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An Intense Faith

Devotional Thought for this Day

7  Our LORD, punish the Edomites! Because the day Jerusalem fell, they shouted, “Completely destroy the city! Tear down every building!” 8  Babylon, you are doomed! I pray the Lord’s blessings on anyone who punishes you for what you did to us. 9  May the Lord bless everyone who beats your children against the rocks! Psalm 137:7-9 (CEV)

896      At this time—and always!—when the Lord wants his seed to spread in a divine diffusion among the different surroundings, he also wants the extension not to lessen in intensity. And you have the clear and supernatural mission of helping to ensure that this intensity is not lost.

The passage in Psalm 139 bothered me for decades. To an extent, it still does. The retribution, the revenge the psalmist proposes seems over the top, it seems beyond belief. How could a follower of God write such a horrid peace, how could they wish that kind of pain on someone else.?

How is this loving their enemies and praying for someone who persecutes them?

The intensity of the faith is some good, the way it ovices itself, perhaps not so much?

Then I see the power of addiction, the brokenness of those who have been abused, the heartache of those betrayed by a close friend, and I want to use that passage to justify praying for revenge, asking God to crush those who cause such damage.

And am I wrong?

Yes, if the enemy is another human.

No, if the enemies are the demonic forces that tempt, that kill, that try to blot out the image of God created in mankind.

I need to be praying for those who seem to be the cause of such, praying for God to reach their heart, to circumcise their hearts, even as I need mine to be. To free them from the enslavement to sin that creates the havoc in their lives, which spreads like a virus, affecting all around them.

This is the intensity we need in our faith, that dear Josemaria speaks of, that focuses our battle where it should be, crushing the gates of hell which tries to stop the power of the gospel.

This is the seed which must be sowed, in more and more places, but not with any less intensity.

May we increase in our intensity, may we realize the damage the powers of hell try to create in life, and may our hearts be set on seeing God’s love free and heal those who have been so damaged.

Lord, Lead us into this battle, and protect us, we pray. AMEN!

Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge . Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Do We Hate Sin? Or Just Passively Accept it’s Existence?

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Broken by sin, one lost is returned by the Shepherd

Devtional/Discussion THought of the Day:
29  Levi gave a large dinner at his home for Jesus. Everybody was there, tax men and other disreputable characters as guests at the dinner. 30  The Pharisees and their religion scholars came to his disciples greatly offended. “What is he doing eating and drinking with crooks and ‘sinners’?” 31  Jesus heard about it and spoke up, “Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? 32  I’m here inviting outsiders, not insiders—an invitation to a changed life, changed inside and out. Luke 5:29-32 (MSG) 

1024      Help me repeat in the ear of this person and of that other one… and of everyone: a sinner who has faith, even if he were to obtain all the blessings of this earth, will necessarily be unhappy and wretched. It is true that the motive that leads us (and should lead everyone) to hate sin, even venial sin, ought to be a supernatural one: that God abhors sin from the depths of his infiniteness, with a supreme, eternal and necessary hatred, as an evil opposed to the infinite good. But the first reason I mentioned to you can lead us to this other one.  (1)

Yesterday in our Adult Bible Study the comment came up again, about Jesus’ words. “judge not, lest you be judged”. We were dealing with the Leviticus 19, and the call to confront those we struggle with, lest we carry the burden of their sin.  It seems, that we are challenged, greatly challenged, by what appears to be contradictory commands in scripture.  We are not to judge (actually condemn might be more accruate) but we have to make the judgment that a relationship damaged by sin, needs to be fixed.   We have to risk being judged for being judgmental. (for surely those accused of jduging will be judged!)

Some will say in response, “You have to hate the sin, and love the sinner!”   If this is just a way of accepting the inevitable fact that all of us still sin, and that we have to love people who are dominated by such sin, then it is not accurate. Hating the sin means hating the hold it has over people, the oppression it causes, as people get sucked into its grip. We have to realzie that sin is powerful, it does control and oppress people, and it can do devastating damage to a person, and to those around them.  No wonder Paul said,

 17  But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! 18  I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. 19  I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. 20  My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time. 21  It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. 22  I truly delight in God’s commands, 23  but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge. 24  I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question? Romans 7:17-24 (MSG)

Do we hate that feeling that nothing we can do helps, when we are oppressed by sin?  Do we cry out as Paul does here, openly, to the Church in Rome?  Or, have we just given up, and left people in bondage to it, accepting that it just is that way?

Remember why Jesus said He came above.  It’s not for us who think we are whole, who claim we’ve broken the power of sin, and we are holy.

It is for those broken by sin, devastated by it, those who are crying out for help.  Those who need a healing that only Jesus Christ can bring about, as He unites us to Himself, as He takes on our sin.  That’s what the Pharisees didn’t see, that Christ didn’t come to celebrate the good life, but to crush sin and its power. Hating sin as God does means that we want to see people come to that transformation, that incredible thing called repentance, to the freedom from its power. Paul finished off his cry above with this,

 25  The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.  Romans  (MSG) 1  With the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah, that fateful dilemma is resolved. Those who enter into Christ’s being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. 2  A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death. 3  God went for the jugular when he sent his own Son. He didn’t deal with the problem as something remote and unimportant. In his Son, Jesus, he personally took on the human condition, entered the disordered mess of struggling humanity in order to set it right once and for all.  Romans 7:25-8:3(MSG)

In Christ, we are set right, once and for all. But that means we need to realzie that people need to be set right, they need to be freed from this oppressive thing we know as sin…..

But that means we need to confront, in love.  A tough challenge, a lot of risk. But that is why He came – and that is why we are here….for if Christ didn’t come to care for the well, but the sick, shouldn’t we be following His example?

Lord have mercy on us, help us to hate the sin, and seek healing for sinners from its ravages!

 

(1)  Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 3623-3628). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

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