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A New Year… a Time to Heal Brokenness

Jesus foot washing

Devotional Thought of the Day:

†14 I am the LORD your God, and I command you not to make fun of the deaf or to cause a blind person to stumble.  Leviticus 19:14 CEV

17 Don’t hold grudges. On the other hand, it’s wrong not to correct someone who needs correcting. 18 Stop being angry and don’t try to take revenge. I am the LORD, and I command you to love others as much as you love yourself. Leviticus 19:17-18 CEV

So they ran all over that part of the country to bring their sick people to him on mats. They brought them each time they heard where he was. 56 In every village or farm or marketplace where Jesus went, the people brought their sick to him. They begged him to let them just touch his clothes, and everyone who did was healed.  Mark 6:55-56 CEV

I wondered this morning as I read the first passage whether the deaf and blind were only physically blind, or if it included those we consider spiritually blind as well.

It doesn’t matter if we a progressive or conservative, contemporary or traditional, right or left, or somewhere on a different spectrum.  We all believe there are people that are so out of touch with reality. that they can’t see or hear, because otherwise, how could they be that stupid?

Or perhaps they are the people we resent, with cause perhaps.  People we are angry with, people we want ot hurt just as much (if not more) than they hurt us. We will take ourselves out of their lives, stating they are the toxic ones, they are the ones that shattered the relationship that was once valued, even treasured.

What would life be like if we, like those who dragged their ailing friends, neighbors, brought these people, the spiritually deaf and blind or those who have hurt us and those we love, before the throne of God?

What would happen if we prayed for them, even wept over the brokenness we think we perceive?

Would God be any less willing to listen, to interact, to bring sight to their eyes (or ours) and enable their ears to hear?  Would He bring them to repentance, and forgive their sins?

Or maybe, answering our prayers, would He change us…

Something to think through and pray about this new year, as we look forward to seeing how God is God, our Almighty God, our Wonderful Counselor, our Everlasting Father, our Prince of Peace.

Godspeed to you and yours… and this time next year, may you see the healing God has long desired in your life!  AMEN!

Overwhelmed by Joy! A sermon on Isaiah 61-62

church at communion 2

Overwhelmed by Joy!

Isaiah 61:10-62:3

 Jesus Son & Savior

As we begin this year, may the grace of God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ overwhelm you, leaving you noticeably at rest and full of joy!

Standing in the wings

Isaiah, the prophet gives an incredible description of the new beginning we have in Christ in today’s Old Testament.  It takes most of back a decade or two or five.

Back to when us guys were standing in churches, or chapels, and waiting for the doors to open. Back when you ladies were on the other side of those doors, in that moment of anticipation, in that moment of joy.

That’s what Isaiah starts the passage with, as he attempts to describe the joy he feels, as he catches a vision of the restoration of the people of God.  Hear it again,

10  I am overwhelmed with joy in the LORD my God! For he has dressed me with the clothing of salvation and draped me in a robe of righteousness. I am like a bridegroom in his wedding suit or a bride with her jewels.

All dressed up – and waiting, but what clothes!  Salvation and Righteousness!

And Isaiah saw this coming – and the joy was overwhelming!

As we start this new year, this is what we need to realize, that our lives have changed, and changing as much as a young couples lives change, as the bride and groom see each other on their wedding day….

We’ll get back to that in a moment…
The prayer – for the new beginning
We need to understand that Isaiah is one of the prophets whose writings are filled with lament.  With the words that people will hear, because they continually choose sin over God.  They are self-centered, and ignore those in need, which Isaiah mourns over, even as he warns them what they are heading for, if they continue.

In between the woes, and the promises of judgment, there brief views of hope.  He will talk about a virgin who would conceive, and the baby who would be the wonderful counselor, eternal Father, the prince of peace.  He would mention the one who pleased God by taking on himself all the wrath of God, thus giving life to those crushed by their own sin.

But overall, the book is challenging to read, Lots of what we might call hell fire and brimstone.  But then, sin is a serious issue, and it took a serious cross to cure and heal the damage done to sinners.

But you see God’s heart reflected in Isaiah’s prayer

Because I love Zion, I will not keep still. Because my heart yearns for Jerusalem, I cannot remain silent. I will not stop praying for her until her righteousness shines like the dawn, and her salvation blazes like a burning torch.
Even as the prophet has his moments, okay, more than moments, years of struggling to get them to listen to God, he has a desire for them to come into the relationship they were meant to be in.

God’s desire infused the heart of Isaiah, and even as he weeps over their disobedience, he longs for the change that God has promised.

He has to pray, and will pray until they are right with God, so right they shine like the sun rising, and the proof of God’s delivering them lights up the darkness like bonfire.

This is what the prophet longs for, and what causes incredible joy, as he looks to the future, and gets a hint of what Jesus, the one born of a virgin, the suffering servant whose wounds would provide our healing, when Isaiah realizes the work of Christ!

Even as it was His hope, it is ours as well, and we are so much closer to realizing it fulfilled.

We like Isaiah are dressed, and waiting for the doors to open, to see the promise come into its fullness.

The clothes and the name.

When I mentioned the joy of Isaiah being such that he compared it to a groom standing here, or a bride back at the door, all dressed up in their clothing of salvation and the robe of righteousness, I didn’t explain the depth of those words.

The clothing is that of the greatest finery – the same words are used for the special robes of a priest on the highest of holy days.  As is the robe – we aren’t talking about a bath robe or choir robe, we are talking about the covering of a king… and the types of garments aren’t even the best thing!

The clothing of salvation – that is in Hebrew the being clothed with Yeshua – being clothed with Jesus!  The very thing Paul will talk about, as we are united to Jesus – as we put Him on,

Which explains how our robes are righteousness – the purity and innocence of one who does not know sin at all.

This is what Isaiah saw as our future, this moment of pure joy, pure bliss, as the people of God are made so righteous that the world is amazed, because we will share in the glory of God, as He holds out for all to see.

This moment as God makes you His, this special moment that Isaiah prayed and prayed and prayed for, that the people of Israel and all the nations would come to know…

The moment we were united to Christ, it is already here, it happened at the cross.

In the beginning of the sermon, I mentioned waiting here as a groom would, or there, as a bride would, that is what Isaiah saw – but for us, we’ve come to that point where the pastor announces our name for the first time, for we have be claimed by Christ at this font, and again at this altar.

We are his, and though we can’t quite believe it has happened, it has, and the rest of life is the walk down the aisle, dwelling with Him in holiness, until we go out into eternity.

The thought of this occurring caused Isaiah great joy, so much so He was overwhelmed,

How much more can this overwhelm us, who don’t see it far off, but know it true now.

How much more can it affect our very lives, this incredible gift of God.

May we sing His praises, now and forever!  AMEN

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Do We See What God is Doing Now? Express YOUR awe anew! Thoughts approaching the New Year,

Devotional THought to End the Year:

1  Praise the LORD! Sing a new song to the LORD; praise him in the assembly of his faithful people! 2  Be glad, Israel, because of your Creator; rejoice, people of Zion, because of your king! 3  Praise his name with dancing; play drums and harps in praise of him. 4  The LORD takes pleasure in his people; he honors the humble with victory. 5  Let God’s people rejoice in their triumph and sing joyfully all night long.  Psalm 149:1-5 (TEV)

950  We should indeed respect things that are old, and be grateful for them. Learn from them by all means, and bear in mind those past experiences, too. But let us not exaggerate; everything has its own time and place. Do we now dress in doublet and hose or wear powdered wigs on our heads?  (1)

As a minister, as a servant of Christ and His church, I have had the chance to stand in awe, as I’ve observed God work. Last year, as I was in China, and saw people hungry for the gospel, as I saw pastors and church leaders hungry for training.  As I visited missionaries and saw in them a hunger to be minister to, a hunger so met, that a simple worship service was fileld with tears, with incredible joy, with incredible love.  I’ve seen it here at my church, as those who needed God’s comfort and peace in times that trusting in God and knowing HIs presence shuold have been challenged, were comforted and able to pray with a quiet confidence.  As people approach the altar, leaving burdens dropped, and receiving in exchange, the Body and Blood of Jesus, and treasuring that joyous moment.

He is amazing, this God of ours, and we should stand in awe of His presence.  A presence we should melt in, not from fear, but in awe of His love that I can only use terms like passionate, and intimate, not because of it being erotic, but because of its power and completeness.

A love that is the stuff of song, a love that creates in the musician, the artist, the poet, the wood and metal worker, the blogger, a new work as we find ways to express that awe.

Others have done this in the past, as they have used their heart and minds and hands to create masterpieces in every form, visible, audidble, tactile, They give us examples of what can be done, they can help keep us focused on Jesus.

Without such awe, Luther would have never realized what a place of rest God’s presence is, and written of Him as our Mighty Fortress.  Augustine wouldn’t have penned tomes, exploring the fullness of theology.  St Francis and Mother Theresa wouldn’t have found His beauty among lepers, Pascal wouldn’t have written of the fire that burns.  And people like Michael Card, John Michael Talbot, Matt West and Mark Hall and Chris Gillette wouldn’t be writing music now.  To express the joy that is found in knowing God’s presence here, in that awe inspiring us to worship Him.

You see, God didn’t stop inspiting people after the sixteenth century, He didn’t stop working in people’s lives after the death of the apostles, Or after the publication of any hymnal. When we cling to these things, and demand that they are the only way to properly worship God, it can be admission that we don’t see Him working today, that nothing He is doing leaves us in awe, and we create an idol out of past. We stand in awe, not of God, but of their experience, their awe.  We end up like the sons of Sceva, trying to rid people of what oppresses them by incanting God because of someone else’s relationship.

Do you see what God is doing now?  In your life?  In the life of your family, the church, and in your community, which He longs to bring into Christ, through your love demonstrating His?

God;s presence recognized now means that people will need to express their awe, people will need to use their words, their instruments, their talents within their culture, within their time, to do so.  Learning from those who’ve gone before, listening to ensure they do not stray, yes.  But the people of God need to praise God for what He is doing in their lives, Lives that are claimed at the cross, year lives we lived in 2013, and soon in 2014.  The Lord is with us!  Rejoice! Be in absolute awe!  With all you are, respond in joyous praise!

Words and music as published in The Chorale Bo...

 

 

 

Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 3851-3854). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Need A New Years Resolution? Here’s An Miraculous and Missional One!

Devotional Thought of the Day!

5  Use your heads as you live and work among outsiders. Don’t miss a trick. Make the most of every opportunity. 6  Be gracious in your speech. The goal is to bring out the best in others in a conversation, not put them down, not cut them out. Colossians 4:5-6 (MSG) 

918 You should always avoid complaining, criticising, gossiping… You must avoid absolutely anything that could bring discord among brothers. (1)

Within the next week, you will hear people talking about their New Year’s resolutions, the changes they know they need to make, and at least will verbally commit to attempting… and least for 3-4 weeks.

The above verse from Colossians, and the corralary from a devotional work from St Josemaria Escriva, I would ask you to consider, if you are making such resolutions.  If not, I would simply point out that the red letters above are scripture, and they are how God has planned us to live. ( in other words. resolve to make this a change anyway!).  I pray that the resolution is not just something in passing, but starts a movement.

We live in a society, where this is so counter-cultural, that we take to twitter, fb and every other means possible to complain, to criticize, (which is a nice way of saying condemn), to divide us from others. We fight for rights, we demand respect, we forget that the person we are upset with may have had a long tiring day, or that they are in grief, or that they are struggling with anxiety or fear.  We can’t know what they are going through, and that God may have sent us into their life to show them love, to impart to them a little joy and peace. To give them a moment to catch their breath and know that God will make everything alright.

Think of what that would mean to us, if someone did that for us when we are stressed, when we are dealing with loss, or fearing it. When we are feeling alone, and the one that feels like an “outsider”. We’ve all been there, we’ve all known the hurt, the pain, the anxiety, even to the point of compromising ourselves to avoid it. So how would we feel if someone reached out to us, in that very moment we were at our weakest?

This is what Christmas is all about, and in a sense the idea of New Years.  That God would reach into our lives, and put a stop to our being outsiders.  He makes us family, He creates in us a sense of belonging, by reaching out, comforting, drying the tears, forgiving us from sin, helping us to realize the height and width, depth and breafth of His love.  Then, He commissions us to go and bring word of that love to others that are outsiders as we were, People that are just asa broken, but hide it.  People that are just as in pain as we were, and strike out at everyone, people whose sins require the healing that only God can bring to them, but brings it through us.

They need Him.

You want a resolution that will chagne more than the numbers on your scale?  That will change life for others?  Here it is…scripturally sound, missional, loving, and can only be done,even miraculous, For it can only be done by living in Christ.

Lord have mercy on us, and flavor our speech with your grace, mercy and peace!  AMEN

 

Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 3732-3734). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

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