Devotional Thought of the Day
36 As he saw the crowds, his heart was filled with pity for them because they were worried and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 So he said to his disciples, “The harvest is large, but there are few workers to gather it in. 38 Pray to the owner of the harvest that he will send out workers to gather in his harvest.” Matthew 9:36-38 (TEV)
28 Then the woman left her water jar, went back to the town, and said to the people there, 29 “Come and see the man who told me everything I have ever done. Could he be the Messiah?” 30 So they left the town and went to Jesus. 31 In the meantime the disciples were begging Jesus, “Teacher, have something to eat!” 32 But he answered, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.” 33 So the disciples started asking among themselves, “Could somebody have brought him food?” 34 “My food,” Jesus said to them, “is to obey the will of the one who sent me and to finish the work he gave me to do. 35 You have a saying, ‘Four more months and then the harvest.’ But I tell you, take a good look at the fields; the crops are now ripe and ready to be harvested! 36 The one who reaps the harvest is being paid and gathers the crops for eternal life; so the one who plants and the one who reaps will be glad together. 37 For the saying is true, ‘Someone plants, someone else reaps.’ 38 I have sent you to reap a harvest in a field where you did not work; others worked there, and you profit from their work.” 39 Many of the Samaritans in that town believed in Jesus because the woman had said, “He told me everything I have ever done.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they begged him to stay with them, and Jesus stayed there two days. 41 Many more believed because of his message, 42 and they told the woman, “We believe now, not because of what you said, but because we ourselves have heard him, and we know that he really is the Savior of the world.” John 4:28-42 (TEV)
54 Meanwhile they neither hear nor preach the Gospel about the free forgiveness of sins for Christ’s sake, about the righteousness of faith, about true penitence, about works that have the command of God. But they spend their time either on philosophical discussions or on ceremonial traditions that obscure Christ.
800 The harvest indeed is great, but the laborers are few. Rogate ergo!—“Pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers into his vineyard.” Prayer is the most effective means of winning other apostles.
I have to wonder what the disciples thought when people who were typically antagonistic towards Jewish peopel started streaming out fo the town towards Jesus. Were they frightened, were they on edge, considering their need to defend themselves? Were they concerned about Jesus reputation, what if the good people saw him hanging out with Samaritans? (Remember they had enough problems when Jesus hung out with Jewish Tax collectors and hookers!)
There is no doubt people are flocking to the United States. We have people trying to legally enter and people trying to come across both borders. There are people that come here on tourist visas and student visas and they expire. They are coming for hope, but like the people coming from the Samaritan Village, they may not understand what they hope they seek is found in Jesus. They come for an opportunity, yet the opportunity they seek may not be the one they need. Even so, they are coming here, looking for something. They may even be looking to do harm, as Paul was, as he travelled to Damascus.
The problem is that they won’t find the hope they seek, just by coming to the USA. As nation we don’t have what they need. The opportunity, the hope they need is here.
We, the people who follow Jesus, have the hope they don’t know how to find. What they need is the exact same thing we need, a relationship with God, with our creator. A relationship where love and mercy overwhelmed guilt and shame and anger. A relationship so tight that nothing can get in its way. A relationship that doesn’t depend on ethnicity, or gender, or economic status.
They are coming to find that relationship.
Our work, our calling to share with them the new of God’s love starts in prayer. It starts not with philosophical reasoning or with a worship service that impresses God or man. (whether traditional liturgical worship or freestyle or attractional concert.
It starts in knowing the very love of God that resulted in our being delivered from sin into His presence. It starts in spending time in prayer and awe before God, and realizing how incredible the Lord we trust in is, how deep His love is. As we spend time looking to Christ we become conformed to His image, an image that would die to see people share that hope that we have.
A pretty famous Christian has looked at the crowds heading toward America and pleaded with the public to urge our government to stop them from coming. People responding to him have brought back the ideas of camps like Manzanar, about rounding up these people and basically imprisoning them. Many have echoed their sentiments. Those sentiments, those ideas are wrong. I would even say they are sinful, as we put up a protective barrier that would keep them from hearing of God’s love.
Think about this, from the book of Revelation
10 Then I heard a loud voice in heaven saying, “Now God’s salvation has come! Now God has shown his power as King! Now his Messiah has shown his authority! For the one who stood before our God and accused believers day and night has been thrown out of heaven. 11 They won the victory over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the truth which they proclaimed; and they were willing to give up their lives and die. Revelation 12:10-11 (TEV)
As people look at us, as they come to our communities looking for something, may they see the hope we have in Christ, and may we lovingly, patiently share it with them…. as we know Jesus would.
Tappert, T. G. (Ed.). (1959). The Book of Concord the confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. (p. 278). Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press.
Escriva, Josemaria (2010-11-02). The Way (Kindle Locations 1843-1845). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional Thought of The Day:
37 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem! You kill the prophets and stone the messengers God has sent you! How many times I wanted to put my arms around all your people, just as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you would not let me! 38 And so your Temple will be abandoned and empty. 39 From now on, I tell you, you will never see me again until you say, ‘God bless him who comes in the name of the Lord.’ “ Matthew 23:37-39 (TEV)
14 “But then I will win her back once again. I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her there. 15 I will return her vineyards to her and transform the Valley of Trouble into a gateway of hope. She will give herself to me there, as she did long ago when she was young, when I freed her from her captivity in Egypt. 16 When that day comes,” says the LORD, “you will call me ‘my husband’ instead of ‘my master.’ Hosea 2:14-16 (NLT)
In the last few days, I have seen behavior that causes me to mourn. That needs to be rephrased, I see behaviours hat cause me to mourn, and indeed, cause me to want to pray.
It starts with someone who writes or proposes something that is heretical, or so close to it that it does not matter. In a couple of these cases, (there isn’t just one) it has been pastors or professors who have denied Christ’s existence. Yet would stay “in the ministry” because it is not about Him. It is about the people, he claims. Not about God and His people.
The pain they cause is real. Even from a distance, those who value their relationship with Christ, the hope gained by knowing and trusting Him, feel immense pain. The reaction is to strike out. We find ourselves judging such men, mocking them, condemning them in our hearts and attempting to in the court of public opinion. We feel their betrayal of God as a betrayal of all we stand for, and we do not know how to respond. I’ve even read of some praying, no, cursing them in the name of God.
So we meet evil head on, by doing evil in return. Like in days of old we symbolically rip our clothes, and consdier them dead to us. We shun them. Okay, really we don’t – we try to get close enough to “kill” them with our words, to do battle with their viewpoint and crush it under our superious knowledge, and if that doesn’t work, by our castic wit.
I have an option for dealing with our pain, with the betrayal, with those who have thrown away and tried to crush our Spirit.
Rather than react to them, I suggest we weep and mourn for them. We cry out to God the Father, just as jesus did! We need to lament and pray and intercede, that they would know God’s love, that they would find healing as the Holy Spirit comforts and strengthens them. In order for a person to come to a heretical position or notion, something has broken. Something has deluded them, something is holding them in bondage. Something they are most likely blind too, caught up in the darkness. To mock and curse them is like putting tripping hazards before a blind man.
It is a sin.
Can we mourn for them, can we weep and intercede fo them in prayer? Can we desire their reconciliation to God? Can we like Hosea’s chasing after Gomer, as the Father’s sending the Son to die, can we go beyond our brokenness to engage them, to confront them directly, in love?
Can we encourage those who would judge, mock condemn and curse them to pray for them, to be prepared to even sacrifice time to pray, and if led to , to lovingly confront those who are erring?
Which reaction testifies to God’s glory and action in our lives? Which option tells others of our confidence in the mercy and love of Christ?
We need to learn to lament, to pray, to plead for their souls…. and to love them. It is for this that we’ve been called, that we would walk in the steps of Christ.
Do we Dare Pray:
Thy Will Be Done On Earth?
May you be so aware of the grace and mercy of God our Father that you desire and to see His will revealed in your life!
A Picture of God’s Will, made Complete in heaven:
I want to re-read the Revelation passage, that describe what God’s will looks like, when revealed in Heaven:
9 When this was done I looked again, and before my eyes appeared a vast crowd beyond man’s power to number. They came from every nation and tribe and people and language, and they stood before the throne of the Lamb, dressed in white robes with palm-branches in their hands. With a great voice they shouted these words: “Salvation belongs to our God who sits upon the throne and to the Lamb!”
11 Then all the angels stood encircling the throne, the elders and the four living creatures, and prostrated themselves with heads bowed before the throne and worshipped God, saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honour and power and strength be given to our God for timeless ages!” Revelation 7:9-14 (Phillips NT)
It is the vision of the Nunc Dimitis, the incredible song Simeon spoke as he held Jesus. The song we will sing, having been given Christ’s body and blood…
29 “Sovereign Lord, now let your servant die in peace, as you have promised. 30 I have seen your salvation, 31 which you have prepared for all people. 32 He is a light to reveal God to the nations, and he is the glory of your people Israel!” Luke 2:29-32 (NLT)
When we pray for God’s will be done on earth, as it is in heaven, we are asking Him to save the world, to bring us all into a relationship with God the father, through Christ. To see the love of God revealed, to and in the people we know, to see them join the name of those whose names are written in the book of life.
What a thing to celebrate.
For every time a sinner is welcome home, cleansed and made a child of God, the heavens rejoice, and so should we!
Every time they learn to pray and trust to lay everything in God’s hands, including their very lives, the joy of heaven is inexpressible. God’s will had been revealed in our midst. Every time we approach this altar and share in His feast…. His will is seen again, for we take His body and blood into us, even as we have been joined to His death, and the resurrection, and added to the number whose voices will thunder His praises!
But Why Would We Hesitate?
To see this happen, what needs to happen to us?
Do we dare pray this happen?
Do we realize what we are asking God to do? How He will change us?
What will it take, for Jesus to be that well known here by people here, in our little corner of Cerritos?
it is the same question that Chris asked a couple of weeks ago, when He asked what it meant for God’s name to be Holy in this place. We are going to have to let God, not Chris or Albert or I, meddle in our lives.
We will have to embrace being uncomfortable, as we have to make sure our traditions and practices work to draw people to Jesus, that what we do and say and think reveal that our lives have been changed by God, and that we are eternally grateful.
We will have to embrace change, as God cleans us up, ridding our lives of our desires, our words and actions that aren’t consistent with His will, strengthening us against the temptation, ridding our hearts of anything that isn’t loving towards anyone.
We are asking God to invade our lives, and rip out anything that isn’t loving, that isn’t reflecting His love and mercy.
Because if His will is to be seen in our midst, it has to be seen in our lives.
You resent others? That has to go.
You hold on to things people have done and said to you? Those feelings and thoughts have to go.
You are jealous and envious of others things or relationships or roles because you deserve better – that attitude has to go.
You would rather be safe and secure, rather than be willing to give up all, that some would know Jesus? Time for that to change as well.
Frustrations, Anxieties, Lust, unrighteous anger, desire for revenge?
They all go, because they will stop you from realizing the will of God, and seeing what God desires happening in your life, in our life together.
Do you still want to pray this prayer?
Are you ready to?
Why We Pray this may be done among us.
So why do we pray this?
Go back to the vision, of people from every place and time, from every culture, from every language coming together in the presence of God – all of gathered as His people, as His family.
To a place where tears no longer flow, where there are no enemies, no adversaries. Where we gather to celebrate His love, to see the miracle that we are, when we have been saved, and realize that God wanted to do this very thing.
To realize that when we pray this, that God’s will be done, it is being done in our lives, personally, and as a community. Right now! When see someone baptized, and united to Christ means they are united to us as well, they become part of that crowd that will be there in heaven, with each of us. This service is a foretaste of that To kneel at this altar with people, to be part of the great company of heaven singing His praises.
You and I, despite our selfishness, despite our sin, welcome into His kingdom, and not just welcome, but welcome as His children, His blessed children He wants to share His glory with. His greatest desire, His will is that we would be with Him.
May it happen in heaven… and may it happen here and now….
For the Lord is with us, and we know we need to know His will, will be done here in our lives. So let us spend the rest of this service talking in prayer with our Father…. Amen!
His Mysterious and Awesome Plan!
May you realize the grace of God our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, the grace that reveals you are what they desired, as from before time, the manger and the cross became their plan in action!
18 times…. One Thought
Eighteen times in the course of eleven verses, the plan of God is either mentioned directly or indirectly or the plan itself is simply reveled.
In these beginning verses of Ephesians, we are told over and over about this plan of God.
Paul wants to make sure the church in Ephesus knows that God’s mysterious plan, this awesome desire of His is made clear, that it is full revealed.
The Holy Spirit didn’t stop there, as this plan from before the foundation of world was executed, as it was completed. As we, nearly 20 centuries later, see what God has planed and did impact our lives.
Right now, God’s plan is being revealed, and it is revealed in our lives..
18 times Paul mentions the plan….
It is that important to understand that plan for us…
…….And it defines who we are…..
The Amazing Plan….
We see the plan revealed with these words,
who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ
for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. 7 He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins.
this is the plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ—everything in heaven and on earth.
12 God’s purpose was that we Jews who were the first to trust in Christ would bring praise and glory to God. 13 And now you Gentiles have also heard the truth, the Good News that God saves you.
The apostle Paul is explaining the reason for the manger, for the cross, for the baptismal font, for the altar from which we receive the feast of all feasts, the Lord’s Supper.
This purpose, this plan, was to reconcile everything to God the Father, as it was united to Jesus.
Paul will use the gardening/farming illustration of grafting us to Christ, of binding us to Him, for He is the source of our life.
He will use the banking illustration of reconciling us to Christ, and of redeeming us from the debt owed. Everything we are, moved from a liability to an asset in God’s balance book.
He will talk of freeing us, and declaring us justified/righteous, judicial terms, and the medical concept of quickening – the bringing back to life. God uses the image of the travel agent even, delivering His people into the land of milk and honey, the image looking toward the day Paul mentions in Colossians,
If then you were raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. 2 Think of what is above, not of what is on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ your life appears, then you too will appear with him in glory. Colossians 3:1-4 (NAB)
This is all why this exists, this plan of God to make for Himself a people, the masterpiece he will mention in chapter 2, verse 10.
A plan which no one could really understand prior to the cross, a mystery because no one could have understood that all this would be accomplished through a cross, through the violent death of God, as we killed Jesus, as God the Father raised Him from the dead.
The Amazing Reason….
If the plan for our deliverance, for our salvation, a plan put into place before the garden of Eden and is incredible and praiseworthy and glorious, there is a comment about this plan that is more astonishing.
It is mentioned a number of times as well…. The idea of bringing us home, of making us in Christ Jesus His children, is that this is His desire, this is what brings God, our creator great pleasure.
This is God’s goal for creation, it has been what the Trinity has determined to be their plan since the beginning. God desired to adopt you Bob, and you Ben, you Carol, and you Julie.
If God had a facebook account with pictures of His kids….it would include you!
That may sound silly, (or it might cause some great concern – He’d have the most embarrassing pictures ever!)
But you are God’s adopted kids, a process that He takes the greatest joy in….
You are His, and you are the one He wanted….
Hear that again… all of this… all of Christmas….all of the symbolism, all of the decorations, all of advent and lent, Ash Wednesday, Lent, Holy Week, Good Friday, Easter, Ascension, Pentecost… it’s all about one thing….
God desire to make us His children, and doing what it took to make it so….
That’s why this passage from Ephesians is called a doxology – an ancient song of praise.
Because God has desired this, because He has done this.
He’s made us His!
He has blessed us in a way we know is promised, and occasionally we get a glimpse of, like when someone is brought into the family of God, whether as an infant, or as someone in their 90’s.
We are amazed at such love, and we have to delight in it – we have to praise Him directly and to others… it is the reaction that comes from knowing such great love!
It is why this is all here as well – to testify, to proclaim that this love is for every person that has lived – and celebrated, for those who are living now – to come and pray here, a place for this incredible, glorious plan of God to be revealed to them, for His desire to be His children to be made known.
For all the people who live with 20 miles of this place to know the height and depth, breadth and width of God’s love, for them to rejoice and praise Him, for them to dwell in the peace we know…. For in Christ, we live in that peace, awaiting the day of His return…with Him.
If you are interested in hearing this sermon – you can check it out at
Does anyone really know what time it is?
† Jesus, Son, Deliverer †
My friends, may you be very careful about the sort of lives you lead, living like intelligent and not like senseless people. May you make the best of the present time, for it is a wicked age. 17 This is why you must not be thoughtless but must recognize what is the will of the Lord. AMEN! Adapted from Ephesians 5:15-17 (NJB)
Synchronize your watches
The men are gathered around their leader, excited, anxious, a bit nerve-wracked as they consider what it will take to come out of this alive, and more importantly, bring those that they have been sent to rescue out alive.
They have gone over the plan, time and time again. They have it memorized, the exact time each will be called on to do their part, right down to the second. They know the signals, the potential obstacles, and as they once last time are briefed, the leader calls for them to synchronize their watches, it is 9:35 on my mark….mark!
Timing is very important. Knowing what time it is, can be critical. (except during the sermon)
When Jesus is talking to the crowd about timing, about how they should know what time it is, they cannot quite comprehend the mission He is on, nor perhaps can they understand how it will change their lives.
It is time for something to happen, for God is in their midst. Jesus the Messiah is talking to them – and all of the promises of His work in preparing them to be the people of God are coming true, right before their eyes.
But that action will call for a painful division, one that cuts right through their souls, right through their hearts.
Jesus has been teaching them, and we’ve been hearing Him teach them for 3 weeks, about His work… really, we’ve been hearing Him talk to us, calling us to realize it’s time.
The question today is like the title of an old Chicago song…”does anyone really know what time it is?”
and if we do, are we ready for what needs to take place, within us, within our world?
The High Cost of the Mission
As Christ has spoken to us through the gospel readings this week and the previous two weeks, He has asked us about our priorities, or perspective in life and yes, our loyalty.
It’s not that there is something wrong with wealth, or things, or family. Each has its place; each has it’s time; each should be treasured as a gift from God. The challenge is when they become more important that our relationship with God. Make no mistake, the cost of hearing God’s love and responding to it, trusting in Him, can divide us from anything.
It can mean we realize that money or careers are not our priority.
It can mean we realize that even relationships with family and friends don’t quite compare.
Luther found this out, when he realized God wanted him to be a priest, his father wanted to disown him. Francis of Assisi’s dad locked him up in a storage area that was 3 feet tall and 5 feet long because he wanted to become a monk. Some relatives may call us nuts or fanatics, we may struggle to explain to them why our relationship with God is our highest priority…there is division… at first.
We may even struggle with this cost… after all, worldy logic tells us that blood is thicker than water… though I don’t think they understood the power of this water when the word of God is applied with it.
The temptation is simple – to allow the Trinity to be overlooked. To see God’s mission to take a back seat, to be blind to our time with family to be time invested in God’s mission. Whenever we forget it is time to see God at work, we’ve allowed false God’s to slip in,
Back to the question for us, which means more to us? Is it our relationship with God, or how we define ourselves apart from Him?
If it is time to see God’s Kingdom come in its fullness among us, if we are going to find our lives set apart completely for God’s use, then that means that we will be divided from things, and potentially our relationships with others will change.
And we need to ask are we ready for this time?
If we answer ourselves honestly, to really see our loyalty and how we invest our time and effort being centered in our relationship with Christ, we are going to need help. Lots of it!
But as is the case over and over, when we have to face the harsh reality and demands of our life of faith, we find the one in whom we have faith. I love the way the New Living Translation puts the first two verses of the gospel.
I have come to set the world on fire, and I wish it were already burning! 50 I have a terrible baptism of suffering ahead of me, and I am under a heavy burden until it is accomplished.
The two verses are a parallelism – they are saying the same thing. What will set the world on fire – what will devour us, is the very baptism of suffering that Jesus would endure. For us, that He endured. Next year – on good Friday, you will hear Jesus proclaim “It is finished” (well you can read it before then too!) It is the same root word as accomplished. For as He dies, everything in the universe changes – the world is consumed there on the cross – along with all of us, and our sin.
But I want you specifically to see the desire of Jesus – He wants to get on to this, He is under a heavy burden, waiting for His crucifixion! Not because of the nature of the suffering, but because of what it brings – our deliverance, our salvation, our being united to Him, our being freed from burdens of sin, anxiety over death, from the oppression of Satan.
All of that will be consumed at the cross. All of that was consumed at the cross…
Being on fire for Christ, as some talk about it, is about His suffering, His death, consuming our sin, our idolatry. It’s about responding to Christ’s enduring the cross because of the incredible joy that God, Father, Son and Spirit would have, with our life in Christ secure.
Look at the cover of the bulletin – that is what the author of Hebrews, tells us, in the chapter after our epistle reading….
What all of those people of faith looked forward to.. it is time for… time to..
2 Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, who leads us in our faith and brings it to perfection: for the sake of the joy which lay ahead of him, he endured the cross, disregarding the shame of it, and has taken his seat at the right of God’s throne. Hebrews 12:2 (NJB)
That’s the fire that changes everything – this baptism of suffering which Christ endures. It causes a fire of love, of faith, something which consumes our hearts and minds, something that transforms them, purifying us, assuring us of God’s love in a way that is not illogical – but greater than any logic we can understand…
it’s like the blessing which I started the sermon with…
May you make the best of the present time, for it is a wicked age. 17 This is why you must not be thoughtless but must recognize what is the will of the Lord. AMEN!
The will of God, His greatest desire… to feast with you, to pour out His love upon you, to help you realize you are never alone, but that He would cleanse of all our idolatry, that He would divide us from the world in a sense, but give us back that same world and many of those relationships as they are cured of their brokenness, that they are healed of the sin which so ravaged them.
Because of His love for us…
His burden is over now… the wish that the fire were already burning is no longer needed – this fire, this desire to see the world saved – it is kindling in us, and as we come to realize how great the Father’s love for us is…. It will burn brighter and brighter, as we desire that all the people we know join us…all the people we meet, for as they join us at this altar, we know that they will join us before His throne…..
So yes – may you daily recognize what is the will of the Lord…
That because of the cross, because of Christ’s love, we would dwell now and forever in His peace, the peace that passes all understanding and guards our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. AMEN?
- How and Why do we confront sin? (justifiedandsinner.com)
- “Jesus’ Fire And Baptism” by Fr. Robert Manansala, OFM (santuariodesanantonio.wordpress.com)