Devotional Thought of the Day:
Lk 21:36 — Keep alert at all times. And pray that you might be strong enough to escape these coming horrors and stand before the Son of Man.”
Ro 12:12 — Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying.
Eph 6:18 — Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.
Col 4:2 — Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart.
1Th 5:17 — Never stop praying.
Lk 11:5-9 — Then, teaching them more about prayer, he used this story: “Suppose you went to a friend’s house at midnight, wanting to borrow three loaves of bread. You say to him, 6 ‘A friend of mine has just arrived for a visit, and I have nothing for him to eat.’ 7 And suppose he calls out from his bedroom, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is locked for the night, and my family and I are all in bed. I can’t help you.’ 8 But I tell you this—though he won’t do it for friendship’s sake, if you keep knocking long enough, he will get up and give you whatever you need because of your shameless persistence. 9 “And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.
“To be with him”—this “with him” is needed not just for a certain initial period so that it can be drawn upon later. It must always be at the heart of the priestly ministry. But it has to be used, it has to be learned so that eventually it will have acquired a certain ease and we can take for granted that it will not fail us in times of trial. It is important that we do not cultivate prayer only when we find joy in it. Just as nothing important can be attained in this life without discipline and method, so, too, our inner life has need of both of these
The quote from Pope Ratzinger above comes out of a quote that starts with a serious question. Back when he was a bishop, he was trying to determine why those who enter the ministry with zealous, that many had high expectations of, why would these potential superstars in ministry collapse, burn out, losing the zeal, only to replace it with emptiness.
It is a good question for us, not just for those in “ministry”, but for all who are in the priesthood of all believers.
And I think the answer is the same.
it is the lack of prayer, the lack of fellowship time with God.
We have to get away from the idea that prayer is something we have to do, or that prayer time should be a time of great joy and being uplifted. We have to realize that the times where prayer is a lament, the attempt to vent and leave God with all our burdens. To pray with the tears running full, even to the point where our prayer ends in exhaustion and a release into sleep.
That is why Jesus and the apostles kept encouraging people to pray, to speak, to listen, to communicate with God. You see it over and over, through the psalms, throughout the New Testament, there are invitations to walk in the presence of God. There are the invitations to give Him all of our burdens, to find peace in His presence, and to know we are safe there.
And if the lack of pray results in burnout and loneliness, then prayer, these times of fellowship with God, allow us to see how He sustains us. To know He is there, to know He is listening, to know we can enter into those hard times of prayer with ease, confident of His love. This is what we need, this is what keeps us going, even in the darkness.
This is our guard against burnout, against losing our zeal, against the feelings of emptiness and loneliness in the storm.
Prayer helps you to know this… God is with you!
So keep praying my friends!
Ratzinger, J. (1992). Co-Workers of the Truth: Meditations for Every Day of the Year. (I. Grassl, Ed., M. F. McCarthy & L. Krauth, Trans.) (p. 291). San Francisco: Ignatius Press.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
12 I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. 13 No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. Philippians 3:12-14 (NLT)
24 Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? 25 Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin. Romans 7:24-25 (NLT)
223 Along the way to personal sanctity we can at times get the impression that we are going backwards instead of forwards, that we are getting worse instead of better. As long as there is interior struggle this pessimistic thought is only an illusion, a deception to be rejected as false. Persevere and don’t worry. If you fight with tenacity you are making progress and are growing in sanctity.
For decades I think we’ve bought into an idea of spiritual growth that is both childish, and damaging. It begins with telling stories of the great people that precede us in the faith as if they were perfect, as if they had no faults, as if they weren’t broken.
King David was perfect, and not an adulterer and murderer. St Paul was a theologian par excellence, without a doubt or any struggle with sin. ( I can even find commentaries that say the above quote from Romans was St. Paul talking about prior to his conversion! ) We will whitewash Luther’s bi-polar nature, or Mother Theresa’s dealing with both depression. We do this all the time, even with the modern folks we believe will be the next generation’s heroes of the faith.
That idea seems to be revealed for what it is, immature at best and perhaps deliberately misleading.
Paul struggled with sin, he realized that he had to battle for what was his in Christ, not to achieve it, but to receive it, to believe in, to depend on it. Even when our heart is trying to get us to focus on our sin, on our failures, on our spiritual growth not being as great as it should be.
St. Josemaria describes in a way that resonates with me, that there are times where we are going backwards, rather than forwards, that things are getting worse rather than better. I resemble this at times, more often that I want to admit.
Which makes it challenging, because my mind will then move to why be a pastor, if I can’t grow deeper in faith myself?
Evaluating our spiritual growth is good, if we understand what spiritual growth is, what it really looks like, how it is measured.
The struggle with our sinfulness is part of it, we should never become complacent with our sin. It shouldn’t haunt us, for Christ has won the victory over it, but we shouldn’t become complacent either. Our sin still needs to irritate us, disgust us, make us uncomfortable.
Not so we hide from God, but that we depend upon Him to purge that sin from us, that He would transform us. Growth that has as its goal that we would treasure His love and mercy more than we treasure the sin.
This is growth, this battle, this fight, a growth which seems unending, but it will end. He has promised and He is faithful. As He hangs on to us, we learn to hang on to Him.
May we be transparent enough with the generations that follow us, that they clearly see our trusting in God, even when it doesn’t make sense, even when we think we don’t deserve His mercy and love.
For then they will know this growth as well.. and not be as dismayed when Satan assails them.
Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge (Kindle Locations 959-964). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
The Simple Christian Life – Love, HOPE, FAITH
Hope Generated in His Promised Plans
† I.H.S. †
May this message about the grace of God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ increase your hope and expectation of God’s role in your life!
Even though the sermon is based on the Psalm – I want to start with the Old Testament reading about Abraham. God is talking about hiding His plans from Abraham, and there are days I wonder if the Trinity hasn’t had the same conversations about us.
Not that God is going to do something like he did through Abraham with us. I mean, having a kid at 100, or when Kay is 90? Maybe that is Al and Shirley’s task? Carol and Chuck’s?
But what about this idea that we don’t know the plans God has for us. TO be honest, I am personally struggling with that one right now. God, I don’t understand what You are doing, it doesn’t make sense!
You see that in the psalm as well – when at the end of praising God, when at that end of realizing that God has saved us while realizing that God will work out His plans for our life because His love is faithful. The psalmist then pleads…
“Don’t abandon me. (remember) you made me.”
I get that… and yet.. the entire Psalm speaks to the fact He will not.
There, we can find the truth that helps us, when we don’t have a clue about what God has planned for our lives.
The answer is profound, and it will give a profound hope, an incredible expectation of what God can and will do in our lives.
Even after the praise – Even after the climb
I am going to shift for the moment, to the end of the Gospel of Matthew, to a seen that didn’t make sense to me when I first realized what it says:
16 Then the eleven disciples left for Galilee, going to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him—but some of them doubted! 18 Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Matthew 28:16-18 (NLT)
They had seen him crucified, they spent significant time with him after the resurrection, and it said that some of them still doubted.
Just like the Psalmist.
Just like me when I am at a convention, or when I am struggling with not knowing which way life will twist next. When I don’t know the plans He has for me, and to be honest; I wonder if the plans are truly good and right.
Because of the sin of the world, because of my sin, because of the brokenness of everything, trusting, expecting, depending on everything to turn out right is a challenge at times. Sometimes it isn’t even about sin; it may be that we are simply tired.
Like the 11, some of us doubt,
It’s not new; it’s not something that will result in your condemnation, or in God abandoning you, even though it seems at times like He has, or He might or He should.
Just because you don’t know his plans, doesn’t mean that what He has planned for us is horrid or evil.
So how do we cope when we don’t know his plans, and this leads to doubt?
Back to the basics – He rescued us -why would he waste us?
We go back to what we do know, what we count on.
Who He is.
Seven times his name, His personal name is used in this passage. Eight more times David uses pronouns directly talking to or about Him. 2 more times he references the name of God.
We have to hear these things for ourselves. Let’s read them together
- You answer me
- Your unfailing love and faithfulness
- Your praises (backed by your name – who you are!)
- You answer me
- You encourage by giving strength
- You will protect me
- You reach out your hands
- Your right-hand saves me
- Your faithful love endures forever.
- You made me.
The very reason we praise Him, along with Kings from all over the earth is that we Hear His words, we understand His care for all – especially those of us who are broken and humbled by life. They need to hear Him, and they shall, for this is His desire.
This is the reason we have hope in life, why we expect that at the end of our days there is life everlasting. This is why we know that as we walk through this life – we hear Him. For we are people who are people who are His priests and kings.
Behind the plans, God has made His nature, the very same nature we see backing up the promises He made and kept in the life and death, the resurrection and ascension of Jesus.
Like Abraham, and even more closely, we walk with God, His Spirit dwells within us, His voice resonates in us because He is with you.
Which is why we do what he did,
Hear the words again,
I have singled you out so that he will direct his sons and their families to keep the way of the Lord, by doing what is right and just.
Does that sound like this?
19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you.
We, those who God has made plans for, who are blind to them, and sometimes doubt, have the same call – to help all of Abraham’s children of faith, not matter Jew or Gentile, to hear His voice, including the answer to the last cry of the Psalmist
And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Matthew 28:19-20 (NLT)
He won’t abandon us; He is with us… This is most certainly true. AMEN
Discussion/Devotional Quote of the Day:
“You are extraordinarily happy. Sometimes you may find out that God has been abandoned by a son of his. THen in the midst of the peace and joy deep within you, you have a pang of grief and a sorry which arises from affection, but you do not allow it really to disturb or upset you.
All right, but.. make sure you use all human and supernatural resources available to help him change his mind. And you must trust fully in Jesus Christ! If you do, the waters will return to their course.” Escriva
It may be a child, or a grandchild, It may be a high school friend – so active in the church during his teens, yet now has no time for God now in his forties, fifties, sixties even. There is even now a classification for such people – the “de-churched” Sometimes they say they believe in God, sometimes they are very angry at God and they say they can’t believe (how can someone be angry at Someone they don’t believe exists? Another question, another day!) Sometimes they live as if it just doesn’t matter, they are so apathetic to anything spiritual…. and sometimes it is that they just have their priorities backward…
It should sadden us, more than just a passing thought. We should pray – deeply pray for such people, and yearn as the Father does for their return. We must also carefully and completely show our care for theme – not nag and harass them – but be there for them, Walk with them instead – journey at their side – for you know where you are going, even if they do not. Don’t be afraid of the mire they are stuck in, you cannot if you are to be the one who brings them the words of life.. and re-kindle that flame of love and adoration of a God who got down into your muck, your mire, to rescue you.
I put in bold the key – the idea that first, always, our trust cannot be in our powers of persuasion, but in Jesus’ love. Nor should we give up hope – for the hope you have for their restoration is found in Jesus, and in the prodigals Daddy, who looked and desired the homecoming of his wandering son. Keep interceding – asking God for their return – knowing God desires it even more than you do. Keep praying, and when the doors are open – be ready and share the love and peace of Christ which you so treasure.
“Lord Have Mercy” we cry, and we know He has…
therefore know He who pulled you out of the mire, walks with you this day…