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Real Prayer…Changes things… Will you?

Devotional Thought of the Day…

 1  And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. 2  Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:1-2 (NLT)

426      Today once again I prayed full of confidence. This was my petition: “Lord, may neither our past wretchedness which has been forgiven us, nor the possibility of future wretchedness cause us any disquiet. May we abandon ourselves into your merciful hands. May we bring before you our desires for sanctity and apostolate, which are hidden like embers under the ashes of an apparent coldness” ”Lord, I know you are listening to us.” You should say this to him too.  (1)

It has been said that if we are to preach about sin, we should preach against real sin.  The sin in our lives, the sin in our hearts and minds.  Not the sins of those in Washington D.C., or among some broken group of people.  But our sin.

In my devotions this morning, I came across the above quote by St. Josemaria – and it resonated with me, because it asks us to pray a real prayer.

Not just a prayer to changes things, but a prayer to change us.

A prayer of confession, and a prayer that acknowledges our real weakness, in our past and in our future..(2)  A prayer that acknowledges our wretchedness, and future wretchedness – and begs that this not cause anxiety…for we are confident in Him.

Jesus in Pray

Jesus in Pray (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A prayer that seems to be generated in this midst of our spiritual “dryness”, where we realize our desire to be God’s children has dampened, as has our desire to bring His love to the world.

A prayer that realizes our hope is found, not in our strength, nor in our faithfulness, but a prayer that confidently is spoken, knowing that He who is listening is faithful… knowing that He is listening!!!

In the Romans passage – worship is similarly abandoning our lives in the presence of God.   Letting God transform us, letting God breath life into the barely warms embers, changing our mind (repentance) into the mind of Christ.

That’s a real prayer… change us Lord – make sure we know you are Lord – that you are here, listening and working…

A prayer in confidence that addresses the real issue…

Will you pray so?

(1)Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 1637-1641). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

(2)  Comment – the strongest people I have know – have dealt with physical trauma to the point where there bodies are wasted away… there, stripped of their strength – they find God’s immeasurable strength sustaining them.

Will I ever retire from the ministry? No! And..

Devotional/Discussion thought of the day.

People often comment about pastor’s never retiring, and I have often wondered how to explain to them, that being a pastor is never a career, it is not a job from which you can retire.  It was hard to explain, until I came across this great explanation – given by a Catholic priest….

A long time ago someone asked me, tactlessly, whether those of us whose career is the priesthood are able to retire when we get old. And since I gave him no answer, he persisted with his impertinent question. Then an answer came to me which, I thought, is indisputable. “The priesthood”, I told him, “is not a career: it is an apostolate.” That’s how I feel about it. And I wanted to put it down in these notes so that—with God’s help—none of us may ever forget the difference.  (1)

What Lutherans call the “office of Holy Ministry”, what my friends who are catholic call receiving “Holy Orders” is not a career, it is something about who we are – it becomes as much our existence, even though we poorly serve in it, as any other thing which defines who we are.   Priests, pastors, deacons, bishops/district presidents, whatever the semantics, those called into ministry, serve with their very lives.  I love how Romans 12, describes such service.

1 So then, my friends, because of God’s great mercy to us I appeal to you: Offer yourselves as a living sacrifice to God, dedicated to his service and pleasing to him. This is the true worship that you should offer. Romans 12:1 (TEV)

Living sacrifices don’t have expiration dates – we are what we are.  Those called into the office of ministry serve, and when they “retire” they find other people to serve, other places – often those places that can’t afford a pastor – or another pastor.  Nor should they, even at least serving as mentors to younger pastors, or spending their times investing themselves into the next generation of servants – doing so, not with the air of the professional – but the attitude of Christ – with gentleness and humility, lifting up those who have served.

But that brings me to another point, the idea that while some are called to the office of ministry, all of us are called to minister – for the word diakonos – minister – simply means servant.  Romans 12 goes on to describe a number of ways all those in the church serve – just as St Peter  says in 1 Peter 2:9.

9 But you are a chosen race, a kingdom of priests, a holy nation, a people to be a personal possession to sing the praises of God who called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light1 Peter 2:9 (NJB)

You do not get to retire either – and I see this – some of the most dependable servants in the church, are some of the oldest, and indeed some many would wonder why they bother.

When I think about it – the reason we, as believers, shouldn’t retire – the best reason is this:

Because it’s not just a job…..it is walking with God – and seeing Him at work...

Remember to ask that His mercy is seen, as well as had – as you serve for the rest of your life as well.

Godspeed!

 

(1) Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 2165-2170). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

The Struggle of Holiness

Devotional; Discussion thought for today.

” Sanctity does not consist in great concerns. It consists in struggling to ensure that the flame of your supernatural life is never allowed to go out; it consists in letting yourself be burned down to the last shred, serving God in the lowest place… or in the highest: wherever the Lord may call you.     Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 441-444). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Tomorrow I preach on the topic of “Spiritual Warfare”, not a favorite topic at all, because I think I see so much misunderstanding of it.

The first reaction when it is mention is “gung ho!”  Let’s go attack the hordes that would tear down and destroy the church!  Let’s go to war with sin and sinners and if God is with us, we shall surely wipe them out!  ( Depending on the time period, this is either burning them at the stake or forcing them to submit and tap out because of our superior logic and strength! )The church militant, misapplied!  The other reaction is the one that heeds “discretion is the better part of valor” and high-tales at speeds reminiscent of of the USS Enterprise at the sight of Evil, or an encounter with the demonic.  (btw – I highly recommend the latter if you resonate with the first – check out the sons of Sceva!)

But the answer, seriously is found in the quote above.  Sanctity, Holiness, the struggle, the battle to cling to that which kindled our lives and set us ablaze.  Ablaze to the point where our lives become living sacrifices, not on the battlefront, but in serving others.  I love how Fr. Escriva talks of God burning us down to the last shred – and in places of great humility or honor – but to the last shred in either place.  Being willing to follow God where ever He leads – no matter the personal cost.   As I’ve mentioned before – holiness isn’t an attitude – it isn’t some smug feeling that I am purer than those others. It is gratitude that despite my impurities, God has called and cleansed me and given me a vocation – several vocations, where He has put me – not to glorify myself – but to reflect His love to a broken world.  With that gratitude comes a sense of joy and fulfillment that only comes when we walk with Jesus throughout out lives.  For it is God, the Holy Spirit – that continues to kindle and stoke our fires – that bring people before us, who need, desperately need to know the love and healing that comes from being in Christ.

The struggle of holiness of being sanctified isn’t about preservation, or about becoming pure and devout.  It just isn’t.  Those are side effects of being in the glory of God, sharing a life of ministry in vocations that God has called us to, and accompanies us on the journey, as we our hearts burn, as He reveals His love and mercy poured out on us.

So hear His voice, walk with Him in His glory, as He loves, guides, purifies you… His children!

AMEN

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