is nearly impossible in a time of prayer with others.

Quiet.

Stillness…

It should bring us to a place of peace, but it rarely does.

Our minds spin crazily, our hearts are blown from joy to despair, and if we are honest, maybe a little paranoia.

Quiet should be a great experience, a time to revive, and yet… it drives us crazy.

It should be a time to be in awe of the Incarnation, a time to be silent as you realize Jesus has come to you!

As you breath slows, as your sense sharpen, so should you become more aware He is there

Then watch, as that which pollutes your life is purged from you…as your sense of His grace overwhelms it, as the Holy Spirit sanctifies you.

Take your time in the silence… take your time in the peace…

Be confident in His promise, that He is there…

And find life.

in Him!

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

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

Prayer and Spam Calls!

Devotional Thought of the Day:

9  And he said, “Yes, go, and say to this people, ‘Listen carefully, but do not understand. Watch closely, but learn nothing.’ 10  Harden the hearts of these people. Plug their ears and shut their eyes. That way, they will not see with their eyes, nor hear with their ears, nor understand with their hearts and turn to me for healing.” Isaiah 6:9-10 (NLT2)

I have often said that we must not allow these periods of conversation with Jesus, who sees us and hears us from the Tabernacle, to degenerate into an impersonal type of prayer. If we want our meditation to develop right away into a personal dialogue with our Lord (for which the sound of words is not necessary), we must shed the cloak of anonymity and put ourselves in his presence, just as we are. We must avoid hiding ourselves in the crowd that fills the church, or diluting our prayer into a meaningless patter that does not come from the heart and is little better than a reflex habit, empty of any real content.

P. O Lord, hear my prayer.
R. And let my cry come unto Thee.
P. The Lord be with you.
R. And with thy spirit.

As I was doing my reading this morning, several spam calls happened. The calls come in on the church phone and on my cellphone. Recordings for free Marriot stays, google business listings. They were not even interesting, just the usual lifeless recordings that are frustrating because they mean absolutely nothing to me. They actually have a negative value as they waste my time and distract me from ministry.

As I looked at my readings this morning, I wonder if our prayers don’t take on the same tone at times.

Do we just mouth the words without hearing ourselves, never mind actually crying out to God to hear our prayer? Do we even bother to listen to His reply? Or do we just want our Father in heaven to press 1 to confirm the prayer is answered the way we want, 2 if it is denied, and 3 if the Holy Spirit is busy right now and will get back to us later? Is our prayer that impersonal? Has it degenerated, as Josemaria asks? Are our hearts as hard as phone solicitors, who hang up on us when we ask them if they know Jesus?

It doesn’t matter if our prayer comes spontaneously (from the heart?), or we read it out of a prayer book or hymnal. Either way can be impersonal, self-centered, even hypocritical. And as beneficial to us as a spam call. God very well might answer it, but we may never be aware of it, for we weren’t looking to Him.

So how do we fix this? How do we speak to God? How can our prayer life become more intimate and complete? How do we stop spam calling God? How do we delevlop so intimate a relationship… that we communicate with Him?

The most important thing is to know there is a real person who cares about you on the other side of the “call.” To know God personally, not just as some inanimate force, but as Jesus, who comes into your world to hear you…and to heal you. To depend on Him like you do, your best friend, to know He is there,  just as He promised. That was proven at the cross, when you were drawn into Him, and died with Him that you would rise to a new life with Him.

And then you pray, cry out to Him… let Him have it all…He is with you… and wants to be there for each one of us.

It comes down to this – the Lord is with you!

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

William Loehe, Liturgy for Christian Congregations of the Lutheran Faith, ed. J. Deinzer, trans. F. C. Longaker, Third Edition. (Newport, KY: n.p., 1902), 81.

We Could Not…So He Did! Part 2 – Guard this Treasure

a lenten series from concordia

We could not…so He Did!
Guard this Treasure!

† In Jesus Name †

May the grace and peace of God our Father help you to recognize the treasure given to you in your relationship with Jesus Christ!

The Dark Night of the Soul

As we walk with Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, we have the opportunity to witness the darkest night that has ever occurred spiritually. The night when evil was more powerfully present than ever when that evil created despair so powerfully it assaulted Jesus. It created a dark night, the darkest night, even for Jesus.

He would cry out to His Father, our Creator, in the depth of His despair, he would be so physically overwhelmed by anxiety and the darkness that He would sweat blood. The emotional and spiritual trauma was greater than anything ever experienced by mankind.

The Darkest Night of the Soul…

And perhaps a night of unshakable beauty…a night to not only remember… but to be in awe of the beauty of the darkness.

You see, we need to look at Jesus, the one Isaiah identified as the man of sorrows, and be in awe of the beauty. We need to treasure these moments.

Can We Keep the Watch? Can we stay aware of what Jesus went through?

Or will we be like the apostles… and fall asleep on our watch?

Keeping Watch…

It had been an emotional week, with many ups and downs.  Preparing for the feast was an enormous task for this traveling band of homeless missionaries.

The feast itself was a challenge, with two of the brothers fighting, with Peter nearly ready to walk away rather than let Jesus wash his feet. Then the comment by Jesus, about someone ready to betray him… a question that caused them all to question themselves, none of them confident in that moment…

The fiery scene with Judas, the long walk to the garden in the dark… and Jesus so serious, so perplexed.

It was draining.

We need to experience Jesus there; we need to pay careful attention to what He went through that evening. Our point of focus during these weeks of lent is a few hours described in just a few sentences… What will get in the way?

Will it be sleep? Will it be our own weariness? Will it be our own dark nights of the soul?

Will we be able to stay awake, to keep watch, to guard the truth of this night in our hearts, meditating on Jesus, being with Him there…

I am going to be bluntly honest.  You will fail during this time… You will have the same level of t

You will sin…you might experience despair, and you might forget about the hope you have.

You will know the feeling that the 12 apostles had, as Jesus woke them up for the third time. There will be times where you will feel as guilty and ashamed as they did. As they witnessed His arrest, to follow Him at a distance as he was tried and beaten and crucified.

There have been times and will be times where you could not keep watch…where you did not treasure this suffering of Jesus.

We could not… so He Did…

I never want to tell you that it is okay to fall asleep on God, to fail to treasure what God is giving you in Christ Jesus.

But where we can’t keep our focus on Him, when we can’t guard the treasure of what He’s given us because of His passionate embrace of suffering, we find out He did.

He treasured that night, He suffered through it, He didn’t fall asleep.

And while He was disappointed that they could not treasure it, while Jesus is disappointed in our failures, He continues to come to us, to wake us up.

We have to realize the love that drives Him to do this is beyond our ability to understand. He doesn’t just love us if we fall asleep 7 times, or 70 times,

He loves us.

So He kept the watch that night. He treasured the relationship He has with you and me. 

He kept watch over them, treasuring them, and not one of the apostles would die with Jesus because Jesus was faithful.

This is what we need to know in our dark nights, in our moments where anxiety and doubt take their toll when evil seems to have Jesus and obliterated God.

He is still there; Jesus treasures us. Because of that fact, we know a peace that passes all understanding, as He guards our hearts and minds.. in Him.  AMEN!

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