Devotional Thought of the Day:
3 At the place where the road passes some sheepfolds, Saul went into a cave to relieve himself. But as it happened, David and his men were hiding farther back in that very cave! 4 “Now’s your opportunity!” David’s men whispered to him. “Today the LORD is telling you, ‘I will certainly put your enemy into your power, to do with as you wish.’” So David crept forward and cut off a piece of the hem of Saul’s robe. 5 But then David’s conscience began bothering him because he had cut Saul’s robe. 6 “The LORD knows I shouldn’t have done that to my lord the king,” he said to his men. “The LORD forbid that I should do this to my lord the king and attack the LORD’s anointed one, for the LORD himself has chosen him.” 7 So David restrained his men and did not let them kill Saul. After Saul had left the cave and gone on his way, 1 Samuel 24:3-7 (NLT2)
You became a bit frightened when you saw so much light, so bright that you thought it would be difficult to look, or even to see. Disregard your obvious weaknesses, and open the eyes of your soul to faith, to hope and to love. Carry on, allowing yourself to be guided by God through whoever directs your soul.
I have to admit that I am more than a little hesitant writing this blog this morning. Yet I have seen to many people who believe in God who struggle to live in the peace God has given them.
Fear, anxiety, anger, even hatred have done this damage to people’s souls. And as I see those emotions pouted out on social media, my heard aches. People look for scapegoats to blame for hurt they even struggle to identify. We look for that one person, or that one group that causes our pain.
David knew that pain. Heck, it wasn’t just projecting his problems on King Saul, Saul was out to kill him. He was hunting him down, and David had to live off the land, and dwell in caves. People who helped him were punished, and rewards were out for his life, and those who served beside him.
And yet, as he tweaks the king, (when he could have assassinated him) he feels guilt. He knows the pain, the betrayal, and et, part of him knows he should not have even tweaked the king….
As I read this, I wondered what it would be like, if we had that much respect for our leaders, that we bathed them in prayer rather than mocked them, or critiqued them and spewed hatred at them behind their back? What would happen if we treated them as we wanted them to treat us? If we didn’t use their actions to justify our own.
What would happen if we loved them as Christ loves us?
This is the kind of light we struggle with entering , this glorious love of God that takes away sin… This is the glory that realizes God’s at work, somehow, in all of this. This is the kind of trust, that comes from knowing God. Not just knowing about Him, knowing Him.
That will change us, even a it impacts the country.
For if we enter into a time of revival, it will not matter who wins the election.
Lord, reveal the work of the Holy Spirit in this world, Help us to trust you more than we fear, more than we are hurting, more than we have learned to hate…and heal us . AMEN!
Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge . Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
1 Why do the nations gather together? Why do their people devise useless plots? 2 Kings take their stands. Rulers make plans together against the LORD and against his Messiah by saying, 3 “Let’s break apart their chains and shake off their ropes.” 4 The one enthroned in heaven laughs. The Lord makes fun of them.
10 Now, you kings, act wisely. Be warned, you rulers of the earth! 11 Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. 12 Kiss the Son, or he will become angry and you will die on your way because his anger will burst into flames. Blessed is everyone who takes refuge in him.
Psalm 2:1-4, 10-12 (GW)
The delight which the mariner feels, when, after having been tossed about for many a day, he steps again upon the solid shore, is the satisfaction of a Christian when, amidst all the changes of this troublous life, he rests the foot of his faith upon this truth—“I am the Lord, I change not.”
I am getting tired of politics in the church. It literally is sucking the life out of me.
I see a pastor, sharing memes that deride those who are younger than him, those who have little hope because of what they see going on in the world. I wonder if he considers the effects of the youth in his church, and the effect of such memes on them?
I see a parachurch organization, applauding those who blatantly disrespect our country’s president, disregarding scripture and our role as God’s people to be agents of reconciliation. When asked about it, I am mocked for believing what God desires, and what the Holy Spirit calls us to do is impossible.
It doesn’t matter, right or left, traditional or progressive, the hatred I am seeing manifest toward those who don’t agree on this issue, it sucks the life out of me. It brings me to despair, and wonder if the church has completely lost its way. Whether it has forgotten the God who could redeem and reconcile Paul, the God who could change and adulterous and murderous heart of a King, the God who could look out on those who were killing them, and ask the Father to forgive them..
Do we believe God still reigns? Or do we, like the people described in Psalm 2 simply want to toss God aside, and ignore the fact we are all part of His creation.
My mind tells me that the church no longer trusts God, and that is why such things happen
my heart lies broken.
My soul tries to wait, hoping beyond hope that God will keep His promise.
Weary just after breakfast, I come into my office, I see Spurgeon’s words first, and long to be the spiritual version of the sailor he describes, who tired form the storm, finds rest and relief as his feet land on solid ground.
I find that ground in the storm, in a God who can laugh at the wayward children who need to be reminded of His presence. Who need to be corrected, who need to be reminded that God is still God, that Jesus is still our Savior, and our Lord. That even now, in our brokenness in our frustration, in our anger at others and our lack of faith in God.
God is still desiring our embrace,
God is still wanting us to take refuge, to find our safe place within His love.
God is still here, willing to clean up the damage our lack of faith in Him, to heal the brokenness caused by of all the political crap we experience.
God hasn’t changed, He’s the same God who brought Matthew the Tax Collector and Simon the Zealot together.. and sent them with others to bring His people into the world. They were far more polar opposite than any extreme we see in American politics today… and in Jesus, the found unity and the ability to serve people together.
May we have the faith, the dependence on God to see such happen in our days as well.
C. H. Spurgeon, Morning and Evening: Daily Readings (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1896).
Devotional Thought of the Day:
First of all, then, I urge that petitions, prayers, requests, and thanksgivings be offered to God for all people; 2 for kings and all others who are in authority, that we may live a quiet and peaceful life with all reverence toward God and with proper conduct. 3 This is good and it pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants everyone to be saved and to come to know the truth. ! Tim 2:1-4 GNT
13 For the sake of the Lord submit yourselves to every human authority: to the Emperor, who is the supreme authority, 14 and to the governors, who have been appointed by him to punish the evildoers and to praise those who do good. 15 For God wants you to silence the ignorant talk of foolish people by the good things you do. 16 Live as free people; do not, however, use your freedom to cover up any evil, but live as God’s slaves. 17 Respect everyone, love other believers, honor God, and respect the Emperor.
1 Peter 2:13-17 (TEV)
I usually stay quiet on politics.
It is not just because I am apathetic, and tired of the extremes ruling Social Media. ( I will admit to that being part of the issue!) I don’t buy into one side or the other being evil and demonic, both sides have positions on issues that I agree with, and positions I find based in sin and that degrade others. As scripture clearly teaches, “all have sinned…”
My view is based in the knowledge that there is something more at stake. Something much more crucial.
GIven that “something more” here is my view on politics. Look in a mirror. Say the words you would say about the one you view as a adversary about yourself. Do you like hearing someone say those things? Are those things in accord with Phil. 4:8? Are they respectful? Are they thankful to God for that person and the role? And the biggest question.
Does your view depend on God and His promises?
I can hear some of my friends from both sides already coming up with the justifications that would excuse them, pointing out the evils of “them.” Or trying to educate me on how the other side is stupid, or the next Hitler, or any of 1000’s of other excuses. Been there, did that, have the tshirts with the same kinds of slogans you now see on meme’s.
My concern is us, and whether our reactions will distract us from God, that will stp our attention from being focus on Jesus and His ability to redeem us, and those who we perceive standing against us. Will our worries and fears be set aside as we look to our Lord? Will our conduct testify to our faith in God, or will it stir up hatred and fear?
It isn’t impossible to honor and respect those we aren’t in agreement with, those we fear. Look at David, when King Saul was trying to kill him. Even as he had the promise that He was God’s choice, he didn’t raise a hand against him. He could have. Twice he could have taken Saul’s life, he could have raised up a civil war, and yet held off, trust in in God’s timing.
You see that is the key to dealing with politics. Not hiding our head in the sand. But lifting up hands to pray for those who are in authority before we interact or comment on some incident or position. Asking God for the strength to respect and care for the men and women serving in our government – all of them. Praying for the strength to be still and know that God is still God. That He will be with us, even if the road is uncomfortable, even if it were to lead to martyrdom because of our relationship with Him. Asking God to bless them all, even as He blesses us.
He is God – and this pastor wants you to be saved, and come to this knowledge, the Lord is with you!
Devotional Thought of the Day:
2 For while I was with you, I made up my mind to forget everything except Jesus Christ and especially his death on the cross. 1 Corinthians 2:2 (TEV)
273 Dear Jesus: if I have to be an apostle, you will need to make me very humble. Everything the sun touches is bathed in light. Lord, fill me with your clarity, make me share in your divinity so that I may identify my will with your adorable Will and become the instrument you wish me to be. Give me the madness of the humiliation you underwent, which led you to be born poor, to work in obscurity, to the shame of dying sewn with nails to a piece of wood, to your self-effacement in the Blessed Sacrament. May I know myself: may I know myself and know you. I will then never lose sight of my nothingness.
A long time ago, the first church that entrusted me with the responsibility of being their pastor, their guide, had a motto. Simply, what they wanted to be, as a church, was the place that taught Christ-centered living.
A fairly narrow mission statement, yet one I think we still need to see happen in the church.
It came to mind this morning as I was bombarded with political adds and texts. As I also was bothered greatly by some emails that spoke of politics inside my denomination.
After trying to clear my email and my mind of all this crap, I tried to settle down into my normal devotion time. And only as I opened my last book, did I see something that reminded me of what I have tried to teach for decades… to be humble like Mary, and sit at Jesus’ feet, and know the peace that comes from this “madness of humiliation” that St. Josemaria speaks of so well.
For it is there, being centered in and on Jesus, being able to identify with His will, (not mine, not democratic or Republican, not the United List’s or Congregations Matter) that I find the healing I need to begin the day. It is when I come to see the glory of His self-giving in the sacrament, where He invites us to share in Him, in the love that permeates and defines the communion of the Trinity, as He draws us in, and cleanses us, and we start to adjust to living in His glory, and His peace.
When I say I need ot be narrow-minded, I am not talking about set in a political view, or in some narrow theological paradigm. My mind needs to be centered on Jesus, as does my very life, heart, soul’ mind, and strength learning ot love even as I experience the love of God too incredible to understand.
Only then, knowing His love, can I toss away the idols and sins that so easily draw my attention away from the Lord, who creates, restores, and makes me (and all His people, the church) holy and healing of their brokenness.
So set aside everything else for a little while, and think about the love of God, which is visible in your life. AMEN!
Escriva, Josemaria. Furrow (Kindle Locations 1341-1347). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
11 Don’t criticize one another, brothers. He who criticizes a brother or judges his brother criticizes the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. 12 There is one lawgiver and judge who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor? James 4:11-12 HCSB
28. Respect and love ought to be extended also to those who think or act differently than we do in social, political and even religious matters. In fact, the more deeply we come to understand their ways of thinking through such courtesy and love, the more easily will we be able to enter into dialogue with them.
This love and good will, to be sure, must in no way render us indifferent to truth and goodness. Indeed love itself impels the disciples of Christ to speak the saving truth to all men. But it is necessary to distinguish between error, which always merits repudiation, and the person in error, who never loses the dignity of being a person even when he is flawed by false or inadequate religious notions.10 God alone is the judge and searcher of hearts, for that reason He forbids us to make judgments about the internal guilt of anyone.11
There is a great difference between judging sin and having knowledge of sin. Knowledge of sin does not entail the right to judge it. I may see and hear that my neighbor sins, but to make him the talk of the town is not my business. If I interfere and pass sentence on him, I fall into a greater sin than his. When you become aware of a sin, simply make your ears a tomb and bury it until you are appointed a judge and authorized to administer punishment by virtue of your office.
267 Those are called backbiters who are not content just to know but rush ahead and judge. Learning a bit of gossip about someone else, they spread it into every corner, relishing and delighting in it like pigs that roll in the mud and root around in it with their snouts.
268 This is nothing else than usurping the judgment and office of God, pronouncing the severest kind of verdict and sentence, for the harshest verdict a judge can pronounce is to declare somebody a thief, a murderer, a traitor, etc. Whoever therefore ventures to accuse his neighbor of such guilt assumes as much authority as the emperor and all magistrates. For though you do not wield the sword, you use your venomous tongue to the disgrace and harm of your neighbor.
It is amazing how much judgment we see today in the world. And equally disturbing how much we see in the church. So many people claiming to be experts regarding situations they have no intimate knowledge, of, but simply reacting to the news and rumors put out there. As so we somehow think we can judge (and prosecute or defend ) those whose situations are in the public eye.
A lot of our judgment is based on our own experiences, and on the experiences of someone who did something to us or to someone we love. And therefore, all in a similar situation we judge based on our experience, not on the facts that we don’t have access to.
Or we judge the case because of the affiliations or demographic data of the person who accuses or is accused. They agree with us, so they are the ones under attack. The other side is only loyal to their peers, therefore, since their peers are wrong, they must be lying.
A great example of this is the present situation with the supreme court nominee. I have some friends who have been sexually harassed and a couple who I have counseled because they were trying to cope with rape. I also have been involved in situations where one accused of such was the target, and they were out to hurt him. In the process of one such situation, the accuser was presented with evidence that proved her story a lie, and she confessed to it.
Been there, cried with both, was anxious with both, and the present situation has brought me to pray for those who stories are never far from my mind. And as I hear the details, as I see people share the rumors across social media, both groups of stories come to mind. The victims who no come forth, and the victims who had their lives damaged by false claims. No, let me rephrase, these situations today doesn’t just bring their stories to mind, it tears at the heart, as I remember the pain I tried to help them deal with.
Oddly enough, three of my readings this morning dealt with judgment and the notion of our judgment and condemnation of those people whom we don’t have the responsibility to judge, or all the information to judge the stories of those involved.
And then I see all those who would play God, who would decide this situation based on their own past realities, or worse, based on political issues. And my heart tears for them as well.
And then we have scripture, and the writings of Vatican II and the Large Catechism. All three warn us, they even command us not to judge. They ask us to leave it in God’s hands, something that takes a lot of faith, to trust God with what we would rather handle. It takes humility, such humility that is only found when we are in the presence of God, witnessing His glory and wisdom, which show him to both just and merciful. It takes trusting in God to set aside our own presuppositions and to be healed by our own pain.
But this is God who I am urging us all to trust in, a God who would reconcile us all through the blood of Jesus.
Trust Him, depend upon Him, leave the lynch mobs behind…
And rejoice in the presence in your life. AMEN!
Catholic Church. (2011). Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World: Gaudium Et Spes. In Vatican II Documents. Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana.
Tappert, T. G. (Ed.). (1959). The Book of Concord the confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. (p. 401). Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
14 ,,,Pilate said to the crowd, “Here is your king!”
15 They shouted, “Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him!”
Pilate asked them, “Do you want me to crucify your king?”
The leading priests answered, “The only king we have is Caesar.”
16 So Pilate handed Jesus over to them to be crucified. John 19:14-16
508 The Lord has the right to be glorified by us “at every moment”—it is an obligation for each one of us. So if we waste time we are robbing God of his glory.
One of my greatest temptations is to respond to my friends on the left and the right political spectrums who say (and post and tweet) news that seems to replace God with Donald, or bash him and say if only we had Hilary, if only we had Bernie. if only “they” would get their act together and think about us.
Some even talk as if the end of the world is imminent, because of the “others” being so stupid, so ignorant. As if the eschatology of the universe was completely dependent on American politics.
It is as if we are back on Pilate’s porch, willingly casting aside Jesus, as we pin our hopes to a god that is foreign to us. It doesn’t matter whether it is Trump or it is the idea of someone else needing to sit in that seat – both sides find their only hope in either Trump or getting rid of him. As if that we do away with all that is evil, all that is negative, all that is broken in our lives.
But kings and presidents, governors and judges cannot save us from ourselves, from the evil within that demands to be fed, demands to be taken care of, that demands to have our desires met and fulfilled.
Not only is that not the job description of any government official, often it is contrary to their work, especially the work God gives them as is described in places like Romans 13.
Yet we still lay aside Jesus, we still forget about God, we still shatter the commandment to not beat false witness, all in hopes.
It is time to stop, time to repent. We know that Christ died on the cross to redeem us, to save us, to bring us into the kingdom of heaven. He is our God, He is our King, Jesus is the one who presides over us. He is the one who gives us hope, who sustains us in times of trouble, and who defends us, promising nothing can separate us from his love. And may God be glorified in everything we say and post and tweet.
May we trust in and depend on Him more than we trust or distruct in those who lead us. Amen!
Escriva, Josemaria. Furrow (Kindle Locations 2214-2216). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
May the Lord Lead Your Hearts
2 Thessalonians 3:1-5
† I.H.S. †
May the grace, that incredible gift of God’s love, mercy and peace, lead you to share His message in a way that it spreads, and where it is heard and rejoiced in by all you share it with!
Rescue From Wicked People?
This week has been, to be honest, very trying. My patience hasn’t been all that strong, neither has been my endurance.
It has been challenging, mostly because I wonder if we truly understand the love of God, and how He works in our lives.
I would love to say the election was the cause of it, but I think it only revealed what was hidden, as many of us identified those we thought we needed to be freed, or delivered from; the people Paul asked the Thessalonian people to pray he would be delivered from,
Those wicked, evil people who are not believers.
We think we know what that means; we probably have various people in mind. Until I remind you that the word belief here is as often translated faith. So, the people we are talking about are those who do not have faith, who do not trust in God. People who do not depend on Him.
Uhm – is this too close to home for you? It is for me.
Because while I will easily say I believe in God, it is another thing to ask me whether I trust Him, or whether I truly depend on him.
Especially this week, as I have watched some of my closest friends call each other, and the people we are supposed to love and pray for, well, we haven’t done that this well in America.
Rather, we identified them as the enemy, because we don’t understand how they are different from us… until we realize they are “us.”
When it came to us
Paul is making a similar plea here in verse 1.
He wrote, “Pray that the Lord’s message will be spread and honored wherever it goes, just as when it came to you!”
Which leads to a question – is the Lord’s message being spread and by us?
Or has that taken a back seat as our anxieties, and our fears about what other anxious people will do dominate us?
Is God’s message spread and glorified among us still?
Surely it can, yet there are moments where we gossip about our neighbors or fail to put things, as Luther explained, in the best construction. That’s not easy to do, it sometimes takes time, to sit with them and find out their fears, their concerns, their pains, and positions.
It takes communication, and we often damage the opportunity for it.
Can we return to the joy that we had when God’s message of grace we understood with our hearts, souls, minds and strength for the first time?
Can we see the message of God honored again, as it did when we first heard it? And then can we dare spread it to those, who like us, find themselves broken in this world?
Can we do as Paul was confident the Saints then would, doing and continuing to do that which he taught us to do?
How we do and continue to do what God commissioned
The answer is, yes.
Yes, even though we sin, we can still be restored, the awe at the love of God can be found again. It was why we remember our baptisms, where sin, all our sin, was washed away by God’s command, because of our connection to Jesus and His death and resurrection. To restore that joy of our salvation is why we gather here, to remember and reveal again the love of God through the words of scripture, and through sermons like this.
It is why we come to the rail, and receive the body and blood of Jesus Christ as we take and eat, as we remember the words of Jesus that established the covenant, as we are renewed by the gifts He gives us here.
We need this, all of us, from every demographic you can think of, from every political persuasion, we need to be refocused, revived, delivered and saved from the evil. That happens one way,
Hear again the blessing of Paul,
May the Lord lead your hearts into a full understanding and expression of the love of God and the patient endurance that comes from Christ.
There it Is, there is what we need, this incredible love of God, revealed to us. Then trusting in Him, depending upon Him to save us, to strengthen us and guard us against evil becomes our nature. Doing and continuing to do what we’ve been taught through scripture becomes not only our action; but our desire. This all happens because God leads us, leads our hearts into understanding and expressing His love for us. That love, as it is revealed, causes us to trust in Him, to depend on Him, no matter what else happens.
For knowing how much he loves us, that is beyond anything. What that loves is everything, it is glorious, and wonderful, joyful and enables us to endure anything.
We’ll even realize how many people that word “us” contains, and knowing that will cause this love, this message of God to spread rapidly, and be honored and glorified.
For it contains us all, for God so loved us all, and we all need to for Him to lead our hearts into a full understanding and expression of His love.
Here, he is doing that exact thing… may we realize it. AMEN!
Devotional Thought of the Day:
31 “So do not start worrying: ‘Where will my food come from? or my drink? or my clothes?’ 32(These are the things the pagans are always concerned about.) Your Father in heaven knows that you need all these things. 33Instead, be concerned above everything else with the Kingdom of God and with what he requires of you, and he will provide you with all these other things. 34So do not worry about tomorrow; it will have enough worries of its own. There is no need to add to the troubles each day brings. Matt. 6:31-34 TEV
1 You have been raised to life with Christ, so set your hearts on the things that are in heaven, where Christ sits on his throne at the right side of God. 2 Keep your minds fixed on things there, not on things here on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 Your real life is Christ and when he appears, then you too will appear with him and share his glory!
Colossians 3:1-4 (TEV)
To speak about “heaven”, therefore, does not mean to lapse into rapturous fantasy but rather to learn to know more deeply that hidden presence that lets us truly live and that we continually allow to be masked and withdrawn from us by whatever is in the foreground of our awareness. Heaven, consequently, is above all Christological. It is not an extra-historical place “into which” we go. The very existence of “heaven” depends on the fact that Jesus Christ, as God, is man and has given human existence a place in the existence of God himself (cf. Rahner, Schriften II, p. 221). One is in heaven when and to the degree that one is in Christ, where one finds the true location of one’s existence as a human being in the existence of God himself. Heaven is, then, primarily a personal reality. It remains forever stamped by its historical origin in the Easter mystery of death and Resurrection. (1)
110 hours from now, people will be shattered.
The reason they will be shattered is that the media and the social media is making this election sound like the end of the world could occur if one of the two were elected. I even see articles about no matter which are elected; the American life is over as we know it.
No matter who is triumphant, no matter who is crushed by defeat, no matter how depressing this election campaign season is, there is something far more important. There is something that neither candidate can affect. There is always an opportunity to know peace in the middle of the storm.
Jesus is clear about that in Matthew’s gospel. Your anxiety, your fear, your angst about the candidates will not change anything, from the outcome of the election to the number of hairs on your head.
You’ve prayed for God to provide you the necessities of life, your daily bread, trust Him on that. You’ve asked Him to have His will be done as well – again, this is something we can depend on, even when we don’t understand it! So think first of His kingdom, that God is in charge, that He has made you incredible promises, that those can’t be affected by who is the president of our country, the governor of our state.
Focus on God, on His love, on HIs mercy. This is why Pope Benedict XVI once wrote the passage in blue, and where I underlined it, we have to realize this. Heaven isn’t some far off place, where we will go and play golf, or play a harp when we die. Heaven is revealed as that place we are, when in doubt and pain we find ourselves surrounded with hope and peace. When we realize God is in charge, when His presence becomes so real, we cannot deny it. (Which is why the celebration of the Lord’s Supper is so critical in the life of the church!) It is our presently reality, and it has been one since Peter walked into an empty tomb, and Jesus walked through locked doors. That is what Paul talks of as well – as he urges the Colossian believers to focus their lives on the reality of heaven.
He is risen! ALLELUIA!
And therefore, we can pray and vote, and know God is with us, so everything will work out for good, because He loves us.
(1) Ratzinger, Joseph. Co-Workers of the Truth: Meditations for Every Day of the Year. Ed. Irene Grassl. Trans. Mary Frances McCarthy and Lothar Krauth. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1992. Print.