The Power of Imagination
Matthew – 22:15-22
† In Jesus Name †
May the grace of God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ revive and renew you, as it did on the day you were baptized! And may you see what God has image’ined you to be!
The Hot Sauce Experiment
I am not sure who tried the experiment first, but it was all the rage in high school, a long, long time ago. ( Maybe before Danny was born?)
You took a penny… and old penny you could not determine which side had Lincoln’s image, and which was the and put it in Del Taco hot sauce, and a day later… it was shinier than brand new! (Results of current test if possible)
The reason I bring this up, is that God has a vivid imagination…..
And He does an even better job that Del Taco in creating us to be that image… not matter how we have been aged by sin, and the brokenness of this world. He imagines us clean, revived, and an image of us that we might not even recognize, were we to see our lives the way He does!
And we get to see that imagination at work today, as Noelle is baptized!
The Image corrupted….
As the Pharisees and followers of Herod plot to trick Jesus, they thought they had him. One, the conservative religious folks, with the a-religious secular leaders of the day. They had the question that would trap him, one answer would lead him to be condemned by one, the only other answer they thought of would lead him to be condemned by the other.
They had him!
And he flipped the question around, and if they heard the answer, they would realize they were both caught….
Give to God what belongs to God.
Give what to God what is made in His image!
Did you know we were made in God’s image?
All of us.
From the youngest of us, to the oldest. Does not matter if we are retired, work, or go to school. Doesn’t matter the color of our skin, or how many tattoos or scars are on our Body. Nothing matters, for what God will reveal us to be is in His image.
Doesn’t even matter how much that image has been obscured by sin. Idolators, those who use Jesus name like a cuss word, those who don’t take time for God, those who dishonor their parents, those who murder, have been unfaithful to their spouse, or unfaithful to who they will be are cleansed. Those who cheat and steal, those who gossip, and those who are jealous and try to get what others are given, all of them…
Forgiven, cleansed, Revived and made alive in Christ!
God is far more effective than hot sauce!
Give to God…what is made in His image.
One of the things that I realized as I read through this, this time, is that Jesus is speaking to the leaders – and He is telling them to give to Him all they are responsible for, who were made in the image.
In this case, this is what Danny and Christy, and this church is doing today, as we baptize Noelle! We are testifying that Noelle is made in the image of Jesus, that God created her, and in His imagination, she would be His perfect child. Nate and Nicky – you are as well! Christy – you were once baptized here, and Danny.
Each one of you – each one here who believe and is baptized will be in heaven, every single sin forgiven, because Jesus died on the cross to restore the image we were created in… who God, with all His glorious imagination, created us to be…
May Noelle, and every one of us remember that… every day when we think of our baptism, and look in the mirror, and realize we are God’s kids!
Now lets get to the good part!
The Baptism of Noelle
Devotional Thought of the Day:
14 My friends, while you are waiting, you should make certain that the Lord finds you pure, spotless, and living at peace. 15 Don’t forget that the Lord is patient because he wants people to be saved. 2 Peter 3:14-15 CEV
Prayer cannot be reduced to the spontaneous outpouring of interior impulse: in order to pray, one must have the will to pray. Nor is it enough to know what the Scriptures reveal about prayer: one must also learn how to pray.
But we still cannot change God, can we? No, we cannot. But is that why we pray? To change omniscient Love? Isn’t it rather to learn what it is and to fulfill it? Not to change it by our acts, but to change our acts by it.
To be sure, God’s name is holy in itself, but we pray in this petition that it may also be holy for us.
Time for some honesty.
I am struggling through my devotional time this morning. Too many distractions, phone calls, texts, emails. Add to that the weariness of 202 days of COVID. Back pain worse than usual adds to the total, not to mention grief and stressors that are there. I feel like I am in a deep fog…spiritually.
This is where I need to be, oddly enough, still trying to pray, and meditate, searching for my Lord’s voice, eventually, this is where my heart will find its rest.
Part of my mind hears other, save yourself for work, you have tasks to do. I’ve been mocked by others, who say they don’t need such a time, they pray throughout the day, holding conversations on the fly. I’ve got others who see no pragmatic reason for prayer, since God is all knowing, all powerful and what He does is for our best anyway. (Assuming of course that we love Him and are called according to His purposes. ) So if we can’t change what God’s going to do… why bother?
It’s time to breathe. to slowly and simply pray, to e quiet, and realize where I stand is holy ground – as is the place where you are standing. We aren’t professional prayers, there will be days of struggle. God knows that too, that is why there is the Holy Spirit there to comfort us, to empower us, to help us find the will and desire to keep seeking, to keep struggling to hear His voice.
in that process, God will strip away everything that divides us from Him. The anxiety, the grief, the pain will help sharpen the focus, and the sin will drift away. Been through this cycle enough to know this, even as I am stuck in it once again.
God is here, He sees us, and is working even now… and knowing His patience and desire guarantees that I am not alone in this struggle. that I am not alone in working on this moment.
He is here, so I can pick up the tablet again, and read His word, and see the stories of those who struggle as well. Struggle though I may, I know He struggles with me.
Lord, please don’t only have mercy on us, reveal that mercy clearly! AMEN!
Catholic Church, Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd Ed. (Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1997), 637. (#2650)
Peter Kreeft, The God Who Loves You (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2004), 147.
Theodore G. Tappert, ed., The Book of Concord the Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. (Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press, 1959), 346.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
You people aren’t faithful to God! Don’t you know that if you love the world, you are God’s enemies? And if you decide to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God. 5 Do you doubt the Scriptures that say, “God truly cares about the Spirit he has put in us”? James 4:4-5 CEV
1002 To save mankind, Lord, you died on the Cross. And yet for one mortal sin you condemn a man to a hapless eternity of suffering. How much sin must offend you, and how much I ought to hate it!
I have to wonder, do we hate sin?
Do we hate any and all idolatry?
Do we hate it when people use God’s name (or titles) as cuss words, or damn others with it, or just don’t call on Him?
Do we hate it wen people don’t take time to find the rest and recovery they need, for God is their fortress? Do we get righteously angry when others steal that time that others are supposed to spend with God?
Do we hate it when people dishonor their parents, or rebel against any parental authority over them?
Do we hate it when people hurt others? What about when they refuse to help others in need? Others that God put in their life, so they could help them?
Do we hate it when people try to break up marriages, or say that marriage isn’t needed, that it isn’t a gift? Or take advantage of others for personal gain?
Do we hate it when people become victims of others, when their livelihoods are taken?
Do we hate it when people have their reputations damaged, either by lies, or by a presentation of their faults that was specifically meant to hurt them?
What about when people are envious, when people want what others have, more than they are happy that God entrusted them with that blessing?
These are hard questions, but what happens if we don’t ask them?
And one final question,
If we don’t hate sin, how can we truly rejoice in the mercy that forgives them at the cost of Christ’s death?
Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge . Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional Thoughts for 9/11:
14 We are people of flesh and blood. That is why Jesus became one of us. He died to destroy the devil, who had power over death. 15 But he also died to rescue all of us who live each day in fear of dying. Heb 2:14-15 CEV
We doubt God’s love when we see and feel all the sufferings that our freedom to sin has brought upon us. Like Dostoyevski’s Grand Inquisitor in The Brothers Karamazov, we prefer happiness to freedom. We wish God had given us less freedom and had guaranteed that we would stay in Eden forever. We wish that He had put up a sign saying “No snakes in the grass”, that He had given no law that we could ever have chosen to disobey.
I was in Del Taco, the one on 29 Palms Highway, the one from which you can see Yucca Valley High School. I had just placed my order, and heard people gasp. I rounded the corner. and froze.
And we, along with millions of others, watched as thousands died.
I don’t remember what I ordered, or if I ate it. I was supposed to go play golf on the base golf course, that would be cancelled. I drove to my church, threw open the doors, let 107.7 know people could come and pray…. and they did.
19 years later, the memories, along with many of the people I’ve stood by the bedside of, as they died. Many of those times are passing before me this morning. Some people were at peace, others not so much. All, along the journey, questioned God about the suffering that they, or the loved ones they cared for endured.
Why does it have to exist? Why couldn’t god just leave us in paradise, and make it impossible for us to sin? Impossible for us to suffer, impossible to…die. Why do we fall for temptation, again and again? Why do we have to suffer the consequences of the freedom God has given us all? Why did Adam and Eve fall for the lie that all freedom is good? Oh the power of that lie! Oh the damage that freedom can wreak… for freedom means that we often choose that which leads to death. Our death, or others.
Wouldn’t we be happier if God just programmed us perfect, and we knew no freedom, but only happiness? If we knew naive bliss, but not how love is still love in the midst of our brokenness? Would it not be nirvana if there was no war, no discrimination, no terrorism, no death?
Perhaps it would, but nirvana is but emptiness, it is the emptiness, the lack of self, and while this may seem peaceful, it misses out on what truly creates and sustains peace. It lacks the thing we need to know the most
The kind of love that brings peace in the midst of suffering and death. The kind of peace that has us give up control, but in order that God’s love may be revealed to be in control. The kind of love that rescues us from the fear of dying, by reminding us for the promise of heaven.
Kreeft finishes the paragraph above with this,
Mere kindness or compassion would keep us protected against suffering by denying us real freedom. That is the love we have for pets but not for persons, at least not persons we really respect. We are not meant to be God’s pets. He did not create us for that. We are to be God’s lovers.
We aren’t not God’s pets, His naive, companions. Who wants a scratch behind the years, or a treat when we behave right, and ask to go out rather than leaving a puddle on the kitchen floor. We are the bride who will cry on His shoulders, who will depend on His strength to get us through life,e who will sing His praises, for eternity is more than death… and even in the times of death, those who know Him, can know His peace. We need the Holy Spirit to come, and to comfort us, in the midst of terrorism, amid the brokenness of a country torn apart by disease, or sin, or natural disaster. We need to find something so amazing that we can leave the painful emptiness behind, in view of the amazing love.
That is why people ran into First Christian Church on 9/11. That is why they cried at the altar, and why they could leave… still distraught, still not believing, but knowing that God was with them, and therefore knowing peace on a horrendous day.
Peter Kreeft, The God Who Loves You (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2004), 116–117.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
18 Zion, deep in your heart you cried out to the Lord. Now let your tears overflow your walls day and night. Don’t ever lose hope or let your tears stop. 19 Get up and pray for help all through the night. Pour out your feelings to the Lord, as you would pour water out of a jug. Beg him to save your people, who are starving to death at every street crossing. Lamentations 2:18-19 (CEV)
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)
Give me a candle of the Spirit, O God, as I go down into the deeps of my being. Show me the hidden things, the creatures of my dreams, the storehouse of forgotten memories and hurts. Take me down to the spring of my life, and tell me my nature and my name. Give me freedom to grow, so that I may become that self, the seed of which You planted in me at my making. Out of the depths I cry to You…
That is why the Song of Songs has been the favorite book of the Bible for so many saints: it lifts the curtain a little and lets us in on the divine secret behind the scenes, the point of the play we are in. All the other stuff in the play—all the war and suffering and death and law and punishment and spy stuff, all the stuff that seems so different from a love story—is part of the love story. It is in the love story as darkness is in a picture or a novel or a musical composition. The contrasting strokes set off the main theme, the villain sets off the hero, the dissonant chords set off the higher harmony of the whole.
20 Likewise the term “vivification,” that is, being made alive, has sometimes been used in the same sense.3 For when the Holy Spirit has brought a person to faith and has justified him, a regeneration has indeed taken place because he has transformed a child of wrath into a child of God and thus has translated him from death into life, as it is written, “When we were dead through our trespasses, he made us alive together with Christ” (Eph. 2:5). “He who through faith is righteous shall live (Rom. 1:17).
As I look at the above quotes, and the prayer which shall end this, all quotes from my devotional reading this morning, I almost feel like God is double-daring me to trust in Him, to depend on Him and take a deep plunge into the darkness of life. Maybe He is even, to quote a former pastor of mine, double-dog daring me to do so.
Appleton (in purple) would say it is only there that I can truly cry out for mercy. Kreeft would indicate that I need to read that part of the story, as if there in our depths, we find that dimension of God’s love, a love deeper than our deepest darkness. And there, in the place of spiritual and emotional death, we find that God breathes life into us, that Revival has to happen at THAT point.
This is the place of Jeremiah’s cry as well, the place of tears overflowing, the place where we aren’t to lose hope, but we aren’t to let our tears stop either. It is the place where we are to pour out in our prayers, all though the night, our emotions.
Of course, we children of the Enlightenment, we descendants of rationalism back away from such a challenge. Tears change little we’ve learned, in fact they only reveal our brokenness, our weakness, our need.
Which is exactly what we need, it is part of how God revives us, it is how He renews His church. For these scars, revealed in the darkness by His glorious light, transform those scars, much as the wounds in the ankles and wrists, upon the back and in the scalp of Christ reveal His glory to us.
Perhaps that is what will come out of this time of COVID, and therefore we should be thankful. For they show a unique way to the Christ, and as His blood heals us, to the Father. Which brings up just about the only thing from my devotions, that I haven’t quoted, from Spurgeon, “If we cannot get sinners where Jesus is by ordinary methods we must use extraordinary ones. It seems, according to Luke 5:19, that a tiling had to be removed, which would make dust and cause a measure of danger to those below, but where the case is very urgent we must not mind running some risks and shocking some proprieties. Jesus was there to heal, and therefore fall what might, faith ventured all so that her poor paralysed charge might have his sins forgiven. O that we had more daring faith among us!
This is the lesson for this day, the thoughts that God in His mercy, is merciful here, in the midst of pain, in the midst of the depth of darkness, in the place where if we can pray, it is only because we find someone else’s words, such as the Lord’s Prayer or those from the wounded healer below.
He is here, the tears that pour out, let them. Realize the darkness is but to show us the love of God in a way that doesn’t make sense, for nothing in the darkness truly does. But there, God will breathe life into you and I, and the sufferings are a small part of the glory we will know, as He comes to us.
So if you are in the place, pray with me these words composed by someone else who has been there.
Lord Jesus, my Saviour, Your hands and feet are marked with the wounds of Your crucifixion. In Your risen body, Your wounds have not been taken away, but are part of Your glory. May they remind me that my own wounds are not roadblocks on the way to the Father, but are there to show me my own unique way to follow You, the suffering Christ. Assure me that my wounds, too, will be glorified in my own resurrected life. Amen.
And know, the Lord is with you!
George Appleton ( Celtic Daily Prayer – Daily devotion for 9/7 – https://www.northumbriacommunity.org/offices/morning-prayer/ )
Peter Kreeft, The God Who Loves You (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2004), 112.
Theodore G. Tappert, ed., The Book of Concord the Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. (Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press, 1959), 542.
C. H. Spurgeon, Morning and Evening: Daily Readings (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1896).
Devotional Thought of the Day:
8 “So now, with God as our witness, and in the sight of all Israel—the LORD’s assembly—I give you this charge. Be careful to obey all the commands of the LORD your God, so that you may continue to possess this good land and leave it to your children as a permanent inheritance. 9 “And Solomon, my son, learn to know the God of your ancestors intimately. Worship and serve him with your whole heart and a willing mind. For the LORD sees every heart and knows every plan and thought. If you seek him, you will find him. But if you forsake him, he will reject you forever. 10 So take this seriously. The LORD has chosen you to build a Temple as his sanctuary. Be strong, and do the work.” 1 Chronicles 28:8-10 (NLT2)
865 He came on earth because omnes homines vult salvos fieri, he wants to redeem the whole world. While you are at your work, shoulder to shoulder with so many others, never forget that there is no soul that does not matter to Christ!
David’s words to Solomon are worth looking deeply into, they are the words he gives, as he hands over the Kingdom. Of great importance to David is the building of the Temple, the building of the place were God would put His name, that people may know they are forgiven, where they may find they are still His people. Not just the people of Israel, but people who are foreigners, who are strangers, who are…different.
When David talks of God’s commands, he is not talking merely about the “do” and “do nots” found in Scripture. He is talking about all that God established, all the God called into existence. He is not just talking about the covenant terms, but the promises. He’s not just talking about the curses, but about the blessings, especially the blessing of God making us His people.
That is why David talks about us knowing God intimately, for only in that relationship can we understand that God is about far more than obedience to the laws, that He is about knowing us, and us knowing Him. It is then that the laws slide away, that our brokenness is laid into His hands. THat every soul matters to Jesus, that He would, through His church, draw all people to the Father.
Walk with Him, let Him draw out of you everything that has poisoned your life, that has turned you away from Him. As He draws you to Him, seek Him, knowing His love will see you through, even as it cleans and heals you.
This is why David so badly wanted to build the temple, why it was his son’s greatest duty and work. Not for the edifice, but that people could know God the Father, drawn to Him by Jesus. May we see the same done today!
Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge . Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional Thought for Today:
1 First of all, I ask you to pray for everyone. Ask God to help and bless them all, and tell God how thankful you are for each of them. 2 Pray for kings and others in power, so that we may live quiet and peaceful lives as we worship and honor God. 3 This kind of prayer is good, and it pleases God our Savior. 4 God wants everyone to be saved and to know the whole truth, which is, 5 There is only one God, and Christ Jesus is the only one who can bring us to God. Jesus was truly human, and he gave himself to rescue all of us. 6 God showed us this at the right time.
1 Timothy 2:1-6 (CEV)
“I think more of the place where I was baptized than of Rheims Cathedral where I was crowned. It is a greater thing to be a child of God than to be the ruler of a Kingdom. This last I shall lose at death but the other will be my passport to an everlasting glory.” (St. Louis IX, King of France)
746 From there, where you are working, let your heart escape to the Lord, right close to the Tabernacle, to tell him, without doing anything odd, “My Jesus, I love You”. Don’t be afraid to call him so—my Jesus—and to say it to him often.
In the same spirit of humility he directed in his will that the following inscription and noting more should be vut on his gravestone:-
WILLIAM CAREY, BOTRN AUGUST 17th, 1761.: DIED-
“A wretched, poor, and helpless worm…on Thy kind arms I fall.”
The king and the missionary knew the same thing.
They understood what truly mattered in life. Both had amazing successes, and failures beyond imagination. They were known and loved by some of those they served, and hated by others. Neither was perfect, yet both knew what mattered in their life, to the extent that I would hold their words up to you, and ask you to come to similar conclusions.
The same conclusion that St. Josemaria urges us, even as we work diligently, to let our hearts escape into God’s presence, and declare boldly, “my Jesus…”
You see that is what the great missionary to India meant, as he fell into the arms of Christ. Nothing else in his life was worth recognizing, save that. The King, choosing more important the moment where the Father unites him to Jesus, in the death and resurrection of Christ, (see Romans 6, Colossians 2) says the same thing.
Everything that is critical in life boils down to to that point, where Jesus makes us His people.
This is what we need to pray, that as God is revealed to people, that they know His love, and His mercy, so shown to us at the cross.
It is the presence of God that we need in our lives. That is where everything changes. To realize that is what Jesus gave up to gain for us, to be welcome there in the presence of the Father, to be drawn into the glorious love in which the Trinity dances, this is everything.
That is the point of the religion we call Christianity. Not to just explore where we have come from as humanity. Not just to reign in behavior, teaching people how to be good to each other.
Our purpose is that everyone, from people in France and India, clergy and politicians and those they lead, know the miracle of being welcome into the presence of God!
This is why we pray for people, surely asking for God to help them in their times of being challenged, but that they might now Him as well.
So my friends pray for all… and pray they come to know the living Lord Jesus, and then together with Louis, and Josemaria, and William, find the peace that passes all understanding, as we experience the Love that goes beyond explanation.. and know I pray you know this too!.
Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge . Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Spurgeon, Charles. Morning and Evening – Morning, August 29, Logos Edition
Devotional Thought of the Day:
1 If our faith is strong, we should be patient with the Lord’s followers whose faith is weak. We should try to please them instead of ourselves. 2 We should think of their good and try to help them by doing what pleases them. 3 Even Christ did not try to please himself. But as the Scriptures say, “The people who insulted you also insulted me.”Romans 15:1–3 (CEV)
Instead, it took half a lifetime to appreciate, through a million experiments, every one of which proved the same result: that the way to happiness is self-forgetful love and the way to unhappiness is self-regard, self-worry, and the search for personal happiness. Our happiness comes to us only when we do not seek for it. It comes to us when we seek others’ happiness instead.
Happiness has an odd synonym, Or perhaps not a synonym, but a word that is so intimately related to it that they can’t be divided.
Happiness and self-denial.
We see that in the fact that it was for the joy set before Him that Jesus endured the suffering on the cross. We see it in the appeal to Christliness – and the definition of Jesus who age it all up in Philippians 2. We see the same thing in Paul’s words to the church in Rome that appears above. As we are patient (long-suffering is a better transition) with those who are weak, we are focusing on their joy, on their contentment, on their ability to experience the love of God.
That doesn’t mean we condone their weak faith, but we put their growth as more important than ours.
We seek their best interests, we look to strengthen their faith, and in doing so, we find the joy we need. As Kreeft points out, forgetting self in the cause of love is key to joy, the key to happiness.
I know this to be true, as I see people amid suffering, and watch they grow in their faith as the Holy Spirit comforts them as they realize God’s peace. Seeing this happen is the greatest and most enjoyable of blessings.
It is why I love to share the Lord’s Supper, the Eucharist. When I see people realize the incredible blessing they’re receiving, it makes everything else worth it. It’s when I hear that the Holy SPirit’s comfort is helping people through what they are going thru and that a simple word, or just being there helps them, this too is something that is a blessing.
It is the real reason why some pastors work more, ot have more opportunities to see God at work in people’s lives.
A warning about all this is in order.
Don’t just try and start living sacrificially on your own strength. It will burn you out. And examine yourself regularly, make sure you haven’t begun to live sacrificially on your own strength – you will burn out, and even develop a martyrdom complex.
Note that Paula advised this for those stronger in the faith – trust in God is the only way to accomplish this. We have to depend on Him for the joy, as well as the strength to do this, it is our intimate relationship with Jesus, that unity as we are drawn and united to His death and resurrection that makes self-sacrifice not only necessary but the great blessing it is.
He is our joy, and seeing others find that joy and the peace that comes with it can only be done as we are there with Him.
So you want joy, spend time with the Lord of life, the ord of Life, and as you do, you will be transformed, and love in a sacrificial manner as He did.
Lord, help us find life in Christ and find the joy He knew. AMEN
Peter Kreeft, The God Who Loves You (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2004), 16–17.
Devotional Thought for the day
I belong to God, and I worship him. Last night he sent an angel 24 to tell me, “Paul, don’t be afraid! You will stand trial before the Emperor. And because of you, God will save the lives of everyone on the ship.” 25 Cheer up! I am sure that God will do exactly what he promised. 26 But we will first be shipwrecked on some island. Acts 27:23-26 CEV
Christians have been making Peter’s mistake ever since, trusting in Caesar and chariots and horses and treaties and nukes and antinukes rather than in the love of God, the love on the Cross. This love is infinitely more powerful than and totally in control of all the forces that crucify it, all the chariots and horsemen, even the horsemen of the apocalypse.
Noah was so shut in that no evil could reach him. Floods did but lift him heavenward, and winds did but waft him on his way. Outside of the ark all was ruin, but inside all was rest and peace. Without Christ we perish, but in Christ Jesus there is perfect safety.
We go on to say: “Let your will be done in heaven and on earth.” We say this not so that God might do what he wishes, but that we should be able to do what God wishes
I do not know how I would react, if I was one of the sailors or passengers on the ship with Paul. Yeah, we’ll be safe – all of us – but the ship will be wrecked. I imagine that even Noah was a bit anxious as the floods lifted him higher than some planes normally fly.
It is no wonder that we want to trust our weapons, our country, and our ability to fight back. For how do we find peace in times of oppression, in times where we are persecuted and attacked.
Many communities are facing this – those who find that nothing has changed in the death of George Floyd, or David Dorn. Those whose streets are filled with plywood rather than windows, those who cannot even find a home, because they are refugees. Some places where seniors dwell together still live in great fear of COVID 19. We all live in fear, and turn to something, anything for protection. Just about everyone I have met is stressed, worried, and focused on surviving today.
I wish we could all have the faith of Paul, who not only was ready for the shipwreck but to testify in front of Nero.
Please understand, we advocate for justice – even when we have to ask forgiveness for the injustice we actually committed.
At the same time, we need even more to trust in the Lord, for whether our boat is lifted by the floodwaters, or crushed against the rocks, He is with us.
We need to be aware that the power that raised Jesus from the dead is at work in us, (Eph. 1:19-20) and that power is the love of God. That is why Kreeft makes the comment. “This love is infinitely more powerful than and totally in control of all the forces that crucify it,”
Even if crucified, even if killed, our life is there, hidden in Christ (Col. 3:1-4) and the power of death has already been defeated. That knowledge, that trust in God should empower us to work for justice, even as we do so peacefully, aware that He is stronger than the world.
So as Paul said, “Cheer up! Just a shipwreck ahead of you, and then a trial, but God will deliver exactly what is promised!”
Your salvation and mine. ANd the presence of God in this midst of the storm…. the God who loves you.
Lord, help us to depend on you as Paul did. Even thru the shipwrecks, and the trials, through the persecutions and oppression, and even our own death. Lord may Your will be cone in our lives… and help our seeing that cheer us up.
Photo by GEORGE DESIPRIS on Pexels.com
Peter Kreeft, The God Who Loves You (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2004), 212–213.
C. H. Spurgeon, Morning and Evening: Daily Readings (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1896).
Tertullian, Cyprian, and Origen, On the Lord’s Prayer, ed. John Behr, trans. Alistair Stewart-Sykes, Popular Patristics Series, Number 29 (Crestwood, NY: St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2004), 75.
Devotional thought fo the Day:
I don’t know what will happen to me in Jerusalem, but I must obey God’s Spirit and go there. 23 In every city I visit, I am told by the Holy Spirit that I will be put in jail and will be in trouble in Jerusalem. †24 But I don’t care what happens to me, as long as I finish the work that the Lord Jesus gave me to do. And that work is to tell the good news about God’s great kindness. Acts 20:22-24 CEV
Thinking of the love of God as something nice is forgetting that the love of God is the love of God. The awesomeness of God makes the love of God equally awesome. As Rabbi Abraham Heschel, a great Jewish theologian of the twentieth century, said, “God is not nice. God is not an uncle. God is an earthquake.” If you do not like that (one of my students responded to that quotation, “I prefer a God I can handle”; indeed!), then you do not like the love of God, for the love of God is also an earthquake, not an uncle’s love, but a Father’s.
“To die is a good thing. How can anyone with faith, at the same time, be afraid to die? But as long as the Lord wants to keep you here on earth, it would be cowardice for you to want to die. You must live, live and suffer, and work for Love: that is your task” (1037).
I wish I had Paul’s attitude.
I think I am far more like Jonah, who faced a difficult task and chose ot be cast overboard rather than do what God had called him to do.
The is a temptation to run and hid, even if that means embracing death for the wrong reason. For while we know, we are bound to heaven, even though we know God desires us there; eventually, it is not a place to escape the pain and suffering life brings.
We can’t be cowards, abandon our lot in life, and run away. No matter how tempting it may seem.
We have been called to share in the ministry of reconciling people to God. Every single one of us has a role in this. That means we have to be so sure of God’s presence, that we can enter their darkness, that we can break through the gates of hell and endure it, in order to be there and witness God’s love shattering their darkness.
God isn’t the kindly uncle, He is the Father who expects us to take on the family work, to embrace the suffering and pain it will require. To trust Him enough to hand over to Him the things we cannot understand or handle, freeing us to love those we minister too. We need to trust Him enough to let the Holy Spirit comfort us in our distress, as is promised.
That is the key, depending on His promises.
To know that even if we are heading toward imprisonment, or martyrdom, or simply the struggle of our lives, He is with us.
He will see us through. He will be with us through it all…
Lord Jesus, help us to know You, to experience Your love so deeply, that our trust in You overrides our ignorance, our doubt, our fears. Help us embrace the life You have created in us, and called us to live. AMEN!
Peter Kreeft, The God Who Loves You (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2004), 201.
Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge. Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.