Devotional Thought of the Day:
26 Eight days later the disciples were together again, and this time Thomas was with them. The doors were locked; but suddenly, as before, Jesus was standing among them. “Peace be with you,” he said. 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and look at my hands. Put your hand into the wound in my side. Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!” 28 “My Lord and my God!” Thomas exclaimed. 29 Then Jesus told him, “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.” John 20:26-29 (NLT2)
Some people wish they could have lived in Jesus’ day so they could have heard His voice and His teaching. They forget there were thousands who heard Jesus but who had no idea what He was talking about. They forget that His own disciples had to wait for the Holy Spirit at Pentecost to know what He had been telling them.
“If only I had heard Jesus,” you may have said. No, you are better off now. You have the Light that lights every person. You have the voice of the inner conscience.
“Blessed are those who believe without seeing me….”
Think about those words. Probably you have yet to see Jesus face to face. But think about the fact Jesus declares you more blessed than Thomas. You are more blessed than the disciple who, burnout, weary, and grieving sees his dead Rabbi/Savior/Friend before him,
He was talking about you and me there… when He spoke ot the emotion wreck that was Thomas.
Now, let’s apply that to your present situation.
How often do we grieve our present circumstance by saying, “if only?”
If only there wasn’t COVID? If only the political parties could truly get along and work for what is best? If only I had a better job, better car, better spouse, better behaved kids, if only I had better…
Like one here right now to tend to my every desire. a god who would let me do things perfectly?
We may even spiritualize it, as Tozer suggested people do. If only I was one of the people who worked beside Paul, and got to hear His teachings. Or maybe his teaching was hard, if only I walked with Peter. If only I was one of the 12? I would sin less, I would understand more, I would… I would…
No, you wouldn’t.
They were sinners there, just like now. They struggled to learn, just like now. They didn’t get it at times…just like now.
All the “if only’s” are is a veiled sense of sin. Either the sin of coveting what you perceive is an advantage someone else has, or covering up your own shortfalling and sin. I know it all to well… I do it myself.
And we need to stop…
For we have something that the “if only’s” could never provide. We dwell in the presence of God. The Holy SPirit has revealed God to us..and guarantees God will be there, always. We don’t have to wait for nail scars or epiphanies. He is here.
We need to just trust Jesus, the One we don’t see in the flesh, yet we consume in communion. The Jesus who sent His Spirit to abide in us. That Jesus…
Believe in Him, and you are blessed. Not you will be blessed, you are blessed. Depend on Him, and You will know a peace, a serentiy, a contentment that is beyond anything you can imagine. Because everything else that can cause anxiety, anguish, greed or shame is eliminated.
You will realize you don’t need the “if only”‘s anymore…
For you dwell in the presence of God, now and for all eternity.
A. W. Tozer and Marilynne E. Foster, Tozer on the Holy Spirit: A 366-Day Devotional (Camp Hill, PA: WingSpread, 2007).
Devotional Thought of the Day:
10 I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and difficulties for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12:10 (TEV)
952 You run the great risk of being satisfied with living, or thinking that you have to live, “like a good boy”, who stays in a cosy and neat house, with no problems, and knowing only happiness. That is a caricature of the home in Nazareth. Because Christ brought happiness and order, he went out to spread those treasures among men and women of all times.
I was dealing with a fairly uncomfortable situation this morning, and as I wa completing my devotional reading I came across St Josemaria’s comment about being satisfied, about being comfortable.
I am still trying to process this one, and the scripture above it. To be honest, I would rather not do so.
Living as a Christian isn’t always satisfying, and it certainly shouldn’t be considered comfortable. It shouldn’t be, in the normal sense of the word, we shouldn’t be comfrotable with the American Dream, a life where everyhting has its place, and life runs like a smoothly runinng machine.
Because that isn’t life. it is reduced to being a robot.
Life, real life is lived in the brokenness, in the moments where we are weak, in the moments of being uncomfortable where God has led us. The moement we have to talk to the lady who had to celebrate mother’s day on the day her mother died, and is grieving. The friend whose work is breaking him down, and he doesn’t realize it, the couple that loves each other, but doesn’t know reconciliation is possible.
It is there we see God bringing healing, it is there we see God at work, it is in those moemnts that aren’t satisfying, comfortable and easy that we find a peace that goes beyond all understanding.
That is why St Paul could use the word content in describing them, for he had learned, he had been taught that it is then that Christ must become our strenght, for we have no other option but to depend on Him,and His love.
Ultimately, getting out of our “comfort zone”, out of our perfect lives is what we need. So rejoice in the moments that aren’t personally satisfying, you are about to see God’s work revealed.
Heavenly Father, when we are undergoing the challenges of life, help us to rejioce in them, as they cause us to be drawn closer to you and depend upon You more. Even as we struggle, may we see revealed the power of the Holy Spirit, comforting us and enabling us to endure. In Jesus name!
Escriva, Josemaria. Furrow (Kindle Locations 3860-3864). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional Thought of the day:
24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me. 25 If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. 26 And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul? Matthew 16:24-26 (NLT)
“Let us learn to obey, let us learn to serve. There is no better leadership than wanting to give yourself freely, to be useful to others. When we feel pride swell up within us, making us think we are supermen, the time has come to say “no.” Our only triumph will be the triumph of humility. In this way we will identify ourselves with Christ on the cross—not unwillingly or restlessly or sullenly, but joyfully. For the joy which comes from forgetting ourselves is the best proof of love.” (1)
“Every heart needs to be set free from posessions that hold it so tight, ‘Cause freedom’s not found in the things that we own, It’s the power to do what is right! Jesus, our only posession, giving becomes our delight! We can’t imagine the freedom we find from the things we leave behind” (2)
If you look at facebook any given day, you will find a lot of dissatisfaction. People aren’t satisfied with government, with their jobs, with their family situations (spouses, children, in-laws) , with religious leaders, with those who serve them at the store or the restaurant, and yes we are dissatisfied with ourselves.
We live in an age of discontent, and we struggle to find that with which we are content, we chase after it, and the harder we chase, the more it speeds up – and we begin to lose ground even more, and peace and contentment becomes simply part of a dream we lose hope in ever finding.
Instead of aggressively pursuing life, instead of seeing it as a contest to win, let’s take a breath, and see if our strategy is sound. (Breath in, breath out slowly…. repeat 10 times….)
I meant it – 9 more to go….
Now go back up to the top and read the Bible quote – and the quotes from St. Josemaria and Michael Card, and see the answer to our inability to be satisfied, and to find contentment.
It is not in finding ourselves – or improving our position, or finding the perfect spouse, job or community.
It’s found in Christ-likeness – in giving up yourself for others, in serving (remember ministry is the word for serving in the Bible) in loving those who are around you. Especially in loving those who others do not – whether it is because they are overlooked – or they are considered adversaries. For that is what Christ has done for us. That is how He loves us – by serving us, by being there to clean up that which we’ve messed up, The incredible way He has taken us into Himself, into His love.
Obeying Christ isn’t a matter of law – a matter of obey or perish, it is a matter of the gospel, of our salvation, of being blessed. Of finding freedom from all of that which breeds discontentment. Of leaving the things that oppress us behind. It is a matter of our baptism – of finding ourselves cleansed and made hole. It’s not an option either, anymore than breathing is an option – it is how we are to live – it is how we do live. For anything else – is simply not living… it is existing in bondage to something – fear, anxieity, guilt, desire, covetousness – they all oppress us, they all steal life.
Our answer is to let God show us His love, and being humbled, to take up our cross, to be last, to serve those around us, and in doing so, without even trying, we find contentment, peace, and in loving, we find His deep love…
Lord, Have Mercy on Us
(1) Escriva, Josemaria (2010-11-02). Christ is Passing By (Kindle Locations 811-815). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
(2) Card, Michael “Things we leave behind” From the album Poiema
“We are full of confidence, then, and long instead to be exiled from the body and to be at home with the Lord. 9 And so whether at home or exiled, we make it our ambition to please him.
2 Corinthians 5:8-9 (NJB)
To please someone, to bring them contentment, to see them with the peace and joy that comes from seeing life in its completeness.
It’s reading an update from a deacon I serve with, who this weekend celebrates Father’s Day, by seeing his daughter graduate from High School, and his son from Junior High. They have accomplished the task, they have finished a stage of life, and all is good. For a moment – a weekend, a summer, it is all good.
I don’t think we get that this same kind of contentment joyous feeling of contentment, of pleasure is experienced by God – when His children are living in His grace, in His peace, as we go through those stages when we “get it” a little more…
When we are baptized (if an adult) and our body reacts to the weight of the sin removed from us, or the look on so many dad’s faces as their children are baptized… and they know the peace that God has poured out on their child, and on them.
When we realize that when we take and eat, and take and drink the Body and Blood of Christ – that it isn’t some act of our obedience that makes it special, but that it is the incredible love of God, spread before us, strengthening our trust in Him, rejoicing in the relationship He has brought us into….
When we love those around us, and show the imprint of the Holy Spirit on our lives. When we show the mercy and peace and love of God …. in a way that seems natural to us, we may not even realize we are reflecting the love of Christ. And in that moment, it is not natural – but supernatural. God working through us, in us… and like a child working at his toy tool bench while his dad is really building something, we too bring a smile to God’s face.. we please Him.
Or when we come crying, broken and beaten up by our sin, and then find the comfort and peace that comes as He cleans us up again… and we allow Him to be our Dad….
It’s not hosting the crusade with 10’s of 1000’s hearing about Christ that is what we can do, to please God, to bring Him contentment….
It’s letting Him be our Father, it’s sharing in His work, it’s in spending time with Him, enjoying His love…
Have a great Father’s Day tomorrow….with your Heavenly Father (today as well!)