Devotional Thought of the Day:
11 iI will set my tabernacle in your midst, and will not loathe you. 12 Ever present in your midst, I will be your God, and you will be my people. Lev 26:10–12 NABRE
40 *They will confess their iniquity and the iniquity of their ancestors in their treachery against me and in their continued hostility toward me, 41 so that I, too, had to be hostile to them and bring them into their enemies’ land. Then, when their uncircumcised hearts are humbled and they make amends for their iniquity, 42 I will remember my covenant with Jacob, and also my covenant with Isaac; and also my covenant with Abraham I will remember. Lev 26:40–42
273 Dear Jesus: if I have to be an apostle, you will need to make me very humble. Everything the sun touches is bathed in light. Lord, fill me with your clarity, make me share in your divinity so that I may identify my will with your adorable Will and become the instrument you wish me to be. Give me the madness of the humiliation you underwent, which led you to be born poor, to work in obscurity, to the shame of dying sewn with nails to a piece of wood, to your self-effacement in the Blessed Sacrament. May I know myself: may I know myself and know you. I will then never lose sight of my nothingness. (1)
It’s Monday, and that means lots of posts and tweets about how Monday is a pain in the buttocks. We grieve over Mondays, we hate them, we struggle with them.
Part of the struggle is that we think we have to deal with Monday’s alone, we somehow decide to be hostile to God. You may say, I am a believer, I went to church for 90 minutes yesterday and didn’t even complain when the pastor kept boring me to death!
But being hostile to God isn’t just about going to church, or saying you are a believer. Being hostile to God includes going off on a Monday without Him. Trying to struggle through the return to work, without considering He is as with you today, as He was when you were receiving His body and His Blood at the altar. We are hostile to God when we deny Him the opportunity to comfort us, the opportunity to walk with us, the opportunity to be in a relationship with us that is more than 90 minutes of visitation a week.
What if your Monday stress is simply a call to humility? To remember that you are His children, that He is your God? To remember His role in your life, and welcome it with you?
That is what St. Josemaria’s prayer is all about; as we find the humility to share in His divinity, in His glory. In setting aside our will, our pleasure, instead revelling in His presence, content in His peace.
That is the key to dealing with the frustration of a Monday. That is how dealing with the stress, or the weight of the workload, or the bad attitudes of those around us. To realize we are nothing, like Christ, who emptied Himself. Because from that place, nothing is impossible, and in every situation we can find joy.
For we are with Him, and He reveals to us His love.
Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 1341-1347). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
The Attitude of Endurance Pt 1
As You Journey through this life, may the grace and mercy of God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ convince you of the God’s passionate care for His people!
Nothing will stand in the way
Attitude is often the difference between victory, and failure.
For a student, it is necessary, in order to master the material. Determination makes the difference, far more often than intelligence does. For some things can only be learned through slow repetition. Attitude matters then because a determined attitude will see you through the boring times
For an athlete, an attitude of determination can be the difference between victory and defeat. When an inch matters, determination can stop your opponent.
What about a husband and wife? Do they need to have the correct attitude to see their marriage survive?
What about a believer? Does our attitude help us endure, trusting in God
Or an elder or a pastor? Does attitude have anything to do with how we minister to those around us?
What about our Savior?
If we are to endure this life, and the challenges to our faith, does Christ’s attitude matter?
As Jesus clears the temple courtyard, we see His dedication to seeing us endure. An attitude we need to imitate, that we all need to model for those who need to know His love.
Why was this wrong? Some background
As the Passover nears, people gathered from all over the Mediterranean Basin. They traveled from Rome, from Greece, from Alexandria Egypt and Babylon. Two parts of their journey that mattered were paying the temple tax, and offering pure; unblemished sacrifices, as important to them as our sacraments are to us
Without doing these things, they weren’t included in the people of God. Not by their choice, by God’s rules.
So people provided what they needed, the bulls, the sheep and pigeons, and others provided the special coins needed to pay the temple tax and offering. In the process, a business came up, and some people thrived on it, some even made quite a prophet, as people had to offer these sacrifices.
It wasn’t just the extraordinarily high-profit margins that bothered Jesus. Far more critical was the location for these religious businesses.
The Courtyard of the Gentiles, also known as the courtyard of prayer.
The place set aside, the holy place where the people who were not in Covenant could come and pray. The people Solomon prayed for at the dedication of the temple, centuries before:
41 And don’t forget the foreigner who is not a member of your people Israel but has come from a far country because of your reputation. 42 People are going to be attracted here by your great reputation, your wonder-working power, who come to pray at this Temple. 43 Listen from your home in heaven. Honor the prayers of the foreigner so that people all over the world will know who you are and what you’re like and will live in reverent obedience before you, just as your own people Israel do; so they’ll know that you personally make this Temple that I’ve built what it is. 1 Kings 8:41-43 (MSG)
Imagine the noise of the animals of those people running the coin exchange and the negotiations.
Imagine the noise of Walmart at Christmas time, going on here, as we celebrate the Lord’s Supper!
People, who’ve journeyed days and weeks are trying to cry out to God, and they so need to hear him. While bath’s and moo’s and the high-pitched cry of the birds and the all the talking is going on.
Don’t you see people trying to pray amid all the distractions?
They will be able to pray soon, for Jesus will make it peaceful, just as soon as He cleans house.
Bring it home
As I read this, I wonder how Jesus would clean up the church today. It is easy to answer that for the church throughout the world, but how would he clean house here?
What things do we do, that get in the way of people knowing they are forgiven children of God? What here at Concordia would make it difficult for someone who isn’t yet a believer, find it hard to hear His voice, and see His love revealed?
Maybe these aren’t things we do for money, but that we do for our comfort. Or things we don’t do, because they would make our lives uncomfortable?
If you think about the church in Luther’s time, it’s easy.
The church did everything in a language that people didn’t understand. And in order to find complete forgiveness, there was always something attached. You needed to purchase this indulgence, go on that pilgrimage, be blessed by this relic or that.
They blocked the people from having access to God’s love, to His comfort, to knowing they were forgiven. We do the same thing, perhaps without realizing it, as we cherish our practices, without realizing why they are precious. We want to keep them, but do we realize they might get in the way of someone searching for God?
The church at large could have a myriad of examples, and that is perhaps the biggest. We don’t speak with one voice about our World’s need for God, their only hope to deal with the brokenness of sin in their lives.
Some hide the brokenness, others simply condemn it, without sharing the hope God has given us, in our brokenness. We do the same thing, depending on the sin. Some we treat as unforgivable, without knowing the person sitting next to us is dealing with brokenness because of that sin. Other sins, we overlook, knowing that we are struggling with it, or someone else we love is.
And our house needs to be cleaned out. We need God to come through, and break down the barriers we set up. We need Him to help us realize that this place is a place of prayer, for Christians, and for those He is calling to, desire that they come to repentance!
Endurance – loving God, loving those around us
This is where attitude and endurance come into play. It is not our attitude and endurance rather it is our Lord’s.
He will do whatever it takes to bring people to the Father. He will humble the proud and lift up the weak. He will comfort those who need it, come alongside those who are mourning, confront the hard-hearted believers, who believe in God, yet need their hardened hearts broken and cleansed. He will forgive those who confess their sins and cleanse them from all unrighteousness. He will also challenge those whose sin is so controlling them, that only He can free them from it.
He will hear our prayers! The Spirit will reveal God in all His glory, in all His mercy, in all His love.
As we are transformed into His image, this becomes our lives, as we struggle with those things that stop people from knowing His love, His grace, His peace. Those things will come to bug us, and we will struggle with them but realizing His grace and what it means, and that others know it,
We will endure, we will ask Him to cleanse our spiritual homes, we will ask Him to know His love. His attitude will become our attitude…
And it will happen. As we treasure His peace, they will come to know it, and know that He hears their prayers, even as He does ours!
Devotional Thought of the Day:
11 And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony. And they did not love their lives so much that they were afraid to die. Revelation 12:11 (NLT)
And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one. Matthew 6:13 (NLT)
1008 In the hour of temptation, practise the virtue of Hope, saying: For my rest and enjoyment I have the whole of eternity ahead of me. Here and now, full of Faith, I will earn my rest through work and win my joy through suffering. What will Love be like in Heaven? Better still, you should practise your Love by saying: What I want is to please my God, my Love, by doing his Will in all things, as though there were neither reward nor punishment—simply to please him. (1)
We all have temptations.
Some involve things we desire. Chocolate, desserts, alcohol, drugs, pornography, sex in any form other than marriage, gossip, slander (especially those people we don’t like). We can even be tempted to whine and throw a pity party, confident that no one has ever been challenged with what we face.
There are also temptations to avoid things: confrontation, suffering, discomfort, having to sacrifice things that are important to us, even martyrdom. We may not like reality as we perceive it, and the temptation is to believe that perception and hide from that which we cannot control or enjoy.
We pray to God that He would strengthen us against such things, but we fail for so many of them. You aren’t alone in this dear reader, I fail as well, so does every priest and pastor you encounter. Every saint was tempted, and of all History, only Jesus was tested in all points and never succumbed.
Does that mean we stop striving for it and give it up? Do we just enjoy that which damages our bodies and souls? Do we just find our cave, and hide from anyone who might do us harm, including ourselves?
For if we can’t overcome temptation, if we can’t live the perfect, holy life, then why try?
Does God really expect us to live miserably, failing over and again?
The answer is seen in the quotes above, in the description of our lives, found in the Book of Revelation. Yes, the description of our lives, pictured as those who have overcome, (the word nike in Greek – we just did it!) How?
By the blood of Christ – the promise of our being rescued from this life and the damage caused to it by sin. We count on that; we have confidence that God is doing exactly that in this wearying life.
We trust in what God reveals! We know it so well that we are willing to testify to it, testify to it, even like the martyrs who died, rather than give up the hope that God instills in us…
The last comment is perhaps the hardest; we don’t cling to this life so much, that we face anxiety and fear in view of death. This isn’t easy, to not know this life, the only life we know. It is hard to focus on the future. We have obligations and pressures. We have to keep in balance so many different things.
I love Escriva’s two-step approach to this. The first, to have the ultimate sense of delayed gratification. To know what God awaits us, and press on like Paul – to reach that which God has already made it possible to enjoy. That challenges our perceptions, which our sacrifices are complete, that our commitment goes over and above what should be expected.
The second phase is where Christian maturity is revealed, where we have started to understand the depth of God’s love, the blessings He pours out on us, by loving us like that.
To endure life, to work through temptation and trial, to sacrifice things in this life, because doing so frees us to do something that brings God joy! When we got to the point where we don’t do things for the rewards of heaven, but simply because of love for God.
This attitude only occurs when we realize first His love.
Realizing His love puts this life with its trials, temptations and sacrifices into perspective.
I pray that as we deal with the trials and temptations of life, that first and foremost, we look to God and know His love and promises.
For then we know the Blood of Christ, we see it at work in our lives, we treat life in view of eternity, and because of God, we overcome.
(1) Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 3553-3557). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.