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Hope For Those Who Weep for the Lost…

Devotional Thought for This Day:

15  In Ramah a voice is heard, crying and weeping loudly. Rachel mourns for her children and refuses to be comforted, because they are dead. 16   But I, the LORD, say to dry your tears. Someday your children will come home from the enemy’s land. Then all you have done for them will be greatly rewarded. 17  So don’t lose hope. I, the LORD, have spoken.
37  Can you measure the heavens? Can you explore the depths of the earth? That’s how hard it would be for me to reject Israel forever, even though they have sinned. I, the LORD, have spoken.
Jeremiah 31:15-17, 37 (CEV)

743      If you put your mind to it, everything in your life can be offered to the Lord, can provide an opportunity to talk with your Father in Heaven, who is always keeping new illumination for you, and granting it to you.

Maybe it is a once dear friend who loved the Lord in a way that inspired others. Maybe it was a cherished mentor in the faith, a professor who taught you more than you ever realized. Maybe it is a parent, a child, a cousin, even a spouse.

Most of us have someone who has rejected God, or is struggling with His way, and so rejects the gifts of forgiveness and mercy, who rebel against God. Perhaps there is a reason, a church, a pastor or priest who has caused them pain.

WE all have a person who has wandered, even as many of us have. Our reaction is usually the same as grieving the loss of physical life, for we realize that eternity is at stake… We may not want to say it is the difference between heaven and hell, yet our heart fears that consequence.

The words of the prophet Jeremiah are so appropriate for those who watch with tears, those who attempt to wander away. The need to hear God say “dry your tears, they will come back” is real, to allow God to comfort those who worry, who deal with anxiety over those they care about.

The second part of the selection, where God reminds us of His power, and the inability of man to completely reject them is even more comforting. It tells us how much God is willing to pour into calling the people back. Despite their sin, God will continue to work in their hearts.

So then, how do we deal with the trauma we see in their lives? Josemaria’s words comforted me this morning. We talk to God about it, we spend time offering the person, and the situation, and our hearts, batter and torn, to Him. It seems counter-intuitive to offer such to God as a sacrifice, but it is the best we can do. We are His children, and our Father wants to fix what is broken in our lives. He wants to recreate, to show the craftsmanship He finds joy in…and as we give into His care those we love, whom we worry about, we can realize peace. He died for them, that they may live.

Lord, help us give you our brokenness, help us place in your care those we would see return to the joy of your salvation. For Your love for them is even deeper than ours, and You can reach them. Help us to trust You, and in Your love and work in all our lives! Amen!

Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge . Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Is there hope for the 75%? Or do we just write them off? (or right them off?)

DSCN0014Some thoughts from my retreat today:

3  “Listen! A farmer went out to plant some seed. 4  As he scattered it across his field, some of the seed fell on a footpath, and the birds came and ate it. 5  Other seed fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The seed sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow. 6  But the plant soon wilted under the hot sun, and since it didn’t have deep roots, it died. 7  Other seed fell among thorns that grew up and choked out the tender plants so they produced no grain. 8  Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they sprouted, grew, and produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted!” 9  Then he said, “Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.” 10  Later, when Jesus was alone with the twelve disciples and with the others who were gathered around, they asked him what the parables meant. 11  He replied, “You are permitted to understand the secret of the Kingdom of God. But I use parables for everything I say to outsiders, 12  so that the Scriptures might be fulfilled: ‘When they see what I do, they will learn nothing. When they hear what I say, they will not understand. Otherwise, they will turn to me and be forgiven. Mark 4:3-12 (NLT)

The 75%, the groups that were too hard and callous, or too shallow, or distracted and did not bear fruit.  I worry about them

I don’t know why I do, what t always bothered me that they missed out on God’s love, that they didn’t bear fruit, because if they had bore fruit, that meant that they were dwelling with Jesus, that the Holy Spirit was hard at work in their lives.  But these people didn’t bear fruit, and therefore…

Some would use this to claim that God was never interested in them, that He was okay with them rejecting Him.  Some would even have the nerve to speak for God, and claim that He never planned to save them anyway.  That they were, from the start, to be condemned to hell.

That is why they didn’t hear, they didn’t see, they didn’t learn, and why they were not forgiven.

I’ve just got back from a retreat, led by an old friend, actually, my high school youth pastor.  The theme of the retreat was based around this passage, and considering the times in our lives when our “ground” was callous and hard paths, or we had to deal with rocks or weeds that choked our faith.  It was a good exercise,  (gonna take about a week to process it all)  but from the time he read the passage above, I kept on thinking about the 75 percent.

Why would God let them go that way…..

Why couldn’t they know the joy and peace that comes from being forgiven, the incredible joy of being reunited with God?

It is a frustration I’ve known as a pastor, since the beginning. Some people we care so much about, that we invest time and energy in, and yet they are the ground too hard to plant, or they get excited at first and then die out, or they get choked by the cares and desires of the world.

And if you care, especially if you are a parent, pastor or priest or elder or Sunday School teacher, their lack of fruit can cause tears and massive heartache. A lot of it over the years…

As our retreat was nearing the end phase, as I just opened my Bible (rare that I actually had a physical one for the retreat – I usually just use my pc/tablet/phone ones) and I came across this…..

4  Tell fearful souls, “Courage! Take heart! GOD is here, right here, on his way to put things right And redress all wrongs. He’s on his way! He’ll save you!” 5  Blind eyes will be opened, deaf ears unstopped, Isaiah 35:4-5 (MSG)

God hasn’t given up on the sinner, or the wayward, or the people who struggle with keeping their faith alive.  He never had, He always planned their rescue, He always planned to continue reaching into their lives, He didn’t write them off.

He still wants them to come to repentance.

There is still time to invest, words that can be said with love, and yes, love of God to reveal to them. They can’t open their own eyes, but neither can we, they can’t make themselves hear, but the Holy Spirit can, these are simple miracles.

And they are right in God’s heart.  And ours …

Keep praying for them, keep loving them.

God is with you in this, as I close with these words from St. Paul…

16  No longer, then, do we judge anyone by human standards. Even if at one time we judged Christ according to human standards, we no longer do so. 17  Anyone who is joined to Christ is a new being; the old is gone, the new has come. 18  All this is done by God, who through Christ changed us from enemies into his friends and gave us the task of making others his friends also. 19  Our message is that God was making all human beings his friends through Christ. God did not keep an account of their sins, and he has given us the message which tells how he makes them his friends. 20  Here we are, then, speaking for Christ, as though God himself were making his appeal through us. We plead on Christ’s behalf: let God change you from enemies into his friends! 21  Christ was without sin, but for our sake God made him share our sin in order that in union with him we might share the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:16-21 (TEV)

So let us pray for these people, that we would have the desire not to write them off, but knowing God’s desire to renew them (to make them right-eous) that we would see this happen, and even be tools God uses to make it happen!

I can see! A sermon to start Epiphany (based on Isaiah 60)

church at communion 2I Can See!  The Darkness is Gone!
Isaiah 60:1-6

In Jesus Name

May God’s glory, His mercy and Love revealed in Jesus, may that glory shine so brightly in your life, that even the darkest shadows are forgotten!

 Sunrise @ Concordia

One of the blessings I never expected when I came to Concordia was the incredible sunrises I would see on Sunday mornings.  Sometimes it is the sun breaking through the crowds, other times the entire sky looks like it is on fire.

There are times Dane will come out of the MPR and find me with my camera or my phone, trying to capture the incredibly beautiful blessing that so few see.

Though I hate getting up that early, there is a blessing that is so incredible, when a pitch black dark night is shattered by the sunrise

And that is what we celebrate during the weeks of Epiphany.

This feast which celebrates Christ entering the world and the glorious love of God being visible, being seen, drawing people to Him…

From the wise men whose arrival starts Epiphany, to the apostles who will witness the transfiguration, which we will celebrate 8 weeks from now, we are talking about the glory of God, shining in our lives, because Jesus is here!

and so Isaiah’s words are so meaningful and relavent to us,

“Arise, Jerusalem! Let your light shine for all to see. For the glory of the Lord rises to shine on you!

Darkness as black as night covers all the nations of the earth, but the glory of the Lord rises and appears over you!

Or maybe we should read it this way!

“Arise, Concordia! Let your light shine for all to see. For the glory of the Lord rises to shine on you!

Darkness as black as night covers all the nations of the earth, but the glory of the Lord rises and appears over you!

Time for the homecoming

Growing up, we would love electricity because of snowstorms.  Tree branches would get heavy with snow and ice, crashing down on power lines which would have to be replaced.  During the darkness you couldn’t do anything, but when the sun rose, life would return to normal.

It would be back to splitting wood for the woodstove and fireplace.  It would be cooking food to feed those who were out shoveling the snow, it would be having friends stop by, driving their trucks or skimobiles.

So too, when we realize that God has shined on us, that Jesus has come, and we have beheld His glory, that it is time to get ready.

For God tells us what is going to happen next,

All nations will come to your light; mighty kings will come to see your radiance!

“Look and see, for everyone is coming home! Your sons are coming from distant lands; your little daughters will be carried home!

They are all coming – as they see God’s light – God’s glory shining here in this place.  As we realize what God has done, and is doing here, as we realize the glorious love He has for us, everything changes, and it is noticeable!

Others see it, and they will be drawn to His glory, like a moth to a flame, or like certain guy’s attention can be gotten by announcing a football score, or a child to a stuffed animal.

God’s glory will gather attention, and it will draw people to the place where it is seen, where it is made manifest, where it brings light and warmth and peace and love.

I love how Isaiah describes the homecoming, as sons and daughters are returned home.  What he is talking about is those of us like the prodigal son, who went our own way, and did what we thought was right.  Who either rebelled against God our father or simply ignored Him.

But as God’s glory is revealed, as the grace and mercy of God are revealed and remembered, the prodigals come home.  His love draws us back, hoping that we will be welcomed, unaware that God’s love for them has not dimmed.

The picture of the daughters being carried home is the same, as the Holy Spirit brings them home, those who strayed and wandered, those who were lost and without hope.

For those of us who have come home, to find God’s people waiting for us with open arms, it is something we never forget, this love of God shown through His people.  For we see them as Isaiah describes,

Your eyes will shine, and your heart will thrill with joy,

When someone “comes home”, when their darkness is shattered by God’s glory, by the light of the world which is Jesus, that should be our reaction!  Our brother or sister has been brought home, and we begin to rejoice like the angels in heaven, indeed all of heaven does.

It’s time to worship the Lord

As we see that happen, we begin to rejoice, we begin to praise God. For the darkness is no more, even the shadows of darkness fade in the light that has revealed to us Christ, this glorious light that guides us to him.

Sometimes the words in Greek and Hebrew have a meaning that is deeper than we remember – and so it is with the word for praising God – it is to cry Alleluia or Hallelujah!

Hallel means to recognize the incredible thing that someone has done, the deeds that deserve to be shouted from the rooftops.

and Yah – well that is short for YHWH – God’s name.

To praise Him, for shattering our darkness with His light, with His glory….

The glory of the incredible thing that happens as Jesus dies to bear our sins, as he takes on himself our unrighteousness,  and is risen from the dead to give us life, to restore us from our brokenness.  His glorious work as the Holy Spirit cleanses us from sin, gives us life and lives within us,

This is Epiphany! When we realize the glory of God is His love for us, seen in the work He does in us, a work that shines through us to the world.

So,

“Arise, Concordia! Let your light shine for all to see. For the glory of the Lord rises to shine on you!

Darkness as black as night covers all the nations of the earth, but the glory of the Lord rises and appears over you!

AMEN!

Missed the Celebration? Maybe not….

10649504_10152396630845878_3341349315020260479_nDevotional THoguht of the Day:

9 The LORD told Moses 10 to say to the people of Israel, “When any of you or your descendants are unclean from touching a corpse or are far away on a journey, but still want to keep the Passover, 11you are permitted to observe it one month later instead, on the evening of the fourteenth day of the second month. Celebrate it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. 12Do not leave any of the food until the following morning and do not break any of the animal’s bones. Observe the Passover according to all the regulations.  Numbers 9:9-12 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.

For the orthodox fathers were pressured with great hatred by heretics under this particular pretext, namely, that the church should have no other thought concerning the inaccessible light of the Deity than that which the Deity Himself in proceeding from the secret place of His majesty has revealed concerning Himself.

I encountered the heart of God today in a most unexpected place.

Sure the Book of Numbers is in scripture, but we usually think it is one of those boring books with lots of lists and lots of precise and even complicated directions.

Yet, in the midst of it, God offers something to those who are far off from God.  Far off because of business, or far off because of being unclean. There, God gives direction to those who cannot celebrate the Passover, the great high feast where the angel of death is told it has no right to take us, it has no right to deny us the grace God meant for us.

Yes, it isn’t time to celebrate it, because of your situations, but that doesn’t mean don’t celebrate it at all.  Here is your opportunity, here is the way you can know you are with me, that I am still your God, and you are my people.

For us, the equivalent is seen in the wounds of Christ, the place we find our security, our serenity, our peace.  It is there where we ask Him to take away our sin and to wash us.  It is there we find the consolation, the comforting hand of God showing us His love, even as He has always done.

This is the majesty that Chemnitz notes, the heart of God revealed that we don’t have the authority to change. This is the God who reveals Himself to us, and reveals His will that none should perish, but that all be transformed by His love.

Far too often, the church considers people as being away, as if they are no longer part of the family, as if they are no longer part of the church.  Rather than welcome them back, we too often, like the prodigal’s brother, wonder why they’ve returned, why they should be allowed back, as if they weren’t away at all. And as the Father celebrates their presence, we turn away, we refuse to acknowledge their presence, we fail to celebrate with them the love of God which drew them back.

CHemitz reminds us that we need to have the same heart, the same attitude that Jesus has.   For that is what has been revealed to us.  We need to help them know the wounds Christ bore is not something they should fell guilty about but should be in awe of, for He loves us.  We need to celebrate this cleansing, this consolation, this love for them.  No, that’s not right.  Rather this cleansing, this consolation, this love for us all!

AMEN!

Pope Francis. A Year with Pope Francis: Daily Reflections from His Writings. Ed. Alberto Rossa. New York; Mahwah, NJ; Toronto, ON: Paulist Press; Novalis, 2013. Print.

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

 

Waiting For Our Prodigals…..Be Like a….

Devotional Thought of the Day:Featured image

11  And he said, There was a man who had two sons. 12  And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.And he divided his property between them. 13  Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living.

32  It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’” Luke 15:11-32 (ESV)

380      Would that you could acquire, as I know you would like to, the virtues of the donkey! Donkeys are humble, hardworking, persevering—stubborn!—and faithful, with a sure step, tough and—if they have a good master—also grateful and obedient.

In the last few months I’ve had a number of parents of adult and teenage children who’ve come to me for prayer.  I hope and pray that my words gave them both hope and comfort.

The issue is often morality, in a couple of the situations, the immorality has led to horrendous consequences.  The trauma on the parents is beyond anything I’e ever experienced. In the others, the fear of such trauma is intense, and seemingly unending. In both cases, fear and pain can seem unending, and reactions from those points can cause even more damage.  Matter of fact, our lack of wisdom may cause more fear and anxiety. Those thoughts, words and actions we know are irreversible, but they aren’t beyond reconciliation.

So what do we do as parents, as pastors, as we wait for our prodigals to return?  How do we deal with the anxieties, as our prodigals are away, enjoying themselves, or living with hogs in the mud?  We don’t know all the story.  We do the story of the prodigal, and hope that our situations will resolve in the same manner.  We look out from our house often, looking down the road for some hope.  We hear a car turn into our driveway, and our hearts are crushed, because it isn’t our prodigal.

Where do we find hope in this?  What can help us find peace, find healing ourselves?  What can help us, between the time they run off to follow strange desires, ignore logical morality, and turn their back on God?  How do we avoid taking on the attitude of the cynical older brother, or just giving up hope, declaring the person dead to us?

We have to know the heart of Father, revealed in passages like this:

11  “I, the Sovereign LORD, tell you that I myself will look for my sheep and take care of them 12  in the same way as shepherds take care of their sheep that were scattered and are brought together again. I will bring them back from all the places where they were scattered on that dark, disastrous day. 13  I will take them out of foreign countries, gather them together, and bring them back to their own land. I will lead them back to the mountains and the streams of Israel and will feed them in pleasant pastures. 14  I will let them graze in safety in the mountain meadows and the valleys and in all the green pastures of the land of Israel. 15  I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I will find them a place to rest. I, the Sovereign LORD, have spoken. 16  “I will look for those that are lost, bring back those that wander off, bandage those that are hurt, and heal those that are sick; but those that are fat and strong I will destroy, because I am a shepherd who does what is right. Ezekiel 34:11-16 (TEV)

This is our God, the Shepherd who diligently searches for His sheep, to bring them to restoration.  Who hears our prayers, our cries, our grief.  Who longs to rejoice when they come home.  Who will never stop working to grant them repentance, transformation. You are not alone in your desire, and knowing that, we can find the patient hope we need to wait.  We can find sustenance and rest.  We can entrust them to God, knowing His love, and we can entrust ourselves to God at the same time.

Find you rest, your strength in Him. Know the peace of God, and that we can be like the Donkeys that Josemaria encourages us to be like. ( instead of the jackasses we could become! ) Faithful, stubbornly holding out hope, persevering, taking the right steps, one at a time, knowig our Master will guide us, for we dwell in His presence…..

And hopeful, for the Lord Almighty hasn’t forgotten our loved ones for a moment….

Lord, I pray for my friends, who children and grandchildren are caught up in things beyond them.  Who have strayed, who have lost for the moment in darkness, in fog.  Lord, be with them, and with those they love.  Bring hope, bandage the wounds, given strength and sustain them.  Help us to realize that You are reaching out to them, calling them to come home, and give us patience until we see them in Your Hands.  We pray this in the name of Jesus Christ, the Savior, who lies and reigns with you an the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  AMEN

Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 1488-1490). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Walking Away from God and His People? Please read….

Devotional Thought of the Day:photo

17  When they saw him, they worshiped him, even though some of them doubted. Matthew 28:17 (TEV)

343         That passage of the Second Epistle to Timothy makes me shudder, when the Apostle laments that Demas has deserted him for love of this life and gone to Thessalonica. For a trifle, and for fear of persecution, this man, whom Saint Paul had quoted in other epistles as being among the saints, had betrayed the divine enterprise. I shudder when I realise how little I am: and it leads me to demand from myself faithfulness to the Lord even in events that might seem to be indifferent—for if they do not help me to be more united to Him, I do not want them!  (1)

I have some friends who I am thinking of, even as I write this blogpost.  If you are reading this, you probably are not them…. but it might apply anyway.

They are facing challenges in life, hard challenges, painful challenges. Enough so that while praying that they would see God revealed in their life, considering what they’ve gone through brings tears to my eyes.  I can’t know the pain as deeply of course, ,but the pain is visible and tangible.

And the temptation is to walk away from the one place where their hearts can be lifted, where they can find peace.

How do I know this?  Been there, been tempted to walk away once or twice…heck who am I kidding.  It’s a lot more than that, and I have. As the prodigal found out, it isn’t better there.  Not even close. the scars get bigger, the healing doesn’t come, the loneliness seems to grow and dominate, as does the despair.

St. Josemaria gets the point, the more I walk away, the littler I become.  The answer isn’t running away, trying to slide away unnoticed, as if the pain will simply dissipate….

I’ve found the answer is to embrace God even more strongly, to bug him like the old lady bugged the judge, to yell at Him like Jeremiah does in chapter 20 of his book, to try and wrestle with him as Jacob/Israel did.  To trust Him so much that I can doubt what’s going on, and I can express my doubt that He is present.  That kind of doubt takes faith, faith that He won’t turn us away if we are blunt and honest.  Trust that will work out in our lives, as that trust in His presence, His love and care allows us to dump all the crap in our lives onto the cross – where it will die with all sin and shame.

Don’t run away, don’t walk… come back, join us who struggle with our faithfulness – and trust in His. Let us encourage each other, for these last days… we need that encouragement, that reminder of God’s presence..

For that is having great faith.

(1)  Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 1595-1600). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Impatience, Broken hearts and Christian Ministry.

Dove of the Holy Spirit (ca. 1660, alabaster, ...

Dove of the Holy Spirit (ca. 1660, alabaster, Throne of St. Peter, St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 Devotional thought of the day:

3  There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, 4  and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. 5  In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit! 6  Christ arrives right on time to make this happen. He didn’t, and doesn’t, wait for us to get ready. He presented himself for this sacrificial death when we were far too weak and rebellious to do anything to get ourselves ready. And even if we hadn’t been so weak, we wouldn’t have known what to do anyway.  Romans 5:3-6 (MSG)

The world is cold and seems to be asleep. You often look on it, from your vantage point, with a glance that would set it on fire. Lord, may it awaken! Channel your bursts of impatience and be sure that if we manage to keep our whole life alight, we shall set every corner of the world alight, and the way it all looks will change.  (1)

By no means am I naturally patient.  It is not the gift I’ve been given, and  this is seen quite easily.  This morning, getting some lab work done, I was frustrated that there were 4 others before me.  I know ther has been as many as 20 before, but this morning, with places to go, people to minister to – waiting 10 minutes seemed like a month.

I am especially impatient when it comes to dealing with pain.  You know – the physical pain of them drawing blood ( 4  quart vials it seemed like! ) Or the spiritual pain of grieving, or the pastoral heart pain of watching people choose to do that which will hurt them.

“Why won’t they listen?” we ask.
“Why won’t they at least try it God’s way?”
“when will they ‘get it’?

Every minister I know has suffered from such impatience, such heart break as people continue to choose their own way.

Most of us have been tempted to hammer them, to “use the law” to crush them until they repent, until they conform to God’s plan. (or at least ours)   We want to find something to do to turn them into “supersaints”, to help them overcome all their sin,, to get their acts right and for them to become the next Billy Grahams.   We want that prodigal to turn for home as soon as he gets to the end of the driveway.  It doesn’t always work that way though.

But can we have God’s patience, the father’s patience with them, and still pray and encourage and take the moments we have to call them back to Christ?

It’s hard… its really hard…dang it, it’s hard.

The apostle Paul notes it as well,

18  I’m passing this work on to you, my son Timothy. The prophetic word that was directed to you prepared us for this. All those prayers are coming together now so you will do this well, fearless in your struggle, 19  keeping a firm grip on your faith and on yourself. After all, this is a fight we’re in. There are some, you know, who by relaxing their grip and thinking anything goes have made a thorough mess of their faith. 20  Hymenaeus and Alexander are two of them. I let them wander off to Satan to be taught a lesson or two about not blaspheming.  1 Timothy 1:18-20 (MSG) 

What a challenge this is!  How our soul, itself broken and impatent, struggles with such days of ministry!  Yet, learning to discern when to speak – and how to speak, and when to let the prodigal go is a skill that comes with maturity.

I find it interesting that Romans finds the solution in trusting Christ, in looking to His promises, the work we expect that He will do, in any time of trial, and that includes this one.

Escriva’s comment is similar – that we funnel our impatience into our own life, opening it up to see God work in us.   TO see God eradicate our own sin, and the things that would quench our spirit. Paul mentions this proactively to TImothy as well, telling Timothy not to walk down the road where these brothers walked….

As I thought through this… I think it is an essential part of our ministry, to be ready, in season and out, whether the time is right or not in our mind.  For prodigals do return home, and we need to be aware of how we’ve been welcomed back home ourselves.

For it is in realizing the grace we’ve been given, that we find the love and mercy to welcome them home.

So pray, intercede, contemplate God’s love for them and for us and be ready…  

to rejoice in their home coming.

Lord have mercy!

 

 

 

 

(1)  Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 1424-1428). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Do we understand the depth of forgiveness?

Lord's Prayer in greek in the Pater Noster Cha...

Lord’s Prayer in greek in the Pater Noster Chapel in Jerusalem (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

devotional thought of the day…..

8  The LORD is merciful and loving, slow to become angry and full of constant love. 9  He does not keep on rebuking; he is not angry forever. 10  He does not punish us as we deserve or repay us according to our sins and wrongs. 11  As high as the sky is above the earth, so great is his love for those who honor him. 12  As far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our sins from us. 13  As a father is kind to his children, so the LORD is kind to those who honor him. 14  He knows what we are made of; he remembers that we are dust.    Psalm 103:8-14 (TEV) 

Don’t think any more about your fall. Besides overwhelming and crushing you under its weight, that recollection may easily be an occasion of future temptation. Christ has forgiven you! Forget the “old man”—your former self. (1)

It has been said that those that don’t learn from the past are condemned to repeat it.

While not scriptural, there are many areas that it is true, though sometimes you have to spin it.. just a little.

Dealing with sin, we find that it needs a bit more spinning.  For what we are to remember is not the sin, nor the shame.  God remembers none, once He has cleansed us of it.  Those actions, words, thoughts, or lack of action and words have no power over us.  It is broken. God’s love shatters that link between our hearts and the sin – and they are separated  as far as the east as is from the West.  The prodigal is no longer away… you and I have come home.  The Father has welcomed us, as our elder brother has come and brought us home.  There is no reason for grieving over the past – as the psalmist rejoiced – God remembers how He made us, and that He knew we would need to be cleansed and healed..

And that is what we must remember – the “welcome home” feast.  The Father’s hug!  The celebration!

That is the lesson we need to learn from the past – the forgiveness, the mercy, the joy of our Father – the work of God in our lives.

Don’t dwell on your past sins – but rather rejoice in the reconciliation that has come to be our reality, on the work of God that enables us to be welcomed into His presence, on the joy on His face, as we stand before Him.

So learn from your past…. learn the power of His love and mercy… and when the time comes… show that Godly mercy and love to those that sin against you.

 

 

(1) Escriva, Josemaria (2010-11-02). The Way (Kindle Locations 693-695). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

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