Devotional Thought of the Day:
12 Job, have you ever in all your life commanded a day to dawn? 13 Have you ordered the dawn to seize the earth and shake the wicked from their hiding places? Job 38:12-13 (TEV)
Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father sent me, so I send you.” 22 Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23† If you forgive people’s sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” John 20:21-23 GNT
23 For I received from the Lord the teaching that I passed on to you: that the Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took a piece of bread, 24 gave thanks to God, broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in memory of me.” 25† In the same way, after the supper he took the cup and said, “This cup is God’s new covenant, sealed with my blood. Whenever you drink it, do so in memory of me.” 1 Cor. 11:23-25 GNT
There are a lot of times we want to “play God”. Where we want the wisdom and more importantly His power to yield and do what we think is right.
It might be to bring healing to a sick friend, or comfort a child who is inconsolable. It could be to clean up a messy, shattered relationship, it could be to bring peace to a war torn community.
It could be for a less noble goal, to improve our financial outlook, or how content we are with our lot in life. It could be to influence people or make them change into a person that is better fit for us. (In other words, they serve our needs better) Or maybe it is to praise our favorite politicians and political positions, and condemn all who are contrary to them.
Playing God is a sin, it is a violation of the first commandment, and is the source of all other sin.
There is one place where the church is told to have its ministers “play God”. Roman Catholics indicate the priest is acting “in persona Christi”, Lutherans talk about being “in the stead (the place) and (acting) by the command of Christ.
In those moments, not for their own benefit, priests and pastors have the responsibility to do something only God can do. To show mercy, to forgive sins, to declare that someone is holy, righteous, a child of God. They are in the role of Christ when they do so, The gift of absolution, like baptism and the celebration of the Eucharist, (what is also called the ministry of reconciliation) is the most powerful act anyone can perform. It is God’s work,
Though it is not “playing” we do act in the role of Christ, saying what He has instructed us to say, what He has empowered us to say.
Not for our sake, but for the people who hear our words, no, not ours, the words are His. The words are the words of our Lord, Jesus the Christ, spoken to His people, spoken for His people.
I pray we do so, with all the reverence and joy they deserve.
What Child is This?
The One Led By the Spirit!
† IHS †
As you come to know and treasure the grace of God, that mercy and love that comes as we are untied to Christ’s death, may we stand firm in His peace and forgiveness
Can We Wear Our Dad’s Shoes?
Most have done it, some of us have pictures of our children or grandchildren doing it.
Somewhere between the ages of three and five, we walk into our parent’s bedroom, find their shoes, try them on our small feet, and then try to walk in them.
We/they did not get that far, did they?
As we journey through this season of Lent, I think we are going to find out often, that we try to put our Father’s shoes on still. Not our biological parents, but our Father in Heaven’s shoes.
We still cannot walk in them any better than we did when we were four! Nevertheless, the temptation is there, and we want to be grown up and independent. We want the same authority, the same power, the same ability. That is a temptation every day, to play God, or at least imagine what we could/would do, if we had the ability to take His place for a day,
As we read the gospel today, we see that Jesus faced those trials as well. The only one who has walked through life, who would could make a claim to wear the Father’s shoes, to wield His authority.
Will we learn the lesson His actions teach us? Or will we try to take on temptation by falling for Satan’s spin on the scriptures?
Imagine 40 days without your favorite meal or snack, or your favorite beverage! Never mind, we are in Lent, and some of you are doing just that! Jesus was going not 40 days without a specific food, or without coffee, but 40 days without normal dietary intake, without chocolate, or pizza, or bacon, or coffee! We could have just eaten, and yet walking in the parking lot over at the Town Centre and smelling the fumes from Wood Ranch’s ovens can cause us to be hungry!
He wasn’t just hungry, our Lord was starving, His body would have been rebelling against Him, when Satan walks up and offers a solution to Jesus. Just turn these rocks into a nice roll from Panera, or one of those donuts, you know that will be sitting in the MPR about 30 minutes from now.
It’s simple – use what you have, to get something that will take care of your needs.
Which is where many of us fail, as we use what we’ve been blessed with, to get what we want, what we desire, what we feel we deserve.
Like Wednesday night’s sermon, the issue is being content, trusting God with what He’s provided, what He’s called us, where He has placed us in life.
Jesus’s answer is the answer of faith. To trust every word, every promise that comes from the mouth of God. Those words strengthen us, enable us to keep our attention on God, and His work in our life.
It is not easy, Luther put it this way,
I believe that God created me, along with all creatures. He gave to me: body and soul, eyes, ears and all the other parts of my body, my mind and all my senses and preserves them as well. He gives me clothing and shoes, food and drink, house and land, wife and children, fields, animals and all I own. Every day He abundantly provides everything I need to nourish this body and life. He protects me against all danger, shields and defends me from all evil. He does all this because of His pure, fatherly and divine goodness and His mercy, not because I’ve earned it or deserved it. For all of this, I must thank Him, praise Him, serve Him and obey Him. Yes, this is true!
As we will see in each of the temptations, the key isn’t doing it by our strength, by trying to be strong enough to resist temptation, but to turn to God, to His promises, to remember we dwell in His presence, and to know His heart towards us.
The second temptation that Jesus faces is another we are far too familiar with, the temptation of hearing what we want from people, and trying that trick with God. Satan wants us to hear or read the Bible in such a way, that we believe we will never face hardship, never face trauma. No matter what we do, or don’t do.
That sin? Oh, don’t worry about it! Everything you want will be as you deserve! Obedience? Faithfulness? Actually studying the scripture? Prayer? Suffering? It’s not that big of a deal! Gossip, sexual immorality, hatred, not reconciling with people? Nothing to worry about – no side affects! Remember – God will forgive every sin! Pastor said so! Satan would have us know exactly enough scripture that we can act self-righteous, while doing what we want. All thiswhile putting our faith in promises God has never made the way Satan spins them.
Jesus’ answer to Satan again isn’t to fight Satan’s scripture twisting by his own authority, but He returns to scripture, to the commands of God, and rebukes Him from the word of God He knew so well. Don’t put God to the test! It reminds me of what is found in Jude’s little epistle, about the archangel Michael:
9 But even Michael, one of the mightiest of the angels, did not dare accuse the devil of blasphemy, but simply said, “The Lord rebuke you!” Jude 1:9 (NLT)
It is a tactic that is necessarily employed in spiritual warfare, in dealing with temptation. To remember that we don’t wear the Father in Heaven’s shoes, that we aren’t God, but that He is with us, guiding us, that the scriptures reveal He is with us, and that He reigns….
Which is what the last temptation is about, the one where Satan makes a bold promise. Here is everything you desire, the power to save those you love, the power to do whatever you want in their lives.
Oh gosh how tempting this one is in life. What if Satan offered to us unlimited funds for missions. Wouldn’t it be great to have rescued the 33 missionaries about to be killed in North Korea, or feed those starving? Or the ability to cure everyone who suffered from cancer, or diabetes, or heart disease. What if we could bring every person back who has lost their faith, or those who’ve left and healed every painful memory?
Would that be worth bowing before him, for just a moment? Would it be worth it, to set aside the promises of God, for these false promises? Would it be worth it to give up our relationship with God, and all He is for us, to for a moment, to know the illusion of everything being “right”
What could a few seconds of bowing mean? Right?
It’s not just a bow, it’s worship, it submission, it is confessing who has responsibility for your life, it’s about who you trust in, for life, to love you, to care for you in every instance.
Do you want the devil, who would devour you? Or do you want the Triune God, who in Christ came to take on our failure to overcome temptation, who to on our failures, our brokenness, who would bring us back to our Father in Heaven? Who took on our temptation, and defeated Satan, not just in this passage, but the cross
When it comes down to it, who do you want responsible for you?
The one who brings division and temptation, and the one called the Accuser of the family of God.
Or the one who heals.
Rely, trust, believe and know the God who loves you – who died for you.. who lives with you. Know His word and follow His example – don’t take the devil on your own, don’t hear just what you want to hear – but know the God who walks with you… who brings you into His glory, His peace.
Devotional/Discussion thought of the day…
The older I get, the more I see that most of my problems (and I would guess probably yours), boil down to issues with the first commandment of the ten commandments.
Yet, how often do I find myself trying to play God, how many times do I want control, do I get upset when I cannot see the wisdom of God, when I cannot see how He will fulfill what He has promised – especially that thing about God working all things for good for those that love Him (that is about you and I – right?) and are called according to HIS purposes.
I mean – I could lay out the perfect life, I could cause people to react to the word being proclaimed – so that everyone would love each other, I could just….force..it all to happen. And no one would ever wail…”Why God, why did you allow this to happen?” or softly moan “Why God – why couldn’t I have…”, midst a river of tears.
As I’ve done that, and I have observed those tears, those cries for some insight, some understanding. I’ve tried to use my reason, my discernment to try and explain God… and there is no answer that doesn’t result in relief, that doesn’t leave me still questioning God – but this time – more as a judge and prosecutor. So where does that leave us? Where is the hope?
Here again the first commandment.
Exodus 20:2-5 (NLT) 2 “I am the LORD your God, who rescued you from the land of Egypt, the place of your slavery. 3 “You must not have any other god but me. 4 “You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea. 5 You must not bow down to them or worship them, for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affection for any other gods. I lay the sins of the parents upon their children; the entire family is affected—even children in the third and fourth generations of those who reject me.
Most of us would never bow down or worship some statue – even made of gold or wood, or some image of a creature. Our gods are more demanding – our dreams, our understanding of what a perfect life is, our hopes and expectations for our children/grandchildren – what they will be, their perfect marriage, their perfect lives. In reality, our “god” becomes our will, our desires, in short us. And when this “god’s” rules and laws are violated, we find ourselves in anger, great trouble in our heart, and a desire to confront the real God, the one who saves us, the One who comes to us, the One who picks us up and heals our heart.
By the way, part of knowing that He is God, is turning to Him for comfort and forgiveness, when we find ourselves playing God. Not to go into some guilt crazed phase… for God is a God of love, a God of mercy, a God who loves us enough to come to us, to make it right – as He planned (some translations use ordained) before the foundation of the world.
Trusting God, having faith in His plans in His will is challenging, as is guarding ourselves from trying to play God…and turning to Him for forgiveness when we do. It means getting that the wisdom of having no other gods comes after the realization that we have a God – who rescues us, delivers us, saves us. and brings us peace. It is from that point – knowing His work, that the commandments begin to make sense.
It’s about realizing His love, and learning to rest in it, even when we struggle with not having the answers…. It’s about standing before God, being unable to speak as we take in His glory, as we hear His voice… and yet worshiping the Lord who does what He promises… He does deliver us…even if we can’t see it yet…
Like those who hung around a cradle – looking at the one named Jesus – which means – He who will save His people… and thirty three years later….did. (again – not the way we would have planned….but I won’t ask Him to change those plans)
Lord – help us to cry out for, look for, and rely upon your mercy.