Thoughts I pray drive you to the cross…
When the LORD heard them, he was furious. The fire of his wrath burned against Jacob. Yes, his anger rose against Israel, 22 for they did not believe God or trust him to care for them. 23 But he commanded the skies to open; he opened the doors of heaven. 24 He rained down manna for them to eat; he gave them bread from heaven. 25 They ate the food of angels! God gave them all they could hold. Psalm 78:21-25 (NLT2)
“Consequently this is the best advice, that one should draw from the source and diligently read the Bible. For a man who knows the text is also an extraordinary theologian. One passage or one text from the Bible is worth more than the glosses of four writers who aren’t reliable and thorough.
Only one stipulation do I make: my teacher must know God, as Carlyle said, “otherwise than by hearsay,” and Christ must be all in all to him. If a man have only correct doctrine to offer me I am sure to slip out at the first intermission to seek the company of someone who has seen for himself how lovely is the face of Him who is the Rose of Sharon and the Lily of the Valley. Such a man can help me, and no one else can.
In my libraries I have closed to 10,000 books, both printed in paper and digitally on 3 different software programs. S
Some are from favorite authors, like St. Josemaria, Michael Card, Martin Luther, Pope Benedict XVI, Peter Kreeft, Will Willimon, and Juan Carlos Ortiz. There are some newer writers that I am coming to appreciate more and more, like Tozer or Senkbeil. And there are other authors who are not as favored in my sight, yet all are men whose lives I thank God for, for they have affected me, or those whom I minister to at my church or in the community.
It would be really easy to just sit back in awe of their devotion, and spend time with their works.
After all, I’ve read the Bible through more than once, in multiple translations.
But it is there, in the pages of scripture, and in receiving and administering the sacraments, that I find God. It is where He hears me, and where I hear Him. There, on every page, there is Jesus. It is there where I find the words to think about, to ponder, even with which I question and argue. (It would be sad if I didn’t question and argue with them, for then I would be dishonest, or perhaps crazy… for God needs to transform me – which means I need to be honest where I am!)
I cannot simply accept what men, far more brilliant that I could ever be, claim about the Greek and the Hebrew. I cannot accept their systems of theology. Simply put, they are sinners as well. Luther and Tozer are right – find the people that know God and rejoice in the intimate relationship He is forging with them. Learn from them how they encounter and walk with God, let them disciple you as you walk with Him. But always let Jesus be your focus, let the scriptures be the resource you measure it all with…
Like the passage from the Psalms, get to know the God, who even when you are struggling with Him, opens the skies and provides for you the bread of heaven and more. For that is when faith is more than just a list of doctrines, it is a relationship where you can depend on God in whatever life throws at you. Get to know the God who didn’t give up on Israel – Issacs’ son, or Israel – the 12 tribes. Get to know Him… experience His love… and without thinking–rejoice!
God loves us.
Not from a distance, but right here and now.
Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, Vol. 54: Table Talk, ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann, vol. 54 (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1999), 352–353.
A. W. Tozer, Tozer for the Christian Leader (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2015).
Devotional Thought of the Day:
Whether it is the fantasy epics of Tolkein and Raymond Feist, or the novels of James Clavell, or the military and naval historical fiction of writers like WEB Griffin, Alexander Kent, or Dewey Lambdin, I love multi-volume epics, the kind that chronicle a life time or more of the events of a group of peoples lives. That detail their struggles, their weakness and their heartaches.
They create worlds in which we can get lost for a time, and in a way, we learn lessons from them.
Some of which can apply to the church.
The first of course is that we don’t know the end of the story. We may know how it resolves – but the getting there and the character development is the story as well. So to it is in our lives – what God uses to develop us into who we are. We really don’t know what is around the corner – who will be introduced into the story, which struggles they will face, even who will be redeemed – and who will not!
So too are we not the writers of our own stories, the journeys and struggles, the unexpected joys, and the victories that seem more a blessing (or luck) than any skill we have.
The key in reading such a story is to entrust yourself to the writer- to buy into His storytelling. The key to living in such a story, as we do in God’s story…is the same – to trust in Him, to wait for the resolution – and to enjoy the ride.
I get the feeling – that for many of us, this year will be another epic trek…. as we journey towards a peacful kingdom – and a feast that celebrates what we’ve found.
May we go it at God’s speed, and depending on His mercy!