Devotional Thought of the Day:
and think the same way that Christ Jesus thought: 6 Christ was truly God. But he did not try to remain equal with God. 7 He gave up everything and became a slave, when he became like one of us. 8 Christ was humble. He obeyed God and even died on a cross. Phil. 2:5-8 CEV
Do you believe that your sins are forgiven, and that Christ has made a full atonement for them? Then what a joyful Christian you ought to be! How you should live above the common trials and troubles of the world! Since sin is forgiven, can it matter what happens to you now? Luther said, “Smite, Lord, smite, for my sin is forgiven; if thou hast but forgiven me, smite as hard as thou wilt”; and in a similar spirit you may say, “Send sickness, poverty, losses, crosses, persecution, what thou wilt, thou hast forgiven me, and my soul is glad.”
When people talk about Philippians 2, they usually mention the incredible description of Jesus found in verses 6 through 11. It is an ancient hymn, sometimes called the Carem Christi.
But we forget that it is an invitation.
An invitation to suffering. An invitation to love like Jesus loves.
An invitation to know the love of Christ, to know it so intimately that you don’t reject pain and suffering for the cross, but embrace it, s Jesus did, for the joy that it will bring.
That is the point of that hymn being shared, to help us learn how to embrace the hard things in life. To see them as the opportunity to imitate Jesus!
This is possible for the very reason Spurgeon notes. We realize what it means that we are forgiven, that our relationship with God is perfect and new. Everything that was broken has been healed, everything that was corrupted was restored. How amazing this is! How incredible! It can and should overwhelm us as it becomes more clearly revealed.
Even to the point where we “ask for it!” We ask for the pain, the suffering, whatever it costs to help others come ot know God’s love. For it is worth it, all the suffering, even martyrdom, if through it one person comes ot know the Lord’s love for them.
As we suffer, as life hauls off and wallops us, we begin to understand the cost to Jesus of living us, and that love, not our own strength, sustains us. Not only sustains us, but empowers us as we realize what it all leads to, the vision Paul used in the next chapter,
10 All I want is to know Christ and the power that raised him to life. I want to suffer and die as he did, 11 so that somehow I also may be raised to life. Philippians 3:10-11 (CEV)
I pray that you and I will come to want to suffer and know the power that raised Christ to life. AMEN!
C. H. Spurgeon, Morning and Evening: Daily Readings (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1896).
Devotional Thought of the Day
35 As Jesus approached Jericho, a blind beggar was sitting beside the road. 36 When he heard the noise of a crowd going past, he asked what was happening. 37 They told him that Jesus the Nazarene* was going by. 38 So he began shouting, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
39 “Be quiet!” the people in front yelled at him.
But he only shouted louder, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”
40 When Jesus heard him, he stopped and ordered that the man be brought to him. As the man came near, Jesus asked him, 41 “What do you want me to do for you?”
“Lord,” he said, “I want to see!”
42 And Jesus said, “All right, receive your sight! Your faith has healed you.” 43 Instantly the man could see, and he followed Jesus, praising God. And all who saw it praised God, too. (Lk 18:35–43 NLT)
914 How pitiful are those crowds—high and low and middle-class—without an ideal! They give the impression that they do not know they have souls: they are a flock, a drove, a herd. Jesus, only with the help of your merciful love will we turn the flock into a legion, the drove into an army, and from the herd of swine draw, purified, those who no longer wish to be unclean. (1)
27 The need which ought to be the concern of both ourselves and others is quite amply indicated in the Lord’s Prayer. Therefore it may serve to remind us and impress upon us not to become negligent about praying. We all have needs enough, but the trouble is that we do not feel or see them. God therefore wishes you to lament and express your needs and wants, not because he is unaware of them, but in order that you may kindle your heart to stronger and greater desires and spread your cloak wide to receive many things.
As I hear the words of the gospel, as I picture the blind man there, I would hope to be him. I would hope my church would be like Him as well. I would hope that when we need healing, that nothing would stop us from calling out to God, that nothing would quiet us, that nothing would stand in our way, until was are sure He heard us, and we were confident of the answer. Such is Luther’s point about prayer. God wants to hear them, even if we are the flock that St Josemaria talks of, and we are simply praying that we would no longer be unclean.
I fear that the Church (not just my congregation – the Church as a whole) is often like the crowd that surrounded the poor blind beggar. Rather than hear their cries and carry them to Jesus, we tell them to shut up, to be quiet, to not cause trouble with their cries for help.
Maybe it is because they seem like poor broken beggars, and we forget it is for such Jesus came. (and that we are no better)
Maybe it is because we don’t recognize their cries as cries for help, or that the help they need is something that God can help with? In those cases, we try to drown them out, rather than hear them out, till we see the brokenness and can offer them help and hope.
Maybe it is because we are afraid that if we are called to help them, to bring them to Jesus to be healed, that will somehow require us to reveal our own brokenness, the things we are still struggling to see completely healed.
Maybe it is because we forgot our call is to be pastors, shepherds, ministers, servants, priests. Instead, we may have thought we are executives, entrepreneurs, ranchers, consultants and motivators
We have to stop silencing their cries. We have to have the compassion of those who would point them to Jesus, and point Jesus to them. We have to want them to know the healing we are experiencing.
Even if their brokenness is a threat to our own lives.
We need Jesus to kindle our hearts, to reveal His merciful love through us, to see all of those who are blind to it healed. We need for them to catch the kind of fire Luther so eloquently talks of, as he shares about the Lord’s Prayer. They need to spread their cloaks out wide, to receive the presents that come with His presence. We need to help them..which means we too need to spread our cloaks wide, to call out to Jesus to heal us.
Such is our vocation, not to quiet them from crying out to Him, but to encourage, lift their pleas even louder, to help them know the God, who hears… and heals.
Lord Have Mercy!
(1) Escriva, Josemaria (2010-11-02). The Way (Kindle Locations 2126-2129). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
(2) Tappert, T. G. (Ed.). (1959). The Book of Concord the confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. (p. 424). Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press. The Large Catechism