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A Deepening Confidence

Devotional Thought for the Day:

16 The three men replied, “Your Majesty, we don’t need to defend ourselves. 17 The God we worship can save us from you and your flaming furnace. 18 But even if he doesn’t, we still won’t worship your gods and the gold statue you have set up.” Daniel 3:16-18 CEV

Dost thou feel that all thy desires are satisfied in Jesus, and that thou hast no want now, but to know more of him, and to have closer fellowship with him? Then come continually to the fountain, and take of the water of life freely. Jesus will never think you take too much, but will ever welcome you, saying, “Drink, yea, drink abundantly, O beloved.”

2652 The Holy Spirit is the living water “welling up to eternal life”3 in the heart that prays. It is he who teaches us to accept it at its source: Christ. Indeed in the Christian life there are several wellsprings where Christ awaits us to enable us to drink of the Holy Spirit. (694)

Prayer is no illusion. God’s will and ours really do touch and interact in prayer, not in the way that a human father’s and son’s do, but in the way that the divine Father’s and Son’s do. The ultimate dignity of prayer lies in the astonishing fact that through prayer we share in the very life of the eternal Trinity.

I’ve often wondered about the confidence the three men had in God. As I’ve wondered about it, I’ve also heard the same question of these willing martyrs and those who have proven the words, that they were willing to die rather than worship some other God. Those questions and comments usually run this way,

“Pastor, what those martyrs did was amazing, I don’t think I could ever handle that!” Or, “Pastor, I would fail if that was my test, does that mean I am not saved?”

I think we see the confidence the men had, and feel like far less faithful people. We struggle when the government says we can’t worship in the buildings God dedicated for that purpose, We struggle when persecution means we don’t like it when people don’t agree with us.

So how could we walk into a furnace, confident that God was with us, whether we bake, broil, or simple dance and sing?

I think the context is important, what the people around the king wanted to take from them was the most important thing in their lives.

Their time with God. Their time of prayer and adoration and meditation. Their time of being reassured of His presence, of His love, of His promises. Far from home, this is what God them through each day.

That is why Spurgeon talks about drinking in Christ, and why the Catholic Catechism talks of the Spirit facilitating our new life of which Christ is the source! And Dubay’s incredible thought that in prayer we not only let God share in our lives, we share in the life of the Trinity. (This is why I describe the liturgy as a dance – that the prayer and meditation of a liturgical church service is simply a sacramental prayer.

This isn’t a do this, and you will gain the confidence to be a witness of God. It isn’t a way to exercise and strengthen our muscles of faith. That confidence grows stronger, not by our effort, but simply because of the joy we know, as we find peace in God’s presence. That presence of God means so much that we would allow nothing to supplant it, we would desire to have it more, to share it with those around us.

This isn’t an illusion, a coping mechanism, a opiate for those who struggle in life. Prayer is the greatest reality we can encounter. For through it, even the most heated moments, can become a time of joyous fellowship… one that hopefully will amaze those we pray for who persecute us… to the point they begin to praise God.

C. H. Spurgeon, Morning and Evening: Daily Readings (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1896).

Catholic Church, Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd Ed. (Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1997), 637.

Peter Kreeft, The God Who Loves You (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2004), 148.

The Christian Religion; A Confident, Holy, Healing Walk With God.

Featured imageDevotional Thought of the Day:
9  The Lord is not slow to do what he has promised, as some think. Instead, he is patient with you, because he does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants all to turn away from their sins. 10  But the Day of the Lord will come like a thief. On that Day the heavens will disappear with a shrill noise, the heavenly bodies will burn up and be destroyed, and the earth with everything in it will vanish. 11  Since all these things will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people should you be? Your lives should be holy and dedicated to God, 2 Peter 3:9-11 (TEV)

26 Augustine also reminds us that we would understand the word “faith” in the Scriptures to mean confidence in God, assurance that God is gracious to us, and not merely such a knowledge of historical events as the devil also possesses.

378    Don’t be a pessimist. Don’t you realize that everything that happens or can happen is for the best? Optimism will be a necessary consequence of your faith. (2)

As I was going through my devotions this morning, there was a simplicity to the various readings I do.  It’s Monday, so a review of the basics seems appropriate.
The definition of faith found in the second quote got my mind moving.  Especially that word “confidence.”  Augustin is correct of course, and the amateur theologian sees the Latin for faith, “fide”, buried right in the middle.  To live life, not just believing in God, but having a relationship so deep, so nurtured by Him, that we trust Him.  To have faith means, we have confidence in His working in every part of our life.

That can only come from knowing God’s desire is not to condemn mankind, but to show us love, to cleanse and heal us from brokenness, to set us apart for a relationship with Him.  We trust Him do what He has promised! We know His heart and desire is to save us, to have us dwell in His peace.  We know His beauty,we know that He loves us, you and I.  Put you nickname there, God loves me.

Amazing!

That is why reading scripture is so essential in my life. Not because pastors and holy folk have to do it but to hear more of God’s heart toward us, to grow in our trust of God.  To know that He makes all things, even pain and suffering, work for good because we love Him, we trust our God and our Heavenly Father.

That is why St Josemaria (and Luther for that matter) could speak of living confidently, even though he knew physical pain, and suffered in many ways.  (his biography is fascinating!) Even though he ministered in the midst of war and famine, in spite of adversity.  Luther as well knew these things, as did those who accompanied him. They, like so many who had and have confidence in God’s love for them, endured and even looked at life optimistically while they endured.

They knew the promise of Romans 8 well, that all things would work out as a blessing, that nothing could separate you from God’s love in Christ Jesus. Not because of intellectually understanding anything, but because they knew God, knew His constant and continual presence, knew the comfort and peace of the Holy Spirit, which is unlike anything in the world…..

They had confidence in God.  Knew He would fulfil every promise…from saving us from sin to dying on Cross, to rising from the dead to uniting to us in that journey.

That makes an eternity of difference and affects our lives each day.

Trust in Him, have confidence in His love and greet everything in His life, as an incredible blessing!

 

(1)  Tappert, T. G. (Ed.). (1959). The Book of Concord the confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. (p. 45). Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press.

(2)  Escriva, Josemaria (2010-11-02). The Way (Kindle Locations 960-961). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Truth Building Confidence

Truth Giving Confidence
Titus 1:1-9

† IHS †

Featured imageMay these words reveal the grace of God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, the grace that assures you of His love, His mercy and His desire that you spend forever with Him!

Eucharist Dismissal

As people prepare to stand up from this rail, having received the very Body and Blood of Christ in the sacrament we call the Lord’s Supper, or the Eucharist, or simply Communion,

I follow a pattern, words long used in churches from here to Siberia, and on every continent, and even heart in space.

May this precious body and blood of Christ, strengthen your faith unto everlasting life. Depart in Peace.

I may adjust it a little here, and there, to match what God has revealed to us this day, through the readings, the worship, and the prayers. For example this day, it may sound like,

Dear friends, may this precious body and blood of our Lord, shed for you, build your confidence in God’s desire and promise to share eternity with you… and until that day, He will sustain you in His peace1

For what the Lord’s Supper does, it builds and strengthens our confidence in God. That is how the Lord’s Supper teaches you about Christ. For He is the truth that will give you the confidence that you have an eternity to spend with God.

That is the faith that Paul shared with Titus, his true son in the faith, and it the trust we have and share, in Christ Jesus.

It is the message we have been entrusted with sharing, as we journey through this life, as God’s promise of living with Him forever comes more into view.

The Guarantee of the Promise

As I look at scriptures like those we’ve heard and sung today, as you consider the words, you realize that the core message is a promise. A promise that we’ve been entrusted with, all of us, to share with the world. Chris and I can lecture for hours, days, weeks (?) on the promises of scripture that God has made. How He has bound Himself to those promises. That’s what the covenants are about, every agreement God makes with man in scripture.

They all boil down to one simple concept, to one promise. It is about the parties to the covenant. Not SuperBowl parties, but the participants, the community established and bound together in the covenant. Think about marriage, there are many promises made, many facets of it, but what really matters is the husband and wife are together, bound together as one, So it is with Biblical covenants.

Every covenant God has made has looked forward to one thing, that God would make us His people, that we would realize He is our Father, our God. That is the promise! We would live forever with Him, in that incredible relationship.

This is a incredible promise! Because we have done things that would ruin the relationship. We’ve done things we can justly be blamed for, that we may still struggle with guilt over. As we’ve confessed, we’ve not done things right, we haven’t loved our neighbors, or even our family.

Yet God’s promise, seen at the cross, is that sin won’t keep you away from Him. Yet those who lead in the church need to encourage you to live godly lives, and show those who oppose God’s ways where they are wrong. We’ve got to live lives that don’t compromise that – that testify that we believe God’s rule is the rule…..

But we always have to reveal that God will not just wipe us out, pour His wrath upon us, but rather will reach out to us, reveal His message of love, to reveal the promise – you are His people… He is your God.. forever!

At this right Time, it is revealed….

That is what was revealed at the cross! That is where Jesus died for all our sins to be forgiven. That we don’t have to live with anxiety caused by guilt or shame, where we don’t have to live, bound by resentment.

As we take this bread, this body of Christ and eat it, we know it was given for us. As we take this cup, this blood of Christ, we know His life was given, in order that all the debt of sin would be paid.

That this precious Body and Blood of our Lord and Savior, is given to strengthen our faith, this faith that all who share, Paul, Titus, you and I share. His body, given and shed for us, the promise of spending time with God, forever.

Agnus Dei / Nunc Dimitis

As we get closer to communion, as you rise from the rails and return to you seats, hear the words of we sing before and after…..

This is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the World… Grant us peace!

and

I have seen my salvation….a light to guide the gentiles, the hope of all Israel.

As you do, may you faith, your confidence that comes from knowing the Truth, the Truth about God our Father, revealed it Christ grow, and may you realize His peace.

AMEN.

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