Being Made Complete
Experiencing His Love
† In Jesus Name †
© Paul’s prayer for the church in Ephesus is one we can have for each other. “I pray that from God’s glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. 17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong!
The Parable of the Old Spike ©
It was found on a pile with a ton of others. Pitted, rusted, considered by most to be worthless trash.
And one day a man named Jim found it. As he stared at this piece of useless steel, he saw something in it, and carefully and lovingly gave it a new identity. What was of no value, not only was given a new identity but was transformed into a piece of art. A piece of art that testified to the skill and craftsmanship of the one who found it, purchased it, and transformed it.
Here is what the rusty pitted railroad spike now looks like, after Jim transformed it.
These railroad spike knives provide for us a picture of the work of God in our lives, a work that doesn’t just change how we appear on the outside. God’s work does all I prayed for, as I asked God to bless you a moment ago. For we are transformed much like the spike is…..
Several times in this passage, the concept of strength is mentioned. The words that lay under the surface mean everything from the ability to fortitude, from the capability to internal strength that will result in completing the task, the trial. It is physical and mental, psychological. It is to have the will and determination, the patience and the stubborn nature that will see you overcome the power of temptation, the power sin and Satan, and even the fear of death. ©
If we look at our lives, who can claim to be that strong? ©
Which of us looked at temptation in the eye this week, and didn’t sin at all?
Which one of us loved every neighbor as ourselves?
©Did anyone of us honor God in every single thing we did? What about in every word we said or typed? Did we gossip about others? Did we
What about in every word we thought?
Did we reach out, stretch ourselves beyond our own comfort to help those in need?
We don’t naturally have that strength.
And who has enough inner strength to out wait death…
Which of us enjoys going to the doctors, enjoys the tests and prods and pokes and blood draws, and doesn’t for a moment worry about the results?
Paul understood this well, as he wrote ©
54 So when this takes place, and the mortal has been changed into the immortal, then the scripture will come true: “Death is destroyed; victory is complete!” 55 “Where, Death, is your victory? Where, Death, is your power to hurt?” 56 Death gets its power to hurt from sin, and sin gets its power from the Law. 1 Corinthians 15:54-56 (TEV)
© I need you to note something Paul said “then the scriptures will come true.” I’ve heard this passage misused a time or two to say that we shouldn’t grieve, we shouldn’t struggle, and that is wrong.
But there will be a day, when the power of sin is so shattered, that death will no longer have the power to hurt us.
A day we need to have the strength, the ability to wait for, trusting in the promises of God that it will come.
We need that strength, an inner strength that is based on hope…
The Way God Empowers us.
One of the commentators I read this week, commented about this passage in a way that brought the railroad spike to mind. ©
As fire penetrates iron, and seems to change it into itself, so does God penetrate the soul and fill her with himself; and though she never loses her own being, yet she becomes so penetrated and absorbed by that immense ocean of the divine substance, that she remains, as it were, annihilated, and as if she ceased to exist. The Apostle prayed for this happy lot for his disciples when he said: That you may be filled unto all the fulness of God. (de Ligouri)
© Or to put it into a picture, look at this picture…
The spike is you, the red glow is the glory of God, dwelling within you, empowering you, transforming you. Think of the pictures in this incredible passage
© He will empower you with inner strength thorgh His Spirit
© Christ will make His home in your hearts
© Your roots will grow deep into God’s love… there is the sourceof your strength!
All of this pictures the presence of God invading your life, becoming part of you, even as the energy and heat of the blacksmith’s fire consumes the spike and transforms it into a strong, sharp knife…
Even more the experience that Paul describes,
© 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully.
When God unites us to Jesus in Baptism, when we take and consume the bread and the wine, this picture of the knife, glowing because of the power it is immersed in is perfect. Where the metal and the fire have so united that you can’t tell which is absorbing and consuming the other.
This love of His is that in which we live, and even thogh we may never be able to completely put into words how incredible this love is, we will understand it far more deeply than we understand anything else.
This is the empowering that Paul tells us occurs as the Holy Spirit works within us.
It is what Aiden will grow up knowing, as he is reminded of it by Jason and Jennifer, by Tammie and Mark, and by Wanda and Kay and the rest of us.
God is not just working in us, He has made us His home in us,
This is how we are made complete. Not by any other way but experiencing the incredible, unmeasurable love of God in Christ Jesus. A love which transforms us as we experience it, a love that becomes as much us, as well…. Us.
That gloriously transforms us, as the Holy Spirit transforms us into image of Jesus.
This is how we have “inner strength” that will enable us to oversome sin and temptation, the power of Satan and even death. He dwells in us, and nothing can separate us from His love, from His glory, from Him.
This is His work, His promise to us, His children, the people among whom He makes His home,
Once again, hear the prayer of Paul the apostle, that he prayed for the people of God, that we can pray for each other
© “I pray that from God’s glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. 17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong!”
Devotional Thoughts of the Day:
11 Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. 12 Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. 13 This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ. 14 Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. 15 Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. Ephesians 4:11-15 (NLT)
418 The Lord can raise children of Abraham from the very stones… But we must make sure that the stone is not crumbly, for though hard rock may be shapeless, it is easier to hew good stone for building from it. (1)
While the church, whether Lutheran, Protestant or Catholic finds a renewed focus on evangelization, I sometimes fear that we are so focused on conversion, that we forget the responsibility of the Church and the churches have to grow and disciple those who have come to Christ. Evangelization isn’t just about that first contact, it is about a continual growth in our trust, in dependance on Christ, on God.
You see, Christianity isn’t just a conversion experience, it is a relationship with God that God defines, that God sustains, that God deepens as He reveals Himself. And the church is the instrument He reveals Himself through, as He is sahred through the word of God in songs, in sermons, in Bible Study and prayer, and of course in special acts we called sacraments – where God promises and fulfills them to His people. This defined relationship is why some call Christianity a relationship.
But back to this devotion, and this concept of growing in the relationship as God reveals His love to us, and through us to each other and the world. It is why we have churches, and BIble Studies and all sorts of things – but they have to focus on that relationship, on clearly communicating and revealing Christ, and in the process teach us how to reveal Christ to each other, as we love them as Christ does. (see the book of 1 John for an explanation of the necessity of this) So we grow together, we encourage each other, we support and work with each other.
That is what St Josemaria is talking about, when he talks of hewing a stone, helping it fit into the others, as God build His church….
Basic? Perhaps… but on this day.. maybe that is needed, so we don’t do something else, but stay on task as the church, His church!
(1) Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 1875-1877). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.