Can God use us? The miracle for those with broken lives.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
15 This is a true saying, to be completely accepted and believed: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. I am the worst of them, 16 but God was merciful to me in order that Christ Jesus might show his full patience in dealing with me, the worst of sinners, as an example for all those who would later believe in him and receive eternal life. 1 Timothy 1:15-16 (TEV)
182 What compassion you feel for them!… You would like to cry out to them that they are wasting their time… Why are they so blind, and why can’t they perceive what you—a miserable creature—have seen? Why don’t they go for the best? Pray and mortify yourself. Then you have the duty to wake them up, one by one, explaining to them—also one by one—that they, like you, can find a divine way, without leaving the place they occupy in society.
There should be, within each of us, the self-awareness that is seen in St. Paul’s words above. The realization that each of us is the worst of those who sin.
We struggle with the guilt and shame that comes from reflecting on our day, and realizing the people we may have hurt, either intentionally, or whom we neglected. The time where we should have helped, and like the priest and Levite on the road, passed by those who are broken and wounded. The times where we wanted what we want, and worked to make it happen, not counting into the equation, their need, their pain, and the fact that God put us there to minister to them.
But if I am, if we are the worst of sinners, barely saved, are we too broken for God to use? St. Josemaria describes it as being a miserable creature, who knows grace, who sees the world passing that offer of love by, unable to see it.
Could God use us, the admittedly broken? Those who sin haunt us, even as we struggle to trust that because of Jesus, we are righteous in the Father’s eyes? Could God use you and me? I mean, it is incredible that He saves us, yet how can we make a dent in the evil and injustice that has people so entangled that they can’t see God? Can God use us to change all that?
Indeed, He can, and does! He has always planned to share with us His incredible work of renewing all of creation. Ephesians 2:10 tells us of this, even verse 8 and 9 assured us of His delivering us from sin. Romans 12:1-8 describes it as well, as we consider the mercy He shows us and then urges us to lay our lives before Him, doing what He has gifted us to do.
It is a miracle, as great of one as God’s delivering us from sin. And it happens to all who depend on Him, all who trust to go where He places them. All who are willing to be humble, and to communicate with God, hearing His voice.
Here is your God, let Him work through you!
And then be amazed, as they find God in their daily lives.
Escriva, Josemaria. Furrow (Kindle Locations 974-978). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
The Focus We Need under Fire
Devotional Thought of the Day:
17 Then the high priest took action. He and all his colleagues, those who belonged to the party of the Sadducees, were filled with jealousy. 18 So they arrested the apostles and put them in the city jail. 19 But an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail during the night, brought them out, and said, 20 “Go and stand in the •temple complex, and tell the people all about this life.” 21 In obedience to this, they entered the temple complex at daybreak and began to teach. Acts 5:17-21) HCSB
14 Zion says, “The LORD has abandoned me; The Lord has forgotten me!” 15 “Can a woman forget her nursing child or lack compassion for the child of her womb? Even if these forget, yet I will not forget you. 16 Look, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands; your walls are continually before Me. Is. 49:14-16 HCSB
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.
It is not easy to be critiqued, even when the criticism is constructive. When it is influenced by rivalry, by hatred, when its intent is to tear you down and hurt you, it is, even more, a test.
St. Josemaria would tell us to be optimistic and make a passing reference to Romans 8:28, that all things will work for good for those who love God. If you didn’t know his history, you would think him more than a little naive. Be optimistic while people are trying to destroy us? While they are work to tear us down?
We might even feel like the Zion in the second scripture reading above. We might think that God has abandoned us, that He simply forgot we were here, suffering oppressed, attacked. We might think that we need to raise the defenses, that we need to be prepared to defend our Lord, our church, ourselves. For if God has forgotten about us, who will defend us? Or at least that is what we think.
But Isaiah’s words remind us gently, that God can’t forget us, that He could not. His involvement in our lives is as close, as personal, as intimate as a mother nursing her child. Thinking about us is as inescapable as a tattoo on one’s hand, or the scars made by a spike through that hand.
This is how the apostles could keep their minds off the threats issued by the Sadducees and Priests. Their direction was to tell people about this life, this way of living in the presence of God.
So they went and taught people.
About Jesus, about His love and mercy, seen at the cross, seen as He accompanies them through life. They stayed focus on what gave them hope, what brought them peace, what would make a matter in this life and for eternity. They knew nothing could separate them from God.
And such a focus knows that God is still in charge, that God will see is us through.
God is with you!
So go, ignore the threats, ignore the criticism, and simply teach people what they need to know about Jesus.
Escriva, Josemaria. The Way (Kindle Locations 958-960). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Can I Trust in Jesus for this?
Devotional THought of the Day:
And I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die. 21 For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better. 22 But if I live, I can do more fruitful work for Christ. So I really don’t know which is better. 23 I’m torn between two desires: I long to go and be with Christ, which would be far better for me. 24 But for your sakes, it is better that I continue to live. Philippians 1:20-24b (NLT)
We follow a divine way. Where does Jesus’ way lead us? It leads us to the Resurrection, to the right hand of the Father. It is this whole way that we mean when we speak of following Christ as his disciple. Only thus do we journey the whole way of our vocation; only thus do we really reach the goal of undivided and imperishable happiness. And only from this perspective do we understand why the Cross is also a part of our discipleship as followers of Christ (cf. Mk 8:24). There is no other way for us to come to the Resurrection, to the community of God. We must follow the whole way if we want to be servants and witnesses of Jesus Christ.
Since absolution or the power of the keys, which was instituted by Christ in the Gospel, is a consolation and help against sin and a bad conscience, confession and absolution should by no means be allowed to fall into disuse in the church, especially for the sake of timid consciences and for the sake of untrained young people who need to be examined and instructed in Christian doctrine.
Though our faith, our dependence on God based on His promises begins with the life, death, resurrection, and return of Jesus our Messiah, there are other things we have to depend on Him for, as noted in the epistle in red above.
I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ…
That sounds awesome,
It also sounds impossible.
This week I am all too familiar with my failings, with my brokenness. my own failures, my own struggles with sins that plague me.
So how can God use something so shattered? How can God work through something that has to be so,,, needing healing?
I can trust that He will clean me enough from my own sin and unrighteousnes=, enough that I can be smuggled into the Father’s presence as I dwell in Christ.
But can God work through me?
There are days I am not sure. (especially Saturdays as I struggle to write sermons)
Pope Benedict XVI talks about needing ot go through the cross to the Resurrection, We have to dwell there with Him, as He takes the pain, as He agonizes under the weight of our sin, As He removes it from us, and bares His own soul to takes on the pain our cleansing and healing requires.
It is there, with Him on the cross, that we find the same path that He took, that leads through death to the Resurrection.
It is there, on the cross, that we find hope. It is there. where we find the power that raised Christ from the dead is at work in us. It is there we find the absolution we need to realize that to live is Christ, and eventually, to die is gain. For if I have died with Christ in all my brokenness, if I have trusted Him to make it all right, If He shows me compassion and consoles me, then there is hope.
This is the power, the reason for private confession, it teaches me the doctrine that God is here, that the Lord is with us, that He is with me. That He just doesn’t forgive my sin our of some kind of duty, some kind of ill-advised promise, but that the promise exists for the same reason the forgiveness does because He loves us. This is remarkable, it leaves me in tears of awe.. it leaves me with hope, for I know why I can depend on Him
Even the Hope that my life is now His to use, His to work through, and the responsibility to make it something good lies on Him. Benedict’s successor, Pope Francis explains it this way,
To place our sight on our own death and resurrection causes our lives to change its center from “what we could do” to “what the Lord has done for us” and “will do with us.”
And so He has done for us and will do with us, many things, for He is our God, and we are His people.
Lord, when we feel broken, when we feel the weight of our sin, remind us that You are here. COmfort us with the gospel, that Jesus has lifted that sin away from us, and died to release us from its weight. Help us to live in view of His cross, where we were united with Him. Help us to rejoice, and then to depend on you as we find that our life is You. Bless people O Lord, and may we see how you use us to do so, as they give you the honor and praise AMEN!
Ratzinger, J. (1992). Co-Workers of the Truth: Meditations for Every Day of the Year. (I. Grassl, Ed., M. F. McCarthy & L. Krauth, Trans.) (p. 140). San Francisco: Ignatius Press.
Tappert, T. G. (Ed.). (1959). The Book of Concord the confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. (p. 312). Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press.
Pope Francis. (2013). A Year with Pope Francis: Daily Reflections from His Writings. (A. Rossa, Ed.) (p. 145). New York; Mahwah, NJ; Toronto, ON: Paulist Press; Novalis.
Patience isn’t my strength… yet
Devotional Thought for our days:
25 The LORD is good to everyone who trusts in him,
26 So it is best for us to wait in patience—to wait for him to save us-
27 And it is best to learn this patience in our youth. Lamentations 3:25-27 GNT
942 Pray that your holy ingenuity may achieve what your intelligence cannot attain, so that you may give more service of a better kind to everyone.
Surrender don’t come natural to me, I’d rather fight you for something I don’t really want than to take what you give that I need. And I’ve beat my head against so many walls Now I’m falling down, I’m falling on my knees
And the Salvation Army band is playing this hymn and Your grace rings out so deep it makes my resistance seem so thin!
So hold me Jesus, Cause I’m shaking like a leaf
You have been King of my glory won’t you be my Prince of Peace!
I hate waiting for an answer, for the solution to develop to the problems that exist, for the resolution that will end the conflict with the peace of God, that surpasses all human understanding.
I want to solve the problems, fix the brokenness, see the relationships healed, and everyone gathering together at the altar to praise God, and I want such solutions now. Why can’t I use my intelligence, which is supposed ot be a gift from God to solve these situations? Why must they require patience?
These situations don’t require patience, at least that is not the real issue.
Faith is. Trusting God is
Patience is just a part of what faith, what depending on God is all about. If I trust in Him, I must trust in His timing, I must trust in His plan, including the timing of it.
Satan would love to get us, saying we aren’t patient enough, and God wouldn’t really be patient with our impatience. He distracts us from God’s goodness, with a calendar or the second hand of a watch.
But again, patience isn’t the answer – it is simply a by-product of knowing and trusting in God. Of knowing His goodness, of knowing His intent to care for us, to even hold us when we are broken. That is faith, trusting in Him to do as He promised, even when we can’t see it yet. To let faith overwhelm doubt and impatience.
To realize the presence of God. To relax and know He is God, to be sure He is here… your Prince of Peace who holds you! AMEN!
Escriva, Josemaria. Furrow (Kindle Locations 3828-3829). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
from Hold Me Jesus – by Rich Mullins
God, We NEED to Talk! A sermon on Jeremiah 20:7-13
God, We need to Talk!
† In Jesus Name †
Our prayer for you is that you grow in your experience and knowledge of the grace and mercy of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ to where you can trust Him and be completely honest with God! AMEN!
God, We have to Talk!
The Old Testament passage this morning one that describes a prophet of incredible faith, one who knows His God.
He is also very frustrated, and perhaps even a bit paranoid. Definitely, Jeremiah is a bit tired and weary, and part of this is that people don’t always hear everything he has said, and their criticism and threats he takes personally.
He doesn’t just complain, he doesn’t just whine, he wants to talk to God, and let God have it!
Our English translation uses the word deceived, other translations use misled, tricked, fooled me. What kind of prophet is this, that thinks he can talk to God like that! To accuse God the Father of deceiving him?
He is a man of great faith.
Yes, I said he is man of great faith, and I pray that our faith grows enough to be that open and honest with God. Let me explain.
Can We Be honest with God? (Can we whine/complain to Him?)
Can we be honest with God? Can we accuse Him of deceiving us or misleading us? Can questioning God, even challenging Him, be an act of faith?
For Jeremiah this wasn’t about God promising him a nice house, a new car and a easy good paying job. This was about ministry and care, about Jeremiah trying to shepherd God’s people back to him. God called him to this work, much like God calls Timothy and myself to be pastors and prepare to ministry. Just as God calls people to serve as church musicians, or on boards and teams, even as God calls us all to be involved in making disciples of people from every ethnicity, every culture, every language.
This work God has given His people isn’t easy, and there are times where the people God would have us minister to are challenging. There are times people who don’t know about God think what they know is the truth, and don’t listen to all the story. For while we are here to tell them about God’s love, they also must know that His love cannot leave them broken in sin. They often don’t like to hear that, and neither do we.
Jeremiah was trying to do that, and they wouldn’t listen long enough to hear about God’s mercy, and God’s desire to cleanse them of their sin and heal them of their brokenness. They only heard that they needed to repent and be forgiven.
They didn’t like that, and they attacked and threatened Jeremiah over his life time many times.
So Jeremiah says, “Hey God, we need to talk, I thought serving you would be easier. You didn’t tell me about the rejection, the pain of watching people continue to struggle in their brokenness. You didn’t tell me when I went to them they would attack, yet you still want me to do this? You still want me to reach out to people – to call them back to you, Lord?”
Jeremiah will go on to try and quit, to say he will never talk about God in verse 9, even that he will try to forget about God. He is that tired, that frustrated, that burnt out from caring and trying to call people back into their relationship with God. To call unbelievers to the cross, to call believers back there.
But Jeremiah can’t do that, he can’t keep the message of God inside himself, it is too powerful, to incredible, to glorious. His people need to know God’s love and that God will stand by them, and stand by us during our struggle.
God stands by us?
We start to see that in verse 11, “11 But you, LORD, are on my side, strong and mighty”. Jeremiah 20:11 (TEV)
and again in verse 13, ” 13 Sing to the LORD! Praise the LORD! He rescues the oppressed from the power of evil people. Jeremiah 20:13 (TEV)
When we are honest with God, when we don’t hide our hurts, we see Him at work. Then our faith, our trust grows stronger in Him, we become more aware of His presence, His guiding us, His listening to our prayers, and yes, even our complaints and our whining. He’s willing to remind us He is here, and this is His work. The Holy Spirit guides us all to Jesus, who died and rose so that our sins would be forgiven, that we could be God’s children. That we could know He has rescued us, and stands with us.
Jeremiah’s message resonates with the future, and the hope that the people of God have, a hope we know, when at the end of the day we remember He cleanses us from sin, He rescues us, and He stands by our side. For He loves us, and is patient with us, not wanting any to perish, but that all of us come to repentance. Even when we are tired, even when they are stubborn. God is still at work.
Standing by us, strengthening our faith, our awareness of Him. Even as we serve and minister to each other and the world. Even when we struggle doing it.
Knowing this, we realize we dwell in His peace, peace the world cannot understand, but the peace in which we are guarded in Christ Jesus. AMEN!
The Battle for Spiritual Growth….is Not What it Seems…
Devotional Thought of the Day:
12 I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. 13 No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. Philippians 3:12-14 (NLT)
24 Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? 25 Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin. Romans 7:24-25 (NLT)
223 Along the way to personal sanctity we can at times get the impression that we are going backwards instead of forwards, that we are getting worse instead of better. As long as there is interior struggle this pessimistic thought is only an illusion, a deception to be rejected as false. Persevere and don’t worry. If you fight with tenacity you are making progress and are growing in sanctity.
For decades I think we’ve bought into an idea of spiritual growth that is both childish, and damaging. It begins with telling stories of the great people that precede us in the faith as if they were perfect, as if they had no faults, as if they weren’t broken.
King David was perfect, and not an adulterer and murderer. St Paul was a theologian par excellence, without a doubt or any struggle with sin. ( I can even find commentaries that say the above quote from Romans was St. Paul talking about prior to his conversion! ) We will whitewash Luther’s bi-polar nature, or Mother Theresa’s dealing with both depression. We do this all the time, even with the modern folks we believe will be the next generation’s heroes of the faith.
That idea seems to be revealed for what it is, immature at best and perhaps deliberately misleading.
Paul struggled with sin, he realized that he had to battle for what was his in Christ, not to achieve it, but to receive it, to believe in, to depend on it. Even when our heart is trying to get us to focus on our sin, on our failures, on our spiritual growth not being as great as it should be.
St. Josemaria describes in a way that resonates with me, that there are times where we are going backwards, rather than forwards, that things are getting worse rather than better. I resemble this at times, more often that I want to admit.
Which makes it challenging, because my mind will then move to why be a pastor, if I can’t grow deeper in faith myself?
Evaluating our spiritual growth is good, if we understand what spiritual growth is, what it really looks like, how it is measured.
The struggle with our sinfulness is part of it, we should never become complacent with our sin. It shouldn’t haunt us, for Christ has won the victory over it, but we shouldn’t become complacent either. Our sin still needs to irritate us, disgust us, make us uncomfortable.
Not so we hide from God, but that we depend upon Him to purge that sin from us, that He would transform us. Growth that has as its goal that we would treasure His love and mercy more than we treasure the sin.
This is growth, this battle, this fight, a growth which seems unending, but it will end. He has promised and He is faithful. As He hangs on to us, we learn to hang on to Him.
May we be transparent enough with the generations that follow us, that they clearly see our trusting in God, even when it doesn’t make sense, even when we think we don’t deserve His mercy and love.
For then they will know this growth as well.. and not be as dismayed when Satan assails them.
Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge (Kindle Locations 959-964). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Limited Faith? Who Set its Boundaries?
Devotional Thought of the Day:
11 And I am not saying this because I feel neglected, for I have learned to be satisfied with what I have. 12 I know what it is to be in need and what it is to have more than enough. I have learned this secret, so that anywhere, at any time, I am content, whether I am full or hungry, whether I have too much or too little. 13 I have the strength to face all conditions by the power that Christ gives me. Philippians 4:11-13 (TEV)
117 “What do I have to do to maintain my love for God and make it increase?” you asked me, fired with enthusiasm. Leave the “old man” behind, my son, and cheerfully give up things which are good in themselves but hinder your detachment from your ego… You have to repeat constantly and with deeds, “Here I am, Lord, ready to do whatever you want.” (1)
e need to stopIt is rare these days for pe]eople to ask how to grow stronger in their faith. I am not sure whether that is good or bad. Some might not care to grow, some might be afraid to grow. While others are growing, their faith being stretched like taffy, or a balloon expanding so fast that you wonder if it will burst.
There is a secret to this growth, a need for freedom from things that tether us down, box us in, that define the boundaries that we think define us, but in reality simply constrain us, and eventually choke out our faith.
Let me give you an example. As a young man wanting to be a pastor, I set a boundary on where I would serve. I asked God to send me anywhere, except for the desert. I narrowed the scope of my vision, and I would come to realize that the people in that desert needed the comfort and peace, the contentment that only comes from when you realize you live in the presence of God. (Yes, my first three churches I served were in the desert – and I needed to be there more than the people needed me)
I still occasionally do that, narrowing down where I will serve, or to whom I would “allow” God to send me. God, you couldn’t have me in that kind of position, or ministering in that kind of church. God you couldn’t use someone like me like that, etc.
And so do you.
We need to stop setting boundaries, we need to stop tying ourselves down, tethering ourselves to things that stop us from growing in our faith. St Josemaria considers that might even include good things that hinder our detachment. Things our ego depends upon to identify us as individuals, and therefore stop us from trusting that God knows what He is doing.
For growth, maturity in the faith is not confidence in ourselves, it is confidence in God, a deepening sense of contentment. Whether it means we have to go without, or we have to learn to deal with having more than we need. ( I know some of us find that harder to deal with! ) Spiritual growth is the abandonment of self, assured that God will develop what in us, and dependent on His promises.
Whatever He wants, where ever He wants, however long He wants; depending on the presence of Jesus, the comfort and encouragement of the Holy Spirit
This is faith, a faith that grow and be stretched, a faith without boundaries, a faith that grows significantly, because God causes the increase.
(1) Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge (Kindle Locations 614-617). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
The View from The Back
7 He told a parable to those who had been invited, noticing how they were choosing the places of honor at the table. 8 “When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not recline at table in the place of honor. A more distinguished guest than you may have been invited by him, 9 and the host who invited both of you may approach you and say, ‘Give your place to this man,’ and then you would proceed with embarrassment to take the lowest place. 10 Rather, when you are invited, go and take the lowest place so that when the host comes to you he may say, ‘My friend, move up to a higher position.’ Then you will enjoy the esteem of your companions at the table. 11 For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.“Luke 14:7-11 (NAB)
949 To aspire to positions of responsibility in any apostolic undertaking is a useless thing in this life and a danger for the next. If it’s what God wants, you’ll be called. And then you ought to accept. But don’t forget that wherever you are, you can and you must sanctify yourself, for that is why you are there. (1)
One of my favorite apologetic works, The Hitchhilker’s Guide to the Galaxy, talks about the leadership in a rather unique way. Simply put, the one who is best to lead is the one who desires it the least, and even abhors it, but takes it on because of necessity.
It’s one thing to want to be the leader in elementary school or even the class president in high school, or the captain of a team. It is far different to lead a company, or for that matter, to lead a congregation or a church body. It is a task that no one should want, for the pains, and experiences can shatter a man’s faith. And they often do.
But there is something else that can grow in such a crucible, a level of faith and dependence upon God that goes beyond the security we seek. An assurance of the presence of God’s comfort, of God’s love, and of His presence. An accepting of the task, a determination to go the distance. Not confident of our own abilities or strengths, but simply confident of the fact that we aren’t leading, He is. THat is what holiness, sanctification is truly about. Not about pious appearance,,, but about walking with Christ.
It is then we are ready to undertake such a role….
Thanks to all who lead…. in Christ. ANd may those who lead btw own strength, find the courage and strength to let the Paraclete lift them, turn them and guide and support them as they follow God.
(1) Escriva, Josemaria (2010-11-02). The Way (Kindle Locations 2201-2204). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
- The Problem with Leadership… (justifiedandsinner.com)
- Some Advice for Surviving Mondays at Work (justifiedandsinner.com)
- We must bear our cross….an powerful observation…. (justifiedandsinner.com)
Will we ever…. get it? Our Intimacy with GOd
Devotion Thought of the Day…
26 From one human being he created all races of people and made them live throughout the whole earth. He himself fixed beforehand the exact times and the limits of the places where they would live. 27 He did this so that they would look for him, and perhaps find him as they felt around for him. Yet God is actually not far from any one of us; 28 as someone has said, ‘In him we live and move and exist.’ It is as some of your poets have said, ‘We too are his children.’ Acts 17:26-28 (TEV)
There are a couple of young guys I get to interact with once in a while. ( I get to interact with others, but this morning I am thinking and praying for these two. ) Like I was at their age, I want to change the world, or at least a small section of it. Yet, like them, I wandered through careers, trying to find that place where I could not just excel at what I did, but find some kind of contentment at it.
I got to talk to one yesterday, the other, well I will hopefully see him soon.
But I feel both have a call to ministry. They are avoiding it, and well I was there too, once upon a time. Matter of fact, I can be pretty good at avoiding God still. Pretty simple for a pastor – the more we minister to others, the more we don’t allow God to minister to us.
But this blog entry isn’t about them or about me, it’s about all of us, and what we try to avoid. It is not about serving either – well one of the fringe benefits of realizing what this blog is about – well you will begin to desire to be more and more like Jesus, especially as He ministered to those who were, well, a little obstinate, a little desperate, pretty defensive, and well were sinners. Because that’ what we were…when He found us.
This blog is too help us mature, but Christian maturity, as my young friends will realize, is less about becoming independent and self-sufficient. It is, rather, about becoming dependent on God’s presence, on realizing He is with you – that your very life is found, in His presence, that He guides your movements, that because in Him we exist, He is never far from us.
I know most of us guys will grimace at the use of the word “intimacy”, but I have yet to find a word to describe this relationship that God has called us into. But to try and accept this – even it is too much to comprehend – God is with us. We dwell, we live, everything we do is in His presence. It is when we realize this, when we revel in it, when we dance with joy and abandon because we know His love… (like Snoopy) that everything changes. That we realize His promises, that we realize His providing for us and His protection. That we take chances, that we sacrifice, that we endure – knowing, expecting, trusting that He has us in the palm of His hand.
It becomes the center of our existence, and everything else is measured – not by how many dollars we earn, or what we have, but simply – knowing God….
And it is there – in His presence, that we realize our true life, our true calling.
May S and K find that calling – that seems a bit obvious to us, and may we as well realize that where God has placed us, He has done so for a reason – it’s where He has chosen to dwell with us.
Will you depend on your King?
What was written, is written… in our hearts
† In Jesus Name †
May the cross convince you of the depth of God’s love for you!
Have you ever wondered why the chief priests were so frustrated, so needing to get Pontius Pilate to change what was on a piece of wood and nailed to the cross?
Remember – the relationship with between the priests and Pilate is already strained. This is the same Pilate that when angered before mixed the blood of Gentiles he had put to death with the blood offering of the temple. He had backed down to the crowd, and let them have what they wanted – to crucify this man that Pilate had judged innocent. And he did so at the risk of irritating his wife, who warned him to have nothing to do with Jesus. With Pilate already on edge, with a temper that was infamous, the chief priests approached Pilate and told him to change the words.
His answer was a quick dismissal – but spoke to his authority, and to a truth that Pilate testified to…
What I have written, I have written.
End of scene.
Whether he meant it to mock the priests, whether he meant it to mock Jesus, no matter what Pilate’s reason, he actually bore witness to the truth.
Jesus is the King of the Jews, He is the long awaited Messiah, the promised glorious one of Israel – the one whom in even the gentiles find hope.
But why were the priests so… insistent? Brave? Demanding?
Could it have to do with what Pilate recognized, and the reason he was inspired to use this particular word to describe Jesus?
The Meaning of Basileus
The King, the one who preached that the Kingdom of God is with you – who sent others to preach the Kingdom of God is near, Do we get what it means for Jesus to be King of the Jews?
Here is the most important point – it has less to do with authority or responsibility – and far more to do with…. Responsibility.
The kind of responsibility a parent has, when their child breaks a neighbor’s window, or when their child is threatened, or hurt. Someone who is King has responsibility for His subjects. The one who makes things right, at whatever personal cost.
Such is the idea of kingship, such is the concept of leadership in scripture. It is about providing for the people of the kingdom, about being responsible for their welfare, because it has been entrusted to you.
For the priests – this is not just counter to their own ministry style, where lording it over people was evident, but contrary to the kind of relationship they wanted with God. The last thing they wanted was God’s personal involvement in their stuff, cleaning up after their act.
It’s sort of like a teenagers reaction to his father and mother deciding to clean the teenager’s room. “it’s clean enough, it doesn’t need to be cleaned – and the embarrassment that comes when the pizza from a month ago is found under the bed. Or some really worrisome thing is found on their computer. We get too easily embarrassed when we realize our need for dependence on God to clean up our lives, to be the only One who can be responsible for our sin.
Because it can’t be us…. We just can’t do it. We, just like the priests who demanded Pilate remove the sign proclaiming Jesus to be the King, desperately need Him to be our King! We desperately need Him to provide, to care for us, to take responsibility for our sins, for our errors, for that which divides us from God.
And He did….
to the extent that even Pilate recognized it. Pilate who declared Jesus to be innocent. Who washed his hands of the case, who yet still delivered Christ to the place where He would take up the responsibility for us, for our actions, for our sin.
Rejoice my friends, find not sorrow in this moment, but the deepest joy. Because in Christ, we find our lives… cleansed, provided for, loved. And at peace, for
17 Anyone who is joined to Christ is a new being; the old is gone, the new has come. 18 All this is done by God, who through Christ changed us from enemies into his friends and gave us the task of making others his friends also. 19 Our message is that God was making all human beings his friends through Christ. God did not keep an account of their sins, and he has given us the message which tells how he makes them his friends. 20 Here we are, then, speaking for Christ, as though God himself were making his appeal through us. We plead on Christ’s behalf: let God change you from enemies into his friends! 21 Christ was without sin, but for our sake God made him share our sin in order that in union with him we might share the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:17-21 (TEV)