Devotional Thought of the Day:
18 A false accusation is as deadly as a sword, a club, or a sharp arrow. Proverbs 25:18 (TEV)
38 “You have heard the law that says the punishment must match the injury: ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I say, do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also. Matthew 5:38-39 (NLT2)
15 See to it that no one be deprived of the grace of God, that no bitter root spring up and cause trouble, through which many may become defiled, Hebrews 12:15 (NAB)
63 The third aspect of this commandment concerns us all. It forbids all sins of the tongue by which we may injure or offend our neighbor. False witness is clearly a work of the tongue. Whatever is done with the tongue against a neighbor, then, is forbidden by God. This applies to false preachers with their corrupt teaching and blasphemy, to false judges and witnesses with their corrupt behavior in court and their lying and malicious talk outside of court.
264 It applies particularly to the detestable, shameful vice of back-biting or slander by which the devil rides us. Of this much could be said. It is a common vice of human nature that everyone would rather hear evil than good about his neighbor. Evil though we are, we cannot tolerate having evil spoken of us; we want the golden compliments of the whole world. Yet we cannot bear to hear the best spoken of others.
442 Never think badly of anyone, not even if the words or conduct of the person in question give you good grounds for doing so.
There will always be people we struggle with, people whose actions and words we don’t understand, and often, those words and actions seem to attach or denigrate or embarrass us.
Sometimes the original intent is harmless, like the joke that struck to close to home.
It is hard not to react. Some would say impossible.
They’ve given reason to think badly about them, to gossip about them, to strike back with words that would hurt them, and perhaps those around them.
Scripture pleads with you, as does Luther and a Catholic saint, don’t say, it, don’t think it. Don’t let your words add to the catastrophe that is occurring. Don’t let the bitterness rise up within you, and spread out like poison. DOn’t get involved in backbiting or slander. Don’t try to justify it, don’t try to
Your words will simply cause more damage, they will tear more people up, as the Psalmist says, these words are weapons, they do an incredible amount of damage, even to the point of killing.
So someone’s words hurt, they stung, they damaged you. How do you respond?
Prayer is the place to start, asking God to remind you of and reveal His grace to you. The grace that will remind you of your forgiveness and the promise to cleanse you from all unrighteousness. Prayer is the place where you can ask God to give you the strength not to respond.
It is when we are secure in HIS peace that we can love past the pain, that we ae assured His cleansing of our lives includes the injustice, the unrighteous acts committed against us. It is there then, with Christ bearing all the sin in our lives, that we find hope, and the possibility of grace.
This isn’t easy, it takes the spiritual maturity of a saint.
That’s okay, God made you to be a saint…
So think of His love, and rejoice, and share that blessing with those whose words hurt.
The Lord is with you!
Tappert, T. G. (Ed.). (1959). The Book of Concord the confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. (p. 400). Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press.
Escriva, Josemaria. The Way (Kindle Locations 1087-1089). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
26 Then your children will ask, ‘What does this ceremony mean?’ Exodus 12:26 (NLT)
1 As for you, my son, be strong through the grace that is ours in union with Christ Jesus. 2 Take the teachings that you heard me proclaim in the presence of many witnesses, and entrust them to reliable people, who will be able to teach others also. 2 Timothy 2:1-2 (TEV)
318 Many years ago now, I saw most clearly a truth which will always be valid: the whole web of society needs a new way of living and spreading the eternal truths of the Gospel, since it has departed from Christian faith and morals. Children of God at the very heart of that society, of the world, have to let their virtues shine out like lamps in the darkness—quasi lucernae lucentes in caliginoso loco. (1)
“What does this mean?” – Martin Luther (throughout both the small and large catechism)
People often respond when they find out I am a pastor with responses indicating that they are “spiritual” or are only interested in a relationship with God. They might even note they have no need for organized religion, (not a problem if you’ve seen my office) or some other disparaging remark about being religious. It’s been going on for almost all of my adulthood, as each generation takes up the mantras in a different way. (you might even say they religiously do so!)
Even among theologians and pastors there is no immunity from this, as when I ask about prayer life or worship or personal Bible study time there is the response that they aren’t pietists. Some will even justify this by claiming that they aren’t saved by such things. (And a lot of the articles about being in a relationship not a religion are written by people who employed as church workers… imagine that!)
I am going to say this, and I want you to hear it clearly. We need to be religious!
When Luther’s catechisms were developed, the one question asked over and over is, “what does this mean?” And then the dialogue would show our need to be in a relationship with God, and how that commandment, belief, prayer, sacrament affected that relationship positively.
I am not talking about heavy theology, I am talking about the basic things a follower of Christ does, that helps them trust in Jesus more.
Growing as we being to Understand Gods will for how we live (the commandments) and how that blesses us.
Growing as we grow deeper in understanding God’s will and actions in creating, healing, and being set apart for that relationship
Growing in our conversation with God, as we learn and pray, giving Him all that causes anxiety and fear, and trusting that He will not only answer those prayers generally, but specifically in our lives.
Growing in appreciation and desire of how God pours out His blessings, His mercy, His peace in those things we call sacraments. Baptism (as He adopts us and marks us as His own), Confession and Absolution (as He comforts and heals us in our brokenness and cleanses us from our sin, and the incredible feast celebrating Christ’s work for you.
All of these things are what I think of when I think of religion. I don’t see anything objectionable to any of them. We should desire to know God more, but that means on His terms. He’s God after all, and He is Who the relationship depends upon. Knowing such things, knowing the “why’s”, gives us hope when life is shattered, when we are oppressed, when we are anxious. A relationship without formed, or formed in our minds cannot do that, for it has no reality in Christ.
Paul told Timothy to pass on what he learned. He was basically telling him to teach people to answer the “what does this mean” question.
It would be a good question to help people ask. And then, religiously answer it, passing down to others what gives you hope.
God bless you as you ask, and give answers to those who ask. For this is your religion, revealing the relationship God wants to have with each of us.
(1) Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 1506-1509). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional/Discussion Thought of the Day
34 And now I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. John 13:34 (TEV)
“All this he does out of his pure, fatherly, and divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness on my part. For all of this I am bound to thank, praise, serve, and obey him. This is most certainly true.
“Thy kingdom come.” What does this mean?
Answer: To be sure, the kingdom of God comes of itself, without our prayer, but we pray in this petition that it may also come to us.
How is this done?
Answer: When the heavenly Father gives us his Holy Spirit so that by his grace we may believe his holy Word and live a godly life, both here in time and hereafter forever.
824 Have you noticed how human love consists of little things? Well, divine love also consists of little things. (3)
Over the course of history, theologians have wasted a lot of time on the arguments about whether the scripture is applicable today. Some say the Old Testament law is no longer binding. Some say you only preach the law to those who are not believers. Others say that a lack of holiness, a lack of strict obedience to scripture (or at least certain parts of it) shows a lack of faith, and may result in the same judgment as an unbeliever.
What a colossal waste of time!
What a shameful waste of time and effort from those who are supposed to be our teachers, those who are to shepherd us.
The above quotes in green are from Luther’s small catechism. They were written to help a dad teach his children about God, about the precious relationship we have with them. They describe a relationship where God’s love and mercy transform us into His children. As His children, we respond to that love instinctually, we do what St Josemaria calls the “little things”. We think about Him (and His people) we take on the mundane, we sacrifice, all without thinking about it, because God loves us, and we adore Him.
This is the Godly life Luther mentions, caused by the presence of the Holy Spirit. We lose our desire to please ourselves, and we find pleasure in the presence of God and His people. We find ourselves devoted to the one who is devoted to us.
This isn’t Ph.D. level theology. It is a life of faith….
it is the response to crying out, “have mercy…” and realize He has….
Love Him, love those He loves…..you don’t need a Ph.D. for that… just the ability to do the little things.
 Tappert, T. G. (Ed.). (1959). The Book of Concord the confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. (p. 345). Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press.
 Tappert, T. G. (Ed.). (1959). The Book of Concord the confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. (p. 346). Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press.
(3) Escriva, Josemaria (2010-11-02). The Way (Kindle Locations 1892-1893). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.