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The Great Escape That is our Faith

church at communion 2Devotional Thought of the Day:
13  Every test that you have experienced is the kind that normally comes to people. But God keeps his promise, and he will not allow you to be tested beyond your power to remain firm; at the time you are put to the test, he will give you the strength to endure it, and so provide you with a way out.   1 Corinthians 10:13 (TEV)

As soon as you perceive that you are tempted, follow the example of children; when they see a wolf or a bear, they at once run to the arms of their father or mother, or at least they call out to them for help. It is the remedy which our Lord taught, when He said; “Pray, lest you enter into temptation” (Matt. 26:41). If you find, notwithstanding this, that the temptation still continues, or even increases, run in spirit to embrace the holy cross, as if you saw Jesus Christ crucified before you. Protest that you will never consent to the temptation, crave his help against it, and continue still to refuse your consent, as long as the temptation continues.
But in making these protestations and in refusing to consent, look not upon the temptation, but only on our Lord; for if you look upon the temptation, especially whilst it is strong, it may shake your courage. Divert your thoughts to some good and pious reflections, for good thoughts, when they occupy your heart, will chase away every evil temptation and suggestion.  (1)

 And this understanding is necessary for the church, so that it may know that God is daily at work in His world and embracing with His fatherly care especially those to whom He has given His Word, and He is defending them, watching over them, nourishing and freeing them from all dangers and troubles, and is unwilling to do anything which would take away anything good from those who seek the Lord, Ps. 34:10

Often times I hear the Bible passage above quoted in regards to the problems of life, that God doesn’t give us challenges that we can’t handle.  As if God wants us to take on the challenges using our own wisdom, our own strength of character, our own power.

But that is not what the passage is about, if we look at the verses that come before and after the passage.  It is a transition sentence, moving us from the sin of those in the Sinai with Moses, who grumbled and overlooked the care of God, and a powerful section about the communion we have with God, as we take and eat His Body, as we Drink His Blood that was shed.

It is the escape God provides, the way past temptation and sin that comes as we trust, as we depend on God to provide for us.  That is our way out, carried in the palm of His hands, carried through death and the cross, through the resurrection and life in the glory of God.

Depending on the truth we hear Martin Chemnitz states so well, that God is at work, and won’t take away anything good from those who look to Him.  It is what St Francis de Sales states as well, that our hope is found as we run to and embrace the cross, looking not at the temptation, but focusing on Jesus, on HIs presence, on HIs love, on HIs mercy.

This is our great escape – through Christ, from darkness to light, from guilt and shame into the very glory of God, from brokenness to being healed and life abundant in Christ. TO have the mindset of Christ, to focus in on the love of God our Father, to explore that love, as the Apostle Paul tells the church to, this is our safe place, our sanctuary, our refuge.

That is why the Kyrie Eleison (Lord Have Mercy! ) is such a powerful prayer, for it directs our hope to Christ, where it finds the proof that sustains it.

We must go back, and see where Paul finds that escape, in the communion of people and God.  In the sharing of the Eucharistic (the Blessing) Cup, in the Body of Christ which we share.  In that sacramental meal, we find ourselves so in the presence of God. This sacrament, this time of being with God, is so precious, so needed!

This is Christianity, our religious dependence and trust in God, the path of walking with Christ, being the place where the Spirit dwells, where the people of God are lifted up.

So look to Jesus my friends, and find the escape we all need. AMEN!

(1)  Francis de Sales, Saint. An Introduction to the Devout Life. Dublin: M. H. Gill and Son, 1885. Print.

Chemnitz, Martin, and Jacob A. O. Preus. Loci Theologici. electronic ed. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1999. Print.

Alleluia He is Risen….therefore We are Risen Indeed! Alleluia!

Alleluia, He is Risen! Therefore

We are Risen Indeed!

† IHS 

May you rejoice as you realize the gifts of God our Father, poured out on you in Baptism, as we are united with Christ’s death and Resurrection!

 

It’s not just for Easter Season!

For someone whose been to church for a while, some phrases we say are as automatic as responding to someone who sneezes.

They sneeze, we say, “God bless you”

For those who’ve been around this church and many others, if I were to say, “The Lord is with you”…. Hahaha… I knew some of you would not wait to hear me respond…so please – don’t respond to this next one…

“Alleluia! He is Risen@” you would normally answer, “He is Risen Indeed!”

Not today, today I want you to respond, “Therefore we are risen indeed!  Alleluia!”

Let us try it – “Alleluia – He is Risen!”

therefore we are risen indeed!  Alleluia!”

One more time?

“Alleluia – He is Risen!”

therefore we are risen indeed!  Alleluia!”

We desperately need to understand this – that because He died, and He rose, we too with the church in Rome, can consider ourselves to be dead to the power of sin, and alive to God, through Christ Jesus.

That has to become part of our daily thought, to realize we are dead to sin, and alive to God through Christ.  As it does, we become more and more aware of His love for us, and His walking with us through life.

How we would want to live

With 15 years of being a fulltime pastor now, I think one of the greatest challenges that exist for people is to understand the Doctrine of Justification personally, in their daily lives.  Or to put it clearly – to get the connection between the phrase Alleluia! He is Risen, and “therefore we are Risen Indeed!  Alleluia!

We know how God expects us to live, loving Him, loving those around us.  We understand that is God’s salvation is His gift to us, and it is found in trusting Christ, not in our works. Many of us have known these truths as long as we can remember. 

Yet when we look at our lives, we struggle, because there great truths aren’t always seen in our daily actions, We know what’s good, but can we live that way throughout our lives? It’s a paradox, one that can make us question whether God really is active in our lives. Or take the opposite tack, and try to excuse and defend our sin, rather than seeking the comfort

Though we think more of Romans 7 and 8 when we talk about our struggle with sin,  it really begins here, in the first verses of chapter 6.  Here Paul begins to address sin, and our being declared without sin, because of Jesus.  We lose our ability to just dismiss it, or justify it’s constant presence in our lives.  First, he deals with the dismissal, that sin isn’t that big of a deal, because God is glorified as He forgives and cleanses us of sin.  Therefore, more sin equals more glory, so no big deal?

He says we can’t let that attitude even be born in our lives, because, we’ve died with Christ.  Having died with Christ, why should we go back to it?

Paul strips away our excuses for our sin, by reminding us of what happened.  Being in bondage to sin isn’t our normal way of life anymore.

Hear the Message! 

That’s the key to this passage, sin and its power over us is history, sin doesn’t have the power we once knew it to have.  It cannot, for we have been baptized into Christ, joined with Him

And as we have been united with Christ – the words are incredible there – we are nailed to the cross with Christ, they are compound words – syn-staurothe – crucified together with Christ, Synthapto, buried together with Him.  The prefix syn indicating a communal aspect – all together in this, sharing in it, one with Him in His death.

These picture us so untied to Christ’s death, burial and resurrection that we can’t be separated from it,   Paul then goes on to say, if this is true regarding being one with His death, we will be one with His resurrection, in His tossing aside death, in His leaving sin so powerless – that we are considered dead to each other.

For Alleluia!  Christ is Risen! Therefore?

Consider yourself…

So what do we do?  We realize what Paul is saying to the church in Galatia as well,

24  Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there.   Galatians 5:24 (NLT)

That is what living in Christ is all about – about leaving our sin, our passions and desires, nailed to the cross – and when we struggle with sin, to bring it back there and leave it where it belongs.

You’re dead to its power – and alive to Christ.  Because God claimed you in baptism.

When we said earlier that God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, that’s what we know, yet it is something for which we need daily reminder. It’s why we pray that God would lead us away from temptation and deliver us from evil, so that we will know He does. It is why we celebrate the Lord’s Supper, and hear St Paul say that every time we do this, knowing Christ, we proclaim His death until He comes again.

Because in proclaiming His death, we are proclaiming the victory, the liberation of us from the power of sin.  Delivering us into a life filled with the Father’s love and mercy and comfort and peace.

So you sinned this week, God’s dealt with it, and when you face temptation, your struggle is not to overcome it by your own strength, but to look to Christ, know you are in His presence, flee to His side, to the cross, and know that sin cannot defeat you there. Remember you are baptized into Christ’s death, and raised with Him, think of the body and blood given to you in this place, and know God has separated you from your enemy sin.

That’s what this service, and Sunday School, and our Bible study are all about.

To help us know this.

That we are dead to the power of sin, and alive to God through Christ.

For Praise God, He is Risen, and therefore we are risen indeed, Alleluia?

 

The Battle against Sin and Immorality – how it is to be waged…

Devotional?Discussion Thought of the Day:

 13  And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one. Matthew 6:13 (NLT)

” 138    Infelix ego homo!, quis me liberabit de corpore mortis huius?—“Unhappy man that I am, who will deliver me from this body of death?” Thus cried Saint Paul. Courage! He too had to fight.

139    At the time of temptation think of the love that awaits you in Heaven: foster the virtue of hope—it’s not a lack of generosity.(1)

 

As a pastor, I have to deal with sin quite a bit.  First of all there is my own, then there is that of my people I pastor – whether members of the congregation I pastor, or those who I interact with regularly.  It is a bit ironic that those who aren’t “officially” mine – are more willing ot read this and deal with sin, but that’ s another story.

I love Paul’s self-disclosure in Romans 7, His dealing with his own battles with sin – and the despair that comes from unsuccessfully.  It gives me some assurance that we can, bluntly and faithfully, address the presence of sin in our lives.

We don’t need to hide from the grief sin causes, we don’t need to grieve without addresses it.

The answer of it is far simpler – far easier, and laid out in scripture.

Go to God when you are tempted, go to God with your sin.  Fight it – but not with weapons of our own making – fight sin and temptation by taking it to God.  Think about His love, recognize His presence – plead with Him to help you… and when you fail – turn to our Lord and know His answer to your plea for mercy is always “yes”.

Trust (that is have faith/believe) that God will see you through the temptation, through the failure, that His very love will bring you to hear that He has forgiven you.  That His love will always, always, overcome evil.

Rom, Sankt Paul vor den Mauern, San Paolo fuor...

Rom, Sankt Paul vor den Mauern, San Paolo fuori le mura Italiano: Statua di San Paolo di fronte alla facciata della Basilica di San Paolo fuori le Mura a Roma. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And Rejoice – for the Lord is with You.

 

 

 

 

(1)Escriva, Josemaria (2010-11-02). The Way (Kindle Locations 457-458). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

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