You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. 14 He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. Col 2:13–14. NLT2
25 Please, LORD, please save us. Please, LORD, please give us success. 26 Bless the one who comes in the name of the LORD. We bless you from the house of the LORD. 27 The LORD is God, shining upon us. Take the sacrifice and bind it with cords on the altar. 28 You are my God, and I will praise you! You are my God, and I will exalt you! Psalm 118:25-28 (NLT2)
What should happen in genuine conversion? What should a man or woman feel in the transaction of the new birth?
There ought to be that real and genuine cry of pain. That is why I do not like the kind of evangelism that tries to invite people into the fellowship of God by signing a card.
There should be a birth from above and within. There should be the terror of seeing ourselves in violent contrast to the holy, holy, holy God. Unless we come into this place of conviction and pain, I am not sure how deep and real our repentance will ever be.
First of all, it is true that not only should Christians regard and recognize as sin the actual violation of God’s commandments in their deeds, but they should also perceive and recognize that the horrible, dreadful, inherited disease corrupting their entire nature is above all actual sin and indeed is the “chief sin.”  It is the root and fountainhead of all actual sins.
Paul exhorts us to take for granted that we have already received as a pure gift in baptism all that we need in order to attain salvation by virtue of Christ’s passion, death, and resurrection. We have only to enter by faith into the kingdom that has already been established in the depth of our spirit and take possession of it. Thus, if we truly give ourselves to God in faith and open our minds and hearts to him, we may begin to find him in the silence of the prayer of faith very quickly
I just received several ads for several events on worship. Some of these were invites from friends, somewhere corporate ads for conferences, with nationally renowned speakers. Each was interesting, and if it wasn’t for working on my dissertation, I would probably attend one or two of these events, probably the ones that are more small group dialogue based, and see worship as more than singing.
As I was reading my devotional readings this morning, I was struck by an old thought.
The power of worship is not based on the music, or how a liturgy is delivered.
The power of worship is a reaction to the power of God, which delivers us from the bondage of sin!
The more we feel the pain caused by our sin, and the “violent contrast to the holy, holy, holy God, the more His merciful healing touch means to us. The more that means to us, the more worship is generated in our soul. This is the point of Tozer, but it is also seen in the quote from the Lutheran Confessions, seen in blue. There we see the incredible debilitating power of original sin, for in that would all other sins are created.
Sin is brutal, and though we know in our minds the cause and the cure, to deal with it is hard. It is painful, and to be honest, we would rather treat the guilt and shame as if it were grief. We will deny we sinned, or that it is as brutally painful as it is. We will try to negotiate or bargain away the pain it causes. We will get angry, at God, at others, and finally, honestly, at ourselves. Our inability to do anything about it can cause severe depression, and ultimately, we have to options to accept.
That we are sinners, so we might as well enjoy it.
Or that God loves us so passionately, so completely, so intimately that He took on that sin, removed it, and brings us into His Kingdom.
All that weight of guilt and shame is gone. The wounds of our sin and the world’s unrighteousness – healed completely! What was broken in our lives is restored completely! Better than the original! What was corruptible is incorruptible, what was mortal, now is immortal!
This is the masterpiece God has made of our lives,
An amazing masterpiece.
Looking in the mirror, seeing our lives as Jesus does, for this is the joy He looked forward to as He died for you an me… is amazing.
It is worthy of all our thanks, and all our praise.
So the secret to powerful, pure worship… is found when we see ourselves as wretches, but realize God saves wretches like us….and so we cry out to Him.
No other sophisticated, choreographed, orchestration compares to knowing the God who loves us is here.
Lord, help us cry out to You, for only you can heal our sin caused wounds. Only You can restore our brokenness. Only Your mercy and love can change us. Help us see Your hand at work… and then, Father, receive our praise and thanks! AMEN!
A. W. Tozer, Tozer for the Christian Leader (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2015).
“Article 1: Concerning Original Sin. The Solid Declaration of the Formula of Concord, Robert Kolb, Timothy J. Wengert, and Charles P. Arand, The Book of Concord: The Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2000), 533.
Thomas Keating, The Daily Reader for Contemplative Living: Excerpts from the Works of Father Thomas Keating, O.C.S.O., Sacred Scripture, and Other Spiritual Writings, ed. S. Stephanie Iachetta (New York; London; New Delhi; Sydney: Bloomsbury, 2009), 231.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
4 I am writing to Titus, my true son in the faith that we share. May God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior give you grace and peace. Titus 1:4 (NLT)
772 These are the unmistakable signs of the true Cross of Christ: serenity, a deep feeling of peace, a love which is ready for any sacrifice, a great effectiveness which wells from Christ’s own wounded Side. And always—and evidently—joy: a joy which comes from knowing that those who truly give themselves are beside the Cross, and therefore beside Our Lord. (1)
It is one of the greatest Paradoxes of our faith.
That a place of torture would be the place we find serentiy.
That a place of horrific death is the place we will find the greatest of peace.
That the place where we give up our desires, where our very being is sacrificed, is the place where our lives truly begin.
The Cross of Christ,
The place where we are joined with His death.
In a week where a friend’s mom lies in critical condition, where another is dealing with great grief, where the politics of my church body are extremely frustrating, and churches are struggling and not being strengthened, there should be a lack of peace. I could go on and on, as our church on Sunday had 134 different people, families and groups to pray for, and we did, ( Everytime we get down to 100, it seems to grow back up)
Except for the cross, the cross where we can bring those burdens, those anxieties, those sins, both that we commit, and are committed against us. All three sacraments lead us back to there, as we are joined to His death in baptism, as we feast on His Body and Blood, given and shed there, and the absolution that is ours, as our sins are atoned for and washed away….
It is at that cross where we find ourselves joined to Him… and that is enough…..and more.
Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 2773-2776). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
The Mission: To Reveal Jesus Lifted Up
† In Jesus Name †
May you realize the gifts of God that are yours, the mercy, the peace, the love of the Father, which is yours because Jesus was glorified on the Cross.
Why didn’t they recognize the Father’s voice?
That’s His mission and ours…
When I sit down to study a Bible passage to preach on it, I usually read the passage a few times – and wait for questions to develop before I start looking at the original languages, or at what people have said in the nearly 2000 years since the Bible was completed.
The questions are usually simple observations, the odd things I notice that make me wonder about our relationships. First our relationship with each other, then our relationship with God.
Some of those questions stick with me a while, and so it was this week. The question this week that bugged me.. that creates the basis for this sermon is this,
“Why didn’t the crowd recognize the Voice speaking through the clouds?” Why didn’t they recognize the voice of our Heavenly Father?
After all, how many times have voices spoken from the heavens? Who else could it be?
On this day, as we dedicate our preschool staff, as we start a series looking at God’s mission in this world, the answer to that question is critical. For His mission becomes our mission.
“Why didn’t the crowd recognize the Voice speaking through the clouds” Why didn’t they recognize God’s voice?”
When we realize the answer – we will realize what we are asking our staff to do. Really what we are asking all that are part of this community of faith to do….
Simply put – God’s mission, our mission is to reveal Christ lifted up, entering His glory… that He can draw all to Him.
The Greeks and the Jews… same problem?
Which Jesus would they see?
Today’s gospel reading starts out with the Greeks, the non-Jewish people looking for Jesus. They had come up for the Passover feast, and whether they were simply curious about Judaism or they were in the process of conversion, we do not know. It would be an uncomfortable place to be, for many Jews resented their presence. Which is why they looked for one of the apostles, to ask permission to see Jesus.
Compare that to the Jewish leaders and people themselves who saw Jesus, but did not really see Him. They could grasp that He was, and is the Son of God. It seems ironic – those who desired to see Jesus could not but those that could didn’t really see Him either.
I think we have the same problem today, when we “look” for Jesus, and especially when we want to see Jesus in all of His glory.
Some of us look for the cute Jesus, like in a movie where the star prays to the “sweet 6 pound 8oz baby Lord Jesus”. A Jesus who is not threatening, one we can’t see judging our actions as sinful and self-destructive, but is precious, cute, and cuddly. Like the Greek pilgrims, this is a romanticized version of Jesus to look at, to wonder about, to ooh and ahh about, to expect blessings from when we adore Him.
Others look for the risen and reigning Jesus, the One who will return in all glory, and then everything will be put into its place! Everything will be perfect! Like the Pharisees, we expect God to fulfil that promise – now and here, and according to our plan. When we do not see that happening, we look other places. When we expect God to do things our way and He doesn’t – we give up. When we expect Him to applaud our pride, our self-righteousness, our sin. Instead, He calls us on it and as we ignore Him we cannot recognize His voice, His authority, or His glory.
Like those in the days when Jesus walked and taught in Galilee – too often in our time people want to Jesus on their terms, or they are incapable of seeing Him at all.
What we need to do is see Jesus in all of His glory, when He was glorified.
Then the virgin birth and the 2nd coming can be seen properly… but when was He seen in all His glory?
When was He glorified?
That is the key. It is the reality behind Jesus statement about loving life means losing it – and caring nothing for it in this life…means everything for eternity. He demonstrated that truth on the cross.
You see, when Jesus spoke of it being time for Him to enter into His glory, it is the same as when he talked about being lifted up from the earth… for He is glorified, He is to be praised and honored and exalted, for what happened on the cross.
For like the serpent on Moses’ pole it is when we look to Jesus on the cross, that we know we will be okay. God is here! God is aware of what we are going through! We realize that He will deal with all that burdens us, and all that challenges us, all that sin that would poison our lives and quench the life He gives us.
You see, the greatest thing, the most praiseworthy thing Christ does, was on that cross. When we look there, it is not about the sin that we have committed, it is not about whether we were a Pharisee or a prostitute, a pastor or a tax collector.
It is about realizing that it was because God loves us that he was there, that is was the away God deals with our rebellion, our pride, our sin, with love that only we can only see when we look to Christ. That is why we worship Him, which is why we praise Him, which is why, according to Paul; our Father in heaven glorified His name above every other name. We do not have to do anything to deserve His love – He poured it all out on the cross, when He was lifted up.
That is what our church and our preschool are about – that is what we are all called to do. Simply to reveal the love of Jesus, that love that drove Him to the cross. One of my favorite verses is found in the book of Hebrews – which talks about the joy that was set before Him, the reason He went and did that for which we praise Him.
For the joy that was before Him, Christ endures the cross.
The joy of knowing that we would be drawn to Him, that we would be able to hear the see Jesus, that we would be able to hear the Father. We do not need to lift him up on the cross again, but our praises need to remind us of the love He showed, of the work He has done, of the very claim He has on our life, because of that cross.
For it is there the difference is made, He was lifted up, and we are drawn to Him and praise His name for what He has done in love for us. This is why we will be in heaven. This is why we can forgive others and live free of resentment and guilt, why we don’t have to hate,
Then we know why he was born, and why He will come back again….
For we see Him in all of His glory…in all of His love.
And knowing we are loved, we live in the Father’s peace, a peace that passes all understanding, and guards our hearts and minds which are secure in Jesus. AMEN!