Devotional Thoughts of the Day:
13 “You have said terrible things about me,” says the LORD. “But you ask, ‘What have we said about you?’ 14 You have said, ‘It’s useless to serve God. What’s the use of doing what he says or of trying to show the LORD Almighty that we are sorry for what we have done? 15 As we see it, proud people are the ones who are happy. Evil people not only prosper, but they test God’s patience with their evil deeds and get away with it.’ ” 16 Then the people who feared the LORD spoke to one another, and the LORD listened and heard what they said. In his presence, there was written down in a book a record of those who feared the LORD and respected him. 17 “They will be my people,” says the LORD Almighty. “On the day when I act, they will be my very own. I will be merciful to them as parents are merciful to the children who serve them. Malachi 3:13-17 (TEV)
“The apostle has no aim other than letting God work, making himself available.” (1)
“It is by God’s grace that our feet don’t lose contact with the path we are set out to follow. We say, “here I am, Lord” when He calls. He calls continually to the willing, and the unwilling. It is not so much our ability He has need of, but our availability. (2)
I started a number of blogs this week, questioning the validity of our feelings, when they question the results of our ministries and our very lives. When we wonder if the effort is worth it, when we wonder if we are just spinning our wheels. As I looked at the “hit count”, and the responses to these posts, the results were staggering – a lot of people read these posts. I am not sure whether I should be sad at this being so common, or relieved that I am not alone.
But as I’ve written each day, there is a faith issue involved, as well as one of discernment. It is really easy, as in the Malachi passage to look at this world and see people getting “blessed” for doing good, and those who struggle, not being blessed, at least from our view. Do we see those people who know God is with them and therefore make incredible sacrifices to serve being pointed out as great examples of faith, or those whose political machinations earning them praise?
Do we trust that God is here, listening, acting, being part of our lives as He has promised over and over and over to His people?
Oh how easy it is to question God, or the more “mature” version (since we know we can’t do that) our questioning our own results, the benefit of “our” ministry.
When we trust in God, yes, we rejoice in the the hard times. But we also rejoice in the times of rest, the times where we need to realize God is at work, and that the present trying times are not an indication of His faithfulness to us, nor of His love. We simply make ourselves available, keeping our eyes focused on Him, or remembeing His work in us in our baptism – and rejoicing. Of remembering His invitation to come and dine with Him, to do this knowing His work, His love, His presence. Of seeing His unmatched love for us.
As we do – our focus comes off of us, we stop evaluating things by our standards, our expectations, and realize that He is at work in us.
And that.. simply is glorious.
To reveal the work that happens, that God makes profitable within His will and His desire.
To realize the ways He wants to walk with us may seem different – but then again – He is with us…….
Cry out in those times, Lord Have Mercy, and wait and listen, and know He already has…
(1) Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 2454-2455). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
(2) The Northumbrian Community, Celtic Daily Prayer, Harper One p. 313
Discussion/Devotion Quote of the Day…
4:13 Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.
Philippians 4:13 (MSG)
Some people do only what lies within the capacity of poor human creatures to accomplish, and consequently waste their time. What Peter experienced is repeated once more, word for word: Praeceptor, per totam noctem laborantes nihil cepimus.—Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing. If they work on their own, without being united with the Church, not reckoning with the Church, what possible effectiveness could their apostolate have? None at all! They need to be convinced that on their own they can achieve nothing. You should help them to go on listening to the rest of that Gospel story: in verbo autem tuo laxabo rete—at your word I will let down the net. It is then that the catch will be plentiful and effective. How beautiful it is to mend our ways when we find we have, for whatever reason, done apostolate (our being light in theon our own account! (1)
We live in a day and in a place where people regularly live beyond our means. We have loans for our homes, for our transportation, what we once used for emergencies, our credit cards, are now maxed out – and we find ourselves facing more and more stress and anxiety, because we try to do what we want without the resources necessary to do so.
Likewise, we often try to do the same thing spiritually, that we do economically. (It should be noted as the church, and as individuals, there is no difference) Except of course we start in absolute bankruptcy. As long as we continue to try to survive on our own, we cannot. Yet we try. We are like the story reference in the quote above. We find our nets empty, we find ourselves spinning our wheels. Day in and day out we wonder, will what I do today make any difference. Will today improve, will it get better.
There are days where I contemplate my brokenness, the brokenness of the Church, and I wonder – can it ever change? Can we live up to our “potential”, to our calling?
Are we so tired, so burdened, so in prison to our anxiety that we forget our master is in the boat? We hear him teach, we watch Him working in the lives of others, but do we bother Him to help us with our burdens? Do we realize He has already told us how to let down the nets?
I do not believe the “nets” are what most evangelicals think it is. It is not the right missional program, it is not finding the correct model for small groups, or niche marketing our congregation. Any more that it is in finding the right “self-help” book, or the right “coach”, or the right church. As long as we look at it from what we can do, we are binding ourselves to our own self-centered tendencies, and we are relying on our own weaknesses. We forget who is travelling in our boat, and doing that is making the choice to continue to be broken, bankrupt, oppressed.
I would suggest that the net is that which comes from the depth of being in God’s presence, in listening to Him as the people of God. It is realizing that our potential is not ours – the potential of Church, where we can go – was already designed and that which is necessary invested by the Father, by giving us Jesus, by sending us the Holy Spirit. The more we listen to Him, the more we fellowship with Him, the more we live with Him,
Remember, Jesus knew the night was rough, He knew they had caught nothing, He knew their labor was in vain. Similarly, He knows our lives are very rough, He knows the struggles we have, and the struggles we have with our lives seeming meaningless and vain. He also knows the nets that you need to let down – working with Him
And the meaning and abundance of life – that is promised and assured… and is more than we can ever believe possible.. in ways we cannot ever expect. Far beyond and far different than what you think is your potential. For it isn’t yours, but His…
Devotional/Discussion thought of the day:
Don’t create more obligations for yourself than… God’s glory, his Love, his Apostolate.(1)
Yesterday, as I talked about anxiety in my sermon, and the coming of Christ which overcomes such anxiety, one of the illustrations I used was that the word for anxiety might best be translated as “running around like a chicken with its head cut off”, or “frantic”. It is easy to get into that kind of lifestyle, where we rush around from appointment to appointment, from task to task, spinning our wheels because of the demands placed upon us so quickly that we don’t have time to prioritize. Everything seems to be an obligation, and we wonder if we can get it all done!
And in the fast paced, spinning our wheels type of days, the one thing we do not know, is peace.
And we need that peace.
In the quote I borrowed today, there is something I think we should consider, and try to implement. Simply put, we must try to arrange our day, not by the tasks, and appointments and stuff of life, but realize what we are obliged to do is to walk that day in God’s glory, reveling in His love, and working from the assumption that whatever we do, it is because He sent us to do it, as His ambassadors, as His apostles, as His people bringing light into the world. We start there in His presence – we must start there. Not in the sense of we must because we need to be there, if anything we do is going to be of worth, if we are going to see God’s glory, if we are going to know His peace.
Once we remember we dwell in Christ, when we put on Christ, when we realize His mercy and love and peace – then, we will see the day unravel as He planned, we will see the things we do as His work, and it will be done, and done well, as the Holy Spirit works throughout our life.
Lord have mercy on us, and help us to realize You have, You are, and You will… every moment. AMEN
Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 521-522). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.