Devotional Thought of the Day:
20 Impressed by their bold belief, he said, “Friend, I forgive your sins.” 21 That set the religion scholars and Pharisees buzzing. “Who does he think he is? That’s blasphemous talk! God and only God can forgive sins.” 22 Jesus knew exactly what they were thinking and said, “Why all this gossipy whispering? 23 Which is simpler: to say ‘I forgive your sins,’ or to say ‘Get up and start walking’? 24 Well, just so it’s clear that I’m the Son of Man and authorized to do either, or both… .” He now spoke directly to the paraplegic: “Get up. Take your bedroll and go home.” 25 Without a moment’s hesitation, he did it—got up, took his blanket, and left for home, giving glory to God all the way. 26 The people rubbed their eyes, incredulous—and then also gave glory to God. Awestruck, they said, “We’ve never seen anything like that!”
Luke 5:20-26 (MSG)
God’s patience calls forth in us the courage to return to him, no matter how many mistakes and sins there may be in our life.
Doubts and hesitations justifiably trouble those who feel they are spoken to by God as Gideon was. “Why is it,” comedian Lily Tomlin asks, “that when we speak to God we are said to be praying but when God speaks to us we are said to be schizophrenic?”
Gideon, however, pursued the conversation with the angel of the Lord—testing the situation to see if it was real. We can do the same—think about it, wait, ask God to help us know if the speaker was himself or our own self.
There’s a new show, where a man receives text messages from God detailing his role in other people’s life. Though he is the son of a pastor, he struggles to believe in God, so these messages, well, he struggles with the messages, and the idea of a benevolent, loving God. A few years back there was another show with a similar twist, called Joan of Arcadia, and in a like manner, the young lady struggled with the idea that God would talk specifically and directly to her.
Lili Tomlin has a point, we will struggle to believe we are sane (and other people will as well) if we believe that God is talking to us.
But we need to hear Him, we need to hear His voice, as He talks to us. We need to begin to trust in Him and to have faith in Him, and you can’t do that unless you are listening, (and along with Gideon, asking to Go to help us discern whether it is truly God, or just our heart speaking)
Listening to God isn’t easy, and discerning that it is Him is challenging. He speaks to us through His word, and through His sacrament, but this is delivered through others voices, through others hands. through others lives. And He speaks to us in prayer, which is more than just a monologue of our laying our burdens down.
So how do we start, listening to God?
I would say it starts with hearing one of the most important things we can hear, what the man lowered through the roof heard.
My friend, I forgive your sins!
The Lord, who will judge all of Creation, forgave your sin.
You have to hear that and know that no-one, not even you, has the right to judge you as guilty of them. You have to hear those words, spoken with so much love, “I forgive your sins!”
Hearing God starts there. It opens up for you a great big can of healing (as opposed to the great gig can of whoop-#*& your think you deserve), it opens up the door to where God dwells and draws you in from the darkness of sin, shame, and the need for self-justification or self-pity. And in His presence, as you are welcomed into His glory, you get to hear the next message from God.
I am the Lord your God, and you, you are my people.
Start hearing these two messages, let them sink deeply in your soul, and your will begin to hear and clearly understand God.
Lord Jesus, as you did for the blind, open our eyes to see You, and as you did for the deaf, heal our hearing so we can hear Your words, spoken in love, that our sins are forgiven, and that we are in a relationship with You. ANd then help us to list, as you talk to us, thorugh the words You’ve given us, through Your sacraments, and through the people You bring into our lives. AMEN!
Pope Francis. (2013). A Year with Pope Francis: Daily Reflections from His Writings. (A. Rossa, Ed.) (p. 366). New York; Mahwah, NJ; Toronto, ON: Paulist Press; Novalis.
Willard, D., & Johnson, J. (2015). Hearing god through the year: a 365-day devotional. Westmont, IL: IVP Books.
Discussion/Devotion Quote of the Day…
4:13 Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.
Philippians 4:13 (MSG)
Some people do only what lies within the capacity of poor human creatures to accomplish, and consequently waste their time. What Peter experienced is repeated once more, word for word: Praeceptor, per totam noctem laborantes nihil cepimus.—Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing. If they work on their own, without being united with the Church, not reckoning with the Church, what possible effectiveness could their apostolate have? None at all! They need to be convinced that on their own they can achieve nothing. You should help them to go on listening to the rest of that Gospel story: in verbo autem tuo laxabo rete—at your word I will let down the net. It is then that the catch will be plentiful and effective. How beautiful it is to mend our ways when we find we have, for whatever reason, done apostolate (our being light in theon our own account! (1)
We live in a day and in a place where people regularly live beyond our means. We have loans for our homes, for our transportation, what we once used for emergencies, our credit cards, are now maxed out – and we find ourselves facing more and more stress and anxiety, because we try to do what we want without the resources necessary to do so.
Likewise, we often try to do the same thing spiritually, that we do economically. (It should be noted as the church, and as individuals, there is no difference) Except of course we start in absolute bankruptcy. As long as we continue to try to survive on our own, we cannot. Yet we try. We are like the story reference in the quote above. We find our nets empty, we find ourselves spinning our wheels. Day in and day out we wonder, will what I do today make any difference. Will today improve, will it get better.
There are days where I contemplate my brokenness, the brokenness of the Church, and I wonder – can it ever change? Can we live up to our “potential”, to our calling?
Are we so tired, so burdened, so in prison to our anxiety that we forget our master is in the boat? We hear him teach, we watch Him working in the lives of others, but do we bother Him to help us with our burdens? Do we realize He has already told us how to let down the nets?
I do not believe the “nets” are what most evangelicals think it is. It is not the right missional program, it is not finding the correct model for small groups, or niche marketing our congregation. Any more that it is in finding the right “self-help” book, or the right “coach”, or the right church. As long as we look at it from what we can do, we are binding ourselves to our own self-centered tendencies, and we are relying on our own weaknesses. We forget who is travelling in our boat, and doing that is making the choice to continue to be broken, bankrupt, oppressed.
I would suggest that the net is that which comes from the depth of being in God’s presence, in listening to Him as the people of God. It is realizing that our potential is not ours – the potential of Church, where we can go – was already designed and that which is necessary invested by the Father, by giving us Jesus, by sending us the Holy Spirit. The more we listen to Him, the more we fellowship with Him, the more we live with Him,
Remember, Jesus knew the night was rough, He knew they had caught nothing, He knew their labor was in vain. Similarly, He knows our lives are very rough, He knows the struggles we have, and the struggles we have with our lives seeming meaningless and vain. He also knows the nets that you need to let down – working with Him
And the meaning and abundance of life – that is promised and assured… and is more than we can ever believe possible.. in ways we cannot ever expect. Far beyond and far different than what you think is your potential. For it isn’t yours, but His…
Thought of the Day:
As I peruse my fb page, and I see the “soundbites” that proliferate it, many include a call to make a choice.
Some call to make a political choice.
Some call us to make a purchase – making a choice to spend money so that our life will be perfect. ( I tend to block MLM posts quickly)
Many call us to make a moral choice, or urge others to make a choice, or even to force them to make a choice.
These are choices that fellow believers would have us make – stating how critical they are. These choices are not critical! For a believer, for one in a relationship with God, there is only one decision.
All three readings today talk of it – and why we make the one we do:
Joshua said this “choose this day whom you will serve,”
Are you going to choose to walk with God, or will you continue to follow some other god, made in an image you find palatable. Remember – he is talking to people who have seen God at work, who know His love. He’s not speaking to unbelievers, those unfamiliar with His love and power. Yet we, like those who heard these words, struggle with listening to God, to following His call, to giving up all the things that burden and distract and enslave us. Until we realize what the apostles did, when they too were faced with the decision. Here is that account.
After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”
You’ve come to know He is God, that His words bring life….that’s what you need to know, as a believer, how to live.
Choose wisely…and know His love and mercy never will fail you.