Devotional Thought of the Day:
7 But Christ has shown me that what I once thought was valuable is worthless. 8 Nothing is as wonderful as knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. I have given up everything else and count it all as garbage. All I want is Christ 9 and to know that I belong to him. I could not make myself acceptable to God by obeying the Law of Moses. God accepted me simply because of my faith in Christ. 10 All I want is to know Christ and the power that raised him to life. I want to suffer and die as he did, 11 so that somehow I also may be raised to life. Philippians 3:7-11 (CEV)
8 In conclusion, my friends, fill your minds with those things that are good and that deserve praise: things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and honorable.Philippians 4:8 (TEV)
65 Once again you had gone back to your old follies!… And afterwards, when you returned, you didn’t feel very cheerful, because you lacked humility. It seems as if you obstinately refuse to learn from the second part of the parable of the prodigal son, and you still feel attached to the wretched happiness of the pig-swill. With your pride wounded by your weakness, you have not made up your mind to ask for pardon, and you have not realised that, if you humble yourself, the joyful welcome of your Father God awaits you, with a feast to mark your return and your new beginning. (1)
In the movie “Footloose”, there is a characterization of Christianity, or at least Christianity that used to be.
A Pharisaical legislative, in your face, take names Christianity where those that danced, or drank, or went to movies rated “PG” or worse were held up and scorned. Where the rules of behavior were set in stone, and by golly, if you weren’t going to obey those rules, you were going to be tossed out. If you questioned the rules, you were considered a rebel and someone to be watched.
A generation later, and perhaps we’ve gone the other way, yet are still “legislating” what is right and wrong. Or more accurately, we are simply legislating everything as right, and banishing any thought of the idea of something being “wrong”.
The Pendulum has reached the other side of the swing, This time, it has done what it rarely does – it has taken the church with it, gotten the church’s okay for what is vulgar, profane, sinful. I look at my fb page and what I and others post, and am shocked. Even if permissible, the things we post aren’t beneficial, (didn’t Paul say something about that?)
As one whose vocation, whose career deals with helping people in their brokenness, I see both these extremes as wrong. I have dealt, and continue to deal, with those damaged by these forms of legalism. The damage is horrendous, the pains are real, the broken families, broken marriages, broken friendships, broken people just mount up,
The ways that would excuse and/or justify any behavior, and the kind that would force behavior modification.
That’s not how it works in scripture, for like the old computer rule, these tactics focus on negative behavior – and even taking them in leads to sin. Garbage in, garbage out. Both ways do this – one by approving it, the other by making it tempting and looking good, in the very way we forbid it.
Holiness is something else though. It is abandoning all of these behaviors, not because we are forced too, but because we realize their value compared to the value of knowing Jesus, to knowing the love of God, to knowing His comfort and peace.
Paul’s idea of Phil. 4 – about concentrating on the “good stuff” isn’t law – it is 100% gospel, when you hear it with chapter 3 still fresh in your mind. Because those things he says to focus on are found in the presence of God. They are God’s nature. They lead us to adore Him, to want to be like Him, and in Him finding the strength to that which is positive. The more we see this, the less desirous the life of the prodigal will be, the more we realize the grip of sin was broken at the cross. There is something about that cross, about the crucifixes and crosses we have, that remind us of His love, of His devotion, of that which is unlike anything else we can now.
Will we see God’s glory for what it is? Will we walk with the Lord? Will we realize the garbage that we feed on daily for what it is, and leave it behind to know the love of God?
Lord have mercy on us, and help us to desire you in our lives, and therefore find the holiness that is found in your peace.
(1) Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 490-495). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Thought of the Day:
As I peruse my fb page, and I see the “soundbites” that proliferate it, many include a call to make a choice.
Some call to make a political choice.
Some call us to make a purchase – making a choice to spend money so that our life will be perfect. ( I tend to block MLM posts quickly)
Many call us to make a moral choice, or urge others to make a choice, or even to force them to make a choice.
These are choices that fellow believers would have us make – stating how critical they are. These choices are not critical! For a believer, for one in a relationship with God, there is only one decision.
All three readings today talk of it – and why we make the one we do:
Joshua said this “choose this day whom you will serve,”
Are you going to choose to walk with God, or will you continue to follow some other god, made in an image you find palatable. Remember – he is talking to people who have seen God at work, who know His love. He’s not speaking to unbelievers, those unfamiliar with His love and power. Yet we, like those who heard these words, struggle with listening to God, to following His call, to giving up all the things that burden and distract and enslave us. Until we realize what the apostles did, when they too were faced with the decision. Here is that account.
After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”
You’ve come to know He is God, that His words bring life….that’s what you need to know, as a believer, how to live.
Choose wisely…and know His love and mercy never will fail you.
Discussion Quote/Devotional THought of the Day:
“God is with you!” So cast far away from you that fear and spiritual agitation. They are reactions to avoid in the first place, for they only serve to multiply temptations and increase danger! ” St Josemarie Escriva,
Within our worship service, multiple times a phrase is said by the pastor, noting that the presence, the peace of God is with His people, and then we pray together, or feast together at the Lord’s table. It is a powerful thing, this knowing that the Lord is present, that He is here, that we have a relationship with Him, and that He is the Paraclete, the Encourager/Comforter/one who comes alongside and supports us.
To lack that presence is to invite in something else, Escriva says agitation, I tend to call that anxiety, the peace robbing emotional reaction that doesn’t trust in God, but wonders about all the permutations of the situation and starts spinning our hearts and minds out of control, as fears take over. We seek to escape such, and there is Satan, holding out temptations that will kill the anxiety, or at least hide it, for a few hours, for a few minutes. Those temptations often become addictions, because we turn, over and over, for some kind of release, some kind of escape, a vacation from the stressful strain of the world. With those temptations is always danger, always a struggle, always…..more stress
The option to it is simple – to simply rest and find yourself in the presence of God. To know His peace is with you. Luther talked of dwelling on the promises of your baptism, others talk about contemplating the incredible truth found in the Lord’s Supper – that there, we come face to face with the truth of how much the Father loves us, how much Christ was willing to sacrifice. ( Our brothers and sisters in the RCC talk about Eucharistic Adoration – a complex devotional time before a host that is saved for that very time – it is my thought that it developed simply from stopping and considering what the Lord’s Supper reveals, and not wanting that moment to just come and go so quickly) How deep the Father’s love for us… for me… to dwell on these things…. how the burdens, the transient, temporary burdens disappear! How the escapes that we had planned, as we broke before temptation now seem so.. empty… because we know that which makes a difference.
The peace of the Lord Jesus Christ is with you always……
And even as I write, I can hear my people say “AMEN!”
(and under their breaths… utter.. Thank God!)