† Jesus, Son, Savior †
May the grace of God our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ keep you aware of the Spirit’s comforting, cleansing, empowering and guiding presence in your life!
Inventory Management Systems
Thirty-five years ago, I was the night shift manager at McDonalds. There was a lesson I learned there. A lesson I think we need to learn regarding our relationship with God.
And that lesson is the backbone of this sermon series, which I’ve titled “Inventory of Blessings”
We have to keep track of our assets. We have to know what we have to work with each day. At McDonalds, it was burger patties, bread, French fries and all the stuff that went with them. If you didn’t take inventory, you could have too much on hand, and it could go bad and cost the company money. If you don’t know you need to restock, and you run out of French fries—you lose not only sales—you lose your customer base.
While we can never have too many or too few blessings from God, we need to take inventory of them often, so we know what we have to depend on as we go through life. This is far more important than having enough burgers or filet-o-fish in the freezer!
We see King David doing such an inventory in Psalm 41 this morning. And it wasn’t as easy—but that is a good lesson for us to live as well.
- Look how great God Is!
He starts out well in verse 1, taking inventory of God’s work!
The Lord gives joy to those who help the poor
The Lord rescues those in trouble
The Lord protects them and keeps them alive.
The Lord gives removes all obstacles. (gives them prosperity)
The Lord rescues them from enemies
The Lord Nurses them when they are sick and restores them to health!
Wow—look at all the things David saw God doing for others! What an amazing thing it is, to see God at work in the lives of people around you! To see the God whose given His name (which we replace with Lord) as how His people are to know Him, at work in the lives of people, is a truly amazing thing.
What an amazing thing to know God in this way!
The more he considers, the closer he gets to praying a prayer that God desires to answer.
4 “O LORD,” I prayed, “have mercy on me. Heal me, for I have sinned against you.”
David reaches out and confesses his sin…he’s taken a huge step, trusting God to heal him of the damage sin causes. David entrusts his very life, and all its brokenness to God…
And at that moment… all hell breaks loose.
- Wait—my confession wasn’t supposed to be used against me!
David goes right from pleading for forgiveness to overwhelming paranoia.
But my enemies say nothing but evil about me. “How soon will he die and be forgotten?” they ask. 6 They visit me as if they were my friends, but all the while they gather gossip, and when they leave, they spread it everywhere. 7 All who hate me whisper about me, imagining the worst. 8 “He has some fatal disease,” they say. “He will never get out of that bed!” 9 Even my best friend, the one I trusted completely, the one who shared my food, has turned against me.
One problem that happens when we are entrusting our lives, including sin, to God, is demonic interference.
Satan and his demon horde would do anything to stop us from realizing how present and compassionate God our Father is! There are many games that can be played! One of the greatest is to get us to look at how the world condemns us for the sin that we just confessed!
David thinks, “How people would gossip about me!” They would meet out in the parking lot, or at the coffee shop and mock me. I can hear the exaggerations now!
It is not beyond reason to picture shame and guilt as demons, fighting to keep their claws hooked in our heart and soul, trying to convince us that the world hates us, not because of who we are, but because of what we thought, what we said, what we did.
Everything we saw God doing disappears in this fight!
Sometimes, that paranoia is right on!
That little line about those who are closest, those who eat with you, betraying you, is something most of us know, and deal with, as the deep wounds caused by loved ones turning against us…
Even Jesus felt those wounds, as all 12 of the apostles abandoned him at the cross. Two of the closest, Peter and Judas, abandoned him as clearly as King Saul and David’s son, Absalom, betrayed David.
And in the middle of dealing with all this, we sin again, having taken our eyes off of God. forgotten that we had cried out, and we miss His answer…
- It doesn’t matter He is here!
This is when we need to take inventory of God’s blessings the most.
That is when we need someone to say something we respond to with, “and also with you!”
We need to take inventory and remember our great asset is the presence of God Almighty in our lives. The God who brings us peace and comfort, whose presence gladdens our heart, who cares and protects us so well that we can sleep the night in true peace…
He is here!!
Remember all the things David saw do for others? He again asks God for mercy, and then they all come true for David.
Here how the psalm declares these praises:
10 LORD, have mercy on me. Make me well again, so I can pay them back! 11 I know you are pleased with me, for you have not let my enemies triumph over me. 12 You have preserved my life because I am innocent; you have brought me into your presence forever. 13 Praise the LORD, the God of Israel, who lives from everlasting to everlasting. Amen and amen!
David gets back to business. He cries out for God’s mercy and healing!
Look at verse 12 one more time: “12 You have preserved my life because I am innocent; you have brought me into your presence forever.”
David said this, and we can and should say it as well,
God, You have preserved my life because I am innocent; you have brought me into your presence forever.
That is the work of Jesus at the cross… because of His death, where our sin was nailed to the cross, we have entered, not will enter, have entered the presence of God—where we will dwell forever!
1 Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. 2 Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. 3 For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory. Colossians 3:1-4 (NLT2)
That is the day we are looking for, this day when our life in Christ is revealed to the whole world. When we see God, in whose presence we dwell….
Until then—take inventory often, realizing that you already dwell in His presence. He has cleansed you of sin, comforted and healed you! For this He has promised you…and promised you can help others realize these blessings… and praise God with them.
For you dwell in His presence and know His peace! AMEN!
Devotional Thought of the Day
18 And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. 19 For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. 20 So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” 21 For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:18-21 (NLT)
669 The co-redeeming—eternal!—efficacy of our lives can only become real with humility, passing unnoticed, so that others can discover Him.
Recently, the president of the United States was reported to have commented with harsh language about several countries. There is no doubt the phrasing he used was wrong. But there is also no doubt that those countries, much like our own, are broken.
Sin does that, and in some places, the sin is more evident to us, and to others, our sin is much more evident than theirs.
But rather than focus on the brokenness, both those backing our president and those opposing out president focus n the words of the message. I would not say the reason they d this is conscious and deliberate, but in focusing on the President’s phrasing, they are able to forget about the real problems in those countries and our own.
The brokenness, the sin that dominates our culture, whether it is corruption, or theft, or murder.
We would rather get mad, or get defensive about the word order than doing something about it
And these places, (including the USA) continue in their brokenness. And very few do anything about the problems. Which, in and of itself, is just as sinful, just as corrupt, and just as wrong.
St Josemaria wrote about the humility required to become effective, to have a real meaning to our lives. He talks about it from the point of our not caring about the credit we could receive, but rather being satisfied with only one goal, seeing people see God’s love for them. It doesn’t matter if I am the man baptizing them, or whether it is my Catholic priest or Methodist pastor friend. It doesn’t matter if it is my sermon that opens someone eyes to God’s love, or someone else’s.
All that matters is that they know God’s love and mercy. As they do, they will be changed by God, and their little area of the world will be filled with less skubala. (that’s is crap in Greek)
But humility doesn’t start with not caring who gets the credit. If it does, it could just be a nice excuse for apathy, and not working in the ministry God gave us all, the ministry of pleading with people to be reconciled.
Humility is found in our own reconciliation, in realizing the crap that we’ve got ourselves into, and that on Christ can reconcile us with the Father. He saved us from our crappy life, full of sin, and cleaned us up, and gave us life. As he doesn’t in just about every country in this world.
And He does it through us, the people He reconciled.
He shares this incredible work with us and makes it happen.
As we simply point to the cross and the empty tomb and invite people to know that is all for them. For Christ would unity with them there, as He did with us.
This is our hope, this is our joy, this is who we are meant ot be, working with people to see their lives change, and then to rejoice and see that every day. This is what makes our lives and communities a little less crappy…. and will do the same for the world.
The love of God, the power of God that would reconcile everything back to Him.
So rejoice in what God has done and is doing in your life, and pray for those who need reconciliation, and as you can, plead with them to let God do what God does… and then rejoice some more, in awe that God does work, and works through you!
Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge (Kindle Locations 2460-2462). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
devotional thought for these traumatic times
7 LORD, you have deceived me, and I was deceived. You are stronger than I am, and you have overpowered me. Everyone makes fun of me; they laugh at me all day long. 8 Whenever I speak, I have to cry out and shout, “Violence! Destruction!” LORD, I am ridiculed and scorned all the time because I proclaim your message. 9 But when I say, “I will forget the LORD and no longer speak in his name,” then your message is like a fire burning deep within me. I try my best to hold it in, but can no longer keep it back. Jeremiah 20:7-9 (TEV)
22 Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall. Psalm 55:22 (NIV)
214 Trust fully in God and have a greater desire each day never to run away from him.
There are days I want to run away from God. I have to be honest, there are days I just don’t get it, days that life hurts so much I wish I had the speed and the endurance to run from Him. When what happens in life doesn’t make sense, and there is really no one to blame….
I think Jeremiah had days like that, and probably King David (who wrote Psalm 139 in a deal of pain as well) did. Not everyone is as strong as St. Paul seemed to be.
Today is one of those days, and I expect I will feel the same way Monday evening… and for many to come. I know quite a few people are reacting the same way, which is why I dare write this, just as Jeremiah dared to write that God deceived him, tricked him, and it hurt because life just isn’t supposed to be like this.
Grief sucks, there is no doubt about it.
A man well acquainted with it, St. Josemaria, tells me not to run (convenient that was in my devotions this morning… ) He tells me not to desire to run, Jeremiah even says that if I do, God’s word, His message, the gospel, will burn a hole in me, or at least that’s what Jeremiah thought. I suppose we could even bring Jonah and Job into this, for they would say the same thing.
God will sustain us, He will help us cope with the burdens, the pain, the hurt…
And we need Him too.
The Lord is with us!
Lord, Have mercy on us!
These aren’t empty words, they are worth more to me than all the other words I type….
You need to hear them, my friends so need to hear them… I need to hear them…
So I will stay, and let them burn themselves into my heart, and soul, rather than my stomach…repeated often…
and praying for the strength to trust Him for them. Which He will provide as well.
Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge (Kindle Locations 932-934). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
21 “Believe me,” returned Jesus, “the time is coming when worshipping the Father will not be a matter of ‘on this hill-side’ or ‘in Jerusalem’. Nowadays you are worshipping with your eyes shut. We Jews are worshipping with our eyes open, for the salvation of mankind is to come from our race. Yet the time is coming, yes, and has already come, when true worshippers will worship in spirit and in reality. Indeed, the Father looks for men who will worship him like that. God is spirit, and those who worship him can only worship in spirit and in reality.” John 4:21 (Phillips NT)
17. In seminaries and houses of religious, clerics shall be given a liturgical formation in their spiritual life. For this they will need proper direction, so that they may be able to understand the sacred rites and take part in them wholeheartedly; and they will also need personally to celebrate the sacred mysteries, as well as popular devotions which are imbued with the spirit of the liturgy. In addition they must learn how to observe the liturgical laws, so that life in seminaries and houses of religious may be thoroughly influenced by the spirit of the liturgy.
18. Priests, both secular and religious, who are already working in the Lord’s vineyard are to be helped by every suitable means to understand ever more fully what it is that they are doing when they perform sacred rites; they are to be aided to live the liturgical life and to share it with the faithful entrusted to their care
The purpose of observing ceremonies is that men may learn the Scriptures and that those who have been touched by the Word may receive faith and fear and so may also pray.
When I was a child, my parents had a prayer meeting in our house, that lots of people attended. It was not unusual for a few priests, a brother, a couple of Baptist pastors and an Assembly of God pastor to be present. It was there I played guitar with Brother Michael, and there I learned to pray.
I also went to parochial school, and there we had masses and other services that were dedicated to God as well. I would often serve as an altar boy and played the organ as well. From those perspectives, I saw more of the mass and fell in love with the sacredness of it, even the parts I didn’t quite understand.
Since then, I’ve played and led praise bands, become a non-denomination pastor, then moved into the Lutheran Church where a form of the historic liturgy is our “style” of worship. And yet the lessons from the prayer meetings and non-denom worship leading play into the planning of worship as well.
As I read Vatican II’s words in green this morning, I saw them trying to unify the two streams of worship I have known. Starting with the pastoral training in seminaries, there must be part of that training that teaches the pastors and priests to worship God with all their heart, to understand and actively take part in the mysterion of God, to realize the Trinity is not just observing the mass, but participating in it.
Liturgy must be “lived” whether it is the historic liturgy or the common liturgy of prayer meetings and evangelical gathering. Those facilitating it must get caught up in it themselves, so that while they are aware of the people’s participation, they first are praising God for all He is, in their life.
It’s not about being the best musician, the best singer, the perfect reader of scripture, the perfect liturgist. ( We can add ushers, altar guild members, sound techs, parishioners) It is about knowing the presence of God in this place, of realizing the blessings He is pouring out, and responding with others, even helping them to do value this time with God.
These words we say, and in the liturgy they are all from scripture, are the words of God, scripture read and sang and breathed. They are the words of life that kept Peter and the apostles bound to Jesus when everyone else ran away. They are the words, as the Apology of the Augsburg Confession states. that touch us. That the Spirit uses to draw us into Christ, to develop in us a dependence on Him, and in that dependence, to pour out all we are upon Him.
This isn’t something I think we teach people to do in a lecture, or even in a sermon. It is something that is modeled and formed in them, and in order for that to happen, it must be modeled and formed in those who lead. Whether this is in a full liturgy, or in a back yard worship time that simply happens among friends.
God is with us, may we realize this, and help those who come to our churches, bible studies and prayer meetings realize it, and when they do, cry confidently, “Lord, have mercy on us”
Catholic Church. “Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy: Sacrosanctum Concilium.” Vatican II Documents. Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2011. Print.
Tappert, Theodore G., ed. The Book of Concord the Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press, 1959. Print
Devotional Thought fo the Day:
19 This, then, is how we will know that we belong to the truth; this is how we will be confident in God’s presence. 20If our conscience condemns us, we know that God is greater than our conscience and that he knows everything. 21And so, my dear friends, if our conscience does not condemn us, we have courage in God’s presence. 22We receive from him whatever we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him. 23What he commands is that we believe in his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as Christ commanded us. 24Those who obey God’s commands live in union with God and God lives in union with them. And because of the Spirit that God has given us we know that God lives in union with us. 1 John 3:19-24
386 You lack faith… and you lack love. Were it not so you would go immediately and much more often to Jesus, asking for this thing and that. Don’t delay any further; call out to him and you will hear Christ speaking to you: “What do you want me to do for you?” Just as when he stopped for that poor blind man by the roadside who continued to insist, without giving up.
To write on prayer is challenging.
In the first place, it is too personal, especially when considering St Josemaria’s words about pleading for this thing or that. Personal becomes I have, and sometimes been disappointed. It is also too personal, because some of the things I would ask, are well personal. Lord, help me with this temptation, Lord, help me with this that causes anxiety and fear to rise up within me. Not a lot of personal examples would I want to give,
The second reason is that there are two extremes when it comes to prayer. The first is those who express what is often mocked as “name it – claim it” theology. These are those who say you should pray like Jabez, and God will bless you with all forms of materialism, perfect families, perfect jobs, perfect health and absolute heaven on earth. The other extreme confronts this so callously that you would almost think they believe God doesn’t listen to any prayer, that God doesn’t care for His people here.
But there are passages, the blind man that St Josemaria points out, the unjust judge, the father who doesn’t give his son a stone or a viper, but gives him what is asked. The passages where Jesus invites us to cast all our cares on Him, all our burdens, where He tells us to ask and it will be given. God wants us to pray, including asking Him to care for us, but I think there is something more that we need to understand. If we don’t, then God is reduced to being a Genie in a bottle. ( I think sometimes we think we have to save up for those really big things, so we don’t give him the everyday stuff)
Here is the key, faith and love, the very things that unite us to God, the very things that bind us to Him. That is where prayer comes from, this close connection, this committed relationship. It is knowing we are loved and loving back, it is in knowing that God is faithful, trustworthy, completely dependable because He desires what it good for us. Prayer is realizing that in Him we live and breathe and have our very being, so this communication is only natural.
This allows the prayer to come out of the depths, the places in our hearts, soul, and mind where we fear to go. Prayer comes from the place that so needs His peace, to know He is our sanctuary, our deliverance. This is the astonishing depth of prayer, and it shows our trust in the love of God who has come to us and given us life.
It is there that “Lord, have mercy” is simple and yet comprehensive prayer to the one who has brought us into union with Himself, for we are His children.
Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge (Kindle Locations 1511-1515). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
13 Then some little children were brought to Him (Jesus), so that he could put his hands on them and pray for them. The disciples frowned on the parents’ action but Jesus said, “You must let little children come to me, and you must never stop them. The kingdom of Heaven belongs to little children like these!” Then he laid his hands on them and went on his way. Matthew 19:13 (Phillips NT)
870 Don’t try to be older. A child, always a child, even when you are dying of old age. When a child stumbles and falls, nobody is surprised, and his father promptly picks him up. When the person who stumbles and falls is older, the immediate reaction is one of laughter. Sometimes, after this first impulse, the laughter gives way to pity. But older people have to get up by themselves. Your sad experience is that each day is full of stumbles and falls. What would become of you if you were not continually more of a child? Don’t try to be older. Be a child, and when you stumble, may your Father God pick you up by the hand.
Of all the spiritual writers I have read, and there have been a lot, from every little corner of Christianity, St Josemaria Escriva has had the most profound impact, because of the practical way he sees our faith, our dependence on God. I would recommend his book “The Way,” to anyone seeking a faith that is more than Sunday morning, or 5 minutes reading a devotion the size of a postcard. It is no different today, my 52nd birthday, as his words hit home, and hit home hard.
There is a part of me that wants to know more, be wiser, have words of wisdom and maturity that are profound. To be able to preach words that inspire those who are down, which call people to repentance in a way that they run like mad into the waiting arms of God, trusting in His mercy. I want to help people explore the height and depth, the width and breadth of God’s love for them.
This has been my dream since I was an awkwardly tall 8-year-old with untied sneakers, telling a family friend, Fr. Alex, that I wanted to be a priest, I wanted to tell people about Jesus and give them His body in communion.
At 52, I am still awkward, my sneakers are still often untied, and though my falls aren’t physical, they are still there. I understand Paul’s words in Romans 7 all too; clearly, I am not the mature, wise, holy person I know I should be. In fact, like most pastors and priests, there are days I wonder why I am here. Can’t God do better? Can’t He make me the kind of shepherd these people need? Can’t Jesus find someone who does better with temptation, and able to deal wisely with the evil that is so oppressive?
St. Josemaria snaps me out of this spiritual downward spiral with his words this morning (odd they show up on my birthday, isn’t it?) The best thing I can do is not astound people with wisdom, it is to let them see God pick me up. To let them see the joy in my eyes when He does. To be the child that runs and desires to be in His presence, even if the foolish disciples try to bar my way, I am going to see Him, I am going to hear His blessing.
Hopefully, along the way, I will drag some of my friends with me, and maybe even an enemy or 2….000?
If I pretend to be something other than a child, as I’ve tried, I will still fall. But I will try, as an adult, to excuse the fall, to justify it, to make it out to be less painful. I will force myself to try and get up on my own, only to fall again, and perhaps even harder, or take others with me. But as a child, as one who is confident of God’s presence, who knows His love and mercy, then I know He will pick me up, that He will run to my side, that He will care for me.
Not that I want to fall, I want to make Him proud. But as a child, when I do, I can cry out for help, and He will come.
And if I can teach my people that, and they confidently cry out (knowing His love and mercy) when they fall as well… I’ve done my job as a brother in Christ, and as their pastor. For they have learned about His love… and have experienced it.
A simple cry, “Lord Have mercy on me, a sinner….Papa, help!”
Escriva, Josemaria. The Way (Kindle Locations 2005-2010). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
41 The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will remove from his Kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. 42 And the angels will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in their Father’s Kingdom. Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand! Matthew 13:41-43 (NLT)
1. O hell, I detest thee now and for evermore; I detest thy torments and pains; I detest thy miserable and accursed eternity; and, above all, I detest those eternal blasphemies and maledictions which thou dost vomit forth eternally against my God. And, turning my heart and soul to thee, O beautiful Paradise, everlasting glory and endless felicity, I choose my habitation, forever and irrevocably, within thy fair and sacred mansions, within thy holy and most lovely tabernacles. I bless thy mercy, O my God, and accept the offer which it pleaseth Thee to make me of it. O Jesus, my Saviour, I accept thy everlasting love, and I acknowledge that it is Thou who hast acquired for me a right to a place in this blessed Jerusalem, not so much for any other thing as to love and bless Thee for ever.
One of the devotional books I am using this year is De Sales, Introduction to the Devout Life. Over the last year, my sermon research has regularly included quotes from this 19th century priest, so I thought I would add it to my list, along with a deep theological text by Martin Chemnitz.
Early on, it has used the hell a significant number of times as part of the devotions; something I was surprised to see. Partially because I am not a “hell, fire and brimstone” type preacher/evangelist, trying to keep God’s Law and the Gospel in tension. Or to use a covenantal approach, making sure people understand both the curses and promises that exist in our covenant, our “contract” with God.
But as I think about our devotion to God, the reason we are drawn to Him, the reason we adore Him, it makes sense that we take both heaven and hell seriously.
Knowing what He has delivered us from creates some of the devotion, it gives us a reason to adore Him. Over 25 years ago, I had a cardiac arrest. I can still remember who it was who did CPR till the doctors got there. I remember who was in my ICU room (even though I was sedated) Those moments of coming back to life are indeed precious to me. Those people I will always feel a special way towards.
SO much more so when we meditate on the hell we deserve because we choose disobedience, rebellion and sin rather that walking with God. As believers to look back and know what we deserve, yet His love changes all that! As we consider what we deserve yet are rescued from, our devotion, our adoration,, our hunger to worship Jesus grows.
As we adore Him, let us look to our future as well, and to what God does in our lives at this moment. For the heaven that we can know only in part is glimpsed in this life, ever so briefly.
Otherwise, heaven is too great a concept for our minds, our hearts, and souls to contemplate. But in the eyes of a sinner, freed as they realize the mercy and love of God, the comfort that settles on one who mourns, the relief as a beloved prodigal walks back into the life of a church they left behind.
These are glimpses of heaven….just as when we see someone claimed by God in their baptism, or we eat and drink the body and blood of Jesus.
As we consider the reality of both heaven and hell; as we realize the enormous difference between them, our hearts will cry out, glorifying the Lord who delivered us from Hell and into Heaven.
This we need, we so need….. and it changes everything….
As our cry of Hosanna (Lord Save Us!) and Kyrie Eleison are proven answered!
Francis de Sales, Saint. An Introduction to the Devout Life. Dublin: M. H. Gill and Son, 1885. Print.
Devotional Thought of the Day…
9 This, then, is how you should pray: ‘Our Father in heaven: May your holy name be honored; 10 may your Kingdom come; may your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us today the food we need. 12 Forgive us the wrongs we have done, as we forgive the wrongs that others have done to us. 13 Do not bring us to hard testing, but keep us safe from the Evil One.For yours is the Kingdom and the Power and the Glory, now and forever! AMEN Matthew 6:9-13 (TEV)
31 “So do not start worrying: ‘Where will my food come from? or my drink? or my clothes?’ 32 (These are the things the pagans are always concerned about.) Your Father in heaven knows that you need all these things. 33 Instead, be concerned above everything else with the Kingdom of God and with what he requires of you, and he will provide you with all these other things. Matthew 6:31-33 (TEV)
857 The Kingdom of Jesus Christ: that is our task! So, my child, be generous: don’t be anxious to know any of the many reasons he has to want to reign in you. If you look at him, it will be enough for you to consider how much he loves you… You will feel a hunger to correspond to his love, crying aloud that you really love him here and now; and you will understand that if you don’t leave him, he won’t leave you.
Back in the 1990’s there was a controversy over what it meant for Jesus to be our Lord. Interestingly, it focused not on God, but on our obligation to God, or more precisely the code of behavior laid down in scripture. On one side, there was a focus on complete obedience to Christ as the only way to be sure we were in God’s will. On the other side, there were pastors and theologians who took a position that since faith alone saves, our behavior had little to do with our salvation – but rather affected our peace and comfort in this life.
The battle seems to be raging anew – with different descriptions, – the latter group being called anti-nomians, the former pietists Old labels for sure, but being applied anew. I chose a different translation for the second passage – we usually hear it as “seek first the Kingdom” – but this to comes on the heals of realizing God’s promise to provide, so that we can focus on living in a relationship with Him. As we focus on what God requires os us, especially we hear His invitation for us to walk humbly with Him
The challenge is realizing that these views are arguing about Christ’s Lordship by looking at th wrong subject. They start by looking at responsibility in the relationship – but they set their priority in the wrong place. It all starts with the master’s responsibility, not ours. IF we are to understand the Lordship of Christ, if we are to understand what it means that He is our master, we must begin there…We must begin by seeing His commitment to us.
As He teaches us to pray, look at what is promised to us, look at the things God is taking responsibility for in our lives. Look at the burdens He would have us place in His hands
I love the point St Josemaria makes – we can think all day of why God would choose to call us, to walk with us. We can try to comprehend all of His logic, to analyze it, to create the theological systems But what if instead, we looked to God, we knew His love, we expored, as Paul urged the height and depth, the breadth and width of that love. What would happen if we looked at His commitment, HIs faithfulness, HIs desire – and our thoughts and our heart were focused there? The resulting response by us as we consider His love as we bask in it, as we realize he loves us, will cause be far more of a change than we could ever negotiate on our own.Looking to His love, knowing it, will see that love work and create a level of trust and bind us to Him.
That’s the point – Christ being our Lord and Master is a promise to us, a promise that He will care for us, be there for us, that He loves us.
And in the end, it becomes even closer, as we hear him say, “I know longer call you servants…but friends”
Be at peace – for you live in Christ Jesus.
Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 3035-3039). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
16 Once a man came to Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what good thing must I do to receive eternal life?” 17 “Why do you ask me concerning what is good?” answered Jesus. “There is only One who is good. Keep the commandments if you want to enter life.” 18 “What commandments?” he asked. Jesus answered, “Do not commit murder; do not commit adultery; do not steal; do not accuse anyone falsely; 19 respect your father and your mother; and love your neighbor as you love yourself.” 20 “I have obeyed all these commandments,” the young man replied. “What else do I need to do?” 21 Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all you have and give the money to the poor, and you will have riches in heaven; then come and follow me.” 22 When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he was very rich. Matthew 19:16-22 (TEV)
636 You are constantly talking about the need to change and reform things. Good… Reform yourself! For you need it badly, and already you will have begun the great reform. In the meantime, I shall not be putting too much faith in your proclamations of reform. (1)
It seems that Rush Limbaugh has taken it upon himself to criticze the pope for not being Christian, for not being faithful to scripture. Well the claim is that the Pope is a Marxist because of the way he interprets scripture. I haven’t read more than one article on it, so I am not sure where Limbaugh’s points are. I don’t see the Pope being much of a Marxist, just one who would have Christians love the world as Christ did, taking on the form of a servant…
As I read the article, as I see all the posts about people wanting to reform our government, I have to wonder when we will slow down and consider the advice of St Josemaria, and reform our own budgets, our own spending habits. Will we hear the last “commandment” the man heard Jesus ask about? The one that where we considering loving our neighbor as we love ourselves? Will we desire the “perfection” of giving up all we have to the poor, and following Christ. Would consider giving more than just our hand-me-downs and loose coins to the Salvation Army?
If we take the scriptures in their fulness,what God wants to see develop from within this people is the same kind of love that Christ has shown, the same eagerness to sacrifice for others as Christ did. You can’t but see this in the way the Old Testament prophets confronted Israel over their treatment of the single moms (widows) and orphans. You see it in the commands of how one treats the foreignors, the responsibility of families – even multiple times removed, to care for those in their family. You see it again in the gospels (the Good Samaritan, the Sheep and the Goats) , and in Romans and 1 Corinthians 12, and the entire epistle of 1 John. This love for neighbor, this willingness to be with them in their brokenness, this love for them isn’t one that is mandated, but comes from a heart that beats in symphony to Christ’s heart.
As I write this, I myself am changing in my attitude. Maybe the reason for coming across the article wasn’t for me to defend Christianity against Limbaugh’s American Civil Religion. But to get me to think about my riches and how they are going to be used. Of what I can give away to the poor, of how our finacnes are used. How can I grow in likeness to the Lord who gave all for me?
Heavy thoughts during these early days of Advent…..but ones that I invite you to share in a well.
Thank God that He walks with us through them, and I pray we trust in Him enough to stay and follow and enjoy His presence, rather than walk away sad….
(1) Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 2679-2682). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
- Pope a Marxist: Is Rush right? (cnn.com)
- Is it insane to keep doing/teaching/preaching the same thing over and over, and expecting… (justifiedandsinner.com)
- Who is more faithful to the faith? Wrong question! (justifiedandsinner.com)
- Advent Devotion: Convenient, Comfortable Christianity? Hmmm… (justifiedandsinner.com)
Devotional and Discussion thought of the Day:
14 I have given them your word. And the world hates them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. 15 I’m not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one. 16 They do not belong to this world any more than I do. 17 Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth. 18 Just as you sent me into the world, I am sending them into the world. 19 And I give myself as a holy sacrifice for them so they can be made holy by your truth. 20 “I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. 21 I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me. John 17:14-21 (NLT)
You’re afraid of becoming distant and cold with everyone—you want so much to be detached! Get rid of that fear. If you belong to Christ—completely to Christ—he will give you fire, light and warmth for all men. (1)
Maybe it’s because yesterday was such and emotional roller coaster…incredible highs, and some devastating lows…. but I am starting today very… drained.
There is a part of me that wishes for detachment, that I could simply find a monk’s cave and withdraw from the world. Just study God’s word, write, play guitar and occasionally Candy Crush Saga (yeah sure… occasionally… uhm…yup_
A mundane life apart from the trauma, apart from the despair, apart from the days when you don’t have the answers… but can “only” point to God’s compassionate nature…
It sounds nice…
but naively empty.
This ministry we share, as pastors/priests and people, doesn’t avoid suffering ( maybe that why we like Candy Crush Saga?) but embraces it, because we do have hope. Because we have that which sustains us, even on the darkest Mondays… during our times of weakness and exhaustion. When we remember that we are involved in ministry because of God’s call, when we look to Him for sustenance than our own personal strength. We need to rely on His compassion, His love, His presence.
That is the key – and one I need to remember today…
He is our strength, He is our peace…
And when we cry out Kyrie Eleison! Lord Have Mercy! …. we begin to realize this!
Escriva, Josemaria (2010-11-02). The Way (Kindle Locations 492-493). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
- The Eucharist: the Strength to Reveal Christ to Others… (justifiedandsinner.com)
- Dissatisfied? Discontent? Frustrated? Try losing yourself! (justifiedandsinner.com)
- Serving God where ever He calls you to service (justifiedandsinner.com)