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Don’t Waste a Monday: It can be glorious!


Sunrise at Concordia

Devotional Thought fo the Day”
1  So we must listen very carefully to the truth we have heard, or we may drift away from it. 2  For the message God delivered through angels has always stood firm, and every violation of the law and every act of disobedience was punished. 3  So what makes us think we can escape if we ignore this great salvation that was first announced by the Lord Jesus himself and then delivered to us by those who heard him speak?
Hebrews 2:1-3 (NLT)

7      A day of salvation, of eternity, has come for us. Once again the call of the Divine Shepherd can be heard, those affectionate words: Vocavi te nomine tuo—I have called you by your name. Just like our mother, he calls us by our name, even by the name we were affectionately called at home. There, in the depths of our soul, he calls us and we just have to answer: Ecce ego quia vocasti me—here I am, for you have called me, and this time I’m determined not to let time flow by like water over rounded stones, leaving no trace behind. (1)

It is Monday morning, and the temptation is to simply outlast the day.  To go through work and life on some kind of automatic pilot, to ignore the boredom, or monotony, to survive the stress and anxiety it causes.TO just moan about the impact of the time change and on top of it, the normal Monday grind.  We can, to use the phrase from St Josemaria – just let Monday pass us by, without leaving any trace…

There is an option.

We can hear His voice.   We can hear Him call our name, and transform our Monday into something greater, a journey with our friend, the Lord who loves us and cares for us. Hearing His voice, letting it resonate within us, makes Mondays (and everyday ) a time of awe, a time where His work leaves us breathless, as He transforms everything around us.  On Mondays we have the opportunity to radiate His glory, to share in His mission, to realize as Jesus was sent by the Father, so He has sent us.

For while He has saved us for eternity, He has also sent us back into this world to help save it, as we journey through life with Him.

Why would it make sense to waste this?  Do we value our life in CHirst so little that we would rather walk into the darkness without being by His side?

Or would we rather see this as another day for salvation, another chance to see the masterpieces God creates as He calls to others through us?

May we not neglect this day, and the Lord who calls to us in it!

AMEN!

(1)Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge (Kindle Locations 257-262). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

The Challenge of Seeming Failure


Devotional Thought/Discussion point of the day”

 10 In my life in union with the Lord it is a great joy to me that after so long a time you once more had the chance of showing that you care for me. I don’t mean that you had stopped caring for me—you just had no chance to show it. 11 And I am not saying this because I feel neglected, for I have learned to be satisfied with what I have. 12 I know what it is to be in need and what it is to have more than enough. I have learned this secret, so that anywhere, at any time, I am content, whether I am full or hungry, whether I have too much or too little. 13 I have the strength to face all conditions by the power that Christ gives mePhilippians 4:10-13 (TEV)

One of the conversations during my trip on the mission field, was about the harsh reality of ministry, how the dreams of how it would be can come crashing down, when we face the daily grind on the field.  When the results we long for, do not come to fruition right away, or even after a year or two.  For young people in ministry, this can be a hard lesson.  It doesn’t always get easier either, and far too often I have known the feeling – could I be more productive for God’s kingdom in another place?  Could I do things differently?  It’s easy to get caught up in visible results – and loose hope.  This is most certainly true when it seems we have to teach the same lesson, repeatedly, year after year, month after month, heck – sometimes in the same Bible Study or counseling appointment.

Despite what Paul is saying – it is hard to be content with life at times – and that means it is also hard to be content with life in the ministry at times.  This is true for pastors, and it is true for those one the foreign mission field, and I suspect it is for all of us.

After all, don’t they know the treasure we have?  Why don’t people respond like on the day of Pentecost?  Isn’t that the way it is supposed to happen, with hordes of pagans coming forward to be baptized, to be cleanse of their sins, to win the battle over the anxiety and fear caused by sin, satan and death’s bondage over them?

As I “re-enter civilization” (though I found China far more civilized than the USA) I wonder about my own ministry.  Why can a church in China respond in months and be 500 plus people, while mine hovers in the 50’s?  Is it that my people don’t treasure and trust in God’s love enough?  (and if they don’t – does that mean I am a failure as a pastor?)  Is there something wrong with what we are doing?  Could there be a place where I am more productive, is there a pastor that would be more productive here?  All those questions run through our heads, and I witnessed that in China, among those serving God there as well.   It is easy to get disillusioned, disheartened, it is easy to let our minds run wild with questions….

Those questions occasionally need to be asked.  But not in the darkness of night, not in the times when we are alone, when Satan can even more draw our attention from God’s presence.  We do need to consider what we are doing, how we do it.  But that shouldn’t be such that we feel condemned – but focused, energized, our vision clarified, our hope in God renewed….and ourselves content with the place and situation where God has put us.

That is the purpose of self-evaluation, it why we do it in the light of day, in the presence of God, with strong advisers who are willing to invest themselves in helping us.  We especially focus, not on our work, but on the mercy of God – on the very thing we treasure, for the reason we started to serve others, either as a lifetime, fulltime vocation, or just as part of our regular day.  We have to look to Him at these times… for there the shadows and doubts are dismissed by His glory, and we see things as they are.

Once again, I find some.. help focusing at the end of my devotions…in the words of someone familiar with both the successes and seeming failures of ministry.

“You must be careful: don’t let your professional success or failure—which will certainly come—make you forget, even for a moment, what the true aim of your work is: the glory of God!”  (1)

Now, let’s get back to working at our Father’s side.  Depending on His power, His mercy, His love…..

Godspeed

 

Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 2576-2577). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

 

 

Give me this victory – over any other…


Devotional/Discussion of the day…

I am, without hesitation… an avid sports fan.  I thoroughly enjoyed watching the highlights of my favorite Patriots this day, and I even enjoyed watching other teams – as they do their best, seeing the games which speak of the training they endured, the pain, the sweat, the preparation….

Yet, those are but games…. the victory not comparable to another victory, another one where pain was endured,  Here is how one pastor/priest

The Lord’s triumph, on the day of the Resurrection, is final. Where are the soldiers the rulers posted there? Where are the seals that were fixed to the stone of the tomb? Where are those who condemned the Master? Where are those who crucified Jesus?… He is victorious, and faced with his victory those poor wretches have all taken flight. Be filled with hope: Jesus Christ is always victorious. (1)

As we worked through Romans 6:1-11 this morning in Bible Study,we see why this victory is more important than any other….why it means more to me than every Boston team winning every championship for decades….

Because while a Pats/Bruins/Celtic/Red Sox domination of pro sports would bring a smile to my face… the victory of Christ, for me and every believer, is personal.

What then shall we say? Shall we persist in sin that grace may abound? Of course not! 2 How can we who died to sin yet live in it? 3 Or are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life. 5 For if we have grown into union with him through a death like his, we shall also be united with him in the resurrection. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him, so that our sinful body might be done away with, that we might no longer be in slavery to sin. 7 For a dead person has been absolved from sin. 8 If, then, we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him. 9 We know that Christ, raised from the dead, dies no more; death no longer has power over him. 10 As to his death, he died to sin once and for all; as to his life, he lives for God. 11 Consequently, you too must think of yourselves as (being) dead to sin and living for God in Christ Jesus. Romans 6:1-11 (NAB)

That’s why this is the best victory – dead to sin, and alive to Christ.  Nothing – nothing – in all creation… tops this victory… perio
That is why St. Paul will say… When I first came to you, dear brothers and sisters, I didn’t use lofty words and impressive wisdom to tell you God’s secret plan. 2 For I decided that while I was with you I would forget everything except Jesus Christ, the one who was crucified.”  1 Corinthians 2:1-2 (NLT)

Remember that victory, when you can remember no other….

 

 

(1)Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 2428-2432). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

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