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An Invitation to Restful Peace… on Monday will you come?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADevotional Thought of the Day:
28 “Come to me, all of you who are tired and have heavy loads, and I will give you rest. 29 Accept my teachings and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in spirit, and you will find rest for your lives. 30 The burden that I ask you to accept is easy; the load I give you to carry is light.”   Matthew 11:28-30 CEV

853      Use this prescription for your life: “I don’t remember that I exist. I don’t think of my own affairs, because there is no time left.” Work and service!

Don’t stop reading this post after the next paragraph. Keep going, it will be worth it.

The word submission has taken on a very negative tone in the last few decades.  Especially the idea of submitting to God, to allowing Jesus to be the Lord of your life.  I could give twenty or thirty examples of why, including the fact that some people abuse the idea of submitting to God, in order to get people to submit to them.    Men have done this to get women to submit, parents have done this to get children to submit, some in government, and even in church leadership want their people to submit.

But they don’t understand what submission is, they don’t get the paradox.  And they don’t understand that submission isn’t about wielding authority and controlling others, it is about freeing them from things that shouldn’t bind them, that shouldn’t oppress them, that shouldn’t such life and joy from them.

Instead, this paradox of submission is about freeing them to live life, to know God’s love, to experience peace.

You see this in Jesus words above in red, quoted from Matthew’s gospel.  Submitting to God means giving Him all the things that wear you down, that stress you out, that cause anxiety.  The things that burden us, that tire us out.  The stuff that leaves us exhausted, because they are out of our control.  Jesus would have us submit our lives, where we get so fixated on our life that we don’t ever really live it.

Worry’s about family, friends finances, health or eve facing death.

Guilt and shame from past sins we struggle with daily.

Resentment and anger from those sins that have been committed against us,

All this stuff Jesus asks us to give to Him, to submit to His care.  He would free us from these concerns of life.  Which is why St Josemaria talks the way he does, saying I don’t remember that I exist, I am not concerned with my own affairs, I am free to just live, to do and to serve others.

Biblical submission is not about recognizing someone’s authority over you, it is not about becoming their robot.  It is about realizing God’s care for you, HIs love, and allowing Him to do what He has promised.  It is about trusting Him, depending upon Him, knowing that He cares.

And living in the freedom of not worrying about, not hyper-focusing upon those things we cannot change.

But instead to live in peace… unexplainable, glorious, restful peace.

Even on Monday!



Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge (Kindle Locations 3021-3023). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

The First Sunday in Advent: He Will Do What is Promised

This sermon can be heard at https://youtu.be/8DWDeB6_GYY

He Will Do What is Promised (Faith)

Jeremiah 33:14-16

Jesus, Son, Savior

 May the grace of God, that incredible mercy, and peace that resides in you because of the Holy Spirit, sustain you until His imminent return!

The Time Is Close

You wondered with every passing car, whether the guests arrived.  A car door closed and you rushed to the door, disappointed that it was the neighbor’s guests that arrived.

Perhaps you were even jealous.

You had worked so hard, to make your house a welcoming place, a place where everyone felt at home.  Where people were able to set aside life, and enjoy each other.  It is one thing for sure, to have a clean, beautifully decorated home, with great comfort food.

It takes a bit more preparation for the façade to be matched by a sense of peace, and the blessing of being a place where everyone knows they are loved.  That is God’s desire for heaven as well, and He will make it happen!

That is the preparation of Advent, the adventure that we travel until we find ourselves at home with God.

Our Advent journey is preparation for His coming, preparing for our being drawn into His presence.

For it takes a bit of work to understand that He’s waited expectantly for the day of Christ’s second coming, that He is awaiting us, His family to come home!

The Wearied Wait..

I want to go back for a moment, to that time when you are glancing out the window.  When you are expecting your company, friends or family you dearly love, who you have missed,

It is in that last hour, before their arrival, time seems to slow down. That every noise, whether it be a car door, a phone ringing causes your level of anticipation to race.  You wonder if the food will be enough, or be good enough.  You wonder if they will be comfortable as you rearrange the pillows on the couch for the thirtieth time.

That last hour seems to take a week.

Have you ever thought about God waiting for the fulfillment of time in that manner?

He knows the timing, so He doesn’t worry like we do, but can you see Him waiting expectantly for your arrival?

You need to be able to, for we aren’t the only ones who plan for the future and then wait with expectation.

Think about it, Jesus is described as the Bridegroom, the Father as the one who throws the wedding feast for His Son.

The Father, who awaits his prodigal son, the one finding the coin or the lost sheep throw feast when they find that which was lost.

Hear Jeremiah’s words again,

14 “The day will come, says the Lord, when I will do for Israel and Judah all the good things I have promised them.

It is one of our challenges that we struggle to see God’s anticipation, a challenge caused by the guilt and shame we struggle with daily.

It is why we are uncomfortable with the silence during confession and absolution if it goes more than 15 seconds…. Yet how many of us need to take more than that time, to realize how much God frees us from?

The expectation of God blessing us in the way He promises is the nature of our Advent journey.  Looking forward to His completing that which He all the good He has promised us, His refining us, gathering us, leading us home.

Back to the first promise, the one that when it came true at the cross, made the rest possible.

The Promises Coming True

Hear Jeremiah’s words once again,

I will do for Israel and Judah all the good things I have promised them.

15 “In those days and at that time I will raise up a righteous descendant from King David’s line. He will do what is just and right throughout the land. 16 In that day Judah will be saved,

Judah and Israel, the divided kingdom of God’s people, back together.  Those who stayed dedicated to God and the prodigal brothers who have finally come back home.

It represents the people of God, in its entirety, those who have known God all their lives, and those who come back at the end of time.

In that day, because of One who was completely righteous, completely without sin, and His sense of what it just and good, and to use the old word from the liturgy, salutary, because of the Righteous one’s benevolent love, because of the sinless One’s actions done in love, the people of God will be saved.

Have been saved.

Are saved.

For the last sentence of Jeremiah’s promise, of this prophecy says it all.

The Lord is our Righteousness.

He became everything we would need, that we would be able to come home to God.  On the cross, He took care of every sin, and then in the resurrection, He brought us back to life.

He became our Righteousness.  He recreated us, made us His own people.

Why the promise?

One last thought….

Look at the passage again, Look for the phrase that keeps occurring.

The day will come…

In those days…

In that day…..

That day has come, you have been saved… and are on the way home, sure to get there, because we will be refined, gathered, and led there, for we live in Christ Jesus.

Home to a feast beyond imagination.

Not because of the cleanliness of heaven.

Not because of the magnitude of the feast.

But because of the love, that which God promised us.

Until that day, the same power that raised Christ Jesus from the dead, which is at work in you, that same power will keep you in the peace of God our Father.  AMEN!.

Rejocing During Lent? Inconcievable? Not at All!

Devotional THought of the Day:concordia lutheran button only logo (1) - Copy

 25  Then David and the elders of Israel and the generals of the army went to the house of Obed-edom to bring the Ark of the LORD’s Covenant up to Jerusalem with a great celebration. 26  And because God was clearly helping the Levites as they carried the Ark of the LORD’s Covenant, they sacrificed seven bulls and seven rams. 27  David was dressed in a robe of fine linen, as were all the Levites who carried the Ark, and also the singers, and Kenaniah the choir leader. David was also wearing a priestly garment. 28  So all Israel brought up the Ark of the LORD’s Covenant with shouts of joy, the blowing of rams’ horns and trumpets, the crashing of cymbals, and loud playing on harps and lyres. 29  But as the Ark of the LORD’s Covenant entered the City of David, Michal, the daughter of Saul, looked down from her window. When she saw King David skipping about and laughing with joy, she was filled with contempt for him.   1 Chronicles 15:25-29 (NLT)

16  “To what can I compare this generation? It is like children playing a game in the public square. They complain to their friends, 17  ‘We played wedding songs, and you didn’t dance, so we played funeral songs, and you didn’t mourn.’   Matthew 11:16-17 (NLT) 

1    Don’t let your life be sterile. Be useful. Blaze a trail. Shine forth with the light of your faith and of your love. With your apostolic life wipe out the slimy and filthy mark left by the impure sowers of hatred. And light up all the ways of the earth with the fire of Christ that you carry in your heart.  (1)

Tonight my church will gather to celebrate the love of God.  Perhaps it is more accurate to say God will gather them, for that too is part of the celebration.

We are in the beginning days of Lent, just a week ago we celebrated Ash Wednesday, with a service that…could only be called a celebration. It wasn’t just that we had a much larger group than is our pattern. It was the idea that people gathered, and with reverent smiles  they were marked with ashes, knowing that this reminder of their sin, which grieves them, would be accompanied by another trip forward, to receive the Body and Blood of Christ, proof that God wouldn’t leave them in ashes, that they would not be left in the dust.

That’s something to rejoice in, that’s something to celebrate, and even…like King David, dance over.

Yes, like Isiah, we are people who sturggle with sin, (and sometmies struggle is a strong word) , who live in a world that more and more rejoices in sin.  This is indeed something we should grieve over, it is something that we should never be callous about either.  Christ grieved and wept as He looked over Jeruslaem, the prophets wept as they reminded Isarel of what would be the consequences of their sin, especially their abandoning their relationship with God in order to choose idols of their own making.  Even so, Jesus went on to the cross, to do something about that grief, just as the prophets would foretell not just of doom and judgment, but of the glory of Christ incarnation, death and resurrection, and what it means.

So to, our journey of Lent, the remorse and grief we find as we review our lives, is tempered by the glory of God. The shear joy of realizing that we will soon be in Holy Week, Good Friday, Easter Sunday!  The joy of knowing that our grief has been dealt with, our expectation of God’s promises have been fulfilled. This is also a season of expectation, a season of hope that is guaranteed by the presence of the Holy Spirit!  How can we not be excited y the promise, and knowing it is fulfilled in Christ.

And so each service is a mini-lent to easter celebration, from the death of sin, to the resurrection to life in Christ, celebrated as we feast together at the altar (and on Wednesday nights, at the table)

Rejioce?  How can I not, when the glory of God is present, when His people are gathered together, when He gives us life and shares with us His mercy, His peace, His love?

As we walk through lent, even as the priests and David walked with God toward the Holy CIty, let us rejoice in His glory.  As well, may the light of His glory draw all to Him.

AMEN.

(1)    Escriva, Josemaria (2010-11-02). The Way (Kindle Locations 171-173). Scepter Publishe(1rs. Kindle Edition.

Finally,… Pray

Baptism of Christ. Jesus is baptized in the Jo...

Baptism of Christ. Jesus is baptized in the Jordan River by John. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

today at Concordia, just minutes before this sermon, a little girl was baptised, claimed by God to be His daughter.  Read about what happens in baptism in Ezekiel 36:25 and follwoing and in 1 Tim 3:2-8.  This is truly a miracle, one of the greatest we experience!

Finally… Pray!

2 Thessalonians 3:1-5

In Jesus Name

As we receive the grace, that mercy and peace of God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, may Jesus lead our hearts into the full understanding and expression of the love of God, and may we, in Christ patiently endure!

How much will life change in Her life?

I want you for a moment to dream of the future.

A time 60-80 years from now, as Cayleen is sitting in the front row of this church, watching her granddaughter or even great-granddaughter being baptized.  The church might have different music then, our new music becoming the old, archaic stuff that her generation longs to hear occasionally.

Maybe there will not be cars in the parking lot, but those little family jets that we saw on the Jetson’s.. Cell phones?  Texting?  Tablets? I can’t even begin to imagine what life will be like for them. I just think about how much it has changed since my son was baptized 6 years ago.

Except for one thing.

She will still need to know God’s love. There will still be the challenges of life that we will have to endure, for while many things in life changes, life itself will not change as much for her as it did this morning.

Which is why Paul not only asks us to pray, but then offers a blessing for the church in Thessalonica, as He asks God to lead our hearts into a full understanding and expression of the love of God, and the patient endurance that is found in Christ.

Come to think of it, if you can’t remember what to pray for her and indeed for all the baptized, that’s a pretty good prayer to remember!

You promised to pray…
Full understanding and expression of God’s love

                   That means His mercy, and His granting repentance

         
I pray that you remember to keep the commitment you made this morning to God, as you keep Cayleen in your prayers.  Do not just make this something you said, as you were caught up in the moment.  Pray for her, and for those around you, for we all need prayer. Even apostles, even pastors, even grandparents.

Sometimes we do not know how to pray, or what to pray, and I think that is where a passage like this comes in so handy.  Two simple things to pray for, to know and express God’s love, and to endure.  There will probably be some points where you need to pray for Dan and Kristen for that as well – like when Cayleen is 2, or when she’s that sweet age that starts just after the 12th year and 364th day of her life.

Seriously, pray for her, and for all believers in Christ, and for everyone you know.

Pray that they would follow Jesus, as He leads their hearts into a fuller understanding of the depth of God’s love for them.  A love that does not just write us off the first time we sin but he continues to call to us, to urge us to repent, and to sin no more.  The love of God that desires to fix the parts of our lives that are broken, to heal the wounds that our hearts and souls have encountered.

For to fully understand God’s love is to realize we do not have to hide our sins, we do not have to pretend they aren’t sins. Rather, we are to go to God and confess those sins, to ask Him to fix them. That takes faith, and confidence, and knowing God’s love and faithfulness so well, that we run to Him whenever we are struggling, whenever we are broken, whenever we break life.

 

Patient endurance?

Christ must lead us there!
That is how we endure as well, realizing that Jesus has united us to His death, and to His resurrection.  That iss the promise of baptism, that unity to Christ.  It is the hope He’s given us of sharing in His glory (col. 1:26-29 talks of that)

When we realize that our destiny is secure, that this life, as long as it may seem some days is going to become eternity in God’s presence, it helps us incredibly to endure.  We can stand firm, knowing God’s promise that all things will work for good for us, because we love the God who called us and made us His.

It’s in knowing what Christ endured for us, that leads us to endure in His presence.  For that too is a blessing given to Cayleen and all who believe and are baptized.  God promises in Matthew 28 that He will never leave us, even until the end of the ages.
That’s why Paul says Jesus must lead us in knowing and expressing God’s love and into that ability to endure.  It isn’t based in our own inner strength, even as Christians.  Maturity for a believer doesn’t happen after we go through puberty and our voices change.

It happens when we know God’s love, when we know the promises of love given this day.  When we realize how Jesus is always faithful, how He is always guarding our hearts, our minds, our souls. How He leads us as the 23rd Psalm says besides still waters and restores our soul.  (which means it needed restoration)

That’s what Jesus does, that is what our Lord is tasked with, saving us from sin and the power of satan and death, and restoring us to life, quickening it us.  That’s why a believer doesn’t live in terror of God, but in awe of Him, knowing His love, and being able to express that knowing (not knowledge of but knowing) through their voices in praise and through their lives.
But pray also for the mission and for those needing rescue
So pray for Cayleen, pray for those people around you! Make this your prayer for them; that they would be lead by Christ into the full understanding and expression of His love, and that they would, in Christ, endure!

Paul asks us also to pray for the mission, that this message of God’s love be honored, that it is heard and responded to with praise, wherever it goes.  And to pray for those who have to deal with what the translation says are wicked and evil people – those who can’t comprehend God’s love, who don’t feel comfortable dealing with His mercy and those who are guilty, and need to deal with it.  God dealt with them by the way, as we hear all of Paul’s guards in jail came to know God’s love and were granted repentance.

So finally my friends, pray, give into God’s care those you love – and those you struggle with.  Let Him take the anxieties, the worries and challenges from you, freeing you to love them without distraction, to care for them as He would, to point them to Him when you don’t know what to do.

Having does so, knowing God’s love more fully, you will find yourself expressing it, in a place of peace beyond all comprehension. It is there where you are kept, guarded, your heart and mind protected by Jesus himself.  AMEN?

 

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