Thoughts to encourage you to adore Jesus….
40 But the other criminal protested, “Don’t you fear God even when you have been sentenced to die? 41 We deserve to die for our crimes, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong.” 42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.” 43 And Jesus replied, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.” Luke 23:40-43 (NLT2)
34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” And the soldiers gambled for his clothes by throwing dice. Luke 23:34 (NLT2)
43 “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. 44 But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! 45 In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:43-45 (NLT2)
It is 9-11.
And last night, another friend passed away. One who made me think often of the incredible dimensions of God’s love, displayed on the cross.
And I woke this moring, on 9/11, thinking about the thief on the cross next to Jesus. The one who would be with Jesus in heaven in just a few hours.
God’s mercy extended out to him, even a few pain filled hours before he died.
How incredible is GOd’s mercy!
I don’t know how many people in the towers, on the rescue crews, in the planes, knew Jesus prior ot that day.
Even if they didn’t, in their last moments, any of their cries would be met with the same kind of mercy. THe same forgiveness, the same love, the same promise… today you will be with ME, in heaven.
For God did not want any to perish – but all to come to repentance…. (2 Peter 3:9)
And God doesn’t rejoice in the death of the wicked… (Ezekiel 33:11)
We wil never forget the events of 9/11.
But I pray we remember them in such a way that we are motivated to see all reconciled in Christ to the Father. To love those who seem unlovable, to bless and pray for those who persecute God’s people.
Lord have mercy! CHrist have mercy! Lord have mercy on us all!
Devotional THought of the day:
34 I give you a new commandment: love one another; you must love one another just as I have loved you. 35 It is by your love for one another, that everyone will recognise you as my disciples. John 13:34-35 (NJB)
95 Think what would happen if we Christians chose not to behave as such… and then rectify your behaviour. (1)
As I read this verse this morning, and came across the words in my devotional book, the Forge, I couldn’t help but wonder if those who don’t know I am a believer in Christ, would recognize me as such.
It’s a sobering thought.
Note what is not said.
I am not recognised as a believer because of my expertise in theology. (some might question that anyway)
I am not recognised as a believer because I have a “Rev.” in front of my name.
I am not recognised as a believer because I am a member of the best congregation in all of California.
I am not to be recognised as a believer because of anything I am, save that there is a miracle that has occured in my life.
I have been made able to love others, I have been given the desire to as well, even those I struggle to love.
It isn’t easy, it isn’t natural to me prior to Christ, and I struggle with it now.
But we are recognised as Christ’s brothers, sisters, friends, as children of God, simply because we can love one another. Because that means we know He loves us.
We are encouraged to rectify our behavior, but that doesn’t come because we force our will to, our behavior changes as we think about Chirst, as we receive His love, as we let the Holy Spirit transform us as 2 Corinthians 3 discusses.
We don’t love because we are great people. We love because we are loved.
So let God love you… really love you….
Then, humbly realise when people say somethings hanged, that it has happened because of God’s work.
Go in peace!
Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 551-552). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
6 For when we were still helpless, Christ died for the wicked at the time that God chose. 7 It is a difficult thing for someone to die for a righteous person. It may even be that someone might dare to die for a good person. 8 But God has shown us how much he loves us—it was while we were still sinners that Christ died for us! 9 By his blood we are now put right with God; how much more, then, will we be saved by him from God’s anger! 10 We were God’s enemies, but he made us his friends through the death of his Son. Now that we are God’s friends, how much more will we be saved by Christ’s life! Romans 5:6-10 (TEV)
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your friends, hate your enemies.’ 44 But now I tell you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may become the children of your Father in heaven. For he makes his sun to shine on bad and good people alike, and gives rain to those who do good and to those who do evil. Matthew 5:43-45 (TEV)
Yesterday a young blogger (pastor?) named Matt Walsh wrote a blog entitled “Jesus didn’t care about being nice or tolerant, and neither should you.” http://themattwalshblog.com/2014/04/07/jesus-didnt-care-about-being-nice-or-tolerant-and-neither-should-you/comment-page-2/#comment-160712) I responded at the request of a friend, but I thought I would address the basic concept here as well.
In the blog he wanted to spurn Christians on to regain their fighting spirit, To be aggressive about their faith, to challenge and do battle with those who would attack the church. To not tolerate sin or attacks on the church, to wipe the idea that Christians should be loving and therefore somehow tolerant. One of his points was that Jesus wasn’t tolerant, that He cleared the temple after all. Therefore righteous indignation has its place in those who follow Christ.
I have to admit – his passion is exemplary, and the reach of one blog post of his might be 100 times mine in a month.
But he’s wrong. Critically wrong.
God doesn’t want us to humble these people into submission with the truth. He wants us to reveal them the truth, He doesn’t need warriors to battle them, but people willing to die to themselves, who will do so to see these people freed to live in Christ. They aren’t the ones manning the gates of hell, but the ones Christ’s Church are there to rescue. We must understand this. We must hear His calling for us to love them, to pray for them. We have to realize that we were once in their shoes, broken, mad at God, fighting against Him, our of ignorance and blinded by sin.
The clearing of the temple wasn’t against those who attacked Christianity from the outside, but from those who stopped those on the outside from being able to know God, to find time to pray. The place where he cleared was the place for the Gentiles to pray, so that they would know God. ( see 1 Kings 8:41-43) The goal was to help these people, drowning in the darkness, in despair, these people that are broken, even as we are broken.
For God, over and over, has indicated that He is not willing that any perish in their sins, but that all are transformed in Christ.
That’s why Jesus died on the cross – even Caiaphas recognized this in John 11. That is why Paul would pour out his life, and call us to imitate him as he imitated Jesus. That every apostle didn’t combat their opposition, but prayerd and often died, tat they would know Christ.
Do we have to deal with ugly stuff, if we walk in Jesus footsteps? Yeah – we have to deal with those who don’t even know that sin is sin. (and instead of people getting in their way by selling things to sacrifice – we have to sometimes deal with those who – from inside the church, defend sin.) But we have to remember that their ignorance doesn’t make them our enemy – that our apostolate, our being sent as Jesus was sent ( see John 20:21) is to bring to them healing for the brokenness, sight to their blindness, to proaclim them free from the bondage of sin, and the fear of death.
By pointing them to the one who loved them enough to die for them. Which may mean we lose our life, our identity in this life.
That’s following Christ.
The Zeal for God’s house that sees as the light to those who don’t know God, and the glorious place for those of us to do.
Lord have mercy on us, and help us to love them, as you did.
Discussion/Devotional thought for this day…
We each have them, people in our lives who are challenging to be around, yet we are not just called to be around them, but to love as well.
Matter of fact, we would consider it down-right impossible to love, and when we get to the part of the Lord’s prayer that says. forgive us our sins as we forgive… our hearts and throats get a lump in them. Never mind when the pastor quotes 1 John 4 in a sermon,
4:20 Anyone who says ‘I love God’ and hates his brother, is a liar, since whoever does not love the brother whom he can see cannot love God whom he has not seen. 1 John 4:20 (NJB)
The strength to love these, who are often the least of, (not that they think they are.. but as those unloved.. they are!) has to be something that is generated by supernatural means, our own hearts are too fragile, our wills to weak. One of my favorite authors puts it this way… it will take sacrifice, it will take.. incredible love.. the kind that we barely even know, the will to sacrifice we’ve only begun to comprehend…
One of my favorite authors puts it this way…
“Haven’t you gone against your own preference, your whims, some time, in something? You must realise that the One who asks you is nailed to a Cross, suffering in all his senses and faculties, with a crown of thorns on his head… for you.” (Escriva,)
We all, at sometime in our lives, have found the discipline, the will to accomplish something – a school project, a athletic endeavor, an attempt to learn something new..
This will take more concentration though, and concentration on the One who asks you to love, to love as completely as He does… and did. For we know the result.. the blessing isn’t just peace between your adversary and yourself, but within the family of God. It is looking to Him, finding our inspiration, our power, the love we need….
then, transformed by His love…
you can love… even the unlovable…
for they aren’t you know – the one who loved you from the cross… loves them as well!
Lord Have mercy we cry… and we know.. He has!