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Lord, Have Mercy on us! (all of us… them too!)

WHat about the thief

Thoughts to encourage you to adore Jesus….

40  But the other criminal protested, “Don’t you fear God even when you have been sentenced to die? 41  We deserve to die for our crimes, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong.” 42  Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.” 43  And Jesus replied, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.” Luke 23:40-43 (NLT2)

34  Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” And the soldiers gambled for his clothes by throwing dice. Luke 23:34 (NLT2)

43  “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. 44  But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! 45  In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:43-45 (NLT2)

It is 9-11.

And last night, another friend passed away. One who made me think often of the incredible dimensions of God’s love, displayed on the cross.

And I woke this moring, on 9/11, thinking about the thief on the cross next to Jesus. The one who would be with Jesus in heaven in just a few hours.

God’s mercy extended out to him, even a few pain filled hours before he died.

How incredible is GOd’s mercy!

I don’t know how many people in the towers, on the rescue crews, in the planes, knew Jesus prior ot that day.

Even if they didn’t, in their last moments, any of their cries would be met with the same kind of mercy. THe same forgiveness, the same love, the same promise… today you will be with ME, in heaven.

For God did not want any to perish – but all to come to repentance…. (2 Peter 3:9)

And God doesn’t rejoice in the death of the wicked… (Ezekiel 33:11)

We wil never forget the events of 9/11.

But I pray we remember them in such a way that we are motivated to see all reconciled in Christ to the Father. To love those who seem unlovable, to bless and pray for those who persecute God’s people.

Lord have mercy! CHrist have mercy! Lord have mercy on us all!

The Inconvient, Challenging Truth of Following Jesus.

where I belong… at the foot of the cross

A Hard Devotional Thought for these Days

Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, because they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided his clothes and cast lots. Luke 23:34 CSB

It appears that too many Christians want to enjoy the thrill of feeling right but are not willing to endure the inconvenience of being right.

Therefore the entire sum of what it means not to kill is to be impressed most explicitly upon the simple-minded. In the first place that we harm no one, first, with our hand or by deed. Then, that we do not employ our tongue to instigate or counsel thereto. Further, that we neither use nor assent to any kind of means or methods whereby any one may be injured. And finally, that the heart be not ill disposed toward any one, nor from anger and hatred wish him ill, so that body and soul may be innocent in regard to every one, but especially those who wish you evil or inflict such upon you.

I knew what was coming today in my Bible reading.

It made me want to delay it as much as possible.

The words from the cross above frustrate me… significantly frustrate me. Especially if the Apostle Paul’s words are echoing through my mind at the same time.

 I
mitate me, as I also imitate Christ. 1 Corinthians 11:1 CSB

Yesteday, I was planning the service for the day after the twentieth anniversary of 9/11. Flashing across my news feed and social media were call for revenge, including a horrific prayer for it to have quickly, to wipe out a people. It wanted revenge, not justice, and definitely not mercy.

And my first reaction was to agree, even as it soured my stomach… and I knew it was wrong.

Did I mention following Jesus was inconvenient?

Another line from the Scriptures, this time from Jesus,

43  “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. 44  But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! 45  In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:43-45a (NLT2)

This isn’t just inconvenient… I don’t even have the words.

It is more tha just difficult, it is impossible… at least for me.

Never mind those who have killed people in what they consider war… this is true for those in all sorts of positions. Some actively hate, some unintentionally hurt (how could they not see their own narcicism?)

But on this day, as I read of Jesus on the cross, I realize again how much I have to be united to that cross, to let my narcicistic self die there, and rise to life with Him. How that means I give up my desire for revenge (though I call it justice – let’s be honest here) I need His mercy, I need His love…

I need Him to heal me of my hurt.

This isn’t about being weak, about not standing up for what is right and wrong. Luther’s quote makes that clear – we can’t let our hearts be ill-disposed, but rather we need to lift these enemies to the Lord in prayer, and desire, as God does, that they come to repentance. That’s not being weak….

It is accepting the inconvenience of following Christ, and realizing that Him joy

As we do, it will take prayer, it will take a lot of thought about the cross, and the grave, and why Jesus, for the joy set before Him,… set aside revenge… and loved.

us

all.

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

Martin Luther, The Large Catechism, trans. F. Bente and W. H. T. Dau (n.p.: WORDsearch, 2003).

Why, God? Why?

Devotional thought of the Day:

 1  At that time some people were there who told Jesus about the Galileans whom Pilate had killed while they were offering sacrifices to God. 2  Jesus answered them, “Because those Galileans were killed in that way, do you think it proves that they were worse sinners than all other Galileans? 3  No indeed! And I tell you that if you do not turn from your sins, you will all die as they did. 4  What about those eighteen people in Siloam who were killed when the tower fell on them? Do you suppose this proves that they were worse than all the other people living in Jerusalem? 5  No indeed! And I tell you that if you do not turn from your sins, you will all die as they did.”   Luke 13:1-5 (TEV)

A lot of people are writing today about 9-11, the memories, the pain, the “we will never forget” type statements that are true on such anniversaries, but aren’t always remembered 4 months and 13 days from now.

We remember where we were, I was at a Del Taco in Yucca Valley, grabbing a quick breakfast before heading to play golf at a Marine base.  We remember the shock and hurt and pain. I remember calling the radio station in town and telling them my church would be open for anyone to come and pray.. or to come and talk.  Many did, then other churches did the same…

But I don’t think about that every day.  There have been other tragedies Katrina and Sandie, other traumas (wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, other events like closing our school), other deaths (over 100 friends since then… including close close friends like Clyde and Warren and Joseph).

And in each rtauma –  I want to hear the same answer – the question that everyone wants to ask, and some do.

Why, God?  Why?

There are the cliche’d answers, Some are true – but empty sounding at the time.

There are the answers given in ignorance, that simply ingore the pain, the hurt, the anxiety.

There are hard sermons and message and blogs – some even using the passage above – that basically say, “before another trauma hits – you better get your act straight with your God.” and  “repent – for death can come in the twinkling of an eye.”

And they miss the point.

Repentance is not something we come to naturally, it is not something we can “will” when our hearts our tugged and made to feel guilt and shame.  In Acts 5 and 11 it says it is granted by the Holy Spirit, it is a gift.  It is the changing, not just of behaviors, but of minds and hearts, things promised to us when Christ is revealed, when God cleanses us of all unrighteousness – to be honest – something we struggle with at the best of times.

But repentance brings us to a place where we can deal with life – even with the traumas and trageides of life.  It’s not something we do, it’s something we become.  It’s that place of peace, that only comes from trusting in God’s faithfulness, in God love.  It’s a place where we know God is God.  Not just academically, but with our spiritu, our heart, our soul.  Repentance, this amazing transformation is the place martyrs find, when they like Stephen cry out those those killing them be forgiven.  It’s the place where we find God so present, that we fall in awe, crying even as His relief sweeps over us.

It is where we realize we may not in this life ever understand the “why?”, that the answer given may evade us… and we are okay with that.. because we know God is with us.

It is the place where hope conquers despair, where trust overcomes our doubts…. where life conquers death.

12 years ago, as planes crashed, as towers fell, people who hadn’t stepped in a church for decades… came… they came two weeks later to Desert Christ Park, where hundreds gathered to worship and pray.  Despite our pain, despite our anxiety…. from the hearts of people a song rose out – and after the verses finished, the chorus seemed to just keep going – even without us musicians playing….

Hear these words we sang… and let them help you realize… the answer you need..

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.
Refrain:
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

Refrain:
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

Refrain:
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.

It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

May the Lord’s mercy be so evident, may His faithfulness be so revealed to you… that even on these days where sorrow again tears at our heart… that you know it is well with your soul!

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