Devotional Thoughts for the Day
Then Jesus told them, “Give the Emperor what belongs to him and give God what belongs to God.” CEV Matthew 22:21
See, now you understand the meaning of the term “to hallow” and “holy.” It is nothing else than withdrawing something from misuse and dedicating it to its proper godly use, just as a church is dedicated and appointed solely to the service of God. In like manner we must be hallowed in our whole life, leaving nothing but the name of God to dwell in us, in other words, nothing but kindness, truth, justice, etc. Hence the name of God is hallowed or profaned not only with our lips but also with our soul and all the members of our body.
Second, God’s name is defiled by robbing and thieving. Although wise men will at once understand what I mean, it will be too subtle for the simpleminded, since we are here referring to the arrogant ones who regard themselves as righteous and holy and do not feel that they are profaning the name of God as those in the aforementioned group do. While they dub themselves righteous and holy and truthful, they freely and fearlessly pilfer and purloin God’s name
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.
As I read the words Luther wrote nearly 500 years ago, I knew I had to write on the first paragraph, and what holiness/perfection truly is. I’ve mentioned this before, but it cannot be spoken about enough. We hear, “44 I am the LORD your God, and you must dedicate yourselves to me and be holy, just as I am holy. (Leviticus 11:44 (CEV)) and we get to work, trying our damndest to become what we think holy means, or when we fail, working equally hard to maintain the illusion of holiness.
It is the latter action that leads us to be convicted of robbery, trying to steal what is not ours. We profane God’s name, Luther writes, when we pretend to be something we are not when we put up the charade that we are perfect, that we are righteous, that we are holy. For not only do we not understand holiness, but we also take the responsibility that is God’s alone when we declare we are. What a scam the devil has laid upon us, to get us to think that we determine whether or not we are righteous, and others are not! Falling for it, we try to determine what is good and what is evil, unaware of our own spiritual blindness.
Holiness is as simple as what Luther notes, taking something misused and redirecting it towards its purpose. Whether it is God’s name, no longer used to swear, condemn or falsely justify ourselves and others, or whether it is our lives, created in His image in order to spend time with Him. This is the truth that St. Josemaria talks of, in regards to being pious and holy, the key is simple. Being constantly in the presence of God. Finding out that we are int he presence of a loving, merciful, gentle God who will gently (and firmly) heal our brokenness.
Stop trying to be righteous, stop putting on an act that presents you as holy and perfect. Instead, spend time talking to God, letting Him do the work that only He can do. Look to Him, focus on His love, spending as much time aware of His presence as you can.
Holiness will be taken care of, He promises.
Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, Vol. 42: Devotional Writings I, ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann, vol. 42 (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1999), 29.
Escriva, Josemaria. The Way . Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional Thought of the Day.
The LORD told Moses 2† to say to the community of Israel, “Be holy, because I, the LORD your God, am holy.
4† “Do not abandon me and worship idols; do not make gods of metal and worship them. I am the LORD your God! Lev 20:1-2 GNT
7 Keep yourselves holy, because I am the LORD your God. 8 Obey my
1 Happy are those whose sins are forgiven, whose wrongs are pardoned. 2 Happy is the one whom the LORD does not accuse of doing wrong and who is free from all deceit. 3 When I did not confess my sins, I was worn out from crying all day long. 4 Day and night you punished me, LORD; my strength was completely drained, as moisture is dried up by the summer heat. Psalm 32:1-4 (TEV)
It is there in the wounds of Jesus that we are truly secure; there we encounter the boundless love of his heart. I have seen so many people
who find the courage to enter the wounds of Jesus by saying to him,
“Lord, I am here, accept my poverty, hide my sin in your wounds
and wash it away with your blood.”
And I always see that God does just this: He welcomes, consoles cleanses and loves.
Throughout scripture, we hear this theme over and over again. Be perfect, be holy, be mature, imitate me as I imitate Christ,
If you know church history, you know that there have been several seasons where this was the focus of the church. It drove the earliest monastics, it found roots in the immigration from Europe to America, we see it in the Welsh Revival and the Azusa Street revival also comes from a holiness movement that resulted as well in the formation of the Nazarene churches. and before that the Wesleyans. The Catholic and Lutheran Churches as well had their moments of pietism, often forced, guilt-driven pietism. Even the moral majority was a passing thought to see the image of holiness cast on our nation.
But all these movements, as movements, eventually lost their momentum. You can only drive holiness into your people so long before they will abandon it, the guilt and shame too hard to handle. Or again, harassed by an unreachable goal, they opt for the image of holiness, (the appearance of Godliness – see 2 Tim. 3:5) often creating a pharisaical system which focuses on some minute behaviors while ignoring others.
But the failure to maintain the appearance of Godliness, the failure to be truly holy is not an admission that we can’t be holy, that we can’t imitate Christ Jesus. Indeed, if anything, these failures should help us realize we go about being holy in a way that is the cause of our unholiness.
Our holiness isn’t about us. It isn’t about our effort, our determination, our will being broken and tempered correctly through this practice, or that book, or following these spiritual exercises. Ultimately, these things can be beneficial, if they help us understand the secret of holiness.
The secret is found in the first two readings
Don’t abandon God…. and I am the Lord your God, I make you holy!
There it is, the secret to holiness.
Let God do it!
Just relax and focus on walking with God. Revel in His presence, rejoice in His promise, as often repeated throughout scripture, of forgiving, cleansing, us of all sin, making our lives right, restoring our lives which were broken. Reconciling, redeeming, declaring us innocent, and righteousness. Removing the burdens of guilt and shame, all these things He does makes us Holy
As God does all this, what is left, is simply….. holy. It has been sanctified.
And if you look at the early works of the great revivalists, this freedom, this joy of being freed from the burden of our sin, would result in people restoring that which was stolen, reconciling with those they sinned against, and finding the sins and temptations of the world as what they really are, unsatisfactory, destroyers of peace.
Know my dear friend, that you are forgiven. Stay in the
You will be holy, for this is what God does. AMEN!
Pope Francis. (2013). A Year with Pope Francis: Daily Reflections from His Writings. (A. Rossa, Ed.) (p. 20). New York; Mahwah, NJ; Toronto, ON: Paulist Press; Novalis.
DEvotional Thought for our Days:
7 So that I would not become too proud of the wonderful things that were shown to me, a painful physical problem n was given to me. This problem was a messenger from Satan, sent to beat me and keep me from being too proud. 8 I begged the Lord three times to take this problem away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is enough for you. When you are weak, my power is made perfect in you.” So I am very happy to brag about my weaknesses. Then Christ’s power can live in me. 10 For this reason I am happy when I have weaknesses, insults, hard times, sufferings, and all kinds of troubles for Christ. Because when I am weak, then I am truly strong. 2 Cor. 12:7-10
In a letter to Leonie, Therese writes,
I find perfection very easy to practise, because I have realised that all we have to do is take Jesus by the heart. Consider a child who has just upset his mother by losing his temper or disobeying her. If he goes and hides in a corner with a sullen look on his face and cries because he is afraid of being punished, his mother will certainly not pardon his fault. But if he comes to her and holds out his arms to her and smiles at her and says, “Give me a hug, I’ll never do it again,” how can his mother resist taking him fondly and pressing him to her heart, forgetting his childish wickedness? Yet she knows perfectly well that her dear child will do it again as soon as the occasion arises, but that makes no difference; if he takes her by the heart again, he will never be punished.
Tugwell informs us that “Therese had herself been tormented by scruples for more than a year” but later on came to a different conclusion about herself: Even if she committed every possible sin, she would still have exactly the same confidence in God. She no longer needed the assurance of her own virtue.
11 Likewise, faith does not ask if good works are to be done, but before one can ask, faith has already done them and is constantly active. Whoever does not perform such good works is a faithless man, blindly tapping around in search of faith and good works without knowing what either faith or good works are, and in the meantime he chatters and jabbers a great deal about faith and good works.
When I came across the words of St Therese, (quoted by a Baptist) I was a little in shock.
The words resonate with me, I could have perhaps said them myself, for the value running to God when we see, and when we are tempted is beyond explanation. To know the comfort of God, the mercy, and peace that flows over us as we are in God’s arms,
Knowing that love of God is so powerful, so overwhelming that we dropped the carefully constructed facade of virtue that we create. His love makes us so confident we can drop the attitude of piety that we careful craft, and admit that we are simply poor, broken sinners. Sinners who have no confidence in our own strength, but instead learn to completely depend on Jesus. We can depend on God like the child running to his mother, rather than being punished in the corner.
This is when holiness, when sainthood is seen by others. When it is not contrived, when it is not planned, when it is no longer an act, but the natural life lived in the presence of Christ. It’s the life of faith that the reformers saw, one that doesn’t argue about faith and works, one doesn’t even contemplate how to do good works, but simply does them, constantly active. It doesn’t wait for the exegetical, historical and systematic explanation of loving God and therefore loving those around them, but faith does that, while searching the scriptures for God, find the promises delivered to them in and through Jesus.
That is true holiness, one that isn’t holier than thou but realizes that hope for its brokenness is found in the God we adore, and in finding in His heart, our life.
Dwell in peace… knowing the blessed life that is found in Christ! Amen!
Webber, Robert E. The Divine Embrace: Recovering the Passionate Spiritual Life. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2006. Print. Ancient-Futpietyeries.
Tappert, Theodore G., ed. The Book of Concord the Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press, 1959. Print.
Pastors, Priests and other ministers: Breath, Shift and Accept and Rejioce that it’s all about Jesus!
Devotional THought of the Day:
6 A child is born to us! A son is given to us! And he will be our ruler. He will be called, “Wonderful Counselor,” “Mighty God,” “Eternal Father,” “Prince of Peace.” 7 His royal power will continue to grow; his kingdom will always be at peace. He will rule as King David’s successor, basing his power on right and justice, from now until the end of time. The LORD Almighty is determined to do all this. Isaiah 9:6-7 (TEV)
Breathe, Shift, Accept…. ( a tool a counselor taught my son, which I need to remember as well!)
Things are beginning to get hectic around here. Three services, plus meals, plus people coming over to our place in between services, plus last minute edits and finalizing sermons.
I am beginning to feel like I am losing it, and expect readers that know me would pipe in with “beginning?”. Seriously – there has not been enugh time this month, because there have been people who needed to know God’s grace in the moments they face. That’s cook – I understand it,and that is why I am here. Even so, I am beginning to feel a lot of pressure. It’s Christmas, and everything has to be perfect.
My son has asberger’s. To be honest, as I’ve learned about it, I’ve wondered about myself. When we went to a child psychologist to find out how to help him with his schooling, Dr. Dudley taught us a lot, but he specifically gave William a tool – to help him avoid a meltdown, or if in the midst of one, to find the peace to come out of it. Three simple steps. And it works, even for us older folk.
Breathe – deep slow breaths, with lots of focus on the breathing.
Shift – take the time to move into the mode you have to – this comes only after breathing, to slow everything down – and to get needed oxygen to our muscles.
Accept. – this is it… this is the reality I have to work in..
For me, I add a few words to the accept.
“It is all about Jesus”. Because that is where i have to focus. It is the point of all this we go through in ministry. We may strive for perfection in our ministries, in our worship services, especially these days when we know people are here.. that desperately need to hear of God’s love. This can all add more pressure, more stress as we try to know the place for everything, and put everything in its place.
Breath my brothers and sisters….
Shift you thinking to the babe in the manger, the one in the shadow of the cross, which is in the shadow of our being welcomed into the very glory of God’s presence.
And accept that this is all about Him… and point to Him, the lamb of God, who has come…
And rejoice, for our King is with us now, even as we prepare to lead others in rejoicing that He has come!
THe one who will care for us, our benevolently providing Lord,
Our Wonderful Counselor,
Our Mighty God,
Our Eternal Father,
The One who brings us into His peace..>
Breath, Shift, Accept and REJOICE!
Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 3653-3657). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
- Pastors, Christians and Enforcing “the” Law (justifiedandsinner.com)