Devotional Thought of the Day:
8 “So now, with God as our witness, and in the sight of all Israel—the LORD’s assembly—I give you this charge. Be careful to obey all the commands of the LORD your God, so that you may continue to possess this good land and leave it to your children as a permanent inheritance. 9 “And Solomon, my son, learn to know the God of your ancestors intimately. Worship and serve him with your whole heart and a willing mind. For the LORD sees every heart and knows every plan and thought. If you seek him, you will find him. But if you forsake him, he will reject you forever. 10 So take this seriously. The LORD has chosen you to build a Temple as his sanctuary. Be strong, and do the work.” 1 Chronicles 28:8-10 (NLT2)
865 He came on earth because omnes homines vult salvos fieri, he wants to redeem the whole world. While you are at your work, shoulder to shoulder with so many others, never forget that there is no soul that does not matter to Christ!
David’s words to Solomon are worth looking deeply into, they are the words he gives, as he hands over the Kingdom. Of great importance to David is the building of the Temple, the building of the place were God would put His name, that people may know they are forgiven, where they may find they are still His people. Not just the people of Israel, but people who are foreigners, who are strangers, who are…different.
When David talks of God’s commands, he is not talking merely about the “do” and “do nots” found in Scripture. He is talking about all that God established, all the God called into existence. He is not just talking about the covenant terms, but the promises. He’s not just talking about the curses, but about the blessings, especially the blessing of God making us His people.
That is why David talks about us knowing God intimately, for only in that relationship can we understand that God is about far more than obedience to the laws, that He is about knowing us, and us knowing Him. It is then that the laws slide away, that our brokenness is laid into His hands. THat every soul matters to Jesus, that He would, through His church, draw all people to the Father.
Walk with Him, let Him draw out of you everything that has poisoned your life, that has turned you away from Him. As He draws you to Him, seek Him, knowing His love will see you through, even as it cleans and heals you.
This is why David so badly wanted to build the temple, why it was his son’s greatest duty and work. Not for the edifice, but that people could know God the Father, drawn to Him by Jesus. May we see the same done today!
Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge . Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
10 For the life of every living thing is in his hand, and the breath of every human being. Job 12:10 (NLT2)
First, God loves everything. Second, everything loves God. The second is as true as the first. Acorns grow into oak trees because they are in love with God. That is, they seek (unconsciously) their own perfection, which is a participation in some of God’s perfection. An oak tree is more perfect, more Godlike, than an acorn. An acorn is not satisfied to be an acorn, because it wants (unconsciously, of course) to be more like God. God is the magnet that draws all the iron filings that are creatures closer to Himself. That is why everything moves. It is seeking its own perfection, which is a reflection of God’s perfection. Everything moves out of love of God.
There are people who will not acknowledge God, yet they are drawn to Him. The aspire to be like Him, much as young children might want to be like their parents. There is a part of us that longs to excel, to be good at something, anything. To be the best, to be the expert, to know more, do more, be responsible for more.
It is actually a drive to be like God. To be perfect. Using the old Army slogan, to “be all that you can be.”
Kreeft indicates that this is actually a love of God. It may be a little warped, it may lead us into sin as it did Adam and Eve. It may surface as false pride and even self-idolatry. Often it reveals itself as a desire to supplant God, even as a young man may try to be the alpha dog in his family.
Sin often masquerades as light, which means it must have a kernel of truth in it. We want to be like God, whether we acknowledge His existence or not, because we are made in His image. And that drive, corrupted by sin, leads us to rebel against what He has planned for us.
The drive is not sinful, the pursuit of perfection is not wrong. It just needs calibration, and focus as we imitate Christ, even as Paul and the apostles were transformed into doing.
Redeemed, reconciled, adopted, revived and renewed, that drive is to see God at work within us, leaving Him in control, leaving His wisdom as our guide, and our norm. This is how we are to live , in Him, perfected.
In communion with Him, this hunt for perfection leads us to fall to our knees, to allow Him to remove our imperfections, to cover our failures, to even erase our sins.
This is revival, when our desire for perfection finds its fulfillment in a relationship with the Lord who created us, and in the death and resurrection of Jesus, recreates and perfects us.
Come Holy Spirit, make Your presence known as You fill our hearts, renewing our lives. AMEN!
Peter Kreeft, The God Who Loves You (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2004), 102–103.
0This God Whom You Worship!
† In Jesus Name †
May the grace of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ help you worship the God you know…
I Don’t think that word means….
In one of the most quoted moves of all times, a Sicilian mercenary captain keeps on using the word “inconceivable.” Over and over, you head the word come from this short, balding guy, inconceivable, inconceivable, inconceivable!
Finally, his swordmaster utters this favorite quote, ““You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” ( Inigo Montoya, Princess Bride)
Now, what was funny was all the inconceivable things, well, they were actually conceivable, and doable.
This sort of reminds me of the people of Athens in this week’s reading from Acts. They had all these statues and temples dedicated to “gods.” The Greek gods, the gods of the countries they conquered, any god which they could find someone worshipping, hear of someone worshipping, they even had the one shrine dedicated to a god they prayed to when all else failed.
The “unknown” God.
They had to have a shrine with that name, for they really didn’t understand what a god was, never mind who God is, and how He would relate to all of His creation.
This word god that they used, they simply did not mean what they thought it meant… and for some, that would change, this day.
So my question for you today, when you use the word “God,” do you know what the word means? If not, I pray you to do by the end of the day!
Who is this God?
Man creates and searches for gods for a reason. They know they need someone else to connect to, they know there is a presence that is missing.
So they create a god for this, a god for that, and attach to these gods a dream. For example, a lot of people are looking to authorities to save us from COVID, or the economic downturn that it has caused. We blame those we think are interfering with that recovery, even calling them evil or demons.
We put all our hope and the joy that accompanies hope.
And then that god fails, or that dream turns out to be false, and the contentment we thought it promised turns out to be more heartache and more pain.
We need a God that takes care of more than one problem, who is not created, who is more than someone who provides us what we want, or what we think we need for life to be right. We need the God Paul described.
This God, whom you worship without knowing, is the one I’m telling you about. 24 “He is the God who made the world and everything in it. Since he is Lord of heaven and earth, he doesn’t live in man-made temples, 25 and human hands can’t serve his needs—for he has no needs. He himself gives life and breath to everything, and he satisfies every need. 26 From one man he created all the nations throughout the whole earth. He decided beforehand when they should rise and fall, and he determined their boundaries. 27 “His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him—though he is not far from any one of us. 28 For in him, we live and move and exist. As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.
This is what a God is, this is Who we need to find peace, to find fulfillment, to have a real hope at life – for as Paul said, in Jesus, in Him we live and move and exist.
This is what happened at the cross, when all that was not god that we invented, all our idols, and the sins they led us to commit, were stripped away.
We realized that we are the children of God, His beloved children!
Judgment is coming.
Which is a good thing, because Paul then moves his discourse into something that could be frightening.
30 “God overlooked people’s ignorance about these things in earlier times, but now he commands everyone everywhere to repent of their sins and turn to him. 31 For he has set a day for judging the world with justice.
For those who don’t know God, who keep on going back to their idols, who keep on putting hope in some they think will solve all their problems, there is a day when God will ask why – why didn’t you trust in Me?
Why didn’t you consider my love, which I laid out before you?
Why did you create or find answers that won’t provide the hope and peace you need in the long run?
Why not just cry out to me?
Why not let me save you?
For the judgment day surely has two parts – the full justice of God.
The judgment of idolaters, the judgment of those who would reject God, and the part that truly gives us hope.
31 For he has set a day for judging the world with justice by the man he has appointed, and he proved to everyone who this is by raising Him from the dead.”
This is our hope… this is everything that God appointed on to judge us, would die to make things just and right. Jesus would not only strip away those things that draw us away from God but would heal us. That would heal the broken hearts, our broken souls, if we would but let Him.
It is time to call out to Him now, knowing this,
19 and how very great is his power at work in us who believe. This power working in us is the same as the mighty strength 20 which he used when he raised Christ from death and seated him at his right side in the heavenly world. Ephesians 1:19-20 (TEV)
I pray that you know this God and know what it means that He is your God and that you learn to depend on Him… and trust in Him…matter of fact, let’s pray right now…
Heavenly Father, help us to stop chasing after other gods, help us stop finding hope in things other than you… deliver us this morning, and surround us with your glory, that we may dwell in Your peace. AMEN!
Devotional Thought for the Day:
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! Romans 7:23-25 GNT
We, on the other hand, teach and comfort an afflicted sinner this way, and we console the afflicted sinner: “Friend, it is impossible for you to become so righteous in this life that your body is as clear and spotless as the sun. You still have spots and wrinkles (Eph 5:27); nevertheless, you are holy.” You, however, say, “How can I be holy, when I have sin and I perceive it?” “It is good that you perceive and recognize sin. Give thanks to God, and do not despair. It is one step toward health when a sick person recognizes and admits the disease.” “But how will I be liberated from sin?” “Run to Christ, the Doctor, who heals the contrite of heart and saves sinners. Believe in him. If you believe, you are righteous, because you give glory to God that God is omnipotent, merciful, truthful, etc. You justify and praise God. In sum, you attribute divinity and all things to God. The sin that still remains in you is not imputed to you but pardoned for the sake of Christ, in whom you believe and who is perfectly righteous in a formal sense. His righteousness is yours; your sin is his.”
Faith is likewise a Yes to God in Jesus Christ, who looks upon me, makes me open, and enables me ultimately to entrust myself to him. Faith penetrates to what is most personal and most interior in me and, in doing so, responds to the Person of Jesus Christ, who calls me by name.
Sin is a serious issue.
The brokenness it causes is even far more serious. It shatters individuals, friendships, marriages, churches, communities.
It rages like a forest fire, and it often seems we are helpless ot do anything about it. We struggle to confront it in our own lives, and we are afraid to deal with it in others.
Rather than do so, we compromise, and settle for the brokenness, even embracing it, for the cost seems to high. Except the cost of NOT dealing with it is higher.
Paul demonstrates that in his plea to be rescued from death, a cry of hope that brings him to the only hope. We have to let Christ deal with it. We have to let the Holy Spirit cut us open, and the mercy of God penetrate to the most personal, intimate, secluded places where the brokenness has taken root.
As the Holy Spirit uproots the brokenness, He plants faith, the ability to entrust ourselves to Jesus, and to grow in our dependence on His work, trusting Him to pardon us, to declare that we are righteous and belong in the presence of God the Father.
Even though the struggle goes on, even if the struggle is magnified by our realizing how deep our sin and rebellion is buried, that very realization is proof of God’s work, unearthing it so He can heal us.
Healing is painful, coming face to face with the pain we thought we had buried, that we had gotten past, burying it deeply within. Yet that pain needs to be truly dealt with, by the only one who can. God.
And He has at the cross, and as you were baptised, and every day of your life, as the Holy Spirit cleanses us deeply, comforting us, healing us, making us the Holy people of God, the children He has call to dwell in His presence. 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.) (p. 168). New York; Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press.
Ratzinger, J. (1992). Co-Workers of the Truth: Meditations for Every Day of the Year. (I. Grassl, Ed., M. F. McCarthy & L. Krauth, Trans.) (p. 214). San Francisco: Ignatius Press.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
14 When I think of the greatness of this great plan I fall on my knees before God the Father (from whom all fatherhood, earthly or heavenly, derives its name), and I pray that out of the glorious richness of his resources he will enable you to know the strength of the spirit’s inner re-inforcement – that Christ may actually live in your hearts by your faith. And I pray that you, firmly fixed in love yourselves, may be able to grasp (with all Christians) how wide and deep and long and high is the love of Christ – and to know for yourselves that love so far beyond our comprehension. May you be filled though all your being with God himself!
20 Now to him who by his power within us is able to do far more than we ever dare to ask or imagine – to him be glory in the Church through Jesus Christ for ever and ever, amen! Ephesians 3:14-20 (Phillips NT)
77 You told me that to tie yourself to a plan of life, to a schedule, would be so monotonous! And I answered, “It is monotonous because you lack love.”
It is sometimes. Ver much so more than I would like to admit.
It doesn’t matter if it is a high powered contemporary service, or a organ blasting traditional service, or a small intimate worship time on a retreat.
Church services can be boring, even monotonous,
And while the pastor and those who music facilitates our praises can impede or encourage worship, there is one key that absolutely makes the difference in whether you find a church and the worship service.
I’ve seen couples where one is completely engaged in worship, one is actively engaged, and talks about church as the high point of their week. The spouse, however, was so disengaged that they eventually fell asleep.
What makes the difference in perception is the person.
St Josemaria says it well, it is monotonous because of the truth of this, you lack love.
And if you lack love, there are two options, you are unable to love God and others, or what is necessary to love him, you haven’t been immersed in the reality of HIs love for you. You haven’t had the opportunity, as St Paul desired for you, to explore the incredible dimensions of that love for you.
Not just know the love as a piece of data, because you can’t fully, it is so far beyond our comprehension, You need to be filled with that love, you need to be filled with God.
And that is the purpose of a church service, to help you explore that depth, and those who lead are simply guides on the journey. Guides who hopefully are still in awe of the same journey, pointing out this treasured point, and that, how this explores the heights, and that explores the depths.
For if you know how incredible God’s love is for you,
And when you do, the hunger to more will help you engage, to enter the service as a participant as we dance with God, rather than being an observer. For everyone has a part in worship, every voice has its role, a part in the service. It’s not just about the guys up there in robes, We are just there to point you to the love that God has for you, the incredible love that makes a difference in every aspect of your life.
So when you come into a church, expect something special, expect to hear you are loved, listen for it, rejoice in it, walk in it, even dance in it, and then love and adore the God who loves you.
The same service will never be the same.
Escriva, Josemaria. The Way (Kindle Locations 339-340). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional Thought for our days…..
19 If our hope in Christ is for this life only, we should be pitied more than anyone else in the world. 1 Corinthians 15:19 NCV
18 We all show the Lord’s glory, and we are being changed to be like him. This change in us brings ever greater glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:18b NCV
Paradoxically, a widespread decline in traditional religious practice in the West runs parallel with an ever-increasing hunger for spirituality. The question at the forefront of most of the great spiritual classics used to be “What or who is God?” Nowadays the characteristic question of the contemporary spiritual seeker is more likely to be “Who am I?” Great Christian teachers of the past such as Julian of Norwich understood quite clearly that these two questions are inextricably linked.
And I saw very certain that we must necessarily be in longing and in penance until the time we are led so deeply into God that we verily and truly know our own soul. (a quote from Phillip Sheldrake’s Spirituality and Theology in Webber’s text The Divine Embrace: Recovering the Passionate Spiritual Life) (1)
850 In your heart and soul, in your intelligence and in your will, implant a spirit of trust and abandonment to the loving Will of your heavenly Father… From this will arise the interior peace you desire. (2)
Who Am I?
I’ve been trying to answer that question for as long as I can remember. I see som many others trying to answer it as well.
Who is God?
Most people don’t bother to ask this, and those who do pursue it with an academic passion that is absolute, and yet nearly impossible to communicate to others simply. (this is why we develop creeds and confessions, statements of belief and doctrinal texts, and then wonder why they don’t sell as well as novels and religious fluff)
Some might even try to describe this in general terms as Webber’s citation seems to above. The older folk are more concerned with proving beyond a shadow of a doubt who God is (or isn’t) and the younger (gen X and Millennials ) struggling with who we are.
And without both questions being asked, neither is ever truly answered.
And in asking both at the same time, as Julian of Norwich and Augustine and Luther did, as Webber is trying to ask, we find the answer. In that answer is the hope and peace that we so need.
We can only define God in terms of His relationship to us, as our Creator, Redeemer, the One who makes us Holy, the One who loves us and is our Father, Brother, Friend, Counselor, Encourager, Comforter.
We only find out who we really are when we are defined by God, as He ministers to us. We may not like to hear it, but we have no identity outside of our identity to Him, our identity in Him.
it is in that definition of “who am I” that I find out I am loved, cared for, guided, That GOd is transforming us into the very image of Jesus, to be like Him, yet to be ourselves. And yet this definition, this transformation is far more than we know, for it is an eternal transformation.
Paul isn’t joking when He says without the resurrection we are a hopeless group of people. For a life trusting in God is not just about this life, and the change takes our entire life to begin to see. It may mean we live in hardship, it will mean that we deny ourselves, abandoning ourselves into the hands of the Lord whose love for us is seen in the scars on His hands.
Spend some time there, at the cross. Spend some more time there, at the altar, examining yourself and knowing how desperately you need Him, and the fact, HE IS HERE! And we will be with Him Forever! Everything we are in life flows from Him, and it is glorious and real, and now, and yet even more to come!
The answer to Who is God?
He is your God
Who are you?
You are His!
So live life, based on these words: He is our God, we are His People! AMEN!
(1) Webber, Robert E. The Divine Embrace: Recovering the Passionate Spiritual Life. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2006. Print. Ancient-Future Series.
(2) Escriva, Josemaria. Furrow (Kindle Locations 3487-3489). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
73 You created me, and you keep me safe; give me understanding, so that I may learn your laws. 74 Those who honour you will be glad when they see me, because I trust in your promise. 75 I know that your judgements are righteous, LORD, and that you punished me because you are faithful. 76 Let your constant love comfort me, as you have promised me, your servant. GNT Psalm 119:73-76
God “commanded” the world into existence (Ps 33:9; Isa 45:12). All creatures and elements therefore obey his command (cf. I Kgs 17:4; Job 37:12; Ps 78:23). God also directs the course of history by decreeing crucial events; indeed no determinative event happens without God’s ordaining it (Lam 3:37). Indeed he decrees that his people be victorious (Ps 44:4 [H 5]).
What God commands to be done, he provides the means to accomplish, e.g. he instructed Moses concerning the building of the cultic furniture and buildings; then he inspired Bezalel and Oholiab with the Spirit of wisdom to be able to accomplish the work (Ex 31:2–6; 35:30–36:1). Regarding the making of these objects the text first details the instructions and then describes Israel’s careful fulfillment of God’s commandment (Ex 25–30; 36–39; Lev 8; cf. Ex 39:5, 7, 32, 42f.).
Over the last year and a half, one of my Bible Studies has been slowly working through Psalm 119. Over and over it talks about the joy that is found in the law of God, in His commands, in His directives, in His ordinances!
The challenge is that we Lutherans tend see this only as Law – the commands that we cannot hope to keep, and therefore find ourselves. condemned. My old denomination as well had this problem, as it divided the covenants of God into Law and Promises.
We hear Law, we head commandment, we hear precept and our mind automatically goes into “theology mode”. This is God’s command, we have to fear when we hear it because we cannot hope to meet its demands, it will only point out our sin.
But that is not how the Psalmist continually refers to God’s law in Psalm 119, and in most of the Psalms. It is a delight, a joy, something that grabs our attention and holds it, breathes life into us! It inspires and empowers us.
It is not just what we refer to as the terms of the covenant, or the law which we properly distinguish from gospel. It is the entire Covenant, the law and gospel complete and in perfect tension. The entirety of theology, the word of God complete. Our need for salvation, His saving us at the cross of Christ.
As the apostle Paul put it so beautifully,
“3 Let us give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! For in our union with Christ he has blessed us by giving us every spiritual blessing in the heavenly world. 4 Even before the world was made, God had already chosen us to be his through our union with Christ, so that we would be holy and without fault before him. Because of his love 5 God had already decided that through Jesus Christ he would make us his children—this was his pleasure and purpose.” Ephesians 1:3-5 (TEV)
This is what God tells us He established by His very commands from the beginning. It is His reason, His word, it is Christ’s pleasure and purpose, as well as the Father’s and the Holy Spirits.
The quote in blue, for the word law in the psalm quote, coems from a Hebrew Lexicon. It states it well, what He commanded, He establishes the means to accomplish, indeed the entire Trinity is invested in making it come to pass.
For us, so that we could be His people, His children, so that we would know Him as our God, our benevolent, loving, caring, comforting Father. So He has commanded this to be, and so it is!
Let that bring you great peace, great joy! What God has established, ordained, commanded, made His law is now. You are His. AMEN!
Hartley, John E. “1887 צָוָה.” Ed. R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer Jr., and Bruce K. Waltke. Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament 1999 : 757. Print.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
Fellow Israelites, be careful what you are about to do to these men. 36 *Some time ago, Theudas appeared, claiming to be someone important, and about four hundred men joined him, but he was killed, and all those who were loyal to him were disbanded and came to nothing. 37 After him came Judas the Galilean at the time of the census. He also drew people after him, but he too perished and all who were loyal to him were scattered. 38 So now I tell you, have nothing to do with these men, and let them go. For if this endeavor or this activity is of human origin, it will destroy itself. 39 But if it comes from God, you will not be able to destroy them; you may even find yourselves fighting against God.” They were persuaded by him. Acts 5:35-39 NABRE
His name was Gamaliel, one of the greatest of Jewish Rabbi’s, not just of his time, but in history.
Not exactly a friend to those who followed Jesus; though, in this situation, he certainly had words of wisdom that were beneficial to them.He’s not the only one throughout history who was not a believer, yet God used to deliver and guide his people. Jethro’s father was one, and Cyrus the Persian for another. I’m not sure that Balaam’s ass was a believer, but God even spoke through it.
So how do we deal with such things?
We know that there are two forms of revelation, that is two ways in which we know about God. The first is through scripture, specific revelation. This is where we get to know God deeply. He tells us who He is, how much he loves us, how Christ came and proved that love. The second way is what is called general revelation, and is what we can discern of the Creator through nature, through observation, through the various sciences.
Even the observations and thoughts of man that create idols and establish man-made religions have some truth in them, some portion that is written based on how God has ordered things. For such false religions were created based, not in a vacuum, but withing God’s creation, within His world, by humans who are made in His image, and have a portion of the truth.
Remember – they aren’t His enemies, though they may fight against God, and struggle with His direct, specific revelation.
That doesn’t mean they have the complete truth. Or that we should just accept what they can observe as being equal to what we interpret from scripture. But we can consider their wisdom, measure it against scripture ( not just our interpretation of scripture). and rejoice where it is found consistent.
Is this easy or fast? No. Sometimes testing their belief means that we spend a few hours in scripture, and in prayer. But Gamaliel’s advice is similar – let’s see if God is at work in this. And hold fast to the truth we know!
Does it change how we relate to those who believe other than we do? Yes – we see them as people who are looking for God, and doing what they can to deal with their own brokenness.
This change in attitude leads us to a position that means we aren’t opposition, but rather working alongside them. There may be a line in the sand – but that isn’t to divide us, it is to remind us of what has been specifically given to us, through Christ’s life, death, burial,and resurrection. There is the line – that love of God revealed in Christ. That specific, merciful, glorious revelation of His love.s
In the midst of all of this, praying and asking God to bless us, we find a very special ministry, that of seeing all reconciled to Jesus.
And that my friends, is worth it. .
New American Bible. Revised Edition. Washington, DC: The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2011. Print.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
20 But that is not the way you learned Christ!— 21 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22 to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. 25 Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Ephesians 4:20-25 (ESV)
17 On the other hand, it is correct to say that in conversion, through the attraction of the Holy Spirit, God changes stubborn and unwilling people into willing people, and that after conversion, in the daily exercise of repentance, the reborn will of man is not idle but cooperates in all the works which the Holy Spirit performs through us.
18 9. Likewise Luther’s statement that man’s will in conversion behaves “altogether passively”5 (that is, that it does nothing at all) must be understood as referring to the action of divine grace in kindling new movements within the will, that is, when the Spirit of God through the Word that has been heard or through the use of the holy sacraments takes hold of man’s will and works the new birth and conversion. But after the Holy Spirit has performed and accomplished this and the will of man has been changed and renewed solely by God’s power and activity, man’s new will becomes an instrument and means of God the Holy Spirit, so that man not only lays hold on grace but also cooperates with the Holy Spirit in the works that follow.
426 Today once again I prayed full of confidence. This was my petition: “Lord, may neither our past wretchedness which has been forgiven us, nor the possibility of future wretchedness cause us any disquiet. May we abandon ourselves into your merciful hands. May we bring before you our desires for sanctity and apostolate, which are hidden like embers under the ashes of an apparent coldness…” ”Lord, I know you are listening to us.” You should say this to him too.
There is, within the church today, a sense of defeatism. The church seems to be dying in America; it no longer serves the community as a place of peace, a sanctuary from the world. It is no longer the place of people set apart to a life walking with Christ.
This is happening, even as American seminaries are be asked to influence the training of pastors in places where the growth of the church is exponential, and that scares me, for what if what we teach them is what has caused our churches, liberal and confessional, traditional and contemporary to diminish in size, and in effect?
I can’t speak to the denominations and movements I know not of, but I can speak, and will speak to those I know well.
In our situation, there is a strange misunderstanding, a problem with one of our prize confessions, the cry of “Faith Alone”, and how it has morphed into something it never was.
It was about conversion; some people think it is about the entirety of our life. They take another summary of theology – we are simultaneously sinners and justified – and it and what has developed is a theology that there is no need for spiritual growth, there is no need for being transformed into the image of Christ, for growing in faith and holiness.
We see them come to faith, find their seat in church – and leave them there. We remind them their sins are forgiven; we tell them to trust God for their salvation, but we fail to encourage them to live life with Christ.
But as you see in blue above, the early Luther’s never meant that sanctification was optional, that serving alongside Christ was just for a chosen few, that the rest could be passive in how they live life, that a signed check was good enough.
We are meant to be instruments, means of grace as we share the gospel given to us via God’s word, and the sacraments that are tangible means of that grace. Every Christian, growing in faith, seeing themselves set apart to be used by God, interceding and ministering to those who are around them, loving them as CHirst loves us.
Are we going to be perfect? Nah>
Are we still going to be occasionally wretched? It’s possible, even probable and in my case. definite. But that shouldn’t stop us from being drawn to the cross, abandoning ourselves into the hands that were crucified, into the life that we died with at the cross, and are raised to, quickened by the power of the Holy Spirit – which raised Christ from the dead.
It is time to return to encourage holiness, to encourage people to live as God intends, as one, holy, called together and sent into a broken world people.
Faith Alone- yes it saves – and brings us into a journey with God -where it sees us made into a holy people…people that can bring God’s healing to a lost and broken world.
Lord, I know you are listening to us, breathe on us, and cause the embers of our desire for your mission and our holiness rage into a holy inferno. AMEN!
Tappert, T. G. (Ed.). (1959). The Book of Concord the confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. (p. 472). Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press. Formula of Concord: Pt 1 Epitome II Free Will
Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge (Kindle Locations 1637-1641). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Will God, Really?
1 Kings 8
† In Jesus Name †
May the grace and peace of God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ strengthen your dependence upon Hi m and help you pray, knowing God is here.. for you dwell in His presence.
Is it good enough for…
Twenty-seven years ago, I was looking in display cases in a store in San Dimas, Ca. I had already spent a lot of time in other stores, trying to find the perfect ring to go on Kay’s hand, when we got married on July 1st.
Although I didn’t have a lot of money, that wasn’t the issue as much as finding a ring that would make her smile, that she would proudly wear and that she would show off, saying, look!
I found it, got out my life savings… (which was last week’s paycheck) and purchased the ring. I remember thinking, until the time I saw her smile, will she find it good enough? Will it be good enough!
I have to think my anxiety was nothing compared to what Solomon was going through as he dedicated the temple. Can you imagine the pressure, for the dream was not just his dream, but King David’s dreams, and the fulfillment of a promise that went all the way back to Egypt and Moses, and even before that 4 centuries to the time when God made a covenant promise to Abraham, having him look up into the sky, to see the number of his descendants.
All of the Israel was there, to dedicate a sanctuary, the temple, to be the place where God would dwell with man.
And as he looks out on the people of God, his nervousness causes him to ask a question.
But will God really live on earth? Why, even the highest heavens cannot contain you. How much less this Temple I have built!
We could, no, we should ask the same question here today, for this place, as we stand in this place, where God has put His name.
How can Concordia contain the presence of God, who cannot even be contained?
The answer is found in why the Temple was dedicated as the house of God, and to see this place dedicated to the same purpose!
Why Solomon had Faith God Would hear.
It is amazing to me sometimes, when people take a question like Solomon’s and only read the question, assuming that God would not answer, or that because Solomon asked, it meant the issue would be in doubt. I’ve heard people say that churches and sanctuaries dedicated to being the place where God meets people are no different than a forest, or a beach. Because God is everywhere, and therefore, any place is as good as another.
But Solomon doesn’t ask this in a rhetorical manner. He asks it because he knows the answer, the very character of God is to dwell with His people. He walked with Adam and Eve in the Garden, and was close enough to know Cain and talk to him. Enoch walked with Him, as did Noah, and of course Melchizedek, the prince of peace who would help Abraham know the prophecy about Jesus, the incredible Prince of Peace. He walked with Isaac and wrestled with Jacob. He met Moses, and dwell on Mount Sinai, and led His people as they struggled to be faithful in the wilderness.
And as Solomon mentions, God kept the promises made to David, Solomon’s father. That God always keeps the promises He binds himself to in covenant.
God always shows love to those He calls to be His own; that is why we are devoted to Him. It is because He doesn’t fail us.
And he doesn’t’ fail us because He dwells with us, not just because He is everywhere. He makes His home with us, in our midst, to care for us, love us, reconcile us to Himself
That we struggle to believe that is the nastiest side effect of sin, the belief that God won’t care about the people He created to be His own.
Which is why we put up buildings like this one, it is why Solomon built the temple; it is why Jesus cleared out the money changers and those who made a profit selling sacrifices in the temple.
Because these places where God has said, “My name is there”, where He urges us to call upon His name, is to be a place of peace, a refuge, a sanctuary.
Which is why we can pray here, which is why we feel at peace here at the rail, as God strengthens us, for He hears our cry, as He hears our Kyrie…our plea for His love and mercy.
Will God Really Hear my Prayer?
It took me a while to understand this passage, this prayer of Solomon. Because the very first thing he asks for is that God would hear all of the prayers prayed in the Temple – actually within the temple courtyards, and area 8 times the size of our Concordia property! A million people could easily fill the courts, and can you imagine how they would sound singing the Nunc Dimittis? How they praises would ring as they realized that God was welcoming them, drawing them into His presence!
What is so amazing, what needs to be realized is that when the people of God pray, the promise isn’t to give us the American Dream of Life, liberty, wealth, fame and the pursuit of happiness, the promise is to give us…
To give us the loving comfort of realizing God doesn’t walk away from us, that He will cleanse us up, that he won’t bar us from heaven, but He will make us as clean and share His glory with us!
If we are devoted to Him, this only ensures a deeper devotion. A more single-hearted adoration of the God who comes and dwells among us. There is no great answered prayer than this,
You are my children, and I will love you and care for you, by the stripes Christ wore on His back, you are healed!
Will God Really Hear Theirs?
That is there in the prayer of the heathen that Solomon would have God really hear as well. We get distracted by the “grant whatever they ask”, in fact, I sometimes wonder if I can be a unbeliever for a day, get 400 or 500 prayers answered, and then believe again. ( We’ll talk about that in Bible Study!)
But they are to pray so that they can be in awe of God’s presence as well, so that can know and fear God, even as His people do. That is what Solomon prays for those who aren’t the people of God, who aren’t in the covenant, that are drawn to God by the work of the Holy Spirit.
That they would know Him, and come into this relationship, this wonderful relationship where God answers Solomon question with smoke so thick that they priests can’t do anything.
Smoke that testifies to His presence, just as the bread and wine, body and blood testify to the presence of Christ in this place.
Solomon asks, “will God really dwell on earth?”
God answers, “Be at peace, I am with you…” AMEN!