Thoughts which drive me to Jesus, and to the Cross
So then, my brothers and sisters, because of God’s great mercy to us I appeal to you: offer yourselves as a living sacrifice to God, dedicated to his service and pleasing to him. This is the true worship that you should offer. 2Do not conform yourselves to the standards of this world, but let God transform you inwardly by a complete change of your mind. Then you will be able to know the will of God—what is good and is pleasing to him and is perfect. Romans 12:1-2 GNT
Those who have been cast down in terror should not despair, or flee before God, but rise again and be comforted in God. God wishes to have it preached and published that he never lays his hand upon us in order that we may perish and be damned. But he must pursue this course to lead us to repentance, else we would never inquire about his Word and will. If we seek his grace, he is ready to help us up again, to grant us forgiveness of sins, the Holy Spirit and eternal life.
Oh, if we would only stop trying to make the Holy Spirit our servant and begin to live in His life as the fish lives in the sea, we would enter into the riches of glory about which we know nothing now. Too many of us want the Holy Spirit in order to have some gift—healing or tongues or preaching or prophecy.
Yes, these have their place in that total pattern of the New Testament, but let us never pray that we may be filled with the Spirit for a secondary purpose!
Remember, God wants to fill you with His Spirit as an end in your moral life. God’s purpose is that we should know Him first of all, and be lost in Him; and that we should enter into the fullness of the Spirit that the eternal Son, Jesus Christ, may be glorified in us!
In WEB Griffin’s masterpiece about the US Army, and officer responds to a question about a combat decision with, “I regret it was necessary”. The phrase always stuck in my mind. I can’t even remember when Captain Parker (that name stuck in my mind) said it, or in which book it was said.
It came to mind while reading Luther’s quote this morning, as I think God thinks something like that every time He has to discipline us, whether individually, as a community, as the world. Does God enjoy it? Never! Even for the wicked who die in bondage to their sin God weeps over. Its not His plan, and He works through His people, through the word and sacraments they share, to constantly to lift up those who realize how broken they are.
This is what St. Paul is describing to the church in Rome, encouraging people to stop fighting God, to simply let Him transform them into the image of Christ – as He planned. This will be uncomfortable at times, it will be disappointing at other times, but you cannot reshape and repurpose something without some changes being made. Embrace those changes!
The changes are necessary, completely necessary–even if we regret that they are needed.
That is where Tozer’s quote comes in, as too often people come to God with their own agendas. In this case it is referring to charismatics, but it is applicable to all who claim to follow God. It isn’t about the gifts, the theology, the worship style, about our pleasure (because we are living sacrifices) it is completely about being lost in Christ, having the Holy Spirit envelop us, knowing God in all His glory.
That is what this religion called Christianity is all about – nothing less than this…
The Lord is with you!
Martin Luther and John Sander, Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year (Rock Island, IL:
A. W. Tozer and Gerald B. Smith, Mornings with Tozer: Daily Devotional Readings (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2008). Augustana Book Concern, 1915), 229–230.
† In Jesus Name †
May you know the presence of the Holy Spirit which fills your hearts kindles in you the fire of God’s love, as you learn to love others by showing them God’s love!
- Do you like waiting?
You are sitting in the drive-thru, and you realize there is a mini-van in front of you, full of kids in uniform…
Or maybe you are at Ralph’s or Trader Joes, or Costco – and the lines stretch down the aisles…
Or maybe you are waiting for that package from Amazon, and they text you at 9 o’clock on Friday that they are delayed and won’t deliver that package you needed until Monday, maybe!
How many of us like waiting?
Frustrating, isn’t it?
I mean, at least we are not like Moses, who was waiting 40 years to see the promise land, and then wasn’t able to, because of his sin. Or David, who had to wait for years to become King, waiting patiently for Saul to be removed, as God promised!
Or the apostles, who had to wait for Christ’s Kingdom to be established, and then had to wait with no hope for three days… and then an undetermined time after the Ascension, for Jesus’ promise for the Spirit to come…
As John’s said, ‘But the Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus had not yet entered into his glory.’
And they had to wait…
I don’t think that they were any better that we are, and they were waiting for something far more important!
- Do We Live Like the Spirit is Here
So here is the harder question of the day.
Are you living like you are waiting for the Holy Spirit to show up?
Are we living like we know God is present in every moment of our lives?
Are we living in the age prior to Pentecost?
It’s a hard question…one I don’t want to answer…
Because I live more like I am waiting for God to show up, then living like I know He is here. It’s not just acts of sin that show this, but it is the loving others, sacrificing for them, that is challenging.
I mean, is there anything more important in life than seeing people come to know God loves them? And the only way they will know, is if we depend on the Holy Spirit to guide us to them, and empower us to share with them that love.
So often sin is described as doing this which God said not to do.
But sin is also not loving our neighbor, which includes no loving them enough to want them to live in the presence of Jesus, both now and for eternity. Sin includes not sharing with them the gospel and the freedom from guilt and shame which comes with sin.
I don’t want to give us an excuse, but the reason we don’t share Jesus’ love with others is because we are living as if the Holy Spirit hasn’t come…yet. We are waiting around for God to make a move…
Forgetting He has…
- No – Jesus is in His glory therefore
Hear John’s comment again,
39 When he said “living water,” he was speaking of the Spirit, who would be given to everyone believing in him. But the Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus had not yet entered into his glory.
During Easter we proclaim that because He has risen, We have risen. That means this has now happened as well,
That Jesus has entered His glory, and He has given us the Holy Spirit.
What does that mean?
First, “25 “I have told you this while I am still with you. 26 The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and make you remember all that I have told you. John 14:25-26 (TEV)
This is everything from the day Jesus told Peter that Jesus would cause him to be fishers of men to the very words at the Ascension. Where He said,
8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8 (NLT2)
If we are looking to grow the church, the preschool—the other ministries we may start on this campus—it depends on us doing what Jesus taught us to do, to love each other, to care for those around us—physically for sure, but also spiritually. To make sure their burdens are lifted, that they are free from oppression, to continue to the work Jesus gave to all of us..
To lift Jesus up, that He may draw all men to Him.
Not to argue with them – that’s worthless, not to debate with them, that will only result in winners and losers.
As we realize the Spirit is with us, we come to rely on God’s lead more and more. As we encounter people in our lives that need to know His love and His mercy.
Evangelism and Discipleship aren’t programs of the church, they are the side effects of walking with Jesus, of the Spirit comforting us, freeing us from sin,
This is how Paul told a young church leader
4 But—“When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, 5 he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. 6 He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior. 7 Because of his grace he declared us righteous and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life.” 8 This is a trustworthy saying, and I want you to insist on these teachings so that all who trust in God will devote themselves to doing good. These teachings are good and beneficial for everyone.
Titus 3:4-8 (NLT2)
This is what started at Pentecost… it will keep going on in our lives, for Jesus not only is risen, He has been glorified, and given us the Holy Spirit to comfort, sustain, guide and empower us, as we share with people why we have hope.
Because Jesus loves us all.
Do not work for food that goes bad; instead, work for the food that lasts for eternal life. This is the food which the Son of Man will give you, because God, the Father, has put his mark of approval on him John 6:27 GNT
We must at least know ourselves well enough to recognize our own illusions, our own limitations, our own weaknesses, enough to be able to tell when it is not the charity of Christ that speaks in our hearts, but only our own self-pity … or ambition, or cowardice, or thirst for domination.
Dry bones. We see sin and judgment on the sin. That is what it looks like. It looked that way to Ezekiel; it looks that way to anyone with eyes to see and brain to think; and it looks that way to us.
“But we believe something else. We believe in the coming together of these bones into connected, sinewed, muscled human beings who speak and sing and laugh and work and believe and bless their God. We believe it happened the way Ezekiel preached it, and we believe it still happens. We believe it happened in Israel and that it happens in church. We believe we are a part of the happening as we sing our praises, listen believingly to God’s Word, receive the new life of Christ in the sacraments. We believe the most significant thing that happens or can happen is that we are no longer dismembered but are remembered into the resurrection body of Christ.
I read the words of Merton in my devotions this morning, and they stung.
As they should!
Perhaps they should have even stung more!
We must regularly examine our thoughts, words and deeds, as Paul tells us to in 1 Corinthians. To walk thorugh the valley of Romans 7 and realize that Paul wasn’t talking about a battle prior to coming to Christ, but the battle within each of us this day. We need to recognize when it is Christ that lives, and when we are struggling not to die to self.
We need to see the dry bones, to see the ravaged wasteland caused by sin in our world, but even more in our lives.
We have to see them, there is no option. It is depressing, it can suck the life out of you. But we need to see the effect of our sin.
For only by doing so, can our knowledge become our plea, and the answer our reality. For just as we had to acknowledge our sin in order to see our need for the cross, so to do we need to see our sin so that the Holy Spirit can create new life in broken lives. We need to know that our cry, “Lord, have mercy on me a sinner” is, and always will, be answered!
Peterson’s words come in the midst of a dialogue about the necessity and focal point of pastoral ministry, that of word and sacrament–and the need of people to receive that – even if they don’t presently want it. That’s the message of Jesus’ words this morning as well–to go after what really matters, what really brings us to life– the work of the Holy Spirit as the words and Sacraments serve as the conduit of a grace beyond measure.
This is how life begins… this is how it is nurtured, as the old, sin-burdened man is put to death, and a life transformed in and conformed to Jesus begins anew.
Lord, once again, heal our brokenness by killing off that which is not of You, and bring us to life, in Christ. AMEN!
Thomas Merton, The New Man (London; New York: Burns & Oates, 1976), 138.
Eugene H. Peterson, The Contemplative Pastor: Returning to the Art of Spiritual Direction, vol. 17, The Leadership Library (Carol Stream, IL; Dallas; Waco, TX: Christianity Today; Word Pub., 1989), 144.
Thoughts which draw me closer to Jesus, and to HIs cross.
They assembled before Moses and Aaron and said to them, “You have gone too far! All the members of the community belong to the LORD, and the LORD is with all of us. Why, then, Moses, do you set yourself above the LORD’s community?”
When Moses heard this, he threw himself on the ground and prayed. Then he said…… Numbers 16:3-5 NLT
Give yourself to the LORD; trust in him, and he will help you; he will make your righteousness shine like the noonday sun. Psalm 37:5-6 NLT
For no one desires to be lifted if he is unaware that he has fallen, just as one who does not feel the pain of a wound does not seek to have it healed. Therefore, these people must first be shown that the things they love are vain, and then carefully (and over time) they should be made aware of the usefulness of the things they ignore.
We must be careful to follow neither the customs of the world nor our own reason or plausible theories. We must constantly subdue our disposition and control our will, not obeying the dictates of reason and desire.
Faith in God is possible now. What we are blind to is not the law of God, but the glory of God—calling into being that which is from that which is not.
Most of us like to think we are reasonable. Yet we can often see that which is unreasonable in others. Indeed, a loto f the counseling I do will hear the complaint that the other party is “unreasonable” or is too “emotional”
It is too bad that we cannot see the frailty of our own reason, and our need to be suspicious of it. Otherwise, we could prevent our own rebellion, whether we are rebelling against God, or against those whom God has allowed to be in place.
What we need to do is follow Moses example. Whether we are the one’s questioning someone else’s reason, or those whose logic is being questioned, we need to throw ourselves down, and pray and seek God’s wisdom. We desperately need to follow the psalmist’s advice, and give ourselves to the LORD who has saved us already.
This is the only hope for those who know their reason is faulty, that their logic has significant holes and gaps. The challenge is realizing it, for we are blind and deaf to such problems. This is nothing new – Gregory the Great points it out quite clearly, as well as reminds us it takes time to first realize we are broken, to stop defending it, and then to hunger for the healing found in the logic, the logos of Jesus.
It is only then, as we grow and humbly cope with our broken reason, that we can see that our problem wasn’t God’s logic, His definition of right and wrong. Rather, the biggest hole in our reason was not accounting for the glory of God!
For God creates something out of that which is nothing. He does this for one reason – He loves us. Broken, injured, flawed, yet being reconciled and healed and conformed to the image of Jesus.
Heavenly Father, with grace and patience, correct our flawed logic and reason, our emotions and feelings as well. Help us to welcome the Holy Spirit’s work in conforming us to the image of Jesus, cutting away that which is not like Him. We pray this in Jesus’ name.. AMEN!.
St Gregory the Great, The Book of Pastoral Rule, ed. John Behr, trans. George E. Demacopoulos, vol. 34, Popular Patristics Series (Crestwood, NY: St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2007), 194.
Martin Luther and John Sander, Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year (Rock Island, IL: Augustana Book Concern, 1915), 25.
Gerhard O. Forde, “The Preacher,” in Theology Is for Proclamation (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1990), 77.
Thoughts to encourage us to cling to Jesus
From his abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another.* 17 For the law was given through Moses, but God’s unfailing love and faithfulness came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God. But the unique One, who is himself God,* is near to the Father’s heart. He has revealed God to us. John 1:16-18 NLT
The law of the leader tells us who are preachers that it is better to cultivate our souls than our voices.… We cannot take our people beyond where we ourselves have been, and it thus becomes vitally important that we be men of God in the last and highest sense of that term.
So the struggle ensues: Every baptized believer lives each day on a battlefield in this fallen world, contending not just against the devil but also wrestling with the compulsions and obsessions of his own sinful flesh. These forces conspire to defile and desecrate the holiness that belongs to every baptized believer. That means that the Christian life in this world calls for constant vigilance; the Christian is always under siege and at war with the devil, this sinful world, and his own sinful flesh.
I am not sure what I believe regarding trickle down economics – and this post is not a challenge to convince me one way or another. But I am going to apply the theory to discipleship. That discipleship is something that trickles down – or perhaps trickles up – since pastors and other ministers are servants, not masters. But if the pastor/minister is to be a shepherd, they need to be disciples – and they need their time sitting with the Master, being taught and healed and cleansed by Him.
Senkbeil explains why – the struggle. Every pastor, every priest, every director of Christian Ed or elder or member of the altar guild is involved in a struggle. No, not a struggle, the struggle. And that requires constant vigilance – not to fight the war by one’s own strength – but to be vigilant by keeping one’s eyes on Christ! There is our only answer, our only hope, our only refuge – just in Jesus.
For as the gospel points out, He reveals to us the Father, and the Father’s love for us. And so we have to listen and think, and be “illuninated” by the Holy Spirit. (This is Luther’s phrase from the catechism – it means the Spirit has to turn the lights on in us… so we stop stumbling in the dark!) Without that ongoing ministry of sanctification, we don’t know the glory and joy of being freed – and we can’t lead others through it.
Tozer says we can’t lead where we haven’t been. You can’t take someone thorugh the ominous oppressive darkness, unless you are going thorugh it, guided by Jesus. We can’t help them deal with that which defieles and desecrates them, unless we’ve come to that place where healing begins as Jesus deals with that which still tries to defile an desecrate us.d
This isn’t about us just leading people in spiritual disciplines as if we were a PE coach or drill instructor ordering people around. We have to be there, familiar with the muck and mire, familiar with the despair, haunted by the grief and shame – but familiar as well with the joy of having the weight lifted from us by Jesus. We have to depend on Him, we have ot see how much He loves us, how faithful He is to us.
and living in Christ – well that does trickle down – or up…
Tozer, A. W. 2015. Tozer for the Christian Leader. Chicago: Moody Publishers.
Senkbeil, Harold L. 2019. The Care of Souls: Cultivating a Pastor’s Heart. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
He did this so that he might reconcile both to God in one body through the cross by which he put the hostility to death. 17 He came and proclaimed the good news of peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. Eph 2:16-17 CSB
“Fear not,” the Angel said to Mary in the announcement of the incarnation of the Word. “Do not be afraid,”
Jesus repeated so many times to the disciples. It is an invitation that opens a new, refreshing space in the soul,
giving security and engendering hope. (1)
During the last eight or nine years of her life, her temptations became still more violent. Mother de Chatel said that her saintly Mother de Chantal suffered a continual interior martyrdom night and day, at prayer, at work, and even during sleep; so that she felt the deepest compassion for her. The saint endured assaults against every virtue (except chastity), and had likewise to contend with doubts, darkness, and disgusts. Sometimes God would withdraw all lights from her, and seem indignant with her, and just on the point of expelling her from him; so that terror drove her to look in some other direction for relief: but failing to find any, she was obliged to return to look on God, and to abandon herself to his mercy. She seemed each moment ready to yield to the violence of her temptations. The divine assistance did not indeed forsake her; but it seemed to her to have done so, since, instead of finding satisfaction in anything, she found only weariness and anguish in prayer, in reading spiritual books, in Communion, and in all other exercises of piety. Her sole resource in this state of dereliction was to look upon God, and to let him do his will. (2)
The way [faith] works in experience is something like this: The believing man is overwhelmed suddenly by a powerful feeling that only God matters; soon this works itself out into his mental life and conditions all his judgments and all his values. (3)
Return, o wander, return and seek an injured Father’s face; those warm desires that in thee burn were kindled by redeclaiming grace! (4)
As I read the section in green this morning, it resonated with me. That dread feeling that God has abandoned me, that even in prayer or devotion or at the altar there is an emptinesss. It seems a burden, and de Ligouri’s use of the word anguish is not… unknown
It takes some time usually, before I realize the joy that seems gone is not. The burdens and pains are, oddly enough, gifts from God given to re-focus me from the means by whcih God comforts me, to God himself.
The nun looks upon God finally, Tozer says we get overwhelmed with the idea that only God matters, we hear God’s call on our lives to not be afraid, to not be anxious…
And we find deeper hope, we find security, we find again the the peace which we proclaim.
We find ourselves in the presence of God, who has never really left us, we’ve not been forsaken, or abandoned.
We just needed to realize that we are not alone.
It is then, just in the presence of God, just as the Holy Spirit defibillates our faith, which was wavering… it is then that all our disciplinesbecome desirable again. It is then we see the blessing of the struggle, that God is using it for good, as He has promised to us. The pain and tears are blessings, the dryness is a sign of God’s care… to get us to see HIm… and Him alone.
Everything we do, will at some point fail. But He never will, and as we realize it is all about Him… everything else will come alive as well.
Relax, know that God is with you – and let His peace wash over you!
He loves you… He is with you!
(1) Pope Francis, A Year with Pope Francis: Daily Reflections from His Writings, ed. Alberto Rossa (New York; Mahwah, NJ; Toronto, ON: Paulist Press; Novalis, 2013), 324.
(2) Alphonsus de Liguori, The Holy Eucharist, ed. Eugene Grimm, The Complete Works of Saint Alphonsus de Liguori (New York; London; Dublin; Cincinnati; St. Louis: Benziger Brothers; R. Washbourne; M. H. Gill & Son, 1887), 467.
(3) A. W. Tozer and Marilynne E. Foster, Tozer on the Holy Spirit: A 366-Day Devotional (Camp Hill, PA: WingSpread, 2007).
(4) Collyer, Evangelical Lutheran Hymn Book, #54 (Concordia Publishing House 1927)
Thoughts for this day, that draws me closer to God….
7 When you pray, don’t babble like the Gentiles, since they imagine they’ll be heard for their many words. 8 Don’t be like them, because your Father knows the things you need before you ask him. 9 “Therefore, you should pray like this: Our Father in heaven, your name be honored as holy. 10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us today our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And do not bring us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. Matthew 6:7-13 (CSBBible)
At dinner on the day after Pentecost [ Martin Luther said], “One shouldn’t think of any other God than Christ; whoever doesn’t speak through the mouth of Christ is not God. God wants to be heard through the Propitiator, and so he’ll listen to nobody except through Christ.
We can always trust the moving and the leading of the Holy Spirit in our lives and in our experiences. On the other hand, we cannot always trust our human leanings and our fleshly and carnal desires.
I have never gotten tired of talking about prayer, and with God’s grace I never will. I remember that, back in the thirties, as a young priest, people of all kinds used to come to me looking for ways of getting closer to our Lord. To all of them, university students and workers, healthy and sick, rich and poor, priests and laymen, I gave the same advice: “Pray.” If anyone replied, “I don’t even know how to begin,” I would advise him to put himself in God’s presence and tell him of his desires and anxiety, with that very same complaint: “Lord, I don’t know how to pray!” Often, humble admissions like that were the beginning of an intimate relationship with Christ, a lasting friendship with him. Many years have gone by, and I still don’t know of a better recipe. If you think you’re not quite ready to pray, go to Jesus as his disciples did and say to him, “Lord, teach us how to pray.”18 You will discover how the Holy Spirit “comes to the aid of our weakness; when we do not know what prayer to offer, to pray as we ought, the Spirit himself intercedes for us, with groans beyond all utterance,”19 which are impossible to describe, for no words are adequate to express their depth.
I find it odd, that when people talk about repetitive prayer, they often mention the verse just before Jesus teaches the disciples to pray… the Lord’s Prayer. Don’t babble on, or don’t be vain and repetitious as others translate the passage. And then comes the Lord’s prayer, which people say is vain and repetitious.
I will be the first to admit I have used it that way. Back in junior high school, we had races to see who could say it the fastest, or the entire rosary (I went to a Catholic parochial school.) And in doing so, we sinned, violating the
command about using God’s name in vain, for we didn’t think about Jesus when we prayed, we focused on speed and diction… not even the meaning of the words. There are days when I say it in church – that my thoughts are not focused on the words as much if we are saying it. (Which is why we more often sing it) It is easy to disengage. but that does not change it… just me.
As I have grown older, there have been more than a few times where I did not know how to pray. The words would not come through the anxiety, the words wouldn’t come through the tears, or even the times, where so overwhelmed, I
couldn’t cry. Finally, out of frustration, I would cry out, and pray the Lord’s prayer, letting the words of Jesus burrow through all the debris crushing my heart and soul.
And then, as St Josemaria put it, it was up to the Holy Spirit. Indeed, in those times, it is only the comfort of the Holy Spirit that brings that prayer to mind, who uses these words of Jesus to bring life where there is no life.
Tozer is dead on accurate with his point – it is the Spirit we need to trust, as we pray as Jesus said. For Satan loves to deny us hope, and peace, and the realization of God’s love.
And so by praying as Jesus taught, we again admit we don’t know how to pray, and in that humility the intimacy with God grows, we hear what He’s told us He will provide – from His kingdom, to His perfect Will occurring in our lives, to
what we need daily, food, the ability to know we are forgiven and the enabling of our forgiveness. What wonderful things! He goes on to provide us a way from temptation, and rescue us from evil….. WOW….
Because I didn’t know how to pray in the brokenness of the moment, I pray, and as the Trinity hears, my heart is reminded of what God provides.
And somehow, miraculously, I find peace in the storm.
That is why I pray the Lord’s prayer, it is where God leads, and the comfort it brings is extraordinary.
I pray you may as well!
Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, Vol. 54: Table Talk, ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann, vol. 54 (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1999), 155.
A. W. Tozer and Marilynne E. Foster, Tozer on the Holy Spirit: A 366-Day Devotional (Camp Hill, PA: WingSpread, 2007).
Escrivá, Josemaría. Friends of God . Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Thoughts to cause us to adore our Lord and God.
15 The Lord has removed your punishment; he has turned back your enemy. The King of Israel, the Lord, is among you; you need no longer fear harm. 16 On that day it will be said to Jerusalem: “Do not fear; Zion, do not let your hands grow weak. 17 The Lord your God is among you, a warrior who saves. He will rejoice over you with gladness. He will be quiet in his love. He will delight in you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:15-17 (CSBBible)
We Christians must stop apologizing for our moral position and start making our voices heard, exposing sin for the enemy of the human race which it surely is, and setting forth righteousness and true holiness as the only worthy pursuits for moral beings.
We must overcome all, renounce all, in order to gain all. St. Teresa said: “Because we do not come to the conclusion of giving all our affection to God, so neither does he give all his love to us.”3 Oh, God, how little is all that is given to Jesus Christ, who has given his blood and his life for us!
Be this as it may, our life consists of the forgiveness of sins. Otherwise it’s no good.
Tozer begs the people of God to expose sin for what it is – the enemy of the human race. deLigouri tells us we have to renouce all, basically referring to what we desire, so that we gain all.
I think they understand the result, but they still are trusting in human willpower to choose what is right. That is where they make their mistake. For you and I aren’t capable of living a perfect, sinless life. If we were, why would we need Jesus? Why would we need the cross?
Yet we must come to the place they both desire. But we have to realize that perfection comes from without,
Well, sort of.
THat kind of holiness occurs only through the presence oof Jesus in our lives.
That is why Luther notes that our life is centered in the forgiveness of sins. That we have to live there, in the place where Jesus’ death pays the price, and endures the consequences. Aware of that, the power of sin to haunt us, disolves. We are forgiven, we are the people whom the prophet Zephaniah speaks,
Jesus has done this, it is why He died, so that you and I could be free form sin, how it haunts us, and how it would steal our present, our future, our eternity.
Sin isn’t about morality, it is about true freedom. When we reduce sin to a moral competition, we have lost. God doesn’t want us to be moral so He can declare us good! Rather, morality is what happens to us, when we are looking to Jesus. It is a passive transformaiton on our part, not an active choice. It is the work of the Holy Spirit, not the work of our heart and mind.
THerefore we cannot claim superior morals, as if it is our victory. It is Jesus’ victory, at the cross….
We just get to live in it..
Jesus gave His life, so that the Holy Spirit could work in ours, setting us apart, declaring us righteous and His people. Rejoice in that, and live in its truth.
Sin is our enemy… God’s taken care of sin, and Satan, and the threat of death… AMEN!
A. W. Tozer and Marilynne E. Foster, Tozer on the Holy Spirit: A 366-Day Devotional (Camp Hill, PA: WingSpread, 2007).
Alphonsus de Liguori, The Holy Eucharist, ed. Eugene Grimm, The Complete Works of Saint Alphonsus de Liguori (New York; London; Dublin; Cincinnati; St. Louis: Benziger Brothers; R. Washbourne; M. H. Gill & Son, 1887), 341.
Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, Vol. 54: Table Talk, ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann, vol. 54 (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1999), 150.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
15 until the Spirit from on high is poured out on us.
Then the desert will become an orchard, and the orchard will seem like a forest. 16 Then justice will inhabit the wilderness, and righteousness will dwell in the orchard. 17 The result of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quiet confidence forever. 18 Then my people will dwell in a peaceful place, in safe and secure dwellings. Isaiah 32:15-18 (CSBBible)
It is right that we should think about how we are imitating the Master. We should pause and reflect so that we can learn directly from our Lord’s life some of the virtues which ought to shine out in our lives, if we are really anxious to spread the Kingdom of Christ.
Yesterday, I had the blessing of preaching on the Holy Spirit’s undeniable work, seen as the Spirit filled those drawn to believe in Christ. It was earth shattering, not only because of the crowd doing miraculous things, but because that crowd wasn’t the kind you considered good or Godly – at least according to the Jews of the Day.
The Sunday after next is Pentecost Sunday, when Pentecost changed its meaning. No longer just a Jewish holiday, it now was the anniversary of the Holy Spirit descending on the Jewish believers. There, just like in Cornelius’s mansion, the miracles were amazing, the things that people saw drew them closer and closer to God.
I look at the Church in the world today, and at first I wonder – why doesn’t the miraculous happen today?
Why don’t we have peopel really speaking in languages they don’t know – with other people understanding it so clearly that they are trasnformed by the gospel? Why don’t we have others, seeing what God is doing, and giving thanks and praise – without any prompting but just astounded by God?
Or maybe, it is going on…. and we are to use to focusing on the wrong things, and we miss it?
The Holy Spirit has been given to us, to help us see Jesus. As we and our communities grow more aware of Jesus, the more we see the Spirit doing the work that is always done, and the more we imitate Jesus, for that is the transformation the Holy Spirit causes!
Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Your people, and kindle in them, the fire of Your love, that many will see it, and come to rejoice in that love as well! Amen!
Escrivá, Josemaría. Friends of God . Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
53 Jesus said to them, “I am telling you the truth: if you do not eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you will not have life in yourselves. 54 Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them to life on the last day. 55 For my flesh is the real food; my blood is the real drink. 56 Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood live in me, and I live in them. 57 The living Father sent me, and because of him I live also. In the same way whoever eats me will live because of me. John 6:53-57 (TEV)
Too many want the Holy Spirit in order that they may have the gift of healing. Others want Him for the gift of tongues. Still others seek Him so that their testimony may become effective. All of these things, I will grant, are a part of the total pattern of the New Testament. But it is impossible for us to make God our servant. Let us never pray that we may be filled with the Spirit of God for secondary purposes.
God wants to fill us with His Spirit in order that we should know Him first of all and be absorbed in Him.
Had men but always recourse to the Most Blessed Sacrament to seek from it the remedy for their ills, they certainly would not be so miserable as they are.
If you talk to some, being a Christian is about making it to heaven. Talk to
another, and it is about Jesus’ social teaching. Talk to another, and it is
about being considered righteous by God. Some confuse that with thinking
Christians are always right! There is a myriad of reasons that people become Christians in their own minds.
There are many more why Christians call out Jesus, and as Tozer points out,
reasons people want the Holy Spirit to be manifest in our lives.
None of them are “the” reason.
I find that reason in John’s gospel, where Jesus gives his insight about His Body and His Blood. The fellowship, the Life together, the intimacy with God causes us to experience love and peace beyond all understanding. (see Eph. 3:18ff and Philippians 4:7) This is what all of Christianity, all of the scriptures, all the conversations at coffee shops with those struggling to have faith, has as its goal.
This intimate relationship, where God cares for His people, is why we need
Jesus. Anything else is not Life. de Liguori notes that those who seek the remedy to their ills (physical, social, psychological, all of the above) says that the misery leaves in the presence of Christ, especially as He is present in the Sacrament.This again is that peace that comes from dwelling in Christ, and His dwelling in you!
This fellowship, intimate this communion, is beyond the suffering we endure in this life. It is everything, for it will endure far beyond our time on this planet for we rise to live with Christ. Going to the altar is the greatest of ways to look beyond this life to see that eternal connection. When we take, eat and drink the Body and Blood of Jesus, in and under the bread and wine. When we pause and recognize Him in this meal. This intimate relationship, which endures eternally… this is why we are drawn to Jesus, why He carries us to the Father…
This is why we need Him…
A. W. Tozer and Marilynne E. Foster, Tozer on the Holy Spirit: A 366-Day Devotional (Camp Hill, PA: WingSpread, 2007).
Alphonsus de Liguori, The Holy Eucharist, ed. Eugene Grimm, The Complete Works of Saint Alphonsus de Liguori (New York; London; Dublin; Cincinnati; St. Louis: Benziger Brothers; R. Washbourne; M. H. Gill & Son, 1887), 163.