Be Full of Joy
† In JesusName †
May the grace of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ leave fill you with more joy that you can imagine! AMEN!
There are in life some very irritating tunes.
You know, the ones that get stuck in your head and remain there for hours?
A few years ago it was songs from the children’s movie frozen, specifically “I want to be a snowman” and “Let it go!” And anyone who has ever been to Disneyland knows how long this next song sits in your mind. Here, I will give you the first word of it… and see if you can get it…
“It’s” (a small world after all…
There are a few of those in the church as well, though thankfully the ’70s are over and we rarely sing them.
Song’s like, “I’ve got that joy, joy, joy…(down in my heart) and even worse, “rejoice in the Lord always..” (Missy please note– these songs are never to be sung here unless I am on vacation in New England and Bob is preaching…)The latter praise song, “Rejoice in the Lord Always” is just the same words over and over, and over and… you get the picture. But what made it worse was that it was called a round… so, group, a would start it, then group b, then group c, so basically you were getting overwhelmed with this idea of having to
and sometimes we are not in the mood!
Dang it, sometimes you just don’t want to rejoice, you know, because sometimes life… is challenging. (What did you think I was going to say sometimes life sucks?)
And to be assaulted over and over with people saying “rejoice always” (which is how some old translations state this passage… shortens already short, frayed fuses.
One of the reasons I like this translation is passages like this, that makes it less about us, and talks of being filled with joy.
Things that joy needs to replace.
But if we are going to be truly filled with joy, we have to get rid of the just that is in the place where joy is supposed to be. Heck most of us have our lives so filled with these things, that we have not room for a chuckle or two, never mind full-blown, life overwhelming joy.
The things we are anxious about, the things that our minds dwell upon that cause us great stress. Getting rid of that junk will give us a lot of room in our lives for joy.
Then, of course, are the things we need, or that we think we need in our lives. Those
Then there are the things we pray for because we are so desperate that we turn to God. I am not sure we always do give it to Him, but we at least say we have, yet we still let the situation burn a hole in us
I could go on and talk about the guilt and shame that we live with, the things that cause us to fear death or consider the return of our Lord Jesus Christ in a way that isn’t full of joy and expectation.
For we should look at God’s returning, with the same kind of eyes that kids have, as they see presents with their names on them begin to be placed under the tree. For Christ’s return and what happens next are described with these favorite words from all of scripture.
9 What no eye has seen and no ear has heard, what the mind of man cannot visualise; all that God has prepared for those who love him; 1 Corinthians 2:9 (NJB)
And this thought should help us see the joy that God would fill us with if our lives can be emptied of anxiety, and our needs, and desperation and guilt and shame.
How did I come up with the list?
Our conversation with God revolves around these important things
So where did I come up with that list, the things that fill us instead of the joy God would so lovingly fill us with? Where did I get anxiety, needs, despair, guilt, and shame?
From the passage of course. Though I changed the words slightly.
Worry for anxious – the idea is to have a dueling mind, or two separate minds, at war with each other. Some translations actually use “be anxious over nothing”.
Pray comes from the word for desire – it is to lay before God all the things that cause us despair, and then we are not just to tell God, but we are to makeGod intimately aware of our needs, so that we can trust Him to take care of them, so we can empty ourselves of these burdens, and allowing Him to gill us with joy.
He does this when we come to the realization that Jesus return is what we truly need. We set aside our guilt and shame, or more accurately, we realize He has set it aside, thinking of the joy God has planned for in our homecoming, in our finally seeing Him face to face.
We don’t empty ourselves of these things, we need to trust God to do this, understanding that it is His desire to do
For as we heard Wednesday night, the prophet Zephaniah revealed the God delights in our homecoming, even more than we do. You see the joy we are filled with is His joy, the joy God has when He sees His people knowing they are loved, and able to fully experience it.
His joy is contagious, and His joy is found, and always has been found when He and His people are together when He’s been able to provide for them something beyond anyone’s capability to understand. or explain…
That which Paul prayed for His people and I pray for you, that emptied of all that can be replaced by joy, I pray you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. And know this, His peace will guard your hearts and minds, as you live in Christ Jesus. AMEN!
Let Nothing You
Dismay! – An Advent Prayer
Week 3 – The Day of Delight is Coming!
† IN JESUS NAME †
May the grace of God our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ be so revealed to you, that the idea of dismay or disillusion be simply impossible, as you experience the dimensions of His love.
Announcement Will Be
As we consider the old hymn’s line, God rest you merry gentleman, let nothing you dismay, as we look at the advent readings out of the prophets about the day of Christ, we’ve see something incredible so far. These prophecies were all about a day that was to come, the day that Jeremiah described as the day of promise. Last week Malachi described it as the day of returning, and next week, Micah will talk about the day of peace.
But tonight we’ve heard from Zephaniah, and we will explore the day he was prompted by the Holy Spirit to write about….
The Day of Delight!
Delight, the greatest of joys. The kind of joy that leaves us unable to speak.
A video is circulating on the internet, of this kind of joy. People born color blind are given these new special glasses, that enable them to see color for the first time in their lives. And these people’s body language and the tears of amazement are something to see.
So I think I will show you…
That’s the kind of joy, the kind of delight the prophet says God has promised on that day.
This is Amazing…
But what we really need to realize, is that he didn’t promise this delight to you and I. We aren’t the primary ones to know this joy, this delight.
Hear the passage again,
17 For the LORD your God is living among you. He
He will take delight in you, Al, and you Tom, He will take delight in you therein the back, yes you Doug and Frank, and you over hiding there behind
God will, on that day, take delight in you! Think back to the joy of the color blind man… can you imagine
I mean I get the idea that with all of our burdens we will know a
God finding that kind of joy, joy inexpressible, when we show up?
That’s what the prophet promises! He even says it again, hear this!
With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”
The Hand of Judgement is removed
This is the incredible promise we have to understand, that as much as we findGod’s mercy incredible, as much as we are amazed when we hear our sin is completely forgiven, as much joy we find as we experience the width and breadth, the height and depth of God’s love for us, revealed in Jesus…
He finds the greatest joy in restoring us to Himself, reconciling us, cleansing us from all sin.
All of it.
Zephaniah tells us that God will remove his hand of judgment, he ends all
Where we will see God rejoice and sing and be delighted, as He makes His
Not yet? Or Now?
Now the really mind blowing part of this… this day when
God finds such delight in our presence, the day when He rejoices over us with
songs of joy…
While this will definitely be something that we see completely revealed on the day of Christ’s advent, this time has already happened, for John’s gospel tells us,
14 So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.
John 1:14 (NLT2)
And in Luke’s gospel
that the time of the LORD’s favor
has come.” 20 He rolled up
the scroll, handed it back to the attendant, and sat down. All eyes in the
synagogue looked at him intently. 21 Then
he began to speak to them. “The Scripture you’ve just heard has been fulfilled
this very day!”
Luke 4:19-21 (NLT2)
In Christ’s incarnation, the thing we celebrate at Christmas, as Christ came, this truth became real, God again found great delight in His people, in dwelling with them. Even through the suffering, the death on the cross, we find that Hebrews tells us it was for the joy set before Him that Christ endured the cross, and in the resurrection, and at the day of Pentecost and every day someone is baptized since, this promise becomes true,
God delights in His people, in you’re and I,, and He rejoices over us with songs of joy!
So let Him cleanse you once again, as we gather together and share in the Lord’s Supper… AMEN!
Devotional Thought of the Day:
38 And he said to them, “Keep watch, and pray that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Mark 14:38 (TEV)
56 Spiritual childhood demands submission of the mind, which is harder than submission of the will. In order to subject our mind we need not only God’s grace, but a continual exercise of our will as well, denying the intellect over and over again, just as it says “no” to the flesh. And so we have the paradox that whoever wants to follow this “little way” in order to become a child, needs to add strength and manliness to his will.
We live a life that is challenging, that is complicated, and when we are doing right in one person’s eyes, we are doing wrong in another’s view. If we forgo the former, we are criticized, if we play by the latter’s rules, we are judged and perhaps even condemned.
Very few are wise enough to navigate these harsh waters that we find ourselves in, yet our minds tell us we must. And so we screw up, sometimes critically, unable to balance all the things in the adult world.
We aren’t the first with this problem, see the writings of the Apostle Peter and the Apostle Paul.
I’ve always thought the answer would be found in wisdom, the application of the intelligence God has given us. Now into my 50’s, I wonder if that is achievable, As St. Mark records of Jesus, we desire to do what is right (just and fair, ) Our spirit resonates with what is right, we are so willing to do it, but we fail.
I find some help here in the words of St Josemaria this morning, that it is not our mind that provides us with the answer, Our mind, our wisdom, and intellect, has to be humbled and broken. It must submit to Christ, be entrusted to His guidance. And it is in this discipline that the fruit comes forth, as our faith becomes the childlike dependence on God that will always sustain us.
This isn’t easy, it requires strength and a focus that needs to be crafted, It requires that our souls learn patience, so as to temper the mind. It requires our hearts be comforted, that the anxiety which often compromises our intellect be stilled.
This is not possible by our own strength and merit.
We need the Spirit, we need the loving, strong guidance of the Spirit who cleanses us of sin, revives and renews us. The Holy Spirit causes us to look with awe at Jesus, our savior, and Lord. And as we do, we become more childlike in our faith. more willing to accept God’s directions, more willing to depend upon Him.
This is our hope, this work the Spirit is doing in us, this hard work that is truly a blessing, for it testifies that God is at work in our lives and that He cares for us.
Heavenly Father, please help us become childlike in our dependence on You! Continue to pour our your Spirit upon us, disciplining us, that our heart, soul, and mind would be Yours, and reflect the glory of Your love ot our lost and broken world. AMEN!
Escriva, Josemaria. The Way (Kindle Locations 1975-1979). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
3 We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. 4 And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. 5 And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. Romans 5:3-5 (NLT2)
12 Not that I have secured it already, nor yet reached my goal, but I am still pursuing it in the attempt to take hold of the prize for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers, I do not reckon myself as having taken hold of it; I can only say that forgetting all that lies behind me, and straining forward to what lies in front, 14 I am racing towards the finishing-point to win the prize of God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus. 15 So this is the way in which all of us who are mature should be thinking, and if you are still thinking differently in any way, then God has yet to make this matter clear to you. 16 Meanwhile, let us go forward from the point we have each attained. Philippians 3:12-16 (NJB)
708 The world, the devil, and the flesh are a band of adventurers who take advantage of the weakness of that savage you have within you. In exchange for the poor bauble of pleasure, which is worth nothing, they want you to hand over to them the pure gold and the pearls, the diamonds and the rubies, drenched in the living and redeeming blood of your God—the price and the treasure of your eternity.
There are days when I ask myself the question that is the title of this blog.
The problem is that I ask it at the wrong times, or perhaps with the wrong attitude.
I ask it on rough days when I am weary, broken by the events I endured, the pain and suffering encountered. I ask it with the attitude of trying to find a way out, a way to alleviate the stress that ll of the trauma and drama causes. I ask because, in the moment of the struggle, doubt creeps in and temptations arise.
The answer is that walking with Christ is always worth it, usually, somewhere between my heart, mind, and soul, I know this. Yet I also know Satan and the sinful nature that I still have to fight (see that described in Romans 7). It doesn’t have to be the poor bauble of pleasure, it could even be the illusion that suffering and drama doesn’t exist.
In those times, I need to remember the suffering He endured, and that He thought I was worth it! I have to breathe, allowing the Holy Spirit to quiet and comfort me, allowing the Spirit to work deep within, reminding me of who God is, of where God is.
This is why passing the peace and the Lord’s Supper are such important times in my life, For there I am driven to remember He is with me, that His peace is where I am kept, I just have to remember it. As person after person shakes my hand, or grips me in a bear hug, I am reminded of where I am. As they say, “peace be with you,” I realize that they know this because they have seen it in their own lives, as I tell them. I dwell in His peace.
That message is even more reinforced as I take in my hand body of Christ, and the cup containing His precious blood. What a gift! What a reminder that from the pain of the cross comes my hope, and the joy that is unspeakable.
Is it worth it? This life lived, walking with people who struggling, each carrying his own burden? This carrying of burdens? Of course.
God is with us!
So hang on to this hope, and know He is hanging on to you, as He walks with you.
Escriva, Josemaria. The Way (Kindle Locations 1656-1659). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? 32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. 33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Matthew 6:31-33 (KJV)
1 As a deer longs for a stream of cool water, so I long for you, O God. 2 I thirst for you, the living God. When can I go and worship in your presence? Psalm 42:1-2 (TEV)
316 You tell me: “Yes, I want to!” Good. But do you “want to” as a miser wants his gold, as a mother wants her child, as a worldling wants honors, or as a poor sensualist wants his pleasure? No? Then you don’t “want to”!
I look at St Josemaria’s words this morning, and they hit me with a lot of conviction
As I look at a very busy week, as I anticipate the struggles and the hard work, I wonder how I am going to make it through it all, and do everything well. The temptation is to expedite things, and the really big temptation is to cut short my time with God.
After all, I will be studying scripture, I will be praying with others, do I really need my own time with God.
Abso-freaking-lutely. (pardon the Bostonese)
And I know I need it, and I want it. But the question is how much I want it. Do I want it like the deer wants water, like a mom protecting her child, like those that crave attention or pleasure want it?
I need to, I need to seek first God’s kingdom, I need to seek first those times in His presence, where I am so aware of Him that I naturally respond in worship and adoration.
I know in the midst of this, this is where I have to be, this is where I find healing and life and comfort and peace. It is where I know I am loved, and so loved that I am cleansed, and my sin cut away from me with even more precision than a heart surgeon, or a rabbi/mohel doing a circumcision.
For what draws me to God is not my own strength, if so, as much as I desire it, I might desire other things more. What draws me to God is the Holy Spirit, lovingly, caringly, bringing me back, back to the word that reveals God’s love, back to the sacraments which demonstrate it in my life, back into prayer where I release all my burdens to the Lord who loves me.
Yeah, it’s Monday, and I have a huge week of appointments, tasks, work, ministry, to see accomplished…
But I need to seek Him first, otherwise, the rest is in vain, and the week will be a giant pain in the ass. But with Him, at His side, the week, the very same actions, thoughts, words… will be glorious.
and so we cry out… Lord have mercy on us, and on our week!
Escriva, Josemaria. The Way (Kindle Locations 818-820). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional Thought for our seemingly broken days:
19 And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. 20 By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. 21 And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, 22 let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. 24 Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. 25 And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near. Hebrews 10:19-25 (NLT)
But, as St. Gregory the Great puts it, it is still only the time of dawn, when darkness and light are intermingled. The sun is rising, but it has still not reached its zenith. Thus the time of the New Testament is a peculiar kind of “in-between”, a mixture of “already and not yet”. The empirical conditions of life in this world are still in force, but they have been burst open, and must be more and more burst open, in preparation for the final fulfillment already inaugurated in Christ.
Two weeks from today is Christmas, a day some are able to celebrate with great joy with those whom they love, who they care for, as meals are shared, as presents are exchanged, as laughter and smiles are contagious.
Yet recognizing that Christmas is only two weeks away causes my anxiety levels to rise. There are services to plan, sermons to write, music to practice, and most of all, people to pray for and try and find ways to comfort and to try to reveal God’s presence to, so that they can know some peace.
Some are stressed out by finances, or work situations. Some are broken by their own sin, or addictions, or broken by the sin and addictions of those they love, that have caused deep division. Some are grieving, and that number has grown this year. Some are simply wandering, directionless, unable to find anything stable enough to give them hope, even as they drive by churches advertising Christmas concerts, and advent services, even as they set up Christmas trees and manger scenes in their own homes.
I like how Pope Benedict phrased where we are in life, in this time of the dawn, when darkness and light are intermingled. There are shadows that seem to overwhelm us, to convince us we still are in the darkness. The struggles of life are still there, undeniably, yet there is a hint of the perfect, complete life we know is coming in Christ Jesus.
We are in the time of the “now, and not yet!” The time where God’s kingdom is here, yet we struggle to see it. The time when we are in God’s presence, though we cannot see Him, It is a time where we have to depend on God, but still have so many doubts, where we have to have hope, but struggle to define that, and therefore to express it.
Which is all the more reason to gather together as believers regularly, To celebrate the fact that we are in His presence, that Christ has cleansed us, that we have been baptized by His blood, and therefore have clean consciences! This all in order that we know, that when He returns, He is not just returning to us, but returning for us.
We gather to encourage each other with these facts, for too often we forget them in the shadows of the world. Too often we get overwhelmed by sin, ours and that of the world.
There is the hope, that is the real message behind all the decorations, all the mangers scenes – and the lights symbolizing Jesus coming, He whose light shatters our darkness, He who is our light, the Light of the World. He who is our comforter, He who is our peace.
And for the next two weeks, and until His return, the One who hears us when we cry, “Lord Have Mercy,” and find int he manger and the cross, He has!
So let’s get together in these times, often, so that we can cry and laugh together, and encourage each other, even as we look forward to the day of Chrsit coming. AMEN!
Ratzinger, Joseph. The Spirit of the Liturgy. Trans. John Saward. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2000. Print.
devotional thought of the Day:
1 One day it happened that Jesus was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples said, “Lord, teach us how to pray, as John used to teach his disciples.” 2 “When you pray,” returned Jesus, “you should say, ‘Father, may your name be honoured – may your kingdom come! Give us each day the bread we need, and forgive us our sins, for we forgive anyone who owes anything to us; and keep us clear of temptation.'” Luke 11:1-2 (Phillips NT)
5 Then he added, “If any of you has a friend, and goes to him in the middle of the night and says, ‘Lend me three loaves, my dear fellow, for a friend of mine has just arrived after a journey and I have no food to put in front of him’; and then he answers from inside the house, ‘Don’t bother me with your troubles. The front door is locked and my children and I have gone to bed. I simply cannot get up now and give you anything!’ Yet, I tell you, that even if he won’t get up and give him what he wants simply because he is his friend, yet if he persists, he will rouse himself and give him everything he needs.”
9 And so I tell you, ask and it will be given you, search and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you. The one who asks will always receive; the one who is searching will always find, and the door is opened to the man who knocks.” Luke 11:1-9 (Phillips NT)
470 Our Lord sent out his disciples to preach, and when they came back he gathered them together and invited them to go with him to a desert place where they could rest… What marvellous things Jesus would ask them and tell them! Well, the Gospel is always relevant to the present day.
What did the disciples see in Jesus as He prayed?
HOw did it differ from the prayers they saw in their families growing up, and in the leaders of the synagogue?
We hear them ask Jesus to teach them to pray, but these are men who had been praying all of their lives, They grew up learning to meditate on the word, great up worshipping God as they sang and read the psalms. SO what is so different about the way Jesus prays, that they want to learn how He prays?
The answer, I believe, is found in the word, “rest”
Yeah. prayer is the most restful thing you can do, even as we struggle through another long week. (even the week after you get back from vacation) We are tired, frustrated, worn down, even though the work we are doing is good and beneficial – it can also be spiritually and emotionally exhausting.
And we need that rest.
Sometimes desperately need it.
And it can be found, as we take a few moments, find a place that is quiet, and unload all the crap we are dealing with, all of the stress, all of the weariness on the God who cares for us. who loves us, who asks s to cast all of our burdens and cares upon Him.
As we become confident of His love and mercy, we can do that, accepting He will do as He promised. what is best for us. ( It may take some to grow in this kind of faith and dependence – that’s okay! You will need refresher courses in it too!)
As we do, as we unload all that we carry, the good, the bad, the blessings and the unrighteousness, as we drop it all we can breathe, we can find not just hope, but peace. A peace that restores us, a peace that calms us, and refocuses us on the life we have in Jesus.
We need this daily, but as we do more, we need it more often. As we mature in faith, we find a correlation between finding rest in God and our ability to endure.
Be at peace my friends, find the rest you need, pray, not as if you are doing somethign for God, but because you will remember He is with you…and loves you, and works to give you that peace.
Escriva, Josemaria. Furrow (Kindle Locations 2066-2069). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
2 The message given to our ancestors by the angels was shown to be true, and those who did not follow it or obey it received the punishment they deserved. 3 How, then, shall we escape if we pay no attention to such a great salvation? The Lord himself first announced this salvation, and those who heard him proved to us that it is true. Hebrews 2:2-3 (TEV)
The first “work” of the priest is to be a believer and to be so always anew and always more deeply. Faith is never present as a matter of course; it must be lived. It leads us into a conversation with God that includes both speaking and hearing. Faith and prayer belong inseparably together. The time a priest spends in prayer and in hearing the word of God is never at the expense of his pastoral duties to the souls confided to his care. People can tell if the words and actions of their pastor have their origin in his prayer or only at his writing table.
As a young pastor, working p/t as a hospice chaplain, and part-time at a community college teaching computer science, I often got caught in a trap, as time was limited. The demands of caring for my people, studying the scriptures and prayer often became what was cut out, sacrificed to the tyranny of the urgent.
I could justify this, and often hear others do this today. The challenge is communicating that my need for time in prayer is not because I am holier, or more pious. For I know some will dismiss my advice to make time with God a priority because of such concern. My denomination has its periods where being pious turned into extreme pietism, so those who advocate prayer and other spiritual disciplines are often treated with suspicion.
That doesn’t change the fact we need to be communicating with God, we need to set up a regular time to give to God numerous burdens, our pains, our sins, and to listen to Him, as He shares His love, and the promises that flow from that love. We can’t continue to carry those burdens on our own, they will crush We need to hear Him say, I am here, don’t be afraid, don’t be anxious. We need His comfort, for His words and sacraments to nourish and strengthen us, even as they cleanse us from sin. If we don’t pray, if we don’t spend time listening to God, then our faith, stimulated at the “writing table” shows that we’ve neglected that which we’ve been saved and delivered into, the presence of God.
This isn’t a “pray because you have to, that’s what good Christians do”, this is a pray because you need it, you need to know God is present, listening, guiding, and comforting as we live in this challenge messed up world.
But when we come from such times, of seeing God repair our brokenness, when we hear Him whisper gently as He did to Elijah; then our ministry is not just dry and academic. After such times of intimacy with God, our words become deeply spiritual as well as wise, as our faith is tenable, real, and easily passed on to those we are called to care for, those we are called to serve.
My dear friends, whether you are pastors or priests, Sunday School teachers, elders, those who assist in facilitating the church’s praise and worship, it doesn’t matter your role as part of God’s family.
You need to pray….
And let others know how it helps you, as we struggle through this world so that they will do so, and be able to rest in the love of God.
Ratzinger, Joseph. Co-Workers of the Truth: Meditations for Every Day of the Year. Ed. Irene Grassl. Trans. Mary Frances McCarthy and Lothar Krauth. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1992. Print.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
28 “Come to me, all of you who are tired and have heavy loads, and I will give you rest. 29 Accept my teachings and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in spirit, and you will find rest for your lives. 30 The burden that I ask you to accept is easy; the load I give you to carry is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 CEV
853 Use this prescription for your life: “I don’t remember that I exist. I don’t think of my own affairs, because there is no time left.” Work and service!
Don’t stop reading this post after the next paragraph. Keep going, it will be worth it.
The word submission has taken on a very negative tone in the last few decades. Especially the idea of submitting to God, to allowing Jesus to be the Lord of your life. I could give twenty or thirty examples of why, including the fact that some people abuse the idea of submitting to God, in order to get people to submit to them. Men have done this to get women to submit, parents have done this to get children to submit, some in government, and even in church leadership want their people to submit.
But they don’t understand what submission is, they don’t get the paradox. And they don’t understand that submission isn’t about wielding authority and controlling others, it is about freeing them from things that shouldn’t bind them, that shouldn’t oppress them, that shouldn’t such life and joy from them.
Instead, this paradox of submission is about freeing them to live life, to know God’s love, to experience peace.
You see this in Jesus words above in red, quoted from Matthew’s gospel. Submitting to God means giving Him all the things that wear you down, that stress you out, that cause anxiety. The things that burden us, that tire us out. The stuff that leaves us exhausted, because they are out of our control. Jesus would have us submit our lives, where we get so fixated on our life that we don’t ever really live it.
Worry’s about family, friends finances, health or eve facing death.
Guilt and shame from past sins we struggle with daily.
Resentment and anger from those sins that have been committed against us,
All this stuff Jesus asks us to give to Him, to submit to His care. He would free us from these concerns of life. Which is why St Josemaria talks the way he does, saying I don’t remember that I exist, I am not concerned with my own affairs, I am free to just live, to do and to serve others.
Biblical submission is not about recognizing someone’s authority over you, it is not about becoming their robot. It is about realizing God’s care for you, HIs love, and allowing Him to do what He has promised. It is about trusting Him, depending upon Him, knowing that He cares.
And living in the freedom of not worrying about, not hyper-focusing upon those things we cannot change.
But instead to live in peace… unexplainable, glorious, restful peace.
Even on Monday!
Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge (Kindle Locations 3021-3023). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
May the Lord Lead Your Hearts
2 Thessalonians 3:1-5
† I.H.S. †
May the grace, that incredible gift of God’s love, mercy and peace, lead you to share His message in a way that it spreads, and where it is heard and rejoiced in by all you share it with!
Rescue From Wicked People?
This week has been, to be honest, very trying. My patience hasn’t been all that strong, neither has been my endurance.
It has been challenging, mostly because I wonder if we truly understand the love of God, and how He works in our lives.
I would love to say the election was the cause of it, but I think it only revealed what was hidden, as many of us identified those we thought we needed to be freed, or delivered from; the people Paul asked the Thessalonian people to pray he would be delivered from,
Those wicked, evil people who are not believers.
We think we know what that means; we probably have various people in mind. Until I remind you that the word belief here is as often translated faith. So, the people we are talking about are those who do not have faith, who do not trust in God. People who do not depend on Him.
Uhm – is this too close to home for you? It is for me.
Because while I will easily say I believe in God, it is another thing to ask me whether I trust Him, or whether I truly depend on him.
Especially this week, as I have watched some of my closest friends call each other, and the people we are supposed to love and pray for, well, we haven’t done that this well in America.
Rather, we identified them as the enemy, because we don’t understand how they are different from us… until we realize they are “us.”
When it came to us
Paul is making a similar plea here in verse 1.
He wrote, “Pray that the Lord’s message will be spread and honored wherever it goes, just as when it came to you!”
Which leads to a question – is the Lord’s message being spread and by us?
Or has that taken a back seat as our anxieties, and our fears about what other anxious people will do dominate us?
Is God’s message spread and glorified among us still?
Surely it can, yet there are moments where we gossip about our neighbors or fail to put things, as Luther explained, in the best construction. That’s not easy to do, it sometimes takes time, to sit with them and find out their fears, their concerns, their pains, and positions.
It takes communication, and we often damage the opportunity for it.
Can we return to the joy that we had when God’s message of grace we understood with our hearts, souls, minds and strength for the first time?
Can we see the message of God honored again, as it did when we first heard it? And then can we dare spread it to those, who like us, find themselves broken in this world?
Can we do as Paul was confident the Saints then would, doing and continuing to do that which he taught us to do?
How we do and continue to do what God commissioned
The answer is, yes.
Yes, even though we sin, we can still be restored, the awe at the love of God can be found again. It was why we remember our baptisms, where sin, all our sin, was washed away by God’s command, because of our connection to Jesus and His death and resurrection. To restore that joy of our salvation is why we gather here, to remember and reveal again the love of God through the words of scripture, and through sermons like this.
It is why we come to the rail, and receive the body and blood of Jesus Christ as we take and eat, as we remember the words of Jesus that established the covenant, as we are renewed by the gifts He gives us here.
We need this, all of us, from every demographic you can think of, from every political persuasion, we need to be refocused, revived, delivered and saved from the evil. That happens one way,
Hear again the blessing of Paul,
May the Lord lead your hearts into a full understanding and expression of the love of God and the patient endurance that comes from Christ.
There it Is, there is what we need, this incredible love of God, revealed to us. Then trusting in Him, depending upon Him to save us, to strengthen us and guard us against evil becomes our nature. Doing and continuing to do what we’ve been taught through scripture becomes not only our action; but our desire. This all happens because God leads us, leads our hearts into understanding and expressing His love for us. That love, as it is revealed, causes us to trust in Him, to depend on Him, no matter what else happens.
For knowing how much he loves us, that is beyond anything. What that loves is everything, it is glorious, and wonderful, joyful and enables us to endure anything.
We’ll even realize how many people that word “us” contains, and knowing that will cause this love, this message of God to spread rapidly, and be honored and glorified.
For it contains us all, for God so loved us all, and we all need to for Him to lead our hearts into a full understanding and expression of His love.
Here, he is doing that exact thing… may we realize it. AMEN!