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Delayed Gratification and the Missio Dei.


dscf1215-copy-copyDevotional Thought of the day:

9  The Lord is not being slow in carrying out his promises, as some people think he is; rather is he being patient with you, wanting nobody to be lost and everybody to be brought to repentance. 10  The Day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then with a roar the sky will vanish, the elements will catch fire and melt away, the earth and all that it contains will be burned up. 11  Since everything is coming to an end like this, what holy and saintly lives you should be living! 2 Peter 3:9-11 (NJB)

48      It would be good if it could be said of you that the distinguishing feature of your life was “loving God’s Will”.

Most of us go through life, living day to day.  Because of that we give little thought to tomorrow, or next week, or eternity.

We want everything now, and the struggle ( noted 30 years ago by M Scott Peck ) with delayed gratification has only become worse.  We can’t wait months anymore, sometimes we can’t wait hours.

SO how can we understand a God who will be patient for decades with us, who will be patient for millennia with humanity?  How can we understand the patience that is born of a desire to have us realize we are His people?

For that is His desire, that we realize the Jesus died, not just to separate us from our guilt and shame, but so free of it that we spend time with our God who is holy and righteous, who wants to care for our children. God is patient, hoping we understand His desire to call us His friends.

If this realization was the distinguishing feature of our life, and of our lives together, how incredible our lives would be!  How we would consecrate ourselves to His mission, to the vocation of the apostolate – realizing we are sent, whether we work in a church, or at Best Buy or running a country, to see this desire of God fulfilled.   Whether it is a friend we are sent to , or a homeless person, or a corporate CEO/COO.  It doesn’t matter. God desires to see all His friends at His table.  All of them.

Eternity is the goal, an eternity spent in the most loving relationship there is, eternity spent free of pain, of guilt, of shame, and eternal life.

So think about tomorrow…. and God’s desire for it… and watch your life change!

 

Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge (Kindle Locations 402-403). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Have we forgotten eternity?


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADevotional Thought of the Day:
9  That is what the Scriptures mean when they say, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.”
1 Corinthians 2:9 (NLT) 

34  “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world.  Matthew 25:34 (NLT)

68  Simon Peter replied, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life. 69  We believe, and we know you are the Holy One of God.”
John 6:68-69 (NLT)

906    Et regni eius non erit finis—“His kingdom will have no end.” Doesn’t it fill you with joy to work for a kingdom like that?

A little over a year ago, I was at a funeral where one of my early mentors preached.  He made a point very clear that we no longer preach about eternity. He asked me if I, no longer in that denomination, ever mentioned eternity in my sermons, and I indicated I did, and while I do, the conversation took a back burner for a while.

I do mention it in sermons, for it is the 2nd great promise of our baptism,, the first being the presence of the Holy Spirit.  It is why the removal of our sin is so critical, for those who are counted as sinners, those who are bound by them, have an eternity that is not what I would call life.  (hell does exist, but how it is clearly described is an existence that is not what we think of as life.)

But I think we put off eternity, we have defined it as a reality we cannot know until we die.  It is “after-life” in many people’s thoughts.  Not life right now, eternity and heaven are not visible we think.  I believe this is, in part due to passages that describe the final judgment, and what theologians call the “not yet”.of the “now and not yet.”

We need to understand that there is a “now” to eternity.  That even as we struggle to see it, the love we know now is no different than the love we shall know then.  We will just be more aware of it, we will see it more clearly. 

How different would our lives be if we could begin to realize the truth of Paul’s words to the church in Colossae,

12  For you were buried with Christ when you were baptized. And with him you were raised to new life because you trusted the mighty power of God, who raised Christ from the dead. Colossians 2:12 (NLT)

and

1  Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. 2  Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. 3  For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. Colossians 3:1-3 (NLT)

Eternity has begun.  It is hard to see at times, and yes, Satan and the world would love to obstruct our vision of Jesus, to diminish our ability to sense His presence and be comforted and consoled by it.  As we realize that, our duty becomes reminding each other, teaching and preaching about our eternal life. Meditating on it, partaking in the sacraments, and celebrating those who enter this life by being united to Jesus in the sacrament baptism.

This is who we are…those living in Christ eternally… this is our hope, our trust, and dependence on God and His promises, including the love that will see us to the day when we see Him face to face.

Until then, as St. Paul says, sets your sight on the realities of heaven… for that is where you real life is, hidden in Christ.  AMEN!

 

 

 

 

Escriva, Josemaria. The Way (Kindle Locations 2107-2109). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

What Will It Take you To Prove


What will it take to prove…

Luke 16:19-31

In Jesus Name

 May the Grace of God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ sustain you, as His unsurpassable peace guards your hearts, and your mind, until He returns.

From Lazarus’s Perspective

We know his name – but we’ve never heard his thoughts, save one.  Even as he stands at Abraham’s side, we hear him thought of as a servant – someone to dispatch with a message, not like an apostle, but like and errand boy.

While he is alive, suffering, unable to care for himself, the only thing we head from him is his desire to be fed by what falls from the rich’s man’s table.  How he longed for a piece of bread, a morsel of lamb, even and onion.

Something, anything!

And he was so weak; he couldn’t even brash away the dogs who would lick and nibble at his open wounds.

Some scraps, please? Please?

A man who knew only hunger and pain.

And then one day, a procession of angels came, sent by God, to bring him to Abraham’s side, to wait for the day when there will be a new heaven and a new earth when God will dwell with His people, and we will see Him!

He was welcomed home, as we will be.

For like Lazarus, God knows our name!

The journey home
But what is this screaming in the distance?

As Lazarus is standing by Abraham’s side, he hears something you can’t usually hear in heaven, in fact, this may be the only time.  Some un-named (and that is important) man is trying to get Abraham’s attention from across the gulf, from the place for those not welcome in God’s presence.

It’s a voice that sounds familiar, and maybe Lazarus even recognized it as the voice, that echoed through the gates, the laughed and enjoyed the fine banquets and parties.
But now the voice was one of anguish, one begging for help, begging for reliefs from the heat, crying for pity,

Because of his past, maybe we would think Lazarus was thinking Mr. No-Name was getting what he deserved.  Or more likely, because of the very reasons he was escorted by angels, his heart was moved, and as Abraham was asked to send a messenger, maybe Lazarus was in tears, wanting to help.

Even so, the man’s torment would continue, his heart still not turned. And as he pleads for his brothers, Abraham’s words are haunting,

“‘If they won’t listen to Moses and the prophets, they won’t be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.’ ”

What will it take to convince us?

These words that Lazarus hears are scary when you think about them, and who is saying them.  What kind of proof would convince someone about the consequences of their sin?  If the words of scripture will not, if even the fact that Jesus not only raised people from death but rose from the dead himself – if that doesn’t cause people to think a little more, what will?

How do we reach people, and bring them to Jesus, If they aren’t persuaded by Jesus rising from the dead?

Or perhaps a better question – does the resurrection of Jesus make a difference in our lives?

Does it give us hope?

Does it help give us peace?

Does that hope, that peace transforms our lives in such a way we aren’t tied to stuff, but that we realize people have names, that we are to love them in the way that God does?

What difference does the resurrection of Jesus have for the way we look at life, and death?

What difference would it make if we realize that God, and all heaven, knew us by name because Jesus lived and died and rose again?

What will it take for us to realize God knows us and calls us by name?

Col. 1:28 –

The apostle Paul explains it this way.

27  For God wanted them to know that the riches and glory of Christ are for you Gentiles, too. And this is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory.

This is the message that changes us, knowing that God loves us, and indeed loves every human being changes everything.  It means everything.  It means that each one of us is God’s beloved.

Knowing that means that loving others is no longer a duty, no longer a sacrifice, but it is glorious and wonderful to see them come alive in Christ, to see their lives transform, for they begin to share in God’s glory as well.

They have a name; they mean something to us.  This is why Paul would go on to say,

28  So we tell others about Christ, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all the wisdom God has given us. We want to present them to God, perfect in their relationship to Christ. 29  That’s why I work and struggle so hard, depending on Christ’s mighty power that works within me.
Colossians 1:26-29 (NLT)

People need to hear of God’s love, while they are still alive. They need to see that love in a way that they can hear; that isn’t someone trying to persuade them, but rather share with them this glory, this love.  They

But that happens best when we know His love when we realize He knows our name!  It is then, as we hear Him calling us by name that we realize in awe that He has given us His peace, peace that goes beyond understanding, peace that we dwell in because Christ calls us His treasure, and keeps our hearts and minds there.

This is our life… where God calls us by name – so live it!  AMEN!

The Final Lesson: We are priestly companions of Jesus the King!


Companions of the Cross

The Final Lesson:

Priestly Companions of the King

† IHS †

May you know the grace and peace that is yours, the gift of the One who is, Who always was, and who is still to come!

The Vision/the Mission

While both the Old Testament and Epistle reading today are about the end of time, about looking toward the end of time, the gospel takes us back to thirty weeks ago, to the remembrance of what happens the morning of Jesus’ crucifixion, It covers one of the events we remember during Holy Week.

The gospel covers the trial of Jesus, the moments before he is sentenced by mankind to die.  The moment that God our Father planned for, that Jesus was committed to before the foundations of the world were laid.

The trial, the cross, the critical moment in all of time, as eternity hung in the balance.

Your eternity, my eternity.

We need to look back, in order to see why Daniel and the Revelation of John can talk so positively of the of the end. Hearing that Christ has been the King, even at the cross, we understand our future, and can walk confidently in the present.

For we walk with a king, and we are His companions.   The very King of King and Lord of Lords who makes us a Kingdom of priests, ready to serve God our Father.  Ready to serve alongside Jesus.

Let me rephrase that, He makes us into the priests of His Kingdom.

That was His vision, His mission, and it is what He has accomplished on the cross, even as Pilate was condemning Jesus, enabling Him to shed His blood for us.

The Ordeal of Hope

When we are involved in planning something, there is a hope that everything will work out well. It doesn’t matter if the planning and preparation are for a game, or for an event like the women’s advent tea.

Hope can sometimes be an ordeal as our minds consider all the things that could destroy our hope.  For instance, for a football team, we could focus on a critical injury or just an accumulation of them.  For an event like the Advent Tea, it could be that the speaker cancels out at the last moment.  It could even be the week between finishing a course, and getting the grades!  Our minds can spin wildly out of control, conceiving of all the things that could go wrong.  It is no different for our lives, and for our eternity.  When we think of hope, it can be an ordeal as we wonder what will happen to mess up that which we hoped for so eagerly.

Which is why I think the readings work together so well today.  They lay out a pattern that assures us that our hope is not in vain, that there is nothing that can change what we hope for, what our trust in God leads us to expect.  If we didn’t have that assurance, the first verses in Daniel would be terrifying; hear them again.

  I watched as thrones were put in place and the Ancient One sat down to judge.His clothing was as white as snow, his hair like purest wool. He sat on a fiery throne with wheels of blazing fire, 10 and a river of fire was pouring out, flowing from his presence.  Millions of angels ministered to him; many millions stood to attend him.  Then the court began its session, and the books were opened.

If we feel anxiety watching a football game, or waiting for the guests to arrive, of the report card to show, what kind of anxiety would we experience, knowing we had to stand before all of the missions of angels, and all of humanity, as God opened the story of our life and began to look at the details, examining our actions, our thoughts, our words?

We could try to dismiss the guilt and shame, but it still would haunt us.  We could try to rationalize it, we could argue that it isn’t fair for God to give us desires that cannot be eased without sin.

Before the throne, before a God that not only knows our thoughts but the hearts where those thoughts originate, such attempts at self-preservation do not matter.  If we are to have hope that Jesus is our salvation, that we will live in His Kingdom that has no end, we have to be serious about the fact we needed to be saved.

We sin.  Thoughts, words, deeds.

As we will say in Advent, it is our fault, we need to grieve over that fault, we need to seriously grieve over that sin.

If we are to know the grace and peace of God, we have to realize how radically different it is to know God’s grace and peace, compared to the brokeness of our lives.

Realizing the love of God
For then, understanding the depth of our despair, we find ourselves blown away by this word grace, by the peace that is ours when we should be weighed down by guilt and despair. We begin to understand how incredible these words written by the Apostle John are,

All glory to him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by shedding his blood for us. 6 He has made us a Kingdom of priests for God his Father. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen.

It’s not just that Jesus has freed us from sin, and Satan, that He’s robbed death of the anxiety it can cause, that guilt and shame are wiped away.  It is that He’s made us like Him, He’s made us priests who serve the Father, He’s made us holy enough to be the very attendants of God the Father.

All of us, from the smallest to the largest, youngest to the oldest, we have been made companions of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords!

No wonder all of creation will bow before Him!  No wonder we will shout about the glory of God He has revealed to us.

He loves us!

He freed us from our sin, by shedding HIS BLOOD for us.

He has made us priest, …..

ALL GLORY TO HIM FOREVER AND EVER!  AMEN!!!

Isaiah 29 Filled with Joy! (audio and slides)


A Nice Place to Stay But It Isn’t Home!


Featured imageA Nice Place to Stay
But It Isn’t Home!

2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1

 IHS

 As you wander through this journey of life, may you know the grace of God our Father, that reminds you that this isn’t your final home!

A Parker Parable:  The Christian Life is Like a Vacation!

Often in scripture, a story is used to illustrate a point of great spiritual significance.  The old name for these, especially when Jesus used them, was a parable.  Today’s Epistle reading, the one William did, will be explained with such a parable….

The Christian Life is like a vacation.

That is, it might be a nice place to stay for a while, but it isn’t home.

The Good Bad and Ugly

Anyone here ever have the a vacation that could have been made into a movie, because it was such a comedy of errors?  How about the vacation that was the ultimate in disasters? Even the most perfect vacation, there is a point where you’ve exhausted yourself, and realize it is time to go home.

You know how you feel, when you get back home, drag the suitcases from the trunk, a drag them into the bedroom, and collapse on the bed, and fall into a deep and peaceful sleep?

in a real sense, life is like that vacation, and heaven is even more like home than the bed you fall into… even more restful, even more peace-filled, but glorious!

The Man Made Life

The Apostle Paul, who wrote the letter to the church, uses this illustration in the last verse of our reading, when he says,

For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands.

Anyone here remember going tent camping for the first time, or in my case, using a tent-trailer for the first time… or wait…even the last time?  When you struggled to put it all together, when you accidently camp in the dry stream bed?  When you realized you didn’t plan for going to the bathroom, or you forget the can opener or the matches to light you coleman stove?

We make a lot of errors in our lives.  Some are out of ignorance, some are because we are too proud and stubborn, and have the strange idea that we know more than God about how life should be lived.

The result?  Watching the tent washed away by the sudden rush of water that filled the creek, or finding out that poison oak is not a good substitute for toilet paper, or spending all your energy trying to rub two sticks together for 45 minutes to start that fire.

You want to give up, you want to quit, you want to drive home now, and call the vacation quits.  Sometimes life is like that, we get so overwhelmed at how broken it can get. The troubles may not be as big as we make them, matter of fact we may learn a lot from them, if we breath and take our time.

Other troubles are that big, and the brokenness they cause may seem like we can’t go on, that we can’t get past them.

So I spoke. 

Let’s go back up to the beginning of the reading again.  Paul explains why he preaches, why he talks about Jesus. 

13 But we continue to preach because we have the same kind of faith the psalmist had when he said, “I believed in God, so I spoke.”


When we hear this, what we don’t hear is the context of Paul’s life, and we really don’t hear what the Psalmist was thinking, because the verse is only partially included. Let me share with you’re the rest of it,

Ps 116:10 — I believed in you, so I said, “I am deeply troubled, LORD.”

Sounds like David’s been on some of my vacations!

You see, the faith that the Psalmist and St. Paul shared was a trust in God that led us to call out to God when life falls apart.  When our own sin, or just the unrighteousness of a broken world consumes us.

Because we believe, we go to Him, we speak to Him, we call out to Him.

You see, one of the sins that so easily ensnares us, is when we think we can live without God, either because we think He doesn’t care, or that He has written us off because we’ve done something so bad He can’t heal and restore us.

If you are familiar with the 10 commandments, one of them is,

7  “You must not misuse the name of the LORD your God. The LORD will not let you go unpunished if you misuse his name. Exodus 20:7 (NLT)

I want you to think about something for a moment.

We usually think of misuse being when you use God’s name to cuss, or swear, or teach false doctrine.  But it is also a misuse of God’s name when you don’t use it when you should.  When you could call out to Him for help and comfort when you are troubled, when you need to be rescued, when you find life to broken or to frustrating.

That’s the point of being in a relationship, with God and with the people of God.  To know the presence that brings comfort and peace. To know the love that will sustain you, and will celebrate with great joy with you.

The Glorious Relationship

This is what enables St. Paul to write:

16 That is why we never give up!  Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. 17 For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!

Paul knows that the troubles that we face, and he often faced the worst of them, don’t have to lead us away from God to find peace, but rather, they lead us to Him.  That is the trust that Paul and the writers of the Psalms have in God, to know that the God who will renew their spirits, who will lift them and us up, when we are down.  That will help us, as Paul continues,

we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever!

The things we can’t see?  This is what the passage before the reading told us:

18  So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.
2 Corinthians 3:18 (NLT)

We fix our eyes on the promises we have in Christ.  We fix our eyes on Christ

And knowing His plans for us, for all of eternity, knowing His love and mercy which can heal our brokenness, can cleanse us of the effect of every sin, that brings us into the Father’s glory… we call out to Him in confidence, and find in His answer, a peace that goes beyond all understanding, and guards our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

AMEN.

The Perspective of Death… and Eternity


Featured imageDevotional Thought of the Day:
13  “I wish you would hide me in the grave and forget me there until your anger has passed. But mark your calendar to think of me again! 14  Can the dead live again? If so, this would give me hope through all my years of struggle, and I would eagerly await the release of death. 15  You would call and I would answer, and you would yearn for me, your handiwork. 16  For then you would guard my steps, instead of watching for my sins. 17  My sins would be sealed in a pouch, and you would cover my guilt. Job 14:13-17 (NLT)

Let me now remind you, dear brothers and sisters, of the Good News I preached to you before. You welcomed it then, and you still stand firm in it. It is this Good News that saves you if you continue to believe the message I told you—unless, of course, you believed something that was never true in the first place.I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me. Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said .1 Corinthians 15:1–11

I woke up this morning, exhausted in body and spirit and especially soul.

In the last 6 days, six families i know have had to face grief and death.  Four deaths in a forty-eight hour span. Not to mention 4 or 5 other things that are pretty high on the trauma scale.

I don’t feel like Job, exactly, for I am not the one who is directly suffering.  Just praying and trying to comfort those who are.  I do understand his weariness, and the above quote, wishing there was a way to put life on hold until the day when this broken world that seems so futile ends. Wouldn’t it be great if we could be frozen, and didn’t have to endure this complicated and broken life?

Yeah, I resonate with Job’s thoughts.  More often than I would like you to know.  Even this week, as I face so much, I really resonate with them, so much I wanted to shout amen when I read them.   For if only that would happen, and the next thing to hear from God would be, “welcome home!”

But what Job hopes for, Paul reminds us that we have.  We have a God, a Father who doesn’t want to look at sin and injustice.  He wants to see things made right, and if broken, healed.  In the middle of wanting to know if Job found an out, in the midst of death, there is another death to consider.

The death of Christ.  The only death I know of, where the answer to “why” is answered.

“For you”, the Father whispers.  We hear it again, as we proclaim and celebrate His death in the Lord’s Supper.  Take and eat, the Body of Christ, given FOR YOU!.  Take and drink, the Blood of Christ, shed for you, f or the forgiveness of sins.

The answer is staggering..

For me?  Broken, sinful, confused, anxious, depressed, mourning – that me?   Trusting in this, is the key to our faith, that God would do this, for us.

Job’s dream, come true,

You would call and I would answer, and you would yearn for me, your handiwork.”

The words of Paul in Ephesians 2:10, says Job was right, his vision of what would be glorious is found to be true.  His hopes exceeded.

That is the perspective death brings, it causes us to ask the questions we dare not,  and here the answers that we can only dream of in our brokenness.

An answer we can hear, and know, passed down to us.  For He died, was buried, and rose again.  United with Him, this is seen in our baptism, and as we feast at His table, as we look forward and cry out with hope, with great expectation for Him to return.  AMEN

Do We Desire God’s Presence? Do we Desire Eternity?


Devotional/Discussion Thought of the Day       :This was the church of my parochial school... a beautiful sanctuary in Lawrence, Massachusetts..now used for something else.

4  I have asked the LORD for one thing; one thing only do I want: to live in the LORD’S house all my life, to marvel there at his goodness, and to ask for his guidance. Psalm 27:4 (TEV) 

11  Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NLT) 

857 Someone we know well told us sincerely, in confidence, that he had never been bored, for he had never been on his own, without our Friend. It was late in the evening, and there was a great silence… You felt very intently the presence of God… And, in the knowledge of that reality, what peace!  (1)

Each morning that I find myself in my office, I start the day with the morning liturgy from “Celtic Daily Prayer”.  Each morning I do so, after remembering my baptism while making the sign of the cross, the very next thing is Psalm 27:4. I read the words and often ask myself a question.

Do I really want only that – to live in His house all my life, for all eternity?

Let me confess, I struggle with that, as I imagine you do.

And if I struggle with living with Him here, in this time and place; I also struggle with seeing that which Solomon mentioned, that God has planted eternity in my heart.  For often my heart and mind are not centered there.  Some things I desire may be good and beneficial, like seeing people given the gift of faith, and the promises that come from Baptism and receiving the Body and Blood of Christ.  I desire the church to grow, to find reconciliation where it is so needed.  But anxiety over making that happen.

Is my first desire God’s presence, to be where He abides?

There are times it is, and I can think back over the years and long for those times again.  The quiet sanctuaries of my youth, the incredible retreats I’ve been on, the baptisms, the putting into people’s hands the body and blood of Christ. The holding someone’s hand while they passed away, just silently praying.  Praying again with my son, when he fit in the niche of my arm, praying that God would bless him, and through him many people.  They are my treasured times, they are the best moments of my life.

Yes I do desire this, and I cannot but help look forward to eternity, because of promises like this:

9  However, as the scripture says, “What no one ever saw or heard, what no one ever thought could happen, is the very thing God prepared for those who love him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9 (TEV)

The times are precious, when I can sit and meditate on this, when I contemplate my baptism, or the Eucharist, or receiving the incredible news that my sins are absolved.

It is then I realize the peace the Josemaria’s friend new, the silence, the presence of God.  That which we do desire the most, if we take a moment to realize it.

Be still, my friends, and know there is a God, and you are His…..

It is worth every micro-second.  For there eternity, the eternity planted in our hearts is revealed.

For eternity is yours already.  He is with you…

 

 

(1)Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 3511-3515). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

A Glorious Sample!


A Glorious Sampling!SAMSUNG

Romans 8:18-27

 

In Jesus Name

 

May the Holy Spirit’s presence in your life not only assure you of the grace and peace of God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ that is yours now… but also that is eternal and yet to be fully revealed!

 

Anticipation…..

To be fair, I should start this sermon with a warning.  So here it is.

You are warned, that carefully listening to this sermon may make you very, very, very hungry.

Back in the day when our only television was a 12 inch B/W, there was a commercial that was so well done, that even in black and white, the ½ inch thick perfectly cooked, juicy hamburger was so well pictured, that it could make your mouth water…

There was a poor starving salivating child waiting for it, as a Heinz catsup bottle was hovering over it, taking 20 seconds for the first drop of catsup to lead the thick, rich, delicious catsup stream that would make complete the burger.

If you are old enough to remember those days, how many of you didn’t wait for the catsup, but got out a butter knife to encourage the catsup’s flow?

Anticipation, is making me wait!  Making me wait for this delicious, juicy, perfectly barbecued hamburger, which will be ice cold by the time the catsup leaves the bottle!

I never waited for the catsup – just tossed some onions on it, and started eating!

Some of us have trouble waiting patiently, whether it is for food, or to see God’s will revealed in our lives, and to see our lives become perfect.

Yet, it is a glorious thing when we see it, and knowing us, God has given us a little foretaste of what is to come.  That is what Paul is talking about, in the passage from Romans 8 that we heard a few moments ago….

It is just hard to wait, he is right, we long for the days when we are released from sin and suffering, and our adoption as God’s kids is fully realized.

The Struggle with Waiting!

We have a problem with waiting, probably because the other terms for waiting are not pleasant.  We have to have patience, or to use an older phrase – we have to be “long-suffering”.

Patience means we don’t get what we want, when we want it.

We don’t like that opening verse of the reading,

 Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later!

It is a struggle to wait, such a struggle is its own kid of suffering.  We get frustrated, whether it is waiting for catsup to pour out of a bottle, to get a seat at a restaurant, or to wait in line at a grocery store.

We struggle with those little things, and often we pour out our frustration in those situations, because we can’t figure out how to give address other struggles, other heavier, more personal and painful suffering.

Suffering we endure as our bodies cannot do what they used to do.  When we wake up with aches and pains, instead of energy and strength.  The suffering that happens because of age, or disease, or even common things like allergies.

Like the suffering that comes when we struggle to make ends meet, or as we wait for test results, or when our expectations don’t become reality.

There are even deeper sufferings, the pains we feel as we watch people we love suffer, as marriages suffer, as grief weighs on people, as financial struggles crush them, as addictions rob life from them.  Even more so as we look at those we love, who could know God’s peace, and instead continue to struggle to play God, and fail.

Those times where the suffering is so great, we can’t even find the peace or the words to pray, where our very heart is crushed by the suffering. This isn’t even starting to talk about the suffering of martyrdom, the suffering that can accompany sharing God’s love for people.

We aren’t alone in the suffering, Paul tells us the whole creation – the earth and stars suffer as well, waiting for that which we hope for…. The transformation that all creation groans for, as it awaits Christ’s return.

How can we wait patiently, expectantly for that, if we struggle to wait for some tomato paste and vinegar to make it’s way from a bottle onto the aromatic, juicy, perfectly barbecued hamburger?

What are we waiting for? 

I joke about the burger, but we need to see that for which we hope. Hope, not like in hoping that I win the lottery, but more hope as in we fully expect Christ’s return.

Paul uses some incredible words to describe that for which we hope.

“we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering!”

And,

We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us!

Those are a lot better to wait for than that catsup – right?

Imagine – no more body, no more effect of sin on our lives, or the lives of those we love and care for, just the presence of the Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit; who welcomes us home into a life beyond experience, beyond our imagination.

There are days I long for that! There are days I cannot wait…..

Especially when I hear the news of more churches being burnt to the ground, of Christians being threatened with death,

I long to know the glory we will share in, and be done with the suffering of this life…

Then again, I had trouble waiting for catsup!  How do you expect me to wait for eternity to be revealed?  How can we wait for it, when waiting means struggling, sacrifice, and suffering?

How Can We wait?

I warned you at the beginning of this sermon that it might make you hungry, but I wasn’t talking about the hamburger with the Heinz catsup on it.

What I hope you are hungry for, nearly starving for, is that day when we realize how true it is, that the sufferings of our lives is nothing compared to the glory awaiting for us.

I pray you are hungry for the revelation of God’s glory, of our eternity spent with Him, or as Paul explains it to the church in Colossae,

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)

Set your hearts on it!  Put your hope in God!  Expect Him to fulfill all His promises – and know what those promises are!

God provides for us as we wait as well!  Paul describes two ways in which the Holy Spirit work.

The first is as we pray, as we groan and endure, when we are so week, that we don’t even know how to pray.  The promise is that the Spirit is with us, praying with us, groaning with us, pleading for us, as verse 27 states, in harmony with God’s will.

We don’t suffer alone! Our prayers are heard!  God is listening, for the Spirit who dwells in our hearts communicates clearly and the Father hears.

The other, even more significant is that the Holy Spirit’s presence in our life!  I love how the NLT translates it…

23 And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory

The presence of the Holy Spirit, the gift of God given to us when we were born again in baptism.  The presence of the Lord and Giver of Life, the Comforter, the Advocate, the One who gives gifts to the church to serve the word the good news of Christ.  The One who assures us our prayers are heard by God the Father and answered, the Healer of our souls.

Who is a foretaste, the Holy Spirit who is present in our lives – a glimpse of what to expect when the suffering we now know is replaced by the glory of that day.

May we revel in the presence of the Holy Spirit, may we drink deeply of the love revealed to us, and may it help us realize the peace of God, as we anticipate the glory that is yet to come!

AMEN?

 

 

How to Pass the Test of Your Life….


Devotional Thought of the Week:photo

5  Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is among you; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith. 2 Corinthians 13:5 (NLT)


Last night, as we looked at the end the book of II Corinthians in our midweek Bible Study.  The above verse (in read) really stuck out, really became the focus of the study.

To examine ourselves, to look bluntly at our lives, to understand where we’ve failed, is not easy.  Even the way we deal with others hurting us, (or being able to hurt us) can result in our sinning, it can result in our not doing what is right.  Examining ourselves isn’t easy, partially because our very nature will take everything to the worse case scenario.  We again get it wrong, when we think that examining our lives, our souls, is about beating ourselves up, as if somehow the worse we feel about ourselves the more righteous we are.  Or the more we beat ourselves up, the more we’ve atoned for what we’ve done wrong.

It doesn’t work that way, this examining ourselves, this putting our faith to the test.

When I used to teach in the computer information systems introductory course at a community college, one of the question on the final was a pass/fail question.  It was a simple question based on the microsoft office program.  It asked, “what does the F1 button on your keyboard do?”  The answer was simple, it is the HELP button, the button you push when you don’t know what to do, and things aren’t working the way you think they should.  There were many other questions on the test – but that one was critical.  If my students could remember that, everything else they needed to know was readily at hand.  Get that question right – the rest of the test opened up, miss it, and well, you were done.

Life has the same kind of test, according to St Paul.  One question, get it right and life opens up, even our mistakes, our errors, our sins can be dealt with, no, it has been dealt with at Jesus’ crucifixion.

The answer to life’s test?  Simple – Christ is in you!

Paul talks about it again to the church in Colossae:

 26  This message was kept secret for centuries and generations past, but now it has been revealed to God’s people. 27  For God wanted them to know that the riches and glory of Christ are for you Gentiles, too. And this is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory. Colossians 1:26-27 (NLT)

There’s the secret, there is the test.  Not to be perfect – for we are simultaneously sinners, yet righteous in Christ.  The key to examining ourselves isn’t to beat ourselves up, but to know we need Jesus, and to realize He is here, He is with you, reconciling you to the Father, and then to others.

Christ in you – Christ with you, the very hope we have that the test of life is passed…

Life changes when we know we are welcome in His place… it changes our heart, our mind, our life, our eternity.

The test is that simple…..

 

Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 1558-1560). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

 

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