Devotional Thought of the day:
1 And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. 2 For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, 4 and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 (ESV)
777 Yesterday I saw a picture which I liked immensely, a picture of Jesus lying dead. An angel was kissing his left hand with an inexpressible devotion. Another, at the Saviour’s feet, was holding a nail torn out of the Cross. In the foreground with his back to us there was a tubby little angel weeping as he gazed at Christ. I prayed to God that they would let me have the picture. It is beautiful. It breathes devotion. I was saddened to hear that they had shown it to a prospective buyer who had refused to take it, saying, “It’s a corpse!” To me, You will always be Life. (1)
Alas and did my Savior bleed, and did my Sovereign die? Would He devote that sacred head for sinners such as I? At the cross at the cross, where I first saw the light, and the burden of my heart rolled away! It was there by faith I received my sight and now I am happy all the day.
It’s been nearly twenty years since “the discussion.” One of my church members was quite irate. And to be honest, I struggled to understand her complaint, and why i couldn’t get through to her why the cross, more specifically, a picture of the Jesus on the cross was not blasphemous, but rather a source of great hope, a source of great peace and comfort.
St. Josemaria’s words that I came across in my devotion this morning reminded me of that day. The picture was simple, a picture of a Tau Cross ( the Greek Letter T being Tau) with Jesus body on it. The passage I was preaching on was the one above in red (and the chapter before which says “we preach Christ crucified“) and all the songs were ones like the one in green above. The Wondrous Cross, The Old Rugged Cross, At the Cross, there was a theme working, I wanted them to work through the idea that Christ died for all on that cross, and that He died for you… and for me.
Apparently not. For the dear lady thought I was being blasphemous, picturing Jesus as if he was still there, for we know He has risen I have in twenty years of ministry only twice seen someone more angry at me, and this just moments before church was to start, moments before we were to worship God, indeed for sending Jesus to die for us, and for the Holy Spirit uniting us to that cross.
The next twenty-four hours were hard, I questioned myself, both my theology and my ability to communicate it. In either case, the answer was perhaps found in my returning to work at a university, to giving up on ministry. An old retired pastor changed that thought process, he was wondrous in his support in those days to follow.
I still preach about Christ crucified, and if I ever stop, then I should leave the ministry. For as St. Josemaria describes it, where others see a corpse, I see life. It is beautiful, it speaks of Christ’s devotion to save us, a love so encompassing that He could embrace that cross for the joy set before Him. A love for sinners such as I.
In preaching about the cross, it has to include us, for owe were united to that death of Jesus there, as He hung there, as He paid for our sin, as He died to justify us,, cleanse us, and plant a seed of life in us. It is there that the Holy Spirit brings us in our baptism, so that having died with Him, we rise with Him.
Not as an analogy, but being raised to a glorious,, holy life, being reborn, recreated as the children of God. Being brought to repentance, transformation, being able to have faith in God and His promise. This is where our burdens are rolled away, our shame, our grief, our resentment, and pain. It is taken there, nailed there.
This is all there at the cross……this is given us as He died there. This is His cross, and it is ours, again the apostle Paul describes the power, of the cross, in our lives.
5 For since we have become one with him in dying as he did, in the same way we shall be one with him by being raised to life as he was. 6 And we know that our old being has been put to death with Christ on his cross, in order that the power of the sinful self might be destroyed, so that we should no longer be the slaves of sin.
Romans 6:5-6 (TEV)
.So think on the cross, picture Jesus there, know the power of His love, HIs devotion for you, and then love and devote yourself to Him, for that relationship is what He desired, and what He saved you for in the first place.
(1) Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge (Kindle Locations 2787-2792). Scepter Publishers.
(2) Issac Whats, At The Cross – words in Public Domain
Devotion Thought of the Day:
11 The Lord said to him, “Get ready and go to Straight Street, and at the house of Judas ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul. He is praying, 12 and in a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come in and place his hands on him so that he might see again.” 13 Ananias answered, “Lord, many people have told me about this man and about all the terrible things he has done to your people in Jerusalem. 14 And he has come to Damascus with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who worship you.” 15 The Lord said to him, “Go, because I have chosen him to serve me, to make my name known to Gentiles and kings and to the people of Israel. 16 And I myself will show him all that he must suffer for my sake.” 17 So Ananias went, entered the house where Saul was, and placed his hands on him. “Brother Saul,” he said, “the Lord has sent me—Jesus himself, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here. He sent me so that you might see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 At once something like fish scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he was able to see again. He stood up and was baptized; 19 and after he had eaten, his strength came back. Saul stayed for a few days with the believers in Damascus. Acts 9:11-19 (TEV)
Most believers know well the events on the road to Damascus, as Saul the persecutor of the church is confronted by Jesus, and is transformed into the Apostle Paul. This scholar, missionary, apostle’s repentance is easy to see, and often held out as an example of the work God does, in giving someone a repentant spirit.
But in the midst of Paul’s conversion there is another story of repentance. Notable because the man who repents is already a believer. Yet, even as Paul didn’t recognize God or God’s will, neither did Ananias. Until they both repented. Until they both responded to God’s intervention.
Perhaps it is because of Paul’s incredible story, that we miss the story of Ananias, and the transformation that occurs in his life. For he repents, and goes, and shows to Saul/Paul the love of God, and brings healing to Saul/Paul’s eyes, and to his soul.
I think for those of us in the church, we often forget to repent, we often forget to hear God’s call to love Him with everything, and to love other humans as much as we love ourselves. We hang onto resentment and fear, we allow rumors and generalizaitons to fire us up and fuel division, even leading to hatred. We get defensive and hostile.
Worse of all, we lose our faith. Ananias forgot the will of God, that desires that all come to repentance, to be transoformed. He forgot the power of God that would transform Saul, and he being overwhelmed by fear, his faith in God disappeared. He didn’t hear God, he didn’t trust Him. In fact, in disobedience, he tries to correct God.
The blessing is how God dealt with Ananias, much the same as God dealt with Paul. He revealed Himself, He revealed His love, and He welcomed Ananias to share in God’s plan. This is what Jesus is talking about when He says, “15 I do not call you servants any longer, because servants do not know what their master is doing. Instead, I call you friends, because I have told you everything I heard from my Father. 16 You did not choose me; I chose you and appointed you to go and bear much fruit, the kind of fruit that endures. And so the Father will give you whatever you ask of him in my name. 17 This, then, is what I command you: love one another.” John 15:15-17 (TEV)
Ananias repents, as does Paul. Both then God continues to transform, conforming them to the image of Christ. Both the believer and the unbeliever, brought deeper into relationship with God.
Two incredible stories of repentance.
Brought about by God, who desires we all experience this blessing.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
8 In fact, it says, “The message is very close at hand; it is on your lips and in your heart.” And that message is the very message about faith that we preach: 9 If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved. 11 As the Scriptures tell us, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.” 12 Jew and Gentile are the same in this respect. They have the same Lord, who gives generously to all who call on him. 13 For “Everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved.” 14 But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? 15 And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is why the Scriptures say, “How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!”
Romans 10:8-15 (NLT)
When then he came, I found him a man of pleasing discourse, and who could speak fluently and in better terms, yet still but the self-same things which they were wont to say. But what availed the utmost neatness of the cup-bearer to my thirst for a more precious draught? Mine ears were already cloyed with the like, nor did they seem to me therefore better, because better said; nor therefore true, because eloquent; nor the soul therefore wise, because the face was comely, and the language graceful. (1)
Today’s average Christian assumes on the basis of this principle that faith is a product of the individual point of view, of intellectual endeavor, and of the work of specialists, and such a point of view seems to him more modern and more self-evident than the Catholic positions. For many today it is hardly comprehensible that a mysterious divine reality lies behind the human reality. But, as we know, that is the Catholic understanding of Church.
In this sense it is said, “The doers of the law will be justified”; that is, God pronounces righteous those who believe him from their heart and then have good fruits, which please him because of faith and therefore are a keeping of the law.
253 These words, spoken so simply, contain no error…. (3)
No, this isn’t about Tom and Bill, and the game this week. But it is what happens on Sunday, and should happen through the rest of the week as well.
It is about something far more important, far more important than another Superbowl, and more accolades. It is about a dynasty, but not an earthly one.
The passage from Augustine, the second quote above, reaches out to when he was expecting a great man to give him insights on life that would change everything. And the man, though a phenomenal speaker, failed to impress. The rest of that passage goes on about how disappointed, and yet relieved, for from there he would go and realize more clearly the love of God
Benedict XVI, (then Cardinal Ratzinger) wrote how this issue has been recycled in our age. That philosophers and theologians, the specialists, have so spoken of faith and Christianity that people don’t always realize that what religion is, is an encounter with the Creator of the myseterious divine reality that lies behind what we perceive as reality. What disappointed Augustine in the arrival of Faustus is now the norm. What Jefferson tried to do, in eradicating the miraculous from scripture, has been accomplished by those who study it until it is dead. Simply put, they have studied it until it is either a complex set of moral guidelines or completely accepted to be a nice set of fables.
That is not the “job” of the theologian or the philosopher. They are, by their labels, those tho are to study the logic, the reason of God (the-logos) and the lover of wisdom (Philo-sophia) Their job then, should be to reveal the God that was revealed to them, to pass on the truth and wisdom and awe of a God who left heaven, humbled himself, served and died on a cross to prove to us that He loves us.
The Lutheran confessions exemplify this when summarizing the incredible truth. God pronounces sinners righteous because they believe, trust, depend on His revelation of His love for them. That belief/trust/faith/dependence is what God sees, as the Holy Spirit transforms their lives. This is what Benedict knows as faith, even as he weeps over its being redefined, not by the world, but by the church. It is the revelation Augustine was hoping to hear. God loves us, and depending upon that love, revelling in it, adoring the God, who loves us, changes us.
Which brings us back to St Paul, and his words to a young church, easily swayed by fancy orators and powerful leaders. People need to trust in God, the God, who will never let them be shamed.
And the way they come to know that is simple. We bring it to them; we send to them those who will reveal that love to them. That is how we do our job so that all can come to know His love.
It’s not rocket science. It is the work of those who understand the word of God, and those who love wisdom.
So do your job, send, be sent, share Christ, and watch the glory of God enfold as the Spirit transforms lives, heart and minds that find peace in Christ Jesus.
(1) Augustine, S., Bishop of Hippo. (1996). The Confessions of St. Augustine. (E. B. Pusey, Trans.). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
(2) Ratzinger, J. (1992). Co-Workers of the Truth: Meditations for Every Day of the Year. (I. Grassl, Ed., M. F. McCarthy & L. Krauth, Trans.) (p. 30). San Francisco: Ignatius Press.
Tappert, T. G. (Ed.). (1959). The Book of Concord the confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. (p. 143). Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press.
Devotional & Discussion Thought of the Day:
9 O God, we meditate on your unfailing love as we worship in your Temple. 10 As your name deserves, O God, you will be praised to the ends of the earth. Your strong right hand is filled with victory. Psalm 48:9-10 (NLT)
You still do not love the Lord as a miser loves his riches, as a mother loves her child… You are still too concerned about yourself and about your petty affairs! And yet you have noticed that Jesus has already become indispensable in your life… Well, as soon as you correspond completely to his call, he will also be indispensable to you in each one of your actions. (1)
Yesterday’s Bible Study time at church was talking about the attitude of St. Paul towards the people of Israel. How, even though those people would have killed him outright, his love for God, and His knowledge of God’s promises, led him to desire their salvation, no matter the cost. He said he would even give up is salvation, if that were possible,
A tough act to follow, as many of us realized, and even grieved over during the Bible Study.
Paul’s comments, “Imitate me, as I imitate Christ,” take on a far more challenging perspective. They drive home the idea of loving our neighbor – for love doesn’t count the cost. Even when our neighbor is our enemy, our adversary, or just a huge pain in the neck. Imitate Paul as he desires their salvation more than even his own, even as Paul imitated Jesus, as He died for those who caused His suffering and death. You and I. (All that debate about whether the Jews were responsible for His death, or the Romans is nonsense. He chose to die to save us from our sins, to restore us to the Father.)
Are you willing to give up all for those you love? Are you willing to love those who hate you?
Even more difficult, when we realize Paul’s challenge to us is not alone, John issues it with these words,
20 If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a Christian brother or sister, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see? 21 And he has given us this command: Those who love God must also love their Christian brothers and sisters. 1 John 4:20-21 (NLT)
So how do we do this? Is there some metaphysical knowledge that unlocks in us the ability to love our neighbor? Is it some ritual that we must undergo, that magically gives us the ability to sacrifice all for our neighbor?
No, just simply – if you love God with all you are, when you correspond to His call on your life, then this happens. Not because of our will or volition, it is deeper than that. It is the work of God in our lives, what He has ordained for us. it is a life of Holiness, it is a life, set apart to Him.
Again, not easy, a radical transformation in our lives.
So how do we do these things, things God has emphasized through His word, through the Apostles, the Prophets, in the Law of Moses, in the Gospel of Christ?
No – not think about where the solution, that won’t help. We aren’t capable of it.
Do what the psalmist asks us to do – meditate on the Lord, on His love, on His mercy, on His promises revealed in His word. On His unfailing love. As Paul will say, explore its depths, its height, its width, its breadth. Realize how God’s love consumes us, how it transforms us, How the Holy Spirit makes it a reality in our life.
It sounds too easy, but keep in the forefront of your thoughts during the day the incredible love and grace of God. Spend time just thinking about it.
Don’t limit yourself to worship and praise, to just studying the Bible in classes, or studying it as you read it.
Just read and be in awe, let the words run through your heart like a bubbling brook, occasionally like a waterfall, Like the Niagara Falls, or Iguazu Falls in South America. (Watch the movie “The Mission” to see this – and an incredible story of loving your enemy!)
Let the promises amaze you, the patience of God astonich you, the miracles and wonders of God leave you without the ability to read any further.
And delight that all of this has been done and revealed – to you… for you, for your neighbor, for that person…….
Then you will love, ot as a command, but because the gospel is alive in you, you won’t be able to resist,
It will be our lives… lived as our Lord lived.
We’ll stumble for sure, we struggle at times, but the correlation between realizing the love of God, and loving others is clear… and it is necessary…
So dwell in Him, rejoice in His presence. Know His love!
(1) Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 3299-3303). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Humanity’s Search for Meaning. Which Star Trek Captain, Princess Bride Character, Super Hero, MBTI Type are YOU?
Devotional/Discussion Thought of the Day:
10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. Ephesians 2:10 (NLT)
20 But that’s no life for you. You learned Christ! 21 My assumption is that you have paid careful attention to him, been well instructed in the truth precisely as we have it in Jesus. 22 Since, then, we do not have the excuse of ignorance, everything—and I do mean everything—connected with that old way of life has to go. It’s rotten through and through. Get rid of it! And then take on an entirely new way of life—a God-fashioned life, 23 a life renewed from the inside 24 and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you. Ephesians 4:20-24 (MSG)
34 Don’t be afraid of the truth, even though the truth may mean your death.(1)
We take them mostly for fun, or so we tell ourselves.
In the last week, I found I am Captain Jeffrey Archer, Inigo Montoya, the Green Lantern, and that I am an Elf.
The personality quizzes are fun, and mostly I can live with the results. ( being labelled a unicorn though?) But these “tests” are getting more and more popular,Especially, how do I say this nicely, among those who no longer fit the “college/career demographic (20-35ish.)
We post the results, looking for affirmation? Looking for comments that tell us it’s okay to be Data and not Patrick Stewart, that its okay to not be Harry Potter but to be Dumbledore, to be Gomer Pyle rather than Church Norris. (But why did I get picked to be St Stephen, the first martyr?)
We long to know that people will accept us for who we are, for where we’ve ended up in life, that it is okay to be… us. We long to know who we are even, for there are days, where our self esteem plummets, where our confidence drops, when we dream of re-defining ourselves, and we look for someone we admire, someone we could be life. And how we answer the questions more often describes what we would like to be like, than who we really are.
The challenge is to remember that who we are isn’t determined by our personality, or our vocation, or even our successes and failures. That we are who we are being “okay” doesn’t depend on what others think of us (especially if they read the 8th commandment) It doesn’t even truly depend on our own understanding and approval of who we are. St Paul refers to this when he talks of our limited knowledge:
12 We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us! 1 Corinthians 13:12 (MSG)
St. Josemaria says that we don’t have to be afraid of the truth, even though it may mean our death. In a way it does, for to know the truth about ourselves, we have to know that we have been untied with death, Christ’s death. (Romans 6:1-8, Titus, 3:3-8, Ezekiel 36:25ff) For He is the truth, and it is united to Him, to His death and resurrection, that we begin to know our “true” identity. The identity that God knows, the identity that He created us to have. The identity that makes us more than our favorite hero (or villain) could ever be.
For you don’t just have the characteristics like a child of God, you have been created as one. A creation that God promises is a Masterpiece. One where we are judged by God to be righteous,
That is who you are….. who you really are. A child of God, a friend of Christ, a masterpiece
No matter what those “tests” say.
Take His word on it!
(1) Escriva, Josemaria (2010-11-02). The Way (Kindle Locations 241-242). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
10 I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, 11 so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead! 12 I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. 13 No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. Philippians 3:10-14 (NLT)
1033 Make those reflections of your friend your own. He wrote: “I was considering how good God was to me and, full of interior joy, I was ready to shout out loud, there in the street, for everyone to know about my filial gratitude: ‘Father! Father!’ And though not in fact shouting out loud, I kept calling him so—‘Father!’—in a low voice, many times, quite certain that it pleased him. I seek nothing else. I only want to please him and give him Glory. Everything for him. If I desire my salvation and my sanctification it is because I know that he desires it. If in my Christian life I hunger for souls, it is because I know that he has this great hunger. I say this in all truth: I will never set my sights on the prize. I don’t desire a reward: everything for Love!” (1)
As I was completing my devotions this morning, I came across the quote above my St. Josemaria Esciva, one of my favorite writers. My reaction to it, as I was reading it, was “WOW” – this is powerful stuff. And then I got to the last two sentences and was jarred a bit. Okay, more than a bit.
It seems to clash with the Bible passage above, one of my favorites since I could actually run long distances, back in high school and college.
I don’t set my eyes on the prize, or I do? Scripture should win this, the imitation of St/ Paul, an apostle and the author of scripture. RIght?
But what if the prize that Josemaria is speaking of is different than the one St. Paul is speaking of?
I’ve done enough funerals in my life to know that people have all sorts of interesting images of heaven. Most of which have nothing to do with what scripture teaches. A place of no more sorrow and tears for sure, but the idea of our sitting on the porch of our heavely mansions, sipping tea, or getting our wings fitted so we can play in the clouds, those ideas and many others don’t come from scripture. The peaceful, idealized version of heaven is not the prize we seek.
For Paul, and I believe Josemaria, and I pray for me, that the prize is simply knowing Jesus, to realize He is calling us into a relationship with God our Father. To enter into and bear witness to the glory and majesty of God which is seen so clearly in the depth of His love for us. To build up a level of faith, a level of trust in God that Josemaria describes so well. Where our desires become subject to His desires, because we realize the purity of His love. Where heaven is only a word that describes our cming into His presence. To have our trust in Him become such that His will becomes ours, where His righteousness is ours, where His mission, what Jesus was sent for, to seek and save the lost – is ours.
The prize that both seek is not heaven, it is the Lord of heaven.
It is not a reward for our work, but the reward already won, on a brutal cross.
Where communion with God is more than an event, it simply is life.
Lord have mercy on us, and show us your glory!
(1) Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 3650-3656). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
8 In conclusion, my friends, fill your minds with those things that are good and that deserve praise: things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and honorable. 9 Put into practice what you learned and received from me, both from my words and from my actions. And the God who gives us peace will be with you. Philippians 4:8-9 (TEV)
27 God’s plan is to make known his secret to his people, this rich and glorious secret which he has for all peoples. And the secret is that Christ is in you, which means that you will share in the glory of God. 28 So we preach Christ to everyone. With all possible wisdom we warn and teach them in order to bring each one into God’s presence as a mature individual in union with Christ. 29 To get this done I toil and struggle, using the mighty strength which Christ supplies and which is at work in me. Colossians 1:27-29 (TEV)
654 Until now you had not understood the message that we Christians bring to the rest of men: the hidden marvel of the interior life. What a wonderful new world you are placing in front of them!
In the last few days, I have been asked a few times about theology, about what it iis, about what it isn’t. The questions were not precisely worded that way. Some questions asking me my thoughts on an article, some questions sent me about dialogues my friends had been involved in, which concerned them because they were “theological” yet seemed…. empty.troublesome, and the question was asked… is this theology worth my time?
As I consider these questions, I must ask the question, what is theology? What is its purpose?
For my answer, I must turn to the greatest theologian in the New Testament, to the Apostle Paul.
Where did he focus his thoughts of theology on? What took up his time, his thoughts, his efforts? Was it on high level discussions about semantics and how things are phrased? Is it about the discussion of miniscule differences in manuscripts copied by people a thousand years after the scriptures were written? Paul, who walked among the greatest of Rabbinical theologians, who was a master teacher himself, would toss it aside. For his thoughts and words to dwell on something that is the heart of theology, dare I say the only thing that is theological.
Christ, bringing people into God’s presence, revealing to them His love. Everything, the incarnation, His life, death, burial, resurrection, ascension, all that scripture records which points to Him. That is the nature of theology – literally the logic, the reason of God. This is the treasure we have, this is the thing which we focus on, working with all that is in within us, even as Paul encourages us to do.
For it is Christ in you which St..Josemaria talks about as our “interior life” – that incredible blessing we have, as we realize the Spirit dwells in us, as God abides with us, as the we realize the message of Advent and Christmas – Immanuel – God is with us!
Theology drives us to treasure that life, to remember that it is the promise of our baptism, that it is found as we take and eat, take and drink the Body and Blood given and shed for us. This is the highest good, the reliance on God. This is that which Paul would have us keep our thoughts on, this Christ, this Savior, this plan to make us the people of God.
That is the purpose of theoogy…that should become the focus of our lives….
All else… is as worth it as the stuff Paul leaves behind.
Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 2744-2747). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
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.
Devotional Thought of the Day….
I long ago came up with, what is my theory of life.
An optimist looks at a 20 oz beverage container holding 10 oz of fluid and calls it half full. A pessimist looks at the same container and calls it half empty. I walk over drain the mug of beer, ticking off the optimist and the pessimist simultaneously. It was a good beer, the container served its purpose, and I caused opposing sides of an argument to be united. (against me – but that is cool) That’s a very good day! (1)
For some reason, I am occasionally mistaken for an optimist. I’m not sure why. I am certainly not a pessimist either, and I don’t fit on a line somewhere in between.
Don’t get me wrong – there are times I am sure everything is going to collapse around me, that the world is going to implode – and the proof of the possibility of that is that… well – I am here, therefore it could happen. At the same time – I a pretty sure that if it does, it will be a truly glorious thing to witness, mind-blowing even, and that I will find myself thoroughly enjoying the spectacle!
This weirdness in me is developed in part – by a long list of tragedies and traumas I have seen in life, either experiencing them myself ( for example my heart issues and marfans syndrome, my dropping out of college, my motorcycle accident, heck I could fill a blog) or by those I’ve walked beside, as they have seen God cause them to persevere and endure in peace …even unto death.
I’ve seen to much to be a carefree, naive, optimist who thinks everything is coming up roses. I have seen God’s action in those times nearly as often (sometimes I admit I can’t see them) to be a “the sky is falling” pessimist. Sure I will rant and rave at times, or celebrate a bit too early in other times. But overall, I am neither, or both, finding the joy in suffering, and the soberness in joy.
Maybe it is that my optimism is found, in that same place as faith, as trusting in God to fulfill specially what He has promised.
I like how St Josemaria put it,
“659 Christian optimism is not a sugary optimism; nor is it a mere human confidence that everything will turn out all right. It is an optimism that sinks its roots in an awareness of our freedom, and in the sure knowledge of the power of grace. It is an optimism which leads us to make demands on ourselves, to struggle to respond at every moment to God’s calls.” (2)
Call it “baptismal” optimism – the attitude we have in knowing that which God has given and done to us, when He claimed us as His people, when He cleansed our lives, and bound and sealed us with the gift of the Holy Spirit, the never-ending presence of God in our lives. Knowing that because of the grace poured out there, our lives are renewed, revitalized! That sin and shame and guilt and fearing death and Satan no longer have a hold on us, that we enter God’s presence and abide there confidently in peace.
There – instead of naively assuming that everything will work out right, or that everything is sure to fail, we can engage the attitude Paul describes as ours..
6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. 8 And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. 9 Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:6-9 (NLT)
Live in your baptismal grace my friends… and rejoice… not just because all things will work out for good for those that love God, but that they will, because you abide in Christ..
(1) DT Parker – ~1988
(2) Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 2424-2428). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.