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The Sin Absolutely NO ONE Wants to Talk About

Devotional Thought of the Day:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

28  Since they thought it foolish to acknowledge God, he abandoned them to their foolish thinking and let them do things that should never be done. 29  Their lives became full of every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, quarreling, deception, malicious behavior, and gossip. 30  They are backstabbers, haters of God, insolent, proud, and boastful. They invent new ways of sinning, and they disobey their parents. 31  They refuse to understand, break their promises, are heartless, and have no mercy. 32  They know God’s justice requires that those who do these things deserve to die, yet they do them anyway. Worse yet, they encourage others to do them, too. Romans 1:28-32 (NLT)

13  Then he added, “Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’ For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.” Matthew 9:13 (NLT)

28      Sometimes we hear love described (you’ll have heard me mention this more than once) as if it were a movement towards self-satisfaction, or merely a means of selfishly fulfilling one’s own personality. And I have always told you that it isn’t so. True love demands getting out of oneself, giving oneself. Genuine love brings joy in its wake, a joy that has its roots in the shape of the Cross.  (1)

In the first quote above, there is an incredible list of sins.  If you read the verses before the quote in Romans, there are more sins, more perversions of the relationships that God has blessed us with, in those He has brought in to our lives.

Some will talk of how horrible this sin is, how malignant that one, or that a specific one is an abomination.  Some of us will point out the entire list, indicating that gossip is as bad as any sexual sin, that breaking vows is as bad as murder.  We want sin confronted, the people chastised, preferably publicly!  We all have our pet peeves, those sins that need the full wrath of God poured out on them.  Often arguments are reduced to which sin is worse, which will receive the fullest wrath of God, even as each of us thinks our sin should even reduce the way our mansion in heaven is furnished.

In treating sin and those whose sin we condemn in such a way, we too sin.  I would draw your attention to the last sin in verse 31.  We have become people who are heartless (literally – we refuse to love our family) and we refuse to show mercy.

We refuse to forgive, we refuse to reconcile, we refuse to acknowledge each other as the adopted, cleansed, forgiven children of God whom have been given the gift of the Holy Spirit.  In refusing to show mercy to others, we deny the will of God, which is patient because we aren’t willing that any should perish, but that ALL should come to repentance, all should be reconciled, all should be invited to know the mercy and filial love that Christ has shown us.

In not forgiving, we are asking God to not forgive them, to bind that sin to them and make them face the wrath of God. In not forgiving, in not showing mercy, that is exactly what we are asking. We are denying the very heart of God.

Is showing mercy easy?  No.

Does loving people like they are our family (and in Christ they are, or can be) take the kind of sacrifice, the getting out of oneself that Escriva encourages us to do?  Yes, and it is hard, very hard.

So what that it is hard?

Yes…. that doesn’t negate the need to be merciful, nor to show people love.

We are merciful, because it is God’s desire, and because He has shown us mercy…..

and when we struggle, the aid is just a short prayer…..

Lord, have mercy a sinner!

  • Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 339-343). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Lord, I Believe You Will Do the Impossible… Help me trust you will!

Devotional Thought of the Day:God, who am I?

15  Simply proclaim the Lord Christ holy in your hearts, and always have your answer ready for people who ask you the reason for the hope that you have. 1 Peter 3:15 (NJB)

23  “What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.” 24  The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!” Mark 9:23-24 (NLT)

929         Don’t forget that we will be more convincing the more convinced we are. (1)

I’ve had a task to do, that I am not looking forward to handling.  Simply put, there are things we are called to do as believers that are impossible.

This is one of those.

The temptation is to really on our own wisdom, our own strength.  To force the issue, to pretend we are God, that all things can be fixed, with the “if only” caveat.  That caveat justifies failure, it allows us to walk away without having to admit the failure.  It allows us to walk away without feeling disappointment.

That caveat is the seed of our defeat, just like a prenuptial agreement is a danger sign in a marriage, because it leaves open the room for failure, and nearly guarantees it will happen. It puts the success or failure somewhere besides making us responsible for it, and therefore leaves out the one crucial ingredient for success.  The one ingredient?  Oh, you want to know what it is?

Jesus makes it known in the 2nd quote above.  If you believe, if you trust in God, if you know His heart well enough to base your life on it, even risk your life on it.

To which the man cries out a Kyrie Eleison – Lord have mercy – help me when I cannot trust.

Depend on Him.  That sounds simple, but it isn’t.  We have to know His desire, we have to understand the effort God will put into keeping his promises. We have to realize the depth of His love.  We have to know it – deeply in order to trust in it, even as this man had to trust that Jesus could heal his son.

It isn’t easy – but we can pray, we can communicate our need for something to booster our faith, we can admit we need His help – even to trust.

But when we do, patience comes naturally, peace flows, the impossible seems be have cracks of God’s probability shine through. We realize we can wait for it to happen, we realize that God will make all things work for good, we realize the power of mercy and forgiveness.

And we trust in His presence to make all the difference, and it does.

For He has promised – and He is faithful.

Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 3775-3776). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

I Got Nuthin… or do I? The Hard Lesson of Trusting

Devotional Thought of the Day:

 9  Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 10  That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (NLT)

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. Romans 5:3-5 (NLT)

883 You were consoled by the idea that life is to be spent, burned in the service of God. And spending ourselves entirely for him is how we shall be freed from death, which brings us the possession of Life. (1)

I am sitting in my office – contemplating the 6 sermons I will preach in the next 7 days.

I got nothing… the words on the paper, the studies I have done in preparation, all seem limited in view of the world that seems so…broken, so darkened.  So broken that even we who have been entrusted with the one thing that will bring change and hope, are too distracted, to eager to go on the offensive, whether it be about saying Merry Christmas and decorating our yards, or claiming our “rights”, or taking our stand against those who favor things we find abhorent, from child euthenasia being allowed now, to abortion, to bigamy to… name the sin, there are people defending their right to it, and those who trust in God saying tolerating that sin is the end of the world. That’s not mentioning real traumas, like bringing comfort and God’s peace to those who are missing loved ones, or seeing their relationships crumble, or dealing with financial crises.

6 sermons in 7 days?  Maybe 80-100 differemt people hearing them? How will that stem the tide?

As I look at the blank word document, I got nothing… I don’t have the words…I don’t even have the idea of where to begin.

O Come, O Come Immanuel… the words echo in my mind.

Yesterday I wrote that I want to get past wanting Him to come and save us, I want to want Him to come, so that we can rejoice in His presence, that we will finally be “united” with Him, face to face, in all of His glory.  I don’t just want Him to come to deliver us from the challenges of this world, of this time.

Yet maybe that is what Lent is about – looking both to what He delivers us from and what He delivers us to, from darkness to light, from sin to justice, from brokenness to glory. From loneliness to community. Maybe we have to know the evil, to recognize the incredible nature of what God is giving us, as He claims us as His children.  Maybe we need to know the barrenness of a Bethlehem Stable, to know the glory of the love revealed there, and on a rugged cross, to face our need for it, so that we realize the glorious, merciful, life changing love of God who dwells with us.

In the midst of the struggles of this life…in the midst of visions of how it is supposed to be, there is a need to trust the One who is with us, sterngthening us in our weakness, as we realize His love for us… These days help that  we have nuthin.. are great for strengthening that trust, that faith….

May we take the time to realize our brokenness.. so that we can recognize our healing. It is as the Psalmist wrote:

10  “Stop fighting,” he says, “and know that I am God, supreme among the nations, supreme over the world.” 11  The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.Psalm 46:10-11 (TEV)

You see, somethings when we realize we got nuthin, we realize we have His presence, His love, His mercy… we have HIm!  

And nothing can change that…

Lord Have Mercy on us!  I pray we grow in the trust that He has…

 

 

(1)  Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 3611-3612). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

A Blog of/for the Tired and Wondering if it all Matters…

English: Jesus Christ saving the souls of the ...

English: Jesus Christ saving the souls of the damned. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Discussion/Devotional Thought of the Day:

25  “If you decide for God, living a life of God-worship, it follows that you don’t fuss about what’s on the table at mealtimes or whether the clothes in your closet are in fashion. There is far more to your life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body. 26  Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds. 27  “Has anyone by fussing in front of the mirror ever gotten taller by so much as an inch? 28  All this time and money wasted on fashion—do you think it makes that much difference? Instead of looking at the fashions, walk out into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They never primp or shop, 29  but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them. 30  “If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? 31  What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. 32  People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. 33  Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. 34  “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.  Matthew 6:25-34 (MSG) 

 When you pray, but see nothing, and feel flustered and dry, then the way is this: don’t think of yourself. Instead, turn your eyes to the Passion of Jesus Christ, our Redeemer. Be convinced that he is asking each one of us, as he asked those three more intimate Apostles of his in the Garden of Olives, to “Watch and pray”.  (1)

This morning, I am a more than a bit anxious. more than a bit distracted, more than a bit pessimistic about life, and in someways, about the future.

I know part of it is being tired… a long day of driving yesterday… and still recovering from surgery.   Part of it is based on what seems to be overload from dealing with some very serious issues within my denomination and the direction it will head.  A direction that will very seriously impact the church’s mission of bringing Christ’ love and peace into the world seems to be the way we are being lead.  (I know God will work through others… He always His people get stubborn and centered on the wrong things… but I still grieve to see it)  And a million other details for which, post surgery, I know I am not ready to deal with, from the idea of strength. 

And looking at it all, I have to wonder whether it is worth it at all.  Whether the weakness and dryness I feel this morning, will ever be diminished.  I wonder if my “neither optimist or pessimist but let’s drink the liquid in the glass” will return.  

The fussiness seems to be dominant, (others versions use anxious or worried) easily distracting me from the peace that I know is ours. I have trouble seeing how the “everyday human concerns” and the concern for our churches will be dealt with, never mind how they will work for good for those God has called, those whom He loves.

I opened the wrong book for reading at the end of my devotions yesterday.  Meant to open “the Way”, opened on my Kindle, “the Forge” instead.  There was St. Josemaria’s quote, hitting me in the face.  This morning the gospel passage came to mind… and I know, in the midst of my despair, the hope that is always there.  I realize the promise are not in vain, even in the darkness of the day.  God is working, the cross is near, the resurrection and immanent as the incarnation.  And the gateways of Hell will not be able to stand against God’s will, against the truth that Jesus is the Chosen and Annointed One.. that He is our Savior, and the Lord who loves and cares for His people.

It’s enough… to help me to refocus, to remember that passion of Christ… to count on it… even when, especially when… the gettup and go… fails…………

“The Lord is with you!”  (exclamation intended) I will cry tomorrow… and know it today…

(1) Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 2717-2721). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Angels and Spiritual Warfare…it is not what we think!

Devotional thought of the day to be discussed.

This week in liturgical churches, we celebrate the Feast of St Michael and all Archangels.  (Yes even in Lutheran Churches – check your pericope!)

Now, with the obvious disclaimer that we do not worship these beings, we can and do interact with them.  Jesus talks about children having such angels in heaven, and we see one in action in the life of the prophet Daniel, and in the life of Moses. One such discussion is noted in the Epistle of Jude:

1:8 In the same way, these people—who claim authority from their dreams—live immoral lives, defy authority, and scoff at supernatural beings. 9 But even Michael, one of the mightiest of the angels, did not dare accuse the devil of blasphemy, but simply said, “The Lord rebuke you!” (This took place when Michael was arguing with the devil about Moses’ body.) Jude 1:8-9 (NLT)     

Herein lies a great challenge for us, for whether it be spiritual battle, or dealing with those that antagonize or berate us, we want to strike back accordingly.  We want to take justice into our own very creative hands, and trash those who hurt us, or more often, hurt others.  In doing so, we engage our own falseness, we do so in our weakness, we do so in a way, that is sure to find us defeated, demoralized, bitter, broken.   Or we come back that way, but disguised with a sense of triumphant joy.  “We showed them”, “we pounded them into the ground”, “Got’em!” we cry, and we fail to see that both they and we are bleeding from the fight.  There is no winner, just more division, more pain, and another battle to fight another day.

Michael the Archangel fought Lucifer in a different manner.  He didn’t go head to head – could he have?  Perhaps, but we will find that angels primary vocation is not to do battle.  We love to picture them, either as weak cherubs at valentines day – piercing hearts with arrows to cause love. (Interesting thought there -change the love from erotic to agape – that’s how the Holy Spirit works) or a valiant towering warriors with swords laced with purifying fire.  But scripture primarily talks of them in two ways.  One – bringing a message to God’s people.  Secondly, and this is really their place – before the throne of God. leading the hosts of heaven, with the 24 elders, adoringly declaring the praise of God.

So Michael, who like us was designed not for battle, but for worship and fellowship, keeps it simple.  “The Lord correct you!”   and the battle is over.

When we put justice into His hands.. the outcome of spiritual battles is assured.  Christ’s power simply overwhelms Satan’s, because Christ’s power is life, not death.  It is reconciliation of God’s people with God and each other, not division.   FOr someone used to living in the presence of God, the battle is simply a matter of turning it over to our Lord, who died on the cross, that no other need die, that no other need be broken.  It is when we realize this, that gathering together becomes more than a country club like gathering .

But to get to that place, means we have to let Christ deal with our own “demons”.  To break the power of sin and satan over us, for believers, to realize that is what happens in the sacraments, in baptism, as we feast, as we confess and are absolved.  Josemarie Escriva wrote well,

“You, who see yourself so badly lacking in virtues, in talents, in abilities… Do you not feel the desire to cry out like the blind Bartimaeus, “Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me!”? What a beautiful aspiration for you to say very often, “Lord, have pity on me!” He will hear you and come to your aid.”   Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 882-886). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

If we need to deal with our own pain which oppresses us, if our “personal demons” (which usually aren’t demons in the way we picture them) need to be dealt with, the cry of Kyrie Eleison, Lord have mercy, will see those “demons” rebuked and their hold broken, and our souls and heart and minds and bodies – freed to worship.  It is a prayer that God always answers, for the promise and fulfillment of the prayer is what the cross is always about.

So Lord, have mercy on us, rebuke that which oppresses us, help us live as Your body, your people.  AMEN

Willing to serve God? At what cost?

At one point in Jesus ministry, a lot of His followers abandoned Him, for they found what He taught about, to challenging the price to high.

We often talk of heroes of the faith in terms of what they’ve given up – the comforts of a modern home, being surrounded by friends and family, maybe even those who have given up the idea of having a spouse, so that they can spend more time ministering. (one church I was at sponsored such a lady who ran an orphanage in Hawaii)  We are amazed at the cost some people will pay, as they minister for Jesus at what appears to us – to be great cost.

We respond greatly to pleas from those who sacrifice, we fund their missions and ministries, we tell others of what they’ve done.  But how much are we willing to sacrifice?  Instead of money, what about time?  What about our pride, our dignity?

That question is a good one to ask, because it gets to what we’ve made idols in our lives quickly.  Ask a five year old to somewhere with Mommy and Daddy, and you will quickly find where his treasures lie!  But ask him which He loves more, get him to think about it… and the answer will change – and eventually the attitude as well  (Eventually)

The answer to the question of what is to high a cost to serve God can only be answered by first looking at our relationship with God – realizing His love, realizing His desire to know us, and the sacrifice He made… and realizing what we gain because of it.

When everyone found the cost of listening to Jesus teaching to high here is how St Peter answered a

6:67 Then Jesus said to the Twelve, ‘What about you, do you want to go away too?’ 68 Simon Peter answered, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the message of eternal life, 69 and we believe; we have come to know that you are the Holy One of God.’
John 6:67-69 (NJB)

May we, as we cry out “Lord Have Mercy” come to the realization that no cost is too high, for everything we are… is because of Him, and is His.

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