Devotional Thought of the Day
15All the people of Judah were happy because they had made this covenant with all their heart. They took delight in worshipping the LORD, and he accepted them and gave them peace on every side. 2 Chronicles 15:15
In the beginning of Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians, we detect the enthusiasm of the new converts, for whom being Christians was an unexpected gift, a blessing, great riches bestowed on them by God. It is good for us to realize this—for us who, as Christians, live for the most part with wrinkled brows and such an anxious awareness of the problems it entails that we feel almost guilty when we are happy about being Christians—that might be a form of triumphalism! Fundamentally, the joy of this epistle derives from the fact that the Apostle has dared to look directly at the heart of Christianity, at the triune God and his eternal love.… (1)
There is a part of me that misses the old days when I would enter church and its silence would lend itself to the awe I felt being in the presence of God. Reverence wasn’t just an attitude one took on to appear pious, it was something you were assimilated into, it consumed you. It was a very solemn reverence, one that facilitated dropping all your defenses, dropping you guard, and collapsing in the arms of God, in His sanctuary.
Those were precious times, and I still need them on occasion.
But then I need days like yesterday when as our mass ( our worship service ended) some people spontaneously began to clap. Not sure who, not sure why, but it was appropriate to applaud God at that moment. TO thank Him fo the work He does in us, work wrought with the very same power that raised Jesus from the dead. For in His resurrection, in that moment of glory, we find ourselves taken up into Him.
His death we share in, even as He takes from us our sin, our shame, and our pain.
When I was younger, my dear devoted teachers would be angry? hurt? shocked? by the idea of people applauding and rejoicing in the presence of God. But what else can you do, when you, as Pope benedict XVI describes, “dare to look directly into the heart of Christianity, at the triune God and His eternal love”
That love is so overwhelming, so precious, so deep, we must respond, we have no option. Even when overwhelmed (see Jeremiah 20 – he tried to keep silent! ) This is what Christianity is about – to know we are loved beyond measure, to know we are loved by God, Father, Son, and Spirit. He has accepted us as His own, given us peace beyond explanation, and therefore we delight in worshipping Him.
We are His… and even on Monday, that is incredible news.
(1) Ratzinger, Joseph. Co-Workers of the Truth: Meditations for Every Day of the Year. Ed. Irene Grassl. Trans. Mary Frances McCarthy and Lothar Krauth. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1992. Print.
Were You Talking To Me?
Yes, You Were Talking to Me
† IHS †
May the grace of God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ continue to astound you, as you realize that means God really loves YOU, He really loves You!
A More than a Bit Uncomfortable
One of the odd pleasures in my life happens on Monday Evening, as I hear the guys that I study worth gripe and complain about a term we use, to describe what we have as believers. It is almost funny to watch their discomfort as we talk about relationships.
They struggle with the idea that God calls us into an intimate relationship with Him. They will complain that guys don’t like to talk about relationships in general and that using the word “intimate” will shut almost every man down.
They will admit that there is no better phrase to describe what God calls us into. But they will still struggle with the phrase, and I don’t think it is just because of the words involved.
I think there is something deeper that bothers us, something that unnerves us.
Yes, it unnerves me as well! Please don’t tell the Monday night guys this, as much as I love talking about the intimate relationship God desires to have with his people, when it comes to talking about the God desiring that kind of relationship with me, my reaction is like Al Pacino’s.
Are you talking to me? Are you talking to… ME?
Yes, the Old Testament is talking to us, about God and us, and a relationship deeper than anything we’ve ever known!
Why had the discomfort?
Hear some of the phrases from our Old Testament reading this morning,
Because I love (insert your name), I will not keep still. Because my heart yearns for (insert your name again), I cannot remain silent.
How about this one,
2 The nations will see (insert your name) righteousness. World leaders will be blinded by (insert your name) glory!
It keeps going
(insert your name), new name will be “The City of God’s Delight” and “The Bride of God,” for the LORD delights in you and will claim (Insert your name) as his bride.
Then God will rejoice over (insert your name one last time) as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride.
Yes, God is talking to us, these incredible words are
How comfortable are you with this?
Have to admit, it is a bit awkward for me to hear these words. I mean I love God, I love to hear about His love for me and all of His people, but it is a challenge to work through God not only loving us but desiring us, yearning for us, delighting in us. And it only gets worse when we take our us, and put in our individual names. It is awkward, but once we get past that awkwardness, it is amazing!
I think the key is that second phrase up there, the one about the nations seeing our righteousness, about the world leaders being blinding by our glory.
It would make sense if we were that righteous, that holy, that glorious. But I have to admit I am not. A person who is righteous, who is holy, yes, they would certainly deserve the love of God. They would be the kind of person God would like, that he would delight in, that makes sense.
But you and I?
How righteous are we? How much would God delight in what I did on Wednesday, or what you over there were thinking on Thursday, or on what you said to that irritating person last Monday? What about the musicians, would God delight in everything you thought, said or did on Friday?
I think far more than the word relationship or the word intimate is our knowledge that God yearns, loves, and delights in us who do not deserve that kind of attention. Someone else surely might, but not us.
We sin. In our thoughts, in our words, and in what we do, and did not do.
That is why we are uncomfortable with this. We don’t deserve this kind of attention.
What if God, after all of this, realized that who He loved would struggle with faithfulness. For that is what sin is, it is our not being faithful to God. When we sin, it is as if we were cheating on God. No, not as if we were cheating on God, we do cheat on God when we sin.
Unfaithful in a deep, intimate relationship with the God who loves us.
Yeah, that makes us uncomfortable.
This is Your God…
But hear God again,
1 Because I love Zion, I will not keep still. Because my heart yearns for Jerusalem, I cannot remain silent. I will not stop praying for her until her righteousness shines like the dawn, and her salvation blazes like a burning torch.
It may seem odd for God to pray for us, you should insert the word “interceding”. He promises He isn’t going to stay passive, He says that twice! He isn’t going to stop interceding in our lives until we are as righteous until the fact of our salvation is so glorious that no one can deny it.
That’s the love of God for you. That is the work on the cross, and the work of the Holy Spirit every day.
God determines that He guarantees that no one can ever call us forsaken, for He will not forsake us. We will have hope, for God ensures no one can call us desolate. Instead, God tells us He will delight in us, That we are the Bride of Christ, that He has made a covenant, a promise to us that we will always be His as He marks us with His name.
Here God is giving us a new name again, this time from the Book of Revelation.
Rev 3:12 — All who are victorious will become pillars in the Temple of my God, and they will never have to leave it. And I will write on them the name of my God, and they will be citizens in the city of my God—the new Jerusalem that comes down from heaven from my God. And I will also write on them my new name.
And God won’t stop working in our lives until we are victorious.
This is our God, this is the God who yearns for us, who loves us, who delights in us, Who shows that love in the work He does, making us His own. In the work, He accomplishes in us, and through us.
That is the relationship He creates in our Baptism, that He restores through our hearing of His love and hearing that we are forgiven, that we celebrate with a foretaste of the wedding feast, that we call communion and the Lord’s Supper.
For this is our God, who works in us deeper than we even are aware of, this is the God, who yearns for His people, so much that Christ would die to make our new name a reality.
So let us celebrate! He knows our name when making these promises, Yes, He is really talking to you when He talks of His love and delight. (and me!)
(I write this blog from our first night of our elders retreat…where the theme comes from Zeph 3:17. Please, if you like my thoughts – press like either here on on FB or G+ Or engage the concept in discussion below… I love to know I am doing this for someone besides myself)
17 Your GOD is present among you, a strong Warrior there to save you. Happy to have you back, he’ll calm you with his love and delight you with his songs.
If God is our God, if Jesus reigns over us, the question is whether we will walk with Him, within a intimate relationship, while still letting Him maintain the responsibility in our lives. It is a interesting balance, but my recent devotions and readings, and even this retreat, seem to be focusing not on our responsibility as His servants, but rather, on His responsibility to us – what He commits Himself to accomplish in and for us.
This verse, like those we love to hear – Psalm 46:10 and Psalm 23 – are incredible intimate looks at God’s determination to be our Lord, our Master, to reign over our lives, as He cares for us. I love the power exhibited in this verse, the force that God commits to have our back, to calm us, and even beyond – to bring us delight – to create within us great joy.
The question is, can we free ourselves from the idols that would distract us from His calming influence, would we focus on Him rather than that which controls us with fear, or tempts us with thoughts of temporary escapes into pleasure. And that struggle to free us brings us to the point. Will we let God be God?
Can we realize that He has already broke the chains that our idols ensnared us?
He has… we are freed – to walk with Him, our Lord, our Savior, the One who comes to us,
Be calmed – find delight in His celebration of His rescuing you…