How Important is Our Belief In Jesus?
Devotional Thought of the Day
25 But I know my living Redeemer, and He will stand on the dust at last. 26 Even after my skin has been destroyed, yet I will see God in my flesh. 27 I will see Him myself; my eyes will look at Him, and not as a stranger. My heart longs within me. Job 19:25-27 HCSB
22 “And now I am on my way to Jerusalem, bound in my spirit, j not knowing what I will encounter there, 23 except that in town after town the Holy Spirit testifies to me that chains and afflictions are waiting for me. 24 But I count my life of no value to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of God’s grace. Acts 20:22-24 HCSB
15 These are the most necessary parts of Christian instruction. We should learn to repeat them word for word.
16 Our children should be taught the habit of reciting them daily when they rise in the morning, when they go to their meals, and they go to bed at night; until they repeat them they should not be given anything to eat or drink.
17 Every father has the same duty to his household; he should dismiss man-servants and maid-servants if they do not know these things and are unwilling to learn them.
18 Under no circumstances should a person be tolerated if he is so rude and unruly that he refuses to learn these three parts in which everything contained in Scripture is comprehended in short, plain, and simple terms,
19 for the dear fathers or apostles, whoever they were,7 have thus summed up the doctrine, life, wisdom, and learning which constitute the Christian’s conversation, conduct and concern.
579 Faith. It’s a pity to see how frequently many Christians have it on their lips and yet how sparingly they put it into their actions. You would think it a virtue to be preached only, and not one to be practiced.
If you read the words from Luther in blue above, they might seem a bit extreme. Over the top. Harsh. One might even accuse him of child neglect or abuse for insisting that children don’t eat until they can repeat them. (please notice it says repeat them) And employees be terminated for not knowing them? Isn’t that a bit much?
Then look at St. Josemaria’s words, decrying the life-less faith of those who can say they believe, but that belief doesn’t impact their lives. They can preach it, they can state the arguments, but there is something missing. One might even ask if they truly have faith if they depend on the Jesus they confess to with their words.
We need to have the kind of dependence on God that we see in Job, or in Paul. One was encountering great trauma (and then it was greatly compounded by his wife and wise counselors) and the other, went where everyone told him not to go because the Spirit revealed to them the pain and trauma he would endure.
Job said no matter how bad it gets, he knew God would be faithful and would raise him from the dead just so he could be with God. Paul corrected them, noting that the chains and afflictions were easily worth it, knowing that people’s salvation was at stake, knowing that without knowing God, there would be no comfort, no solace, no serenity found in the midst of life.
So how does our faith, our ability to depend on the God whom we can’t see, grow? Is it possible to have the faith of Job, Paul, Luther, or Escriva? Or are they just heroes of the faith that we cannot hope to be like?
For myself, my faith, my dependence on God grows or deepens, the more I encounter God’s love. Whether that encounter is at the Altar, sharing in the Eucharist, the Lord’s Supper with others who are struggling, whether it is in studying the word and teaching it. Whether it is in times of prayer.
Perhaps the greatest times of growth occur when I hit rock bottom. When I have no other option, no other hope, and I cry out to God. I may cry out for a day, or even a week, but in the end, I find out He was always there. In the end, I realize where He was working in my life, especially in the words of those who pointed me to God’s mercy and peace. It is then what I was taught in the basic tenets of our faith, the Ten Commandments, the Creed, the Lord’s prayer, and the promises attached to the sacraments also cause me to be still, to catch my breath, to know that He is God. Our God.
This is why those that went before us are so insistent that we learn these basic things. It is critical, for people were right in the 80’s. Life can be a bitch, and in the end, we die. But for those who know God, even then, in our flesh we will see God, our Redeemer. And until then, depending on Him, we can live in a peace that doesn’t make sense, kept there by Jesus himself.
Depend on it. He who promised this is faithful. AMEN!
Lord, have mercy upon us, and grant us the ability to depend on you!
Tappert, T. G. (Ed.). (1959). The Book of Concord the confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. (p. 363). Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press.
Escriva, Josemaria. The Way (Kindle Locations 1383-1386). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Why Are We Afraid of Intimacy With God?
Discussion and Devotional Thoughts of the Day:
11 I will live among you in my sacred Tent, and I will never turn away from you. 12 I will be with you; I will be your God, and you will be my people. Leviticus 26:11-12 (TEV)
What does it mean to have a god? or, what is God? Answer: A god means that from which we are to expect all good and to which we are to take refuge in all distress, so that to have a God is nothing else than to trust and believe Him from the [whole] heart; as I have often said that the confidence and faith of the heart alone make both God and an idol. (1)
78 Heroism, sanctity, daring, require a constant spiritual preparation. You can only ever give to others what you already have. And, to give God to them, you yourself need to get to know him, to live his Life, to serve him. (2)
I have pondered why the church is anemic in America.
We have incredible theologians, great exegetes, and emphasis on apologetics. We have Church Growth studies and strategies, church planters, church restorers, more seminaries than anywhere else in the world.
Yet the church in America still is in decline. It is so bad now, that we actually have experts in church viability, and strategies to close churches. The key phrase these days is a legacy church – a church which realizes it isn’t viable, and therefore determines how to will its assets to something that will live and thrive.
We’e forgotten His promises, we’ve forgotten that this faith we have, is faith in those promises, a trust that is based in not knowing about God
A trust not founded in theological treatises, or exegeting the word skuballw correctly, or in knowing which studies to use to understand a church, or which programs might work in which context. It’s a trust that isn’t dependent on using a 14th century liturgy, (or one from a red, blue or maroon hymnal) or haing the right contemporary service order. All these things are tools, they can be used in our churches, But we never, ever dare put our trust in them. They are not what we count on, they are not whom we believe on, and they will let us down.
It is a trust that comes from knowing God, and knowing Him intimately.
It is then we can study His promises and claim those promises (not promises we or others create) as His promises to us.
But it still isn’t about the promises. They are incredible, they are awesome… but our faith isn’t in them.
It is in Him.
It is in realize that He lives with us, in us, that He has come to us, and saved us, cleansed us, is healing us, and is shepherding us, His church, that we come to know Him. Yes, intimately, and we know He knows us more intimately that we will ever know ourselves. It was that knowledge that caused Him to comes to us, to die for us, for in knowing us, He loves us, and we… amazed, in awe, begin to learn to love Him back.
That love of His for us is what makes us holy.. It is what drives missionaries and martyrs. It’s what makes grandma’s and great aunt’s pray for their prodigals on their knees, It is what makes all the heroes of the faith trust in God in their darkest hour. It is what is causing the church in the “third world” or the Global South, to grow in the face of persecution, in the face of famine, in the face of spiritual warfare.
It’s time we remembered that…. its times we shared that, in chruches, and restaurants, in our homes, our workplaces.
God is with us. God loves us… and share the extent of that love.
(1) The Large Catechism of Martin Luther.
(2) Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 493-495). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Is God Listening? Is God here?
Devotional thought of the day:
“When you pray, don’t babble on and on as people of other religions do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again. 8 Don’t be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him!Matthew 6:7-8 (NLT) 7
463 Your prayer will sometimes be discursive; maybe less often, full of fervour; and, perhaps often, dry, dry, dry. But what matters is that you, with God’s help, are not disheartened. Consider the sentry on duty. He does not know if the King or the Head of State is in the palace: he is not told what he might be doing, and generally the public figure does not know who is on guard. It is not at all like that with our God. He lives where you live, He cares for you and knows your inmost thoughts. Do not abandon the guard-duty of your prayer! (1)
One of the more interesting challenges I have, is teaching my son how to pray. Not the words to say, he has that down, but how to realize that prayer is a conversation with God. That God is there, that God is listening, that God is present.
For a very intelligent 6 year old, who can read like a teenager can eat, what isn’t in front of him, visible, is hard to see. It is hard not to see prayer and simply something we do together, a time we spend together. Body language and voice intonation lets me know he is involved, yet not quite discerning the presence of God. At least that seems to me to be what I’ve seen over the last year or so develop.
I look at people, and are we any different? As we gather, two or three, together. As we pray together in Church, never mind if I dare ask people about their prayer habits. I’ve thought about the pastors gathering that is hosted at my church, and wondering what would happen, if we talked about out prayer habits, and how many would show up if I pre-announced that topic! (Even writing this makes me a bit nervous, because if I ask them, they will surely ask me!)
So how to encourage this regular conversation with God? How do we dare open our lives to Him? How do we pour out on Him our anxieties, our concerns and how do we know He is listening? How do we know the Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer of all creation is waiting to talk to me?
The problem is, like a 6 year old, we struggle to believe in that we cannot touch, We want documentation, a proven methodical concept that works the same way each time. In a way, we want to reduce prayer from the dynamic communication it is, to a formulary set of practices that will work the same way, each time. And when it doesn’t, we can analyze what we did wrong, or dismiss the entire thing as a intellectual fraud.
Relationships are a matter of the heart though, not of our mind. They are surprising and fluid, they are intense, and yet if abandoned dry out. They are life, which is why its called a life of prayer. It is experiental – beyond our ability to logically or within our scope of reason. So why would a relationship with God be any more rational, definable, subject to our control? Knowing His presence is observable, but not with our eyes. It’s know through a trust in Him that is alien to our minds, but with which the heart overrides that analysis, and does so in great joy… for it is there we find peace.
All I can say is faith relies on Him. It trusts Him. He promised to be here,
and He promised to listen and to craft our lives and all that happens to work out for our best. He invited us to pray, taught us how to lay it all out before Him, to let Him care for our burdens and bring life to our weary and broken lives.
I pray that we can be aware of the promises and the reality of them.
- Monday and The Priorities of Work (justifiedandsinner.com)