Devotional Thought of the Day:
26 The LORD said, “Do not make idols or set up statues, stone pillars, or carved stones to worship. I am the LORD your God. Leviticus 26:1 TEV
16 Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed. The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with.
James 5:16 (MSG)
Marcion taught, on the basis of the opinions of his master Cerdo, that there is one god of the Old Testament, just, stern, and punitive toward sin, who rained down sulfur and fire on Sodom, Gen. 19:24; and there is another god of the New Testament, merciful, beneficent, long-suffering, who “causes His sun to rise and sends rain on the just and the unjust,
Our Saviour has left the holy sacrament of penance and confession to his Church, that in it we may cleanse ourselves from all our iniquities, as often as we should be defiled by them. Never suffer your heart, then, Philothea, to remain long affected with sin, since you have so easy a remedy at hand. A soul which has consented to sin ought to conceive a horror of herself, and cleanse herself as quickly as possible, out of the respect she ought to bear to the Divine Majesty, who incessantly beholds her. Alas! why should we die a spiritual death, when we have so sovereign a remedy at hand?
I have to wonder how much Marcion’s idea of two gods, one of the Old Testament and One of the New affects our viewpoint of sin.
The thought is prevalent today among many in the church, and it drastically colors our viewpoint of sin. We tend to dismiss things in the Old Testament that were prohibited (and not declared clean like bacon and Gentiles!) because we see the God of the Old being different, and having different standards than Jesus.
Perhaps that is why we don’t take the cure for sin seriously?
We all are sinners, whether it is gossip, or sexual sins, or hatred and name calling. We’ve developed our justifications, our defenses, such as – well that was in the Old Testament, and life is different in the New Testament. We even have simply gotten to the point where we deny that sin is sin. We ignore its gravity, its pain, its horror.
Worse than the horror, what we are really doing is robbing ourselves, and those we teach, of a wondrous gift, a gift that is more valuable than anything we could purchase. We don’t cover up and hide the sin, we bury and hide God’s glorious love and mercy.
We rob ourselves of forgiveness, of the healing and restoration God has promised us. We rob ourselves of being right with God, of knowing His love and presence. As De Sales teaches, why should we embrace a spiritual death, when our remedy is so at hand? When that remedy is the body and blood of Jesus, given and shed for you, that this covenant promise would be yours – that you would be righteous, innocent and holy, being freed from sin.
Paul’s words in Hebrew echo again here – run to Jesus, for if e neglect such a great salvation, what else is there? And if we are neglecting it because we don’t want to deal with sin, what is there?
The challenge is presenting this, not as the choice between wrath and paradise, for that is not the primary purpose of forgiveness. That purpose is so that we can know, that we can be assured that God is our God, that we are His people, that we are in fellowship, a deep intimate relationship that is based on the deepest of love. His love which doesn’t ignore our sin, but heals us. That was His plan throughout the Old Testament (read the dedication of the Temple if you don’t believe me) and is fully revealed in Jesus in the new.
Which is why Chemnitz follows his comments about Marcion with the beautiful, intimate description of our dwelling in the Word of God (that is, Jesus) as a baby dwells in the uterus. Safe, secure, nourished, until we find the day where glory shines… and all that is God is revealed.
Til then, we dwell in His peace. Amen!
Chemnitz, Martin, and Jacob A. O. Preus. Loci Theologici. electronic ed. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1999. Print.1885. Print.
Francis de Sales, Saint. An Introduction to the Devout Life. Dublin: M. H. Gill and Son,
Devotional Thought of the Day:
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 3:17-19 (NLT)
16 Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I wasn’t even aware of it!” 17 But he was also afraid and said, “What an awesome place this is! It is none other than the house of God, the very gateway to heaven!” Genesis 28:16-17 (NLT)
2 Just as the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the LORD surrounds his people, both now and forever. Psalm 125:2 (NLT)
470 Our Lord sent out his disciples to preach, and when they came back he gathered them together and invited them to go with him to a desert place where they could rest… What marvellous things Jesus would ask them and tell them! Well, the Gospel is always relevant to the present day. (1)
Last night, as we studied the passage we are preaching on this week I began thinking of the question that is the title of this post. I meet with several guys and we work together on the Bible passage for this week, which was talking about the struggles in this life are nothing compared to the glory that is awaiting us. It also talks about the presence of the Holy Spirit being the foretaste of that glory. This morning, my devotional readings included all three passages above, further fueling the thoughts and the need to meditate on this – and share it here.
We have the Spirit of God dwelling in us, therefore the places we stand and sit, as plain and simple as they are, are holy ground. But do we realize it? Do we realize that God surrounds us, His people – now and forever, Do we realize that as God makes His home in us, as we come to know the measure of His love, may we begin to really live?
Will we rest in Christ, and find the peace our souls depend upon, even as our bodies depend on food? Will we struggle with the concept of an incarnate God in our lives? Will we learn to depend upon His presence the way we depend on oxygen in the air we breathe?
A way to ask that is the title – do we expect to treat God in heaven the way we do now?
Will we forget about His presence, will we do what we want, will we go days without thinking of Him, talking to Him, hearing His voice as we meditate on His word? Will we keep Him at a distance, fighting with others for the furthest row from His presence? Or will will be in awe of the glory He shares with us? Will we run to Him, will we rejoice as He welcomed us, His children, into His presence?
Will our relationship change, and if so, why isn’t it changing already?
Look again at the above readings, what will change about the relationship, except perhaps that what we know, will also be what we see?
I pray that we would enjoy the presence of the Holy Spirit and the Love of God, that we are in awe at the thought of eternity with Him!
(1) Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 2066-2069). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
The Holy Spirit’s View: Looking forward to Jesus Being Born of Mary
Luke 1:26-38 & Joel 2:27-32
† In Jesus Name †
May you know the presence of the Holy Spirit, given to you in your baptism, by whose power you bring Christ into other’s lives!
Understanding the Holy Spirit?
As we’ve journey this advent, we’ve seen passages that we could see the Father’s vision for Christ’s coming, and the incredible desire He has for people to become His children. Then last week, we saw this same desire in Christ, who set aside every right, every privilege and all the glory of heaven to come down into our mess, and die on the cross to cleanse us and bring us peace.
This week is more of a challenge, as we look at the Holy Spirit. For in scripture, we don’t directly hear the Spirit. We see it in action, in Genesis, in the Tabernacle, in the Temple, guiding people’s lives, inspiring apostles and prophets and those who penned the scriptures.
So this night, our lesson is a little harder to hear, but we can take a look of the Holy Spirit in action – to see a model of how God works, and then understand how He has planned to work in our lives.
it was for this reason that the early church often spoke of Mary, and held her up as an example of faithfulness, but as well, they held her up as an example of God’s relationship with His people, the church.
Mary on whom the Holy Spirit would come upon, who would bring the Savior into a broken world.
How did the Holy Spirit work with Mary
In our gospel reading, we see some insights into the young lady. Our scriptures tell us that she was confused and disturbed, by the words of the Angel, who informed her that she would be blessed.
Over and over scripture tells us she pondered the things that were happening, the things that were said in her heart. Can you imagine? How will this all work out? Finding it not a dream, but finding herself pregnant, having to explain this to parents and to Joseph. Then undertaking journeys, first to Elizabeth, then with Joseph to Nazareth.
This last song describes, I think, some of what she could have been thinking.
Frightened, not only by being pregnant, but knowing her child was the hope of Israel, the one through whom all peoples would be bless… and her cry for God’s mercy. Imagine trying to figure out why God chose her, and relying on God for the strength to endure.
These aren’t things normal to us, for fear of what God would have us do, how to step out in faith and obey His call isn’t something we do easily. Nor is depending on Him when the road is strange.
She was able to, and to ponder and treasure all that happened in her heart….
Because the Spirit of the Lord was with her…
These are the Ancient promises
You know, we hear these Christmas stories, we know who is who in the nativity figurines, we can hear Linus repeating the Christmas Story almost by memory. But do we see them as models of God’s handiwork? A model that is replicated in each one of us?
Of course, none of you are going to give birth literally to the Messiah, but God has called each one of you into a relationship – by which Christ does involve Himself in our world, and the world of those around us. These Ancient Words, these promises, what theologians call types – Mary is no different than any of us, someone who struggled with questions, and fears, and yet heard the voice of God. As such, she is a good example for us to look at – to realize how God works.
In our baptism – the same Spirit that came upon her, came upon us. The Holy Spirit – the Breath of Heaven, is given to us, dwells with in us, and bring the light of Christ into a world just as desperate, just as broken, as the world Mary lived in.
That is what Peter was talking about when he quoted Joel on Pentecost.
Then you will know that I am among my people Israel, that I am the LORD your God, and there is no other. Never again will my people be disgraced. 28 “Then, after doing all those things, I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your old men will dream dreams, and your young men will see visions. 29 In those days I will pour out my Spirit even on servants—men and women alike.
God is among us, God is here.
Because He is here, we know we will never be disgraced, never again be shamed. He is here, to bind our brokenness, to restore us, to bring us life and joy, to give us the vision of our abiding with Him always. He destroys our fears with His love and light of His glory, with the love that we know is here, that we see in each others eyes, that we hear as we tell each other that God is Immanuel, that God is with us.
Such are the words of the Holy Spirit, given to us,
For that is His role, according to Paul, to empower us, to bring us to life that we can rejoice in the Father’s love, demonstrated to us.
It is what He inspired prophets of old to prophecy about – as the Spirit dwelt in them, and the apostles as well. It is why he would come upon this young lady named Mary, and why she would give birth to God.
And why we are here…ready to know God is with us, and bear Christ to a world that so needs Him to take their burdens…
Even as we place ours in His hands again…
And live in a peace we can’t describe, secure and safe because God is guarding us… AMEN?
- A Celtic Advent: The Trinity’s Look Towards Christ’s Birth (justifiedandsinner.com)
- A Celtic Advent: Looking at God’s Expectations about Jesus Birth (justifiedandsinner.com)
- Celtic Advent II: Jesus’ Thoughts on the Incarnation (justifiedandsinner.com)