Devotional Thought for our Days:
12 Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. 13 Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. 14 Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. Colossians 3:12-15 (NLT)
102 Peace, and the joy which comes with it, cannot be given by the world. Men are forever “making peace” and forever getting entangled in wars. This is because they have forgotten the advice to struggle inside themselves and to go to God for help. Then He will conquer, and we will obtain peace for ourselves and for—our own homes, for society and for the world. If we do things in this way, you and I will have joy, because it is the possession of those who conquer.And with the grace of God—who never loses battles—we will be able to count ourselves conquerors as long as we are humble.
I am looking out the window of a timeshare, at a schooner being driven by the wind. From a distance, it looks peaceful, calm, the stuff that makes a beautiful portrait or painting.
I am here, on a two day “sabbatical” of sorts, to plan for our Advent services, to find quiet, to get away and rest. A good friend lent me some of his timeshare points to do this, for which I am grateful. And so time away, to pray, to think, to meditate on the incarnation, to have, in a real way, a Sabbath rest.
But like the schooner in the distance, what may appear to be a peaceful time isn’t. The master watches the sales, the quartermaster/pilot is considering the terrain, listening for directions, the sailors working hard to ensure all goes well. And I am tempted to do the same. To think through all the problems and challenges I am escaping from for a brief moment. To think of the chores and the work that will await my return. It is too tempting for my mind to return there, while my body is here.
Dear St. Josemaria is correct, we try to “make peace” but only cause more riots, more violence, more sin. Rather than go to God, who has supplied our peace, we try to create it on our own. We try to even manipulate the silence when we encounter it.
Scripture calls us to something different, a life that is peaceful because God has conquered us internally first, To know and rejoice that He rules over our hearts, that He has come there, even in the dark recesses where our lives truly aren’t peace-filled, but hectic. Those places that we struggle to control, or having crashed our ships on the rocks, struggle to keep afloat.
There is something different that happens when we can relax in His presence. We can allow Him to be the master of our life. We can take a moment to enjoy the Spirit breathing life into us, providing the power and guidance. We can trust God to do all that is necessary, as He moves us from one place to another. as he reconciles our life to His.
It is then we find peace, even in the midst of storms and waves that would threaten us. For it is not a human peace we have made, it is His peace, a peace which will pass all understanding, but in which we shall live, Amen!
Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge (Kindle Locations 568-575). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Even if I am a Dog,
He is MY Master
† Kyrie Iesou, Eleison †
May you realize that when God is your Master, your Lord, which means He obligates Himself to showing you love, and mercy, so that you live in peace!
It’s not about tenacity; it’s about recognition
A question for you to start this message.
Does God simply answer our prayers because we are so tenacious? Did Jesus answer this lady’s prayers just because she followed them through town, or did Jesus answer her to silence the apostles who were whining about her bothering them with her begging?
Is that the way God works, that He rewards those who are persistent, who are tenacious? Who don’t give up? Do we have to workout spiritually, so that we can endure, and then receive that which is promised?
We might say, “No, that doesn’t sound right.” But when it comes to unanswered prayer, do we sometimes hear this story, or the parable of the elderly woman and the judge, and wonder; is that the key to getting a prayer answered?
Persistence, dedication to the cause, determination and good old-fashioned stubbornness?
Or is there something else…. Perhaps something like recognizing the Truth?
The truth that it is okay to be a dog; if that means that He is our Lord, that He is our Master?
That is what was revealed to her, which confirmed to her that He was her Lord!
What She Saw: Lord Son of David!
A little background helps. When the lady first starts yelling to Jesus “Kyrie Eleison” she is saying something we sang a few moments ago.
The translation phrases it, “have mercy Lord.” We sing it the Kyrie in the opposite order, but the plea is the same. Lord, love us and because of that love, care for us. That is what the word mercy means. cHesed means to have great love, care for, provide, protect, forgive and do everything in your power to care for and help those who with who you have a relationship. She demands this of him.
Pour out you love and care on us Lord, she cries, Over and over, she begs this very thing.
She goes one step further; she calls Him Lord! She acknowledges that He is her master. She lays herself at his feet, and she worships Him as her Lord.
You see, cHesed is that loving-mercy of God. It is an obligation of the Lord to His people. I’ve mentioned that word here before, this incredible word that binds a Lord, a Master to His people. He will take care of them, for He has made that commitment to them, as their Lord. He has become their Master.
That is what she wants! That is why she keeps calling Him Lord! Every time she speaks, this is how she addresses Him, as the one who is obligated to care for her.
She wants to be part of His Kingdom, His Household, to be His!
The first time she calls out for mercy, she adds something to it.
Have mercy Lord, Son of David!
Somehow, she knew about this promise of the Messiah. She uses one of the titles for the Messiah, the Christ, the Anointed one of God! The Lord through whom salvation would come! Salvation to the Jewish people, but also to all who would call out to the Messiah.
When she cries out for mercy, she is crying out to the Messiah! She is crying out to the long-awaited Son of David! She recognizes that He is the Lord and Master; the One who would bring about what we heard from the prophet Isaiah,
“I will also bless the foreigners who commit themselves to the Lord, who serve him and love his name, who worship him!”
She knows who Jesus is, she knows the help that only He can offer! She comes and places herself in His care, begging that He would accept Her!
His response finally is heard.
You are nothing but a dog.
Surprisingly, that is what she is longing to hear!
Dogs are part of the family
Consider this quote, about John Chrysostom, one of the most-quoted preachers in history.
Chrysostom seems to recognise the shade of meaning conveyed by τὰ κυνάρια (the dogs of the household). “On the very words of the Lord she founds her plea. If I am a dog (κυνάριον), she says, I am no alien.”[i]
She understands these “terms”; that the promises go first to the people of God, those he counts as His children. She rejoices in knowing that the promise is there for her as well. This Lord has accepted her as part of the household, part of the family of God.
Think about it! How many people refer to their dogs as their children!
She’ll take it, even as the Psalm 84 talks of a similar attitude:
A single day in your courts is better than a thousand anywhere else! I would rather be a gatekeeper in the house of my God than live the good life in the homes of the wicked. Psalm 84:10 (NLT)
To be the mutt, waiting under the table for scraps, the Kingdom of God is a great place to be, knowing the love of the Master. As long as she knows the love of the Lord, as long as she is one of the people He brings home, she will be content.
She will trust in her Master; she will bask in His love…she will trust His reign over her life.
Scraps aren’t good enough!
He will at first acknowledge her faith, by providing the salvation of her daughter, freeing her from the demons that afflict her.
That is only the beginning of the fulfillment of His promises to her, and to all of us, who though not physical descendants of Abraham, are the spiritual descendants. It is just the beginning for those who trust in God as our Lord, our Master!
A blessing for those who know that our cries for His love are answered. His mercy is always the answer! He hears us and will bring us home. That woman didn’t get the scraps from the table; neither will any who trust in the promises that are made ours in Christ.
She is invited to a feast – one beyond all comparison…the wedding feast of the Lamb, the feast to celebrate the welcoming home of all the people of God.
Including this gentile woman and her daughter.
When we approach this altar, we see this feast in part. The love of God, the love of our Master, our Lord, and the mercy which makes it possible. These are not bread scraps and the last drops of wine. This is the body and blood of Jesus Christ!
This feast is the answer of a God, who would provide for all of His children, for all who will call upon His name.
Yes, I am your Lord. Come and feast with me!
Yes, dear friends, Jesus says I will be your Lord, your Messiah, I will care for you. I will provide. That was what the cross was about, not just saving us from our sins, but opening up a relationship for all people with God the Father. He says, “You are my people, come and know my peace!” For this, this peace of God, is promised, which passes all understanding, and in which our hearts and minds are kept safe, by our Lord.
[i] Chase, F. H. (1887). Chrysostom: A Study in the History of Biblical Interpretation (p. 130). Cambridge; London: Deighton Bell and Co.; George Bell and Sons.
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/Discussion Thought of the Day:
5 Servants, respectfully obey your earthly masters but always with an eye to obeying the real master, Christ. 6 Don’t just do what you have to do to get by, but work heartily, as Christ’s servants doing what God wants you to do. 7 And work with a smile on your face, always keeping in mind that no matter who happens to be giving the orders, you’re really serving God. 8 Good work will get you good pay from the Master, regardless of whether you are slave or free. 9 Masters, it’s the same with you. No abuse, please, and no threats. You and your servants are both under the same Master in heaven. He makes no distinction between you and them. Ephesians 6:5-9 (MSG)
When I made you a present of that Life of Jesus, I wrote in it this inscription: “May you seek Christ. May you find Christ. May you love Christ.” These are three very distinct steps. Have you at least tried to live the first one?
At first, the scripture passage from Ephesians and the quote from Josemaria may seem dissonant, or at least unrelated.
But as I consider this particular Monday morning, they resonate completely.
It is easy, as an employee or the boss, to view our work from what benefits me, that its all about me getting done what I need to get done. We will do a good job at work, but only if we get the wage we feel we deserve. We wil only work as a team, if we get our reward for the job well done, and not the blame when others on the team fail to work hard enough to get the team’s goal accomplished. If we are the boss, it’s easy to expect people to go beyond the average and do their best – without our having to invest ourselves in them.
The answer to being a good boss, or a good employee (and some of us are called to be both) lies not in ourselves. It is found in Christ, it has to be, we have to trust Him. For the one who believes and trusts in Christ – this is our core value. This relationship with God is how we define ourselves. It is what gives us the strength to both know the truth, and to be honest about it. Without knowing this, how can we address our own faults, be honest and work sacrificially, and in th best interests of those around us? How can we find the humility to serve, and the strength and patience to work through things.
It is only in trusting Christ, it is only in seeking first His mastery, His reign, His Kingdom, that this can happen. It is only realizing that He is the one we answer to in life – and that His standards are far different and far higher than our own, or those of our earthly bosses.
Look at Christ – the best of servants – who gave up everything not for His own success, but for the success of those who failed the Boss. Look at Christ the Boss, who trained His servants to the point they were willing to die to achieve that which Christ wanted – the reconciliation of the world.
Believers – seek Him first, find yourself in His presence! Know His love for you…. and work with Him by your side…
Godspeed this Monday.
Escriva, Josemaria (2010-11-02). The Way (Kindle Locations 966-968). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
- A Blog of/for the Tired and Wondering if it all Matters… (justifiedandsinner.com)
- Imitating Christ… in dying to self. (justifiedandsinner.com)
Discussion thought of the day
“You don’t want to submit yourself to the will of God, and instead you adapt yourself to the will of anybody, and everybody” Escriva
In the 1930’s the Biritsh Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, thought the way to peace was to appease Hitler, to give into his little demands, to sacrifice others that Hitler would find contentment. It didn’t work of course, and the world was plunged into war. I think many of us do that today. Our friends are doing something we know is wrong, and we are quiet, afraid to destroy the relationship, yet all the time fearing for the consequences we know will come. We give in to our children’s demands, thinking that a moment of respite and quiet is worth it, rather than engage in disciplining them. We make deals all the time, with the illusion that it will bring peace, and minimize the impact on our lives.
Except of course, we don’t bow to God, we don’t listen to the one who designed us, and we get mad at Him when peace isn’t there. He points to simple things – love Him, love your neighbor, and points out the critical ways that can be done and lets us know we don’t have to submit to other God’s, we can use His name to praise and pray to Him instead of using it as a cuss word, we can cherish the blessings of marriage and life. We don’t have to covet other people’s lives and reputations….
DO these things, live in the way He designed, and there is peace.
If you don’t, confess them and He will provide the gift of cleaning it up, and making it right,
But we don’t even like that. “why do I have to confess my sins” they cry! “I don’t need a pastor, or a church, my relationship is with God!” I guess, but even in saying that, the self-centered focus is turning down the gifts of God, and my expectation is the time you could have spent with God’s people, the burdens you have, the guilt and shame – you will continue to bear as you bow to others agendas, and you appease them, for an illusion of peace in that moment. The reality of it is, we belong to whomever we try to appease or submit to…
My friends, let God be God, submit to Him, look to His wisdom and promises….. when you belong to Him, the peace isn’t momentary, nor an illusion. It is peace in the middle of storms, and through them. It is real peace in life.
And in crying “Lord have mercy,” we acknowledge we belong to Him, when we confess our sins, looking for and receiving His love and compassion and comfort – we realize it again. When we take part in the family of God, celebrating His presence, His promises, His gifts, the same – we revel in His being our Master, our Lord, our Savior.
SO this morning – who will you belong to?