Thoughts for this day, that draws me closer to God….
7 When you pray, don’t babble like the Gentiles, since they imagine they’ll be heard for their many words. 8 Don’t be like them, because your Father knows the things you need before you ask him. 9 “Therefore, you should pray like this: Our Father in heaven, your name be honored as holy. 10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us today our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And do not bring us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. Matthew 6:7-13 (CSBBible)
At dinner on the day after Pentecost [ Martin Luther said], “One shouldn’t think of any other God than Christ; whoever doesn’t speak through the mouth of Christ is not God. God wants to be heard through the Propitiator, and so he’ll listen to nobody except through Christ.
We can always trust the moving and the leading of the Holy Spirit in our lives and in our experiences. On the other hand, we cannot always trust our human leanings and our fleshly and carnal desires.
I have never gotten tired of talking about prayer, and with God’s grace I never will. I remember that, back in the thirties, as a young priest, people of all kinds used to come to me looking for ways of getting closer to our Lord. To all of them, university students and workers, healthy and sick, rich and poor, priests and laymen, I gave the same advice: “Pray.” If anyone replied, “I don’t even know how to begin,” I would advise him to put himself in God’s presence and tell him of his desires and anxiety, with that very same complaint: “Lord, I don’t know how to pray!” Often, humble admissions like that were the beginning of an intimate relationship with Christ, a lasting friendship with him. Many years have gone by, and I still don’t know of a better recipe. If you think you’re not quite ready to pray, go to Jesus as his disciples did and say to him, “Lord, teach us how to pray.”18 You will discover how the Holy Spirit “comes to the aid of our weakness; when we do not know what prayer to offer, to pray as we ought, the Spirit himself intercedes for us, with groans beyond all utterance,”19 which are impossible to describe, for no words are adequate to express their depth.
I find it odd, that when people talk about repetitive prayer, they often mention the verse just before Jesus teaches the disciples to pray… the Lord’s Prayer. Don’t babble on, or don’t be vain and repetitious as others translate the passage. And then comes the Lord’s prayer, which people say is vain and repetitious.
I will be the first to admit I have used it that way. Back in junior high school, we had races to see who could say it the fastest, or the entire rosary (I went to a Catholic parochial school.) And in doing so, we sinned, violating the
command about using God’s name in vain, for we didn’t think about Jesus when we prayed, we focused on speed and diction… not even the meaning of the words. There are days when I say it in church – that my thoughts are not focused on the words as much if we are saying it. (Which is why we more often sing it) It is easy to disengage. but that does not change it… just me.
As I have grown older, there have been more than a few times where I did not know how to pray. The words would not come through the anxiety, the words wouldn’t come through the tears, or even the times, where so overwhelmed, I
couldn’t cry. Finally, out of frustration, I would cry out, and pray the Lord’s prayer, letting the words of Jesus burrow through all the debris crushing my heart and soul.
And then, as St Josemaria put it, it was up to the Holy Spirit. Indeed, in those times, it is only the comfort of the Holy Spirit that brings that prayer to mind, who uses these words of Jesus to bring life where there is no life.
Tozer is dead on accurate with his point – it is the Spirit we need to trust, as we pray as Jesus said. For Satan loves to deny us hope, and peace, and the realization of God’s love.
And so by praying as Jesus taught, we again admit we don’t know how to pray, and in that humility the intimacy with God grows, we hear what He’s told us He will provide – from His kingdom, to His perfect Will occurring in our lives, to
what we need daily, food, the ability to know we are forgiven and the enabling of our forgiveness. What wonderful things! He goes on to provide us a way from temptation, and rescue us from evil….. WOW….
Because I didn’t know how to pray in the brokenness of the moment, I pray, and as the Trinity hears, my heart is reminded of what God provides.
And somehow, miraculously, I find peace in the storm.
That is why I pray the Lord’s prayer, it is where God leads, and the comfort it brings is extraordinary.
I pray you may as well!
Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, Vol. 54: Table Talk, ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann, vol. 54 (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1999), 155.
A. W. Tozer and Marilynne E. Foster, Tozer on the Holy Spirit: A 366-Day Devotional (Camp Hill, PA: WingSpread, 2007).
Escrivá, Josemaría. Friends of God . Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
1 Once Jesus was in a certain place praying. As he finished, one of his disciples came to him and said, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”
Luke 11:1 (NLT2)
For the person who loves Jesus, prayer—even prayer without consolation—is the sweetness that always puts an end to all sorrow: he goes to pray with the eagerness of a child going to the sugar bowl after taking a bitter dose of medicine.
The words from Luke’s gospel above lead to the Lord’s Prayer.
As I read them, I feel great gratitude to the unknown disciple, for he asked something we all needed him to ask.
Lord, how do we talk with the Father? How do we pray? What do we pray for? How does this all work?
And so He does.
Luther’s small catechism does a great job explaining how each of the petitions helps our trust in God, what we pray for and what it means to know God is answering that request in our lives, in our world, in our time.
These times become such a blessing, as we realize the promises of God, that as we open up to him, the relief and peace is amazing…
And even, as St Josemaria notes, times where God seems silent when we aren’t immediately comforted, become times where peace pervades, for we know He is at work. The more we pray, the more our eyes are opened up to God at work in our lives, the more we trust Him when we don’t hear or see the answer immediately.
But that takes time, time to see that confidence build, time getting used to seeing God in the unexpected, in the broken, in the moments where reconciliation is needed. Getting used to seeing Him working in ways unexpected, and in ways that leave you in awe.
As we get used to that, then we run to Him more frequently, we do so with greater expectation, like the child St. Josemaria describes.
It is hard to explain, this desire to run to God our Father, to just pour out our pain and anxiety, ot talk of the future, to hand over our sins and failures, things that He promises to deal with so that we can live in peace with Him.
That doesn’t mean prayer is a perfect art, or that we still don’t struggle. We do.. and yet that is a blessing as well… for then we learn again – He is there.
So pray, let it all out..and enter His peace.
Escriva, Josemaria. The Way . Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
14 The LORD says, “The time is coming when people will no longer swear by me as the living God who brought the people of Israel out of the land of Egypt. 15 Instead, they will swear by me as the living God who brought the people of Israel out of a northern land and out of all the other countries where I had scattered them. I will bring them back to their own country, to the land that I gave their ancestors. I, the LORD, have spoken.” Jer. 16:14-15 GNT
Be persistent in prayer, and keep alert as you pray, giving thanks to God. Col. 4:2 GNT
How would our magnificent castles, houses, silk, satin, purple, golden jewelry, precious stones, all our pomp and glitter and show help us if we had to do without air for the length of one Lord’s Prayer?
These are the greatest gifts from God and also the ones that we deride most, and, because they are so common, we do not give thanks for them. We take them and use them each day so thoughtlessly, as if it had to be so and we were entitled to them; thus, we do not need to thank God for them even once. In the meantime, we tear off and care only to worry, quarrel, wrangle, strive, and storm after unnecessary money and goods, honor and luxury—in short, after something that cannot hold a candle to the blessings mentioned above. Worse, it hinders our joyful and serene use of the common gifts, such that we do not recognize them as such, nor do we thank God for them. Behind all of this is the devil, who does not want us to use and acknowledge all of God’s gifts to us and thus be happy.
When Luther explains the passage from the Lord’s Prayer about “give us our daily bread” he gets passionately pragmatic! We see that in the words above as he talks about our concerns that things that cannot hold a candle to the real gifts God has given us.
And yet, we let those things rob us of our peace, of our serenity, and our ability to use those things that God has given us!
I think it starts before that though.
In the passage of Jeremiah, he notes that there will be a point where Israel now longer looks back to God’s deliverance in the past, but rather, looks at their deliverance, the deliverance from the Babylonian Captivity. God’s presence, God’s work is no longer something He did for someone else, in a far distant time. It is something that presently affects them, that proves He is not some distant God, but a God who will allow us to be disciplined, and yet, restore us.
It is one thing to appreciate what God has done in the past, to those whose steps we walk in. We should appreciate these things and learn from them, for they reveal to us the character of God. It is another thing to realize He is here now. Delivering us from the bondage of sin, delivering us from guilt and shame, healing u of the brokenness that is all to common now, just as it was during the captivity. He is here! Providing for us all the things we need! Yes, life and daily food, Oxygen and gravity, To thank Him for giving us a new life, and walking with us through it, even through the valley of the shadow of death.
For all this, it is a simple thing to stand back in awe, and to Thank God.
We need to thank Him and that includes knowing we can ask Him to help us when we don’t understand, trusting Him to ensure all things work for good, for those called according to His purposes. Giving thanks for what He has and will do for us, now and until the day we join before His throne, there for eternity.
Lord, help us, when we are struggling, to remember and be thankful for the thousands of thing You have given and done for us, from the air we breathe to the food and drink, houses and homes, even the jobs that can stress us out. Lord, help us be most thank for your deliverance of us from our enemy, sin. We pray this in Jesus name. AMEN!
Martin Luther, Luther’s Spirituality, ed. Philip D. W. Krey, Bernard McGinn, and Peter D. S. Krey, trans. Peter D. S. Krey and Philip D. W. Krey, The Classics of Western Spirituality (New York; Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 2007), 206.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
7 “The world is full of so-called prayer warriors who are prayer-ignorant. They’re full of formulas and programs and advice, peddling techniques for getting what you want from God. 8 Don’t fall for that nonsense. This is your Father you are dealing with, and he knows better than you what you need. 9 With a God like this loving you, you can pray very simply. Like this: Our Father in heaven, Reveal who you are. 10 Set the world right; Do what’s best— as above, so below. 11 Keep us alive with three square meals. 12 Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others. 13 Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil. You’re in charge! You can do anything you want! You’re ablaze in beauty! Yes. Yes. Yes. Matthew 6:7-13 (MSG)
18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Ephesians 3:18-19 (NLT2)
551 Flee from routine as from the devil himself. The great means to avoid falling into that abyss, the grave of true piety, is the constant presence of God.
Recently, my son wanted to help me. He’s noticed I’ve been under some stress, and he knows I can’t share some of those things with anyone, even his mother. Another friend asked how they could help.
In both cases, I answered prayer and the response led me to believe they were disappointed with that answer. I could see it in my son’s eyes, “Can’t I do more?”, and in my friend’s response as they try and give me ideas on how to spend my “free time”
Pray, simply pray.
It might be, and is often for me, in a pattern. Some people don’t do that well, and the pattern becomes rote, automatic, simple repetition. For me, it can become that, but I have learned to try and savor the words, rather than just repeat them. I try to tune into what they reveal, and how they help me experience the love of God that is too great to understand fully.
That was St Josemaria’s key, that when prayer, meditation, adoration, studying the scriptures, etc become routine, we need to flee from it becoming routine is to realize the constant presence of God.
Fleeing from routine doesn’t mean fleeing from the practice, it means fleeing from the practice being routine, about realizing that you are in the presence of God, to give to Him your burdens, to entrust to Him, to depend upon Him because you know He’s promised to be there. To experience that love, despite what the world would throw at you.
For experiencing love is never simply routine…
I included the Lord’s prayer from a paraphrase, Peterson’s The Message. I by no means want to abandon the way each of us learned it, but sometimes reading another version helps us to appreciate what we are praying a little more, to realize what the familiar words mean. (the words that are like family) How they do reveal the love of God, how they help us experience it, how all-encompassing it is.
We need that, we need to be in communion with God, in communication with Him. We need to leave our burdens on His doorstep, We need to pray, and receive the sacraments, and spend time seeing Him revealed to us, so ready to love us as we read the Bible, as we read those who realized it before us.
This is God, right now, right here! He is with you! (me too!)
Talk to Him, realize how much He desires to be with You! Adore Him, and begin to realize what it means for Him truly to be YOUR God.
Dwell in His merciful peace.. AMEN!
Escriva, Josemaria. The Way (Kindle Locations 1331-1332). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Because of what God has done,
I plead with you…
May you experience the incredible gift of the love of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, and as that love changes your very life!
Because of What He’s Done
Normally, I unveil the bread and wine during the Lord’s prayer.
As I say the words, Thy Kingdom Come, Thy will be done, for in that moment we recognize that God’s will, I uncover and reveals the chalice and the tray. That Jesus would die, giving up His body and blood, that our sin would be forgiven, that our lives would be renewed.
I am not going to wait to do that but will do that now, and as I do, I would ask that we all take a moment of silence, and think about the suffering, the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Now, thinking of all God has done for you, I plead with you, as Paul pleaded with the church in Rome, give your body to Jesus, a sacrifice that lives and breathes and IS holy.
For God has done so much!
As Paul wrote, everything comes from Him, exists by His power and is for Him! All Glory to Him for ever and ever! AMEN!
So let’s find out what it means for us to be living and holy sacrifices…if we can!
I say if there for a reason. We are talking about dealing with, and interacting with God, the Creator of all there is, the one whom Paul started this passage describing when He said,
How great are God’s riches and knowledge, How impossible it is for us to understand His decision and His ways!
We know it is impossible to know what God knows, and I think we get that it is impossible to understand His decisions and the ways He arranges our lives.
Even so, how often do we try to advise God, or throw a tantrum when things do not go our way? How many times do we choose to go our way rather than His? How many times do we struggle with life, and choose to sin because we can’t see how God’s way makes more sense than ours?
Maybe we don’t understand why it’s so important to be faithful to our spouse, (not just sexually faithful – but in all ways) Or maybe we struggle with respecting an authority figure because we can’t figure out why God put them there. Maybe the temptation is to covet what someone else has, not being content with what God has blessed us with in our lives. Or maybe the problem we have is with judging people and sharing that judgment in a way that is called gossip. Or maybe we don’t understand why God would have us set an entire day apart, we don’t get why we should waste it and be still, and know that He is our God, that He is our refuge and strength.
It doesn’t matter which sin it is, for they all find their origination in our not recognizing that God is greater in riches and knowledge, as we determine that since we cannot understand His decisions and ways, that ours is better.
It isn’t, and we don’t realize it until we hit rock bottom. And most of the time not even then.
It takes the grace of God to run us over before we ever can realize that God’s decisions, His ways, His knowledge is best, even if we cannot understand it.
It takes the mercy of God, it takes a transformation, the one Paul describes that happens to us as we realize God’s ways are not just bigger, but far better. Hear Paul again,
You Will learn
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.
Notice it doesn’t say let Pastor Dt change you, or change yourself, or let the latest self help guru change the way you think about yourself.
What Paul wants us to do is to let the Holy Spirit transform us, by changing the way we think. What it says in Greek isn’t just to change a though or two, but to change your mind.
This is an absolute key, and it is what causes our lives to be lived in a way that is discussed in the rest of the chapter, to embrace depending on God, to work as God calls us to live, doing what He has chosen, but doing it in in accord with the faith he gives.
That is part of the result of the transformation.
You are a transformer!
Paul describes this transformation to the Corinthians this way,
18All of us, then, reflect the glory of the Lord with uncovered faces; and that same glory, coming from the Lord, who is the Spirit, transforms us into his likeness in an ever greater degree of glory.
What a transformation God does to us! (Much better than going from a car to a militant robot!)
A transformation that affects every part of us, every bit of our lives.
For God creates life in us, and shows us that we can have faith, we can depend on Him, and we can know, not all the mysteries of our faith, but what God’s will is for us, His pleasing and perfect will.
What is that will? To do what God has called and equipped you to do.. whether it is to speak publicly about God, to serve others who are in need, to teach, to encourage others, to give beyond normal, to lead others, or simply show kindness to others…
just do it, depending on Jesus – as much as you can, as humbly as you can, as God has called you to do.
just do it, because of God’s love for you – and the work He does, revealing His love to you, serving you, teaching you, encouraging you, giving to you without any boundary, leading you, and simply showing you His mercy and kindness….
live life, moving with Him, for He is your God, and you are His people…..
For that is His good and pleasing will….for you – to know you are His, and He is with you always… AMEN!
Devotional Thought of the Day:
29 My God, how is it that I do not cry out in sorrow and love whenever I see a Crucifix? (2)
They are to correct the mistaken view that prayer is not action. The men are admonished to overcome the false sense of shame that would seek to conceal their interior life—their silent relationship with God—as something unmanly and old-fashioned. Granted, piety is not to become a public exhibition; discretion is always necessary. But neither is it to be hidden away. It should be courageous, for the body, too, belongs to God. Faith is not just a matter of the spirit; prayer is not just interior. The body must pray, too. (3)
.Yesterday, I thought, and introduced the idea that the Lord’s prayer is not just what he taught us with words, but rather with how Jesus actually lived. His life was the prayer, a lesson in humility, in being the Son, not the Father.
If we are to be Christlike, if we are to grow and mature in our trust in God, this prayer must be seen worked out in our lives as well. For it is not enough to just say the words, but rather we need to trust in God hearing them, and answering them, here and now. That is faith that is not just Spirit, but life. It is prayer that is not just internal, but the prayer of our life.
So as I encouraged us yesterday, let’s begin to see the Lord’s Prayer lived out again, in the life of the Lord we are called to imitate, to be transformed into the image of.
Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy. (1)
Here is where it all begins, as Jesus lives as the Son. Fully obedient, fully adoring, fully bending His will to the will of the Father. Equal in divinity, the creed informs us, Jesus still submitted in His humanity to the Father.
He didn’t seek emancipation, he didn’t strive to become the alpha male. He loved the Father, He honored Him, He grew up (as a man) to be like His Father, to the extent that to look on Christ was to look on the Father. The image of the invisible God, that is how He is described. We know about the love of the Father because we see it in Christ and his movement to the cross. We know about the Father’s desire that no one should perish, again because of the love of the Son which accomplished the calling of all to repentance.
Something that doesn’t happen unless there is communication. And as Jesus lived in view of the first commandment, He lived in view of the second. For to use a name, to keep it holy, is to use it well, to pray, praise, give thanks, to pour out your heart. We see that in the garden so clearly, and in the high priestly prayer. Prayers we know about, so that we can trust in Jesus, so we can learn to pray as well.
May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. (1)
I just referred to this, but it iis one thing to pray that God’s kingdom come and His will be done, and another thing to grow in desire and want it to come here, right now.
To love your enemies, to live life full of mercy and righteousness. To live a life where you live humbly, as Jesus did. He laid aside it all that was self-centered. Even facing the betrayal, the kiss of Judas, the denial of Peter, He loved.
Someone once said that Christ would have died on the cross for us, even if they didn’t nail Him there. He wanted the nails though, not because of some masochistic tendency, but because the Father had said they would look upon the one they had pierced.
God’s will, God’s kingdom doesn’t always seem pleasant, or easy, or joyous. Until you realize the joy is in the one lost sheep coming home, one of the repentant who brings heaven so much joy!
To pray that God’s Kingdom comes, and will is done, requires that we accept the sacrifice of the cross of Christ, that we die to self with Him, and bear our own cross, humbly, and in love of the Father.
We need to pray, not ofor God’s sake, but for ours. To communicate with Him, to know His love, to see His work, tfor it is in prayer’s dialogue, and in celebrating the sacraments (which is really prayer as well!) that we begin to see the trasnformation God would owrk in us, where faith and work are not longer divided.
It is the beginning of Christlikeness!
So cry out, and pray!
(1) Matthew 6:9-13 (NLT)
(2) Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 344-345). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
(3) Ratzinger, J. (1992). Co-Workers of the Truth: Meditations for Every Day of the Year. (I. Grassl, Ed., M. F. McCarthy & L. Krauth, Trans.) (pp. 98–99). San Francisco: Ignatius Press
Devotional Thought fo 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.’ Matthew 6:9-13 (TEV)
The word “Father” makes me sure of one thing: I do not come from myself; I am a child. I am tempted at first to protest against this reminder as the prodigal son did. I want to be “of age”, “emancipated”, my own master. But then I ask myself: What is the alternative for me—or for any person—if I no longer have a Father, if I have left my state as child definitively behind me? What have I gained thereby? Am I really free? No, I am really free only when there is a principle of freedom, when there is someone who loves and whose love is strong. Ultimately, then, I have no alternative but to turn back again, to say “Father”, and in that way to gain access to freedom by acknowledging the truth about myself. Then my glance falls on him who, his whole life long, identified himself as child, as Son, and who, precisely as child and Son, was consubstantial with God himself: Jesus Christ
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.
My work today in the office is to try to get 8 services planned and prepared for printing, all which will occur in the next week. Services for Maunday Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Sunday, and two funerals as well.
It was a good reminder then to hear the words in green above, that remind me of why we do these things, what the ultimate purpose is, that trusting in God, and being in awe of His love and mercy, that we can turn to Him…. and pray. The result of a worship service is to teach people to communicate with God! What a radical idea!
Talk to your creator, talk to Him, not as a minion to a master, not as a lowly employee to the CEO of the company, not as a prisoner to a warden, but as a child, who knows they are loved, talked to their dad.
Yes it is a level of humility that we would not normally want to admit to, but it is not the kind of humility or perhaps better, humiliation, that those other relationships often create.
You see, I think we see the Father-child relationship the wrong way. Pope Benedict nails it, we want our independence, we want to be emancipated, freed from the burden of answering to someone else. But that isn’t the relationship that is pictured in the Lord’s prayer, in all of the times God shares his desire to care for us, to encourage us, to nurture us.
Benedict XVI’s words call us back to that point, to the point where we like Christ identify ourselves as the sons (and daughters) of God.
As you walk with the Father through this week, as we prepare to remember the last supper, the garden, the cross, consider the Father hearing these words from Jesus. Consider our Father hearing these words from Jesus, this incredible prayer he taught us, not just in words, but with His very life… For this is the prayer of a Son to the Father. It is His prayer, and as we go through this week… don’t just say it, hear it said, from Jesus to the Father….
… as Jesus clears the temple courtyard., so people who are not His people can pray and know they are heard
….. as Jesus washes the feet of sinners, because they argued about who was greatest and taught them the greatest serves
…. as He breaks the bread, and blesses the wine, and gives us a feast beyond anything we could imagine
…. as Jesus is whipped and beaten, that by the scars we would find healing,
…. as Jesus carries the beam he would be nailed to
….as Jesus dies, showing the world that all glory, honor and power is the Father’s.
So come to worship the King of Love, our Lord, and learn to depend on Him, and depending on Him, share your life in words, of praise, and of prayer.
as the sons of our Father!
Ratzinger, J. (1992). Co-Workers of the Truth: Meditations for Every Day of the Year. (I. Grassl, Ed., M. F. McCarthy & L. Krauth, Trans.) (pp. 97–98). San Francisco: Ignatius Press.
Tappert, T. G. (Ed.). (1959). The Book of Concord the confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. (p. 250). Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press.
For Thine IS the Kingdom,
The Power, and the Glory!
1 Corinthians 15:1-11
† In Jesus Name †
We need to be Reminded –
Yesterday, as I was at a loss for words for this message, I received an email from Linda and Tom.
It opened up with these words,
“You just can’t let me forget that God is ever present in our lives.”
Then he added,
“Don’t stop !”
As I read them, the words that we heard from another letter this morning burned even deeper in my heart
Let me now remind you, dear brothers and sisters, of the Good News I preached to you before.
All of us need to be reminded of the good news, that God is ever-present in our lives.
Solomon once wrote
For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. 2 A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest. 3 A time to kill and a time to heal. A time to tear down and a time to build up. 4 A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance. Ecclesiastes 3:1-4 (NLT)
The passage goes on for another 4 verses, 8 more comparisons of what we might say is a contrast between good and bad, joy and sorrow if we don’t hear how the thought ends,
11 Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NLT)
In Solomon’s time, this is true, we couldn’t father the scope of God’s work. Now, in the Gospel message, in the good news, we see the scope of God’s work as we realize the message revealed in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. We have heard this message, a message that God is ever-present in your lives.
I said the Lord is with YOU.
Oh! Now you remember. As Tom wrote – don’t stop telling me this! We need to hear that God is ever-present with us. He died for our sin, was buried and rose again!
Alleluia! He is Risen!
(He is Risen indeed!)
And that means?
(we are risen indeed! Alleluia!)
in other words
The Lord is With You!
(and also with You!)
The Message of Hope
Hear Paul again,
3 I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me. Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. 4 He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said.
Most important is actually a little weak, it is not only of prime importance, this is foundational. It is the basis for everything else in our lives.
That Christ died – not just that He died, but for you He died but that He was buried and raised from the dead, which is what we celebrate today.
Later Paul will say that if Jesus didn’t die and rise from the dead, we of all people are to be pitied more than anything else in the world.
Jesus death for our sins, Paul tells us, was told about for centuries prior to His being born. Over and over the Old Testament tells us He would die, that God would provide an offering for our sins, and proof of the depth of His love and commitment to us.
The same for His burial and resurrection, and the praises that would result, as God made sure that we knew this wasn’t haphazard, but that this previous weekend was planned before He ever created light.
Jesus would die for our sins, be buried and rise again.
We need to hear this and hear it again and again. Without the series of events for Holy Week, we cannot hear what we need to,
That the Lord is with you!
Paul wants to make sure the Corinthians know this well, so well, that they can base their lives on the Jesus’ death for our sins, on His Burial and Resurrection.
Maybe they won’t believe me, he thinks. No problem. I’ll refer them to other, for there are so many others who can bear witness. Peter’s in town, they call him Cephas, he can share how important this message is. Paul is going to go through all the eye witnesses to the physical resurrection of Jesus so that people will know.
It’s not a dream, it is not something Paul cooked up, it is something that happened, really happened. Five Hundred people witnesses it all at once, not just one hear and one there, 500 at once, and most still lived, in case people wanted to get an opinion other than Paul’s!
And Paul wants us to be assured of it, in order that our lives are based on it.
Paul’s words at the end – it doesn’t matter who tells you, the message is the same, and people like James are more than willing to die, even as they share it. We don’t know if Paul was there when James was martyred, but we know he was when Stephen forgave him, and all those who killed him, simply because he trusted in Jesus, the one who died for Stephen’s sins, and Paul’s and yours and mine. As he trusted in the Jesus, who was buried and rose again from the dead.
Whatever we are now!
We often talk of Christ’s death – for our sins, but there is more to the story of Easter than that. Paul gets to that in verse 10, and what he says of himself, is true for every one of us, read the words with me,
10 But whatever I am now, it is all because God poured out his special favor on me.
For that grace, that very same grace is yours. It is not special to Paul but is the very blessing that God gives to everyone He calls, every person He pours His Spirit on, making them part of His church.
You see, just like if Jesus didn’t rise from the dead our lives are meaningless, so are they not the same if we don’t realize the change He is making to us because Jesus died for our sins, was buried, and Jesus is Risen!
We are risen to a new life, a life lived with God, a life that we need to know God is ever-present in. Something we can’t stop reminding each other of, even in the times where we aren’t sure that God will make these things beautiful. Sure of that, and that being the foundation of our life, we can understand why the Paul told Hebrew Christians,
23 Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. 24 Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. 25 And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near. Hebrews 10:23-25 (NLT)
That is part of the new life of Paul, to continually remind people of the gospel, that Jesus died for our sins, that He was buried, and that Praise God with everything in us, for He has risen!
And that means….
Why we end our prayer with praise
48 days ago, on Ash Wednesday, we began a look at the Lord’s prayer. We finished the requests on Friday, as we realized that at the cross Jesus delivered us from evil and answered every request.
Which leaves only this to finish that journey today, as we celebrate our life with God.
Let us pray,
Our Father, Yours is the Kingdom, and the Power, and the Glory, forever and ever. AMEN!
Dare We Pray:
Deliver Us From Evil
Matthew 6:13 and John 19:16-42
As you contemplate Christ’s death for you, and how that delivered you from evil, may you understand a little more the love of God our Father,
Intro – Deliver Us
We arrive here, this evening, at the foot of the cross.
To think through what it means for Jesus to die, his wrists and ankles shattered by spikes. We look on a broken man, one who endured so much pain and agony. Agony not just of the physical pain, but the agony of being alone, abandoned by those who counted themselves as His friends. Mocked by those whom he taught to pray
Whom He taught to pray to our Father in heaven these words…
“Deliver us from Evil”
It is the last request of the prayer.
And the most painful, and the hardest to pray.
For it is a confession we don’t want to make.
That we have gotten so entangled with evil, that only God can deliver us from it. That He had to make the decision to do so.
Life without evil sounds nice, though what it took, and what it takes, is a price that goes beyond what most of us are willing to pay, or for which we will find it easy to pray.
Yet He taught us to pray to the loving Father, “Deliver us from evil.”
And died on the cross to make it happen.
The Problem Why is it hard to pray this? What is Evil?
When we think of being rid of evil, it is often evil somewhere “out there” Satan’s work in the world, and as His demons work throughout the world. We speak of those evil empires, or the evil politicians, or the murderers and rapists and real serious sinners in prisons, those who God would never save, or it is a miracle if He does.
We don’t pray, “Deliver the world from evil,”
We pray deliver us from evil.
It is personal. We need the Father to deliver us, His people, from evil.
It is a hard prayer to pray, because we have to admit that evil can get a grip on us. That we are the sinners, that evil can get its grip on us, affect us, and that we can think, say, and do that which is evil
We do though, when we make decisions about who is righteous in God’s eyes, and who will be judged, (because God won’t save them!) and condemned for being evil.
We do it when we try to make our actions look righteous, even though we know they aren’t, when we try to justify ourselves, or those like us, rather than pray for all involved. When we gossip and assume the worst possible reason for why someone would do something, or say something. We even pat each other on the back, and congratulate each other when we shred our adversaries rather than pray for them.
There are so many ways we in which we sin, in which we choose that which is evil, over that which is blessed by God.
And today we come to the cross, seeking mercy and grace, praying, Father, deliver us from evil.
We can pray it here…at the foot of the cross.
That is why we are here. To pray, and to remember that the Father has delivered us from evil.
Look at the cross; there is where it happened. Where God unites sinners to Jesus, nailing their sins to Christ, and transforming us into saints, crediting us with His righteousness.
Look at the cross, where our attempts to justify ourselves, our futile attempts are dismissed, for because of Christ being nailed there.
Look at the cross, and know this prayer the Lord has taught us, an every phrase, every word is answered,
He proves He is our Father
His makes His name is holy, as He uses it to claim us, His children, with the seal of the cross in baptism
His kingdom is revealed to include us, for He purchases and redeems us with the blood of Christ.
His desire, His will is seen, as He enables us to not perish, but to repent and be transformed as we are united to Christ, and given the Holy Spirit
He gives us all we need, and care for us, making everything work for good for those He has called, for those who love Him
He forgives us, and helps us forgive others
He leads us away from temptation, as we look to Jesus, and are transformed into sacrificing servants who reflect His glory and embrace our own cross
and He delivers us from evil.. Cleansing us of it, by nailing it to the cross.
And so let us give Him every burden, every anxiety, every pain… even as we pray, trusting Him to answer…