Devotional Thought of the Day:
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. 5 Then I confessed my sins to you; I did not conceal my wrongdoings. I decided to confess them to you, and you forgave all my sins. Psalm 32:3-5 (TEV)
175 You are consumed by the desire to seal once more the self-dedication you made some time ago: remembering that you are a son of God and living like one too. Put your many weaknesses and infidelities in the Lord’s hands. For that is also the only way to lessen their weight.
In Paul’s teaching about the Lord’s Supper in Corinthians 11, he mentions the need for self-examination. To ake some time and think through our lives. to think about our sins, to realize the great need we have for God’s mercy and abundant love.
Most of us want to please God, we want to avoid sin and temptation, we want to do better. We understand all too well though the battle that rages on in our hearts and souls which the apostle Paul describes clearly in Romans 7 and then again in Hebrews 12. In the latter, he begs us to leave it all behind, this sin which so easily traps us.
Yet many of us are bothered by this idea of self-examination. We don’t want to see what we know is there, the resentment, the hatred, the lust, the greed and envy, the thirst for what benefits us, no matter what the cost. We don’t like looking int he mirror, and if we are “made” to, we act like we can clean up our mess. “Just give me another week, just be more patient, I will fix this,” we tell God.
We can’t, the burden will just get greater, the pressure more intense, the spiritual and emotional crushing pain will go on and it will either eat us up, or will cause us to become callous, and defensive.
With a little humility and some trust, this burden can be removed and in its place, we came know peace and joy, just as the Psalmist says. We can give to God our weaknesses, our infidelities, placing them in His hands, knowing He will deal with them, forgiving them, cleansing us, answering our prayers to lead us not to temptation, and deliver us from the evil one.
Free of the snares, your heart will be far less burdened, your mind at ease, knowing that what you really desire, to please the God who loves and saves you, is possible.
But you say, how can I do this? How can I take this step?
You aren’t alone in it, for the Shepherd of your soul, Jesus, has provided you and all the church those who can guide you through this, the pastors and priests who are tasked by God and the church with helping you with this, of hearing you confess, of counseling you through this, and then saying, on Jesus’s behalf (and by His command), “you are forgiven!”
Come, lay down your burdens, and lay down your pain. Let God deal with your sin, and let the Holy Spirit set you apart as one who is the child of God. Trust Him, He won’t turn you away, for this is what he wants for you. AMEN!
Escriva, Josemaria. Furrow (Kindle Locations 945-948). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
An Odd Responsibility
† I.H.S. †
May you enjoy the grace, mercy and peace of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, and in that joy, may He shine through you to a broken world!
An Odd Responsibility
Of all the things scripture tells us to do, the one we heard in the first reading today may be the oddest.
I mean we are encouraged to love God, to love our neighbor, to love even our enemy. We are told to honor our parents, be faithful to our wives and husbands, to care for our children. We are told to no gossip, and be content rather than being jealous of what others are blessed with by God.
None of these are easy, but then we hear this one today, and they seem.. better defined?
Here it is again,
“Carefully determine what pleases the Lord”
Across all of the Bible translations in English that I have, two of them use acceptable, and one uses “what God wants of you”. The rest use the word please, or pleasing. Knowing the Greek word behind it doesn’t help that much – it means good pleasure – or causing or creating peace.
So we are responsible for… making God’s life good?
That seems a bit odd.
And more than a little difficult! How are we supposed to figure this out? Even more concurring,, how can we accomplish it?
I mean if God can’t find peace or be pleased, how are we to see that happen?
The Darkness that consumes and burdens
I mean, at least for me, I feel that life is often just a longer edition of that feeling when you are asleep and someone comes in and turns on the 250 watt light in your bedroom in order to wake you up.
You know, the disorientation, the inability to really see clearly, the pain of looking at everything in harsh, painful more powerful than the sun – light?
Spiritually the world seems that dark at times, as people stumble around, not sure of what is right, but absolutely convinced of what is not good. Sometimes we even justify staying in the dark, because if we saw what was truly going on, the shock and horror would be even more overwhelming.
If the darkness hides the world’s evil deeds and intentions, it can also do the same thing for us, hiding the thoughts, words, and deeds that we are personally ashamed of, the failures that haunt us, that cause us shame. Yet the spiritual darkness gives us the illusion that no one sees those things, no one else knows them, even God.
The darkness may seem comforting, it may seem safe, but spiritual darkness and ignorance has severe problems, Guilt, shame, loneliness, despair, and the pervasive darkness which causes us to live without hope, without any healing of our soul, or the relationships that break.
The work of the light
So into this darkness that oppresses more than it relieves, that hides from the world but not our conscience, comes the glory of Christ.
it takes us a while to get used to it. At first, we might think that the light is the spotlight used to interrogate us, like the third-degree interrogations in old war and spy movies. For it does reveal the dark shameful things, the thoughts and words and deeds of the past that haunt us.
We need to understand that rather than being an interrogation tool, this is the light by which God examines us, to cut away that which isn’t of us, the sin and unrighteousness, the shame and the grief, the pain and resentment, and the light which strengthens and allows our souls to heal.
It takes a while to get used to, to learn to welcome, but as Paul promises,
“This light within you produces only what is good, and right, and true.”
This light, this glory of God so shows things for what they are that we let God remove them from our lives.
Which is why we can live without them, though it may take a while to realize that, as we wander around, trying to get used to walking in the light, as those people who are the people of light.
This is what grace is, this is why we are here, to help each other realize we aren’t alone in this world, that we can live lives where forgiveness is more powerful than brokenness, where reconciliation is always possible, and is desired by God. That not only can we desire to grow in holiness, we can see God at work in us, transforming us into His holy people.
And this is what we discover pleases Him, it is what He desires, it is what He spent eternity planning, and why Jesus came and died on the cross to shatter our darkness, to remove our sin. It is what we truly need to understand – that what pleases God is our being His people, trusting in Him, depending on Him to care and provide for us, having faith in the promises He has made us, including forgiving our sins, and make us His holy people, and welcoming us as we dwell in His glory.
And freed from the darkness, freed from its oppression and evil, freed from the guilt and shame it causes, we live in the light, for we have had revealed to us the truth of the old hymn Paul quoted,
We have awoken, We have risen from the dead! For Christ has come and dwelt with us, and we have seen His glory. AMEN!
Devotional Thought of the Day:
11 And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony. And they did not love their lives so much that they were afraid to die. Revelation 12:11 (NLT)
And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one. Matthew 6:13 (NLT)
1008 In the hour of temptation, practise the virtue of Hope, saying: For my rest and enjoyment I have the whole of eternity ahead of me. Here and now, full of Faith, I will earn my rest through work and win my joy through suffering. What will Love be like in Heaven? Better still, you should practise your Love by saying: What I want is to please my God, my Love, by doing his Will in all things, as though there were neither reward nor punishment—simply to please him. (1)
We all have temptations.
Some involve things we desire. Chocolate, desserts, alcohol, drugs, pornography, sex in any form other than marriage, gossip, slander (especially those people we don’t like). We can even be tempted to whine and throw a pity party, confident that no one has ever been challenged with what we face.
There are also temptations to avoid things: confrontation, suffering, discomfort, having to sacrifice things that are important to us, even martyrdom. We may not like reality as we perceive it, and the temptation is to believe that perception and hide from that which we cannot control or enjoy.
We pray to God that He would strengthen us against such things, but we fail for so many of them. You aren’t alone in this dear reader, I fail as well, so does every priest and pastor you encounter. Every saint was tempted, and of all History, only Jesus was tested in all points and never succumbed.
Does that mean we stop striving for it and give it up? Do we just enjoy that which damages our bodies and souls? Do we just find our cave, and hide from anyone who might do us harm, including ourselves?
For if we can’t overcome temptation, if we can’t live the perfect, holy life, then why try?
Does God really expect us to live miserably, failing over and again?
The answer is seen in the quotes above, in the description of our lives, found in the Book of Revelation. Yes, the description of our lives, pictured as those who have overcome, (the word nike in Greek – we just did it!) How?
By the blood of Christ – the promise of our being rescued from this life and the damage caused to it by sin. We count on that; we have confidence that God is doing exactly that in this wearying life.
We trust in what God reveals! We know it so well that we are willing to testify to it, testify to it, even like the martyrs who died, rather than give up the hope that God instills in us…
The last comment is perhaps the hardest; we don’t cling to this life so much, that we face anxiety and fear in view of death. This isn’t easy, to not know this life, the only life we know. It is hard to focus on the future. We have obligations and pressures. We have to keep in balance so many different things.
I love Escriva’s two-step approach to this. The first, to have the ultimate sense of delayed gratification. To know what God awaits us, and press on like Paul – to reach that which God has already made it possible to enjoy. That challenges our perceptions, which our sacrifices are complete, that our commitment goes over and above what should be expected.
The second phase is where Christian maturity is revealed, where we have started to understand the depth of God’s love, the blessings He pours out on us, by loving us like that.
To endure life, to work through temptation and trial, to sacrifice things in this life, because doing so frees us to do something that brings God joy! When we got to the point where we don’t do things for the rewards of heaven, but simply because of love for God.
This attitude only occurs when we realize first His love.
Realizing His love puts this life with its trials, temptations and sacrifices into perspective.
I pray that as we deal with the trials and temptations of life, that first and foremost, we look to God and know His love and promises.
For then we know the Blood of Christ, we see it at work in our lives, we treat life in view of eternity, and because of God, we overcome.
(1) Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 3553-3557). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.