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Why Do We See Scripture Reading as a Duty, Not a Blessing?

photoDevotional Thought of the Day:
2  You’re blessed when you follow his directions, doing your best to find him. 3  That’s right—you don’t go off on your own; you walk straight along the road he set.
Psalm 119:2-3 (MSG)

Let us use texts of Scripture as fuel for our heart’s fire, they are live coals; let us attend sermons, but above all, let us be much alone with Jesus.

When I made you a present of that Life of Jesus, I wrote in it this inscription: “May you seek Christ. May you find Christ. May you love Christ.” These are three very distinct steps. Have you at least tried to live the first one?

I have often struggled to find the words to encourage people (and pastors) to meditate on Scripture.

To treat it more than a textbook, or a self-improvement novel, or something they have to do, in order to be better believers, to be loved by God.

I would love to blame it on the enlightenment, or modernism and the need to rationalize and have a purpose for everything we do. But we, conservative or progressive, high church or low church, all seem to be willing to forgo spiritual disciplines like prayer and meditation on the words through which God reveals Himself to us.

It is too easy when trying to encourage people to spend time contemplating God and His love, to resort to tactics which can produce guilt or shame. It is challenging to help someone see the blessing of spending time, no, cherishing the time that comes when we slow down and hear the word of God, describing how we are loved by the Word of God.

Notice that the translation doesn’t say go and find your blessing? It simply acknowledges you are, when you follow the directions to find Him and do. He’s not that far off, even today amid a pandemic.  Spurgeon says we need to be alone with Jesus, he gets the blessing that it is!  St. Josemaria urges us to find Jesus, with the same concept. Not because we have a duty too, but because of the blessing.

This is our time of refuge, our time of peace, it is the time where we are loved and affirmed, and our hearts set on fire, our passion for God grows because we realize how passionate He is about us. It is the time of restoration, a time where we spend intimately with God, a time we need to survive, to take a time out, to breathe, to regain hope, to be healed, to realize that God is even dealing with our sin.

All that and more happens when a believer finds Jesus, right were they are. When they spend time savoring the message of Scripture when they don’t just read it to read it, but let it soak deep inside them.

I can only but urge you to do so, to spend time with God as He reveals Himself to you… and how He is you God, and you are His beloved people.

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

Escriva, Josemaria. The Way . Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Are We Waiting for the End of Time with Joy?

Discussion and Devotional Thought of the Day:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA 10  Announce to the nations, “The LORD is King! The world stands firm, never to be shaken, and he will judge its people with fairness.” 11  Tell the heavens and the earth to be glad and celebrate! Command the ocean to roar with all of its creatures 12  and the fields to rejoice with all of their crops. Then every tree in the forest will sing joyful songs 13  to the LORD. He is coming to judge all people on earth with fairness and truth. Psalm 96:10-13 (CEV)

794         Mary spent three days and three nights looking for the Son who was lost. May you and I also be able to say that our willingness to find Jesus knows no rest.  (1)

Carmelite Vow:   Let each stay in or near their own cell, meditating, day and night on the law of the Lord, and vigilant in prayer, unless otherwise employed by the Holy Spirit!  (2)

As I look at the last quote, it seems odd for me, a Lutheran pastor, to quote a Catholic Monastic Vow.  Luther was not known to praise monastic orders, he saw little use for them.  

But to dismiss this thought entirely, is to forget the amount of time Luther spent in prayer, and in the word of God.

What would happen if we spent this kind of time with God, that whenever we weren’t involved in our vocations of life, we were using that time for prayer.  If we made the time we spent entertaining ourselves, the time we watched “reality shows”, the time we spent just doing nothing, seeking the Lord?  If we gave thought daily to His return, His glorious return? I think we wouldn’t fear it, or see Christ’s return as simply an escape from the day’s trouble. ( I will admit there are days I cry out for his return, just to be done with the trauma and drama of this life)

I think the experience of being so aware of His peace would change us dramatically.  

We would hunger for those times as the Psalmist does, as we read of men like Luther and Wesley who would make a priority of hours a day in prayer. I love St Josemaria’s thoughts as well, what if our willingness, or desire to find Jesus knew no rest – if we looked for His presence, not just in the fifteen minutes of the day, but also for hours, and for the seconds when we have nothing else occupying our minds?

That would change how we view our vocations, how we view the daily grind of life.

It would change every encounter, as fueled by our time with Hi, our hearts would be centered on the glorious day of His return. The time where judgment comes, and rather than fearing it, we welcome it, because of the work of Jesus Christ. We welcome His coming, seeing the Father face to face, knowing as we are known.

Come, let’s plunge into a life of devotion, come, lets spend time with our Lord! Not to impress Him, not because of some expectation we hope to meet, but rather, in love with a God who would come and make His life here… among us.

Lord Have Mercy!

 

 

(1)  Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 3286-3288). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

(2)  Celtic Prayer Book, Monthy Devotional Thought for the 3d Day of the Month

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