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The Battle of Our Lives: Knowing this

Devotional Thought of the Day:

21  So I find that this law is at work: when I want to do what is good, what is evil is the only choice I have. 22  My inner being delights in the law of God. 23  But I see a different law at work in my body—a law that fights against the law which my mind approves of. It makes me a prisoner to the law of sin which is at work in my body. 24  What an unhappy man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is taking me to death? 25  Thanks be to God, who does this through our Lord Jesus Christ! This, then, is my condition: on my own I can serve God’s law only with my mind, while my human nature serves the law of sin. 8:1  There is no condemnation now for those who live in union with Christ Jesus.
Romans 7:21-8:1 (TEV)

“The devil can devise the most extraordinary arguments: ‘You sinned. God is enraged against sinners. Therefore, despair!’ In this matter, it is necessary for us to proceed from the law to the gospel and grasp the article concerning the forgiveness of sins. You are not the only one, my brother, who has suffered such anguish. For Peter also admonishes us not to be surprised when the same suffering is required of us in the community of the brothers and sisters [1 Pet 4:12; 5:9]. Moses, David, Isaiah suffered much and often. What kind of anguish do you suppose David may have felt, when he composed the psalm, ‘O Lord, rebuke me not in your anger, etc.’ [Ps 6:1]. He would much rather have died by the sword than experience these hard feelings against God and those of God against him.

At the end of a show I watched last night, a older priest looked a man in the idea, and told him he was heading to hell. The other charachter acknowledged this fact with a smile, as Jason Bull indicated he knew he had a suite reserved.

Oddly enough, the conversation was one of the most respectful I have ever seen dramatized. You might even say the dialogue was done in a very loving way.

As I read Luther’s words this morning, my mine recalled so many recent conversations about sin, and the grief it causes. The shame and guilt with which Satan and his minions try to crush our soul, The anguish that haunts us, and prevents us from finding the healing so easily available in Christ Jesus.

We have to grasp, and hold on to four our spiritual lives this doctrine of forgiveness, and the teaching of Christ’s mercy that so changes our very lives. We have to get past the sin, and let the law which convicts us drive us to our only hope, Jesus.

Sin isn’t something to hide, it is something to be treated.

It is not something you should fear telling your pastor or priest about but run to them, so they can tell you, that in Christ, you are not condemned. Rather you are reconciled to God, your relationship to Him restored, you are considered by Him to be innocent of sin, He declares this with all the love within Him, as He looks at you and I, His beloved children.

Knowing this, not just with our minds as a theological doctrine, but with our hearts and souls is the battle of our lives. To be convinced with every part of our lives that we are forgiven means we believe it, to the point where we can even forgive ourselves.

Then, we find ourselves dwelling in peace… a peace that is more than the absence of conflict but is the deepest, most unexplainable experience. An experience that occurs as we comprehend the dimensions of God’s love.

So my dear friend, confess your sins to God, and as you need, come to church and confess them, so you can hear the word that you are made new, for there is no condemnation in Christ Jesus. AMEN



Luther, M. (2007). Luther’s Spirituality. (P. D. W. Krey, B. McGinn, & P. D. S. Krey, Eds., P. D. S. Krey & P. D. W. Krey, Trans.) (pp. 16–17). New York; Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press.

C

Blessed to Be in His Presence: Free from Blame and made Partners: An Advent Sermon on 1 Cor 1

church at communion 2We Are Blessed to Be in His Presence

Free from Blame and Made His Partners!

1 Corinthians 1:3-9

  I.H.S

 As the Apostle Paul desired for the Corinthians, may God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace!

 Thank God you belong to Jesus!

An observation I heard more times than I could count yesterday is one familiar.

“How do people get through this without Jesus?”

“How does the secular world deal with this?

And to be honest, I don’t know, but I have an answer to their problem, at the end of this message.

So when I got back to church yesterday, and I looked again at the passage, what caught my eye more than it did before was Paul giving thanks to God for his people and the grace He’s given, for they belong to Jesus.

And so memories of after the service came back, so many of your faces, resonating with these words of Paul.

I have to thank God that it the grace He has given so evident, as is that you belong to Jesus, you are His!  All of the words of comfort you offer each other confirms it, as we seemingly do it month after month, year after year.  The gospel I share with you from up here, or in the MPR, I get to see them lived out far more clearly, as the riches of God’s gifts is seen in you.
I don’t have to prove His presence is true, you know that, even if you are little hazy about all the details, we cannot deny that God carries us in times like these.

Look at what we do, this isn’t possibly without God’s work being true

I don’t know how often you think about Jesus coming back, never mind are eagerly waiting for His return.  Most of the time for me, it is a prayer of desperation, a prayer because I don’t know how we are going to cope any longer, or dare I say, how much more of a challenging life we can endure. 

That’s the same kind of feeling Isaiah had in the Old Testament, when he cried, Lord, just burst open the heavens and come down!!!!

We’re waiting Lord!  Just rip open those skies and get down here!

I mean what are you waiting for Lord?

We’re not the first people to struggle, and we aren’t the only people who think the struggle’s gone on long enough.  According to the Book of Revelation, even those in heaven, those who testified to God’s love cry out, “How long, O Holy and true Lord, how long until the suffering is dealt with?”  (Rev. 6:10)

God’s answer to them is rest a little longer, the number of your brothers and sisters aren’t complete.  Remember that please.  That the number isn’t complete….

The church is like Maxwell house….

So how do we endure all the suffering?  All the pain that sin causes in our lives?  If God won’t come and take us all home right now, how will we get past tomorrow?

How can we endure to the end?  How will we be strong and faithful from this moment until Christ returns?

While Jesus isn’t coming back for the final judgment yet, He promised that God would never abandon us, that He would never leave us alone.  Here he promises it again,

“He will keep you strong to the end,”

But it doesn’t end there, there is more , “so you will be free from all blame on the day when our Lord Jesus returns”

Hear that guys?  All blame!  By guys I was talking to the men who are to blame for everything!  You know who you are!

Seriously, that promise is twofold.  The first is that God will personally sustain us, and keep us strong until Jesus returns.  The second is that we will be blameless – completely righteous, innocent of all sin, completely cleansed by God, our soul completely healed.

What we can’t do, He did already.  For our strength comes from our being untied to Jesus’ death and resurrection in our baptism, in God claiming us as His, for it is when we were united to Jesus that we became His, new creatures, that He fully cares for and sustains.

Because of Him we were sinners, and now we are forgiven, righteous, holy, and this is how Jesus will find us, the very work He did on the cross made it possible, and made it happen

Partnership with Christ – from His death till He comes again

So let me bring back up the idea of how people get through this life without knowing God.

It’s not supposed to be that way, and in fact, even as God planned for us to be blameless and holy, and strong to the last drop, he planned for those people who didn’t know His comfort.

Just as the Father sent Jesus to us, Jesus sends us to them.

You heard me right, that’s what the idea the Apostle is getting to, when he says, “God will do this, for he is faithful to do what He says, and he has invited you into partnership with His son, Jesus Christ our Lord!”

Our partnership, our communion, our fellowship with Jesus is so complete, we share in His vocation of Savior.  Not that we are crucified for their sins, but they hear about that incredible act of love, and the resurrection through us.  They hear of the love of God that will sustain us through this seemingly broken, shattered life.

And our words will confirm the work of Jesus, as the Holy Spirit draws them to Him, as we share the hope we have.

They don’t have to go through this life without Christ, and certainly, we know that God doesn’t desire that they go through life without hope, and for that reason, He isn’t come back yet…

You and I are Jesus partners, have been since our baptism, and through us, through the gospel, we share with family and friends, they will know that God is with them as well…

And then on the days when they like us are broken and exhausted, or tire of crying, and dealing with the guilt and shame of sin, they will know the power and beauty and strength and peace found in these words,

The Lord, who loves you, is with you!

AMEN!

The Lord is With Us…removing our idols!

Realizing and Revealing…
The Lord is With Us

Removing our Idols

† IHS †

As you experience and know the grace, mercy and peace of living in God’s presence, may the idols you cling to, that weigh you down, simply fall aside..

 

Can you imagine the Sanctus, sang by people of every tribe, every language, every ethnicity, as they pour into the space around the throne of God?  As we seem Him in all of His glory?

As we hear the people of God, all in awe of our Father’s appearance and of His glory. Can we our voices added to theirs as we all sing Holy! Holy! Holy! with such awe that almost sucks the breath out of us, combined with a joy that goes beyond anything that we could ever imagine?

Our attention will be so focused on the Lord God Almighty, that I doubt we will notice the other parts of the scene, the 4 seraphim, the 24 elders, and though we will move and sing as one being – I think all of our attention will focus on the love of our lives, our Father…. The Son, the Holy Spirit….

Everything else, all the things of the world… will have ceased to exist, they won’t matter.

Including our idols,

including our idolatry.

The Idols fall away…

That is the lesson tonight! As we look at Gideon’s walk with God, we consider this Lenten journey – what it means. We realize how it changes our lives to accompany Christ on His walk to His cross.  As He bears the punishment we deserve, if only because of the number of times we have shattered the 1st “commandment”,

Because I am the Lord your God, who rescued you, you shall have no other gods… you will not make or worship idols.

Far too often, our lives resemble that of Israel.  Imagine – as people walk up to the front door of your house, there is a monument to your favorite idol, to the thing that you most often put in God’s place, the things or people or achievements that we spend most of our time either working for, or enjoying, or chasing after.

Rarely are we as simplistic as Gideon’s dad was, just placing our idol, or an altar to that idol in our front yard.  We may be more sophisticated in how we chase them, of how we pursue them, but they are idols none the less.  We may even be as blunt and transparent in how we chase after these things – at least in the view of others, or if we look at how we spend our money, our time, our thoughts, and who or what we turn to, as we deal with a crisis.
What is it that binds us, that ties us up, that stops us from being with God?

The thing about idols that I don’t think we understand – is that if you have an idol, you don’t own it – it owns you.  That’s the thing about gods, if they are a god, not only do we depend on them, we are entrusted to them – we become their property.  We find ourselves to connected to them to break the connection, to dependent on them for our success, our ability to deal with, usually by ignoring it, the aspects of life that cause us anxiety.  We become addicted to them, and knowing its wrong struggle to find a way to break free.

That is why we are like Gideon’s father, who finds himself, a child of God, one who could well remember God’s reign over Israel; the proud owner of a home with the community altar to Ba’al.   An altar to worship the god of fertility.  Are we, like Gideon’s father, willing to make a stand, only after they are removed?

How can we overcome our attraction – even our addiction to those idols we have?  That is the part of our quest for lent, to rid ourselves of the things which stop us from realizing and revealing that the Lord is with us!

The Secret to Ridding ourselves of Idols.

I began this devotional message talking about our being in the presence of God, as we dwell in His presence before His throne, for a reason.

The only way to break the power of something over us, is to have something more powerful grab ahold of our attention, of our focus, of our very lives.

Remember – those idols wouldn’t stand a chance of attracting your attention, when you dwell in the presence of Almighty God, as are gathered in His presence around the throne of God.  We joke about you can’t take it all with you, but the real truth is that you wouldn’t want to!

You would look pretty silly, in the presence of God, illuminated by and dwelling in his glory, to be lugging a bag full of false gods, or to be bowing before things you have made yourself, or that others made. It wouldn’t be just silly, it could be even considered pathetic, sad, something that would bring us to tears.  Even as we talked about on Sunday, as Paul would cry and wail as he had to share that some people chose to be enemies of Christ, and the cross where our lives were linked with His.

 

The cure for idolatry is simple – it’s to realize we live, we dwell in the presence of God.  TO remember that doesn’t just happen when we go home to be in the Father’s presence, but we now dwell, fully, in the presence of God – the Holy Spirit.

It is found as we gather together, in Christ’s presence, as we worship Him, as we hear that we are freed from our sins, and from all of the world’s unrighteousness and injustice.  As we pray, as we spend time in scripture – both devotional reading and studying it together, as we come to the altar, and celebrate the foretaste of our homecoming feast – the feast of the lamb. It is found, as we realize and reveal to others, the Lord is With Us!

There is no idol that stands in the presence of God!
Gideon, dwelling in the presence of God, hearing God’s desire, did what we are called to do, and did away the idols that bound the people of Israel.….

Free not just of idolatry, but of every sin… for we dwell in the presence of God…

For we dwell in His peace. AMEN?

 

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