Some thoughts to encourage your love of God
As the boy was still approaching, the demon knocked him down and threw him into severe convulsions. But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, healed the boy,ak and gave him back to his father. 43 And they were all astonished at the greatness of God. Luke 9:42-43 CSB
Glorious Lord, Thyself impart!
Light of Light from God proceeding;
Open THou our ears and heart
Help us by Thy Spirit’s pleading
Hear the cry Thy people raises
Hear and bless our prayers and praises.
It is in the wounds of Jesus where we are truly secure; there we encounter the boundless love of His heart.
O fire of God, begin in me;
Burn out the dross of self and sin,
Burn off my fetters, set me free,
And make my heart a heaven within.
Baptize with fire this soul of mine;
Endue me with Thy Spirit’s might
And make me by Thy power divine
A burning and a shining light
We will not want to admit it, but many of us need to have Jesus heal us the way he did the young boy in the gospel reading in red above. Some of those demons are of our own making, some are real – those who oppress us, trying to distract us from God. Some unbelievers we know are enslaved by demons, possessed by demons beyond our perception, beyond our comprehension as well.
The old hymnal I was given starts out the answer, the way we find freedom from every kind of evil. It is God’s answer to the prayer of hymn #3. We need the Lord to enter our lives, His light surgically removed the scars from battles that were lost against sin. This is done as the spirit intercedes for us in prayer, translating what we ask and praise God for, making it what we really need.
That thought is reiterated in Tozer’s poem, as he realizes the need for God to burn out that which is not of God. That is a ministry we can’t do for ourselves, and to be honest, a pastor only does as he teaches God’s love and mercy. (He has to establish the need for it as well) The result of this – we reflect God’s glory (see 1 Cor. 3:18) into the darkness of the world, bringing hope were there is despair.
We cannot do any of this on our own. We need the Holy Spirit continuing to minister to us, comforting and healing us, drawing us out of the darkness in which we sometimes hide. We need that stuff burnt out of our lives, and that is something only God can do, as we hear His word, and receive the blessings found in baptism and the Lord’s Supper, and when we are told, “rejoice – your sins are forgiven, in the Name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit. AMEN!”
Evangelical Lutheran Hymnbook 1927 Hymn #3
Pope Francis, A Year with Pope Francis: Daily Reflections from His Writings, ed. Alberto Rossa (New York; Mahwah, NJ; Toronto, ON: Paulist Press; Novalis, 2013), 266.
A. W. Tozer and Marilynne E. Foster, Tozer on the Holy Spirit: A 366-Day Devotional (Camp Hill, PA: WingSpread, 2007).
Devtional/Discussion THought of the Day:
29 Levi gave a large dinner at his home for Jesus. Everybody was there, tax men and other disreputable characters as guests at the dinner. 30 The Pharisees and their religion scholars came to his disciples greatly offended. “What is he doing eating and drinking with crooks and ‘sinners’?” 31 Jesus heard about it and spoke up, “Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? 32 I’m here inviting outsiders, not insiders—an invitation to a changed life, changed inside and out.“ Luke 5:29-32 (MSG)
1024 Help me repeat in the ear of this person and of that other one… and of everyone: a sinner who has faith, even if he were to obtain all the blessings of this earth, will necessarily be unhappy and wretched. It is true that the motive that leads us (and should lead everyone) to hate sin, even venial sin, ought to be a supernatural one: that God abhors sin from the depths of his infiniteness, with a supreme, eternal and necessary hatred, as an evil opposed to the infinite good. But the first reason I mentioned to you can lead us to this other one. (1)
Yesterday in our Adult Bible Study the comment came up again, about Jesus’ words. “judge not, lest you be judged”. We were dealing with the Leviticus 19, and the call to confront those we struggle with, lest we carry the burden of their sin. It seems, that we are challenged, greatly challenged, by what appears to be contradictory commands in scripture. We are not to judge (actually condemn might be more accruate) but we have to make the judgment that a relationship damaged by sin, needs to be fixed. We have to risk being judged for being judgmental. (for surely those accused of jduging will be judged!)
Some will say in response, “You have to hate the sin, and love the sinner!” If this is just a way of accepting the inevitable fact that all of us still sin, and that we have to love people who are dominated by such sin, then it is not accurate. Hating the sin means hating the hold it has over people, the oppression it causes, as people get sucked into its grip. We have to realzie that sin is powerful, it does control and oppress people, and it can do devastating damage to a person, and to those around them. No wonder Paul said,
17 But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! 18 I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. 19 I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. 20 My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time. 21 It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. 22 I truly delight in God’s commands, 23 but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge. 24 I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question? Romans 7:17-24 (MSG)
Do we hate that feeling that nothing we can do helps, when we are oppressed by sin? Do we cry out as Paul does here, openly, to the Church in Rome? Or, have we just given up, and left people in bondage to it, accepting that it just is that way?
Remember why Jesus said He came above. It’s not for us who think we are whole, who claim we’ve broken the power of sin, and we are holy.
It is for those broken by sin, devastated by it, those who are crying out for help. Those who need a healing that only Jesus Christ can bring about, as He unites us to Himself, as He takes on our sin. That’s what the Pharisees didn’t see, that Christ didn’t come to celebrate the good life, but to crush sin and its power. Hating sin as God does means that we want to see people come to that transformation, that incredible thing called repentance, to the freedom from its power. Paul finished off his cry above with this,
25 The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different. Romans (MSG) 1 With the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah, that fateful dilemma is resolved. Those who enter into Christ’s being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. 2 A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death. 3 God went for the jugular when he sent his own Son. He didn’t deal with the problem as something remote and unimportant. In his Son, Jesus, he personally took on the human condition, entered the disordered mess of struggling humanity in order to set it right once and for all. Romans 7:25-8:3(MSG)
In Christ, we are set right, once and for all. But that means we need to realzie that people need to be set right, they need to be freed from this oppressive thing we know as sin…..
But that means we need to confront, in love. A tough challenge, a lot of risk. But that is why He came – and that is why we are here….for if Christ didn’t come to care for the well, but the sick, shouldn’t we be following His example?
Lord have mercy on us, help us to hate the sin, and seek healing for sinners from its ravages!
(1) Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 3623-3628). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
8 Finally, all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude. 9 Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will bless you for it. 10 For the Scriptures say, “If you want to enjoy life and see many happy days, keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies. 11 Turn away from evil and do good. Search for peace, and work to maintain it. 12 The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right, and his ears are open to their prayers. But the Lord turns his face against those who do evil.”1 Peter 3:8-12 (NLT)
738 Those who zealously keep a “list of grudges” show themselves to be very narrow-minded souls! Such poor wretches are impossible to live with. True charity neither keeps account of the necessary services it renders all the time, nor takes note of the effronteries it has to put up with. Omnia suffert—it endures all things.(1)
“As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.” (2)
A few movies, the one that comes to mind first is Invictus, Morgan Freeman portraying Nelson Mandela using sports – something other than politics, to unite a people too long divided.
Assuming the movies and the books are correct, the most remarkable thing he did was not to survive nearly 3 decades brutally imprisoned, or becoming the first black president of South Africa. What is amazing to me is that he did it without (apparently) giving voice to the resentment that could have built up over those years. He didn’t take action and get revenge, something that he could have done, with the authority he wielded. What is amazing to me is that healing that happened to Mandela’s soul, healing that enabled him to lead in a way that din’t bring a pendulum swing to the nations politics, but rather seems to have ushered in a journey towards justice and making things right.
It would seem to me, that this freedom from the burden of resentment, of a thirst not for revenge but for justice, is what makes this man remarkable. It’s not something we do easily as humans, for our desire to hold onto our hurts and pain from being betrayed runs strong. Think of movies – how many conquer evil by force as opposed to by allowing themselves to be martyred? Think of the rush of… joy(?) we get when evil gets its due punishment, or our cries for justice for us, without thoguht of what it might cost others. Somehow, the power that Mandela received was not used for evil, for revenge and satisfying a demand for retrinution.
Personally, I think this is due to his faith, which seems to have grown during his imprisonment. The model of Christ who didn’t have to put up with the constant questioning of his work, the beatings, the crucifixion. The man who brutalized his followers would become a leader among those followers. His followers would face torture and death with the same kind of instinctive love, as they asked God not to hold sin against those who tormentented them.
This blog isn’t about praising those martyrs, or even Mandela.
It’s an invitation to know the freedom that they knew. To get rif of the resentment you’ve build up over the years, to rid yourself of the thirst for revenge. Realeased from that…evil, binding, crap, to find joy, to find joy even in serving those who previously treated us in an evil way. That is healing. That is what St. Josemaria, another man hated and treated evilly by both those who oppose Christ and those who claim to follow him, is talking.
I invite you to share in it… I invite you to an altar where it is made real. As Christ would feed you His Body and Blood, given as promised to you, in order to prove that sin, all sin, is forgiven.
SO drop it there… your sin, the sin committed against you… and rise to know a peace that goes beyond anything you could ever expect, that you could ever explain. Know Christ is with you, and all else… can be forgotten.
(1)Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 3072-3076). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
(2) Nelson Mandela – quote taken from: http://pastors.com/20-quotes-from-nelson-mandela-a-leader-who-truly-changed-the-world/
- On Mandela : Invictus (purelybooks.blogspot.com)
- Resentments & Forgiveness (pattypooh67.wordpress.com)
- Can a Christian Leader let his people fail? He must! (justifiedandsinner.com)
- Will God hear even me today, in this mood I am in? (justifiedandsinner.com)
- The Purpose of Theology (justifiedandsinner.com)
- Is it insane to keep doing/teaching/preaching the same thing over and over, and expecting… (justifiedandsinner.com)
Discussion, Devotional thought of the day:
I came across this concept, this description of a characteristic of the faith a few times recently. Here is the original:
” Holy shamelessness is characteristic of the life of childhood. A little child doesn’t worry about anything. He makes no effort to hide his weaknesses, his natural weaknesses, even though everyone is watching him. Shamelessness, carried to the supernatural life, suggests this train of reasoning: praise, contempt; admiration, scorn; honor, dishonor; health, illness; riches, poverty; beauty, ugliness …Well, all right, does it matter?” Escriva, Josemaria
I find this thought somewhat deeper than it looks at first. Shamelessness is the kind of attitude that we think means we don’t care about what we’ve done, we simply live in the moment without thinking of consequences. Is that the kind of characteristic we should show the world?
in a real supernatural sense I believe we should. YOu see, if we truly trust that Jesus Christ has justified us, that He can and does deal with our sin and all the unrighteousness in our lives, then according to Him, there is nothing to be ashamed of – we are cleanse, justified, righteous, and we can – with a child like faith, go about the day, trying to please the One who loves us.
It is when we allow our lives to be manipulated by what may appear shameful, when we are concerned with what others think of our behavior – then we have lost the freedom Christ gives. When we are bound by fears and anxieties of what others will think – our focus has gone astray, and we aren’t thinking like children of God. We will realize, that we have bought into something that isn’t shameless – but shameful.
And then – cry Lord have mercy, know He has – and walk away, skip away and worship the One who has freed you!