Devotional Thought of the Day:
Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, because they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 23:34 HCSB
They were stoning Stephen as he called out: “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!” m 60 Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, n “Lord, do not charge them with this sin!” And saying this, he fell •asleep. Acts 7:59-60 HCSB
45 Why feel hurt by the unjust things people say of you? You would be even worse, if God ever left you. Keep on doing good, and shrug your shoulders.
If the story of St. Josemaria was not known to me, I would consider his words above to be a mere platitude, words of someone who have never been betrayed, never hurt by a good friend, never the subject of gossip and ridicule.
Having read his biographies, I realize that they are written from the place of experience, of having to depend on God’s strength to lift the shoulders, to shrug off the pain, To see the need, the deep spiritual neediness of those who hurt us, rather to draw ourselves in, to protect our own shattered hearts.
It is the same kind of strength that St Stephen showed in Acts, as stones broke the bones as they tried to crush his spirit as well as his body. The same kind of love, inconceivable, overwhelming love that Jesus showed while being crucified.
But how do you and I find the faith, for it is faith, not our own will, and determination that will sustain us in these times of trial, the times where our heart and souls are stretched, where the pain wreaks havoc inside us.
I mean, does God our Father expect us to be saints? Do we all have to go through the traumas and persecution that others experienced? Will you and I have to suffer worse betrayals?
I don’t know, but the lack of persecution isn’t an excuse for a weak faith. Each of us should see a dependence on God, a trust in God nurtured to the point where our confidence in God, our adoration of Him who is present in our lives that any trial is considered far less than the blessing of being His.
Notice that dependence in Stephen as he cries out in faith, “Lord, receive me!” See in in the words of St Josemaria as he points out the hopefully obvious, it is far worse to lose the presence of God in our lives. ( I sometimes think that the obvious has to be etched onto my eyes, lest I forget it!)
In order to do with anything that requires faith, I need to know God is here, that He is present, that He is caring for me, that He will comfort me and be there when I need Him. All this is promised to us in our baptism, as we are united with His death and resurrection (see Romans 6, Colossian 2–3)
It doesn’t matter what is challenging my faith, that is stretching my heart and soul, whether it is something internal, some fear or frustration, or some kind of persecution or harassment, what sustains us, what enables us to endure, is to know Jesus, to hold on to Him, knowing He is holding on to us.
This is how we forgive those who set themselves against us, this is how we ask God to forgive them, how we keep doing good, knowing this…
The Lord is with you!
(P.S. If you have been able to shrug off pain and forgive, and can talk about it, please leave some encouraing words about this… so others can see that God does help us with this! THANKS!)
Escriva, Josemaria. The Way (Kindle Locations 260-262). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
devotional thought for these traumatic times
7 LORD, you have deceived me, and I was deceived. You are stronger than I am, and you have overpowered me. Everyone makes fun of me; they laugh at me all day long. 8 Whenever I speak, I have to cry out and shout, “Violence! Destruction!” LORD, I am ridiculed and scorned all the time because I proclaim your message. 9 But when I say, “I will forget the LORD and no longer speak in his name,” then your message is like a fire burning deep within me. I try my best to hold it in, but can no longer keep it back. Jeremiah 20:7-9 (TEV)
22 Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall. Psalm 55:22 (NIV)
214 Trust fully in God and have a greater desire each day never to run away from him.
There are days I want to run away from God. I have to be honest, there are days I just don’t get it, days that life hurts so much I wish I had the speed and the endurance to run from Him. When what happens in life doesn’t make sense, and there is really no one to blame….
I think Jeremiah had days like that, and probably King David (who wrote Psalm 139 in a deal of pain as well) did. Not everyone is as strong as St. Paul seemed to be.
Today is one of those days, and I expect I will feel the same way Monday evening… and for many to come. I know quite a few people are reacting the same way, which is why I dare write this, just as Jeremiah dared to write that God deceived him, tricked him, and it hurt because life just isn’t supposed to be like this.
Grief sucks, there is no doubt about it.
A man well acquainted with it, St. Josemaria, tells me not to run (convenient that was in my devotions this morning… ) He tells me not to desire to run, Jeremiah even says that if I do, God’s word, His message, the gospel, will burn a hole in me, or at least that’s what Jeremiah thought. I suppose we could even bring Jonah and Job into this, for they would say the same thing.
God will sustain us, He will help us cope with the burdens, the pain, the hurt…
And we need Him too.
The Lord is with us!
Lord, Have mercy on us!
These aren’t empty words, they are worth more to me than all the other words I type….
You need to hear them, my friends so need to hear them… I need to hear them…
So I will stay, and let them burn themselves into my heart, and soul, rather than my stomach…repeated often…
and praying for the strength to trust Him for them. Which He will provide as well.
Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge (Kindle Locations 932-934). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional Thought fo the Day:
16 Meanwhile, the eleven disciples set out for Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had arranged to meet them. 17 When they saw him they fell down before him, though some hesitated. 18 Jesus came up and spoke to them. He said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go, therefore, make disciples of all nations; baptise them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teach them to observe all the commands I gave you. And look, I am with you always; yes, to the end of time.‘ Matthew 28:16-20 (NJB)
198 That way is very hard, he told you. And, on hearing it, you heartily agreed, remembering that bit about the Cross being a sure sign of the true way… But your friend noticed only the rough part of the road, without bringing to mind Jesus’ promise: “My yoke is sweet.” Remind him about it, because—perhaps when he realizes it—he will give himself.
Even as each of us is called into a relationship with God and all of His people, each of us has been given vocations, a great diversity of roles, and the gifts needed to fulfill them.
Yet, there is a common vocation, that of making disciples, for that vocation doesn’t belong to just a person, it is the vocation of the Body of Christ, the people of God. If we are part of His one, holy, catholic and apostolic church, we are a people who have been sent into the world. We have an apostolate, we are to be a mission-focused people. Wherever we are, whatever other vocations we have, we are called to make disciples of those we encounter.
This way is hard, as St. Josemaria tells us, it can be brutal, and lonely. It may have long stretches of doubt, of not seeing the fruit of our work. It is all too easy to notice the rough parts of the road, the problems, and trials that exist on the road. For the work is hard, our Lord even had to die to make our discipleship a possibility, and so we shouldn’t expect this to be easy.
Fearing this hardship we hesitate, (some translations say doubt) We have trouble committing to God’s work, knowing it will take us on a rough road, knowing it will cost. We hesitate, we wonder if we can do this if we are truly called to it if God would actually ask us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute you. And Jesus tells us, in the midst of the hesitation, even as we doubt ourselves, “Let’s go, we’ve got people to disciple, even as I disciple you!”
But how can we embrace the roughness?
Hebrews tells us that Jesus endured the cross for the joy set before Him, the joy of knowing His mission, the reason the Father sent Him was for our salvation, for bringing us back into the family. He suffered in order to welcome us home. Expecting that joy allowed Him to endure the pain, the insults, the betrayals, the loneliness. He saw us, cleansed, holy, redeemed, and was able to see it through.
For us to learn to have that attitude is beneficial, but we have something that even makes it sweeter. We have His authority backing us, and His presence sustaining us, that the Holy Spirit causes (and therefore is responsible) the changes in the lives we of the people we are sent to serve. We have the incredibly sweet joy of knowing God is with us, sharing in our ministry, even as we share in His.
So, in the midst of the bitter road, we anticipate hearing the angels rejoicing, as another sinner is transformed by the power of God. We hear the joy as one is baptized, or bows their knees at the altar, amazed that they are welcome, that their presence is desired. What joy they know, and how joyous is it for us to see!
This is our vocation, for all the members of the Body of Christ, we share in it, in the joy, in the tears, led by or Lord who shares in it all with us.
And that is truly sweet….
So when tired, worn out, struggling, look to the Lord who is with you, and know the joy set before us all. AMEN!
Escriva, Josemaria. Furrow (Kindle Locations 1034-1038). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
The Attitude of Endurance Pt 1
As You Journey through this life, may the grace and mercy of God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ convince you of the God’s passionate care for His people!
Nothing will stand in the way
Attitude is often the difference between victory, and failure.
For a student, it is necessary, in order to master the material. Determination makes the difference, far more often than intelligence does. For some things can only be learned through slow repetition. Attitude matters then because a determined attitude will see you through the boring times
For an athlete, an attitude of determination can be the difference between victory and defeat. When an inch matters, determination can stop your opponent.
What about a husband and wife? Do they need to have the correct attitude to see their marriage survive?
What about a believer? Does our attitude help us endure, trusting in God
Or an elder or a pastor? Does attitude have anything to do with how we minister to those around us?
What about our Savior?
If we are to endure this life, and the challenges to our faith, does Christ’s attitude matter?
As Jesus clears the temple courtyard, we see His dedication to seeing us endure. An attitude we need to imitate, that we all need to model for those who need to know His love.
Why was this wrong? Some background
As the Passover nears, people gathered from all over the Mediterranean Basin. They traveled from Rome, from Greece, from Alexandria Egypt and Babylon. Two parts of their journey that mattered were paying the temple tax, and offering pure; unblemished sacrifices, as important to them as our sacraments are to us
Without doing these things, they weren’t included in the people of God. Not by their choice, by God’s rules.
So people provided what they needed, the bulls, the sheep and pigeons, and others provided the special coins needed to pay the temple tax and offering. In the process, a business came up, and some people thrived on it, some even made quite a prophet, as people had to offer these sacrifices.
It wasn’t just the extraordinarily high-profit margins that bothered Jesus. Far more critical was the location for these religious businesses.
The Courtyard of the Gentiles, also known as the courtyard of prayer.
The place set aside, the holy place where the people who were not in Covenant could come and pray. The people Solomon prayed for at the dedication of the temple, centuries before:
41 And don’t forget the foreigner who is not a member of your people Israel but has come from a far country because of your reputation. 42 People are going to be attracted here by your great reputation, your wonder-working power, who come to pray at this Temple. 43 Listen from your home in heaven. Honor the prayers of the foreigner so that people all over the world will know who you are and what you’re like and will live in reverent obedience before you, just as your own people Israel do; so they’ll know that you personally make this Temple that I’ve built what it is. 1 Kings 8:41-43 (MSG)
Imagine the noise of the animals of those people running the coin exchange and the negotiations.
Imagine the noise of Walmart at Christmas time, going on here, as we celebrate the Lord’s Supper!
People, who’ve journeyed days and weeks are trying to cry out to God, and they so need to hear him. While bath’s and moo’s and the high-pitched cry of the birds and the all the talking is going on.
Don’t you see people trying to pray amid all the distractions?
They will be able to pray soon, for Jesus will make it peaceful, just as soon as He cleans house.
Bring it home
As I read this, I wonder how Jesus would clean up the church today. It is easy to answer that for the church throughout the world, but how would he clean house here?
What things do we do, that get in the way of people knowing they are forgiven children of God? What here at Concordia would make it difficult for someone who isn’t yet a believer, find it hard to hear His voice, and see His love revealed?
Maybe these aren’t things we do for money, but that we do for our comfort. Or things we don’t do, because they would make our lives uncomfortable?
If you think about the church in Luther’s time, it’s easy.
The church did everything in a language that people didn’t understand. And in order to find complete forgiveness, there was always something attached. You needed to purchase this indulgence, go on that pilgrimage, be blessed by this relic or that.
They blocked the people from having access to God’s love, to His comfort, to knowing they were forgiven. We do the same thing, perhaps without realizing it, as we cherish our practices, without realizing why they are precious. We want to keep them, but do we realize they might get in the way of someone searching for God?
The church at large could have a myriad of examples, and that is perhaps the biggest. We don’t speak with one voice about our World’s need for God, their only hope to deal with the brokenness of sin in their lives.
Some hide the brokenness, others simply condemn it, without sharing the hope God has given us, in our brokenness. We do the same thing, depending on the sin. Some we treat as unforgivable, without knowing the person sitting next to us is dealing with brokenness because of that sin. Other sins, we overlook, knowing that we are struggling with it, or someone else we love is.
And our house needs to be cleaned out. We need God to come through, and break down the barriers we set up. We need Him to help us realize that this place is a place of prayer, for Christians, and for those He is calling to, desire that they come to repentance!
Endurance – loving God, loving those around us
This is where attitude and endurance come into play. It is not our attitude and endurance rather it is our Lord’s.
He will do whatever it takes to bring people to the Father. He will humble the proud and lift up the weak. He will comfort those who need it, come alongside those who are mourning, confront the hard-hearted believers, who believe in God, yet need their hardened hearts broken and cleansed. He will forgive those who confess their sins and cleanse them from all unrighteousness. He will also challenge those whose sin is so controlling them, that only He can free them from it.
He will hear our prayers! The Spirit will reveal God in all His glory, in all His mercy, in all His love.
As we are transformed into His image, this becomes our lives, as we struggle with those things that stop people from knowing His love, His grace, His peace. Those things will come to bug us, and we will struggle with them but realizing His grace and what it means, and that others know it,
We will endure, we will ask Him to cleanse our spiritual homes, we will ask Him to know His love. His attitude will become our attitude…
And it will happen. As we treasure His peace, they will come to know it, and know that He hears their prayers, even as He does ours!
The Benefit of Endurance: Part II
† IHS †
As you endure the challenges of this life, may your realize the height, the depth, the width and the breadth of the Father’s love, revealed to you, as you dwell in Christ Jesus!
What’s the use?
There are days, I wonder if all of this is worth it.
The amount of work it takes to pastor a church, to train deacons, to mentor vicars, to work with our school. Why not just work a normal 40 or 50 hour a week job, and have a nice home Bible Study.
It is not that I dislike being a pastor, or that I can’t do anything else. There are days when this job is depressing, and then there are the bad days.
Days were I see the grip that sin has on people and have to wait and watch them struggle. Where I have to watch the effect of that sin on the families and friends who are torn apart by the impact of the sin.
Days where those in the church act less like Jesus than those who seem to be outside the family of God. When people try to run churches and ministries and Christian universities and seminaries as if the bottom line was what mattered.
Days where I see those in the church suffering and hear of those who are being persecuted.
Days where I sit alongside those who are battling life itself.
There is a temptation to ask, “what’s the use”?
That is when we need something because there are days when caffeine doesn’t work!
We need to endure and to do that; we need to see the benefit of enduring.
We Seem So Helpless!
In our reading from Romans, St. Paul notes the way we are before we know God’s love. He describes us this way,
“When we were utterly helpless,”
The context of this is in regards to sin, that point “while we were still sinners”.
The challenge is seeing this in view of sin, not as one part particular sin, but the bondage that sin has us under, apart from being in Christ.
The helplessness that being in bondage to sin causes is that it blinds us to God. It can cause us to chase our desires, rather than choose what is good and right in God’s sight. It causes us to doubt, it can blind us to the hope God has given us. Sin robs us of our strength of character. Sin robs us of our peace with God, the comfort that comes from knowing and trusting in Him.
As believers, we know the damage a sin can cause.
Even as we look at the sins, we commit in thought, word and deed, there is a sense of helplessness. As we look at the sinfulness, the injustice, the evil and brokenness of this world, that sense of helplessness could almost overwhelm us.
Occasionally, it still does.
We’ve lost sight of God, and for the moment, our faith waivers, and we fall.
It is then that we feel utterly helpless, and we ask, what’s the use? What difference will it make? Why do we have to endure?
The helplessness comes from missing the end result, the difference the cross makes.
Here is why: We Are Reconciled
Hear again the words of Paul,
10 For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son.
We need to understand that, the reason Christ died for us, while we in bondage to sin, while we were dead in our sins and trespasses, is to restore us from enemies to being friends with God.
That is what reconciliation is, that is what this is all about, to help us understand God’s desire for His people. To help us hear the words found in John’s gospel,
“15 I do not call you servants any longer, because servants do not know what their master is doing. Instead, I call you friends because I have told you everything I heard from my Father. John 15:15 (TEV)
This is the reason we endure! To know God this well!
You look at all the ways God tells us that we are His; we are His family, the bride of Jesus Christ, the children of God. He calls us by His name, He cleanses us, adopts us, gives us life. He redeems us, paying for us to be freed from the slavery we were in to sin.
We have been made friends with God, as Paul puts it,
Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.
This is why we endure, not because of our strength, but the place God puts us, as we trust Him. He places us in life, and the Holy Spirit testifies to us, that we shall share in the glory of God. This is the very work of Holy Spirit, as the Spirit brings to mind the words of Christ, that we know His work, and we trust in His promises.
So Let’s Rejoice!
So how do we endure? How do we find ourselves strengthened, becoming more and more confident in our salvation? How do we do what Paul describes us doing in verse 11?
11 So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.
Hebrews 10:24-25 tells us we do this for each other, coming alongside each other to remind each other of the love of God for us, His family. As I think of that, I can picture time after time that you’ve done this for me. From those who treasure their baptism, to the look in people’s eyes as they come to the feast and receive the Body and Blood of Christ.
I think of Mr. Anderson’s remembering his baptism as he walks by the font, and Chuck’s desire to be part of every baptism since Kay and Rachel were baptized. I think of Chris, and his meddling with his own faith, struggling to not only preach about what it means to pray that God’s name would be holy, but to let God make it happen in His life. I see people enduring things that stymie the imagination, occasionally struggling but looking to God and His people for relief. And I think of the next generation, of Isabelle and XXX, just young children, imitating their parents with great desire and joy at the altar a few weeks ago. Even little Violet, as she cried when mom wanted to take her away from the altar rail last Wednesday night. She was comfortable here, knowing God’s peace. So much so that leaving the communion rail was worth a few cries of objection.
Is it worth it? What is the use of all this?
I love Paul’s prayer for the church, the very thing that turns our struggles into endurance, our endurance based on confidence in God’s faithfulness His prayer which I pray for you as well.
16 I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. 17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Ephesians 3:16-19 (NLT)
That as Paul opened with, that we would endure knowing that,
“we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.”
Devotional Thought of the Day:
11 And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony. And they did not love their lives so much that they were afraid to die. Revelation 12:11 (NLT)
And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one. Matthew 6:13 (NLT)
1008 In the hour of temptation, practise the virtue of Hope, saying: For my rest and enjoyment I have the whole of eternity ahead of me. Here and now, full of Faith, I will earn my rest through work and win my joy through suffering. What will Love be like in Heaven? Better still, you should practise your Love by saying: What I want is to please my God, my Love, by doing his Will in all things, as though there were neither reward nor punishment—simply to please him. (1)
We all have temptations.
Some involve things we desire. Chocolate, desserts, alcohol, drugs, pornography, sex in any form other than marriage, gossip, slander (especially those people we don’t like). We can even be tempted to whine and throw a pity party, confident that no one has ever been challenged with what we face.
There are also temptations to avoid things: confrontation, suffering, discomfort, having to sacrifice things that are important to us, even martyrdom. We may not like reality as we perceive it, and the temptation is to believe that perception and hide from that which we cannot control or enjoy.
We pray to God that He would strengthen us against such things, but we fail for so many of them. You aren’t alone in this dear reader, I fail as well, so does every priest and pastor you encounter. Every saint was tempted, and of all History, only Jesus was tested in all points and never succumbed.
Does that mean we stop striving for it and give it up? Do we just enjoy that which damages our bodies and souls? Do we just find our cave, and hide from anyone who might do us harm, including ourselves?
For if we can’t overcome temptation, if we can’t live the perfect, holy life, then why try?
Does God really expect us to live miserably, failing over and again?
The answer is seen in the quotes above, in the description of our lives, found in the Book of Revelation. Yes, the description of our lives, pictured as those who have overcome, (the word nike in Greek – we just did it!) How?
By the blood of Christ – the promise of our being rescued from this life and the damage caused to it by sin. We count on that; we have confidence that God is doing exactly that in this wearying life.
We trust in what God reveals! We know it so well that we are willing to testify to it, testify to it, even like the martyrs who died, rather than give up the hope that God instills in us…
The last comment is perhaps the hardest; we don’t cling to this life so much, that we face anxiety and fear in view of death. This isn’t easy, to not know this life, the only life we know. It is hard to focus on the future. We have obligations and pressures. We have to keep in balance so many different things.
I love Escriva’s two-step approach to this. The first, to have the ultimate sense of delayed gratification. To know what God awaits us, and press on like Paul – to reach that which God has already made it possible to enjoy. That challenges our perceptions, which our sacrifices are complete, that our commitment goes over and above what should be expected.
The second phase is where Christian maturity is revealed, where we have started to understand the depth of God’s love, the blessings He pours out on us, by loving us like that.
To endure life, to work through temptation and trial, to sacrifice things in this life, because doing so frees us to do something that brings God joy! When we got to the point where we don’t do things for the rewards of heaven, but simply because of love for God.
This attitude only occurs when we realize first His love.
Realizing His love puts this life with its trials, temptations and sacrifices into perspective.
I pray that as we deal with the trials and temptations of life, that first and foremost, we look to God and know His love and promises.
For then we know the Blood of Christ, we see it at work in our lives, we treat life in view of eternity, and because of God, we overcome.
(1) Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 3553-3557). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
The Benefit of Endurance
May you recognize the presence of God so clearly, and His attitude toward you, which you simply endure with patience all that is on your journey towards home.
How do you?
Her words, words of one who endured the greatest of hardships, echo through our souls. Hear them, as reported in an interview with her son.
“Asked by host Maher Fayez what he would say if he were asked to forgive ISIS, he related what his mother said she would do if she saw one of the men who killed her son. “My mother, an uneducated woman in her sixties, said she would ask [him] to enter her house and ask God to open his eyes because he was the reason her son entered the kingdom of heaven.” (1)
There is a lady who knows how to endure, because of her faith in Christ.
Her desire is not revenge, it is not to cause pain, it is to see the mercy of God be revealed as clearly as it was at the cross. A mother of a martyr, inviting her son’s murderer’s to come into her house? An invitation of hospitality that guaranteed them of her love, and that no harm would come to them.
How could she endure the pain, the suffering and relive it with ISIS militants in her home?
She knew the benefit that endurance brings. She could revel in it, knowing the goodness of God. She would have no problems with the words from our epistle today. She would understand well verse 12,
12 God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him!
There is no way to compare the lives we endure to hers. But the testing we endure has the similar out, the similar temptation.
To cry out to God, with pain and doubt, “God, why did You allow this to happen? Why would You allow evil to flourish on this day?”
Hear the words of James again,
13 And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong, and he never tempts anyone else.
These trials, these temptations to abandon God are not His work. These sins committed against us, as well as the sins we commit, are not His fault, nor His work.
They develop from our own desire, our inability to look past what benefits us and our own. It is easy to see in the violence of groups like ISIS, or the groups in our country who promote death as a solution to inconveniences like pregnancy or old age.
It is that same narcissism, that same self-centeredness that is at the heart of all sin. Whether it be envy, gossip, disobedience and disrespect to parents and authorities or the sexual sins, that seem to head often up such lists.
Sin is sin, whether in thought, word or deed, originates in the desire to serve ourselves, to put ourselves in God’s place. In order to get that which we think we would like, we would have to be in charge. Such is the nature of revenge, which Paul says in Romans 13 belongs to God alone. Desire to make our lives something, to value them, lies at the heart of all sin.
Sin, which takes hold of our life, and snuffs it out. Sin that suffocates us, destroying relationships, eventually crushing us and leaving us in hell.
So where does a lady find the strength to endure, to entrust not only her son to God, but to embrace his killers, with the hope they would see God’s love revealed to them?
Really? His Prized Possession?
it is trusting words like these, “16 So don’t be misled, my dear brothers and sisters. 17 Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.
There is our key, understanding that what God does give us is good. Trusting Him to know what is perfect for us, not just for the moment, not just to satisfy a desire, but to give us far more than we could ever desire.
That uneducated Coptic lady, she was able to endure because she knew the good and perfect gift of God, something so incredible, she wanted it even for those who killed her son.
She trusted God, and the answer is how?
She knew His heart, His love, His mercy, from the gift He had given her, of His Son. The Son who would die that we could be born again in baptism. The Son, who was the Word of God made flesh and living with us. A God who comes to people, imperfect, sinful people and transforms them into saints.
Who would become His prized possession.
Think of that – out of all of creation, what God prizes most is His relationship with His people, you and I and those who died, and maybe, those who killed them, who were touched by the faith of martyrs, and those who respond with God’s love.
What an incredible miracle, what a blessing.
This message, like the series that follows, is all about the benefits of endurance. The benefit of endurance is not just our heavenly crowns that God has promised. The benefit of endurance is found in the only way we can find the way to endure.
In being found in Christ, in knowing His forgiving mercy, in knowing His love, in living in the peace of Christ that is yours…..
The benefit of endurance is found in our relationship with Him being revealed. For in Him we live and breath and endure…
- “Brother of slain Coptic Christians thanks ISIS for including …” ttp://christiantoday.com/article/brother.of.slain.coptic.christians.thanks.isis.for.including.their.words.of.faith.in.murder.video/48412.htm_br
Devotional Thought of the Day:
2 Open the gates to all who are righteous; allow the faithful to enter. 3 You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you! Isaiah 26:2-3 (NLT)
1 I cry out to the LORD; I plead for the LORD’s mercy. 2 I pour out my complaints before him and tell him all my troubles. 3 When I am overwhelmed, you alone know the way I should turn. Psalm 142:1-3 (NLT)
990 Sanctity consists precisely in this: in struggling to be faithful throughout your life and in accepting joyfully the Will of God at the hour of death.
As I read the passages from Isaiah and Psalms that I placed at the beginning of this devotion, I wonder again about my faithfulness.
Not from the point of not sinning and doing everything right. It is another issue of faithfulness.
I have often found it hard to pour out my complaints, I find it hard to give Him all my troubles. I don’t’ turn to God at first, when troubles overtake me. There are ways we avoid this.
One may bottle it up, just shove it own inside until the day when we just sob uncontrollably. Our bodies are purging our soul of bottled up grief or anger, or sorrow, any and every.
Another option is to vent but in an inappropriate way. Venting looking for some affirmation; someone to recognize our heroic endurance, our suffering under injustice, the strength of character that it takes to endure.
Please hear me, I am not saying we shouldn’t look for support from other brothers and sisters who know God’s love. But I am saying that we can go to others for affirmation that would glorify us, even if that glory is someone noting our ability to survive the struggle. If we are blessed, our friends won’t allow us to throw a pity party. Instead, they will guide us to the cross, and the mercy and grace that will heal us.
What is faithfulness? St. Josemaria talks of it as accepting the Will of God joyfully – even at the hour of death. It is with Isaiah knowing that God keeps us in perfect peace, and we trust Him to keep that promise, and look to Him to do it!
That faithfulness is crying out to God like Jeremiah, (see Jeremiah 20:7) when we feel like life isn’t fair. Or even if it is fair when we feel overwhelmed by it. When we don’t hesitate to plead for Hi mercy, to pray with both the bluntness of sharing our despair, and trusting God, and only God, to make a difference.
That is the faithfulness we need to develop. The faithfulness that results in holding nothing back from the God, who loves US. To give Him our life, not just our willingness to serve Him wherever He leads, but to give him our shattered hearts, our bruised and broken souls. We need to entrust to Him the things that we hate to face in our lives.
That is faithfulness; the prayer of the broken and needy. The prayer of a child, calling out to his Father to rescue them from the darkness.
The prayer so easily said…but one that echoes to the deepest part of us, and finds that even there, God is with us.
The Prayer: Lord, have mercy on me….
Let us pray…
(1) Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 3490-3491). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
25 I will sprinkle clean water on you and make you clean from all your idols and everything else that has defiled you. 26 I will give you a new heart and a new mind. I will take away your stubborn heart of stone and give you an obedient heart. 27 I will put my spirit in you and will see to it that you follow my laws and keep all the commands I have given you. 28 Then you will live in the land I gave your ancestors. You will be my people, and I will be your God. 29 I will save you from everything that defiles you.. Ezekiel 36:25-29a (TEV)
12 My commandment is this: love one another, just as I love you. 13 The greatest love you can have for your friends is to give your life for them. 14 And you are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 I do not call you servants any longer, because servants do not know what their master is doing. Instead, I call you friends, because I have told you everything I heard from my Father. 16 You did not choose me; I chose you and appointed you to go and bear much fruit, the kind of fruit that endures. And so the Father will give you whatever you ask of him in my name. 17 This, then, is what I command you: love one another. John 15:12-17 (TEV)
2 God is my Father! If you meditate on it, you will never let go of this consoling consideration. Jesus is my intimate Friend (another rediscovery) who loves me with all the divine madness of his Heart. The Holy Spirit is my Consoler, who guides my every step along the road. Consider this often: you are God’s… and God is yours.
This morning as I was working out, I hit a wall. I thought I was done, at 12 minutes into my final treadmill session i knew I couldn’t go on any longer. I looked for an excuse to quit. I looked for a reason to end my suffering. I didn’t want to endure. A little more than 20 seconds later, the wall was there imposing, I needed to quit.
I heard in the back of my head my high school P.E. teacher’s rasping voice crying out LOVE IT LOVE IT LOVE IT. Like back then, it made me want to quit even more.
Just like Mondays, and all the other days in life that seem like Mondays.
You know the feeling, like when you are in a meeting that is going on forever, as all the same issues keep frustrating things keep being rehashed. as you do your bills, and wonder about the day when there will be money left over. It’s when the long awaited rain shuts down roads you need to use to get to work. It’s when all that was good and precious that you experienced in worship yesterday become a faded memory, choked out by the world….
Or it might as well be.
There is only one hope on Monday, there is only one thing that will kill off the drama, the anxiety, the lows that we face.
It’s to realize that we, you and I, are the people God loves. the people that He claimed. That the Trinity in all of Their glory has called you to live life in their glory. They didn’t insist that you come to Them, they’ve come to us!
Look at the promise in the reading from Ezekiel – the promise of Baptism! Look at how God takes care of us, from eliminating the sin in our lives, to setting up shop in our lives, creating something quite incredible!
Look at the words of Jesus. I know there is much criticism of those that treat Jesus as their brother, as if that meant all we did was “play” with Him. But there is something far different in knowing Christ is our brother than that (check out yesterday’s sermon for one)
Look at the words of Josemaria, these blessed words which encourage us to really think through what it means for God to be our Father, Jesus our brother/friend, and the Holy Spirit to be our very needed comforter!
This is what the Christian religion is about. It is how we get through life, even as we despise its shame, we look for the joy of walking with God, and one day, seeing Him face to face. it’s how we get passed minute 12 in our journey, how the wall that we hit, exhausted and weary, is destroyed. we find His strength, and He comes to us and helps us get to realize that though there are “Mondays” that even those Monday’s become our Sabbath, our day of rest.
For we are God’s people…..
and that trumps any Monday.
(1) Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 237-242). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional and Discussion Thought of the day:
23 “At that time I earnestly prayed, 24 ‘Sovereign LORD, I know that you have shown me only the beginning of the great and wonderful things you are going to do. There is no god in heaven or on earth who can do the mighty things that you have done! 25 Let me cross the Jordan River, LORD, and see the fertile land on the other side, the beautiful hill country and the Lebanon Mountains.’ Deuteronomy 3:23-25 (TEV)
783 It is good that your soul should be eaten up by that impatience. But don’t be in a hurry. God wants you to prepare yourself seriously, taking all the months or years necessary, and is counting on your decision to do so. With good reason did that king say: “Time and I against any two.” (1)
I tend to think of the future a lot, In my management courses, I was identified as a catalyst, the idea man, to some extent a visionary. (btw Never confuse such people with great managers/administrators! ) I love to consider the potential in people and try to help that come to fruition. This is especially true when it comes to deacons, vicars and young pastors, anyone involved in ministry.
This doesn’t always work out the way it should, sometimes because of a failure to buy into a vision they’ve developed, sometimes simply because it takes time, sometimes because the vision has to be defined more closely, or the original vision was only the first step.
As I read Moses words to God, I felt the desire in them, God can we see your glory now? Can we see Your people realize the fullness of Your plan for their lives? Can we see them mature? Can we just skip through the times in the wilderness, the times where we rebel, the times where we can’t see you, where we doubt? I want to see your glory revealed in their lives, and I want to see it soon! After all – this is what you called them for, isn’t it? When will we see the wonderful things we know You are capable of, as you do them through Your people?
As St. Josemaria talks – the impatience can be good, but not if it forces us to hurry. Preparation is necessary, sometimes it takes years for God to form them, (sometimes that is because He is using us to do it!) Sometimes it is because the relationship and the trust they need in God needs to develop to the point they can do what God has called and prepared them to do – the amazing works talked of in Ephesians 2:10 and 4;12-14. They’ll get there, maybe we will see them there, or maybe like Moses, or Paul, we can only guide them most of the way, then others ( Joshua, Timothy, Titus) will take them the rest of the way.
We don’t know, but God is their shepherd, we just help for a time, a time He has determined.
And we have to realize, the ultimate glory, the perfect promise land is not just them mature in their trust, in their love, in their devotion to God. The ultimate glory is when they are, with us revealed in Christ’s 2nd coming.
1 You have been raised to life with Christ, so set your hearts on the things that are in heaven, where Christ sits on his throne at the right side of God. 2 Keep your minds fixed on things there, not on things here on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 Your real life is Christ and when he appears, then you too will appear with him and share his glory! Colossians 3:1-4 (TEV)
May we long to see them there, complete, whole, healed, and may our desire to see them in God’s glory spur on our ministry to them, in the time we have! For this is what we work for, according to Paul,
28 So we preach Christ to everyone. With all possible wisdom we warn and teach them in order to bring each one into God’s presence as a mature individual in union with Christ. 29 To get this done I toil and struggle, using the mighty strength which Christ supplies and which is at work in me. Colossians 1:28-29 (TEV)
Lord Have Mercy!
(1) Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 3251-3254). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.