Devotional Thought for our days:
17 How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! 18 I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, you are still with me! Psalm 139:17-18 (NLT)
304 Each day try to find a few minutes of that blessed solitude you need so much to keep your interior life going.
48 By the blessing of God, the priests in our churches pay attention to the ministry of the Word, they teach the Gospel of the blessing of Christ, and they show that the forgiveness of sins comes freely for Christ’s sake. This teaching really consoles consciences.
.When I come across the phrase, for Christ’s sake, it makes me wonder how we hear it
The phrase is heard in our liturgies, and is used in so many theology texts. “we are forgiven for Christ’s sake,”.
Certainly, without Jesus’ intervention, we wouldn’t be able to be forgiven. And I can’t see the Father wasting the Son’s life, He honors the sacrifice, and Christ’s merit is applied to our lives, as sin is separated from the sinner, and we are found to be righteous without it.
Yet, when I hear we are forgiven for Christ’s sake, there is a part of me that hears it negatively, as if there is no worth God finds in us. As if the cross and all the suffering was simply God resigning Himself to save us, to deal with His frustration. As if His attitude was, “you screwed up again, I suppose I have to save you, okay. I’ll do it, but only because of Jesus.”
That interpretation doesn’t coincide with how God is revealed in the Old Testament or the New. Saving us is not something He reluctantly does, even as He is frustrated beyond frustration.
This is why we need to spend some time in solitude each day, why we need to be concerned about what St. Josemaria calls our interior life. The place where we know God is with us, where we can hear HIs voice and know we are safe. We need to know He’s found us, and we can relax, and listen
We need to hear God’s voice, we need to grow to where we can join the place the psalmist is at when he speaks of God’s thoughts about him. ,
To understand that God thinks about us leads us to realize how much He does care about us and sent Jesus to save us. To think that is not just a passing thought, but that God has thought about us since He created us. His thoughts are beyond our ability to count, yeah that makes sense. Clarifying that you were on God’s mind more times that you can count is, well I just have words for that concept.
He loves us that much…
Yes, it is because of Christ’s coming that we can know this, that we can be counted holy, yet that just isn’t our goal, it is the Father’s desire.
What an amazing thought.
What an amazing God!
Escriva, Josemaria. The Way (Kindle Locations 789-791). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Tappert, Theodore G., ed. The Book of Concord the Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press, 1959. Print
Our Lenten Journey:
Walking with Jesus through trials to the triumph
Finding Hope on the Walk
May the grace of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you the hope you need, as we endure this journey, depending on His faithfulness!
The Steps of the journey
Imagine being on the side of the road, leading up to Jerusalem. Jesus, the one some are claiming to be the Messiah starts the long climb up to Jerusalem on a small donkey. As it meanders up the pathway, the crowd is growing in size and in energy,
Expectations are building, even though the man is a mystery,
He does miracles, incredible miracles. He teaches like no one else, and those who’ve met him, are more aware of God’s love, of God’s presence in His life.
He’s coming! Everything is going to change!
It is no different today, as we journey through life, as we walk, guided by the Holy Spirit, and await Jesus coming into our lives.
The Prophet Zechariah told them what to be looking for when Jesus came, He told them what to expect, from how Jesus would arrive, to what He would do.
Understanding this prophecy, this promise gives us real hope,
First – He is coming
As we hear the words rejoice, as we hear that Jesus, our Lord is coming to us, he comes to us in a way that is a paradox.
He’s righteous and victorious, even before the cross there is no demon, no power that can withstand Him. Think about that for a moment, the prophet is using words that are present tense, righteous, victorious, and this is known before he goes into Jerusalem.
Before He goes to the cross, he is already described as victorious.
But then he doesn’t enter as the conquering hero, and that is where we see the paradox.
Maybe that is why he goes to the Jerusalem without the armies, without the majestic horse and the flashing sword. He comes not to conquer, but to provide for His people.
And so he comes, riding on a small donkey, simple and humbly, to be with His people. Just as He promised to back again, and we await Him….
Second – He’s here… working
The second thing we see God doing in this passage is very interesting. Hear it again
I will remove the battle chariots from Israel and the warhorses from Jerusalem. I will destroy all the weapons used in battle, and your king will bring peace to the nations.
I want you to notice something very important, He’s not removing the ability of our enemies to do battle, but rather, he is removing our ability to do battle.
The coming of the Messiah doesn’t equip us to do warfare, it enables us to live knowing that our God is victorious. He is bringing peace into our lives, even as He prepared to the cross, so much more now should we be living in peace?
Yet you and struggle and fight, sometimes we try and fight the evil in the world, sometimes we fight the evil in each other, and sometimes, we fight the evil within ourselves. We know we should not sin, that we shouldn’t be so easy to give into temptation, and yet we do. Yet we don’t always turn this over to God, we might even swear we will do everything in our power to be good, rather than depend on Him, and on the work on the cross.
God has to remove our ability to fight, for as long as we do, we will not know His peace. For as long as we fight, we won’t depend on Jesus, we won’t depend on His work at the cross.
We have to let Jesus take over, it isn’t easy at times. Who am I kidding, it isn’t easy at all.
Yet Jesus took care of our need to prove ourselves right. Because of the cross, because of Jesus death paying for our sin, for our unrighteousness, we are now counted righteous. He strips from us not only the way to do battle but the desire to, for we begin to realize that God is taking care of us, that Jesus has made things right. That is His role, as He is our king,
Third Step, He frees us.
He describes that here, in verse 11:
11 Because of the covenant I made with you, sealed with blood, I will free your prisoners from death in a waterless dungeon. 12 Come back to the place of safety, all you prisoners who still have hope!
Even as the prophet is speaking and writing for God, the plan is set, it is by the blood of Christ that all who were imprisoned by sin are freed from it. Even as Christ rides up the mountain to Jerusalem, the plan which was set in place from before the creation of the world is as good as done.
This was the promise to Abraham, this is the promise made to Moses,
He frees us from all that imprisons us, all that causes us to fight, to struggle. Our anxieties, our fears, our sin, our brokenness. He brings us to a place of safety, a place of security, a sanctuary where we dwell with Him. A place where we learn to trust Him more and more, as we begin to experience and see His love for us.
For we are safe with our King leading us, with our King, Jesus, providing for us.
This is what we hope for, understanding it better than the people in the prophets day, or even the disciples in Jesus day. But we still need to understand it better, this love of God, revealed to us in the cross of Christ. This is the hope we have, given to us as Christ died on the cross, yet sometimes hard to see,,,
That is why as I close, I pray for you as Paul prayed for the church in Ephesus,
16 I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. 17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Ephesians 3:16-19 (NLT)
Walking with Jesus through trials to the triumph
Love Found on the Walk
† I.H.S. †
May you find the gifts from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, the gifts of incredible love and peace, as you realize you spend every day in His presence.
Time for some honesty.
How many of you find the Bible confusing at times?
Good, it looks like I am in good company. It might sound off to hear a pastor confess that the Bible can seem confusing at times, but it can, and today is one of those times.
God promises through the writing of Jeremiah that there is a day coming when a New Covenant and a new deal will be put in place. And my heart rejoices in that promise! But then I look at the description of how people acted towards God, and the promise of how they will look in the new testament, and I struggle.
Because I see people looking more like their Old Testament ancestors than like the prophecy of the New Covenant.
So I am confused, Didn’t the Old Testament fade away at the cross, and wasn’t the New Testament confirmed with the Resurrection of Jesus?
And if it was, what doesn’t it say if we don’t act like the prophecy? What does it say about the prophecy of God? What does it say about us?
Do we still need to be taught?
In the second paragraph of today’s Old Testament reading, there are some descriptions of the people in the new covenant.
We are supposed to have had God’s instructions, the entire description of the Covenant, placed deep within them, and they will be written on your heart.
We are supposed to not need someone to teach us, and we shouldn’t have to teach our families or our neighbors. And yet, that seems to be the bulk of what I do, either preparing to teach and preach or actually doing the teaching and preaching.
Too often we are like the people in the Old Covenant, the ones that God had to take by the hand and lead them out of Egypt, yet like little kids, they tried to escape from God and go to whatever false god promised us what we want..…
So what has happened? Why aren’t we living the way God promised we would? Why do we still have people who get caught up in their sin, who betray God, who hate their enemies rather than loving and praying for them? Why don’t we live in obedience to God?
Was scripture wrong, or is it not about us?
have to admit, this is and was a confusing passage, one that I struggled to write the sermon on, one I struggled to find the words that explained it well.
Do we know God?
But I am going to explain it this way, the Old Covenant and the New Covenant are different because in one the people were dragged into it, they were drug out of Egypt, and they didn’t know God, barely beyond knowing that God was the God of their ancestors, the God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob.
Not only did they not know about God, but they also didn’t know Him. So he had to grab them by the hand and lead them, and be constantly aware that they would wander off, that they would be unfaithful, because they didn’t know Him, even at their best, they only knew about Him.
Luther put it this way,
Although they believe in, and worship, only one true God, yet know not what His mind towards them is, and cannot expect any love or blessing from Him; therefore they abide in eternal wrath and damnation. For they have not the Lord Christ, and, besides, are not illumined and favored by any gifts of the Holy Ghost.
The Large Catechism of Martin Luther.
This is where it all boils down, in Christ we not only know about God, we know Him. We have something to expect from Him, love and the blessings of peace and forgiveness. In Christ God’s love isn’t just written on stone tablets, it is placed in our heart, ready to resonate with the message of the gospel.
That love, that mercy, that peace was unknown in the Old Testament, it was hidden. They knew God wants to be their God, but they didn’t get what that meant. They didn’t make the link between the covenant, and the requirement on God to do whatever it would take to fulfill the covenant, what is called cHesed.
We translate it love, or loving-kindness, and sometimes mercy, but it is a term form covenant. That is what is written on our hearts! This covenant of cHesed, this covenant of love and mercy. This word means you are bound to the other person to the extent that if they cannot fulfill their obligation, you will do it for them.
Not begrudgingly, but out of love, because you care. That is how God bound you to Himself. As He united you with Jesus death and resurrection! God cares for you so much, all that you have done, all that you cannot fix, He took care of at the cross.
And that is what we see up here, at the cross, the love and mercy of God doing for us, what we cannot do for ourselves.
That’s the God we know in the New Covenant, a God who is so dedicated to us, so willing to care for us, that He will take care of our sin, as He always has promised us. A God who helps us realize that He is our God and we are His people, and what that means, that He bears all of our burdens.
Which is something you cannot really teach, it is something like in our benediction for the yea.r
19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Ephesians 3:18-19 (NLT)
For that is the covenant of Jesus, the relationship and religion formed when we were united to the lamb of God, who was slain that we would be rescued, who was slain to grant us peace, to help us to know Him, and to know His love. AMEN!.
The devotional thought of the day:
14 Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part. 15 If the foot says, “I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand,” that does not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear says, “I am not part of the body because I am not an eye,
” would that make it any less a part of the body? 17 If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything? 18 But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it. 1 Corinthians 12:14-21 (NLT)
666 You insist on doing your own thing, and so your work is barren. Obey: be docile. Each cog in a machine must be put in its place. If not, the machine stops, or the parts get damaged. It will surely not produce anything, or if it does, then very little. In the same way, a man or a woman outside his or her proper field of action, will be more of a hindrance than an instrument of apostolate.
A long time ago, as I was working at a major university and preparing to leave for my first pastoral position, the president of the university gave me some advice on leadership in ministry.
He told me that among the people I want on my leadership team would be those who opposed me. That the best ideas and advice would come from them, and often, they would stop me from shooting myself in the foot.
This runs a bit contrary to what most management and consultant types will tell you. They will say you want all the people pushing on the same side of the box, sharing the same vision, people who have all bought into the plans.
And while this can be helpful in management or in ministry, you also need that person who will question you, who will keep you humble, who will be there, faithful to the church, faithful enough to say when you’ve messed up.
Of course, you may find this a challenge, having people around who oppose you is never easy. Loving them and caring for them may be difficult, but they are part of the Body of Christ, they are a necessary cog in the machine, and if you would see it, they are a blessing from God.
We can’t just do our own thing, we can’t always get our own way, often we don’t have the knowledge or the wisdom that together are needed to make things work. If we try to be, getting rid of the people that don’t conform to our system, we are the one who is hindering the apostolate, the mission of the church.
So next time someone gets on your nerves, the next time they question your idea, take a breath, thank God for their presence in your life, and consider what they say.
Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge (Kindle Locations 2450-2454). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional Thought for our broken days:
15 “If your brother sins against you, go and rebuke him in private. If he listens to you, you have won your brother. 16 But if he won’t listen, take one or two more with you, so that by the testimony of two or three witnesses every fact may be established. 7 If he pays no attention to them, tell the church. But if he doesn’t pay attention even to the church, let him be like an unbeliever and a tax collector to you. 18 I assure you: Whatever you bind on earth is already bound h in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth is already loosed in heaven. 19 Again, I assure you: If two of you on earth agree about any matter that you pray for, it will be done for you by My Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there among them.” Matthew 18:15-20 HCSB
228 Be filled with faith and rest assured! The Lord tells us this through the prophet Jeremiah: orabitis me, et ego exaudiam vos—whenever you call upon me, whenever you pray!, I will listen to you.
Over many years, I’ve heard people claim the verses in italics as their own guarantee of what they pray for, what they thought they really needed.
I’ve also known people who have been promised that God will do what they ask, whose faith has been crushed because they do not see their prayer answered, The extreme case of that would be my friend Jean, whose daughter was told by her pastor that if she had enough faith, she would be healed of her cancer, without any medical care.
As I read it this morning, in my morning devotions, I realized something. This well-known passage is connected to another well-known passage, the passage about reconciling those who have sinned against us. It is followed by another passage, where Peter asks how many times he has to forgive Andrew, and is told not 7, but 7 times 70.
So this passage about prayer has a specific context, the impossible task of reconciliation and restoration, the return of the prodigal son, the erring brother, the one we’ve been tempted to give up on seeing in God’s presence.
What a comfort this is, for no one is beyond God’s reach, and no one that lives is beyond being called back, even those who have hurt us deeply. (For if we didn’t love them, how could their betrayal us?)
What peace this brings, knowing that God loves and cares for them, and wants to heal and restore them to us. This is the amazing thing about finding ourselves bath in God’s grace, this glorious love, and peace, that He draws us into at the cross.
He is with us, He is listening,! So let us give Him those who we struggle with, forgiving, counting on Him to draw them back and reconcile us into one body, His. AMEN!
Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge (Kindle Locations 980-983). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional Thought for our seemingly broken days…
Then Moses answered, “What if they won’t believe me and will not obey me but say, ‘The LORD did not appear to you’?” Matthew 4:1 HCSB
15 “But you,” He asked them, “who do you say that I am?”
16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God!”
17 And Jesus responded, “Simon son of Jonah, you are blessed because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father in heaven. 18 And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the forces of Hades will not overpower it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth is already bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth is already loosed in heaven.” Matthew 16:15-19 HCSB
216 With God’s grace, you have to tackle and carry out the impossible… because anybody can do what is possible.
I sit here, just finishing my devotional time up, having done the reading, having prayed, and now I try to put what I’ve read into some kind of concrete summation. After that Iw ill try and write a sermon, but to be honest, it is going to be a struggle.
Even writing this is, as I try to think, what will people hear tomorrow, what might they read in this, that will help them know God’s love, know God’s mercy, know His comfort.
Tomorrow is the Feast of Christ the King, the last Sunday of the Church year, a day when we look at Christ’s second coming, not from the point of judgment, but from the point of the promises given to us in Baptism being fully seen, fully revealed, fully experienced. it supposed to be a joyous celebration, yet my heart will struggle, caught up in what it should be, versus where we are, in the midst of the valley of the shadow of death.
It seems impossible, and I understand how Moses felt, trying to find reasons to no go back to Egypt, to the place of suffering. How will they believe?
And yet, it is the very thing I need to preach, the lesson in my gospel reading this morning, the promise that this valley is not unending, the promise backed up in the very confession of Peter, “you are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.”
There is a lot to unpack in that confession, from Jesus unique role as the Son of God, to what it means to be the Messiah, the One anointed by God to save God’s people. All of God’s people, those the Spirit calls and gathers.
Because of His work, the gates of Hell have been shattered, that the bondage of sin has been cut, that we, in the midst of the shadow of death, can have hope.
God is with us, the promise is complete, even though we don’t see it fully…yet.
That is why we are reminded by Josemaria that we can tackle and carry out the impossible, a reminder I need today, and tomorrow. For it is in knowing God’s grace in the middle of the impossibility, that we realize He is working through us, with us, and it is His word that will make a difference.
That’s what I have to count on tomorrow, and every day until we see the reality of Christ the King is clearly visible. For He is coming, and His Spirit is here, comforting us, reminding us that He is with us, that we aren’t alone.
And because of that, the impossible is not. For we walk with Him. And somehow, others will know this, because our words and lives will testify to His presence.
Lord, have mercy on us. AMEN!
Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge (Kindle Locations 940-942). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
It was an amazing opportunity, a blessing that would have been unheard of at the 450th anniversary of the Reformation. A chance for a Lutheran pastor to explain where we have come from over the last 500 years, and using writings of a Pope, Martin Luther, Vatican II and a leading Lutheran Theology professors, give us hope and urge us on to seek reconciliation.
here is a rough draft recording of the talk…..okay a really rough draft.
May we pray that the Church would be one and that it would be seen as one by us. AMEN.
Devotional THoguht of the Day:
20 But dear friends, use your most holy faith to build yourselves up, praying in the Holy Spirit. 21 Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the Lord Jesus Christ with his mercy to give you life forever.
22 Show mercy to some people who have doubts. 23 Take others out of the fire, and save them. Show mercy mixed with fear to others, hating even their clothes which are dirty from sin. Jude 20-22 NCV
“I noticed,” Pastor Crabtree told me, “that as I told the story of God’s identification with us, of the pain God himself experienced in the death of his son, that the weeping stopped, that people, including Rebecca’s mother and father and fourteen-year-old brother leaned forward in their seats and listened intently. God’s story was touching them where they hurt most and giving them hope.
“Many people in this small town were deeply touched by the story of God. A high school history teacher, for example, said to me, ‘What I took home from that funeral message was this: this world is turned upside down, and Jesus is the only one who can fix it.’
“ ‘You got it,’ I said, and he answered, ‘Yes I did!’ ”
What can I say? There is no story in this world that is more profound than the story of God’s embrace. My dinner companions heard the gospel in a new way. And each of them, in their own way, is growing in the life-changing embrace of God, as I am and I trust you are too. For there is no story but God’s; no God but the Father, Son and Spirit; and no life but the baptized life.
As I looked on FB this morning, to see who I should add to my prayer list, it revealed ot me that this is a special anniversary, the day I took my then 7-year-old son home for the first time. Not home as in the place we live, but home as in the place that I consider my home. Not a house, nor a place where the family gathered, but the place I want to be more often than not. Not even a church, but a simple road.
It is the place where we could be still, or walk slowly, and just rest in God’s peace.
I mentioned it in a sermon once, a sermon delivered before other pastors, a sermon that was to be critiqued, and shredded, but there were tears instead. You can read about that time here: https://asimplechristian.org/2014/10/21/walking-with-god/
The reading from Dr. Weeber this morning also reminded me of this. My job as a preacher, as a shepherd is not to dazzle people with my theological acumen, or grind them into the ground with guilt, only to let them up at the last second. It isn’t to make statements about politics or drive them to give and support just causes.
That will happen, as I disciple, as I teach and counsel, as people realize what I am here to tell them.
That God’s story is their story, that their story completely involves God. We don’t walk on deserted stretches of road alone, nor do we drive the freeways of Southern California unaccompanied. Whether it is at the beach, or a party, or crying alone in a park, or even on our deathbed, He is here…. with us.
That’s what our people need to know, that God doesn’t leave us alone, and in order to be here, He does what is necessary, forgiving us, cleansing us, healing us, loving us, comforting us, welcoming us to share in His glory and peace.
He is here…in our story, we in His. He is our God, we are His people…..
That’s what we need to tell them…and that is what we preachers need to hear. AMEN!
Webber, Robert E. The Divine Embrace: Recovering the Passionate Spiritual Life. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2006. Print. Ancient-Future Series.
Devotional Thought for our days:
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! Ephesians 3:14 (Phillips NT)
Younger evangelical Craig Gilbert writes, “If we are to make disciples, then we are called to long-term care, feeding and education of the soul that we evangelize. To not integrate them into the body of Christ, the church, is to not fulfill the great commission. To fail to faithfully live the example in fellowship and study, prayer and worship, and thereby give the convert a tangible model to emulate, is to fail in our calling.” (Webber notes that this was from a private email conversation)
During the lifetime of Saint Francis of Assisi people experienced a deep yearning for a Church of the Spirit; they longed for a better, purer, more meaningful Christianity and anticipated that this new Church would bring about a change in the course of history as well. To many of those who suffered from the inadequacies of institutional Christianity, Saint Francis seemed to be a God-sent answer to their expectations, and, in fact, Christianity of the Spirit has seldom been so genuinely exemplified as it was in him.
Back in the day, the Irish Band U2 gave us a song that told us, “I still haven’t found what I am looking for”. According to many who forgot the angst they went through in the 80’s and 90’s, this could be the anthem for the millennial generation. (We all too soon forget the problems we had with the generation that went before us!)
The quote from Pope Benedict shows us another generation that went through this – some 800 years ago, during the time of St Francis of Assisi. One could say the same for Luther, or Wesley or Escriva, where they wanted a church that was more than a machine, more than a system, more than a programmed system.
They needed a church that would be there, that would provide a care that would last a lifetime, that would nourish them spiritually, that would continually remind them of the presence of God, just as Webber’s young friend notes we need today ( that was 15 years ago)
Those who complain about this generation being “snowflakes” forget their own tears, their own fragility, their own brokenness. They forget the need for Christ’s cleansing and healing of their lives, of the hope given by the comforting presence of the Holy Spirit, of the true fellowship where we cried with those who cried and rejoiced with those who rejoice.
What St Paul tells the church is still true, we need to explore the incredible dimensions of God’s love for us, revealed in Christ. It is a love beyond comprehension, of love that we experience, a love that is without bounds.
A love that embraces millennials and baby-boomer, and even those lost folk in the middle, the GenX’ers like me. As it did the generations before us.
It is a reformation, like Luther’s, like that of St Francis, like even the Charismatic renewal of the 60’s, that will well up from desperate need.
The church has the option – to shepherd it, or to mock it. To provide the nurture and care we all truly need, or to ridicule those as weak, who simply are honest about it.
I pray we hear God’s voice and call on those who follow to imitate us, as we imitate Christ!
May we all learn, in our brokenness, to cry out,“Lord, have mercy!” As we cry it out, together, I pray we all here His answer… “I am with you always, even until the end of time.” Amen!
Webber, Robert E. The Divine Embrace: Recovering the Passionate Spiritual Life. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2006. Print. Ancient-Future Series.
Ratzinger, Joseph. Co-Workers of the Truth: Meditations for Every Day of the Year. Ed. Irene Grassl. Trans. Mary Frances McCarthy and Lothar Krauth. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1992. Print.
Devotional thoughts for our days
4 Delight yourselves in God, yes, find your joy in him at all times. Have a reputation for gentleness, and never forget the nearness of your Lord.
6 Don’t worry over anything whatever; tell God every detail of your needs in earnest and thankful prayer, and the peace of God which transcends human understanding, will keep constant guard over your hearts and minds as they rest in Christ Jesus.
8 Here is a last piece of advice. If you believe in goodness and if you value the approval of God, fix your minds on the things which are holy and right and pure and beautiful and good. Model your conduct on what you have learned from me, on what I have told you and shown you, and you will find the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:4-8 (Phillips NT)
39 I see myself like a poor little bird, accustomed only to making short flights from tree to tree, or, at most, up to a third floor balcony… One day in its life it succeeded in reaching the roof of a modest building, that you could hardly call a skyscraper. But suddenly our little bird is snatched up by an eagle, who mistakes the bird for one of its own brood. In its powerful talons the bird is borne higher and higher, above the mountains of the earth and the snow capped peaks, above the white, blue and rose pink clouds, and higher and higher until it can look right into the sun. And then the eagle lets go of the little bird and says: Off you go. Fly! Lord, may I never flutter again close to the ground. May I always be enlightened by the rays of the divine sun—Christ—in the Eucharist. May my flight never be interrupted until I find repose in your Heart.
Far too often do I resemble St Josemaria’s little bird, content and yet bored with the simple life we struggle through. Not only do I lack the power and skill to soar above the heights, I fear to do so, for flying that high means I could crash. And if crashing close to the ground is hard, how much more devastating would it be to crash when I am spending time in the heavens?
The idea of soaring with eagles sounds nice, it sounds incredible, but I’ve been on too many retreats and had to come back to “reality” from the mountaintop experience. Even worse, I’ve seen what it can do where people only see that mountaintop experience as the only blessed thing in their lives. Where they live, remembering the high of the last retreat, and looking forward to the next one.
If only we didn’t have to come down!
If only I wasn’t so afraid of those heights.
Paul urges us to delight in God, to give to him every detail of every problem, depending upon Him to receive them as He promised when He asked us to cast all our burdens upon Him. He begs us to keep our eyes on the things that are good, that are Godly,
Does that require us to stay soaring in the heavens, only to be worthless here on earth? Do we like the monks of old or the Amish, separate ourselves from the world? How can we be in the world but not of it, as Jesus asks?
Is this command of Paul, to delight in God, to rejoice in all things possible? Or is it just an unfulfilled dream? And if it is unfulfilled, does this mean the negative impact I think it does, a life lived in disobedience and therefore condemnation?
I can’t worry about that question, nor its answer. it is beyond my role, beyond my experience. For if I worry about that, the more I will not spend my time delighting in Him, and the less likely it will be for me to run to Him for the forgiveness I so need, for the comfort and consoling that will restore to me the joy of my salvation, and the awe of being found in His presence, and loved.
For that is where the delight comes from, in realizing how incredible God’s love is, a love that desires to make itself manifest in every moment of our lives. love that would shape our lives with thoughts about what is righteous and just, what is lovely and pure, what is of God.
May our desire to dwell in His presence be satisfied, and may be not be satisfied with anything else. AMEN!
Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge (Kindle Locations 366-374). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.